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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Foreign Cup Finals....

And now for something completely different. In case you missed it, yesterday was Spanish Cup Final day. A Wednesday? Yeh, a midweek game, starting at the absurd time, for an Englishman anyway, of 10 o'clock. Well, ten past actually, this is Spain after all.
And you'd be surprised by the football as well. After watching Birmingham at the weekend on the box - what the hell are they doing in the Premier? - the contrast couldn't be more apparent.
In fact the style of football was very English with both teams, Valencia and Getafe, working hard and crowding out the player in possession forcing the team with the ball to display crowd-pleasing amounts of elaborate ball-passing skills. And then falling over, in dramatic fashion. This is Spain after all. Valencia, of course, have been the most english of Spanish teams for many years now and last night being their last chance to get into Europe next season, they were determined to take it. Not to mention that a defeat would probably have cost new manager Ronald Koeman his job, Valencia being down in 15th place in La Liga.
Getafe, meanwhile, seemed to be relying on the footballing rule that says ( as we well know) that a team appearing in its second successive final, after losing the first, is bound to win, and therefore as usual started off far too relaxed.
Perhaps two games against the dreadful Bayern Munich in the UEFA Quarter-Final over the last couple of weeks had given them too much belief in themselves. Over 3 and a half hours of football they had played the Germans off the park in both legs, in the process forcing the Germans to launch hundreds of desperate long balls into the box ala Birmingham in fact, to draw 4-4 on aggregate, only to lose on the away goal rule, to a last minute header after being 3-1 up in the return leg with 5 minutes left and that after with playing almost 2 hours with 10 men.
Well, anyway you've guessed last nights outcome. There were no dream-like endings for the small Madrid club. Little Getafe, budget around 20 million Euros, lost 3-1 to the Big Boys Valencia, budget 139 million, mainly through a poor start - where have we seen that before - conceding twice in the first 10 minutes. A spirited fightback to 2-1 at the interval, because even here, spirit is one thing the little clubs have, was in vain.
It was of course to be expected, even though Getafe had been handed the advantage of a final played in Madrid only a few miles from their humble home in the south of the city. Valencia, meanwhile, had to travel 450 KM.
But it's hard not to feel a bit sorry for Getafe, a team fighting every week in the La Liga on gates and budgets a mere fraction of the other clubs, because in reality they are not so unlike our own. They were, of course, one of the teams that tried to tempt Rommers to join them last summer. Thankfully, he was not on display last night because he would have been a bit lost as the football whirred around him.
So, once again, depressingly the Big Club wins in the end and we can only think back 6 years, in Spanish football anyway, for some consolation. That year it was decided that it would be a great idea to celebrate the holy Real Madrids centenary year by holding the Cup Final at the Berniebow. A bit like playing this year's FA Cup at Fratton Park because that year, 2002, Real made the final. What their opponents Deportivo thought about the plan nobody seemed to care.
So to the final itself and with the home stadium decked out in white to celebrate the inevitable result of a home victory over the boys from distant La Corunna and with the Cup already festooned with its white ribbons, miraculously, Deportivo scored after 6 minutes, took a deserved 2 goal first half lead and refused to play the game, ending up 2-1 winners and leaving the stadium with egg all over several important faces. Magic!

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