Girona vs Real Madrid: Zinedine Zidane's men arrive to cheers
There was a degree of concern over Real Madrid visiting Girona at such an acute point in the Catalan crisis, but, when it came to it, they arrived at their team hotel to cheers. It's not as if they're the Bourbon Army, after all; they're just Real Madrid. They arouse ill-feeling in no shortage of places, of course; but, wherever they go, there is also support for them. And they are much better thought of in Girona than many might think, because between 1977 and 1981 they appeared four times in the club's Trofeo Inmortal Girona pre-season fixture, helping to ensure excellent gate receipts and plenty of on-field entertainment. Those were the years of Vicente del Bosque, Juanito and Santillana. It was the Real Madrid side of all the 'Garcías' that lost the European Cup final to Liverpool in Paris.
I expect an excellent evening of football at Montilivi
I expect no less than a fine evening's football, albeit with a smattering of allusions to the situation we're in. Girona are in their first season in Primera, generating huge excitement in the city. Soccer is only the most important of the things that aren't important; it doesn't offer solutions. But it does put smiles on faces. That's what we should expect of it. In their pre-match comments, coaches Pablo Machín and Zinedine Zidane said much the same. Meanwhile, the pressure will be firmly on Real after another victory for Barcelona, who won at San Mamés despite playing really quite poorly. Lionel Messi carried the team. He scored the first, which he carved out in combination with Jordi Alba, and led the attack that brought the second, with the clash by this stage in time added on.
Real Madrid mourn the death of legend Manuel Sanchís Sr
Before kick-off in Bilbao, the sad news arrived of the death of Manuel Sanchís Sr, a member of the 'ye-ye' Real team that won the European Cup in 1966. A champion of Europe, and the father of a champion of Europe. Born in Alberique, near Valencia, he actually learned his trade in Catalonia, playing for Condal, Barcelona's 'B' team at the time. They didn't fancy him, so he moved on to Valladolid, and from there to Real, where he became a legend. A full-back who was tough to get past, he would recover his position with great pace when it did happen, and joined in the attack with energy and no little skill on the ball. His rolled-down socks and electric style of play made him a hit with the fans. At the '66 World Cup, he scored one of Spain's most memorable goals in a win over Switzerland. Rest in peace.
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