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SHARES
14 March 2008
Manchester La Fianna are flying. We’ve won nine on the bounce and risen to the top of the 24-team Barcelona International Football League with eight games to play.
SHARES
14 March 2008
In the end it was a cry for help rather than a full-blown attempt at professional suicide.
SHARES
13 March 2008
Before every La Liga game last Sunday, a minute’s silence was held in memory of Isaías Carrasco, the PSOE councillor from Mondragón who was shot three times and killed by ETA as the Basque terrorist group sought to disrupt the run-in to the Spanish general elections. The silence was impeccably observed everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except for two places: Osasuna’s Reyno de Navarra stadium, where they instead opted (as is the club’s tradition) for applause, and Athletic Bilbao’s San Mamés, where the response of some radical fans turned a minute’s silence into sixteen seconds of quiet punctured with shouts and abuse. The failure to complete a minute’s silence at San Mamés has inevitably brought criticism of a club that has often been seen - and seen itself - as the footballing expression of Basque nationalism. It has been attacked as another example of the institution being tacit, implicit supporters of ETA. And yet there is another way of looking at it. Athletic have long-since claimed that it is their policy not to hold a minute’s silence for anyone. The claim is not quite true --  in 1978 there was a minute’s silence for the etarra José Miguel Beñarán and in 1984 Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao together carried a Basque flag onto the pitch after the assassination of the leader of the Basque separatist party Herri Batasuna, Santiago Brourard.
SHARES
12 March 2008
In this 'buy coffee, sell tea', dog-eat-dog, 'I drink your milkshake' world there is nothing more exasperating than the Spanish 'abuela' or grandmother. With her strange bouffant hair, fur coat and hatred of humanity, she is a frightening combination of Yeti, prop forward and Harpy. The 'abuela' can make your life a misery if you happen to be in a bit of hurry. And may the gods of Olympus help you if you happen to be married to one of their daughters. Pop in to grab a couple of plums at your local greengrocer and there she'll be, bickering with the owner and sniffing every strawberry. Go to a cafe and there she'll be, barking orders at waitresses and overpowering you with a scent that is a mixture of Estée Lauder and carpet cleaner. Everyday is a slow day for the 'abuela'. Which is why she will appreciate Wednesday in Spain, where diddly squat is going on. Nada. Nothing. In Barcelona, 'Sport' have done what they always do on such a day. And that's run an internet poll and publish it as news. Last week's question of 'does Andres Iniesta cover his nose to hunt seals?' has been replaced with 'which attacking trio would you like to see ambling about the pitch against Almería?' The reply from the Catalan paper's work-dodging readership was Bojan, Eto'o and Iniesta. 'Marca' have gone for interviewing the Italian comedian who did the least successful impersonation of Nicolas Cage since Beth Ditto broke onto the set of Con Air. And the mamma-mia-ing chirpy chappy talked about his experience on the Real Madrid presidential balcony confessing that he had never been given such a large amount of free stuff in his life. Rojiblanco president and all round figure of fun, Enrique Cerezo, decided to attend a footballing forum where the topic of discussion was "Atlético Madrid and its Circumstances". Despite being rewarded with a half an hour lecture on football management in the 21st century - although what Cerezo knows about that could be written on Guti's acorn-sized brain - the audience of rojiblanco fans were left unimpressed. "If I had closed my eyes, I wouldn't have known whether he was speaking about Atlético Madrid or Corte Inglés (a department store)", admitted one audience member. Espanyol's leadership are spending the week contemplating how to boost their flagging European campaign and what action to take against Raul Tamudo for getting himself sent off after Saturday's Real Madrid match had finished. Actually, that's a big fat lie. Espanyol's leadership are spending the week deciding whether to have the Catalan flag on their shirts, next season. And that's exactly why only Barcelona and Getafe are the only Spanish clubs left in Europe, this season. And it could be one less, on Thursday morning, if Getafe fail to hang onto their 2-1 lead over Benfica, on Wednesday night. Noises from Valencia suggest that Ronald Koeman will be kicked out of Mestalla, should he fail to deliver a Copa del Rey final to his beleaguered bosses. The Dutch coach took over with the club in 4th and four points off the top. They are now ninth and twenty-six off the top with Koeman having managed just 15 points from the past 48. A fine performance, indeed, and well worth the 3 million euro pay off he'll get, should his booty be binned.
SHARES
12 March 2008
Italy is a country that has little time to pick over the bones of the dead.
SHARES
12 March 2008
Early this year, Fluminense managed to sign three fantastic strikers for their return to the Copa Libertadores. Two of them, to the fans delight, were snapped up at the peak of their form from under the noses of their cross-town arch-rivals: Leandro Amaral from Vasco da Gama, and Dodô from Botafogo.
SHARES
11 March 2008
I was reading The Sunday Times on the metro to the Camp Nou ahead of Barca’s title-denting defeat to a very well-organised Villarreal side. The excellent team spirit among the Villarreal players was evident the night before in Barcelona’s Hilton hotel.
SHARES
11 March 2008
Buenos Aires is a wonderful city.
SHARES
11 March 2008
After several days spent wandering the gold-paved streets of Hove pondering the conundrum of how some herbs and melted cheese stuffed in a focaccia can cost seven pounds frickin' fifty, La Liga Loca has returned poorer but no wiser to sunny Spain.
SHARES
11 March 2008
Inter held an intimate birthday party for 600 on Sunday to celebrate the club’s centenary.

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