Posts Tagged ‘ Villarreal ’

Strip Club–La Liga Kits 2013/14

I have made another attempt to gather all of the La Liga kits into one place.  This season I have modeled my page on Kit Nerd’s posts on EPL and MLS kits.  I have gathered as many images as I could and commented on almost every kit for the upcoming season. There are plenty of great sites that have breakdowns, information and pictures of this season’s kits. Please visit the links for even more info.


Almería (Courtesy of UD Almeria website)

Home / Away / Third


Surprisingly Nike makes the kits of newly promoted Almeria.  Although the club uses templates and previous designs, the range is decent.  The home kit is a very simple shirt of red and white veritcal stripes with a ring collar, red shorts and white socks.  The away kit is almost identical to the Malaga away kit from 2011/12.  The third kit is Nike’s recent V template that began with Manchester United.  A light royal blue is the base of the shirt and socks and is finished off with white shorts.  According to the website this was used last year as well.  Hopefully the rojiblancos stay away from the fuchsia kit as much as possible.

Athletic Bilbao (Courtesy of Football Kit News and Football Fashion)

Home / Away

Bilbao Home Kit 2013 14

Athletic switch to Nike from Umbro this season, and Phil Knight’s men have given Los Leones a nice foundation.  The home strip is relatively standard, with the traditional red and white stripes and black shorts.   The away strip is all royal blue, which I like, but the shirt unfortunately suffers from the Nike sleeve syndrome.

Atlético Madrid (Courtesy of Footy Headlines and Football Fashion)

Home / Away

Atleti head into this campaign with a typical home kit—red and white striped top and blue shorts— with the post from Footy Headlines noting, “The red and the blue are darker than usual to celebrate the Spanish League and Spanish Cup title won in 1965/66.”  As for the away strip, it’s quite different and I’m not familiar with this color palette for Los Colchoneros at all.  Like the pairing of the navy blue and yellow top with the navy blue shorts but not sure how the yellow socks are going to look.

Barcelona (Courtesy of Footy Shirt Culture, Total Barca and Football Fashion)

Home / Away

Quick summary: The Blaugrana and the Swoosh are back on the right track.  The home kit returns to its roots, while the away is a one off historical gesture.  Would have preferred they used the senyera as a third kit, but there’s always next year. Full comments can be found here.

Betis (Courtesy of Football Kit News, Inside Spanish Football and Real Betis Website)

Home / Away / Third


Macron has produced an interesting range of kits for the verdiblancos.  The home shirt is the traditional green and white vertical stripes and removes the solid green block that ran from the chest to shoulders last year.  The away strip swaps white for black and slightly darkens the green, which according to ISF, “is to honour the 100 year anniversary of the club (1914) as we know it today.” The third kit is all sky blue accented by the green and white colors of the club and looks nice.

Celta de Vigo (Courtesy of Footy Headlines and Football Fashion)

Home / AwayThird

adidas - presentacion 01

The Galicians have used a sky blue and black palette to good effect for the upcoming season.  The home shirt is sky blue with black trim along the shoulder and around the neck.  The away top is black with a sky blue design around the neck and shoulders.  Both kits sport a Triskele, which thanks to Wikipedia, I learned is “a motif consisting of three interlocked spirals, or three bent human legs.”  The club also has a third kit that was released early in 2013 which uses the Campeon 13 template by adidas (see Spain’s Confederations Cup shirt).

Elche (Courtesy of Football Kit News and Diario Franjiverde)

Home / Away / Third


This team from Valencian Community returns to the top flight for the first time 1988/89.  The kit line is produced by Italian company Acerbis and the range isn’t too bad.  The home kit is very simple white kit trimmed in green.  The away kit uses royal blue and red, which appears to be homage to the team’s badge.  The third kit replaces the white of the home with black and kinda reminds of a Green Lantern uniform.  All of the kits will have a logo at the back of the neck commemorating the club’s 90th anniversary.  Finally, not sure “Have a Nice Day” across the front of your shirt is the way to go.

Espanyol (Courtesy of Football Fashion)

Home / AwayThird

Espanyol 13-14 Kits (2)

The home kit of los pericos is solid, using thicker royal blue and white vertical stripes than usual.  No complaints with this strip.  The other two however are sketchy at best.  The away shirt looks like a t-shirt but creates a nice strip with black shorts and socks.  The third kit almost seems to be trading on the Seattle Sounders designs.  Pics on numerous sites show the entire kit with turquoise shorts, while the socks are turquoise/lime green hooped.  Be interested to see how it translates to HD TV.

Getafe (Courtesy of Football Fashion, Football Kit News and Getafe CF)

Home / Away / Third

New Getafe Kit 13 14

Spanish manufacturer Joma provides the kits for Getafe, who are celebrating ten years in the top flight.  Gone is the Burger King sponsorship in the middle of the shirt, which is sadly missed.  The home and away kits are understated, with a light royal being used for the home uniform and a deep red for the away kit and each shirt is trimmed in gold.  The third strip is a lime green which does not work for me.

Granada (Courtesy of Football Kit News)

Home / Away / Third

Equipacion Granada CF 2014

The Granada kits are made by Spanish sportwear company Luanvi, which I know nothing about.  The range of kits is relatively simple and straightforward, with the home kit using horizontal red and white stripes and blue shorts.  A Spanish club equivalent of the Where’s Waldo USMNT jerseys.  I really like the away kit, which is all white with red and green accents.  The third strip is just ok for me, using a metallic blue with black.  Maybe up close it will appeal to me more.  The goalkeepers have a choice of four different kits, which seems excessive to me.

Got some exclusive content from Heath Chesters who is the Community Manager for club and runs their English twitter account:

The club chose to go for more classic designs this season, hence the simplicity of the styles. More akin to the simple horizontal hoops of the 70’s & 80’s, which is more popular with the fans, than the “barcode” design of last season.

Along with a return to classic design, the club also wanted to recognise the city itself. The white away kit features a green & red trim, which are the colours of the city flag of Granada, whilst the Alhambra stencil on the upper chest is a nice touch, with Granada’s most famous landmark.

The third kit is something a little different for Granada in terms of the choice of colours, but a nice alternative I think.

Finally, I often see a lot of comments regarding Granada having a choice of four goalkeeper kits. Principally it’s to offer the goalkeepers themselves the choice of colours they like. 1st team keeper Roberto traditionally plays in pink, whilst the other three match the preferences of the backup & B team keepers, plus the women’s team keeper.

The women’s team gained promotion to the Primera last season. Their kits are the same design overall, but the shirts are made to fit the female form better, which is another nice feature from Luanvi.

