The wonderful thing about the beginning of a New Year is that it offers one a very real chance to reflect on past events and work towards improving oneself, both in character and behaviour. In fact, the start of a new year has proved to be so synonymous with self-reflection and betterment that the first question on everyone’s lips post the customary midnight firework display is always one and the same: “What are your resolutions for this year?”. In other words, through what means are you aiming to advance yourself in terms of both characteristics and personality.
Let’s make one thing clear from the get-go: Yes, dropping two points when we had the chance to gain ground on Real Madrid is a disappointment, without a shadow of a doubt. A quick look at the way Atletico scored makes you want to pull out your hair even more; a completely avoidable goal that was the result of a momentary lapse in concentration from two players (Pique and Mascherano) who were absolute beasts otherwise.
As much as today’s victory was a monumental team effort, make no mistake; Luis Enrique deserves all the plaudits for achieving what he has with all the pressure that following in Pep Guardiola’s footsteps comes with. With today’s win at the San Mames, Lucho became the fastest ever coach to reach a hundred victories in charge, surpassing the now Manchester City boss’s records in both Barcelona and Munich. This game typified exactly how far he’s come from his first game in charge, making this team his own.
There was a night in Berlin when hundreds of millions of viewers tuned in to watch a match between the best two clubs in Europe. Juventus had just beaten Real Madrid off a great performance from Madrid’s own Alvaro Morata, and Barcelona had just squeezed through a stacked Bayern Munich team, coached by Barcelona’s former manager, and perennial title winner, Pep Guardiola. The teams were different then than now, Juventus having a lineup with Pirlo, Vidal, Pogba, Morata, and Carlos Tevez; Barça still employed the services of Xavi and Pedro. Rakitic gave Barça the lead early on, but Morata equalized ten minutes into the second half. With the game tight and Juventus gaining ground, Messi’s shot was blocked wide and Suárez put it back in to give Barcelona the lead. To finish it off, as we all know, and Neymar struck late and gave Barcelona a 3-1 lead. They had won the treble: La Liga, La Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League.
A lot has been said about the 2015/2016 season. And even though it proved to be a success (Yes, a double is a success folks), there was a bitter taste left in the mouths of all cules. Seeing our arch-rivals in Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid competing for top honours in the UEFA Champions League Final seemed a strange ending to a season that had started with so much promise. Celebrating the Copa Del Rey triumph proved an even stranger feeling. I personally can attest to feeling like I was jumping for joy for a 2nd place finish.
An open letter to the Argentine National Football Team:
Hey fellas, how’re you all doing? Tata, it’s been a while. Hope life outside of Barcelona is treating you well.
Spain vs Croatia has the chance to be the most exciting game at the Euros so far. The race to be crowned the best team in Europe has definitely had its moments, but has also had its fair share of dour games, with less than two goals being scored on average per game.
A game between these two teams, then, who are two of the only teams to have scored three goals or more in this tournament, may potentially be one of the most exciting and technical games of the tournament so far, thanks in no small part to two Blaugrana midfielders who are vital to their respective countries.
Gone are the days when Spain were the undisputed kings of international football tournaments. Ever since the Dutch demolished Spain in Brazil, with Arjen Robben and co. putting five past Iker Casillas, the Spanish haven’t quite been the same. The talent is still there, but perhaps not in the same quantities and to the same degree that it was at both Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.