Welcome back to La Liga! The 2011-2012 season was supposed to kick off today, but the players are on strike. Fingers crossed everything will be back on track by next weekend.
Since I lied when I said I’d keep you all updated over the summer, let’s see what we missed.
UEFA U-21 Champions! Photo: Getty via Daylife.
A great many congratulations to Spain, who are 2011 European Champions three times over! Spain won the UEFA Under-21, Under-19, and Women’s Under-17 Championships.
Our beloved Rojita defeated Switzerland 2-1 in the U-21 final, with Barcelona’s Thiago Alcántara scoring the game-winning goal. Adrián Lopez earned the Golden Boot with five goals.
In the exciting U-19 final, our boys beat out Czech Republic in extra time. Valencia B’s Paco Alcacer was the hero of the match, scoring two goals in added time. Real Madrid Castilla’s adorable Álvaro Morata won the golden boot, contributing six goals in the tournament. It appears Spain’s national team will remain successful (and good-looking) for years to come.
Finally, the young ladies of the U-17 defeated France in the final, with Alba Pomares scoring the only goal of the match. Let’s hope this means better things to come for the Spain NWT, who failed to qualify for the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
This picture is pretty adorable, but would it would be even better if Diego Forlán had taken off his shirt. Photo: Getty via Daylife
The Copa América doesn’t have much to do with La Liga or Spain, but I wanted to give a shout out to La Liga’s Diego Forlán, Diego Godín, Martín Cáceres, and Sebastián Eguren, who were on Uruguay’s winning squad. Also, congratulations to Paraguay’s Justo Villar, who was named best goalkeeper of the tournament. Villar plays for Real Valladolid in Liga Adelante.
Reunited and it feels so good.... Photo via Iker Casillas' Facebook
Real Madrid were champions of the 2011 Herbalife World Football Challenge, squeaking by Manchester United in goal differentials. The friendly tournament was held in North America and featured MLS and Mexican Primera División teams as well as clubs from England, Spain and Italy. Barcelona didn’t do so well without Messi (who was recovering from Copa América), but they’ll be back to their fearsome selves in no time. Players from both Real Madrid Castilla and Barcelona B got plenty of chances to shine. Little Joselu scored a goal for Madrid, and Thiago impressed Pep Guardiola enough with his performance in the U-21 squad and in the preseason that he will be joining Barcelona’s first team this season.
While Barcelona continued touring North America, Real Madrid traveled to China. They beat two Chinese teams by six goals each, but their most interesting friendly was played against 109 children in Guangzhou. Adorable. Valencia stayed in Europe, where they had a successful preseason against the likes of AS Roma and Sporting de Lisboa.
Garbage. Photo: Getty via Daylife
Well, the first leg went well. With their fresh new look and strong midfield, Real Madrid dominated possession, but Barcelona struck with deadly efficiency. Mesut Özil and Xabi Alonso scored for Madrid, Messi and Villa for Barcelona.
The second leg at Camp Nou was more of the same. Goals for Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema, Iniesta and Messi. When Messi scored a second goal in the 88th minute, it looked like Barcelona would win the 2011 Supercopa with little incident. But of course we cannot have a clásico with little incident. With one minute of stoppage time left, Marcelo decided Cesc Fàbregas, who had been playing for Barça for all of ten minutes, needed to be hurt. Marcelo was given the red card he deserved and all hell broke loose. Özil and Villa were sent off for fighting with each other (although I strongly suspect Özil’s red should have gone to Higuaín), and Mourinho will likely be suspended for a few weeks. It should be the referees who are on strike, because they’re not paid enough for this. Personally, I would have sent the lot of them off and have Athletic Bilbao and Málaga (who are slated to play Real Madrid and Barcelona next, respectively) win their first fixtures of the season by default. I pray that I don’t have to see more than the minimum two Clásicos this season, and I’m afraid to think of what even those will bring. Anyway, rant over. Barcelona won fair and square, Cesc is no worse for wear, and there won’t be another Clásico until December.
And with that, I’ve had enough for the day. Transfer highlights and football-related gossip to follow.