Posts Tagged ‘ Real Madrid Football Blog ’

Morbo Minute–The Evil Empire marches on

Week 13 produced some great games and important results, but basically this was the week that the Big Two cut the rest of the league adrift.  Valencia are now four points down to FCB and seven behind Real Madrid.  Any drama is over for a third challenger.  As for results, Real Madrid passed their first test, away to Valencia; Athletic Bilbao are unbeaten in their last 11 in all competitions; Atletico Madrid survived against early leaders Levante; Gijon won three vital points in their bid for survival; and Malaga got back on track with a win in the Monday match. For a brief overview of all the matches from the last round, check out A Different Liga.

In addition, Phil Ball expanded on the weaving of football and Spanish politics from his book Morbo in his weekly column for soccernet.com.  I don’t pretend to understand everything, but based on what I read, these two things cannot be separated and they color the league as a whole.  He gave some quick comments on the big match between Valencia and Real Madrid; commented on the Jedi like nature of Messi; and made brief mention of the bizarre circumstances at the Granada and Mallorca game (assistant referee was hit by an umbrella and the game halted).

La Liga Loca praised Real Madrid, Messi, Athletic Bilbao and Soldado while putting the fork in both Seville teams.

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Saturday provided me with a triple header of footy, which I started with Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund match before diving into La Liga.

FC Barcelona 4  Real Zaragoza 0

A game after the International Break and we all know what that means for the Blaugrana. A struggle. Due to injury and squad rotation, Pep started Cuenca, Messi and Alexis up top. FCB were in control from the off, with chance after chance, but the Blaugrana were not quite sharp enough, as Fabregas played in Messi, who couldn’t quite reach the cross, and Puyol missed a header.  On 18′ Xavi whipped in a free kick that Piqué nodded home. The Zaragoza goalkeeper was busy saving several chances from Messi and Alexis, and Messi finally put some distance between FCB and the visitors as he hung around in their defense and Fabregas played him in to put FCB up 2-0.  The halftime whistle came with Zaragoza having one chance on goal and offering very little going forward.

To be honest, I skipped the second half.  I had a late night before, had been raking leaves all morning, and, with the game in hand, wanted to be fresh for Valencia/Real Madrid.  I followed the game on twitter and took a nap while the one way traffic continued, with Puyol adding a third and Villa a fourth.  Next up is AC Milan on Wednesday.

Total Barca was pleased with FCB’s performance on Saturday, noting their intensity after an International Break.  While they started fast and kept the hammer down, it was their finishing that led to the easy victory because the Zaragoza keeper played well and kept them in it for a while.  Total Barca did note that:

This game proved that international breaks will not always affect our team so drastically; in fact, Guardiola was able to manage his players in a very balanced way so none of them would be too exhausted for Wednesday’s Champions League match. Overall, another vital three points were collected without compromising the strength of the team – a pretty successful outing, especially after an international break.

Kxevin at Barcelona Football Blog was bored with the game like me.  Once FCB get the first, unless the opponent has a way to fight back, it’s a long afternoon/evening of chasing the ghosts.  And when the Blaugrana are sharp (not razor sharp against Zaragoza it has to be said) then the viewer is just waiting for another manita.  His ratings were interesting.  Totally agree that Sanchez has been average since joining the squad.  I’m holding judgment until a run of games or his role is defined.  Perhaps impact sub.  As for using Cuenca instead of Pedro, I disagree.  The sooner he plays, the sooner FCB hit top gear.  Maxwell and the midfielders did have a good match, and this was a perfect opportunity for Keita, who once again showed his value to the squad.

As I was putting this post together, I came across some intriguing comments from Guillem Balague about David Villa’s future at FCB.  He usually gets it right and his statements, combined with supposed tension between Villa and Messi reported before the Break, makes his exit (to England) seem more and more likely.

Valencia 2  Real Madrid 3

Valencia came out with a lot of pressure and energy and put Los Blancos on the back foot at the start.  Ozil was not the same on the right and what chances were created fell to Khedira because of his advanced role, but he is not necessarily a finisher. Real Madrid came into the match and a momentary lapse gave Los Merengues the advantage at halftime.  Physical play and crunching tackles were at the forefront as the second half opened, and it looked like the match was descending into a rough and tumble, white knuckle 1-0 until Ramos knocked in a header, which kicked off the contest.  Soldado then responded with a fantastic finish after a scramble.  With the hosts on the up, another mistake set them back as Alves went on a walkabout and CR7 punished him. When all was almost lost, Soldado ghosted in to make it 3-2 after great work from Pablo Hernandez.  A frenetic finish saw a denied equalizer after a correct offside decision, the cross bar rattled and then a questionable handball on the ensuing melee in the box. The Real Madrid players celebrated as if they had won the league, and this huge win has the whites with the momentum.

