Coronation and Salvation

I had some work in the Metroplex this past weekend. On the drive up, I was able to keep track of Racing Santander’s game on twitter. Pathetic, I know. Giovani Dos Santos’ two scores were the difference in the game, and team with the ugliest uniforms in the world took a giant step away from the drop zone.

Sunday morning I got to monitor the mammoth EPL clash with a more conventional method: television. It only took Javier Hernandez 36 seconds to make his mark for a team that is at the opposite end of the standings, compared to Racing. From coronation to salvation.

Both players have been essential to their teams’ success in achieving their goals. It made me wonder. What is more difficult to achieve? A championship? Or surviving a relegation threat? What is better for the development of a young player?

The best way to find out, I guess is to ask those who have experienced both ends of the business. Santos Laguna received salvation and were crowned champs within a calendar year. Oswaldo Sanchez said the hardest stage of his career were those three months when they were in the drop zone. He never experienced pressure like that.

Sanchez played in big games, but nothing he ever did what Javier is about to do. In less than three weeks, Chicharito will suit up in by far the biggest game of his young career. The pressure is huge and the pucker factor is palpable in the Champions League final, or any big final, for that matter. The players who succeed are those that handle their nerves best. So far, Hernandez has passed all his tests this year with flying colors, so there is reason to believe the Final at Wembley won’t be any different. The rub here, is that the Final at Wembley is very different.

Meanwhile, back in Santander, Dos Santos has become an instrumental part of the squad ever since he was loaned from Tottenham, and he figured prominently in Racing’s 2-1 victory over Atletico earlier today to make it official. Racing stays in La Liga. It was all smiles and sunshine at the Sardinero as Gio and his teammates took a lap around the field. Joy and relief.

As a fan, I can tell you that when Pumas was embroiled in a relegation mess, it was very tense. Not something I would want to go through again. And I am just a fan. Championships, on the other hand....