It could prove to be a pivotal moment in the Italian Serie A title race -- Juventus escaped with a 1-1 draw at AC Milan on Saturday after Sulley Muntari's first-half goal was controversially disallowed despite clearly crossing the line.
Real Madrid moved six points clear in Spain after winning a fiery derby match against nine-man Atletico on Saturday and then seeing defending champions Barcelona suffer a shock first La Liga defeat this season.
Real Madrid's hopes of winning a first Spanish title since 2008 survived a stern test on Saturday, as Jose Mourinho marked his 50th La Liga match as coach with a tense 3-2 victory at third-placed Valencia.
Every time they say goodbye, La Liga dies a little. Now Juan Mata has signed for Chelsea from Valencia, just as Sergio Aguero signed for Manchester City from Atlético Madrid. For fans of City and Chelsea, the transfers are fantastically exciting, two great additions to two teams aspiring to win the Premier League. For the Spanish league, they are frightening. Despite the injection of around 75 million euros, the transfers are confirmation of a worrisome trend.
So, Sergio Canales will play for Valencia for the whole of the next two seasons. Well, not the whole of them exactly. Canales has moved to Mestalla for two years. According to the agreement reached, Valencia will pay his wages for the two seasons and, at the end of each campaign, it will have a €12 million ($17M) option-to-buy. The other thing the agreement stipulates is that Canales will not be able to play against the club that owns him, Real Madrid. The crapping-yourself-clause strikes again.
Once the tipping point is reached departures become inevitable and the slide becomes harder to arrest than ever; what starts as an emergency solution risks becoming a permanent situation, the enshrinement of inequality and the inability to compete. Handled well, the effects can be palliated but, barring a sudden shift, the trend is unavoidable. Spanish soccer has reached that tipping point. Valencia certainly have.
Andrés Iniesta waiting silently for the ball to drop, ready to secure the greatest victory in history -- waiting, as he put it in one interview, for gravity to take hold, for his friend Newton to appear ... David Villa watching, hoping, suspended in time as the ball hits one post, hits the other post and, eventually, sneaks into the corner ... Carles Puyol leaping, head whipping powerfully forward, neck muscles strained, hair everywhere, all Captain Caveman, to smash a header into the German net ... Iker Casillas, on a platform, teammates hanging on to his legs, lifting the World Cup into the air ...
Every summer, football clubs all over the world throw their money away. In Granada CF's case, quite literally. One morning in July, the Spanish second-division team awoke to find that the money earned from season-ticket sales -- which it had handily "stored" in bin bags -- had been thrown out by the cleaner. Already racked by debt and in administration, Granada had lost an estimated $500,000 thanks to a woman with a mop and bucket. Luckily, in the end most the cash was found in a recycling box.
If this summer's transfer window is any indication, we can look forward to one of the most exciting European seasons in decades. With the three most expensive transfers in the history of the game recently made for amounts previously unimaginable, the stakes are higher than ever.
Spanish veteran David Albelda should have been lifting the European title along with his countrymen in Austria last month. Instead, he missed his chance to even be a part of the Spanish national team -- the defensive midfielder has been locked out of the first team at Valencia in one of the more bizarre controversies in club soccer.