Levante (Courtesy of Football Shirts)

Home / Away / Third


Kelme has released kits for Levante’s upcoming campaign, buidling on last year’s set of kits, and has promoted them using some sort of superhero motif.  Weird but ok. The home kit is screaming Barcelona, even down to the huge bands at the edge of the sleeves, and if it wasn’t for the collar accent, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.  It does look sharp though. The away kit is black with alternating black and grey vertical stripes.  Really like this shirt and it is enhanced by the club crest all in white. The third kit uses a couple of greens going horizontally, with the club colors of red and blue trimming the sleeves.  Again a crest in white accents the kit. I like all three selections and hopefully Los Granotes can bounce back after a disappointing finish last season.

Málaga (Courtesy of Football Kit News and Football Fashion)

Home / Away / Third


Málaga had a mixed 2012/13 on and off of the field.  Quarter Finalists in the Champions League and a sixth place finish in La Liga, but with players leaving and suspended from Europe for the upcoming season, things are uncertain at best.  However, their kit selection is solid, so they’ve got that going for them.  Navy blue is introduced to the home shirt and is an attractive change and accents the sponsor nicely.  I love the away shirt.  Much like Sevilla’s third kit last year, the navy blue is super sharp and there are almost no distractions.  Nike is providing Los Boquerones with an orange third kit, which is a pleasant choice, better than the lime green of a couple of seasons ago, but the sleeves are a let down in typical Nike style. The post at Football Fashion has the layout of the full kit plus this little tidbit of info:

According to English language website: Málaga Club de Fútbol has chosen an exclusive design by NIKE, coaching sponsor of the Club, with the colours, light blue, navy and white, which will fill every part of La Rosaleda stadium. A new addition this season, is the slogan ‘Coraje y Corazón’ or ‘Courage and Heart’ printed on the back of the shirts, along with the flags of Spain and Andalucía.

Osasuna (Courtesy of Football Shirts, Football Kit News and Footy Headlines)

Home / Away

Osasuna switches to adidas for the upcoming season and the offering from the brand with the three stripes feels very MLS-ish.  The shirt uses the traditional red but the blue trim and collar create a jersey that is right off of the American rack.  It’s fine but the cow part of the sponsor is a little unsettling.  The away strip is some sort of neon green.  The pic in the hallway pregame doesn’t look that great but I found a team pic pregame and the strip looks great in the sunlight, with a bold shirt and black shorts and socks.

Rayo Vallecano (Courtesy of Football Fashion and Football Kit News)

Home / Away / Third

Rayo Away Kit 2013-14

The Rayo Vallecano home shirt is iconic and standard–white base with red sash runninng from right to left.  This year’s is no different, although I feel the diagonal is slightly wider.  The away kit reverses out the white for black and looks sharp as well.  The third strip is awful.  Taking a page from the Norwich City palette, using predominately yellow with neon yellow highlights, and the socks must surely glow in the dark.

Real Madrid (Courtesy of Football Fashion and Real Madrid Shop)

Home / Away / ThirdGK

real madrid h
Adidas introduced orange onto the white shirt of Real Madrid.  Interesting for sure and looks good, especially combined with the charcoal trim.  There are also horizontal pinstripes, which, Football Fashion notes, “presents a pattern of horizontal block building, giving the shirt a different texture and very attractive depending on how the light given.”  Not sure that was necessary but we’ll see. Retro is the theme of the away kit, using an all royal blue strip.  The orange trim is used on this shirt as well.  Found it interesting that Morata was used in the advertising pictures.  Liked his brief appearances last year and hope he gets more of a run this year. The third kit is an “energetic” orange. Could be nice if it comes across on the TV.  Maybe a contrasting short would make strip not so sherbert-ish.  The home goalkeeping kit uses the historical purple to create a dynamic look for Saint Iker (or whoever Carlo decides to play in goal).

Real Sociedad (Courtesy of Football Kit News)

Home / Away

New Real Sociedad Kit 13 14

Real Sociedad surprised many people with a surprise fourth place finish last year.  Their kit launch featured kits with the Champions League logo, even though they will still need to qualify.  Could get awkward if they fall at that important hurdle. For the jerseys themselves, the home kit is tried and true, sky blue and white vertical stripes.  Nike didn’t do anything extravagant here.  The away kit is almost all black.  The top just has the crest and Nike swoosh and what appears to be the Basque flag at the back of the neck.  The shorts have white trim just above the hem on backside.  The socks are topped in white with an angled white design.  Both kits are uncomplicated, which is a minor shock from Nike.  The goalkeeper kit though.  Yeesh.  Some sort of electric pink from head to toe.  Poor guy.

Sevilla (Courtesy of Footy Headlines and Football Fashion)

Home / Away


Warrior enters the La Liga fray this season as Sevilla switches from Umbro to a brand doing almost everything it can to ruin soccer kits (see Liverpool away and third strips for 2013/14). The home shirt is tame, using a white base with red trim and an intriguing collar.  The only really standout item is the diagonal pattern across the chest.  Combine this with a crest referencing the original badge of the team and the strip is actually quite decent. The away kit takes a page from the Liverpool away shirt from 12/13, using some sort of accent that drapes down the neck and shoulders.  The strip is tolerable and definitely not the eye sore associated with the brand.

Valencia (Courtesy of Football Shirt Culture and Football Fashion)

Home / Away / GK

Football Shirt Culture put together great posts which have pictures showing the dynamic details for Valencia’s home and away kits. The home is the standard white with black and orange accents.  I really like the thin orange collar and narrow bands on the sleeves, but what really sets this shirt apart is the crest.  Similar to what Manchester United did on their away kit last year, the logo removes the senyera colors and all items are laid out in black and white.  The Comunitat Valenciana senyera does make an appearance on the back of the neck.  Combined with black shorts and white socks, this strip is a real winner. As for the away offering, using an orange base, the kit uses black and white accents to great effect.  The collar is half each color, very subtle (similar to Holland’s home kit for World Cup 2010), and a half and half diagonal band across the chest.  Again the regional senyera is at the back of the neck. Would be difficult to go wrong with either of these.

Valladolid (Courtesy of Football Headlines)

Home / Away / GK

Hummel took over the design and production of Valladolid kits for the upcoming season. The home uses very thick purple and white stripes, similar to last year’s offering from Kappa, using a white collar instead of purple.  This is a sharp kit and I really like it due to the different color scheme than most teams. The away kit touches a nerve for me, expanding on the Purple Reign Pain offerings from Nike last year for Porto and Arsenal.  I can’t tell if I like the white trim and accents.  This one may grow on me though. I really wish the goalkeeping shirt was the third shirt because it uses a nice royal blue with white and black accents that really take a plain jersey and make it stand out.  Would have gone with white or matching blue socks rather than the black though.

Villarreal (Courtesy of Football Kit News)

Home / Away

Villarreal Kit 2013 14

The Yellow Submarine return to the top flight and also celebrating their 90th anniversary.  The kits are made by Chinese company Xtep, another company I am not familiar with, and no chances are taken.  The home strip is the standard all yellow with a big collar and some sort of sublmation across the chest.  The away kit uses royal blue from head to toe and looks sharp.  The goalkeeping kits are fine, with green and gray being used.  Hopefully Villarreal can consolidate their place, move up the table and possibly move on to a bigger manufacturer.

