La Liga: ‘Botellazo 2: The Return!’

Last season’s Betis v Sevilla game in the Copa del Rey was marred with a ‘botellazo’ (basically meaning a huge hit with a bottle) to the face of Juande Ramos. Ramos was knocked unconscious and spent the night in the hospital and the game was suspended.

Even my girlfriend, who actually knows more about Spanish Football then I ever dreamed possible, remembers the Juande Ramos incident from last year, saying ’30 rows up? Man that guy has great aim.’ I agree love, that’s the first thing that came to my mind.

In case you didn’t see it, look here.

Basically a manhunt ensued for the culprit who through the bottle and he was later caught and expelled for life from the Betis stadium. I remember seeing the grainy pictures for about 2 weeks every morning when I went to work out in the gym as they searched far and wide.

Well, tonight’s Betis v Athletic Bilbao game could be called ‘Botellazo 2: The Return’. During the game which was 2-1 in favor of the Basques, Athletic keeper Armando Riviero went behind the net to retrieve the ball for a goal kick. While walking back, a fan walked down to the edge of the stand and tossed what looked like a plastic bottle filled with water at the keeper. The bottle struck Armando in the right eye and he immediately fell to the ground wincing in pain. He was stretchered off and received several stitches in his eye.

Betis immediately made a statement on their Web Page following the game condemming the acts that took place. They identify the tosser (take it with both connotations) as C.P.R (which I find to be somewhat ironic) and say that he wasn’t a socio but he was just there for the game. They also thanked the fans who turned him in so quickly.

I agree that yes, some fans are stupid and ‘it can happen anywhere.’ But this is twice in as many years that it’s happened at the Estadio Manuel Ruiz de Lopera.

I hear that the Rifle and Archery associations of Spain are looking to sign up some Betis fans for the Olympics this summer. Seriously, these fans are the most accurate bunch of football fans I have ever seen. Let these guys win a medal for god sakes. If bottle throwing was a sports, these guys would be the fucking world champs 10 times over.

Here is the translation on Goal.com for those of you who don’t ‘hablo español’ (cue Chris Farley voice).

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La Liga: ”If the players are sick, they should go to the shrink!”

Javier Clemente, new coach at Real Murcia after the sacking of Lucas Alcaraz, did anything buy shine in his debut on Sunday, falling 3-0 to Getafe. However, this former almost appointed manager of Iran had this to say after the loss.

“está enfermo, pero mientras hay vida hay esperanza”, que cree en eso “lo mismo que en Dios” y que “si los jugadores están mal, que vayan al psiquiatra”.

[the club] is sick, but while there’s still live, there’s still hope. [The club] believes in this “the say way they believe in God” and “if the players are sick, they should go to the psychiatrist.”

So apparently Clemente thinks all of his problems with the club might be solved by a little trip to the shrink. Or maybe Clemente realizes they are currently sitting in 19th place on 23 points, six behind 18th place Recreativo and a chance to stay in the top flight this year.

Clemente does know what he’s doing for those of you who think he may be a bit mad. This is the man that managed the 1983 and 1984 Athletic Bilbao team who won back to back La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey crown as well.

He’s also the manager involved in what Four Four Two called one of the top 50 best fights in soccer history, when Andoni Goikoetxea annihilated Diego Maradona from behind, solidfying the feeling of his ‘hardcore’ Athletic team at that time.  The following meeting between the two clubs, and after 106 days on the sidelines with a shattered ankle, Diego Maradona extracted his revenge with a bicycle kick to the face of Bilbao’s keeper.

Maybe Maradona should have went to the shrink.

La Liga: Athletic Bilbao-Homegrown Footballers at Their Finest

From a foreigner’s perspective, Spain is truly an interesting county. For those of you that don’t remember my previous post on Spanish Football and Basque Nationalism Spain has a ‘central’ culture, but most Spainards feel more of a cultural tie to the region where they are from. Ask someone from Barcelona where they are from and they will tell you they are Spanish simply because you don’t know where Catalonia is or what the Catalan language sounds like. But, ask them again where they are ‘really’ from and they will tell you they are Catalan. The same goes for the Basques who live in the north. Many Basques consider themselves to be ‘Basque’ and not ‘Spanish’.

Spain has a very long, historical tradition of ‘home-growing’ their footballers and bringing them up through the ranks. I mentioned this policy briefly in the Athletic Bilbao season preview, but it is really something that I would like to shine a bit of light on for everyone to see.

Cantera is a Spanish word meaning ‘quarry’, but more importantly for us, it refers to Spanish youth sides, or the process of the bringing a player up through the youth ranks. No where else is the cantera policy more prevalent then in Athletic Bilbao, and no where else is a side more homegrown than in the Basque capital.

Athletic Bilbao have a simple ‘policy’ when summed up says ‘If you aren’t basque, you don’t play for us.’ The actual saying used is

Con cantera y afición, no hace falta importación.
With home-grown support and a fan base, you don’t need foreigners’,

This policy is more of a ‘practice’ than a ‘law’ per se, since there is nothing written in stone on this subject. However, most Athletic fans feel this policy gives them identity, something minorities in Spain love to express and feel.

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Catalunya vs Euskal Herria–When Language, Culture and Football mix in Spain

Spanish football is never short of passion. Real Madrid-Barcelona ‘clasicos’ divide families and towns in two when these teams meet twice a year in the Spanish La Liga. The Sevilla-Betis derby literally divides the city of Sevilla in two just like the Barcelona-Espanyol and Levante-Valencia matches. The passion felt in these matches is something like I’ve never seen.

This passion is also carried over into what is a ‘strange’ part of Spanish football. That is, the battle of the autonomous regions. On Saturday, the Spanish autonomous regions of Catalunya and ‘Euskal Herria’ (which literally means Country of the Basques’ in Basque) will take to the field in a game that is garnering quite the attention in Spain and will pack the San Mames in Bilbao. I bet you are asking: Why is this game so much more than a game? To do that, we will need to go further into the history of Spain itself.

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The Morning Hi-5-Weds 11/7

The best footy links you can check out while pondering why the British are so damn funny…

1) Barcelona takes to the field against the Scottish wall that is Rangers…(Barcelona Offside)

2) Another Sevilla blog, actually in English. Rafa is the head of starting up the Sevilla Peña in America...(Brigada Americana)

3) Beach Soccer anyone? Spain beats the US in the opening round of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup…(SI)

4) You think medics would know how to pick up a stretcher…(The Red Cauldron)

5) Phil Ball takes a trip to the Basque region. Don’t go near any ATM’s!!! (ESPNSoccernet)

And here’s some beach soccer action for everyone. Don’t forget to check out the Champions League games on http://www.live-footy.org. That’s where I’ll be.