Sid Lowe reports on Spain's in-form strikers, plus a stupid prank by some Barcelona players that did not go down well.
Ten weeks into the season, Imanol Agirretxe has scored eight goals, Aritz Aduriz has seven, and Borja Bastón, Javi Guerra, Iago Aspas, Lucas Pérez and Rubén Castro all have six. And then there’s Nolito on seven. In other words, eight of Spain’s top twelve scorers are Spanish (the other four are Neymar, Suarez, Ronaldo and Benzema).
This weekend in Spain Aspas and Agirretxe both scored twice, and so too did Athletic’s Iñaki Williams, slowly becoming a real threat, while Jesé appears to have fully overcome injury to get back to his best. And yet of all of those, right now only Nolito seems to have even the most remote chance of going to Euro 2016 with the national team.
Soldado, Negredo, Torres and Llorente are all back in Spain after spells abroad, but none of them has more than two goals so far this season and none is in Del Bosque’s plans. Instead, it looks like two players still playing abroad will go: Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa, although Costa’s case weakens by the day. Valencia’s Paco Alcácer could be the third striker and he appears to suit Spain’s style more than Costa but he has scored just three league goals, two of them penalties.
* “Life is cool and so are we.” That was Dani Alves’s response after the Getafe president Ángel Torres criticised the Barcelona players who burst into the press room dressed in Hallowe’en costumes.
Getafe’s Víctor Rodríguez was talking to the media when there was a wailing noise from behind the door. Suddenly, it flew open and in they came. There was a Zombie, Batman, King Kong, Shrek, and Frankenstein’s monster. They bumbled their way through the press room and out the back door, where they realised that they were lost and could not find their way back to the bus. Gerard Piqué ended up clambering over a fence two metres high.
“I could see myself having to take him to hospital; fences are there to be respected, not climbed over,” said Torres. Barcelona’s behaviour was, he said, a “lack of respect.”
Midfielder Lacen said the same, insisting that he would never think of doing the same at Barcelona’s ground. At the time, Rodríguez just looked a little baffled; the Getafe press officer, meanwhile, was clearly very upset. Pictures emerged the next day of the away dressing room, covered in fake blood, from where they had got changed.
The story became huge, exaggeratedly so, taking up hours on talk shows and in the media. In his press conference a few days later, Luis Enrique pleaded for the Halloween questions to stop and return to football instead, although he did shoot back: “some of you guys could do with masks.”
By then Barcelona’s players had apologised in a statement, insisting that they had not realised that they were heading into the press room and did not intend to disrespect anyone. At least part of that was proven by the Zombie (Piqué) immediately saying “shit, we’ve got this wrong,” as they came into the room.
Andres Iniesta also phoned Getafe captain Pedro Leon to say sorry. “It was a lack of respect, but we accept the apology and we won’t talk about it again,” Leon said.
Alves too said sorry, but his sorry carried a “but” … but there are more important things: we’re going enjoy ourselves: life is cool and so are we.
* A lack of respect to Getafe? Surely not as much of one as threatening to take the team somewhere else. And that is what Angel Torres is threatening to do. His battles with the local council continue, over funding and used of Getafe’s facilities, which are municipally owned.
“They need to decide if they want a first division team,” he snapped.