Well, today is San Isidro, the patron saint of Madrid!! The streets are very quiet in my hood right now as it's a holiday here and I'm outside the touristy bits of the city. Tonight, however, things are going to be very interesting: Real Madrid plays Bayer Leverkusen in Glasgow for the European Cup. This should be a good game! If Madrid wins, it'll be their 9th time. Everyone is very excited about this match.
The truth is Real Madrid really needs to win this game to make their Centenury year a success. They lost the King's Cup to Deportivo La Coruï¿½a and they placed third in the league after Valencia and Deportivo. In fact, if they lose this match, they will have to play a "tricky" set of qualification matches to even play in next year's Champion's league because they were third. Lots of pressure on tonight's game.
On Monday, Spain's World Cup squad was announced without many surprises. The only real letdown for me was that Cï¿½sar, the beat-upon goal tender for Madrid was passed over. My wife is from Puertollano and so is Caï¿½izares, the keeper from Valencia who was chosen, so she's happy about that. I guess they're set to fly out to Japan/Korea next week.
Of course, I will not be cheering too hard for Spain until the U.S. is out of the tourney. We're in group D with Korea, Portugal, and Poland. Not impossible, but unlikely since Portugal is ranked 5th in the world right now. The tournament is set to start on May 31st with the USA's first game on June 16th against Portugal. GO USA! You can see the whole World Cup schedule here .
The first Spain game is on June 2nd against Slovenia (who?), in group B along with Paraguay and South Africa. Spain is pretty famous for being a powerful soccer nation that's never done well in the World Cup so they're raring to go this year. There's an expression they use to describe it, but I can't remember it right now... In the last world cup, they got beaten by France who went on to win the whole thing, and they weren't really happy about it. Spain used that as an excuse to cut the dead wood from the ranks, so the team that's playing is a much younger team based around key players like Raul (who's been playing soccer since he was 13).
Even if you're not the biggest Soccer fan in the world, following the games is great. I have very fond memories 1998's tournament when I was travelling in Europe. For those of you travelling here during this summer, you can expect everything to literally shut down for 2 hours while Spain or the country you're in is playing or really any other big matches. It's that important.
That's your Soccer Update from Madrid...