A goal by Asensio in Leganés

Rule change can be a grievance at the end of the season
Javier Tebas, president of LaLiga, speaks during a promotional event

AFP/SAJJAD HUSSAIN  -   Javier Tebas, president of LaLiga, speaks during a promotional event

The 2019-2020 season will not end with the same rules as it began


Changing the rules in the middle of a game has never been a good idea. A hackneyed premise used in all social settings. A grievance that always affects the weakest. No matter what the environment. The rules that everyone accepts at the beginning and with which they have trained situations must remain until the end. 


I haven't talked about football so far. The previous paragraph could be cut and paste as an argument in many situations of injustice. But, yes, now it is also football's turn. And don't worry, nobody from inside the competition is going to raise their voice too much. First, because they have agreed to return under the new rules and, second, because the opposite would have been a shot in the foot for the business that moves 1.3% of Spain's GDP. 


The sieve of the pandemic that has been so far ahead of us leaves a disturbed picture. Health, economy, culture, politics, sports... everything has suffered from the virus. Recovery was non-negotiable. Starting over and putting another piece of the puzzle of normality was also a must for football.


We've already talked about everything that was at stake (TV rights, jobs, promotions, relegations, income, more losses, European rankings...) but let's focus on the fact that the last 11 rounds of the season do not correspond to the other 27 already played. All LaLiga teams agreed to come back. They all agreed to an adulterated end in order to finish the competition. All, in theory, agreed not to invoke the vice in the rules when the descents drown them in Second or drag them to the well of the Second B. 


"He's a jerk." This is how Tino Pérez described the system that the RFEF has devised to finish the indoor football league. He is the voice of the coach of Inter, the most successful team in world futsal. The competition returns with a playoff that the first eight classified in Málaga. Like it or not, it was not the time to wash the dirty laundry publicly. Luckily, in the Tebas’ LaLiga the 42 clubs are rowing in the same direction and dragging Barça and Real Madrid with them. Not a word went beyond the pale of political correctness and criticism. Some coaches complained that they had little time to prepare and some players balanced the scales by saying that they wanted to start when they did. That's all.


But there's more. The 2019-2020 season will end by allowing teams to make five changes per game. In Germany it has hardly made a difference in the matches because the coaches played with the first three changes and the rest were either not made at all or were for breaks. In Spain, for the moment, it hasn't made any difference either, but we'll see in the last few days, when everything is tight, if ten fresh legs on the pitch become relevant. 


This reflection goes hand in hand with that of the injuries. Two proper names: Luis Suárez and Marco Asensio. Two players that neither their clubs nor their opponents counted on and who have already played minutes and even scored goals. Luis Suárez is the quintessential grievance. A few dominoes that have been falling and leaving Leganes unprotected and Spanish football portrayed in an unacceptable legal hole. 


Let's remember: Luis Suárez decides to have surgery in January 2020 to play the America's Cup in full. Dembélé was taking over, but his femoral biceps was taking him to the operating room for the second time in just three seasons. A lesion treated as long-lasting that allowed Barça to go to the market. Barça's Russian roulette stopped at Leganés. Braithwaite, the striker of the colista, was the indispensable player that Barça needed to accompany Griezmann and Messi. As the transfer market was already closed Leganés was left with 20 million euros and no option to sign. The RFEF did not pronounce itself and left it for its summer assembly. No hurry. 


Now Barça has Luis Suárez recovered and, who knows if Dembélé could get in shape, although he would not have a record. Leganes has a hard time scoring goals and he is watching the second one closely. Closer when Braithwaite - of azulgrana- almost scored the first goal. But the club was kind enough to erase the goal from the session diary, which Meritxell Batet would say. 


In the case of Real Madrid, Asensio is the one who has the gift of completing a season that he gave for lost after his serious knee injury in preseason. His recovery accelerated when the football stopped. Now he has jumped on the white bandwagon with a goal and may be the signing of Zidane for the Champions League in August. Or the player who points to Leganés in the second division on the last day of the league in Butarque. More drama if what is at stake south of Madrid is also the title.  


This League annex has Nolito as its protagonist. The Sevilla player is on his way to Vigo because the Celta goalkeeper seriously injured his knee in May. A goalkeeper by a winger who has scored three goals in 15 matches this season. Three goals more than the goalkeeper. More wood for a Leganés who is still looking for an explanation to his particular tragedy. Fortunately he doesn't have to face the reinforced Celta and in his match against Sevilla the Andalusian club won't miss the one in Sanlúcar. 


All teams have accepted this flaw in the standard. They know it's an exceptional season and that's how it has to end. Just like the water break, and, in the process, get a few pointers from the coach in a much more precise way than in the previous 27 games. Maybe it doesn't make much difference. We'll never know or it will be after many years in some commemorative interview where some player will discover the secret. Before that, we'll have to live with that break in the games that decide the title, relegation or European places. 


The right to kick is served. The clubs, the players, the presidents, the sports directors, the box representatives... have in their hands to behave as they promised to do when they put the football machine to work again. They can't just muddy the lawn to cover up their problems.