Morbo Minute–And Now for the Second Half of Our Show

The halfway point has Barca well out in front with a string of surprises behind them in the European spots.  Valencia seems to be slowly climbing out of the mire while their opponents from the weekend, Sevilla, slide farther and farther down.  Down at the bottom, it’s too close to call and viewers will probably in store for dramatic final day scenes around the country.


Malaga 1  FC Barcelona 3

When I saw Roque Santa Cruz on the teamsheet for the hosts I feared for their chances.  I still don’t feel the Paraguayan offers them much, and thought Saviola would have been the much better option, as his movement and quickness would have troubled Barca.  The visitors started with a strong team, the only major change being Mascherano in for Puyol.

Malaga pressed in a variation of a 4-3-3 and made the Blaugrana struggle in the early going.  The surface was a problem for both sides as there was constant slipping and it appeared as if the players were on roller skates.  As the game progressed, Malaga goalkeeper Willy was luck to stay on the field as he touched the ball with his hands (barely) trying to clear the danger.

The opener came from Camacho’s horrible backpass that Messi intercepted and put home.  I jotted down in my notebook that he did a lot of dribbling in the first half which allowed Malaga to keep Barca at arm’s length as the ball was turned over instead of being circulated.

In the second half, an early goal from Fabregas put some daylight between the two teams and from there the Blaugrana took over, making Malaga look quite inept at times.  The hosts were made to chase shadow for the second 45 minutes and their strong early work was undone by two mistakes—the backpass and losing Fabregas for the second.

A third was added by substitute Thiago before Buonanotte sent in a free kick.  The teams now face each home and away in the Copa, with the winner probably getting Real Madrid.  Will be interested to see how Vilanova and Pellegrini rotate their squads to take the competition seriously while keeping an eye on the league.

I visited Total Barca this week to get their thoughts on the match.  Maria Ines saw the Blaugrana rise to the challenge presented by Malaga, who pressured Tito’s men all over the pitch.  Once the visitors found their rhythm, they produced a couple of quite breath taking sequences.  In the end Malaga gave a great effort but the gap between the two teams was revealed.  Will Tito’s changes for the Copa matches close the distance or not?

Manuel Traquete did the player ratings for the site, which I felt were quite high. Barca had a decent game, especially in the second half, but in the first half, several players were not at their best , which allowed Malaga’s pressure to keep the game tight.  Busquets was probably worth the 9, not sure about Messi.  Felt that Alves might be closer to his best.  Still needs to improve his crossing.



I was able to catch parts of the second half of Friday’s game between Athletic and Rayo at San Mames.  The visitor’s opening goal caught Los Leones cold.  The second was a diabolical cock up from the referee and allowed Rayo some space.  Athletic fought back but could only pull one back.

Sid Lowe used his weekly Guardian column to explore two items: one, Rayo Vallecano’s fantastic first half of the season, and two, the crazy La Liga schedule, which sees games stretch from Friday from Monday.  Rayo are just outside the Champions League places, filled with players found on the cheap who will probably be gone next year, but they just keep winning and may yet make their second European appearance.  As for the La Liga schedule, it’s crazy, with game times released only two to three weeks before the game take place and an onslaught that starts Friday night and continues all the way to Monday night, games seemingly every hour on the hour.  Of course if I was unemployed and could watch every game, might get used to that.

Phil Ball gave his half-term report for ESPN FC, looking at the biggest surprises thus far.  Betis’ amazing first half topped the list as Los Beticos sit in fourth place, led by the goals of Castro and the all action talent of Benat.  Phil’s team by team breakdown gives a quick snapshot at the turn and is worth the read.

With a title of Why La Liga Looks Like Michael Flatley, I had to give Tim Stannard a read at Football365.  He also looked at the halfway point of the season, echoing Phil Ball’s praise of Real Betis’ and Sid’s glowing words regarding Rayo before moving on to Valencia and the fact that the title is over.  As for his Riverdance reference:

A footballing Michael Flatley if you will. Whilst there’s not an awful lot of movement from the neck upwards to watch, there’s quite the hullaballoo of activity taking place just below if you care to look.

Speaking of Valencia, SlickR summarized the 2-0 victory over Sevilla for Club Valencia, as Los Che have stopped the rot and climbed back up the table, currently sitting seventh.  Two goals from main man Soldado were enough to overcome a rather lackluster performance by the rest of the team based on his player ratings.  Can’t imagine how bad Sevilla were.

Michael Cox returned from his Winter Break to analyze the game for Zonal Marking.  He noted that Valencia “enjoyed dominance of both possession and territory” and that the game lacked the quality and energy one would associate with this fixture over the years.  He picked out a couple of individual battles and noted that Reyes offered Navarro very little defensive cover, but did not have the harsh words for Banega that SlickR had.  In the end set pieces decided the match, which saw the losers fire Michel and bring Unai Emery back into the La Liga fold.

Chalk on the Boots examined Real Madrid’s poor performance at Osasuna.  Los Merengues were constantly caught offside, using a direct style orchestrated by Modric, who he noted has a better passing range that Ozil but does not have the lateral movement.  Time will tell if the Croatian will remain in the capital.  As for the hosts, their high line caused the champions problems but their lack of cutting edge cost them more points in this match and will probably cost them their Primera place.  14 goals in 19 matches will not keep them up.

Ireland 26 of Managing Madrid saw Real Madrid drop points as they travelled to Estadio Reyno de Navarra with a make shift lineup.  Without CR7 and Ozil, the team failed to trouble the hosts enough.  Di Maria did not have good game in his opinion but was glad to see Higuain pick up minutes, even if he didn’t pick up any goals.  With three consecutive games against Valencia due to the Copa, Mourinho’s men will need to pick up the pace before the epic confrontation with United in a month’s time.

Back to Doctor Sid, who commented on the extraordinary results of the Ballon D’Or, which saw the Best XI all named from teams in Spain.  While this might seem like a good thing, Sid pointed to a couple of troubling points: 1, no player from either Champions League Final team was on the dais; 2, no Spanish player has won since 1960, even more troubling as Spain have won the last three major competitions; and 3, of the eleven players, 10 came from the Big Two, which emphasizes the gulf between them and the rest of the league.

CBS’ 60 Minutes did a profile of FC Barcelona.  While there were some great shots of the crowd and inner levels of the Camp Nou, the piece seemed superficial.  Anyway, give it a watch and let me know what you think.

Finally, Connor Andrews updated readers on Villarreal’s plight in Segunda for El Centrocampista, as the Yellow Submarine struggle to return to the Primera.  Gone are Valero, Rossi, Nilmar and Diego Lopez and the team sits off the playoff places.  Can they return to the top flight?  Better yet, can they afford not to?


