Morbo Minute–Sevilla Smashed and Malaga Driven Batty

A Different Liga wrote a quick summary of Round 17.  The results of the last round of 2011 are below with quick comments from yours truly.


Mallorca 1-2 Getafe

All the goals came in the first half and Getafe earned the victory.  Don’t know enough about either team to guess at their chances for survival in the second half of the season.

Sporting Gijon 1-2 Espanyol

Sounds like the visitors won an entertaining match at El Molinón, with Sergio Garcia scoring the winner moving Espanyol in to the top half of the table.  Sporting are in the last relegation spot and may need a miracle like a couple of years to go to keep their Primera spot.

Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Real Zaragoza

I don’t know who the Mexican National Team coach is but he should be worried because Aguirre is on his way out at Zaragoza.  Los Blanquillos could not capitalize on a man advantage and fell to Los Leones when Toquero scored late on.

Sevilla 2-6 Real Madrid

Headed up to my favorite pub to catch this match.  I hadn’t seen Sevilla yet this season and wanted to see how the Evil Empire would react to being slapped around by Barcelona.

As the match started, I noticed that there was no Ozil, which was fine, but it seemed as if Di Maria was playing the attacking midfield role, with Callejon on the right. Before I could sort that out, I ran into an acquaintance at the bar, so I totally missed the opening exchanges and looked up to see CR7 slot the ball home.  The replays revealed a delicious ball from Di Maria, who it turned out, really was playing in the middle of the attacking three in midfield.

Sevilla responded well and were denied by St Iker and poor finishing.  They didn’t capitalize when Real Madrid were on the back foot and were punished as Di Maria floated a ball which Callejon dummied and the ball the trickled into the net.  I’m not giving the spiky haired attacker credit no matter what the official scorer might say.  Anyway, the result was me getting my fork out and putting it in Los Rojiblancos because they were done.  The home side were in shock and CR7 hit a 30 yard bomb to make it 3-0 and the game became a training session.  Even Pepe’s sending off couldn’t make a difference, and I called to my friend to tell him to not even bother coming out for the second half, which I spent answering emails, scanning the twitter and calling my best friend, a MUFC supporter, to figure what’s going on with the Red Devils.

Don’t have much to offer in terms of analysis.  My interest was piqued by the use of Di Maria.  I tweeted during the match: So Jose, you’ve got millions of monetary units wrapped u in a #10 & you play di Maria there instead. Experiment or revolution?  and Hope Kaka kept his house in Milan.  I like the change but why do it one game before the break?  Seems like you would introduce it after the break when you’ve had some time to work on it.  It does give Real Madrid a ton of options, but I’m not sure that’s what they need.  We’ll see if Mou continues with this in January.


Atletico Madrid 0-2 Real Betis

Looks like Manzano will be out of work as 2012 begins as Atleti suffered their first home defeat of the year.  Betis hope that they can turn their form around after the break and stop their free fall down the table.

A Different Liga reported on Tuesday that former Atleti player Diego Simone may be in the frame for the job.  Seems like he has mixed results as a manager.

Granada 2-1 Levante

Granada got another three vital points in their survival push as they are halfway to safety at the break.  As for Levante, more dropped points and only the inconsistency of the group under them is keeping them in fourth.

I did a little research on their form.  Their unbeaten start to the season ended on October 30 with a loss to Osasuna.  Since then Los Granotes have lost three of their five games.  The fixture list after the break isn’t horrible Real Mallorca at home, Athletic Bilbao away and Real Zaragoza at home.  Maybe they can stay up there.

Osasuna 2-1 Villarreal

Two teams heading in different directions?  Osasuna have climbed to fifth and the Yellow Submarine are just outside the drop.

Racing Santander 0-0 Real Sociedad

I’ll take the word of

Racing Santander and Real Sociedad played out a dull, inspiring draw that helps neither side in their quest to pull away from the relegation zone. Both sides seemed nervous throughout, unwilling to make a mistake that would allow the other in, as both coaches made sure their sides showed more caution than creativity.

Valencia 2-0 Malaga

Coming into the match, a win for Los Che would consolidate their place in third (read first of the losers) while a Malaga victory would take them up to fifth just two points behind Levante, who lost again.

There was good early pressure from the hosts as they looked to put the visitors on the back foot.  Emery made a couple of changes to the line-up.  He welcomed back Banega back from injury and moved Feghouli inside to get Miguel forward from the back. Los Che played with Mathieu and Alba doubled up on the left hand side, with Alba looking to be more advanced to me.  Here’s a question: Where is Pablo?  Haven’t seen him play or on the team sheet in a while.  (Came on as sub with 12 minutes  to go.)

As for Malaga, Rondon led the line with Juanmi behind him, and I didn’t see much from Cazorla.  Slowly Malaga came into the  match with Joaquin and Juanmi getting involved, and, as Malaga grew in confidence, the game really opened up, with Joaquin feeling the good feeling and causing the Valencia rearguard all kinds of fits.  Let me just say that Malaga away kit is truly horrific.  Phil Schoen called them magenta.  I don’t want to get my color wheel out but I don’t think that’s magenta.  And the black shoulder things make it worse.

Valencia made the breakthrough shortly before halftime, with Soldado keeping his great run going.  The Valencian midfield turned Malaga over, fed the ball to Jonas, who split open the Malaga rearguard (with a pass that rivaled Di Maria’s the night before) and Bradley Cooper Soldado walked around Willy to score.

In response, Isco and Joaquin switched sides and Isco took his turn running at the hosts defense.  Halftime came with Malaga asking the right questions but not finding the answers.  The average position on soccernet showed Malaga only having Monreal on the left hand side, which surprised me because it seemed like that’s where the visitors had some success.  As for Valencia, it showed them playing almost a  2-5-2-1 with both backs very high and lots of numbers in the midfield.

