Fixture computer farce making a mess of La Liga

They say that if you get 1000 monkeys to bash away at 1000 typewriters, they’d eventually come up with the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Now, obviously “they” say a lot of things – and most of it’s complete balls. But La Liga Loca’s prepared to believe them on this one. After all, if you got a single monkey bashing away at a single typewriter - a single, short-sighted, dyslexic monkey with writer’s cramp, a caffeine dependency and a 60-a-day habit bashing away at a broken typewriter where the “e” doesn’t work and the “s” keeps on bloody ssssticking – you’d certainly get the La Liga fixtures.

"Right, let's put Real vs Barca on a Thursday night in March"

Yes, boys and girls, they’ve done it again. The league that crams in Madrid-Barça late on a Thursday night; that can’t tell you when the games are going to be played until a week before and often can’t even tell you then; that spread the final day of the 2005/06 season over three different days, has done it again. Five games in and Sporting Gijón haven’t won a single game. In fact, they’ve not won a single point. And they’ve conceded a whopping 20 goals. Which might be because they’re rubbish. Or it might be because after waiting 10 long years to get back into the first division the poor sods have already had to play Sevilla, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Villarreal. Not so much an uphill start as trying to crank a Citroen 2CV into gear on the north face of the Eiger. 

With an elephant in the boot. No wonder they’re sitting at the bottom cursing their luck.    They’re not alone either. Málaga are down there too, but they really are rubbish. So are Racing Santander and Real Betis, and they aren’t.

Instead, Racing Santander have also had to play Sevilla, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Villarreal, while Betis have already faced Sevilla, Barcelona and Real Madrid – and still have Villarreal to come.If you’re detecting a bit of a pattern, it’s because there’s a bit of a pattern to detect.

And that’s the point. You see, every single team this season has to play Sevilla, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Villarreal in a row. In that order. Twice. Which means that the league table is as hideously skewed as Peter Beardsley’s jaw and which really doesn’t strike La Liga Loca as particularly fair. It certainly doesn’t strike La Liga Loca as very good. Is it fair to sink a team before they’ve even started? Is it fair to give other teams a slow run into the season, a gentle ramp to get them flying? Or is it actually better to get the big boys before they’re up and running? Do Real Madrid have a great big advantage by always following in Barcelona’s footsteps? Are they playing shattered teams who’ve given  their all the previous week, teams that can’t raise themselves again?

Are they playing teams whose morale is sunk after a defeat and who, if they have beaten Madrid, have had their day in the sun and don’t need  another, thank you very much?

Sporting suffer 6-1 drubbing by Barcelona one week... 

Are they playing teams riddled with suspensions after they’ve flown into every tackle against Barcelona the week before? Or is coming after Barcelona actually a disadvantage? Are Madrid going to play teams with extra motivation coming off the back of Barça?And if it’s an advantage for Madrid, is it an even bigger advantage for Villarreal, who get teams who’ve run themselves into the ground for three weeks running? Is it in fact a huge advantage for Mallorca, who week after week get the side that’s just come out of that four game run and are either a) knackered?, b) racked with suspensions after a month of vainly booting the big boys about? or c) completely lacking in intensity, suddenly ripe for the taking having relaxed after finally getting the big boys out the way? Might that explain the fact that Mallorca – a team that are not very good – currently sit so pretty? And it gets worse too. Because where the pattern can’t be entirely maintained – because Madrid can’t play Madrid (hell, they won’t even play against their own on-loan players so you haven’t got a hope in hell of getting them to play themselves) – it’s Valencia, those other title contenders, who’ve been slotted in. In other words, Sevilla-Barcelona, Barcelona-Valencia, Madrid-Sevilla, Barcelona-Madrid, Sevilla-Villarreal, Madrid-Valencia, Villarreal-Barcelona, Valencia-Atlético, and Madrid-Villarreal all happen within a six-week period.

Two six-week periods, in fact - Weeks 13 to 18 and 32 to 37.What happens if Madrid’s, Barcelona’s, Valencia’s, Villarreal’s or Sevilla’s key player gets injured during that period? Is it adiós, aspirations? The league is supposed to be a test of which team is the strongest over 38 weeks.

Instead, it could end up being a test of who’s strongest over two six-week spells. Is that fair?

...and are then spanked 7-1 by Real Madrid the next 

So many questions. And La Liga Loca doesn’t honestly know the answers. What it does know is that rather than having great games all season long, there are going to be at least 14 weeks this season when there isn’t a single game worth watching – and, yes, we were sad enough to go through them one by one. What it does know is that the clashes mean that seeing some of the season’s big games is going to be impossible, that when you’re trying to get to Barcelona-Valencia you’ll be missing Madrid-Sevilla, and when Madrid play Barcelona you’ll be missing Sevilla-Villarreal.What it does know is that it’s a mess. And a pain in the arse.

Especially for uber-blogs like La Liga Loca that like a heavyweight clash to report on every week. And not sodding Getafe-Sevilla. So, don’t blame us when we have to talk about that. Blame that monkey with the cigarette hanging out his gob and the typewriter between his legs.

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