Barcelona 19 18 1 0 44 55
Atletico 19 14 2 3 22 44
Real Madrid 19 11 4 4 25 37
Betis 19 11 1 7 1 34
Malaga 19 9 4 6 13 31
Rayo 19 10 1 8 -7 31
Valencia 19 9 3 7 0 30
Levante 19 9 3 7 -3 30
R Sociedad 19 7 5 7 3 26
Valladolid 19 7 4 8 2 25
Getafe 19 7 4 8 -6 25
Sevilla 19 6 4 9 -5 22
R Zaragoza 19 7 1 11 -7 22
Athletic 19 6 3 10 -16 21
Celta Vigo 19 5 3 11 -5 18
Espanyol 19 4 6 9 -10 18
Granada 19 4 5 10 -13 17
Mallorca 19 4 5 10 -15 17
Deportivo 19 3 7 9 -17 16
Osasuna 19 3 6 10 -6 15

Morbo Minute–DDay in La Liga

The final round opened with two matches of no consequence.  Valencia slumped to yet another league defeat in 2012, as they closed the book on another successful/unsuccessful season.  Connor Andrews at El Centrocampista examined the club as Los Che look to move forward with a new manager (Pellegrino), a new player (Jonathan Viera) and an existing sponsor (Jinko Solar).

Barcelona also wrapped up their campaign with a 2-2 draw away to Betis.  They now sit for almost two weeks before trying to send Pep off with one more trophy in the Copa del Rey Final on 5/25.

Maria recapped the game for Total Barca, assessing the personnel for the match (Afellay, Keita and Montoya in particular) as much as the performance, with the Blaugrana able to secure a draw despite having Alves sent off.  The campaign was not as successful as the previous three, but what joy they provided those who watched.

Looking ahead to the summer transfer window Lee Roden tried to temper enthusiasm regarding new signings.  He is pretty confident that FCB will not break a broke Spanish bank to sign RvP, Thiago Silva, Bale and Javi Martinez.  The squad should be strengthened by the return of Villaand the club just needs to make one or two astute signings, preferably Thiago Silva and Jordi Alba for me.  Sounds just about right.

After a dramatic Sunday morning following the twists and turns of the Premier League, I was able to calm down (thanks to a couple of beers and a shot of whiskey) to get ready for the final round of La Liga matches, which would prove to be equally compelling, albeit at the other end of the table.

Finding games was tough.  US TV decided to show Real Madrid against Mallorca, a game only significant because Los Blancos were going for a record 100 league points, a goal that they duly hit in thrashing the visitors 4-1.

Madridista Mac woke up on Monday morning basking in the glow of another “Formula One Football” performance by the league champs that saw Ronaldo complete the task of scoring against every team in the league in one season; the club hitting 100 points; and the team going through every gear in demolishing their opponent.  As a Barca fan, I respect Real Madrid rather than hate them and am interested to see what their next act is.  After this season it is hard to imagine how even Sergio Ramos can let the trophy slip from his grasp.

My legit internet option was Levante hosting Athletic Bilbao, and this was a key game in the race for Europe.  I kept an eye on the match in first half but eventually my attention was drawn elsewhere.  Los Granotes would eventually run out 3-0 winners to finish sixth and cap off a phenomenal season.

Jack at Athletic Bilbao Offside summed up the last couple of weeks in one sentence: With league form sacrificed for the two cup runs, our final position wasn’t going to matter much this season but the defeat is still disappointing.  Los Leones finished tenth in La Liga and now look ahead to the Copa del Rey Final against FC Barcelona.  Here’s hoping they are well rested and give the Blaugrana a game.

The real drama was at the bottom of the table, with five teams fighting to avoiding relegation.  At kickoff, I found feeds for Levante/Athletic and Rayo/Granada, while getting constant updates on Villarreal against Atletico Madrid.  Rayo and Granada were slugging it out and neither team could get the opener.  At halftime, all the games involving relegation teams were scoreless, but shortly into the second half, things began to change.  First Zaragoza scored to get them out of the bottom three.  Then Malaga got a goal against Sporting through Rondon, which dented Gijon’s chances of survival.  Time continued to tick away as the Rayo/Granada game was scoreless, meaning that Rayo would go down.  The game opened up, chances started to materialize, but Rayo could not find the saving goal.  Entering the last five minutes, another twist to the story appeared as Falcao scored yet another goal to put Villarreal in real trouble.  That trouble was compounded when Tamundo smashed in the ball from close range to finally sink the Yellow Submarine after a difficult, and disappointing, season.  The scenes were phenomenal with fans rushing the field and opposing players embracing, everyone able to celebrate another season of Primera football.  Wasn’t the greatest game, but it produced the most dramatic of results.  Thanks to El Centrocampista for giving me the framework for the events.

Allen Dodson at VillarrealUSA was obviously not in the best of spirits while summarizing a game that had the worst result possible.  However, he holds out hope that the Yellow Submarine bounce right back to the Primera.   From his mouth to God’s ears.

Phil Ball tried to keep track of the constantly changing events of the final day that led to devastating blow to Villarreal.  He also made time to praise Real Madrid’s points and goals haul, while shining a light on Mikel Aranburu, who retired from Real Sociedad after 15 years of service.

Finally, Sid Lowe’s Guardian column this week is lengthy but absolutely worth it as he describes scenes beyond comprehension in Vallecas.  His account is far better than mine because a) he was there; b) he wasn’t watching several games in a beer induced haze; and c) he’s a better writer than me.  Rayo were only in the relegation zone for 33 minutes of the season—the last 33 minutes.  Their last gasp goal saved them and doomed Villarreal, who Sid goes on to explain were too defensive and let in too many last minute goals, with a series of draws in the run in were the source of the failure to stay up.  From Champions League to Segunda in just nine months.

What a day.

Morbo Minute–New Year, Mixed Results

This was the round of the new managers as three new gaffers attempted to turn the fortunes around of their respective clubs and were underwhelming to say the least.

Simeone at Atleti led out his charges away to Malaga in the last game on Saturday. Sid Lowe gave his two cents on Simeone’s appointment at Atleti, stating that while El Cholo may have a history with the club, he alone cannot turn the club around. But it will be fascinating to watch him try. His presence was not enough as Los Colchoneros could only get a 0-0 draw. Spanish Football gave a quick recap of the gameDerek at was happy with a clean sheet and a point away from home for Atleti.  Big game against Villarreal next week at the Calderon.

Earlier in the day, Jimenez traveled with Zaragoza to Racing for a true six pointer and fell by a single goal. I cut them adrift awhile ago and I don’t think a new manager is going to change anything.

David Redshaw at A Different Liga summed up the rest of the Saturday’s action, which were light on goals except for Real Madrid and Granada.

