All salute Salva the Spanish main man
It’s been the perfect weekend for Salva Ballesta. For the Atlético striker things could hardly have Bergdorf Goodman Prada Mens Shoes gone better if, like one lucky sod in Madrid, he’d been busy counting out his 14m euro lottery win when the phone rang to tell him he’d won the pools too. You see, this weekend, not only did Salva return to the Atlético side, lead them to victory and score one himself, but the whole country did him proud, very proud. All is most certainly well in Salva’s red-and-white and red-and-yellow world.
Born into a military family, Salva is a powerful, know-no-fear footballer; the perfect embodiment of an ariete – literally an army battering ram, but also a take-no-prisoners target-man. A qualified pilot, puntastically strong in the air, who celebrates all his goals by performing a military salute (something of which Bolton fans are understandably unaware), he is also a truly patriotic Spanish patriot. A man who really, really, really, cares about the national football team – the Spanish national football team.
A man who really cares about Spain, in fact. Which is quite a statement in a country fragmented by autonomy. In a country where there is a growing debate about independence, especially in sports, after the Catalan roller-hockey team went it alone and won the World ‘B’ Championships; after Madrid 2012 started getting rather tetchy about the failure of some sectors of Catalunya to back their Olympic bid – sectors that include FC Barcelona, which has of course always considered itself a flagship of Catalan nationalism: as Barça hammered Malaga 4-0 on Saturday, fans held a banner reading: “Catalunya backs London 2012.”
All of Are Prada Handbags Cheaper In Italy which would infuriate Salva. He is, after all, one of the very few players to enthusiastically sing the national anthem before Best Prada Outlet In Florence Spain matches (well, not sing it, what with it not having any words, but do the ta ta Authentic Prada Handbags Outlet Online ta-ta ta ta-ta ta ta-ta-ta-ta-ta bit without the slightest trace of irony). The man who, asked about Catalan and Basque separatism, once declared “anyone who doesn’t feel Spanish can screw themselves”. Who in the first few hours after the March 11 bombings, when everyone thought ETA were guilty, before it became clear that Spanish prime minister Jose Marie Aznar was lying through his mustachioed teeth, snapped: “Never mind life sentences, we should give them 48 hours.”
So, imagine Salva’s joy this weekend when the Empire Struck Back. When the country went Spain crazy. When the train between Madrid, where Authentic Prada Bags For Sale Philippines he was playing last night, and Seville – that hive of Spanish clichés where the Basques of Athletic Bilbao were beaten 2-0 – was stuffed with red and yellow boiler suit-wearing Spaniards with Spain flags and Spain scarves and Spain face paints singing Y Viva España. When that symbol of Spanish virility, the bull with the big balls, was suddenly everywhere. When the front covers of every single national newspaper, including the Catalan ones, were raving about national triumph.
In short, when Spain won the Black Prada Bag Mission Impossible Davis Cup against the Americans in Seville. And when Spain won the World Cup in futbol sala – the indoor five-aside version played with handball goals and a ball that, as ex-Mighty Oviedo Brummie Alex Pradas Quiles superstar Keith Thompson aptly put it, is like a pudding.
No wonder Salva went out and celebrated in style. And how Black Prada Eyeglass Case the Atlético fans thanked him for it. After a season of mind-numbingly dull games, of match after match when the best way to stay entertained – to stay awake – was to count the cars whizzing along the motorway under the main stand, gaze at the royal palace – lit up above the other side of the stadium – or wonder who the poor bugger was who had to climb up and nail the giant Spider-man to the side of the ground, finally something good happened. Something very good.
After a string of frankly rubbish matches, in which there had never been more than two goals, suddenly there was a mental game that had it all: two red cards, plus one for the visiting manager, some justified post match whinging, a player disappearing off the pitch for Authentic Prada Shoes Sale a spot of colourful coughing, another player with a brilliant beard, plus countless chances and five goals. Five goals that returned Atlético – fast-becoming irrelevant, boring Atlético – to a Uefa Cup spot.
And it was all down to Salva. Well, almost. He held off his marker and nodded on a long hoof for Fernando Torres to score the first and headed in the second himself, clicking his heels and whipping his hand to his head in celebration, as Atlético won 3-2, with beardy Colsa scoring the third.
But it wasn’t just about the goals: it was more about the fact that Atlético, and sale Torres especially, always look better – and certainly more effective – with Salva in the team. That Torres performs better with a bruising partner, and that Salva, who took the young gun under his wing during his first season, is the perfect candidate: slightly mad, powerful in the air, always ready to fight and a real team-builder.
Too often this season, Atlético coach Caesar Ferrando has opted to play Torres up front on his own: yesterday Salva started only his fourth game this season. Yet with Salva Authentic Prada Trainers in the side Torres plays freer, takes far less of a battering from the defence and scores more goals, arriving from deeper to finish first time (last season, nineteen of his twenty goals were finished with a single touch and he was always far more effective just behind Demis Nikolaidis than just in front of Ariel Ibagaza or Jorge).
No wonder Torres says he prefers to have a strike partner, preferably Salva. No wonder he’s carried on hinting as much, even though he got a wrap on the knuckles for saying so. Last night, his point apparently proven. Torres said: “Salva’s goal is a good way to claim a place,” quickly adding the afterthought proviso: “although it’s up to the manager, obviously.”
Well, obviously, but that didn’t stop Marca giving Ferrando a nudge: “There were no eccentricities, just football. It’s been really hard to rid Fernando Torres of his insufferable solitude but Salva does so. For El Niño, he’s perfect.”
As was his weekend. There was just one, teensy problem: Perfidious Albion. Former Atlético striker Kiko insisted that “when that first goal went in, I thought I was watching Southampton-Wimbledon.” One match report claimed that “the Calderon was like Villa Park”, and AS’s headline read: “Atlético turned English.” Which must have really stuck in Salva’s Spanish throat.
The weekend’s results
Albacete 0 – 1 Valencia Barcelona 4 – 0 Malaga Real Sociedad 1 – 0 Betis Levante 0 – 0 Getafe Racing 2 – 2 Deportivo Sevilla 2 – 0 Athletic Zaragoza 0 – 1 Espanyol Mallorca 3 – 2 Numancia Villarreal 0 – 0 Real Madrid Atlético 3 – 2 Osasuna