FC Barcelona’s football team has had its most successful year ever, following its victory on Saturday afternoon in FIFA’s Club World Cup (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). For the first time, Barça has won six titles in a single year: the Spanish League, the Copa del Rey, the Champions League, both the Spanish and European Supercups and now the Club World Cup, which they have won for the first time in the club’s history. Saturday’s final in Abu Dhabi against Argentinian team Estudiantes de La Plata was the epitome of a nail-biting affair, with the South American team taking the lead in the 37th minute, and holding on to it until Pedro (who has also made history by being the first player to score goals in six different competitions in one year) scored in the 88th minute, forcing the game into extra time; Leo Messi sealed Barça’s victory in the second-half of the additional half hour. Overall, it’s taken 65 matches and 165 goals for Barça to make history in this way; captain Carles Puyol is the only player to have played the full match in all six finals, while Messi scored 42 of the 165 goals; the average number of goals scored per match was 2.5, while average goals against was less than one per match; the team only lost six matches over 16 months.
The Spanish opposition party Partido Popular (PP) would win a general election if it was held now, with an advantage of 20 seats over the incumbent Spanish Socialist Party (article in Castilian, El Periodico). In a survey carried out for El Periodico by the Gabinet d’Estudis Socials i Opinió Pública (GESOP), the PP would have a victory of 5.5 percent over the party (PSOE) led by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero; the findings gave the PP 42 percent of the vote compared to 36.5 percent for the PSOE. Although this is a worse predicted result for the PP from the last such survey (‘Barómetro de España’) carried out in May, the difference between the two parties in this result is larger than in the previous poll. The Socialists have seen their support affected by difficulties caused by the crisis and various foreign affairs issues (such as the kidnapping of the fishing-boat Alakrana and three Catalan charity workers in Mauritania).
The president of the Federació Catalana de Futbol (FCF) yesterday spoke of his concern regarding the low number of tickets sold so far for tomorrow’s friendly football match between Catalunya and Argentina (article in Catalan, Avui). Jordi Casals held a joint press conference with the new trainer of the Catalan football team, Jordi Cruyff, at which he said that only 30,000 tickets for the game had so far been sold, a cause for concern in both economic and image terms. At one point, Casals said: “If Catalunya isn’t capable of filling the stadium [the Camp Nou], maybe we have to look again at this idea of a Catalan nation.” Cruyff also showed his worry about the ticket situation, saying, “All the players are very excited about playing, but they will surely be disappointed by the low sales.” He even went so far as to say, “maybe it’s not worth having the national team anymore: you bring a quality rival, there are six players from Barça coming, and the people don’t respond.”
Also in the news: Cold snap combined with clouds could bring snow to much of west, central and southern Catalunya (Avui); Barcelona's high-speed train service affected by Madrid snowfall (La Vanguardia); Rising number of truffles grown in Catalunya (El Periodico)