Madridista Mac seemed proud of Los Merengues performance against Valencia.  With many things stacked against them—injuries, tactics, hostile environment—Real Madrid responded with a hard fought win.  It was not their best match of the season, but this is how league titles are won.  His breakdown of the tactics and formations for both sides revealed what I was not able to see during the match, namely that Marcelo was shut down, and are worth a read after this compelling encounter.

Sid Lowe dove into the controversy that surrounded the final moments of the Valencia v Real Madrid match.  Depending on who you read and what you watch, your opinion on what Higuain did on the ground will be shaped.  To be honest, when I watched it I had no idea and then there was one quick replay that was not conclusive.  I moved on but clearly the Spanish press has not.

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As for the rest of the league . . .

Los Leones keep roaring, beating Sevilla 2-1 at the Sanchez Pizjuan.  Des Norris at spanishfootball.info gave a quick synopsis.  As La Liga Loca noted in his Monday column, “A good start to the season is fizzling away, with Sevilla now without a victory six matches.”  One of Forza Football’s latest pods focused on Sevilla’s start to the season and how promising it looked.  Two weeks on and dreams of Europe could already by fading.

I wasn’t able to catch Atletico Madrid’s game against Levante, so I read the match review at Atleti Fans.  Los Colchoneros got three vital points before their clash against Real on Saturday.  Levante, on the other hand, are in free fall, and need to pick up points before the Winter Break or they could be in real trouble come spring.  Looks like the pizza and beer has worn off.

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Here are some odds and ends about La Liga that I have come across lately . . .

Alex at El Centrocampista reflected on Butragueño’s time at Real Madrid, when he turned the club around, leading them to five straight league titles.  A finisher of the highest order from club and country, he shares more similarities with Messi than with Ronaldo: a winner, enjoyed by friend and foe alike, and a product of the youth system.  Phil Ball argued this week that Benzema is Butragueño’s heir in the white of Real Madrid.

SpanishFootball.info did some statistical analysis of La Liga thus far this season and over the last five years, and came up with a startling conclusion:

So far this season, the average of goals scored is 2.54, and if we don’t take into consideration the usual Barça and Madrid’s thrashings, we get a poor average of 2.19 goals scored in those games between the rest of the teams in the league. A number that would keep away any football fan from watching La Liga.

While La Liga has been having around third in goals per game in the big five leagues, this year they have fallen to fourth, and the author argues that things are not looking better.  Once again, the financial discrepancy between the Big Two and the rest of the league is evident.  Only FCB and Real Madrid can get better, basically buying the other team’s best players, making the strong stronger and the weak weaker.  No wonder that games between teams in the bottom are lucky to have one goal in them.

On a recent Forza Futbol pod, Elisa mentioned that a movie about El Clasico was recently released.  She had a chance to see and did a quick post, which includes a link to buying the film. The trailer is spectacular and I can’t wait to pick up a copy.  Hopefully Santa or one of his underlings will hook me up.

I found this article that Sid Lowe wrote for SI.com about Spain’s friendly with England.  He talked to a bunch of different La Liga coaches who all agreed that, despite defeat, Spain are on the right track.  Lowe mentioned many variables about why Spain lost the match, but focuses more on how Spain can and must change up aspects of their play in order to be successful. Germany has youth, hunger and form and will surely be Spain’s biggest competition come the summer.  Yet if they don’t have the ball how can use these things?  That to me is the story of the Euros.

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Morbo Minute–Regular Service is Resumed

There were midweek games last week.  I struggled through Granada v FCB.  The Blaugrana were sluggish and only prevailed on a wonderful free kick by Xavi.  Elisa at Forza Futbol suggested fatigue, and she might be on to something.  I will mention some other factors later as well.  I also caught Atletico Madrid’s trip to San Mames.  After a balanced first half with a slight edge to the hosts, Los Leones came to life right from the second half whistle and were rewarded with two quick goals from Llorente (he was almost subbed in the first half) 20 minutes into the half.  Atletico had no reply and were overwhelmed for the rest of the match losing 3-0.

