Barcelona were crowned La Liga champions on Sunday with a 4-2 win at Deportivo, and are still unbeaten this season, but many are still struggling to forget the unprecedented Champions League quarter-final defeat by Roma.
Elsewhere, Bale gives Zinedine Zidane a headache, and Atletico play poker with their star goalkeeper…
Title v Champions League
There’s an interesting discussion coming out of Barcelona’s title win, from both the camp and the media. It is: do we celebrate this Double or not? Obviously the players have decided that they have to, and it is an extraordinary achievement.
It’s the eighth Double in their history, their seventh title in 10 years, which is close to domination in the last decade, and it’s the ninth league for Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta.
There are a lot of things to celebrate, but they were hit badly by the defeat against Roma. In my eyes there has been a realisation that the squad is not good enough, hence them wanting to change a third of it.
It’s also indicative of the conversation had, more on social media than the football world, about what gives you more glory: to win the Champions League or to dominate the league?
The league is losing glamour; the Champions League has all of the big names involved, and of course it is the best representation of a club competition.
I spoke to Pep Guardiola about this recently. He said: “How can I tell my players, or my kids, that they have to work hard every day to become the best they can be, to go as far as they can in life, and then celebrate a cup success or Champions League success more than a league success?”
In this superficial world, where the last victory or defeat defines a whole season, the league should represent the biggest success. No doubt about it.
Why no Messi?
Obviously there were tears all over Spain and the world after Iniesta announced he was leaving. It is the end of an era, and a realisation that our heroes don’t last forever.
But many people were asking: Why was Lionel Messi not at the press conference?
Answer: He had a passport renewal appointment, for him, his wife and two of his kids. He couldn’t change it, he needs the passport for the World Cup, so he needed to do it. He told Iniesta, he said no problem, so that’s that.
Bale giving Zidane headache
Gareth Bale is making things difficult for Zinedine Zidane.
Bale has certainly taken advantage of the chances he has been given in the last month or so in terms of making an impact, scoring goals, working hard without the ball, but it’s the lack of consistency which is killing Zidane.
He played the whole game against Leganes, which makes me think he won’t start on Tuesday against Bayern Munich.
I insist on what I’ve been saying: Real Madrid are telling him they don’t want to sell him, he’s saying he doesn’t want to go, but Real are making steps to try to sell him behind the scenes.
Atletico want to call Oblak bluff
Jan Oblak didn’t play at the weekend, and if he doesn’t play any more games he will win the Zamora trophy, given to the goalkeeper who has conceded the least goals.
PSG are still trying to convince Atletico Madrid to take Goncalo Guedes, who is on loan at Valencia, and for Oblak to go the other way with some money exchanged too.
Oblak is pushing Atletico to renew his contract, which was renewed two years ago until 2021, and he has a buy-out clause of 100m euros.
But Atletico are not in a rush, they don’t want to push this on. They are convinced he has offers from PSG, but he’s not the only one, and they want to call his bluff too, because they are convinced he wants to stay. We’ll see who blinks first.
Sevilla project a failure
It’s all wrapped up in La Liga with four games to go, apart from seventh place, which is surprising, and doesn’t normally happen.
For that seventh place, Sevilla want to fight it, so they got rid of Vincenzo Montella, who picked up 19 points out of a possible 51, but took them to a final. But the way they lost that final was a killer, and was decisive in his sacking.
He took them to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but lost his job. It was the 13th change of manager in La Liga, and also the third in Sevilla.
It was an ambitious project this year, it was the biggest budget the club have ever had, and it is widely considered a failure.
Sevilla went nine without winning, their worst run this century, and Montella mainly used the same XI with two or three changes, tiring the team out. He didn’t send a clear message of what he wanted from the players.