Morbo Minute–Who Will Finish Third?

The news that Barca fans were dreading came last Friday, as Pep Guardiola announced at a press conference that he was leaving after the season.  After four years, the man who oversaw the capturing of over a dozen trophies and the resurgence of a club in mentality, honor and quality, is stepping aside for his next challenge.

Graham Hunter provided an excellent piece to FourFourTwo recounting the steps from a precocious 11 year old to the manager of one of the great club sides of all time.  Well worth the read.

Sid Lowe commented on Pep’s departure, noting that the intense manager was finally undone by the intensity of the club and their eternal rival.  Despite the amazing success . . .

That intensity has led Guardiola to become the most successful coach in Barcelona’s history. He has reached four consecutive Champions League semi-finals and won 13 trophies. Two have evaded him in a week in which Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea and beaten by Real Madrid in the clásico, leaving them seven points behind with four games to play and conceding the title. But there is still a Copa del Rey final to come at the end of the season. Win that and he would have won 14 of 18 competitions.

As for Pep’s successor Tito Vilanova, Lee Roden wrote a quick synopsis for talkSport, noting that Vilanova traveled away from FC Barcelona but has always come back.

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Sid Lowe tried to make sense of the battle for European and relegation places as each rounds further clouds the issue, and with another round in midweek, the issues will be far from resolved.

Kxevin at Barcelona Football Blog felt the relief the players must have felt as they annihilated Rayo Vallecano 7-0 to put the last two weeks behind them.  The last couple of games of the season are a tune-up for the Copa del Rey Final and a possible peak at next season’s squad.

Phil Ball wrapped up the week in La Liga from a cold stand in Grimsby: Real’s title celebration delayed by a week; Pep’s departure from FC Barcelona; and Spanish success and failure in Europe.

With the top two wrapped up, I decided to see what was going just below them by checking out Malaga againstValencia.  It was a pretty drab game, lacking in quality and sharpness. Valencia were coming off a European semi, but I’m not sure what Malaga’s issue was.  The hosts eventually took control of the game and Los Che offered very little fightback.

Michael Bell wrote a quick recap of the match for Inside Spanish Football, noting that this may well have been the biggest game in the history of the club.  If they can avoid defeat against Barcelona midweek, Los Boquerones should qualify for the Champions League.

Both teams are now tied on 55 points but Valencia has the edge based on head to head (lead 2-1 on aggregate). Valencia has Osasuna and Villarreal at home before traveling to Real Sociedad on the final day, while Malaga has Barcelona and Atleti away and finish at home against Gijon.  Based on that the edge is with Los Che but their form has been awful.  Levante is just three points and may just pip one of them as Zaragoza, Mallorca, andBilbao.

Mark Griffiths looked at the career of Giovani dos Santos for Forza Futbol, who has gone missing inEngland after a bright time as a youngster at FCB.  He hopes that the rumor of GdS coming back to Barcelona, albeit to Espanyol, comes true, as Spain seems to be where the Mexican shines.

Finally, Swiss Ramble tries to unravel the La Liga debt crisis, starting with the Big Two, comparing them to Manchester United and Arsenal, before finishing with an examination of each La Liga teams’ debt.  FCB and Real Madrid have high debt, but they also have massive assets so things are not nearly as bad as they seem.  But reading the info on Man United.  OUCH!!

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