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As for this weekend. . .

Levante finally lost, and now Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are back on top, the positions they will finish the season.  As for the Granotes, the feel good story from Valencia, their story will now be whether they will remain in the top half of the table or begin their inexorable shame spiral down the table a la Hull City in 2008/09.

FCB were back among the goals.  Watching the highlights, the Blaugrana rang rings around Mallorca scoring what looked like simple goals but had everything to do with movement, finishing and composure.  As for Real Madrid, they got an early goal against Real Sociedad and ground out the result, which should put them in good stead as they mount their challenge against the champions.

Sid Lowe wrote his eulogy for the Expendables of Levante after they suffered their first loss of the season and fell to third in the table.  For the first quarter of the season, they were THE story of the league, but now their time is up, and everyone can go back to ramping up for el clasico and who will win the Pichichi race between Messi and CR7.

Phil Ball wrote a great piece this week, tying in a youth coaching experience to the Real Sociedad v Real Madrid game. He argues that the Txuri-urdin should have gone for it, or at least not have parked the bus so obviously and awkwardly from a personnel perspective.  Nice thought but I point him to Espnayol last year at the Nou Camp or even this year v Real Madrid to a certain extent.  If you poke the bear, you will not win.  The only two teams that have stood up to Barcelona toe to toe last year were Valencia and Villarreal, and only because they had the pace and technical ability to do so.  This year if you do that to Real Madrid they will eat you alive.

Staying with Los Merengues, Madridista Mac had another excellent review of the Real Madrid game and weaved in some very telling statements concerning the current squad and their eternal enemy.  Besides breaking down Mourinho’s tactics, including player movements and team goals (especially scoring first which has served as a tremendous platform for Los Merengues this season) thus far this season and how Real Sociedad was able to frustrate them for long stretches, he laid out how to win the real goal—the league:

Now all we need to do is to keep piling the points on -especially as the cules struggle with injuries, fatigue and possibly form issues. If we can head into the December clasico with a comfy lead (at least 4 points), it will allow us the advantage of playing without fear of losing and only the objective of winning. Win that, and they face their annual January fitness blues (recovering from the Club World Cup) further behind us and that just might be the cushion we need to win La Liga.

Alex Grant at El Centrocampista took a couple of minutes to remind everyone that even though Real Madrid are off to fantastic start, hitting the high notes with the usual suspects plus Coentrao and even Kaka, they still have Nuri Sahin on the bench, who has yet to make an appearance this season.  I hope he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle like Granero and Canales and Gago.  Easy to say be patient but look around.  Can he really wait until next summer’s pre-season to stake his claim?  Interesting to see how this shakes out.

As for the Blaugrana, Kxevin at Barcelona Football Blog summarized everything over the last week perfectly.  Messi and the team had been off in the last couple of matches but they managed to find the next gear against an opponent who was useless and normal service was resumed.  He also mentioned a source of concern for me, which is Villa’s lack of finishing lately.  Hopefully it is just a blip and he starts finding the back of the next towards the end of the month and heading into December (ie AC Milan and Real Madrid).  He also highlights Pep bringing along the next generation: Thiago, Cuenca and Deulofeu.  Remember a couple of years ago, no one knew who Pedro was and in 24 months he won everything two or three times at club level and was on the Spanish World Cup squad.  Injuries are a concern and that is why La Masia must continue to churn out ready made replacements.

Sid Lowe commented on the Guardian’s Football Weekly that Guardiola is concerned about the physical condition of the squad, the thinness of the squad and the Puyol/Pique partnership, considering that neither have been fit this season and it affects how the team plays from intensity to possession.

Maxwell at SpanishFootball.info chimed in on the lack of goals at FCB.  He pinpoints their policy of possession and that they must perform at a very high level to turn this into dominance.  Teams the were able to attack them (Valencia) or stay well organized and a little lucky (AC Milan and Sevilla) are able to blunt the attack and get something out of the match.  However, if FCB are all on song, then the opponent will have to be extremely fortunate to walk away with anything but a thrashing and that is the drama of the season.  Can Barcelona hit top gear every match?  That’s what it will take to win the league this year because Real Madrid have the hunger, the frustration and the right tactical framework to regain the title.  Game on!!

