This last week we couldn’t get back-to-back wins. On Wednesday we had to work very hard to beat Sunderland, but on Saturday we weren’t able to win at Stoke City. And it was a pity: on our way back to London, on the bus, we all had the feeling that we could’ve won. We had chances especially in the first half, but we reached the last few minutes with 2-2 and an open game, and a great goal from Assaidi left us with no points. We must learn that, in football, when you have the opportunity to put distance with your opponent, you have to do it. Otherwise you may have to pay for it, as it happened to us this weekend.
Luckily there is no time to feel sorry about it, and we already focus on trying to beat Steaua at the Bridge in the Champions League. We want to close the group stage with a victory in front of our crowd. That would allow us to qualify first. Then, again at the Bridge, back to the Premiership against Crystal Palace. Another key game to stay at the top ahead of the busy Christmas agenda. We have to get back to the victory trail in such a tough month like this.
We don’t forget the FA Cup either. Yesterday the draw said we will face Derby County at the beginning of January, a legendary club. One more fixture to add to an already busy and very demanding schedule.
In Spain, these last few days have been also about the Cup. Barcelona and Atlético got strong wins against Segunda B teams. Real Madrid struggled much more. Olimpic de Xátiva, with my friend Rifaterra, were very combative and got a goalless draw to keep them alive before visiting Bernabéu. It was a great day for the town and for the club and I’m very happy for them. Rifa is my friend but also an example as a person and as a professional, and his long career in football well deserves these two games. A dream come true.
Valencia, meanwhile, will also have to beat Nástic in the second leg in order to go through. There were some other interesting games between teams of the same category, and I have to highlight Santi Mina’s birthday for scoring a goal for Celta, at home, the day he became 18.
This week I can not (I don’t want to) forget the passing of Nelson Mandela, which has been very touching to everybody. He’s been one of the most influential men over the last decades. A true fighter who shall be proud to see us keeping and strengthening his legacy. He was a hero; someone who lived and fought for this world to be more fair. He will always be remembered. The story of his life is incredible. So is his courage. He is an example to humanity.
He was someone who understood how powerful sports can be to unite people, to unite countries, no matter the race or the culture. We saw that in the movie ‘Invictus’, based on the book ‘The Human Factor’ by John Carlin. I recommend both of them to you in case you don’t know them.
It was an honour for Spaniards that he presided the last World Cup’s final; an indelible memory. I will always remember that match against the Netherlands. And what a coincidence: our first game in Brazil will be against them again. Also, we will repeat against Chile; we have good memories from that match in South Africa although it was tough to beat them. Our third rival will be Australia, perhaps not so well-known to us, yet many of their players are very competitive and play in Europe. As we saw in South Africa, it is important to go game by game, otherwise things can get complicated…
Have a nice week. As always, I keep reading all your Twitter mentions and FB, Tencent and Instagram comments…