Rayo Vallecano x Sausages and Caviar

Settled in the neighbourhood of Vallecas, Rayo Vallecano is celebrating 90 years of being a proud presence in Madrid that steps far away from the world of Galacticos. After their trip to see Union Berlin’s supporter and club culture, Jason and Kai went to Spain’s capital with help from our friend Dermot Corrigan to discover another loyal, local fanbase.

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Inside El Clásico

400 million watched, but only for 90 minutes. Even with the excessive coverage from the Spanish press, so much is lost in the build-up to one of the biggest spectacles in world football. With access a reporter could only dream of, FC Barcelona released a video of the scenes before and after the big match at the Camp Nou. The nerves, the fans, the hundreds of cameras, they’re all captured. Watch the full feature here. [Posted by Eric]

Imagining the Iberian Championship: Castilla conquers Group B

By Dermot Corrigan, writing from Madrid.

The tournament: Introduction and Group Draw. Group A.

Group B began with Castilla, Euskadi, Cantabria y Asturias Las Islas Unidas all confident they were in with a chance of making the final four, although the bookies had Míchel’s centralistas and Unai Emery’s Basques as clear favourites to claim the two qualifying places on offer.

As the Bernabéu was unavailable due to repairs to its non-alcoholic beer taps, and a Keane concert at the Calderón, the footballing aristocrats of Castilla were forced to begin their campaign at home to Las Islas Unidas at the less majestic surroundings of Estadio Vallecas.

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Imagining the Iberian Championship

By Dermot Corrigan, writing imagining in Madrid

While the recently growing calls for Catalan independence have led to a number of very tricky questions for politicians at local, national and European levels to ponder, they have - more importantly of course - also caused football fans to scratch their heads and wonder about the possibles issues that would arise. Along with the proposal of no more Barca-Real Madrid clásicos in La Liga, there was the idea of a Catalan national side taking part in the World Cup or European Championships and (quite likely) meeting the rump Spain team in the latter stages.

For many football watchers, this might actually be a good thing, given Spain’s dominance of international football (at senior and underage levels) over the past six years. La Roja’s ability to easily beat everyone else has become so predictable that some have grown to see current international football as boring and not worth watching. That viewpoint is a bit extreme, but even those who like watching Spain play can see the problems their untouchable excellence is causing. Coach Vicente del Bosque lamented recently that he could not find a place for Chelsea attacker Juan Mata, maybe the most in-form player in the Premier League, in his 23 man squad. “We have a problem of quantity not quality,” he said. This got us to thinking…

It does seem that the time is now ripe to establish a new competition, making use of the great wealth of talent being produced within Spain’s (current) borders, by forming new representative teams along more regional lines. While seeing Barcelona icon Xavi Hernández and Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas overcome their club rivalries to pull together in the same national team has become a common sight, the idea of Xavi lining up for Catalonia against Andrés Iniesta in a Spain shirt needs a bit of time to get your head around. But it is then actually pretty exciting. Go a bit further along the same line, by giving all Spain’s other regions / nations their own teams, and you soon get Catalonia’s Gerard Piqué marking Asturias’s David Villa and Andalucia’s Sergio Ramos clattering into the Basque Country’s Xabi Alonso.

The strength and widespread interest in such a potential new competition can be taken for granted. Remembering Jonathan Wilson’s SI.com made-up tournament to determine the best club side ever, A Football Report decided to hold an eight team tournament, with two groups of four, and the top two teams in each then progressing to the semi-finals. Players could only be born within today’s Spanish national border and must represent the team of their birthplace (as decided by Marca’s excellently encylopaedic Guía de La Liga 2013).

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Will Iniesta pull the strings in tonight’s ‘El Clásico’?

It’s probably the most spoken about rivalry in modern football, Real Madrid vs Barcelona, simply known as El Clásico. Nike have launched a new video promoting their latest CTR360 boot featuring the visionary Andres Iniesta. Although it’s not explicitly described, it’s evident that the white opponents represent Barcelona’s eternal rivals, Real Madrid. It may only the first leg of the Supercopa de España but everybody wants to win and from a Blaugrana perspective, Iniesta will be pulling the strings. [DV]

Disrupting Accepted Narratives: On Spain’s Olympics and Selective Memory

By Jordan Brown

Spain’s summer tournaments are over, with the results being a glorious and historic victory, and a quietly disgraceful defeat.  For all the glowing press that came out of Spain’s record-setting Euro 2012 performance, there is a comparative hill of silence with regards to their Olympic stumble. Sources that can usually be trusted to have something to say about such a story have been moot, both online and in print.

Michael Cox’s Zonal-Marking seems to be on hiatus after the Euros—offering us no autopsy of the exit, the usually insightful Sid Lowe only wrote an early Olympics piece on De Gea’s expectations for the tournament (pre-ignominy), but curiously—nothing since. No feature on the Football Ramble, nothing but match recaps on Soccernet, and in some cosmic coincidence Spanishfootball.info is down for maintenance. Now these may not be everyone’s personal sources for football coverage, but they’re on my daily round, so to find no real response to Spain’s poor display was surprising. Why aren’t we talking about this?

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The history of Spanish fútbol.

"Spain: Home of Picasso, Penelope Cruz, and, for some time, Fascism."

Ahead of EURO 2012, The Guardian is doing a series of videos telling the stories of Europe’s most acclaimed national teams. Alongside some delightful animation, James Richardson shares Spain’s story, given that España is expected to win yet another trophy this summer. In their words, let’s go through “the history of the Spanish national side, from their refusal to play in the first World Cup to glory at last in 2008 and 2010, via penalty misery in England and plenty of political interference.” [posted by EB]

What are the Implications of Early La Liga Kickoffs?

By Tanuj Lakhina, writing from Delhi

Real Madrid played Osasuna at 12 pm (Madrid time) last Sunday at the Santiago Bernabeu. It was an easy and convincing win for the Merengues as they beat their opponents 7-1 with Cristiano Ronaldo bagging yet another hat-trick.

The early kickoff is a concept introduced by Liga de Futbol Profesional (LFP) to compete with the English Premier League and gain some more eyeballs in South East Asia and far East Asia, where the Premiership attracts far more attention. Rayo Vallecano played host to Espanyol in the first week at 12 PM, Betis hosted Vallecano at 12 PM the next week, Gijon played Bilbao at 12 PM on 30th October and now one of the big clubs played early on.

While this early kick off may have been a problem for viewers and fans in North America for whom it would have been early morning, it was the perfect setting for fans in countries like Indonesia, China and Japan who otherwise are accustomed to setting alarms for ungodly hours in the middle of the night to see their favourite teams and stars in action.

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The past doesn’t count. Everything is starting again. Spain continues to strengthen.

With a friendly against England at Wembley on Saturday and the EUROs on the horizon, the time has come for Spain to refresh, and forget everything. Everything won. Everything created.

The Message:

Iker: “No one came to welcome us”
Silva: “We didn’t create a new way of playing football”
Xabi: “We weren’t admired by the whole world”
Iker: “We didn’t take a whole country to the streets”
Villa: “I wasn’t the top scorer”
Llorente: “We couldn’t bear the pressure”
Del Bosque: “We didn’t change the conception of football”
Xavi: “I wasn’t the best football player in the Euro 2008”
Llorente: “We are not a team”
Xavi: “We are not European Champions”
Villa: “We are not World Champions”

The shirt is new, the meaning of wearing it remains the same. Always.

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