Saturday, May 18, 2013

La Liga's Embarrassment of Riches

These Boots Will Soon Be Mandatory in Spanish Football
photo by Mzelle Biscottevia PhotoRee

We don't know if you had the opportunity to watch yesterday's King's Cup Final, but we did.  And after witnessing that "spectacle," we have two thoughts: 1) it's fitting that the final was moved to Friday night due to a conflict with tonight's Eurovision Final: last night was a great warmup for anyone who enjoys seeing lots of gel, makeup and handbags on display; and 2) what a complete embarrassment that game was for Spanish football.

In some ways, the whole fiasco was a fitting farewell to Jose Mourinho's time at Real Madrid.  While holding seemingly endless promise at times, the end to Jose's reign was predictably chaotic -- fist fights, red cards, fake injuries and more.  The chickens are coming home to roost, and Jose is leaving Stage Left.  You reap what you sow, some might say.

But the game was also a stinging indictment of the modern Spanish game.  Full of artistry and world class players, Spanish football is slowly being killed by drama queens and sheer fakery.  The amount of facial "injuries" sustained by players who were not touched is at an all-time high.  The amount of rolls an "injured" player attempts to complete on the ground after being fouled -- all in an effort to con the referee -- is at its peak.   And the amount of time wasting -- stretchers being brought on to the pitch, only to see an "injured" player experience the type of miracle usually reserved for those at Lourdes -- is greater than in any other league in the world.  In short, modern Spanish football is an embarassment, and is now at the risk of turning itself into a parody of the true sport, a la the World Wresting Federation.

But farlieonfootie, you say: Spanish football is the best in the world: home of Xavi, Iniesta, Ronaldo, Falcao and more.  It contains Barcelona, until this year the paragon of the modern game.  It includes Real Madrid, Europe's most decorated team.  And its national team has won both the last World Cup and the most recent European Championship.  Yeah, we know all that.

But La Liga and its related contests are devolving into a game best played by cheats, fakers and con men.  No longer is fancy footwork the most prized skill; now feigning injury reigns supreme.  No longer do tactics matter; one's ability to bamboozle the referee matters more.  We only have to point to the red card that excused Cristiano Ronaldo from the Cup to drive home the point: yes, his foot was high, and the Portuguese maestro most definitely attempted to kick out at the opposing player.  But we're not debating the card, only the reaction.  Despite the Atleti player grabbing his face as if he'd been shot in the eye, television replays proved conclusively that Ronaldo's foot never touched any part of the his body, facial or otherwise.  That he remained on the ground writhing around for several minutes while handbags broke out on the sideline only added to the overall comedic effect of the incident.

So go on, Ray Hudson -- extol the virtues of Spanish football.  Call it "Magical," "Magisterial," and "Majestic." But we're not buying it.  We now have a much simpler word for what the modern Spanish game has become: we call it "Bullshit."

This is farlieonfootie for May 18.

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