Speaking of Los Merengues, Kaushik (@_kaushik7) at Real Madrid Football Blog examined a slightly weakened Real team who dismantled poor Granada.  Twitter was abuzz with praise for Varane after the match and Kaushik joined in.  With Carvalho on the way out, it looks like Varane will provide long term cover for Pepe and Sergio Ramos.  I guess Lass has become the new right back of the Evil Empire.  He does well there when I’ve seen him but will he be up to scratch against top flight Champions League competition?  Real are now five points up and assuming they don’t get too fatigued during their cup run, I can see them pulling away by late March.

On Sunday, former Spanish goalkeeper Molina took charge at the Madrigal. The Yellow Submarine could only manage a draw after throwing away a 2-0 lead, and the result leaves them in the relegation places.

Villarreal 2  Valencia 2

In the lead up to this match I saw that Marcos Senna was starting for Villarreal, which I thought was a surprise.  Haven’t seen him much this season, either on the field or on the team sheet.  Again Pablo was on the bench for Valencia as Emery went with Alba and Feghouli out wide.

An entertaining first half came to an end with the hosts up 2-1. Valencia had a positive start early but was lacking the final ball.  Villarreal opened the scoring on 14’ after a mix up in the Valencian rearguard. Rueben did a quick combo with Nilmar and kept his composure to finish.  Again Valencia had more of the ball but the hosts won a free kick that was whipped in and headed home by Frankie Hejduk’s younger brother (Gonzalo)—2-0 to the Yellow Submarine.  With their slick play frustrated, defender Miguel airmailed a ball into the area which found the head of Feghouli, so Los Che went into the break only down 2-1.  Seemed like Borja was not seeing much of the ball in first half from his left interior position, and I was interested to see if Molina would change this in the second half.

The second half involved both sides going end to end, when they weren’t fouling each other, with Valencia having the better of exchanges.  Emery brought on Pablo, Aduriz and Costa in search of equalizer while Molina took off Gonzalo and Cani for two younger players (Castellani and Lejeune) to keep things fresh.  Nilmar came off with five minutes to go and should have been taken off sooner, not really getting into the match.  Villarreal were close to three vital points but Valencia equalized as Aduriz made the most of his opportunity.  Zapata made a hash of the clearance and the striker passed it in to the far corner.

Villarreal did well with their opportunities in the first half, but Valencia actually tried to win the game so fair play to them.  With the draw and Racing’s win on Saturday, the Yellow Submarine are officially in the relegation zone. Molina’s Job #1: Avoid Relegation.

For a Villarreal perspective I visited where Siempre_riquelme looked back at the Valencian Derby, and took positives from Molina’s first game, but I can’t really agree with his statement: A decent result on paper, but blowing a two-goal lead at home is painful. Particularly against your bitter rivals, whom you outclassed on the day.   Valencia were on top for long stretches and Villarreal rarely threatened, Borja’s fierce shot being the exception.

Speaking of throwing away a lead, Espanyol pegged back FCB in the final match of Sunday’s action. I was not able to watch the game but followed proceedings on the twitter and on the soccernet gamecast during church and gasped when I read Espanyol equalized. The Blaugrana were not able to score again and now Real have a five point advantage. The momentum of the Clasico is gone and the engraver may be able to start working on the La Liga trophy.

Kari at Barcelona Football Blog recapped the Catalan Derby with passion and analysis and love and hope as FCB dropped points against their rivals.  I really enjoyed this post as she praised Espanyol for dictating the game instead of letting the Blaugrana just passing them into submission.  She is optimistic that Los Merengues can still be caught.  I’m not.


Sid Lowe explained that Espanyol’s draw with FCB was part of the narrative between the neighbors.  It is Los Pericos not Real Madrid who have taken the most points from the Blaugrana in the Pep era.  Yes there was a penalty shout but these things happen and now FCB must hope Real Madrid regress if they hope to catch them.  Sid also mentioned the fight or rather lack of for the last Champions League spot: This weekend only one of the top 10 won – Real Madrid. No one wants to take the fourth place, which looks set to be one of the cheapest Champions League slots there’s been.

La Liga Loca echoed a theme that I have come across, which is that Benzema has completely transformed his play, his attitude and fans’ appreciation in year.  Betis seem to be off the slide, with three wins on the bounce, as they head into the Nou Camp.  His comments about Sevilla’s Marcelino were interesting as well:

The Sevilla manager’s instincts are always to avoid defeat rather than go for the win, and this is costing Marcelino’s men badly, with the club now on a run of three league defeats. In the final half an hour, Sevilla showed how well they can go forward when two strikers are played after the introduction of Freddie Kanouté, but it was too little, too late.

Phil Ball put Diego Simeone’s return to Atleti into context as the former hard man returns to manage the team he lead to League and Cup Double in 1996.  Simeone displayed other parts of the game during his playing career, and the hope is that he can turn the ship around in the capital and return the club to their rightful place, which is in the broad shadow of the Big Two.



Olly Dawes sifted through some the transfer possibilities for this window. I was intrigued by Guardado to Valencia. Think that would be an excellent move, especially if they lose Alba over the summer. Saviola to Granada kinda blew my mind. Talk about the penthouse to the outhouse. I’m also interested to see who Malaga get to continue their project.

David Cartlidge at looked at some transfer options as well, with the Big Two relatively quiet. Sevilla were also discussed with Caceres possibly off to Juve (NICE!!).



Forza Football had a highly entertaining and informative pod about Barcelona’s other team, Espanyol. Mark, Nick (aka @PERICOZ), and Mando (@espanyolUSA) talked the club ahead of the big game against FC Barcelona. The gang appreciates the club trying to be fiscally responsible but hopes to hold on to some of their good talent. The panel also backed Pochettino and feel he needs to stay on no matter what, including relegation. They were also pretty positive in their predictions, seeing a tight game, which turned out to be pretty close to what happened.

Andy May and Sid Lowe on Sky’s La Liga Weekly discussed Barca’s draw at Espanyol and how this affects the title chase and RealMadrid’s ability to change gears against Granada, with Benzema and Varane playing well.  Andy interviewed Malaga defender Kris Stadsgaard and asked about the form of the team and his possible exit from the squad in this transfer window. Sid examined the rest of the pack, including Molina taking charge of Villarreal; Sevilla, who added Reyes; and possible transfers.


After doing my reading, I really regret missing the Catalan Derby.  I planned to watch the replay but time got away and then it was on to the Copa and the next round of games is almost up on us.  The 3:30pm EST time start is tough for me, and guess what, FCB play Betis this Sunday at 3:30.

Some other games I’m hoping to catch this weekend (all time EST):


12:00p             Sevilla v Espanyol


6:00a               Atletico de Madrid v Villarreal

12:00p            Athletic Bilbao v Levante

3:30p               FC Barcelona v Betis

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 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.

