A curious communion. 
Liga Fever
by Phil Ball
8M ago
Grimsby v Solihull, June 2022 When anyone asks me which team I support, I always flinch slightly at the verb. I don’t ‘support’ Grimsby Town. The word suggests a pastime, a hobby, a magnanimous gesture.  My relationship with this team is something entirely different, as if they were an inexorable part of me, and me of them. They’re not an appendage, because that suggests something physical, but rather a part of my personality.  I’d prefer this not to sound too holistic or spiritual, but for those who worship at altars outside of the church of football, it’s a notion that cannot easil ..read more
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No Karim no party?
Liga Fever
by Phil Ball
11M ago
Real Madrid’s decision to wear black for the clásico at home – unprecedented if you ignore the time they once wore pink – gave the headline writers some cheap and instant metaphors for their weekend round-ups.  The obvious one being that they’d dressed up for their 120 year anniversary with a kit designed for the occasion, but ended the game in funeral colours.  Madrid remain nine points clear of Sevilla who could only draw at home to Real Sociedad, but the 0-4 result says a lot about this season’s rather curious dynamic. Men in black. Not flying better…. Curious because Madrid have ..read more
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Oh Dani Boy
Liga Fever
by Phil Ball
1y ago
Oh what a lovely weekend, with lots of interesting games and results to keep LaLiga lovers happy – where the sun finally broke through the clouds at Barcelona, shining on the Catalan paupers as they fielded their glossy new collection of Premier League rejects.  Only Griezmann was missing from the party, but Luis Suarez did manage to score against his old mates, even apologising as he ran back to the centre-circle…….but nobody seemed particularly interested. Old man Alves, refusing to be eclipsed by all the young pups on show, set up a goal for his friend on the left, Jordi Alba – and qui ..read more
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Matchday 22
Liga Fever
by Phil Ball
1y ago
In our last Quiniela, Phil and I started to compete on our weekly predictions. It wasn’t an auspicious start by any stretch of the imagination: after a decent 2/3 in Saturday’s matches, both of us only got one result right in the remaining seven matches, ending up tied at 3/10. This weekend looks a lot easier, or at least I keep telling myself so. Shall we? Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win. 1. Espanyol (11th) vs Betis (3rd). 21/1, 21:00 Eduardo Alvarez: 1. I know that Betis are in terrific shape, with Juanmi and Borja Iglesias scoring what Fekir and Ca ..read more
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Starting at the other end
Liga Fever
by Phil Ball
1y ago
Just for a change I think it might be nice to start at the other end of the football scale and leave the big boys for later on – a bit like starting Match of the Day with Watford v Burnley. That’s going to annoy somebody, but you know what I mean.  Another reason is that there are no league games now for a fortnight because the next round of the King’s Cup will be played next weekend, so there’s time for pause and reflection.  One particularly interesting match occurred on Saturday in Irun, on the Spain-France border (or if you’re Basque, on the border between the south and the north ..read more
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New Year, Old Socks
Liga Fever
by Phil Ball
1y ago
New Year, old socks, as my father used to say.  Anything new, borrowed or blue?  Well, as far as I can see from my lookout post here in the wild north of Spain, things are pretty much the same.  Real Madrid are blue having been defeated by Getafe (they play in blue, in case you didn’t get the joke), and was it simply a case of no-Vinicius-no-party?  Possibly, but the old socks would seem to be the tendency of Real Madrid to start every new year with some trepidation, and this year it was a player who is normally borrowed on loan (Enes Unal) but who now plays in blue who did ..read more
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Squid Game
Liga Fever
by Phil Ball
1y ago
Just finished Squid Game, and before you say ‘What took you so long?’ I have the pre-prepared retort that I prefer to let the hype settle before I tune in. I came late to Game of Thrones for the same reason, but returning to the Korean series, I wasn’t expecting that ending.  I won’t deliver a spoiler, but unexpected twists are hard to deliver these days….and in football terms, you probably know where this is heading.  It seems as if Spanish football is in need of ‘a Leicester’, a twist – and has been in need for some time now.   Every season we look for the possible candidate ..read more
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Matchday 18
Liga Fever
by Eduardo Álvarez
1y ago
Really tough weekend for predictions, as Covid has weakened some teams more than others. Let’s keep an eye on the absentees. The last matchday before the end of the year is usually full of upsets and shocking results, as players’ minds are usually elsewhere already. Shall we? Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win. I’ve forfeited Celta vs Espanyol, as I delivered this after the final whistle. 2. Rayo Vallecano (6th) vs Alavés (17th): 1. (18/12, 14:00) Alaves pulled a decent sequence of matches to leave the bottom of the table, but their last three (2L/1D ..read more
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Real Madrid’s title to lose
Liga Fever
by Eduardo Álvarez
1y ago
Well, that was slightly disappointing, Atleti. Some of us believed that, on the back of that miraculous classification for the knockout stages of the Champions League, the team would recover some of their swagger in their visit to the Bernabeu. It wasn’t meant to happen, though. Atleti did start well, or at least looking like they were controlling the match. But in the first chance that the Madridistas found to run, Vinicius found Benzema and the Frenchman’s volley put Real Madrid in the driving seat. That was all they needed to manage the game through their savvy midfielders, in this case tak ..read more
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Matchday 17
Liga Fever
by Phil Ball
1y ago
Matchday 17 As Julius Caesar said – a coward dies a thousand deaths but a valiant man tastes death only once.  I’ll try to be as valiant as possible here, but we do need to improve on Eduardo’s score of 3/10 last week. It’s one thing being valiant, but sometimes you need to get it right. I’ve stepped in this week because Ed (who is generally valiant in his predictions) is on a long-haul flight as I write. So let’s see if this week’s fixtures are any easier to predict.  Things tend to go slightly awry after a midweek’s European fare, for reasons of fatigue, morale or both. Talking of ..read more
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