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Spain overcame 44 years of underachievement on the international stage when they were crowned European champions at Euro 2008. Not only did they win the tournament, but their players, their style and their attacking ambition were hailed around the world.
However, that success appears to have had a detrimental effect on their domestic teams, who have traditionally been some of the strongest performers in Europe’s club competitions.
Last week’s Champions League and UEFA Cup results are some of the worst in recent seasons.
Nine-times European Cup winners Real Madrid were beaten 1-0 at home by Liverpool in their last 16 first leg, while both Villarreal and Atletico Madrid were held to score draws at home by Panathinaikos and Porto respectively.
The names mentioned by the media as City’s current transfer targets represent a lack of imagination reminiscent of the post-title winning days at Blackburn Rovers, when Jack Walker’s millions were spent on players like Lars Bohinen, Billy McKinlay and Garry Flitcroft in a futile bid to build a team capable of challenging for the Champions League.
The Spanish international striker announced before the match that he would not celebrate if he scored.
Has it reached the stage where a Champions League semi-final is not enough to safeguard a coach’s job?
Avram Grant, whose Chelsea side visit Liverpool in their first leg on Tuesday, is under pressure despite his team stil having an outside chance of the Premier League title.
It is has already been dubbed the league title no one wants to win and with its succession of mishaps, slip-ups, fall-outs and injuries, this season’s Primera Liga plot has taken more twists than even the most low-budget Spanish afternoon soap opera.
Leaders and defending champions Real Madrid appear to be caught in a dangerous downward spiral, losing five of their last eight league matches, while Barcelona are struggling to take advantage of their arch-rivals’ errors.