Posts Tagged ‘ Sevilla ’

Morbo Minute–The Lions Lose and The Frogs Stay Strong

After 27 rounds, six points separate third and fourth place and six points separate fourth from eleventh as the race for European places heats up.  Down at the bottom the Yellow Submarine hope to avoid sinking into the Segunda as they have gone to their third manager this season, Lotina.

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Sevilla 0  FC Barcelona 2

Barcelona got some sad this week as Eric Abidal is on the shelf for a while as his need for a liver transplant has superseded his desire to play football.  The Blaugrana took the field with a strong side, with Adriano coming in for Abi and Masch in for Puyol.  For Sevilla, Negredo was on the bench, and Janusz on ESPN was all over Michel for picking a center midfield pairing of Medel and Rakitic instead of Medel and Trochowski.

Before I share some thoughts on the match, I have to mention the Oscar Meyer Hot Dog dugouts.  What the hell was that?  Have to say that America is spreading poor eating habits like nobody’s business. I refer you Burger King at Getafe and Pizza Hut formerly at Fulham I think.  Just waiting for the McDonald’s golden arches to appear on a soccer kit in the near future.

Plus, in case you hadn’t read or heard, you can purchase a small photo of yourself on the back of the Sevilla shirt on match days, you and several thousand other supporters.  I have no idea how this is going, but if one of my favorite teams offered up this scheme, I don’t think I would pony up for it.  (And neither would Paul at Uni-Watch.com)

Anyway, the visitors were all over the place in the first, not pressuring as a unit, not closing down the ball, and not really worrying Barcelona.  Alves was able to burst forward from the back several times without any opposition, and the chances were coming for FCB as Adriano had a shot deflected over the bar, and Pedro had a breakaway saved.  Xavi opened the scoring with a wonderful free kick after Adriano had been fouled just outside the box.  Maybe the keeper could have done better but the captain on the night set the stage for three points.  FCB started moving through the gears and several half chances were denied until Iniesta laid off for Messi who nutmegged a defender then chipped the keeper, a goal that was sick and wrong.  Halftime came with Sevilla asking a couple of questions (or Pique screwing up: yellow card, letting Manu sneak in for a header and generally playing poorly), but Kanoute was dropping way too deep, and Reyes and Navas were non-factors. Yet FCB could have still extended their lead had it not been for Palop

Sevilla came out of blocks quickly in the second half with the team pressure more organized. The hosts had a penalty shout as Pedro tangled with Reyes, and it probably should have been given.  Los Rojiblanco’s high pressure made FCB uncomfortable and kept the game choppy for the visitors, who I felt could have been a little more direct in transition.  Too many times a sideways or backwards pass was made instead of really trying to rip open the defense.  Easy for me to say.  FCB eventually regained control and were busy tiki tika-ing the hosts to death but with 25 minutes left, Manu just missed after fantastic work.  Messi was pretty subdued in the second half and suddenly ripped open the hosts’ rearguard but Iniesta’s chip went just wide.  Sanchez got some minutes in the end, which was nice to see, and right away Pedro played him in, but Palop denied the Chilean.

Eventually the Blaugrana ran out the clock, and I’m glad they grabbed those goals in the first half, because they definitely took the foot of the gas in second half.  Maybe they could have stepped it back up, as Sevilla was up for in it the second half, and, if Manu could have finished, the last 20 minutes could have haven interesting.

Meg Ryan at Total Barca tried to put the victory into perspective due to the news of Abidal.  Barcelona controlled the match, gained another points, and maintained pressure on the Evil Empire, but their thoughts are with the Frenchman.

Kari at Barcelona Football Blog took some time to explore the nature of Sergi Busquets and his role on the current Barcelona team.  Funny and insightful, her fake interview looks at the player that everyone loves to hate, including cules.

I came across this stat from Graham Hunter while reading this week: Before Guardiola took over, Messi scored 16 in 40 games. In the years from summer 2008, he has scored 38 in 51, 47 in 53, and now 53 in 55. Wow.

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I went up to the pub on Sunday with the plan of watching Athletic Bilbao against Valencia but once Aaron (@MidMichiganUtd) and I got talking about future watch parties and what we wanted to do going forward, I really didn’t see much of the match.  I did happen to see the shambolic opener that Soldado put away, and it looked like Bilbao came out with higher intensity in the second half, but the equalizer didn’t follow.  Missed the second goal and the third, which I thought was a harsh penalty that Soldado converted for his hat trick, put the match to bed.  A disappointing result for Los Leones, especially as they fight for fourth place, but Valenica created some breathing space between themselves and Malaga and Levante.

John Pelini summarized and broke down the game for El Centrocampista.  The game was closely contested with the major battle being fought in midfield.  Los Leones really missed Llorente, and while Bielsa tried moving Muniain around, nothing would come off.   Soldado was the difference for an organized visiting team as he finished the few chances created for Los Che.

