So. That was ugly. As I said in the in-match comments, one half of that was all I could take, and I moved on to other, more enjoyable aspects of my life after the first 45′. As such I can’t really comment on the content of the game in its entirety, although I gather from the scoreline that things didn’t change that much in the second half, other than CR getting to make that stupid cat claw celebration several more times before the game ended. But we CAN discuss the fallout: what are and will be the results of this game?
- Most immediately, and perhaps most pressingly, we fell from 5th to 6th. Since Espanyol lost, we still have 4 points between us and 8th–with only three games to play, that’s a pretty decent cushion between Sevilla and the potential disaster of not making a Europa League spot, but with a win yesterday we would have nearly guaranteed passage today.
- The six goals we allowed are the most anyone’s ever put past us at home. It could be that the team was looking forward to our mid-week (and theoretically much more winnable) game at Osasuna, figuring with our injury list we couldn’t challenge for both games and therefore “resting” on the field. So this might have been an intentional strategy, but the team played so poorly, at home, and with so little passion or even interest in the game, that it’s hard to imagine that the final result won’t be a huge part of Del Nido’s decision about coaching changes in a few weeks. To be clear, I’m not saying that strategy would excuse or explain the pathetic display (and for the record that would’ve been a terrible idea); I’m just speculating as to why we were so embarrassingly terrible.
- I’m totally not interested in excuses for the team as in my opinion there are exactly zero reasons that people being paid millions of dollars to play a game can care so much less than fans who actually pay their own money to watch. And the problem this weekend was definitely an issue of heart, or just TRYING, not anything regarding personnel. But when a team known for its talents on the wings starts its backup winger and a central midfielder to play on the outside mid positions the team relies on for danger going forward, you know you’re having a shitty season for injuries. We got Kanouté back yesterday, but obviously the absences of Navas, Rakitic, and Perotti (not to mention defensive starters Cáceres and Alexis, and after Saturday also Navarro in the back) are going to cost the team even when they’re playing their best. Given that we almost certainly would have kept LuFa until May if he hadn’t suffered a season-ending injury, you can probably include him in the list of key offensive threat players whose injuries have made this season’s run-out very difficult. But again, I can’t emphasize enough that this in NO WAY serves as an excuse for the pathetic display the players gave–if anything, the new faces on the field should have been fresh and even more desperate to play well against a quality opponent.
- I don’t care much for either RM or Barca, but one place I’m not a neutral is CR vs Messi. It would be a huge bummer if CR’s 4 goals gave Marca something to crow about all off-season in the form of a Pichichi for the home team. (For the record, the result I’m most hoping for in that race is Messi scoring 1 goal more than CR, so that Marca’s math gives them a tie and the whole world laughs at them for cheating in their own award).
- Speaking of goal-scorers, though, and in a rare spot of happy news from this game, Negredo’s otherwise meaningless brace puts him on 15 goals and 5 assists in La Liga the year, with 22 goals and 8 assists in all competitions. That’s a really good showing in his second season with the club (and a clear improvement over last year’s 11 La Liga goals), and definitely something to build on for next year. Way to go, Alvaro!