Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Gulliver Travels to Santander

A Good Touch for a Big Man

If you happen to visit Spain anytime soon - or live there now - take some time out and find a museum exhibiting old suits of armour from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They are incredible. On first glance, they are so small that it appears that they once belonged to young children - middle age romper suits perhaps. Instead, they were used by full grown adults for when a spot of empire building was required.

Such was the diminutive stature of the average soldier in days of yore, it’s a wonder Spain managed to conquer half the world, considering Tweaky from Buck Rogers and Roberto Carlos would have been enough to repel any potential conquistadors.

Of course, things are a little a different now in Spain - especially when considering the size of the basketball team - but this throwback to history can be the only explanation for the sense of wonder that still pervades the football press anytime a footballer a over six feet arrives on the shores.

Last season, when great Dane, Morten Skoubo, signed for Real Sociedad, wondrous stories were published on how he was unable to sleep in hotel beds and was always knocking himself out by walking into door frames. Next in line for the ‘Peter Crouch treatment’ is Serbian, Nikola Zigic - Racing Santander’s new signings who happens to stands tall at 2.02 metres.

“He’s very quick for his size” said ‘Marca’s reporter in awe whilst peering at the striker from a step ladder. And also rather handy it seems, seeing as Racing had to fight off the attentions of Bolton and West Ham to lure the giant from Red Star Belgrade, where he managed 45 goals in 76 appearances for the club.

Hopefully he will have more luck during his time in Spain than Skoubu who has barely played for Sociedad after a series of injuries has blighted his spell, so far. Those pesky Spanish door frames to blame perhaps.


Transfer News...

By now, any transfer speculation detailed below will either have become cold hard fact or have been proven to be a load of bull. Most probably the latter. With less than 24 hours till the window slams - here is the latest gossip.

Real Madrid are “90 percent” sure of signing Arsenal’s Jose Antonio Reyes according ‘Marca’, taking advantage of the Premiership club’s desire not to have to deal with two sulking players for the rest of the season. 3 million euros, some ham and Julio Baptista may also be part of the deal to coax the winger and his Sevilla duvet cover back to Spain.

After loaning out Woodgate to ‘Boro for a season, Real Madrid are reported to be holding talks with the agent of Valencia centre back, Fabián Ayala who has been demanding a move from the Mestalla for some time. Considering, the defender is barely tolerated by the fans after a flirtation with Barcelona a couple of years ago, the Argentinean will make himself unfeasibly unpopular should he decide to sign on with title rivals.

Getafe were interested in picking up John Aloisi from Alaves, but their interest cooled off after the second division club demanded one million euros for the Australian striker.

La Liga has said good-bye to Juan Pablo Sorin’s flowing locks after Villarreal and Hamburg agreed on a 3 million euro deal for the Argentinean left back.

Valencia and ‘Night club’ Patrick Kluivert have agreed terms to end his contract with the club....Atletico Madrid’s Kiki Musampa has moved on to Turkish club Trabzonspor.


Thanks to Andy on this note on ‘coach’s block’.

“Sometimes managers lust over what they don't have instead of using the talent at their disposal. Maybe we can call it "coach's block". It's when a manager has a certain vision of a squad and shows as gross inability to bend the vision to fit the available talent.

At which point they usually oblige the team owners to open the checkbook and make a splash in the transfer market.
It was always inexplicable to me that Morientes was ignored by Real and left to languish on the bench while
they indulged themselves in the Michael Owen experiment. They basically threw away an in form striker already
indocrinated in all things Madrid and who desired greatly to prove himself at the Berneabeu.

I'm glad he is doing well. Now Rijkaard is normally immune from "coach's block" as his record in promoting Barca B squad members shows. But I cannot understand why there is no room for Saviola in the Barca system.

I can only surmise that this is being driven by upper management as Rijkaard mentioned last week that
the Saviola situation was not up to him.”


