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The Spanish corner: a hate divided

Garreth Nunn explains the bile-filled rivarly between Atletico Madrid and Sevilla after another crucial weekend in La Liga.

Image: Manu Mielniezuk/AP/Press Association Images

THEY SAY FOOTBALL and politics should never mix. The problem is that someone forgot to tell the Spanish.

Throughout La Liga, politics and football stand side by side. Even in the grounds it is evident as the political views of Ultras are displayed during games. While Spain has Ultras, to say that they are hardcore is wide of the mark. Spain doesn’t have a big history of violence in football grounds.

Granted there is the odd little fight and punch-up but it is generally an isolated incident. But, like everything there are exceptions to the rule and Atletico De Madrid vs Sevilla is one of them.

To say these two clubs hate each other is an understatement. One would think that ‘El Derbi’ against Real would be the game that Atleti fans look forward to most and while for some it is true,  for most it is the home game to Sevilla. These games have seen stabbings, violence and corruption. One of the fundamental reasons fo the hatred is the political beliefs of their respective Ultras.

Sevilla are one of the few clubs that have a left-wing harcore. The Atleti Ultras known as ‘El Frente’ lean to the right, meanwhile. A few years ago ‘El Frente’ threw a bottle of whiskey at the Sevilla goalkeeper and it hit him on the head, resulting in the net you can see on TV at one of the goals.  Sevilla Ultras attacked and stabbed an Atleti fans a few years ago. There is also some Spanish history too but what really puts the icing on the cake for most Atleti fans is that Sevilla president José Del Nido was the lawyer to ex Atleti president, Jesus Gil, who along with his son many Atleti fans blame for the demise and poor running of the club.

Wasn’t there supposed to be a game?

So on Saturday the two clubs met on a sunny Madrid evening. Both sides have been underperforming in the league and desperately needed a result. Atleti, who halted a run of four straight defeats against Zaragoza, hadn’t won at home since beating Mallorca 3-0 on January 17. Sevilla entered the game with keeper Palop and striker Kanoute ruled out and Atleti had Forlán passing a late medical test after a training-ground injury.

The Uruguayan has fallen on barren times and hasn’t been the most popular of players this year at Atleti. Atleti started well but once again the defence let them down and allowed Negredo in to put Sevilla one nil up. All would agree that it was a poor first half but the second period would more than make up for it. Atleti came out screaming and an early goal from youth team product Koke had the Vicente Calderon alive with hope.

Atleti went all out attack but at times this left their defence exposed and Jesus Navas gave Antonio Lopez a torrid time on the wing. Poor defending allowed Sevilla to score and make it 1-2 but Atleti would have the final say when a goal from ex Sevilla player Jose Reyes squared everything up.  Atleti pushed and pushed but just couldn’t get the winner.

Forlán threw a tantrum when taken off and refused to watch the end of the game. After wards Quique Sanchez Flores was asked was he upset that Forlán hasn’t shaken his hand, the charismatic manager answered no as he hadn’t offered his hand to be shaken. Atleti will want to build on this result and next up is a Madrid derby away to Getafe. Sevilla will be happy with a point after being knocked out of the Europa League this week and their coach Manzano will live to fight another day.

Around The Grounds

An injury-stricken Barcelona went to Mallorca where they were supposed to drop points. The only problem was that nobody told the Barça players who went out and increased their lead over Real Madrid to seven points.  Messi opened the scoring with a header and being played in with a delightful chip from Keita.

The second goal from Villa will have the Madrid press screaming offside and it looks like for once they might be right but it was Pedro who scored the goal of the night which will definitely be a candidate for goal of the season.

So after seeing Barça win in a game where everyone thought they would drop points, the pressure was on Mourinho’s men to get a result against Deportivo de la Coruña. But, Real just couldn’t find a way through.

Benzema fluffed a great chance and Ronaldo hit the post a couple of times. Daily sports paper Marca lead with the headline ‘Así es el Fútbol’ (This is football) with a rundown of the key stats on its front page. Last year coach Pellegrini had one point more than Mourinho currently does at this stage. The Special One is starting to feel the heat.

Rayo Vallecano may not be in La Liga BBVA but they were riding high for a while. Some poor results and news that the players haven’t been paid hasn’t helped their push for promotion. Two days before they faced Huesca the players visited the home of the club president where they were given no guarantees about past or future wage payments. To add insult to injury their president questioned their loyalty on TV and said ‘it looks like they don’t want to be promoted’. Some tough times ahead for the Madrid based club.

Unhappy return

There was no joy for Raul Tamudo as he returned to play against the club he captained for almost a decade, Espanyol. Tamudo made over 400 appearances for ‘Los Periquitos’ but a fall out with ex-team mate and current manager Mauricio Pochettino saw him leave the club and join up with Real Socidead (A club that signed Irish international John Aldridge in the 80s).

He was given a great reception by the fans but was bullied on the pitch and had to watch his team concede four goals with Sergio Garcia showing that it’s not only Barça who can score beautiful goals. The win leaves Espanyol seven points off the Champions League spots

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