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As for Real Madrid, I checked in on the Real Madrid/Malaga game from time to time on twitter.  Once I saw that the hosts had gone 1-0 I figured they would add another goal or two and maintain their 10 point lead.  But I checked one more time just before my indoor soccer game and saw that Cazorla had equalized.  Yes the lead is now down to eight points and gives faint hope to some that FCB are back in the race, but what a result for Malaga.  They are in fifth with a huge result and momentum on their in the race for fourth.  Levante have not fallen down the table as most predicted, but can they really hold off a team rounding into form with all that money behind them?  Watch this space.

Madridista Mac was back at Real Madrid Football Blog to recap the draw with Malaga, which saw a couple of trends from Los Merengues: conceding a late goal and not quite making it through all of the gears.  Mac looked back at the last couple of games—narrow wins with less than impressive performances—and all the points collected.  This puts the club in a good position in the league as they face a tough run-in with games away to Osasuna, Bilbao and FCB and a home game against Valencia.  This must be balanced with the Champions League with APOEL looking straightforward but a very challenging semi (possibly) with Bayern awaits.

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Articles

Phil Ball witnessed a strange week in Spain with uncharacteristic gestures of sportsmanship and humanity as the Bilbao fans applauded Giggs and Rooney of Manchester United and Real Madrid players wore shirts of support for Muamba and Abidal.  Add this to Torres scoring finally (and being trumped by Soldado), Levante staying in fourth, and Real Madrid finally dropping points, and it was a strange week indeed.

Sid Lowe examined the troubling situation at Villarreal as the money is gone, players are on the way out (Cazorla last summer, Rossi this summer), and form is fading (they have earned only one point from the last fifteen).  It would be easy to write that Levante sank the Yellow Submarine, but the ship has been sinking for quite awhile.  A mini revival gave them hope but dropped points have put them squarely in the crosshairs of relegation, with Molina sacked just months after being appointed.  Their journey could be at an end in a couple of weeks.

Tim Stannard (@LaLigaLoca) gave his comments on Villarreal in a season that has seen them go fourth from top to fourth from bottom.  Losing Cazorla and Capdevila and Rossi and replacing them with Zapata and De Guzman did not help Garrido, while Molina was not able to stem the tide either, probably not being the right hire either.  Tim states their predicament as follows: Villarreal’s current problems are silly defensive mistakes at key times and a problem with concentration and application in certain games.

In other news . . .

Sid Lowe sought context and clarity in the debate between the EPL and La Liga, citing the success and progress of the Spanish teams over the last couple of years as reasons why the leagues are not that far apart.  He mentioned the progress of Spanish teams in the Europa League yet let’s face it, English teams don’t take it seriously.  But focusing on Barca and Madrid, which dominate Spain both financially and competitively, these two teams are far ahead on the former front with FCB dominating the second.

A friend sent met this article which I couldn’t believe.  I put it out on my twitter feed and sent a message to Phil Schoen directly, with no response.  I guess I don’t mind if GolTV doesn’t carry the matches as long as the commentary is in English (what now for Ray Hudson) and the feed is HD.  Any info from readers is appreciated.

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Pods

Elisa and Mando chatted with Lee and Liam from El Centrocampista about issues facing La Liga—the separation of the Big Two from the rest of the league and refereeing being at the forefront—and touching on the Spanish National Team at the upcoming Euros.  Listen to the after pod chat for the plight of Elisa trying to get tickets to Bilbao’s key fixtures against Manchester United and Valencia.

Ravi from Forza Futbol sat down with Gabe from Managing Madrid to discuss things going in the capital.  Among the items they touched on—the most influential player at the club this season; the future of the Big Two, with Gabe making the point that teams will rise up (Sevilla, Villarreal, etc.) but they can’t make any mistakes plus Real Madrid and FCB can buy their best players; the future of Mourinho, will he stay or go?; and the run-in to this season as Los Merengues close in the league title and the Champions League looms large.

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Morbo Minute–Copa Letdown

After the drama of the cup, I was let down in the league.  FCB and Real Madrid survived scares in their race for the title, while the chasing pack continue to stumble over themselves.  At the bottom, Real Zaragoza are all but done, while Villarreal is truly in the relegation mire, with Racing escaping for the time being.

Saturday

Sevilla 0  Espanyol 0

I looked forward to this game after watching drama filled cup ties involving these teams in midweek, and apparently the excitement tanks could not be refilled.  Sevilla were knocked out by Valencia on away goals after winning 2-1 at the Sanchez Pijuan.  Espanyol got a late goal to win 4-2 and progress 5-4 against Cordoba.

Sevilla were in charge but both teams made a sloppy start.  Reyes, based on my viewing had a free role behind Negredo as Navas and Manu looked to occupy the wings.  But Espanyol were compact and Sevilla had a hard time picking their way through.  Turns out that was the theme of the game.  Sevilla couldn’t score and Espanyol couldn’t attack.  The Rojiblancos had several half chances that went begging, while Los Pericos would play up to Thievy, who was active but had horrible first touches before finally being subbed.

The game was not much of a spectacle, and I kept the bartender busy getting me more beers until we finally switched to the Spurs/Wolves replay. Sharing the points helps neither team, as Sevilla remains in a funk.  Espanyol might slowly be turning things around after a slow start, with their league form improving and still having a chance to progress in the Copa del Rey.