Anyone Barca fans out there, want Saviola to stay? Any hate mail for Ayala. Does Real really need Reyes? Just click on comments or email here


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sevilla Win to Lead La Liga. Apparently

Del Nido Strikes Again

The last match of the opening weekend of La Liga took place on Tuesday night with Sevilla thumping Levante 4-0 and moving to the top of the first league table. Unfortunately, La Liga Loca cannot provide any more information than the goal scorers (Kepa 3, Kanoute), as Sevilla have decided to shut out the televisual world from their stadium in a bit of a toys thrown out of the pram moment.

Now that Sevilla are Super cup champions as well as UEFA cup holders, club president, Jose Maria del Nido has decided that their current tv contract is massively undervalued. The tv companies disagreed, so until further notice - and in a highly self defeating move - Sevilla have banned all tv coverage (terrestrial, Canal Plus, delayed, Pay per View) from their home league and cup games until they get their way.

On the bright side, this will not be much of an impact for at least 25% of Spain who are unable to pick up ‘La Sexta’ - the terrestrial channel awarded the rights to one live game a week. And who started their first highlights show on Sunday with the breakdown inducing words - “Don’t worry! We have four hours, so plenty of chance to catch all the action!” - Plenty of time to wait for the action would have been more accurate.

The Imaginatively Titled Quotes of the Week

“He was always a little anarchic on the pitch. I’ve put him on the right path.” - Fabio Capello on his plans to turn David Beckham into another defensive midfielder.

“I know my faults. I’m impetuous. I’m not always right” - Deportivo manager, Joaquin Caparros, in an introspective mood.

“I just want to draw your attention to certain players at this club who are just egotists” - storms Valencia’s director of sport, Amedeo Carboni, having fallen out with almost everyone at the Mestalla.

“I’m convinced. We are going to beat Barcelona” - Jose Maria del Nido, Sevilla president, the day before the Super cup victory. One of the few occasions he isn’t talking absolute bollocks.

“Some things were done to me, that I didn’t deserve” - complains Joaquin after his prolonged round Spain transfer to Valencia. Any Betis fan watching him play last season, would disagree.

“We have to keep on working and not let our heads drop” - Espanyol coach Ernesto Valverde having a Churchillian moment after two successive defeats.

“I want to play in every game” - Ludovic Giuly at press conference.
“’Every’... that's a lot’” - Frank Rijkaard’s ‘joking’ reply.

“We have two great keepers here, Ilgner and Diego” - Fabio Capello manages to mistake Iker Casillas for Bodo. No wonder the Real stopper has not been himself recently.

“Don’t f**k with me” - Linesman Fermin 'Rambo' Martinez Ibanez to assorted complaining Sociedad players after incorrectly awarding a penalty to Bilbao.

In Other News...

Real Madrid are busiest in the transfer world at the moment as they try and palm off old rubbish to anyone with a few euros in their pockets. Thomas Gravesen is pondering a move to Celtic, Woodgate is deciding between Newcastle and Middlesborough for his year long loan move, whilst Pablo Garcia is off for a spell at Celta Vigo. Ronaldo looks like staying on after talks broke down between AC Milan and Real over a 13 million euro difference of opinion of his worth.

Betis have brought in three new players, Rafael Sobis, Jorge Wagner and most interestingly, David Odonker - Germany’s World Cup flying winger supersub. The proposed move of Ricardo Oliveira to AC Milan has stalled over the his transfer fee.

Atletico have finally completed their fifteen year pursuit of Portuguese midfielder Maniche who has signed on for three years of disappointment and pain at the Vicente Calderon. Ariel Ibagaza returns to Real Mallorca, his former club, after doing diddly squat for three years at Atletico.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

Good Day, Bad Day

In what can interpreted as a thinly disguised homage or a blatant rip off of 365’s Winners and Losers section, a new and possibly short lived feature - depending on lawyers - is Good Day / Bad Day.

As ever, your input is always welcome...just click on comments or email here

Good Day

‘El Pato’ and Getafe

You can count on the fingers of a Triad member’s hand, the number of predictions La Liga Loca has ever got right, however the one forecasting Getafe’s new keeper to be a roaring success may actually come true. Brought in from Boca Juniors, Roberto ‘El Pato’ Abbondanzieri had a superb debut against Osasuna on Sunday. Whilst Getafe only managed two shots on goal - both scored - their opponents took pot shots from all angles only to have ‘el Pato’ block them all and leave his team top of the table - all be it with two games still to be played.

