El Centrocampista

Barça, Betis and analysing a nation’s favourite insult – Spanish Football around the Web

Untitled-2

La Liga continues to surprise, with this last round of games being no different.  Zaragoza won again giving everyone hope that they could somehow survive against the odds; Sevilla somehow found the net again against Granada after struggling for a couple of weeks; and Bilbao continued to struggle and may be content with a couple of cup runs.

Weeks ago, Real Madrid looked to be cruising towards the title with a 10 point lead over FCB, with Valencia locked into third. But just as in England, things have changed, with two draws by Madrid cutting the deficit to six points and Valencia (the Spanish Tottenham) now level on points with a resurgent Malaga.

Graham Hunter analyzed the factors that will decide the title for the Big Two in his weekly column for Soccernet.  He makes a compelling case for a dramatic finish, although I still am not too sure.  As for the race to third, I reviewed the results since Malaga andValencia returned in January.  Valencia have only won three of their 13 league matches in 2012, drawing five and losing five for a total of 14 points.  Malaga, on the other hand, got off to a slow start in the New Year, then did a win loss win loss segment, but now have won four of their last five, the other result being a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid.  They have picked up 23 from 39, not great, but still enough to catch Los Che.  Pressure is mounting on Emery and this major dip will probably see him leave in the summer despite him keeping the club in the European places and making the last eight of the Europa League.

Madridista Mac reveled in the three headed monster of Benzema, Higuain and CR7.  The combination of these players all singing from the same song sheet was a sight to behold as Real Sociedad were torn apart.  Mac feels that with games coming thick and fast between now and the end of the season, viewers may not see much of this attacking trident.  He also gave big ups to Varane’s performance at the heart of defense.  Could this be a valuable long term signing for Los Blancos?  Time will tell.

The Barcelona game capped off a triple header for me.  The match was nervy, especially as the Blaugrana could not find the second goal and then Thiago got sent off.  Mallorca’s high pressure definitely made Barca uncomfortable during periods of the match, and better finishing from the hosts could have put the current champions under real pressure.  But if you don’t take your chances, then you won’t get the rewards.

Kari from Barcelona Football Blog examined some of the tactical nuances from Pep this season in anticipation of their big game with Milan.  Injuries, match ups and experimentation have led to several changes in how the Blaugrana lines up.  The key for the squad this season has been flexibility, which allows the team to change formations in game with no substitutions (see game last December againstMadrid as a huge example).

Osasuna’s big result against Levante was where Sid Lowe started his column this week.  Not only did the club get three big points that got them comfortably over the 40 point mark with games to spare, but it set them up in their run for a European place.  Currently in sixth, it’s all to play for in the run-in, led by Raul Garcia, goalkeeper Fernandez and coach Mendilíbar.  Next up Real Madrid at home.

Elisa visited Rayo Vallencano for the final chapter of her Spanish trip, which saw visiting Villarreal pick up all three valuable points in their bid to maintain Primera status.  She felt the Yellow Submarine were the better team despite Sandoval’s comments post match. If you have not visited Forza Futbol or Elisa’s Facebook page, I would highly recommend you do so for the match recaps, cultural nuggets and great pictures from the trip.

Finally, Phil Ball explored the nature of the Spanish phrase Hijo de puta!’ (son of a bitch) this week as he saw Real Madrid take the legal gloves off to make sure Sergio Ramos was on the field against Real Sociedad, which saw Los Merengues stop the slide and go back six points clear.  Mention was also given to Javier Clemente who took his new team, Gijon to San Mames, where they earned a point and kept Los Leones spiraling away from the European places.

Podcasts

Sid Lowe was on Beyond the Pitch to discuss La Liga, particularly Athletic and FC Barcelona.  The gang looked at Athletic Bilbao’s season thus far especially in light of Bielsa taking over.  They also discussed the blooding of youth players and the future of the squad. FCB was also a topic, with their minor dip in form probably costing them the league.  But the Blaugrana are on the up as they hit the Champions League and the Copa del Rey Final at the end of May.  Finally, the guys touched on Spain’s chances in the upcoming Euros, including where Villa and Torres might stand in the final reckoning.

More Sid Lowe.  He and Andy May looked back on the weekend on the Sky Sports La Liga Weekly podcast.  A lot of time was spent on the Real Madrid media blackout after the Villarreal game and possible cracks starting to show.  They also addressed Pique’s poor season but the squad as a whole is coming good.  Finally, Valencia are in real trouble and could miss the Champions League if they are not careful.

Ravi from Forza Futbol interviewed Adam Boyle from Ooh Betis on the latest pod.  They discussed the nature of the Seville Derby and Betis’ season thus far.  Adam mentioned key youth players and examined the future of the club: greater financial stability, the running of the club by administrators, and the impact of LFP (ie Monday PM games, lack of scheduling ahead, etc.).

 




Follow us and get La Liga news right in your feed!