Cristiano Ronaldo and one o’clock football

The return of Ronaldo

As announced, Cristiano is set to return. The Portuguese will be back in action against Osasuna, 61 days after Payet’s ugly tackle, which condemned him to kick every ball in the final stages of the match from the touchline. It’s been a long summer nursing that injured ligament back to health but he’s sure to return in great shape. That said, it’s a good thing that he’s starting to think about taking care of his body; it’s not that he’ll get the same injury again, but he might pick up others. Just like Messi, he doesn’t let up for one minute and, like Messi, he has achieved so much that managing his playing time will see him finish the season better.

Real Madrid - Osasuna

Two sides face each other who come off the back of miracle, albeit in contrasting circumstances. Madrid’s season followed one calamity after another: Ancelotti, De Gea, Cheryshev, the 0-4 against Barça, the fall of Benítez, whistling Florentino, FIFA. After that, two favourable draws and a narrow Champions League victory in the final against Atlético (who had dispatched both Barça and Bayern) on their path to glory. Osasuna, on the other hand, saved themselves two years ago from dropping down to Segunda B thanks to a 90th-minute goal by Flaño on the final day of the season. Last year, they beat Girona in the playoffs in Ponferrada through an 86th-minute goal. Their performance to gain promotion was impeccable.

New kick-off time

Today’s game gets under way one hour after the end of the Celta-Atlético clash, the first to see in a new kick-off time: Saturday at one o’clock. The decision was made to do away with those unruly kick-off times, and this time the Celta season ticket holders are on the end of it. However, this is part of LaLiga’s push to tap into the international markets as it goes up against the Premier League and the Bundesliga, and as things stand we’ll just have to put up with it. Fans that go to the ground only pay a smaller share of the club’s budget; in Celta’s case 10%, so LaLiga inform me. From the TV rights they get 70%, which would explain why they’re looking for these kick-off times.