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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Welcome to the Santiago Bernabéu...

As a kid I sat and watched La Liga religiously, listening to my grandad talk about Los Blancos and despite always taking an impartial view when writing blog posts I must admit I have a very soft spot for Real. So when it came to visiting the Santiago Bernabéu I ascended from the metro with apprenhensive excitement, and I was not disappointed. My first look at the stadium literally took my breath away, after years of watching Madrid play it was amazing to be stood outside this illustrious stadium.

I first visited the Bernabéu on the 3rd December 2012 and was lucky enough to get a ticket for the match against Ajax in the Champions League for the following night... 

I was sat in the Lateral Este (basically the main stand) and had to walk up one of the infamous towers to reach my seat, I walked up that many stairs I was half expecting to come out and see clouds. Inside the stadium was surreal, I felt like I was back at home watching Sky Sports.

Madrid won 4-1 with an absolute screamer from Kaka and a few from Ronaldo (obviously) despite Real already being through to the last 16 they didnt fail to put the group to bed in style. However as I was only there for a day, I sadly couldnt do the stadium tour. Now this was like having a taste of something you really liked and being told you cant have anymore, needless to say I had booked a return to Madrid before you could say Adios...

In February I returned to the Bernabéu and purchased 1 ticket to the stadium tour for 19 euros - and for what you get this is seriously worth it. On this tour, there is no annoying tour guide telling you the origin of every skirting board and door handle, no, this tour allows you to wander this magnificent stadium at your own pace.

First you have a stroll up to have an aerial view of the stadium, on my way up I met an old Spanish couple about 80 years old on a date in the Bernabéu which was the most adorable thing ever. The old woman was telling me (in Spanish) about how she used to come and watch Real play which was fascinating to hear from a native Madridista! Next you enter the trophy room, now I use the word 'room' very lightly as this was more of a trophy corridor. It was set out in a chronological order, starting with the formation of the club.


There was an interactive touch screen running along the left hand side of the corridor to accompany the
artefacts,trophys and shirts.Next there was a whole section dedicated to the legend that is Alfredo Di Stefano.

One of the most amazing parts of the tour was the walk around the pitch, I was so close I could practically smell the grass.

A few weeks before I embarked on my tour, they opened a new part of the tour which allowed visitors to see the changing rooms & showers.
The tour concluded with a tour of the press room and of course the token gift shop in which you can purchase a pencil with the Real Madrid logo for the reasonable price of 30 euros each. After a swift remortgage of your home you may be able to afford a full stationary set! In all seriousness the tour was absolutely breathtaking, the structure, the freedom and most of all the history of a club like Real Madrid wonderfully captured and offered in a way which anyone would love. If you can do this, regardless of who you support, I fully encourage you to do so. This stadium is a must visit for any football fan, and for Real Madrid fans it's absolutely fantastic.

Friday, 15 March 2013

CL Quarter Final: Fixtures & Forecast

After the thrilling array of Last 16 ties, the contenders were finally whittled down to 8. The Quarter Final took place this morning devoid of any English clubs for the first time since 1995/1996, and the draw presented the following Fixtures.

Malagá V Borussia Dortmund

Real Madrid V Galatasaray

PSG V Barcelona

Bayern Munich V Juventus

An interesting outcome to say the least. Ibrahimovic returns to the Nou Camp to take on his former club, whilst Drogba visits the Santiago Bernabéu to play against his Uncle Jose. This turn out also leaves the possibility for a Semi Final/Final El Clasico which is sure to set tongues wagging across the globe.

For me, I think that the last 4 will be Dortmund, Real, Barca & Munich with the Semi-Finals being drawn as Dortmund v Madrid & Barcelona V Munich.
Which leaves open the Final I have predicted since the beginning, Bayern Munich v Real Madrid.
What do you think?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Real Oviedo; SOS!

As you may be aware historic Spanish football team Real Oviedo have offered shares in their club for as little as around €10 a share. The club have spent 38 seasons playing top flight football in La Liga even challenging for the title on some occasions, along with qualifying to play in the UEFA Cup during the early 90’s. Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla are both products of Oviedo’s cantera. In 2003, a year which will stick in the minds of many fans, due to a combination of bad performances on and off the pitch the team fell into the Spanish Fourth Division but tremendous support prevented the club from going bust. However the situation recently became critical and this plea was posted on their website asking the world for financial help;

"Real Oviedo have not left their financial troubles behind. The situation is now critical. A share issue has begun to raise funds in order to save the club.  2M Euros are required to keep Real Oviedo from entering into administration within weeks. The club and supporters are crying out for financial help and this plea is extended to anyone who would like to contribute to keep this legendary club alive."