Fernando Morientes

In his disappointing two years on Merseyside, ‘Moro’ could barely hit a cow’s arse with a banjo - to borrow from Dave Bassett. However, in just two games for Valencia, he has managed a quarter of his league goal total for Liverpool. On Wednesday, he struck for his new side to guide them to a 3-0 victory in a Champions League qualifier. on Saturday night he grabbed Valencia’s first in their 2-1 victory over Real Betis. Welcome home, Fernando.

The Spanish Press

You can feel the pleasure oozing from the papers this morning as the writers described Real Madrid’s stilted performance last night. In just one game, Fabio Capello had reinforced Spanish stereotypes of Italian tactics - boring and defensive. To be fair, by employing both Diarra and Emerson in central midfield in a home game, they have a point. Capello had said before the game that Real would need to three or four games to get into their stride. An impatient support and press pack may not be willing to give them that long.


An outstanding performance on Friday night, where they completely mugged a disinterested Barcelona is best summed up by George, a very happy Sevilla fan.

“I just want to congratulate the boys on a job well done, based on how well Kanoute and Fabiano played against Barcelona, I certainly hope they can shake their "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum" reputation and score some serious goals in La Liga this season. It's quite the way to start the year, right where they left off from last year!! I am thinking with this win in the bag and some much needed confidence, they can grab a well-deserved Champion's League spot for next season. I don't think they're quite in the same sphere as Real Madrid, Barca and Valencia yet ... but with continued confidence, good play and some luck, they could finish right up there.”


So far, so good for ‘baby Depor’ - as they have been branded in ‘AS’. In the weekend’s best match, they came from 1-0 down early in the game to beat a lively Zaragoza 3-2. A result good enough to keep a grumbling President and home support happy for another couple of weeks, at least.

The New Boys

Although Levante have still to play, it was a good weekend for the other two new boys of La Liga. ‘Nastic played well - Javier Portillo in particular - to beat local rivals Espanyol whilst Recreativo grabbed a home point against Mallorca - more on that in Bad Day - in what was reportedly a pretty poor encounter. Can Levante complete a hat trick against the newly crowned super cup winners, on Tuesday?

Bad Day

Fermin Martinez Ibanez

Half an hour into the Basque derby between Athletic and Sociedad and a free kick had been hoofed into Real’s box. A whole host of hands went up and the ball appeared to have made contact with at least one of them. The linesman, Snr Ibanez called over the referee and confirmed that offending arm belonged to Sociedad defender, Labaka. Cue furious scenes and a Benny Hill style pursuit of the accuser. Although mistakes are easily made is such situations, what made matters worse for the match officials was that Bilbao striker, Aduriz then told Izquierdo - “if anyone touched the ball, it was me” - a stance that the tv replays backed up. Despite this laudable confession, the penalty still stood and was converted. By Aduriz.

Antonio Prats

Perhaps the most unfortunately named goalkeeper after Depor’s Riesgo or ‘Risk’ had a stinker against Recreativo on Sunday. With his team 1-0 up and the referee seconds from blowing the final whistle, a shot flew in from Cazorla which was easily blocked by Snr Prats. Unfortunately, the ball was then palmed over the keeper’s head and into the back of the net. Two points dropped that could be rather handy at the end of the season if Mallorca continue with this form.


The Catalan whipping boys. A week ago, it was Barcelona who tore them a new hole in a 4-0 drubbing. This week, it was the turn of Catalan rivals ‘Nastic who turned up at the Montjuic and grabbed all three points.

Thanks to Paul, the long suffering Espanyol fan who saw the whole affair.

“i would write a match report,but i'm trying to block the whole thing out. you could be right about relegation. nastic will go down without a

only three things to comment on.
1-the foul on fredson before the goal,refs in spain seem to get worse every year
2-both sets of supporters declared their hate of "the worlds biggest club" with banners declaring "catalunya mes que un club".at last a pun in
3-the biggest question of the day was"who the f**k are Vecindario and where are they from?"

that just about sums up my weekend.
looking forward to come confrontation with the idiots who seem to wear lazio shirts to our games as we play them on friday.

