By Tim Stannard
Real Madrid punished for winning LaLiga with a second Crisis! of the season after a Spanish Super Cup defeat to Athletic Club
A year ago what historians are now calling "The 2nd Great Self-Imposed Barcelona Collapse" took place.
For the record, the first Collapse was the repeated panicked splashing of cash to replace the departing Neymar - an Event that isn't quite over yet.
Way back in the middle of January 2020 when most soccer fans in America would have placed Anthony Fauci as a leftback for Torino, on being asked who he was, Barcelona decided to sack Ernesto Valverde as coach after a Spanish Super Cup semifinal loss to Atletico Madrid.
From that point, the butterfly effect saw Quique Setien rescued from cow-gazing to be appointed Barcelona manager, the loss of LaLiga, humiliation by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, the sacking of Setien days after being backed, the giveaway of Luis Suarez to a title rival, the near-loss of Lionel Messi and bunch of other stuff that Sports Burst has already forgotten.
Oh, the Barca board resigning on mass, suspicions of the club trashing their own players on social media. Fall-out over wage cuts....erm. That's probably about it.
Fast forward to the middle of 2021 and Real Madrid has lost a semifinal in the Spanish Super Cup and everyone is freaking out again. To the neutral, it's the fourth most important thing on Real Madrid's agenda this season - some kind of mid-campaign punishment handed out for winning LaLiga last year.
But to the media, it's the Champions League final, something that Coach Zizou has noted after Wednesday's defeat by Athletic Club. "You have to turn the page and keep working. We can’t go crazy now.”
Good luck with that.
At least Real Madrid have bought themselves five days off the game-treadmill ahead of a Copa del Rey match against lower league Alcoyano. It's around that time, though, that a very real concern could be looming.
Although Real Madrid do not return to action in LaLiga until Saturday 23rd January at Alaves, Atletico Madrid will be playing another catch-up game next Thursday. A win at Eibar would put the Rojiblancos seven-points clear at the top of the standings and still with a game in hand at the halfway point of the campaign.
Now that would be a crisis.
Neymar looks for new targets to troll against Angers
Step away from your social media feeds Stephane Bahoken, as Neymar is coming for you on Saturday.
If the Brazilian - who now seems to exist for 50% of his time on cyberspace like a character from Tron - continues his new passion for making mean at defeated opponents, then the star striker for Angers could be next on Neymar's hit list after Saturday's Ligue 1 encounter.
While Mauricio Pochettino deals with the eternal idiosyncrasies of Neymar, the Argentinean coach will be focussed on a weekend where the Ligue 1 title race takes center stage on beIN SPORTS.
PSG are in action live from 2:30PM ET on Saturday against Angers, but the capital city side are no longer top domestic dogs in France. Lyon hold that crown and will be playing live from 2:30PM ET on Sunday with third-place Lille slotting in on Sunday on CONNECT at 11AM.
All the Ligue 1 action gets underway on Friday with the very much in-form Monaco at the very much out-of-form Montpellier. A victory for Niko Kovak's side would put the tax-free men of Monte Carlo right back into a four-way tussle for the title.