And with that, yours truly is now a shareholder of Real Oviedo.

Along with richest man in the world, Carlos Slim. The Mexican tycoon who has an estimated fortune of $70 billion. Looks like Sergio Ramos is now a realistic transfer target after all...

See you at the next AGM Carlos!!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

International Wednesday; That savvy Swede!

In the midweek internationals, England took on Sweden at the aptly named Friends Arena. Normally Id be as enthusiastic as Adrian Chiles when writing about England but unusually this is not the case today. In a game that saw skipper Steven Gerrard earn his 100th cap for the national team, Youngsters such as Raheem Sterling earn their first, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic destroy England’s lead with 4 well taken (to say the least) goals.

England left the pitch at half time with a 2-1 lead but this was not to be as 3 goals from the man himself brought the final score line to 4-2. Zlatan earned his hat-trick with a well struck free kick,  finding Joe Harts far corner but this was not to be the last word from the PSG striker. He ended the night with this overhead kick. Fantastic technique from the Swede.
Ibra shows his unbelievable tekkers with this spectacular overhead kick!
Click here to watch the video of the goal.

Many spectators have hailed this as 'the best goal ever' others have dismissed this claim saying they have seen better. What do you think? Comment with the best goal you have witnessed.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Deadline Day: HB footballs final word!

9 days ago the transfers window slammed shut and in true deadline day style there were some last minute moves we were (& weren't!) expecting. Here is our pick of the bunch!

Rafael van der Vaart left Spurs to join his former club Hamburg for a fee of £10m! Hamburg are currently 15th in Bundesliga after failing to win any points in their first 2 games of the new season... your move Rafael!

Lyon keeper Hugo Lloris joined Spurs for £11.8m, the 25 year old is ready to take the place of Premier League veteran Brad Friedel who now holds the record for the oldest player to appear in a competitive match for Tottenham Hotspur!

In a last minute move, Michael Essien left Chelsea and joined current La Liga campeones Real Madrid on a season long loan. This move will re-unite him with Jose Mourinho, who managed the player at Chelsea.

 On 30th August, Esteban Granero left the Santiago Bernabeu and headed for Loftus Road after joining QPR for an undisclosed fee. El Pirata made his debut for the club in a 1–3 away loss against defending champions Man City.

Finally, French club Marseille welcome renowned bad boy Joey Barton on a season long loan. After the fiasco that ensued during QPR's final game of the season (how could we forget!) Bartons career was uncertain. He was handed a 12 match ban & fined £75,000 & the midfielder will still have to serve his ban despite relocating to France. Ooh la la!

Back to Business!!!

Could it really be? A new blog post on Handbag Football? It feels much longer than 2 months since we posted last...
We left off with the euros just finishing, the transfer window opening and everybody excited about the return of club football!
Finally...its back! (and has been for 2 weeks but a certain blogger has been sampling the cocktails of spain so sorry for delay!) & from now on Handbag Football will be there to guide you through the season!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Top 5 young'uns to keep an eye on!

1. Sergi Roberto - Barcelona!
This Spanish midfielder is apparently a transfer target of Chelsea, definately one to watch at a mere 20 years old! He has already notched up 83 appearances for Barcelona B & 2 for Barcelona. The futures bright...

2. Toni Kroos - Bayern Munich!
22 years of age & heavily featured in Germany's Euro 2012 campaign notching up his 30th cap for his national team. He had a succesful loan spell at Bayer Leverkusen at Bayern & impressed for last season. Also he has a younger brother, Felix, who is Currently at Werder Bremen. This guy is sure to be a legend for Germany!

3. Philippe Coutinho - Inter Milan!
This 20 year old Brazillian spent last season on loan to Espanyol & when watching La Liga i noticed the youngster straight away! Playing as an attacking midfielder, he definately makes his presence known despite his young age. He has already made 5 appearances for the Brazil national team too, could we expect to see him in 2014? I think so!

4. Raheem Sterling -Liverpool!
The youngest player to appear on the list, at only 17 years old this guy is a very exciting prospect at the moment in Liverpool. Joining their youth team in 2010, after seven years at QPR he has impressed coaches & fans since. He has made 3 appearances for Liverpool but this number is expected to rise under new manager Brendan Rogers! Keep an eye on this guy!

5. Mario Götze - BVB!
Last but not least, im sure you have already heard about this one! At 20 years old with 55 caps for Borussia Dortmund - with 12 goals! He is widely Anticipated by spectators as a young footballer everywhere with A lot of potential, expect to see more of Mario in the near future!