Inside Spain is a weekly instalment brought to you by Football España, providing an insight into all of the major stories coming out of the rich and intense climes of La Liga and beyond.
It is official. Barcelona have been charged by the Public Prosecutor in Spain with ‘Continuous Corruption’ for their payments to Dasnil 95, a company owned by former Vice-President of the Referees Committee. It is not yet clear what kind of evidence they have, but prosecutors only have to prove their intention to influence matters.
President Joan Laporta launched an impassioned defence, saying he could not wait to face the scoundrels staining the image of Barcelona, while on the verge of tears. It has added certainly a spice to every Barcelona fixture now. Against Athletic Club last weekend, the home fans showered the stadium with fake notes, stating ‘Mafia’ with the face of Laporta and the Barcelona crest.
Their next fixture could hardly be spicier – an El Clasico on Sunday night. Real Madrid know they must win in order to keep the title race alive, given the gap is currently at nine points. Barcelona have become the best defence in Spain, winning their ninth game out of 25 by a score of 1-0 – Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone did not waste a chance to have fun with that idea.
Beyond their Champions League tie with Liverpool, there are serious doubts about Carlo Ancelotti’s future beyond the summer. The Italian has responded by saying that criticism happens every year, yet it is a narrative that keeps coming up, and will do so again if Los Blancos finish trophy-less.
This past weekend Spain moved past the 100-barrier of red cards for the season, a scarcely believable over 80 more than the Premier League. It was no surprise then that Cadiz coaches and players were handed 17 games of suspensions for their players and staff. The criticism of the refereeing is reaching fever pitch.
There’s no culture of violent players in Spain either, but unfortunately in Europe the players have a lot less security. For the second away tie in a row, Marko Dmitrovic was attacked during the Europa League. Previously a PSV Eindhoven fan had jumped the fence to attempt to fight Dmitrovic, and against Fenerbahce he also suffered another incident. Fortunately, he appears to be ok. Sevilla became just the second Spanish side to progress in European competition too, after Real Betis lost to Manchester United, Real Sociedad were knocked out by Roma, and Villarreal were put out of the Conference League by Anderlecht.