Overshadowed somewhat by the fireworks of the Premier League, La Liga also returned to action this weekend with champions Barcelona travelling to Getafe to get their title defence underway.
A 0-0 bore draw was far from the ideal start, though, which saw head coach Xavi sent off as well as Raphinha in the first half as La Blaugrana failed to get off to a winning start, stalling at the very first hurdle.
Between the two Barca dismissals and a late helping of VAR controversy in injury time, the game itself was actually sprinkled with a few moments of drama despite it ending goalless.
But regardless of what the score read come the final whistle, nothing was ever going to eclipse the actions of a certain Ronald Araujo.
The Uruguayan defender has very quickly established himself as one of the finest young talents in European football, but it appears he can be a bit of a loose cannon.
Not because he’s got a screw loose – that would make too much sense. It’s actually because he doesn’t appear to understand the rules of the game. At all.
Either that or he’s suddenly convinced he’s been playing a different sport this entire time and needs a CT scan as soon as possible.
Whatever the reason, he’s gifted us one of the moments of the 2023-24 season already, by drawing a blank mid-season opener and letting the intrusive thoughts win with the weirdest handball you’ll ever see.
…is Ronald Araujo okay?pic.twitter.com/F1CVhcKWy1
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) August 14, 2023
We’ve cracked it – our Ronald is a massive cricket fan and can’t get enough of The Hundred. That must be it. Get him in the field.
Or perhaps he’s a big NFL fan, and has been sat behind the laptop watching endless YouTube clips ahead of the new season like an adolescent watching ‘Top 10 greatest respect moments in football’ for the very first time. Powerful stuff.
No, that’s not it. Could be an NBA man, channelling his inner Jordan. They do have a basketball team over there after all. This wasn’t the time to try out though, Mr. Araujo. A great catch and some serious hang-time, but completely the wrong sport.
Whatever the reason is – and we don’t actually think there is one – it made for a seriously hilarious yet equally confusing moment.
In fact, we’re probably more confused now after watching the clip back 10 times or so than we were after the first watch. What on earth was he thinking? Is he applying for Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s job?
A perfectly reasonable switch of play headed towards him, ready to be killed with a deft touch and whipped into the box with enough venom to prove fatal to human life. Is that too much to ask, Ronald? Evidently so.
What’s even more baffling about the entire sequence is that despite the obvious outrage of the Getafe players – who have just watched an opponent leap like a salmon to commit a blatant handball offence – he wasn’t sent off. Seriously. Work that one out.
Even Premier League referees wouldn’t struggle to show him a red card there. It was clearly a complete brain-fart moment, but rules are rules. And he broke them in incredibly bizarre circumstances. That should’ve been the champions down to nine men.
But it made us laugh. Hard. And it’s exactly the silly moments like that that fuel the vibes of the perfect opening weekend.
Perfect football is boring. Give us chaos. Give us players forgetting which sport they play.
By Mitch Wilks