The La Liga season is weeks away from starting but the season in Spain starts on Sunday with the Super Cup, and as last season, I will be here to keep an eye on the world’s best domestic league.
The La Liga season is scheduled to start on the weekend of August 20-21, but it big kick off will be overshadowed by the news that the Spanish professional footballers’ union has announced they will go on strike and delay the start of the new season in a row over a wage guarantee fund.
First and second division fixtures will be affected for the first two weekends of the 2011-12 league season. But before that, we have the small matter of the Spanish Super Cup to solve.
When Cup winners Real Madrid take on league champions Barcelona on Sunday in the season’s first ‘el classico’, it will definitely give us a feel of what the new season has in store as far as the two traditional rivals and their intentions for the new season is concerned.
The Super Cup is the traditional pre-season curtain-raiser played between league champions and cup winners. In England, the curtain-raiser [FA Community Shield] there provided us a glimpse of what to expect from the two Manchester clubs.
It showed that United and not City will be the team to beat when the new season gets underway this weekend—make no mistake, this is going to be a long and hard season for the eventual league champions, but at least after the events of last weekend at Wembley, it’s not too hard to make a few weird predictions.
While, United’s comeback from being two goals down at halt time to win a thrilling contest against their [to borrow Fergie’s words] ‘noisy neighbors’ set the tone for what promises to be the toughest Premier League season, in Spain, not just the curtain-raiser but the league will be too close to call between the usual suspects.
Tomorrow, holders, Barca will be planning to beat Real Madrid in the Super Cup for the first time ever, having lost on the four occasions that the two giants have met in the competition [1988, 1990, 1993 and 1997]. The first leg will be played in Madrid, the second leg in Nou Camp on August 17.
The European champions have not signed any defenders this summer, and they travel to the Spanish capital with a make-shift backline. Puyol, Maxwell and Pique are all touch-and-go.
Brazilian flying right-back Dani Alves - same as Messi and Mascherano - has only done a week ‘of light training’ because of playing in the Copa America Cup last month, and Xavi is almost certain to be missing because of a muscle injury in his right leg.
As for Cristiano Ronaldo and company, although they have been banging in the goals at will during the pre-season on Real’s tour of US and China, for the first time in living memory, Madrid have not signed a single high-profile player.
And to make matters worse for Mourinho, two of his signings - Nuri Sahin [from Dortmund] and Hamit Altintop [from Bayern Munich] - are both injured and will miss Sunday’s clash. Sergio Ramos is doubtful due to back problems.
Fabregas finally gets his wish
The English Premier League will miss Cesc Fabregas. That’s a fact. Arsenal will not be the same without him for many years to come.
Actually, the Gunners, for the first time in a very long time, could struggle to even finish inside the top four, leave alone winning the Premier league or Champions League. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.
Fabregas has been at Arsenal for the last 8 seasons, where he has developed from a promising youngster [free] from the Barca academy into a proper world class performer. He has won the World Cup and European Championship, and played an important part in both tournaments for Spain.
He has been Arsenal’s top performer for the last five seasons or so. However there has been plenty of speculation of him joining his home town club, where he was taught how to kick a football in anger.
Since the speculations started about three seasons ago, the player himself has done very little to help the situation [for the Gooners]. And, he’s finally got his wish.
The 23-year-old is not the quickest of a player and although I may not be his best fan, but no one can refute the fact that he’s a top, top player, maybe quality is the right word to use when describing his abilities on the football pitch.
I can’t believe I’m saying that about a player about to join a club, regarded by many football analysts world over as probably the best team ever. May be Barca want to be the first team to defend the Champions league title since it’s inception in 1992?
Fabregas has a good turn of pace, but his main skills lie in his passing and his composure. Like a number of top quality Internationals, he has an amazing passing range. He always seems to find the perfect pass.
I am not a big stat man, but it is clear when you are watching a game that the most key passes that lead to a goal for Arsenal since 2006 came from Fabregas.
Real sign 7-year old ‘new Messi’
Real Madrid have reportedly signed a seven-year-old football prospect from Argentina. Leonel Angel Coira has signed with the Spanish giant and will begin training on September 6.
Barcelona signed Lionel Messi from Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys when he was a round the same age and looking at what he has turned out to be, it will be interesting to see if Coira, who ironically idolizes the Barca superstar, will make the senior grade.
Several Spanish media outlets quoted Coira as saying how he prefers “to provide the pass” rather than score. He already has a Facebook page featuring photos of his visit to Real Madrid.