Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
In the latest edition of our Monday Spanish soccer blog, Mark Elkington looks at a dispute that threatens the next round of La Liga matches, Spain’s Euro 2012 qualifiers against Czech Republic and Lithuania and the problems affecting second-division leaders Rayo Vallecano.
Many of La Liga’s finest packed their bags and headed off to represent their countries last week while the action in Spain switched from the pitch to the courtroom.
The professional soccer league (LFP) voted last month to postpone the 30th round of matches due to be played on April 2/3 unless the government scrapped a rule that one La Liga game per weekend be shown on freeview television.
The league argues that removing the obligation to show the free game would strengthen their position in negotiations with media companies on selling audiovisual rights.
Now that the Spanish region of Catalonia has banned bullfighting, what will happen to striker David’s Villa goal-scoring celebrations?
Villa struck a matador’s pose after he scored in Spain’s World Cup games in South Africa – you can see an example on FIFA’s official site here — raising eyebrows by some in Catalonia who viewed it as a gesture of support for the “fiesta nacional”.
Barcelona’s Thierry Henry is heading to New York Red Bulls in a widely expected move but don’t think the first big post-World Cup transfer means the window will suddenly be awash with deals.
An event before the World Cup is a major reason why Henry has decided to follow David Beckham’s lead and try out MLS. David Villa’s early move to Barca from Valencia meant there was no room for Henry at the Nou Camp and after France’s flop in South Africa there were few other interested parties.
It seems almost beyond dispute, though, that whenever the Spaniard is unavailable Liverpool look ill equipped to challenge for the title, a situation hardly helped by the sales of Xabi Alonso, Robbie Keane and Alvaro Arbeloa in the past year.
A few days ago, Real Zaragoza president Eduardo Bandres said: “The Spanish league will be a matter totally and absolutely between two teams, among other things because the system for distributing television rights determines that it will be this way. It is unique in Europe and because of this the Spanish league is one of the most boring in Europe.”
The television channels would beg to differ, as they regularly run adverts or open their coverage of matches from La Liga claiming it is the ‘best league in the world’ with clips of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi running in the background.
It’s hard to believe Spain striker David Villa will not be playing in the Champions League again this season.
The Valencia frontman was in irresistible form against Belgium in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday when the European champions romped to a 5-0 victory in La Coruna.
Florentino Perez began his second spell as Real Madrid president on Monday and immediately signed up Zinedine Zidane and Jorge Valdano for the project.
Those appointments are all very well, but the question we all want answering is which players Florentino is going to bring in. Will he content himself with one major signing, a la Zidane, or will he, as some have speculated, sign basically a whole new team.
The Spanish international striker announced before the match that he would not celebrate if he scored.
The Spanish sports paper devoted an editorial and a couple of articles yesterday urging Real Madrid to get on with the job and sign the Portuguese forward asap. Today, they have vox pops from fans saying much the same sort of thing and it looks like their campaign to get things moving is going to continue.
As the dust settles on Euro 2008 and attention turns to transfer market, it will be interesting to see how many of the top performers from the tournament will be on the move in the coming weeks.
If Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at Manchester United generated endless speculation at the start of the Euros, the finals ended with other names enjoying newly-acquired prominence.