Finally, thoughts have to go out to the Yellow Submarine.  The guys at VillarrealUSA.com posted this injury list:

  • Cani – Sprain to the right internal ligament – OUT 6 weeks
  • Marco Ruben – strained left adductor – OUT for City, doubtful for Espanyol (Sunday)
  • Camuñas – bruised right fibula – Doubtful for City
  • Marcos Senna – left hamstring – will be rested for City & Espanyol to be back after the FIFA break
  • Plus Rossi could be out for up to six months

OUCH!!

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There are great English language podcasts out there.  Here are a couple I listened to this week:

Forza Futbol had Jorge Zuazola on from the Spanish Leadership.  He was a great interview with several strong opinions:

  • Who will be on the Spanish National Team at Euro 2012?  He feels that Torres and Llorente could be on the outside looking in.
  • Zuazola gave this thoughts on the state of the league and said that fans won’t change, meaning they like supporting their local team and the Big Two.  It is not in the Big Two’s interest to divvy up the pie equally, which means, I add editorially, they will fight to keep the status quo so that they keep the rest of the league down and keep their advantage over other European sides.  He also mentioned that, in his opinion, the club team of choice has switched from Real Madrid to FC Barcelona.
  • Zuazola also brought up the US National Team.  He doesn’t think Klinsi will succeed and wanted to use the Spanish model to move the US forward.

SpanishFootball.info put up their latest pod and gave their thoughts on the everyone’s surprise package Levante.  The panel also discussed Sevilla’s early start, including their unbeaten run, the draw against FCB, and keeping several clean sheets.  Finally, they looked at Villarreal’s disappointing season thus far and wondered if the finger should be pointed at Garrido.  They also isolated the team’s lack of movement and fluidity and Nilmar’s injury.

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Finally, looking ahead to Round 11, there are some intruiging clashes.  In particular I would interested in seeing Betis (in absolute free fall) against Malaga and Espanyol v Villarreal.  Unfortunately these are not on US TV or legal internet services.  Here is what I found.  (All Times EST).  Bilbao hosting FCB looks tasty, and I’m hoping to watch Levante v Valencia before LSU/Alabama.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2011

1:00 ET           Mallorca            v          Sevilla FC                  GOL TV              

3:00 ET           Real Betis         v          Málaga             

5:00 ET           Levante            v          Valencia                    ESPN3                     

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2011

6:00 ET           Real Madrid       v          Osasuna                  GOL TV (replayed at 9:30am)             

10:00 ET         Granada            v          Racing Santander                     

10:00 ET         Real Zaragoza   v          Sporting Gijon          ESPN3    

12:00 ET         Espanyol           v          Villarreal                       

12:00 ET         Rayo Vallecano v          Real Sociedad              

2:00 ET           Athletic Bilbao   v          Barcelona           ESPN3            

4:00 ET           Getafe               v          Atlético Madrid         GOL TV    

Morbo Minute–Levante LeapFrog the Big Two

See what I did there?

What a weekend.  Although I didn’t see as much as I would have liked, between highlights and match reports, you would almost think there was healthy competition in the league instead of the doom and gloom that has been going on for the last year and a half (Scotland 2.0, Two Table League, why are they even playing these matches, etc.)

Sid Lowe put Sevilla goalkeeper Javi Vargas in the spotlight after his heroic performance against FCB in a 0-0 draw.  A late bloomer, playing only his 49th league match at the age of 29.  Never give up I suppose.

La Liga Loca made a note that Espanyol notched their second straight victory, which has got them climbing up the table (8th before the midweek matches).  He also mentioned that the Racing Santander owner is being investigated by Interpol, which raised my eyebrows.  Interpol started the inquiry of Ahsan Ali Syed following complaints of alleged financial cheating and breach of promise in various deals made through his firm Western Gulf Advisory.  Yikes.

Phil Ball moved from his discussion of the media punta last week to the technically adept center backs like Mascherano, Pique and Sergio Ramos (when he plays there for Real Madrid), and how this position is reshaping the Spanish game.  As he went to the drab draw between Real Sociedad and Getafe, there wasn’t much else to talk about.

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As for the Big Two . . .

