Sports and politics are inherently intertwined. Whether it is racist chants from fans or players actively getting involved in the political process – like Gerard Pique – the two are linked. What if this could be made fun?
Catalonia is currently trying to attain independence from Spain, and – understatement of the year – it’s getting rather messy. Being the hopeless, fun-loving optimist I am, I have devised a plan to end this mess. I have assembled two squads; the Spain all stars and the Catalonia all stars. They will slug it out in an imaginary game played at a neutral location (preferably Anfield, but you can’t win ‘em all), and if the Catalans win, they get their independence. Here goes nothing…
The Catalan XI
For my own personal entertainment, the Catalans will be running a 4-1-2-1-2 with what might be the best center midfield in the world. Also, they’re coached by Pep Guardiola, so that helps a bit.
Goalkeeper: Kiko Casilla
Yes, he only has one Spain cap, but the Real Madrid man is as solid as backups come. He’s not blowing anyone away, but he’s reliable.
Defenders: Jordi Alba, Carlos Puyol, Gerard Pique, Hector Bellerin
Yes, I cheated here a bit because Puyol retired, but what a back four. Puyol and Pique have a case for best Catalan center back pairing of all time. I never condone any sort of injury/violence but this tackle from Puyol on a former Manchester United player made me very happy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIt9D-KCRp0. As for the full backs, it’s all about pace. Neither is a phenomenal defender, but they’re basically both wingers. Speed kills.
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Center Defensive Mid), Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Sergi Roberto
Busquets, Xavi, and Fabregas. Are you kidding me? If this team loses the ball/misplaces a pass, then there is something wrong with the world. In short, it’s not going to happen. That trio is the very definition of “tiki-taka” football. As for Roberto: clutch is a word that comes to mind.
Attackers: Keita Balde, Bojan.
Pace, pace, and more pace. Balde is a big lad who can do a bit of everything. Unafraid to throw his body in front of a defender and good with the ball at his feet, Balde is a great modern center forward. Bojan can do this:
The Spain XI
This one is a bit simpler as the Spanish have far more depth and a well-established squad.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Defenders: Juanfran, Sergio Ramos, Nacho, César Azpilicueta
A very solid back line from the Spaniards. A good blend of experience and youth makes for just a very good defense. I cannot stand Sergio Ramos (sorry Real Madrid fans), but he’s
maybe probably definitely the best center back on the planet.
Midfield: Andres Iniesta, Thiago, David Silva
This is a fun one. David Silva, despite no longer having the luscious flowing locks, is playing out of his mind this year. Iniesta, although old, is always reliable. Thiago offers some versatility and is more than comfortable holding. He’s there to protect the back four.
Forwards: Isco, Marco Asensio, Diego Costa
All about a mixture of creativity and brute force, this front three would be a nightmare to mark. Isco and Asensio are great with the ball at their feet and will feed Costa all day. Costa is a terrible human, but he’s great at football.
This would be a fantastic game. The Catalans are brilliant at the back and in the midfield, but have little going forward. Conversely, Spain may be shakier at the back than it looks. This game is all about who can stick it in the net, though. I’ve got Spain winning this game 2-1. The real winner, though, is Sergio Ramos’ perfect hair.
In the real world, Catalonia suffered a metaphorical 2-1 loss. The majority voted for independence but the Spanish government their secession and recently took over the region.
It’s a big mess, and vast uncertainty sweeps both the nation and the world. The pain could be eased by a friendly sporting event, though. So let’s make this happen, and put the fun back into politics.