Morbo Minute–The Rain in Spain mainly falls on Bilbao

There’s a lot to get to, so here we go!!

A slow start to this round on Saturday rose to a crescendo by the end of Sunday.  Saturday saw only two goals total in three matches, but Real Madrid lit the match paper on Sunday (12pm local, 9pm in Asia and 6am in the US) and after that, almost every match was exciting and filled with goals.  Later I will talk about this round’s Match of the Season (Athletic Bilbao v FCB) but let’s start with the nightcap on Saturday.

Levante 0   Valencia 2  

This game stood out for me for several reasons: Levante just suffered their first league loss of the season and, after their dream start, I wanted to see how they would respond; and Valencia got a big win midweek against Bayer Leverkusen and their season seems to be coming into form.

The Valencian Derby got off to a cracking start with tackles coming thick and fast and there was almost an opening goal for Levante inside of three minutes. Valencia came into the game with Mathieu finding a lot of joy on the left hand side.  Then a razor sharp pass from Tino Costa let in Jordi Alba (playing more of a Left Center Mid role in this match) on 31 minutes, and his shot trickled in for an early advantage (Later it was ruled an own goal by Javi Venta as he tried to recover defensively).  The early energy had faded from the hosts and they were fouling and scraping, receiving three yellows very quickly, until halftime.

I was hoping that the break would give the Granotes a chance to reorganize but another early foul set up a Tino Costa free kick.  It was well struck but the goalkeeper made a complete hash of it to put Los Che up 2-0 with 40 minutes to play.  After that Valencia exploited their advantage and looked to be in complete control, but Levante didn’t give up and created a series of half chances, but nothing came of it.

Maxwell at hit the nail on the head in his post: Tino Costa was the difference and “Outside of Costa’s play, however, the match was dominated by frenetic energy and brute force.”

The result sees the two teams heading in different directions going into the International Break. Valencia have won their last four in all competitions, while Levante have lost their last two matches.  After the break, it gets tricky for both sides.


  • Real Madrid (H)
  • Rayo Vallecano (A)
  • Espanyol (H)


  • Atletico Madrid (A)
  • Sporting Gijon (H)  Must Win
  • FC Barcelona (A)


Athletic Bilbao 2  FC Barcelona 2

Going into the match I predicted a score draw.  Los Leones had been a good run of form both in the league and in the Europa League, plus the Blaugrana usually struggle when they go to San Mames.  Pep started the game with an intriguing lineup, with Adriano, Messi and Iniesta up top (or Adriano out left with Cesc up top, depending on how you look at it).  I was skeptical about how Barcelona would attack, but then Adriano played some neat one twos early before scuffing his shot, so I thought, this won’t be so bad.

Bilbao started the match with great energy and quickness of movement and quickness of thought, putting the champions under pressure in rainy conditions.  Sorry, that’s an understatement.  It was a downpour the entire the first half with spraying with every step, with every pass that zipped along the floor.

I told my friend early in the game I was afraid of Alves or Abidal slipping going forward and leaving the other defenders exposed.  Turns out Mascherano was the one who lost his footing, letting Susaeta in, who looked up and found Ander at the top of the box.  He took a neat prep touch and his composed finish to the far post ended Valdes’ 900 some minutes of clean sheets.

FCB got right back it.  A well worked set piece was saved by Iraizoz and then Abidal took a big touch in the left hand channel and hit a fantastic ball across the six yard box, which Cesc headed in to equalize.  A great first half ended with Bilbao in the ascendancy. Barcelona responded well after going down and took control of the match, playing quickly and with purpose, but Los Leones dug in and gave it right back to the champions.  The question at halftime had to be: could the hosts keep it up for the entire match?

The second half started with lots of fouls.  Added to this were puddles all over the pitch, so the rhythm of the first half was gone.  The half Bilbao defended was in poor shape so they had a hard time countering and were under a lot of pressure, although the Blaugrana had a hard time creating clear chances.  Then in the 80th minute, things got crazy.  Mascherano, in an attempt to play back to Valdes, ended up kicking the ball out for a corner.  The resulting kick came into penalty area and was missed by Pique.  Abidal tried to clear but ended up hitting Llorente and the ball rebounded off the tall striker and then off Pique and into the goal.  Just like that Bilbao were in front.  Pep immediately subbed Pique for Thiago and went to a 3-4-3.  Barca turned up the pressure and after Iniesta and Villa had good chances saved, it looked as if the Blaugrana would lose their defensive record and unbeaten record in the same match and go four points down to Real Madrid.  But a scramble in the Bilbao penalty area fell to Messi and he made no mistake, stroking it in to equalize and scoring his first away goal in the league this season.

An enthralling game which ended in a fair result. Bilbao have made real strides and these kind of efforts give them every chance to qualify for Europe again after a slow start.  Muniain had a tremendous match, energetic and always problematic.  Llorente had several good touches in link up play and did well as the target player.  As for the champions, their tempo was very high in the first half despite missing several key players, and their responses to going a goal down twice earned high praise from this viewer.  Messi was subdued but was hounded all over the field.  Xavi dictated play as usual but his shooting was poor when he had the opportunity.  FCB dropped points and now Real Madrid have the advantage with el clasico just a month away.

Sid Lowe put his gloss on the epic match at San Mames, reflecting on the relationship between Bielsa and Guardiola and lauding a typical Bilbao team that had an edge due to their manager, and commenting that Los Leones’ season seems to be coming good, unbeaten in 10, while FCB remains unbeaten this year in all competitions but three points down to Real Madrid.

Lee Roden (@LeeRoden89) at El Centrocampista summed up the match: It was a match that in reality was far from classic in terms of quality, but top drawer in the entertainment department. He also felt thatBilbao had the upper hand in the conditions.

Kelsey from the Barcelona Offside blog did a much better job of summarizing the game than I did.  However I disagree with several of the ratings that were given.  Mascherano a 6.5?  Responsible for both goals and beaten for pace, there’s no way he gets above a 5.  Adriano a 5?  He was involved more in the attack than I thought he would be and considering he is not a natural attacker and did a decent job defensively, thought he did well and deserved more.

Finally Kxevin at Barcelona Football Blog gave a synopsis of the game that acknowledged Bilbao’s pressure and unyielding effort.  His ratings were a little more in line with my thinking but he gave Alvesa 5, which I thought was a little harsh.


The rest of the league . . .

Villarreal has had a rough couple of weeks: a pair of 3-0 losses to Levante and Real Madrid; knocked out of the Champions League after losing their first four matches; a 0-0 draw with Espanyol on Sunday; and a host of injuries, which has the left the squad quite depleted.

Graham Hunter took a look at the club and how the absence of their star, Guiseppi Rossi, may affect the Yellow Submarine.  Meanwhile, Sam Parker from examined the current squad and how the recent results have created a negative vide at the club and things may get worse for everyone involved.

