Friday, September 2, 2011

What's With Spain's (Relative) Decline in Form?

Eduardo Alvarez says:

The national team indeed felt the consequences of this energetic renewal of the Madrid-Barcelona rivalry. The four consecutive derbies at the tail-end of last season, overhyped and played in an extremely charged atmosphere, have taken their toll in the hitherto successful and harmonious squad. David Villa and Alvaro Arbeloa barely speak to each other after their fight during the Copa del Rey final. Despite Sergio Ramos' efforts during Spain's summer tour, most Real Madrid players still refuse to accept Gerard Pique as one of their own team-mates in the national side. Xavi Hernandez still can't come to terms with the fact that Villa, his protege for both Barcelona and Spain, has suffered several dangerous fouls at the hands of his fellow Spain internationals when they have donned the Real Madrid shirt.

Although the summer tour seemed to have calmed the waters to some extent, the Supercopa final then stirred things up again brutally. Marcelo's challenge on Cesc Fabregas at the end of the match and the subsequent bench-clearing brawl only heightened the ill feeling among the internationals from both teams. Skipper Iker Casillas, initially incensed by what he thought was another instance of diving from Barcelona, re-watched the match, reflected on Marcelo's tackle and decided to call a truce by talking with Xavi and Carles Puyol. That he decided to leak these exchanges to the press got him in trouble with his coach and Real Madrid's media department, but it proved that someone finally had realised the risk of failing to deal with this abnormal level of tension between players on the same national team.

I love that everything changed when he watched that tackle: "Oh shit, that was a horribly dirty challenge. Sorry boys, I take it all back!"

Anyway, Chile has a two-goal lead on Spain through 20 minutes in today's friendly.

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