A lot of things can go wrong in a soccer match. Aside from the pain and suffering that accompanies losing, one’s physical well-being is constantly at risk. Injury is a part of the game, but typically it’s muscle strains, ligament tears and the occasional broken bone or concussion. Mariano Bittolo suffered an injury far more painful than anything one expects to suffer on the pitch. It may have been the most painful injury of all time.
Real Madrid’s shocking 2-1 defeat to Girona yesterday marked the fourth occasion in which Los Blancos have failed to capture all three points this season, a worrying trend that’s seen Barcelona open an eight-point gap on their fiercest rivals after only 10 matches. Real’s attack has been uncharacteristically blunt this campaign, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s return of only one goal in 540 minutes of action has garnered the most attention.
Barcelona maintained their four-point lead atop La Liga following a 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames. Lionel Messi scored the first for Barcelona, his 12th of the 10-game La Liga season, in the 36th minute. Paulinho added the second in the 92nd to ensure the three points for Barca.
Remarkably, that’s Paulinho’s third goal of the season for the club, moving him level with Luis Suarez in league play as Barca’s second highest scorer. With Messi in the kind of form he’s currently in, the club hasn’t had any real need for additional marksmen.
When Barcelona visit the San Mames on Saturday to take on Athletic Bilbao, we’ll all bear witness to a historic matchup featuring two of the three clubs that’ve never been relegated from the top division — the other being Real Madrid. The history between the two sides goes way back, but perhaps no individual performer has shone as brightly as Ronaldinho when the Blaugrana have locked horns with los Leones.
Things are happening in Catalonia. Big things. Political things, as you can see from these helpful tweets from the Associated Press:
BREAKING: Catalan separatist lawmakers pass motion to establish a new republic independent of Spain; opposition boycotts vote.— The Associated Press (@AP) October 27, 2017
Some players are just destined for greatness from the moment they step on the pitch, their debuts so magnificent the entire stadium recognizes the kid on display is special. Like a 17-year-old Alan Shearer netting a hat trick against Arsenal in his debut, some introductions are seminal events that will never be forgotten.
Jesús Vallejo did not have such a debut for Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.
According to Spanish football federation president Juan Luis Larrea, La Liga will begin using Video Assistant Referee technology next season if all goes according to plan. Given La Liga’s refusal to use goal-line technology on the grounds of cost concerns, the proposed introduction of VAR in the Spanish top flight represents something of a shock.