footy musings from a (relative) newbie

Archive for the ‘la liga’ Category

It’s Baaaaack

After a two-month hiatus, UEFA Champions League returns this week. And because I never learn my lesson, I’m putting my shoddy prediction skills to work again. Here’s who I think will be celebrating when the round of 16 concludes next month.

Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich: The one everyone has been talking about since before the round of 16 draw occurred. Bayern have dominated everything they’ve done this season – losing only once (to Manchester City in the UCL group stage). And while Arsenal topped the Premier League for most of the season, they now sit second, and their form the past month has been shaky. I think Bayern will advance, but I am still not sold on them repeating as European Champions. Winner: Bayern Munich

Manchester City vs. Barcelona: Both teams bring good form into the tie, but I think the Catalans will advance easily. Winner: FC Barcelona

Bayer 04 Leverkeusen vs. Paris Saint-Germain: Even without injured Edinson Cavani, PSG should have too much for the Bundesliga’s second place club. That said, this is probably the matchup that most intrigues me in this round. Winner: Paris Saint-Germain

AC Milan vs. Atletico de Madrid: As with any tie involving Milan, this strikes me as a toss-up. Milan have performed poorly in Serie A all season and needed a Mario Balotelli wonder goal to beat lowly Bologna last Friday. That said, Atletico Madrid haven’t been any great shakes in La Liga – recently relinquishing their league lead to the Barca-Real tandem. Still, I think they will have just enough to get past Milan. Winner: Atletico de Madrid

Olympiacos vs. Manchester United: So, in December, I said Olympiacos had no hope of beating Manchester United. But Man U’s Premier League travails the last month – to say nothing of the pitiful loss to Sunderland in the League Cup – has to have given the denizens of Karaiskakis Stadium some cause for hope. Still picking the Red Devils to get through. Winner: Manchester United FC

Galatasaray AŞ vs. Chelsea FC: This only holds interest for me because of the reunion (of sorts) between Jose Mourihno and two of his former players – Didier Drogba & Wesley Sneijder. Otherwise – I got nothin’. Oh, Galatasary are currently second in the Turkish Super League. Chelsea will advance easily. Winner: Chelsea FC

FC Schalke 04 vs. Real Madrid: This should be easy for Madrid, but honestly, it’s hard to predict much with that team. As much talent as they have, they are still capable of throwing up random awful performances. I know little about Schalke’s performances this season, except to say they’re currently fourth in the Bundesliga and they just beat Bayer. This doesn’t help me predict anything, but since when has that stopped me? Winner: Real Madrid CF

FC Zenit vs. Borussia Dortmund: BvB are on something of an upswing, but even if that wasn’t the case, getting past Zenit should be easy peazy, especially with players like Henrikh Mkhitaryan returning from injury. Winner: Borussia Dortmund

I Have El Clasico Fatigue

Truthfully, I’ve had a low-grade version of it since the 2013-2014 La Liga fixture list was released. Because, as Sid Lowe, who covers Spanish football, notes, even when there’s no game being played, it feels like El Clasico is always going on!

For me, this means that when FC Barcelona and Real Madrid meet for the first time in league play this season, I’ll be in the very small minority that will greet the match with a big ol’ yawn.

Look, I get that these are the two biggest teams in world football, and that when they play each other, it’s about more than just football.

But as someone who follows the game intently, I think familiarity with the neverending Clasico has bred contempt. Their weekly results are endlessly compared and pored over; they engage in tit-for-tat battles over player signings, coaching pedigrees and who spent the most money. All of this is covered, not just by the Spanish football press, but by British and U.S. football websites as well. It’s ubiquitous to the point of aggravation.

By the time the actual matches roll around, I’m exhausted and have zero interest in watching them. It doesn’t help that many of the matches turn out to be tedious affairs – so much so, that I almost wish for the inevitable red card and/or fisticuffs to break up the monotony.

The teams may prove me wrong with this latest match, but for now, I’m searching for a cure for my El Clasico fatigue.

(For the record, though, I’m picking Barca to win 3-0. They’re at home and Madrid have been crap all season).

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