Madridista Mac reviewed Real Madrid’s imperious performance against the nouveau riche club of Malaga.  Mourinho slightly changed the tactics of Los Merengues, with his squad passing more on the counter instead of depending on CR7’s pace and moving the line very high up the pitch to nullify Joaquin and Cazorla.  The result was 45 minutes of incisive, razor sharp attacking which netted four goals.  Real Madrid are now in second with el clasico only about 45 days away.

As for FC Barcelona, I read the reviews at Total Barca and Barca Offside.  I don’t understand the 3-4-3 with Adriano on the wing.  Seems like they beat Villarreal with it and it became the new thing, yet whenever they use it now, they struggle and have to revert to the 4-3-3 (Valencia and Sevilla as examples).  Pep is always trying to find permutations so that the squad does not become stale or predictable, so if they are not going to alter their system for anyone, then see it out and do it.  Some of it is based on injuries, but with Mascherano stepping up as a center back, they can run a 4-3-3 and get it done.  Again, it comes down to the finishing.  I’m gathering stats, but basically FCB has 70-75% of the possession but have been hit and miss in terms of goals.  If a goalkeeper is hot in the case of the Sevilla, then what do they do?    Messi has scored a ton of goals, but he has off days and I really feel that Villa should be scoring more.  He wastes a lot of chances, when he is not offside.

I watched Barca control the game against Granada Tuesday afternoon, and if not for a stunning Xavi free kick, the Blaugrana would have gone scoreless for the second straight match, and that was against a relegation candidate with only 10 men for half an hour.  As for their eternal rival, they play Villarreal Wednesday afternoon, then a couple more patsies.  After the international break, their schedule goes Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Gijon, Barca, Sevilla.   That will tell us a little more about Los Blancos and where the title might end up.

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Standings after 8 matches:

  P W D L GD PTS
Levante 8 6 2 0 11 20
Real Madrid 8 6 1 1 22 19
Barcelona 8 5 3 0 22 18
Sevilla 8 4 4 0 4 16
Valencia 8 4 3 1 3 15
Málaga 8 4 1 3 -1 13
Betis 8 4 0 4 -3 12
Espanyol 8 4 0 4 -4 12
Atlético 8 2 4 2 2 10
Osasuna 8 2 4 2 -6 10
Athletic 8 2 3 3 0 9
Mallorca 8 2 3 3 -2 9
Rayo 8 2 3 3 -3 9
R Zaragoza 8 2 3 3 -7 9
R Sociedad 8 2 2 4 -3 8
Villarreal 8 1 4 3 -7 7
Getafe 8 1 3 4 -4 6
Granada 8 1 2 5 -8 5
Sporting 8 1 1 6 -7 4
Racing 8 0 4 4 -9 4

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In other news . . .

Alex Grant at El Centrocampista took a look at the average ages of the top three, which made for some interesting reading.

  • Levante:  30.63 (including a defensive line of Ballasteros, Juanfran, Javi Venta and Nano, who are all above 30)
  • Real Madrid: 25.27 (Mourinho’s emphasis on quick, counter attacking football has seen an influx of youth and pace into the Bernabeu.)
  • Barcelona:  26.45

I came across this little tidbit at adifferentliga.  As one of the editors of VillarrealUSA posted: Garrido did not force Santi Cazorla to leave, place us in the Group of Death, and ask our best players to disappear. I have plenty of disagreements with Garrido, but hardly anyone is on form right now. Look in the mirror, boys.

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Podcasts

Graham Hunter was on Off the Ball last Thursday and talked about the fitness of Iniesta and Puyol at FCB.  He had some interesting comments as these influential players try to stay on the pitch and off the training table.

Fernando Palomo of ESPN Deportes was on ForzaFutbol to discuss his path in the media industry, which was fascinating.  Then they moved on to discuss La Liga and how to fix the league, a constant topic this season.  Again, even TV money distribution was discussed as well as announcing the match schedule farther in advance.  As for the Big Two, Palomo made this comment: FCB games are better, bordering on art, but Real Madrid games are more entertaining, which I thought was kind of interesting.  The tiki taka of FCB is amazing but can alternate between boring as they crush an opponent with a hat full of goals or frustrating as the goals will not come no matter how much possession they have.

