Something From The Weekend: Barcelona close on title; The end of Scholes?; Hearn's rage; Valdivia's relief
The Good, The Bad and The Odd
Monday 18 April 2011
Barcelona close on title
So much is invested in the set of four Clasicos that even in the least important game, on Saturday evening, the Spanish title was effectively decided. Barça now need, at most, 10 points from their final six games. The 1-1 draw did not have the thrill of their recent conquests at the Bernabeu but it ought to secure a third consecutive title since Pep Guardiola (above) walked in and changed football as we know it. Now their focus is on winning back the treble they seized in Guardiola's first season. Their doing so would be an acute personal embarrassment for Jose Mourinho; he has not gone a complete season without a trophy in his managerial career. On Wednesday he has the chance to start his revenge.
The end of Scholes?
There was a sense on Saturday that Paul Scholes might just have committed his final act as a professional footballer. He is reticent about extending his contract, and his stamp on Pablo Zabaleta bans him from half of Manchester United's remaining league games, and he is no longer first choice in the Champions League. It will be a shame if, like Zinedine Zidane, a career full of glory and beauty should end with an act of violence. Scholes' tackling has never been good, but it is often a sign of frustration: this was his worst since the 2009 European Cup final, when he nearly snapped Sergio Busquets in two in the dying minutes. Like Zidane, who is in so many ways his footballing brother, rage may have cost him the finale he so deeply deserves.
Barry Hearn, so furious about Leyton Orient not being awarded the Olympic Stadium, found a new target for his rage on Saturday night. Paul McCloskey, whom Hearn promotes, was fighting Amir Khan. McCloskey was behind on points before an accidental clash of heads in the sixth round. Hearn stormed into the ring to berate the officials, telling the referee he was a "disgrace" who had "discredited boxing".
From the annals of opportunism: Jorge Valdivia, the Chilean midfielder who plays for Palmeiras, seemingly took advantage of a gas canister explosion last week, and a break in play, to relieve himself on an advertising hoarding.
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