Georgios Seitaridis

On his league debut and his side struggling against Racing Santander, it is difficult to know what was going through the Greek defender’s mind as he clattered into Felipe Melo in the first half, having just been dispossessed by the midfielder. A red card was brandished probably to be followed by a heavy fine. Fortunately, his hide was saved a little by a Fernando Torres strike being enough to start Atletico’s season with a win. But only just.


Footballers Speak

On Friday, Marca reported the results of survey where they asked La Liga’s players four questions - Who will be best player? Who will be the ‘breakout’ player? Who will be Champions? Who will be the surprise team?

Of those polled, 296 managed to work out how to fill in the form and return it, but the results were not that surprising. The top five best players were Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Villa, Deco and Riquelme. The new star list was lead by Atletico’s Sergio Agüero and Barca’s not so secret Leo Messi.

Barcelona are firm favourites to be champions again, whilst Real Zaragoza romped home in the surprise team poll. For those interested, David Beckham picked out a little known team called Valencia as the team to watch this season.


Transfer News....

Joaquin to finally move to Valencia after an odd weekend where he was temporarily loaned out to Albacete....Milan to pick up Oliveira for 12 million euros...Tristan to fill the striker hole left in Betis...Gravesen to Celtic....Woody to ‘Boro for a season...Real Madrid’s Cicinho is yours for a mere 8 million euros... Van Bommel to Bayern Munich...Kezman to Fenerbahce.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Chunky Season Preview - Part Four

Last Minute News...

The Spanish tradition of doing everything as late as possible is spilling over in the transfer world. Joaquin has finally moved from Betis in a massively overpriced 24 million euro deal with Valencia. Atletico Madrid are using their seemingly unlimitless funds to bid for Arsenal’s Jose Antonio Reyes with bad boy Martin Petrov making the return journey to North London and Spurs.

Real Madrid may be offloading ‘square peg in round hole’ Julio Baptista to Spurs, meanwhile Betis are set to pick up Mario Regueiro from Valencia and have signed striker Alecsandro from Cruzeiro for 3 million euros.

Tonight, the world gets a good look at Sevilla as they take on Barcelona in the Super Cup in Monaco. And then the whole La Liga circus starts again with Betis v Valencia being the stand out game.


The Final Five...

Recreativo: Last Season 1st (Segunda)

In -
Poli (Alavés), Mario (Barcelona), Dani Bautista (Sevilla), Iago Bouzón (Celta), Cazorla, López Vallejo y Arzo (Villarreal), Edu Moya y Jesús Vázquez (Tenerife)

On -
Xavi Jiménez (Ciudad de Murcia), Benítez (Hércules), Mateo (Alavés), Iker Begoña, Gastón Casas (Elche), Galván, Valero, Pedro Baquero (Rayo Vallecano)

Dog food, dead men walking, cannon fodder - there are many ways to describe Recreativo’s future in the Primera. This may sound harsh, but even their manager, Marcelino Garcia Toral is thinking it, “I don’t know if we can stay up this season” - coach talk for ‘we’re going down quicker than Paris Hilton looking for a record contract.’

Prediction - 20th (relegated): One to Watch - Ikechukwu Uche (top scorer in second, last season).

Sevilla: Last Season - 5th

In -
Chevantón (Mónaco), Duda (Málaga), Cobeño (Real Madrid Castilla), Poulsen (Schalke), Hinkel (Sttutgart)

Out -
Aranda (Murcia), Gallardo, Notario y Antoñito (Murcia), David Prieto ( Xerez), Saviola (Barcelona), Jordi López (Mallorca)

A very tough one to call. At the end of last season Sevilla were on a roll and sweeping aside teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona and er ‘Boro to grab the UEFA cup and very nearly the a Champions League spot. However, Osasuna did just enough on the last day of the season to hang on.