Sid Lowe was on Beyond the Pitch.  He covered a lot of ground as usual:

  • There is still fallout from the Laudrup leaving Real Mallorca.
  • Villarreal and their emotional state.
  •          Can they pick themselves up after a devastating loss to Manchester City?
  •          Can they hold on to players in the next two transfer windows?
  • TV money and eroding fan support were discussed.  This, coupled with the impending financial crisis in Europe, means the next one to three years could be dicey for La Liga in terms of revenue.
  • Bielsea’s progress at Athletic Bilbao was brought up.
  • The competition between Ozil and Kaka at Real Madrid was talked about.

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Isaiah from Barcelona Football Blog posted on the soccernet.com blog about the problems facing La Liga, in particular the beatings some of the teams have taken at the hands of FCB and Real Madrid.  A couple of weeks ago, I asked the same question on my blog about Barcelona in particular.  For the Racing/FCB game, I didn’t even make an effort to watch the game live or on replay. Instead I waited for Levante v Malaga on Sunday for my La Liga game that weekend.

The only reason to watch Racing/FCB match was that it was after an international break, where the Blaugrana usually struggle. Unless FCB are playing a real team (Real Madrid, or Valencia (best game of season so far) or Villarreal, who are down this year) or a supposed pretender (Malaga or Levante possibly) then the result is almost assured.

As for the league in general, there are compelling games, you just have to hunt them down—Basque derby, Valencian derbies, relegation battles (already).  If you want to watch Real Madrid or FCB, watch them in the Champions League; then you will see them tested (sometimes).

Of course, as soon as I say this, they struggle away to Gijon and then Sevilla go to the Nou Camp and get a draw, Barcelona’s third of the season.  The problem for the champions this season is turning their dominance into goals.  They routinely have 65 to 75% but they have only turned this into thrashings 4 times out of their 8 matches thus far.  When FCB and Real Madrid hit the high notes, the gap is evident and marked, but so far this season, teams that are organized, fit and a little bit lucky can get something from Pep’s Team.  Just something to think about.

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OK.  Think that’s enough.  Enjoy the midweek games, then a full slate on the weekend, highlighted by, well just watch the games.  Maybe a slumping Malaga against a rising Espanyol on Sunday might make for compelling television.

Morbo Minute–La Liga is not Rubbish

What a weekend in the Primera. Betis and Valencia lead the table, with Soldado doing everything he can to take Los Che to the top and get himself on the National Team; Atletico Madrid crushed an opponent, with their signings leading the charge; Real Madrid fell to Levante in ironic, crazy and suspicious circumstances; and I turned off the FCB game at halftime because I was bored with the 5-0 scoreline and their opponents were offering almost no resistance.

Sid Lowe focused on Levante’s shock win against the Evil Empire. Last week’s 2-2 draw between Real Sociedad and FCB sent shockwaves through the league (and fueled the myth that the league was competitive) but this was incredible. These are matches that I thought Real Madrid would win this year, providing the points that would send them to the title. Only three matches, so no reason to panic, but still.

Madridista Mac at Real Madrid Football Blog examined the events through white tinted glasses and came up with the domino effect, with one moment setting the stage for the ones that would follow.

Phil Ball shone the spotlight on the chasing pack, focusing on the great starts of Valencia and Betis. He also threw out a scenario of Torres returning to Atletico Madrid in January.

La Liga Loca’s Good Day, Bad Day is always an enjoyable read, keeping things light. He fears for Gijon as I do.

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This week sees midweek fixtures. Couple of quick thoughts. . .

The bubble has burst for Gijon. Zero points from three matches. Atletico Madrid is next. Not good.

Bilbao need a win. Victory in the Europa League was followed by a home defeat to Real Betis. Bielsea was swept in on the coattails of the Presidential Election, but how long can he survive? Malaga are next. Will need a least a draw to keep the fans at bay.

Villarreal need a win even more. Heavy losses to FCB and Bayern combined with a defeat to Granada at the hand of loanee forward Uche. Ouch. Mallorca, who are struggling as well, should provide a port in the storm of the Yellow Submarine.

I’m hoping to watch Valencia against FC Barcelona. Valencia can make an early statement, while FCB can truly shake off the crisis of last week.

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Couple of other things I came across over the last couple of days

El Centrocampista produced a couple articles that I liked.

Alex Grant wrote a piece about the Real Madrid Youth Products. Much has been made of how players from La Masia are making up this current FCB team. It’s not that Real doesn’t produce players, they are just following a galactico policy and their products are spread throughout the league rather than coming up to the first team.