La Liga Loca noted that several teams will be looking forward to the International Break and correctly pointed out that Real Madrid, although they have the advantage in the table, still have to play Atlético Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Valencia and Sevilla

Sid Lowe on the Guardian’s Football Weekly went the other way, saying that Madrid do well against the top sides and that they may finally have the edge they need to win the league this year.

David Redshaw at a different liga wrote a quick post mortem on a stunning performance from Getafe in the last match of the round, as the The Dark Blues secured a victory despite being down a player for almost an hour.  The comments from the Atletico Madrid coach Manzano, especially Defeat against Getafe was a total disaster, do not bode well for the team or his future on the bench.

Olly Dawes had some comments on Malaga’s start to the season.  Pellegrini’s squad selection has come into question and everyone is coming up with a list of reinforcements for January.

Here is a little info on Barcelona’s rising star Isaac Cuenca.

Nothing about Real Madrid this week.  They won.  They won a game played at 12 noon local time.  CR7 scores more goals.  Opponents play a dangerous high line and are punished.  That is all.

Finally, Forza Futbol had Chris Clements on to talk about Spanish Stadiums. as he has launched a website:  He also had some frank and poignant comments about away fans and ticket prices in Spain.  Amazing information and his website is very informative.

Also, the panel covered a lot of ground in a pod with Edu after a round of midweek games during the week of 10/24.  Despite it being a couple of weeks old, there is still a ton of good information about some of the forgotten teams in La Liga.


If you’re still reading this post, much thanks.  Here is the table heading into the break and some questions.

  • How long will Valencia stay in touching distance with the Big Two?
  • Can Real Betis turn it around after a soaring start has transformed into a devastating crash?
  • Is Sevilla’s run at the top four over?
  • Can Real Sociedad climb off the bottom?
Real Madrid 11 9 1 1 32 28
Barcelona 11 7 4 0 28 25
Valencia 11 7 3 1 8 24
Levante 11 7 2 2 8 23
Sevilla 11 4 6 1 3 18
Málaga 11 5 2 4 -2 17
Espanyol 11 5 1 5 -4 16
Rayo 11 4 3 4 1 15
Athletic 11 3 5 3 3 14
Osasuna 11 3 5 3 -10 14
Atlético 11 3 4 4 0 13
Betis 11 4 1 6 -5 13
Villarreal 11 2 5 4 -8 11
Getafe 11 2 4 5 -5 10
Mallorca 11 2 4 5 -8 10
R Zaragoza 11 2 4 5 -10 10
Sporting 11 2 3 6 -6 9
Racing 11 1 6 4 -8 9
Granada 11 2 3 6 -8 9
R Sociedad 11 2 2 7 -9 8

Morbo Minute–European Round Up

I found time to watch a Champions League game on each MatchDay and was rewarded with six goals.  MatchDay 5 approaches with several mouthwatering and do or die ties (AC Milan v FCB, Lyon v Ajax, Manchester United v Benfica and Bayer v Chelsea), but here are the scores and comments on MatchDay 4.



Racing Genk                        1-1      Chelsea

Valencia                            3-1       Bayer Leverkusen

Valencia got off to a great start in this must win game with a goal inside of 12 seconds and for 20 minutes or so were in complete control, but Bayer eventually found their pressuring rhythm, and Valencia went off the rails in a hurry.  Kiessling scored after 31 minutes, and the hosts couldn’t quite get the slickness back of the opening period.  But then a surge of energy in the second period from Los Che generated a cheeky goal from Soldado.  After that, Uncle Mo switched to the Spanish side and the Germans ran out of gas.  A third goal came from Rami off a corner kick and Valencia earned three vital points.

They are currently third with 5 points, one point behind Bayer and three points behind Chelsea.  Next up is Genk at home.  Los Che will probably need all three points as they travel to Stamford Bridge on MatchDay 6.

On a sadder note, Valencia may have lost Banega for six weeks.

Arsenal                              0-0       Marseille

Borussia Dortmund       1-0       Olympiakos

Zenit St Petersburg       1-0       Shakhtar Donetsk

Apoel Nicosia                  2-1       FC Porto

BATE Borisov                   1-1       AC Milan

Viktoria Plzen                   0-4      Barcelona

FCB smacked around Viktoria Plzen but the Czech team was hard done by the ref. Plzen had a chance to take an early lead on a breakaway but VV held his ground and denied Petrzela.  Just minutes later, Messi skipped into the penalty area and was taken down by Cisovski.  The result was a PK and a straight red.  To be fair, the card was harsh. The keeper was coming to make a save, and I think a yellow would have been just.  After that, it was pretty much one way traffic with Messi getting a second before half time.  Cesc added a third before Messi finished his hat trick after rounding the keeper.

Total Barca wrapped up the game and commented on how Pep is working on developing depth in the squad.

Both AC Milan and FCB have qualified, and with the Rossoneri drawing, the Blaugrana are in control of the group.  A draw in a couple of weeks will all but assure them top spot in the group.


Bayern Munich                  3-2      Napoli

Villarreal                           0-3      Manchester City

The Yellow Submarine are out of Europe.  Period.  Watch the highlights.  Shambolic defending plus injuries to key players made this a miserable campaign.  They must now pick themselves up and concentrate on improving their place in La Liga.

Internazionale                   2-1      Lille

Trabzonspor                       0-0       CSKA Moscow

Benfica                                   1-1       FC Basel

Manchester United           2-0       Otelul Galati

Ajax Amsterdam               4-0       Dinamo Zagreb

Lyon                                       0-2       Real Madrid

For 35’ Real Madrid pinned back Lyon and battered them.  Slowly the hosts worked themselves back into the game and really should have punished Los Blancos, who became complacent and sloppy. Lyon had several quality chances but left their finishing boots in the locker room.  CR7’s sick free kick in the first half and solid penalty in the second sealed the points.

Madridista Mac was relieved that the curse of Lyon was broken and had a couple interesting player notes from the game.

Real Madrid are through as group winners and now Lyon will have to beat Ajax at home in a couple of weeks to give themselves a chance to progress.


Both Spanish teams are doing well in the Europa League.  Bilbao won away at Salzburg 1-0 with a goal from Ander, which keeps them top of the group.  A point at home in their next match against Slovan Bratislava ensures qualification to the next round.  All three points and then they will only need a draw in the last match day away to PSG.  As for Atletico, they crushed Udinese 4-0.  Two draws will see them through to the next round.  Their next match is away to Celtic before finishing against Rennes at the Calderon.

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.


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 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 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



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. 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.


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.


1:00 ET           Mallorca            v          Sevilla FC                  GOL TV              

3:00 ET           Real Betis         v          Málaga             

5:00 ET           Levante            v          Valencia                    ESPN3                     


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–European Round Up

I didn’t know how to feel about this week’s games.  FCB was playing Viktoria Plzen, who some sites were claiming are the Czech Barcelona (looked more like the Czech Tottenham Hotspur between the unis and the performance), and Manchester United was playing a Romanian team that I couldn’t pronounce.  The real action seemed to be in the Group of Death (Group A), with each team needing maximum points to give them the best chance of progressing.


