Morbo Minute–Back to the Clubs
The La Liga campaign gets going again this weekend with several key ties for me (highlighted below). Many thanks to Forza Futbol for gathering the broadcast schedule.
18:00 CET, 12pm EST, 9am PST Villarreal-Betis GOLTV USA
20:00 CET, 2pm EST, 11am PST Barça-Zaragoza GOLTV USA
22:00 CET, 4pm EST, 1pm PST Valencia-Real Madrid ESPN Deportes USA, ESPN3.com
12:00 CET, 6am EST, 3am PST Real Sociedad-Espanyol
16:00 CET, 10am EST, 7am PST Sporting-Getafe ESPN Deportes USA, ESPN3.com
16:00 CET, 10am EST, 7am PST Osasuna-Rayo DIRECTV Sports USA
18:00 CET, 12pm EST, 9am PST Sevilla-Athletic ESPN Deportes USA, ESPN3.com
20:00 CET, 2pm EST, 11am PST Atlético-Levante GOLTV USA
22:00 CET, 4pm EST, 1pm PST Granada-Mallorca DIRECTV Sports USA
21:00 CET, 3pm EST, 12pm PST Racing-Málaga DIRECTV Sports USA
Valencia v Real Madrid is key because Los Che need at least a draw to keep their fight alive. Also, Real Madrid starts their run against some of the supposed tougher teams, and they will playing after an International Break and after FCB’s game.
Sevilla v Athletic should be a tough watch (physical, tactical, few chances) but important to each team’s season. The wind has gone of out Sevilla’s sails while Los Leones are on a high, unbeaten in ten games in all competitions.
Atletico v Levante. Again another game crucial to the fortunes of the teams involved. Atletico must win to relieve pressure on their manager and show that they have the fortitude to mount a serious challenge for a European place. Levante is at a critical juncture. Another loss would be their third straight and could put their dream season off the rails. Doubt the quality will be high in this match but the tension will be palpable.
As for FCB, it’s a home game after the international break. I see them struggling but taking care of business in the second half.
Heath Chesters at El Centrocampista shed some light on promoted Granada, who are having a rough go of it this season. Despite being the first team to beat Sevilla in the league this season, they remain in the bottom three, short of goals and confidence. Sounds like the manager is under pressure as well.
Olly Dawes wrote a piece about the thinness of FCB’s squad for this campaign and put forth some interesting transfer rumors come this January or next summer. I believe something has to give because as Olly rightly points out:
The fact is that Real Madrid have improved a lot, and the main strength they have is that their squad is brilliant. It shows great depth, talent in all areas and competition for places.
Finally, another article at El Centrocampista talked about one of the Big Two finally playing the dreaded noon Sunday game. This aspect of the scheduling creates a dilemma for the Spanish big guns and the league in general. To get more money, the league must increase its presence, its brand, and one way to do this is expand in Asia. But to get them to watch, the game must kick off at 12pm in Spain, which is a little earlier than the teams and the fans want it. Yet if they don’t do this, then the TV pie becomes finite and most of it is already eaten up by Real Madrid and Barcelona. For me, it means a 6am ET kick off on a Sunday (after the possibility of a bender the night before). Hmmmm. . . .
To wrap up, some news on La Furia Roja. Elisa at Forza Futbol focused on the problems for Spain up top. The debate is not going away as Villa and Torres are out of sorts, Negredo is not experienced enough, and Pedro is having injury problems. Zonal Marking wrote a phenomenal piece on the issues that the European and World Champions face next summer and beyond. Spain is a great team but they are dependent on a number of key players. Once one domino falls, there is a huge knock on effect that may scupper their chances at immortality next summer. Finally, Sid Lowe and Graham Hunter appeared together on the Off the Ball pod and some very frank comments about the quality and tactics of the Spanish National Team.