Sevilla have been busy in the transfer market and have added the bite of Christian Poulsen into the midfield alongside Vincenzo Maresca and so far have managed to hang onto Daniel Alves on the right. Where Sevilla are weak again is upfront. Javier Saviola has returned to Barcelona to be replaced by the untested Chevantón, scorer of just ten goals in the French league last season. Otherwise they are stuck with tweedle dum and tweedle dee in the shape of Fabiano and Kanoute.

However, they have one of the best keepers in the league in Duda and a mean defence, so there is no reason why they cannot have a season equally as good as their last.

Prediction - 5th: One to Watch - Daniel Alves

Valencia: Last season - 3rd

In -
Joaquin (Betis),Tavano (Empoli), Del Horno (Chelsea), Silva (Celta), Gavilán (Getafe), Morientes (Liverpool)

Out -
Di Vaio (Mónaco), Aimar (Zaragoza), Garrido (Lorca), Mista (Atlético), Sisi (Valladolid), Corradi (Manchester City), Rufete (Espanyol), Kluivert (Hamburgo), Caneira (Sporting Lisboa), Ruz (Nástic), José Enrique (Villarreal), Fabio Aurelio (Liverpool)

Somehow, Valencia have turned a summer that was going decidely pear shaped into a relative success. On the one hand we have the public rebukes for Carboni and Sanchez Flores from the president, the fall out with Ayala and the loss of Aurelio and Aimar. On the other, Valencia have qualified for the Champions League and picked up some very handy players in the transfer market.

Fernando Morientes may not have been much cop in the Premiership but he’s a proven scorer in La Liga. Del Horno will be fine at left back while new signing Joaquin will slot in nicely on the right and add balance to the rampaging Vicente on the left.

It will not be enough to challenge Barcelona and it is doubtful that this is their aim. They will certainly give Real Madrid a run for their money, though.

Prediction: 2nd. One to Watch - Fernando Morientes.

Villarreal: Last Season - 7th

In -
Somoza (Vélez), José Enrique (Valencia), Nihat (Real Sociedad), Pires (Arsenal), Cani (Zaragoza)

Out -
Alcántara (Deportivo), Valencia (Wigan), Calleja (Málaga), Guayre (Celta), Roger (Ajax), López Vallejo, Arzo y Cazorla (Recreativo), Héctor Font (Osasuna)

With each passing day, Villarreal have dropped further down the prediction league. The past week has seen some dreadful news regarding season long injuries to Robert Pires and centre back Gonzalo Rodriquez that will be tough to recover from, especially with the transfer market only open another month.

Nevertheless there are still reasons to be cheerful. The occasionally useful striker Nihat has arrived on a free from Sociedad along with the excellent Cani from Zaragoza. If they can hang onto midfield maestro Marcus Senna - which depends on the Man Utd v Hargreaves saga - and Juan Pablo Sorin for the next week, then Villarreal could still be in with a shout of returning to Europe. But, so could many teams.

Prediction - 8th. One to Watch - Diego Forlan (finding his shooting boots).

Zaragoza: Last Season - 11th

In -
Diogo (Real Madrid), Piqué (Manchester United), Aimar (Valencia), Juanfran (Besiktas), D'Alessandro (Wolfsburgo), Sergio (Celta), Víctor Fernández (manager)

Out -
Corona (Almería), Valbuena (Albacete), Generelo (Nástic), Álvaro (Levante), Capi (Murcia), Piti (Hércules), Cani (Villarreal), Savio (Flamengo), Valbuena, Toledo, Víctor Muñoz (manager)

Last, but not least we come to Zaragoza. Every year in La Liga there is always one team that breaks into the top four, that no one saw coming - Celta, Sociedad, Villarreal, Osasuna. This year, it will be Real Zaragoza. Really.

Zaragoza are an odd team. When they put their mind to it, they can beat the best in the league, as the 6-1 demolition of Real Madrid showed and some good performances against Barcelona. Unfortunately, most of the time they are mediocre. But not this time.

A new president has arrived and appointed Victor Fernandez as his coach, a man with bags of experience in the Liga with Celta and Betis. Although the loss of Cani was a blow, Pablo Aimar has been brought in to run the attack - something he was never really allowed to do at Valencia - alongside the ever dependable Ewerthon and Milito. The rest of the team is by no means the strongest on paper in the league...but nor was Osasuna’s.

