Ronald Koeman didn’t intend to speak for both of them and plenty thought he shouldn’t have spoken at all, but as it turned out that’s exactly what he did. It was just after midday on Saturday when the coach said Barcelona “are not in a position to win much” and just before 6pm when Real Madrid showed nor are they.
By the following night, the greatest rivals in sport couldn’t be closer: same points, same wins, same draws, same defeats, same goals conceded. But if a battle is building, it’s not for anything that matters much, and the team they have to catch couldn’t be much further away: Atlético Madrid are 10 points clear. With a game in hand.
“We have to be realistic,” Koeman had said, and realism says: nah. Although his team are improving fast, he admitted he suspected it was too late; if Madrid didn’t yet, they do now. Two glorious goals, the first from José Luis Morales, the second from Roger Martí, carried Levante to a 2-1 win at Valdebebas and left Madrid at their mercy. “On their knees”, as the cover of AS put it; slipping into a “black hole” in the words of El Mundo. The next day Barcelona – crisis-ridden, catastrophic, comedy Barcelona – won their fifth consecutive league game, beating Athletic 2-1 at the Camp Nou to catch them and Atlético took their lead into double figures with a 4-2 win in Cádiz.
In two weeks Madrid have lost the Super Cup, lost the Copa del Rey, defeated by tiny Alcoyano, and now maybe lost the league too. Hay Liga, they love to say: there is league. But it’s hard to avoid the feeling there isn’t much. Atlético – played 20, lost one, 50 points – are on course for a 100-point season; Barcelona and Madrid for 76. No, it needn’t continue this way and weirder things have happened – Arda Turan throwing his boot, Luis Aragonés losing his teeth, Madrid signing Julien Faubert – but it’s a long way off. “On Mars”, El País said. No one has overturned a gap this big to win the league. Not even when Madrid won the most absurdly implausible title of all. And nor is it just the numbers. It’s the relentlessness of the leaders and the unreliability of their pursuers. Continue reading
Latest posts by Haitian Times (see all)
- Is Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool repeating his last Borussia Dortmund season? - Feb. 26, 2021
- Arsenal should finally sell Hector Bellerin this summer - Feb. 26, 2021
- Derby County: What is happening with Sheikh Khaled’s £60m takeover? - Feb. 26, 2021