I got a phonecall from a friend who sounded a little down. His grandson, who is eight years old, became a diehard football fan at the precocious age of five. By the age of six he had acquired enough knowledge of the game to be able to enthusiastically discuss topics surrounding the sport like a typical madridista. But yesterday, my friend was surprised to see him watching a kids’ film on television. So he asked: “So you’re not bothered about watching the football?” The reply: “Football’s become boring”. I’m not sure if it was Saturday’s Madrid derby which provoked that response but that was the first thought that entered my head – a match played with excessive caution. It was a case of a lot of good players performing a mechanical routine to make sure the other side didn’t score.
Bleak outlook for Spanish football
And it wasn’t just the derby that failed to inspire. Sadly, the season in Spain has started with some ominous signs. Cristiano has left and no one has replaced him, Messi’s not himself right now and the players who have been touted as the next big thing have been a bit of a letdown. João Félix looked the part but he still to find his place at Atleti; Eden Hazard has done nothing so far - zero; Griezmann sticks out like a sore thumb at Barça. And similar can be said, in lesser or greater degree, about our clubs in the Champions League. Valencia scored a memorable win in London - but that was marred by the institutional crisis the club is bogged down by. Today, our football is showing signs of weakening.
Result-based approach taking the entertainment away from LaLiga
Without geniuses out on the pitch, tactics take over and entertainment takes a back seat. No coach suffers to gain a 0-0 draw. Zidane was happy with the result but Sergio Ramos wasn’t. El Cholo, who has been setting the tone in LaLiga, is well known for getting tight results. And if to that we add in the new changes to the rules (from the age of 12 until I turned 50, they were hardly touched – my friend’s grandson has seen more changes in the past three years) a clearer picture of what’s happening starts to emerge. Anyway, I hope Messi is back soon and that João Félix and Hazard start to click with their respective teams. In the meantime, I’ll be quite content watching the likes of Jesús Navas, Cazorla and Joaquín – or the thrilling contest which Sevilla and Real Sociedad put on for us to at the Pizjuán last night.