Following Barça’s superb 3-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Wednesday night there is inevitable talk of a treble as bookmakers make Luis Enrique’s men odds-on favourites in all three competitions. It’s back to La Liga now where Barça maintain a two-point advantage over Real Madrid with three games remaining with Barça’s next test tomorrow when Real Sociedad visit Camp Nou (Saturday 6 pm). However, a possible players’ strike for the last two league games of the season and for the Copa del Rey final threatens to disrupt the season’s climax.
Whether or nor a strike will take place is impossible to say. It would seem that the parties involved are bound to reach an agreement but this is Spain and anything could happen. The players’ union (AFE) supported by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) are asking for a fairer distribution of the money from the latest TV deal, with a bigger share for the modest clubs. The Spanish League (LFP) have responded by saying a strike would be disproportionate and also illegal. At the moment both sides seem firm in their positions and it remains unclear what will happen if the strike goes ahead. Some are saying the league would be terminated after 36 games which would leave a questionable validity to the title winners while also causing all sorts of arguments over relegation issues. The LFP, however, have said the league will be completed even if the remaining games are played in June but for this to happen they will have to convince the players to agree to it.
A strike would be incredibly irritating now with Barça on the verge of completing a fantastic season. Our physical preparation is based on the present fixture list and who knows how our fitness or that of our rivals might be affected by a sudden break. However, the players should be supported in their cause. This would not be a rich man’s strike as some have said but a show of solidarity for players in the lower leagues, many of whom have problems to get paid at the end of the month. The growing gap between rich and poor, in football and in life in general, threatens to reach a breaking point which will ultimately prove negative for the interests of all.
For Luis Enrique, on his 45th birthday today, there is nothing for it but to carry on regardless. He knows for sure that Barça must win tomorrow’s game while keeping in mind the return game in Munich. Despite the healthy 3-0 advantage from the first leg, the Barça coach will not underestimate Bayern and seems sure to prioritize the Champions League which means we will probably see some rotations to face La Real. The entire squad is available for the game with the only doubt being Jeremy Mathieu who trained apart from the group again today.
La Real currently sit in 11th place in the table on 43 points which means they have little to play for except pride. The lack of pressure could favour David Moyes’ team who have only lost twice in their last ten games. However, the Basque’s away form this season has been pretty mediocre with just one win, eight draws and eigt defeats to their name. Barça obviously need the points more while we have the added incentive of gaining revenge for Real’s 1-0 win at the start of 2015.
Here’s another piece with more in-depth info on the possible players’ strike – LINK
Barça: Bravo; Montoya, Piqué, Mascherano, Adriano; Xavi, Busquets, Rafinha; Messi, Suárez, Neymar.
Real Sociedad: Rulli; Zaldua, Mikel Gonzalez, Iñigo Martinez, Yuri; Markel Bergara, Pardo; Xavi Prieto, Granero, Vela; Finnbogason.
My bet: correct score – Barça 2 Real Sociedad 0 (current odds: 10.00) The best odds for soccer betting are at William Hill.
Date: Saturday 9 May 2015. Kick-off 6 pm.