There’s nothing like Christmas to bring up old and unresolved family issues.
With the rest of Europe, England apart, on hibernal hiatus, 32,000 turned out at Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium tonight to watch Catalonia hammer Honduras, a representative in last summer’s World Cup Finals, 4-0, with a brace from Barça’s Bojan Krkic.
The Catalan eleven also boasted blaugrana stalwart Carles Puyol and teammate Sergio Busquets, who both lifted the World Cup in Spanish colours in South Africa this year. Barça heavy though the team was, the Catalonia squad actually contained more players from the city’s other team, Español.
The Catalan national team remains of course unrecognised by FIFA or UEFA, as are a handful of European ‘countries’ like Corsica, Gibraltar, Jersey, Kosovo, Monaco and the Vatican City. FIFA now demand full United Nations recognition before they rubber-stamp anything, but in their quest for acceptance, the ‘forgotten nations’ point to the footballing status of not entirely sovereign states such as Andorra, the Faroe Togel Online Islands, Liechtenstein and San Marino, as well as the four nations which make up the United Kingdom, which has only one seat at the UN.
The Spanish close season or mid-winter break are the only times the Catalan national team can realistically assemble, but on the evidence of recent outings, their side, now coached by Barcelona idol Johan Cruyff, would be a force in European football were it playing regularly: Last year they downed Diego Maradona’s Argentina 4-2 at the Camp Nou, beat Colombia 2-1 the year before that and in 2003 thrashed Ecuador 4-0, five years after a memorable 5-0 walloping of Nigeria. And absent from their ranks tonight were Catalan aces Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique and Xavi, World Soccer’s Player of the Year for 2010.
Indeed, Spain won …