El Centrocampista


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European games are back on the calendar.  I was able to watch the Barcelona game against Leverkusen and found it hard to get into the match, especially in the first half, but the goals from both sides were quite good, especially Sanchez’s first and Messi’s one at the end.  Once Bayer hit the woodwork down 2-1, their moment was gone and they will really be up against it at the Nou Camp.  I caught only bits and pieces of the Real Madrid game.  Managed to see CR7’s goal but missed most of the second half including the shock equalizer at the death.  I doubt CSKA will avoid a drubbing at the Bernabeu in a couple of weeks.

As for La Liga teams in the Europa League, SpanishFootball.info gave a quick round up.  Might have to find some time in the schedule to see if Bilbao can turn it around against Lokomotiv at San Mames.


This weekend’s action saw lots of goals with Real Madrid putting four past Racing, an 8 goal extravaganza between Rayo and Levante, Barca’s five past Valencia and the Yellow Submarine surrendering four to Real Mallorca.  This round also saw Levante slip from fourth place.  Their slide down the table has been put on hold because none of the chasing pack can get their act together, but I don’t see Los Granotes finding the hand brake.

I can tell that Madrista Mac is really excited about this Real Madrid team and with good reason.  With Benzema and Granero giving Mourinho different options, this Los Merengues squad will take some stopping.  He also focused on Real gaining every single point they can during this relatively easy period before the anticipated war of April with battles in the Champions League and another Clasico.

Athletic Bilbao 3  Malaga 0

The visitors proved the adage that you must take your chances, and their profligacy in front goal cost them as much as their lapses in concentration in the second period.  Bilbao, thanks to Levante’s loss, climbed into fourth, while Malaga are mired in ninth.

Mike Barnes at A Different Liga saw a Malaga team in control but wasteful in front of goal and absent on set pieces.  Seems like the only way they can make the Champions League is to immediately correct their away form, which Mike stated:  Pellegrini’s men haven taken only eight points from a possible 36 on their travels.

FC Barcelona 5  Valencia 1

In the end, a spellbinding ninety minutes from the Blaugrana.  The league is gone but that doesn’t mean they can’t generate moments of the magic, of which this was one.  They have one foot in the last eight of the Champions League, and there is still the chance of a cup double this season, giving them five of the six titles on offer.  Still a nice haul.

Really enjoyed Kxevin’s recap of the game at Barcelona Football Blog as he echoed many of my sentiments but with greater embellishment and passion.  He gave big ups to Sanchez’s overall performance and thoroughly enjoyed Messi’s four goal haul while noting some areas of improvement.

I did a little searching at a couple of Valencia blogs, but they didn’t have their comments up yet.  I did find this player rating, which was pretty harsh.  Gave Alves a 5.5?  Seriously?  The man kept you competitive.  Blame your defense not the keeper.


Odds and Ends

Sid Lowe tried to shift through the truths and lies over the site of this year’s Copa del Rey Final, featuring Athletic Bilbao against FC Barcelona.  Bilbao don’t want it at the Mestalla because it holds too few fans, ie too few Bilbao fans, and the Bernabeu doesn’t want to host because Barcelona are involved.  There is the stadium in Seville but that is not centrally located.  Who knows where the game will end up or even what date it will be played.

Connor at El Centrocampista asked the question this week: Are the rest catching the best in La Liga?  Yes Valencia is improving and, as the first of the rest, has not been completely cut adrift so far this season, but I don’t see much for the rest of the league.  There is more parity from fourth to ninth or so, but none of the chasing pack is really closing the gap on the Big Two, and I would be surprised if any of them can challenge in Europe.  I think FCB may come back to the pack as the torch is passed from Xavi and Puyol to the new players, but once they bed in, there could be another dominant cycle in the future.  As for Real Madrid, their status will depend on the manager after Mourinho and whether the club buys wisely.  Los Merengues are well placed to challenge on all fronts for the next several years, but if the Special One is not there, will they be able to keep it together?

As for the rest of the league . . .

Listened to a fantastic pod from Forza Football this week as they had Dean Burrier Sanchis (@BurrierSanchis) to discuss how he found Levante as his club, and they discussed their great start to the season and expectations for the final months of the season.  Love hearing fans’ stories, especially for the smaller clubs.

Sid Lowe looked at all of the factors at Malaga—finances, players sales and purchases, and injuries—in his weekly column for the Guardian.  As bad as they have been this season (and they have been awful at times), they could still qualify for Europe.  Don’t see it, mainly because they don’t have a backbone, which was reinforced by Sid’s stat:  only Barcelona have committed fewer fouls this season.

Graham Hunter’s column for Soccernet.com chronicled the long and winding tale of  Jose Luis Mendilibar, currently of Osasuna.  Celebrating a year in charge, here is a manager who has been around the block a couple of times and has a knack for getting the most out of players.  Unfortunately the clock is ticking as he has only lasted beyond two years at one job.

Mando at Forza Football used a Valentine’s Day metaphor to explore how clubs choose their managers and how success and failure at a club can be a matter of chance rather than work or talent, focusing on Clemente’s recent hire at Gijon.

Finally, Phil Ball continues to entertain and inform every week.  This week’s column focused on Spinoza’s idea of associations.  Who is Spinoza?  Answer, an 18th century Dutch rationalist philosopher.  Anyway, Phil explained the associations that have prospered (Iniesta/Messi, CR7/Benzema) and associations that have been severed (Nilmar/Rossi, Borja/Cazorla) in La Liga this season.  Great read.

I’m out of town this weekend so will not be posting next week.  Enjoy the next round of games and the Morbo Minute will be back in two weeks.


  1. FCB1899

    25 February, 2012 at 16:48

    I enjoyed the Forza podcast this week and Graham Hunter’s piece on Espn. The article on here about Valencia catching Barca was sort of blown out of the water after Barcelona detroyed them 5-1 a the weekend! Still a good read though!

  2. Austin Long

    25 February, 2012 at 22:45

    FCB/Valencia game did little to prove the gap closing. but thanks for the comment. btw, is there to reach via social media or email. thanks,

  3. Pingback: Soccer-Ronaldo backheel lifts Real to 1-0 win at Rayo – Reuters Africa | Soccerator.com

  4. Pingback: Copa del Rey final to be moved – Sports Mole

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