Morbo Minute–Looking Back before Moving Forward
La Liga is back this weekend after a busy winter break. Three managers gone and replaced; Reyes still heading to Sevilla; Kaka up for sale; and Freddy Adu is set to train with Rayo. Several Primera teams are involved in the Copa and success in that competition will mean two games a week for most of this month. So get ready for intriguing and important games right from the off—Racing v Zaragoza, Malaga v Atleti, and Villarreal v Valencia—and some drama in the Copa del Rey.
Andy Mitten looked back at the year that was in La Liga, touching on Barca’s dominance, key stories thus far and great games from the first half. His top five non-Barcelona/Real Madrid list looked a little light. What about Cazorla or Muniain or Negredo (who admittedly has cooled off lately) or Alba?
Connor wrote a piece examining some of the top La Liga signings from last summer. Granted, I have a small visual sample to draw from, but I would say Cesc would have to be one and Falcao two. Two of Malaga’s signings—Cazorla and Isco have done quite well so they would be up there. Considering Kone didn’t really score at Sevilla, his time at Levante has been quite productive.
Moving on to the clubs, Garrido is out at Villarreal. Not new news and not surprising as results have not gone his way this season, but a tough week (throwing away a lead at Osasuna and defeat in the cup to a third division team) proved to be the end. They have promoted B team manager Molina and David Redshaw at A Different Liga gave a quick intro to the new coach, who will have to focus on climbing out of the relegation places and regroup for next season.
Graham Hunter used the Beatles production of the Yellow Submarine to create a metaphor for Villarreal—Make a big noise with cheap instruments. Villarreal rose to success on youth players and clever signings, and Hunter hopes that the Yellow Submarine can get back on track and rise up the table.
Manzano at Atleti was also given the sack and replaced with Diego Simeone. Mando at Forza Football shared some thoughts on the dismissal of the two coaches, looking at each club’s context and possible direction. The days are gone when a coach could work through a rough patch and come out the other end stronger. Results now, and positive results at that, are what presidents are looking for.
Olly Dawes looked at possible transfer targets for Espanyol as they look to improve their attack. I admit I hadn’t heard of some of the names, but if Los Periquitos want to stay out of the relegation fight they need to find some goals.
While watching American College Football, I came across news from Football365.com that Joaquin has suffered an injury and won’t be back until February. Malaga has a tough schedule this month, so that will be a big loss.
Finally, Catalunya played a friendly against Tunisia that ended in a scorless draw, but it sounds like the Catalans dominated possession. Lee Roden asks the recurring question: should Catalunya have their own team? I admit I don’t know enough about everything involved, but I would say no. They are a Spanish region and are not their own country. If they want to form their own entity then everything will take care of itself.
Forza Football had Tim Stannard (aka @LaLigaLoca) on to talk all things La Liga. It was a great conversation with thoughts on El Clasico and predictions for the two teams for the rest of the season; Valencia’s plan to move forward with the new Mestalla; Atleti’s continued problems, with insight into the leadership cultural there (ie two leaders working at cross purposes); the impending relegation fight and who might go down; and the upcoming European Championships that LLL feels confident that La Furia Roja can win. Tim provides context and depth to the events in the Spain and was a fascinating guest.
The panel on the Villarreal USA pod discussed the choice of Molina as the next manager, with the accompanying pros and cons. Their schedule after the break is tough and it will be interesting to see if the new man can survive his trial by fire. They also examined possible signings to help bolster the squad and looked at the club’s finances.
La Liga Weekly reviewed the last 12 months in La Liga. A lot of time was spent on the battle between FCB and Real Madrid. Also, revisited an interview with RVN, which led into a conversation about Malaga’s ambition to challenge for European places and beyond and a look at the rest of the table including Villarreal’s troubles. Plus the Atleti situation was touched on as well as the Levante story that keeps on chugging along.