David Smith reflected on the return of Real Betis to the top flight.

Found some odds and ends on Barcelona . . .

A new site I found called TotalBarca.com did a Where Are They Now post on the 1992 European Cup winning side.

I also visited LaLigaTalk.com for the first time in ages. They had a link to a Spanish show that compiled the 10 best Barcelona goals. They did not go ultra recent which was nice, but gave a nod to games over the last 40 years or so. Would have liked to see more team oriented goals though. Have to say Messi’s is tough to beat, with Ronaldo’s a close second.

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Finally La Liga is slowly joining the 21st century. They announced the three rounds of fixtures, with dates and times so that fans can schedule accordingly. While this should be good for me in the long run, right now it sucks because it just shows me which matches I’m going to miss, FCB v Atletico Madrid in particular on 9/24.

I’m taking a week off. One of my best friends is getting married on Saturday and I’m supposed to preach a sermon at church the following Thursday. Hope to be back in October.

Morbo Minute–La Liga is Rubbish

The big La Liga talking point during the International Break was the TV contract and the state of the league.  Sevilla President Del Nido held a summit of the other 18 top flight teams, with attendance being mixed.  Forza Futbol put together a roll call on their website.  Barca and Real Madrid have made some concessions but there is a sense that more is needed if the league as a whole to improve.  Every sight I visited gave some sort of opinion about the current state of the league, what they think of the non-powerful clubs and what might happen in the future.

Barcelona Football Blog commented that on the current TV $ brouhaha.  The author concedes that Del Nido is on to something and that the financing and competitiveness of the league needs to improve so that all benefit, even the Big Two.

Doctor Sid took a couple of views over the last 7 to 10 days.  Early in the International Week he looked at the possible crossroads ahead for the league and the Big Two.  It may come to point where a breakaway league may be the only option.

After all the hubbub of Round 2 and the possible mirage that the league isn’t just the Big Two, he tried to put things in perspective.

However, Phil Ball at Soccernet took a rather contrarian view to the shouts of equality.  He even criticized Barcelona’s playing style.  HERETIC!!!

As for the games . . .

Real Sociedad v FCB

Going into the weekend, Lee Roden at EL CENTROCAMPISTA wondered if FCB would use 3-4-3 again.    I watched a replay of the match knowing the result (2-2) but had to see it for myself.  FCB got two early goals, which were well constructed, but these papered over the cracks of turnovers, especially out of the back, and a lack of sharpness. Last season they did not step on the throat of their opponents, and this happened again, with the Blaugrana taking the foot off gas after getting off to the fast start.

In the second half, a great effort and intense pressure from Real Sociedad created the first goal, then a brainfart by Villa led to second.  From then on, Real Sociedad believed and gave Barcelona everything they could handle.  Even the introduction of Messi could not save the Blaugrana.  Strange game like the end of last year.  Barca in control up 1-0, then goal, then PK, down 2-1 and first loss in over 30 league games.  Very odd game.

@BarcaTheOffside posted shortly after the game: Barça have only won 7 of their last 22 Liga matches after international break. (via @2010MisterChip)  Ouch.

Just a quick note on Real Sociedad, didn’t see much of Griezmann but thought Xabi Prieto was lively.  Took players on and set up first goal.

Bassam at Real Madrid Football Blog wrote about the third striker Los Merengues still hasn’t been signed.  Doesn’t look like it matters as they recovered from a brief scare from Getafe to win 4-2.

I also watched the Valencia v Atletico Madrid replay.  I felt Valencia was grinding, not spectacular but solid.  Los Che had some moments with decent interplay and really getting the fullbacks involved, but it seems as if Soldado spurns a lot of chances to get his goals.

As for Atleti, they have a good base going forward.  They could use a little more width, but Adrian looked like quality. Los Colchoneros had few chances but the ones they had were quite dangerous.

Overall, a decent match with end to end action.  Thought the two sets of defenders were less than convincing.

Some odds and ends . . .

The gang at Forza Futbol broke down La Liga transfers in several ways.  Very interesting to see in the information graphically, plus who was doing most of the spending.

Sam Hughes at EL CENTROCAMPISTA shed some light on the legacy of Fred Pentland.  Great little history lesson.

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So this week is European action.  Check out my extensive and in-depth preview if you haven’t already.  Looking forward to matches this weekend, which I will again miss because I say yes instead of no.

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