Madridista Mac returned to savor a Real Madrid victory borne of courage, grit and determination rather than slick, efficient domination. Mourinho made wholesale changes (similar to the ones in the second half of the first leg against Malaga in the Cup) and Los Merengues hammered the islanders into submission. For seventy minutes, the door was open for FCB but Higuain and Callejon and the rest slammed it shut.

Sunday

I wasn’t able to get up for the 6am EST kickoff of Atletico Madrid against Villarreal, despite this being a key match for each team and their new managers.

Derek at Atleticofans.com was pretty happy with Atleti’s performance, with their pressing taking the Yellow Submarine out of the game. Sounds like Falcao, Diego and Arda Turan had good matches and Los Colchoneros will look to build on this result as they try to climb up the table.

For a Villarreal perspective, I visited VillarrealUSA.com, where Allen was not so positive, calling this “as poor as a performance as I’ve seen from Villarreal in the league in a long while.” With the midfield doing very little in front of the backline, it was only a matter of time before Atleti scored. Allen also mentioned the lack of depth, which hurt them all over the field. Before the season I thought Atletico might go down, but it turns out that The Yellow Submarine are the ones in real trouble.

Athletic Bilbao 3 Levante 0

Bilbao continued their great run of form—only one loss in their last ten competitive matches, (PSG in a Europa League game) and unbeaten in last five league games (2 wins and 3 draws).  Los Leones dominated the first half with several great chances and finally broke through as Amorebieta headed in from 12 yards from a corner.  The hosts searched for a second, and it finally came five minutes from the half as Oscar tortured his defender before floating a cross over the keeper for Llorente to head in.

Levante’s form, particularly away from home, has not been spectacular. Since beating Real Sociedad in late October, Los Granotes have only won two of their last eight league matches, suffering five defeats in that time, including the last four away.  They tried to insert some attacking thrust at the interval, subbing out Nano for Valdo, and the visitors were a little more threatening in the second stanza, but Bilbao could have easily added a third or fourth, with several slick moves that didn’t come off.

San Jose added a third at the end after Juanfran had been sent off.  His absence from the post on the ensuing corner and poor marking allowed the defender to head home.  Bilbao deserved the win but two of the goals came from corners, which Levante didn’t deal with at all.  Muniain had another fantastic game and Javi Martinez was particularly impressive defensively and starting attacks out of the back.  Los Leones will need more results like this if they hope to qualify for Europe.

Malaga’s inconsistent season continues as they suffered a late goal against Gijon to lost 2-1, which puts them in eighth place. Mike Barnes at A Different Liga commented on the match, with rumors surrounding several transfer targets but so far it only looks like Kameni is signing. Ruud is not the answer up top and the defense is old and creaky. European qualification will be a tooth and nail affair as no team seems able to assert themselves.

Meg Ryan at Total Barca reviewed a match that saw the best and worst of the FC Barcelona this season—a sizzling start with early goals, complacency in the middle, and a furious finish that, this time, earned results. I was not able to see the game but in watching an extended highlights package, Betis were carved open but created plenty of chances themselves. Another reason to think that Real Madrid might finish on top of the league this season.

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Sid Lowe examined the Diego Simeone’s first home game in charge, a 3-0 drubbing of the Yellow Submarine. A popular choice of the fans, he will provide unity and a link to the past, until the results go against him.

Phil Ball lamented possible “spectacle-fatigue” as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona clash in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals. He also scanned the table and identified the battles going on under the Big Two—the fight for fourth and the race to avoid relegation—with this spring surely filled with drama until the last day.

La Liga Loca picked out Racing (unbeaten since Cuper left and out of the relegation zone) and Callejon for praise while identifying that Sevilla and Malaga are in trouble and Valencia have a lack of attacking depth.

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Articles

Admittedly, I don’t know much about Real Zaragoza, and every time I read something about them it has something to do with their finances tanking and the club being run poorly. Liam’s post about the club addresses both, with several board administrators resigning, a new coach in place after a hiring fiasco, and players’ wages not being paid. All of this on top of being rock bottom in the league.

Build it and they will come. Hardly, Spanish stadia expert Chris Clements wrote a piece on Sevilla’s Olympic Stadium, Estadio La Cartuja, built in the late 90’s for attempted 2004 and 2008 Olympics bids which has sat largely dormant since then. A fantastic venue for athletics but not so good for footy. Shame really.

Graham Hunter raised questions about Di Maria’s pay packet ahead of the Cup clash between the Big Two. Surely this season he has earned himself a raise, playing well on the wing, creating several chances in the middle against Sevilla, and getting rid of the unsavory part of his game.

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Pods

Allen from VillarrealUSA.com was on the Forza Football pod to discuss Villarreal, the finances of the league, third party ownership, and Valencia’s deal to move forward with the new Mestalla.  Informative and entertaining as always.

Sid Lowe and Andy May recapped the weekend’s action on Sky’s La Liga Weekly and looked ahead to the Clasico clashes in the Copa.  Injuries, form and desire will impact these games.

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.

SATURDAY

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.

SUNDAY

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 SpanishFootball.info:

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.

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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.

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Articles

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.

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Podcasts

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.

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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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