I primarily focus my attention (and this site) on the English Premier League. In my humble opinion, it is the best soccer to watch in the world. It may not have the top two or three players in the world, but overall competition among clubs can’t be beat. There are more than two teams that have a chance to win the title each year (looking at you, La Liga), and it’s not rife with corruption and racism (ahem, Serie A). I’ll admit I watch little of the Bundesliga and even less of Ligue 1, so I’ll leave them out of this.
Yesterday, I did watch a good amount of the Spanish Super Cup game between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. And two things really stuck out to me: 1.) They are brilliant players with a ton of individual and team skill, and 2.) They’re whiny bitches who would rather let the ref decide the game than their ability.
I’ll try to stick to the positives first, the skill. Atletico Madrid were hosting this first leg of the Super Cup against Barcelona and that meant a lot of different things. Atletico are possibly the only team who consistently has a chance of challenging Barca and Real Madrid for supremacy in La Liga, and this offseason they bolstered their team with the addition of world class striker David Villa. Villa used to play for Barcelona but was pretty much frozen out of the squad last season and left on somewhat contentious terms with the Catalan club. So when the schedules for the season came out he must have been licking his lips at the first time he got to face his former employers. And last night he wasted no time getting his revenge with a brilliant goal to put Atletico up 1-0 in the first half. Nor did he waste his time in celebrating with his teammates after a beautiful build up to the goal. This is the skill that Spanish football can provide:
Aaaaaand there’s the other side of the story, which threatens to overshadow the skill on display. The way that Spanish football is played and the style most sides use, particularly made famous by Barcelona (the tiki-taka style), lends itself to be vulnerable to poorly timed tackles. Maybe this is on purpose, I don’t know, but it works as an effective passing style as well as earning free kicks. So with so many free kicks and little clips on a players heel or ankle, you’re bound to get a couple players diving here and there and going down a bit too easy. Well this shit has gotten out of hand. Prime example is last night on two separate occasions. The first was Jordi Alba already on the ground and Atletico’s Diego Costa walking by giving him a pat on the head, which seemed innocent enough. As soon as the rest of the Barca players see this and Jordi Alba’s ridiculous reaction, they freak their shit and all make a B-line for the ref to put in their complaints:
The second situation came in the second half after Sergio Busquets blatantly takes out David Villa with a poor tackle. It’s not doubt a foul, and it gets called. It probably did deserve a yellow card as well (which would be Busquets’ second yellow). But that’s not my problem here. What really chaps my ass is that it’s now Atletico’s turn to chase the referee around the field, complaining and lobbying for the card. Look at these assholes! They look like idiots.
If I’m an impartial viewer (which I’ll admit I’m not) of La Liga, this would really turn me off. Just play the beautiful game as you’re clearly capable of doing, and let the referee make the calls and determine who gets the cards. It seems they care too much about getting a player sent off, getting the free kick just outside the box, or going to ground too easily inside the box. Let your skill determine the winner and it’ll all play out as it should.
Also, Busquets can fuck right off.