The second half continued to be open and Malaga had a  four on two off a Valencia corner, which resulted in almost nothing.  They got a corner but it should have been a real chance.  Just after the half hour mark, Jordi Alba embarrassed an exposed DiMichelis and whipped in a fantastic cross that Soldado volleyed home for a lovely goal.

Pellegrini’s substiutions were not very inspired.  Seba Fernandez and Duda in for Rondon and Isco respectively.  Maybe Isco was tiring but I would not have minded seeing him continue to go at Valencia.  As for Seba in for Rondon, just one more ineffective striker for another. Malaga had a couple of half chances to make it interesting, but Diego Alves kept a clean sheet.

All in all, a nice victory for Los Che.  Little shaky at times but their cohesiveness and class proved the difference.  As for Malaga, feel like the Champions League is slipping farther and farther away.  Pellegrini still has a lot of work to do, and they still have to play FCB twice, and while Levante may fall, Osasuna and Sevilla may yet hold Malaga off.

Omar at VCF Central summed it up: Soldado’s clinical finishing was the difference in the clash. Malaga caused problems but had trouble breaking down the Valencia rearguard and then couldn’t finish the chances when they did.

Mike Barnes at A Different Liga analyzed Malaga’s season thus far after the match against Levante.  Not sure what Pellegrini and Co are selling but I’m not buying.

“I am satisfied with our level of play, but that has not been reflected in our results or our position,” he said. “I would have liked to finish the year higher up. The table is very tight and we must continue working, but now we’re looking to go as far as possible in the Copa.”

I’ve watched Los Boquerones a couple of times this season and, until Sunday, had been less than impressed.  Their “level of play” is not going to get them into the European spots and they will need more than a striker to turn things around.  That being said, I thought Joaquin was particularly good against Valencia, rolling back the years and causing constant turmoil for Los Che.  If Isco can match that on the opposite side, then Cazorla should be a little more joy in the middle.  In the back, DiMichelis is a joke, especially when isolated one on one.

Maybe a cup run would make up for their inconsistent league form, but if they continue their horrible run away from home, then I’m not sure how far they’ll get.


Doctor Sid examined the usual frustrating, underwhelming and ultimately meaningless Atleti situation.  Manzano has been undermined from the start, with the results not really following and now the team will have a new coach shortly whose job will probably be to keep them from the burgeoning relegation battle rather than a push for European place.

Phil Ball took the temperature of La Liga heading into the break.  The Big Two are in charge but there are several stories percolating just below the surface: Valencia’s consolidation of third; Levante’s decent start; Atleti’s consistent implosion; Osasuna getting beat 15-1 on aggregate by the FCB and Real yet in fifth place; Villarreal’s horror show; and the congestion at the bottom.

La Liga Loca gave a quick nod to the Evil Empire and then moved on to plucky little teams spread throughout the table—Osasuna and Betis—and the teams in complete disarray—Sporting, Atleti and Zaragoza.



Connor  (@_ConnorAndrews) gave a quick history on the Yellow Submarine and how their current performance is affecting the club.  With their loss to Osasuna, they are mired in a relegation battle without major weapons, and while they may survive, things may actually get worse next season.  The loss of Villarreal would be a blow to the Primera but encapsulates the crisis in the league—teams dependent on owner infused money; teams dependent on European money; and clubs forced to sell key players that keep them from developing a solid team to contend at home and abroad.

Looks like Valencia will continue to strengthen their defense, as soccernet is reporting that van der Wiel is moving to Valencia from Ajax.  Of course does this mean that Alba is on the way out?

Heath Chesters at El Centrocampista wrote a quick piece on Guilherme Siqueira who is doing great things at Granada as a left back.  Maybe one to keep an eye on.

Sam (@SamIanHughes), another writer at El Centrocampista looked into the future of the Blaugrana and told his readers about Sergi Samper, a youth team prospect that has real potential to play in the midfield.  Sam warns of like for like replacement, but speaks of Samper’s vision, range of passing and positioning.  It could be Sergi, Oriol Romeu and another anchoring the midfield in a couple of years.



The guys at Forza Futbol had Vaishali Bhardwaj (@VaiBhardwaj) on to discuss a wide range of topics from the English view of La Liga, Spanish players in the EPL, and the striker possibilities for La Furia Roja, which seems to be the second most consistent story this season beyond the gulf in the TV contracts between the Big Two and everyone one.

Graham Hunter did a piece about Athletic Bilbao, which featured their English roots, San Mames, and background for Pichichi and Zarra awards.


So here is the table as La Liga heads into the break.  From Atletico on down, it is a crap shoot as to will join Zaragoza in the Segunda next year.  Barca are six points off last year’s total, with several away draws being the culprit.  Real Madrid look strong and their focus will be on building a cushion before the next clasico.

Real Madrid 16 13 1 2 41 40
Barcelona 16 11 4 1 42 37
Valencia 16 10 3 3 10 33
Levante 16 9 2 5 6 29
Osasuna 16 6 7 3 -7 25
Sevilla 16 6 6 4 1 24
Málaga 16 7 3 6 -2 24
Espanyol 16 7 2 7 -3 23
Athletic 16 5 7 4 4 22
Atlético 16 5 4 7 -4 19
Betis 16 6 1 9 -5 19
Getafe 16 5 4 7 -6 19
Granada 16 5 4 7 -6 19
Mallorca 16 4 6 6 -7 18
R Sociedad 16 4 5 7 -7 17
Rayo 16 4 4 8 -8 16
Villarreal 16 3 6 7 -10 15
Sporting 16 4 3 9 -11 15
Racing 16 2 8 6 -10 14
R Zaragoza 16 2 4 10 -18 10
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