A LOOK AT LA LIGA
To generate worldwide interest in Spanish football, Real Madrid and Barcelona need to be in the headlines - and this week they haven't let us down.
Real captured attention by losing to a third-tier team, with Casanova emerging as a romantic hero, while Barcelona blew a cup final with Lionel Messi showing that he is human after all.
Tradition counts for little in Spanish football at the moment: the Copa del Rey changes rules and regulations every year and they just seem to make up what constitutes the Super Cup on an annual basis.
We still don't know who the Copa champions will be for 2020, as the final has been delayed until April when hopefully fans will be able to witness the all-Basque final. The 2021 edition, meanwhile, pressed on with some notable giant-killings.
The current rules dictate that clubs with a lower standing will be drawn at home to those with a higher status. Atlético were first to succumb to lower league opposition, but they were upstaged by capital rivals Real who ticked every box for cup clichés.
Hosted by a Segunda B side, taken to extra time, the matchwinner is the fantastically named Juanan Casanova. It doesn't stop there. Alcoyano ended up with ten players as Real threw on superstar super-subs like Toni Kroos, Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard to join Marcelo, Casemiro and Isco. But it doesn't even stop there... the man of the match was a goalkeeper who turns 42 at the end of the month.
It's not too often that the manager of Barcelona has sympathy for the manager of Real Madrid, yet Zinedine Zidane could have sent Ronald Koeman a message saying: "I know exactly how you feel."
Koeman had been chipper after a decent run led his Barcelona team to the final of the Super Cup. This is the competition that is traditionally played in pre-season on a home and away basis between the Liga and Copa winners.
This year it was decided to take it to Saudi Arabia but because of the pandemic, and because there isn't yet a Copa winner, it was a compromised competition between the Copa finalists, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Cordoba and Malaga hosted the semis with a final in Seville.
The Clásico didn't emerge as Barcelona met Athletic Bilbao in the final. The marketing departments at HQ needed something special to make the experiment happen and Lionel Messi didn't let them down.
The footballing god showed his human side by lamping the annoying Asier Villalibre in mid-run and was shown the first red card of his Barcelona career. Now Messi faces a ban of up to a dozen games according to reports. It's unlikely that La Liga will suspend the poster-boy who sells the brand globally, so expect previous good behaviour to be factored in.
The final image of the Super Cup final was Villalibre blowing his own trumpet. Yes, the player literally blowing his own trumpet as part of the mass musical celebrations.
Athletic are still on course for a cup double if they can go on to beat Real Sociedad in the 2020 final in April 2021.
Oh, the magic of the Copas.