El Centrocampista

Tactics, Transfers and a book on Malaga CF – Spanish Football around the Web

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The Big Two both won after going down early to keep the clash on Saturday at the forefront.  Meanwhile it seems like everyone else has 45 points or is going to be relegated. Gijon’s flame is all but out, with Zaragoza hanging on by a thread.

So that’s where I’ll start this week. Sid Lowe is still holding out hope for Real Zaragoza as they hung on for a 1-0 win against Granada, which keeps them five points from survival with five matches to go.  Jimenez is doing everything he can to keep the club up and Granada, who seemed to be safe just a couple of weeks ago, could see the bottom fall out as they play Getafe (h), then Levante (a) Espanyol (h), Real Madrid (h) and Rayo Vallecano (a) in the run in.

Phil Ball turned the Too Easy for the Big Two argument on its head, noting that at certain points these two pull away from the rest of the league, and these two teams simply have squads of historic skill, depth and drive.  The interest remains in the league because of their battle, which has been aided by brave fights by their opponents home and away, and the dramatic race for European places that involve every team in the top half of the table.

I love Kxevin at Barcelona Football Blog.  He finds the central point, or rather emotion, for each match and goes from there.  The match against Levante looked doubtful for long stretches as the ball wouldn’t go in the net, Busquets gave away a penalty, and the hosts had parked the proverbial bus. And then Messi.  Find his goal.  No matter how many times he does this, it is still amazing.  From there, the ref gave another penalty, this time against Levante, and kept the title hopes alive for one more week.  Doubt?  Keep believing until it’s impossible.  He is much braver than me.

John Pelini did a tactical breakdown of the game for El Centrocampista, examining how Levante set up to stifle the Barcelona attack.  Adriano was able to be an attacking force with only one Levante player occupying Puyol and Mascherano, but the rest of the attack was stymied by the retreat of the defenders that clogged up the space.  Pep’s response has been to introduce width but the hosts were able to control their area so that this didn’t trouble them that much.  The goals came from a moment of genius and Cuenca’s drive, showing that no matter the effort and concentration, a moment of lapse can be crucial.

Tom Conn examined possible FCB transfers this summer at Inside Spanish Football, focusing on the following players: Robin van Persie, Gareth Bale, Javi Martinez, Iker Muniain, and Jordi Alba.

He makes some insightful comments in providing the pros and cons of each player.  Muniain and RvP, while great players, are too expensive and would find it hard to get into the team.  He is high on Bale but he would have to play left back. Bale fits great at White Hart Lane, not so sure at the Nou Camp. Martinez and Alba are the ones for me.  Martinez could provide depth if Keita leaves and could slot in the middle if Puoyl or Pique is not fit, while Alba seems a much better fit to replace Abidal and Adriano.  Time will tell.

Madridista Mac looked back on a game in which Real went down again but responded with the necessary mentality and effort to earn the three points.  Mac is worried how the team would do with Xabi Alonso as Sahin is not quite there yet. Fair point, but the lad has got to get a run in.  Obviously Bayern read Mac’s post as Die Roten attacked the flanks at will on Tuesday and stretched the entire Real team in the second half.  Real had a blip but I think the recent run of recovering results from losing positions and the punch in the face Bayern gave them will put them in the right frame of mind to grind it out against the Blaugrana.

Graham Hunter focused his attention on Valencia for his weekly Soccernet column, looking at the very recent past of the club that has put them in the situation, ie their treatment of players and running up a massive debt.  Yet the club keeps plugging along, selling their best players, negotiating for a new Mestalla, and continuing to qualify for the Champions League.  Emery has been at the helm for the last couple of years but his time is probably running out, and who knows where the club will go from here.  Hunter also mentioned the great job Sandoval is doing at Rayo, and Pep’s contract situation, which has faded into the background as the Blaugrana try to defend their European title and reel inMadrid to win their fourth La Liga crown.  Really good stuff.

Finally, Forza Futbol did a quick review of David Redshaw’s book on Malaga Football Club.  Redshaw lays out the history of the club, which has come to the forefront with an infusion of foreign money and interest from British ex-pats relocating to the area.  Click on the link provided for more of Redshaw’s comments for some really good info.

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Follow Austin on Twitter
@AustinLong1974 and visit his excellent blog Soccer Nomad




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