The Spanish press did not hold back in their criticism of a “shattered” Real Madrid, a team “in crisis” after their 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Villarreal in La Liga. “Inexplicable” was the front-page headline on Madrid sports daily Marca on Sunday, which remarked that the reigning Spanish and European champions “don’t know what is happening to them” in La Liga.
Just days after Zinedine Zidane signed a new contract until 2020, serious questions are being asked of the Frenchman’s ability to turn things around after two trophy-laden years in charge. Real have picked up just one point from their last three league games and have won only once in five, form that leaves them fourth in the table, 16 points behind leaders Barcelona, who go to Real Sociedad on Sunday.
“No goals, no luck and no explanation,” said sports daily AS on their front page. “Everything is going wrong,” wrote editor Alfredo Relano in his column. “This result sinks Madrid further into the sombre mood that has invaded everyone, including Zidane.”
If they had already all but given up on any hope of retaining the league title even before Saturday’s game, there are now even concerns that they could miss out on a top-four spot altogether. Real are eight points behind third-placed Valencia, who were 2-1 winners at Deportivo on Saturday. They are also only one point clear of Villarreal in fifth – not since 2004 have they finished outside the top three in La Liga.
In Barcelona, the Catalan press seized the chance to stick the knife in. “In crisis”, headlined Mundo Deportivo below a picture of Cristiano Ronaldo, on the ground with his head in his hands. Sport focused on the troubles in front of goal of Ronaldo, who missed numerous chances at the Santiago Bernabeu before Pablo Fornals’ magnificent late winner for Villarreal, their first ever victory there.
Ronaldo has just four league goals this season, while Gareth Bale is struggling for fitness and form and Karim Benzema has been injured. The previously feared ‘BBC’ no longer carries the same aura.
“The white collapse is basically the collapse of Cristiano and, by extension, that of the whole ‘BBC’, a trident that died months ago now without anyone having realised,” wrote Sport editor Ernest Folch.
Relano added: “Madrid started to fall behind because Cristiano was missing; then, because when he came back the goals were not going in; in the end, because the gap at the top provoked a disenchantment that shows.” Zidane is “an elegant coach but has no answers on the blackboard,” according to Folch.
There is a danger that his position could become untenable if Madrid – the two-time defending European champions – lose to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16, the first leg of which will be played at the Bernabeu on February 14.
Frederic Hermel, Madrid-based correspondent for French sports daily L’Equipe, noted that Zidane “still doesn’t appear prepared to make any changes to his team, despite another defeat... (that) leaves a feeling of powerlessness.”
It’s the new year and it’s already time to plan your next holiday
Here are some great destinations for you to consider.
Vacation planning can get serious and strategic. Some people swear by the save and splurge approach that allows for one mini getaway and one dream holiday in a year. Others use the solo to family tactic and distribute their budget across solo trips, couple getaways and family holidays. Regardless of what strategy you implement to plan your trip, the holiday list is a handy tool for eager travellers. After having extensively studied the 2018 holiday list, here’s what we recommend:
March: 10 days of literature, art and culture in Toronto
For those you have pledged to read more or have more artistic experiences in 2018, Toronto offers the Biblio-Mat, the world’s first randomising vending machine for old books. You can find the Biblio-Mat, paper artefacts, rare books and more at The Monkey’s Paw, an antiquarian bookseller. If you can tear yourself away from this eclectic bookstore, head over to The Public Library in Toronto for the Merril Collection of over 72000 items of science fiction, fantasy magic realism and graphic novels. With your bag full of books, grab a coffee at Room 2046 – a café cum store cum studio that celebrates all things whimsical and creative. Next, experience art while cycling across the 80km Pan Am Path. Built for walking, running, cycling and wheeling, the Pan Am Path is a recreational pathway that offers a green, scenic and river views along with art projects sprinkled throughout the route. You can opt for a guided tour of the path or wander aimlessly for serendipitous discoveries.
Nothing beats camping to ruminate over all those new ideas collected over the past few days. Make way to Killarney Provincial Park for 2-3 days for some quiet time amongst lakes and hills. You can grab a canoe, go hiking or get back to nature, but don’t forget to bring a tent.
If you use the long-weekend of 2nd March to extend your trip, you get to experience the Toronto Light Festival as a dazzling bonus.
June: 10 days of culinary treats, happy feet and a million laughs in Chicago
Famous for creating the deep-dish pizza and improv comedy, Chicago promises to banish that mid-year lull. Get tickets for The Second City’s Legendary Laughs at The UP-Comedy Club - the company that gave us the legendary Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Key & Peele. All that laughter can sure work up an appetite, one that can be satiated with Lou Malnati’s classic deep-dish pizza. For dessert, head over to the Ferrara Original Bakery for mouth-watering treats.
Chicago in June is pleasant and warm enough to explore the outdoors and what better way to soak in the sunshine, than by having a picnic at the Maggie Daley Park. Picnic groves, wall climbing, mini golf, roller blading – the park offers a plethora of activities for individuals as well as families.
If you use the long weekend of 15th June, you can extend your trip to go for Country LakeShake – Chicago’s country music festival featuring Blake Shelton and Dierks Bentley.
August: 7 days in London for Europe’s biggest street festival
Since 1964, the Notting Hill Carnival has been celebrating London’s Caribbean communities with dancing, masquerade and music ranging from reggae to salsa. Watch London burst into colours and sparkle at the Notting Hill Carnival. Home to Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens Museum, London is best experienced by wandering through its tiny streets. Chance encounters with bookstores such as Foyles and Housemans, soaking in historic sights while enjoying breakfast at Arthur’s Café or Blackbird Bakery, rummaging the stalls at Broadway market or Camden Market – you can do so much in London while doing nothing at all.
The Museum of Brand, Packaging and Advertising can send you reminiscing about those old ads, while the Clowns Gallery Museum can give you an insight in clown-culture. If you’d rather not roam aimlessly, book a street-art tour run by Alternative London or a Jack the Ripper Tour.
October: 10 days of an out-of-body experience in Vegas
About 16 km south of the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway in Henderson, lies a visual spectacle. Seven Magic Mountains, an art installation by Ugo Rondinone, stands far away from the wild vibe that people expect in Las Vegas and instead offers a sense of wonder. Imagine seven pillars of huge, neon boulders, stacked up against one another stretched towards the sky. There’s a lot more where that came from, in Las Vegas. Captivating colour at the permanent James Turrell exhibit in Louis Vuitton, outdoor adventures at the Bootleg Canyon and vintage shopping at Patina Décor offer experiences that are not usually associated with Vegas. For that quintessential Vegas show, go for Shannon McBeath: Absinthe for some circus-style entertainment. If you put the holiday list to use, you can make it for the risefestival – think thousands of lanterns floating in the sky, right above you.
It’s time to get on with the vacation planning for the new year. So, pin up the holiday list, look up deals on hotels and flights and start booking. Save money by taking advantage of the British Airways Holiday Sale. With up to 25% off on flight, the offer is available to book until 31st January 2018 for travel up to 31st December in economy and premium economy and up to 31st August for business class. For great fares to great destinations, see here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of British Airways and not by the Scroll editorial team.