Manchester City           2-1       Villarreal          

Going into this match, both teams were at the Last Chance Saloon.  City needed all three points to get their campaign back on track after a home draw with Napoli and a spanking away to Bayern Munich, while the Yellow Submarine couldn’t hope to qualify for even the Europa League with a third consecutive loss in this competition.

Villarreal got off to a dream start when a Silva turnover ended up at the feet of Rossi, who called Hart into action before Cani knocked in the rebound after only three minutes.  The conditions and aggressiveness of both sides created a scintillating opening 20 minutes with City really taking the game to the Spanish side, creating lots of half chances.  It took a while for the Yellow Submarine into the game, with the pace hard to match, possession at a premium, and Rossi on his own.  De Guzman was not quite sharp enough. Despite helping to set up the opening goal, he was just a half step too slow.  Just when it looked like Villarreal were settling into the game to grind out an away victory, an own goal by Marchena got City off the hook before half time.

Villarreal started off the second half a little more threatening with Rossi testing Hart again and Valero doing a decent job of pulling the strings.  The team seemed to have a little more rhythm and was establishing some width.  Aguero came on at the hour mark as Mancini reshaped his side, with Barry holding, YaYa starting play and Silva and Nasri dictating proceedings (although they both faded).  Dzeko was struggling and he should have done both with a couple of his chances.  With 10’ to go, Mubarak came on for Perez, and Milner came in for Nasri.  The edge had gone out of game, and it was heading for a draw with three minutes of added time.  Villarreal were dead on their feet and City had just a little bit left, but Aguero got the Citizens out of jail as Milner set up Zabalyeta who squared it across for the Argentinean to score.  In the end, it was three points for the blue side of Manchester, with Villarreal being exposed at the end of the match and Mancini getting his subs absolutely right.

Richard Thorburn from had this recap while for a more biased view read Allen’s comments from

Napoli                          1-1       Bayern Munich

CSKA Moscow           3-0       Trabzonspor

Lille                              0-1       Internazionale

FC Basel                      0-2       Benfica

Otelul Galati                 0-2      Manchester United

Dinamo Zagreb          0-2      Ajax Amsterdam

Real Madrid                 4-0       Lyon

Los Merengues conquered their French opponents again, with Benzema putting his former team to the sword.  @MadridistaMac made some interesting comments about the rotation and tactics for Real Madrid, who are all but in the knockout stage.  By the way, CR7 did not score in a second consecutive match for Real Madrid.  Everyone might want to have their Apocalypse Kit in order.


Barcelona                     2-0       Viktoria Plzen   

The Blaugrana cruised past the Czech Champs, including a sick combination goal between Iniesta and Messi.  With FCB and AC Milan on seven points after three games, it looks like the match on 11/23 will decide the group.

AC Milan                     2-0       BATE Borisov

Bayer Leverkusen         2-1      Valencia                      

Los Che are in real danger of not progressing, with a defeat at the BayArena.  Based on reports they did not do enough with their first half advantage and were punished by the Germans.  However @OutsideMid took a different view on Leverkusen’s performance.  Ouch!!

Chelsea                        5-0       Racing Genk

Marseille                      0-1       Arsenal

I watched a replay of this match to get a feel for both teams, not seeing Arsenal for a while and had not seen Marseille this season.  The match was not great, with the  Gunners looking a shadow of themselves without Nasri and Fabregas.  Valbeuna looked great for L’OM but did not see much of the ball in second half.  The Professor seemed to have gotten his subs right as Ramsey smashed in the winner in injury time.  Overall this was 90 minutes that I’m not getting back.  Thank goodness I watched with some friends and had some beers.

Olympiakos                  3-1       Borussia Dortmund

FC Porto                      1-1       Apoel Nicosia

Shakhtar Donetsk        2-2       Zenit StPetersburg

Europa League

Athletic Bilbao          2-2       SV Salzburg

Los Leones made two changes after having to play on Monday night.  They were stunned by Salzburg in the first half and were down 2-0 at halftime, but they picked themselves up, and two Llorente PK’s earned them the point.  They stay on top of the group and travel to Salzburg in a couple of weeks.  If they avoid a loss and get all three points against Slovan Bratislava, they should be in good shape against PSG on the last match day.

Udinese                        2-0       Atlético Madrid

Los Colchoneros suffered their first defeat of the competition as two late goals won it for the Italian side.  Based on reports, Atletico had decent periods of the match but their finishing was poor.  The return leg will be at the Calderon in a couple of weeks.  A win and the Spaniards can plan for European football early in 2012.  A loss means they will start all over again. has a little better summary of each match.

Morbo Minute–Back to the Clubs for Round 8

This international break came at a bad time if you were Levante, Malaga and Atheltic Bilbao.  Levante are top of the table (only behind FCB on Goal Differential); Malaga have climbed to fourth, securing three points against Getafe with an amazing goal from Julio Baptista; and Los Leones completed a great week, drawing with Villarreal, defeating PSG in the Europa League and winning the Basque Derby 2-1.

If you were Real Betis or Villarreal, you welcomed the break.  Betis lost two in a row after winning their opening four and, with Real Madrid on Saturday, things are not looking better.  Villarreal are in a shame spiral.  The draw to Bilbao mentioned before, then another loss in the Champions League, plus a draw with Real Zaragoza.  The Yellow Submarine have Getafe on Saturday and need three points to get their campaign back on track.

Not sure how many games I’ll get to this weekend, but here are ones of interest to me:


12:00 ET Real Madrid v Real Betis


12:00 ET Levante v Málaga  (not on Gol TV or ESPN3; may have to scour the interweb for a decent feed).


With no league play, did a couple of legends feature:

Edmundo Suárez, who played for Valencia in late 30’s and 40’s.

Jordi Cruyff, who played and coached at FC Barcelona. Video is light on highlights but high on emotion.

Zinedine Zidane, who finished his wonderful career at Real Madrid.  The video quality isn’t that great but you get the idea.

They also added Ronaldo and Zubizarreta.


I am a little behind on my podcasts, but Forza Futbol had Natalia (@arkulari) on to discuss the Basque Derby, Athletic Bilbao, and the U-20 Tournament in Colombia from this summer.  Great stuff as usual.

The guys at La Liga Weekly (@laligaweekly) discussed the league in general, while focusing on Real Madrid and FC Barcelona (how can you not?).


Finally, one more shout to Forza Football who put together some graphs illustrating the gaps between the top six teams in the Europe’s top five leagues.  It took me several times through to get it, but basically the Big Two have really separated themselves from the rest of the league in the last couple of years.  Check it out.