Prediction - 4th. One to Watch: Andres d’Alessandro (his time has come)

All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Chunky Season Preview - Part Three


A busy few days in Spain saw Barcelona do the business, again, on Tuesday night, with a 4-0 pounding of a rather shell shocked and then ‘couldn’t be arsed’ Bayern Munich. Perhaps the highlight for Barca watchers was the appearance of Javier Saviola in the second half and his goal, just five minutes in.

Valencia probably saved their season - even before it had started - with 3-0 victory over Salzburg with goals from Morientes, Villa and Silva helping to return their team to the Champions League. Sadly, all of Osasuna’s work, last year, went to waste as they were only able to draw 1-1 with Hamburg. There were tears aplenty in Pamplona - especially from Webo who missed a couple of sitters at the end.

Last night, La Liga Loca wandered up to the Bernabeu to catch Real’s one and only home friendly, against Anderlecht. Biggest surprise was the appearance of Diarra in the starting line up, just a day after his arrival in the city. A good first half saw two goals from Ruud Van Nistelrooy, however things went downhill somewhat in the second when Fabio Capello made a number of changes.

This was the cue for the ever-fickle Real fans to start booing their side, apparently failing to comprehend that playing a half paced, friendly match with up to 9 substitutions is not the same as a Champions League encounter. It does not bode well for the new season if their patience is that short.


Thanks again to all those who wrote in....Keep ‘em coming by clicking on comments or emailing here

Double Standards on Oliveira?

I am not against fining the player for his actions.
However it is interesting to note that with all the racist acts on display in Spanish football for the whole world to see, we saw paltry fines on the order of a few thousand euro. No club came close to being fined one million euro.

I would have thought that in Spain they were morally
against large fines. But alas, I was wrong! Here we have a player being fined an amount that no club last was subjected to pay last year. Maybe the club feels that the player missing preseason is a serious matter.

And it surely is. I suppose a message must be sent.
Maybe the Spanish Federation will take note and also send the appropriate message when the Hitler signs come out.

Now surely the two issues are not related. But I was just noticing the amount of the fine and attempting to place
it into some kind of financial perspective.
We shall see what kind of fines the inevitable "monkey-chants" fetch


Deportivo Doomed

I think 8th is optimistic for Depor. 18th might be closer to the truth, with all the troubles surrounding Tristan, Scaloni, and Valeron's injury.  Caparros will be the first manager fired this season.  The team that made it to the semi-finals of the Champions league is dead and gone.   Lendoiro was so good at churning out great deals and developing talent -- and then Karma hit him like a ton of bricks when he forced out Irureta. Speaking of which,  I predict Betis will be better this year with him at the helm, especially if Oliveira and Joaquin stay.

I think there's going to be a three horse race for the title:  Barcelona , Madrid, and Villarreal.  Without Champions League distractions, Villarreal will be a force to be reckoned with, but I predict that Real Madrid will eke out their first league title since 2003.   Barcelona 's better, but with so many competitions, and so many egos, I think too much can go wrong. I'm going against my heart by saying I think Madrid will take it.  Barcelona comes in second, an inch ahead of Villarreal.  Atletico Madrid comes in 4th for the last Champions League spot. Aguero becomes this year's Messi.

Kieran, USA

Up Yours Laporta !

Espanyol don’t know how to lose gracefully” - Barca’s Joan Laporta makes an already volatile relationship with their city rivals, even worse.

Make a well know phrase or saying from the following words
2-houses stones,throw,glass
3-influence,madrid franco,bias

Paul, Barcelona


The Great Pre Season Preview Continues...

‘Nastic: Last Season - 2nd (Segunda)

Gil (Cruzeiro), Cáceres (Nantes), Makukula (Sevilla), Portillo (Real Madrid), Generelo (Zaragoza), Matellán (Getafe), Campano (Mallorca), Ruz (Valencia), Bizarri (Valladolid), Juan (Sporting), Mingo (Albacete)

David Medina (Racing de Ferrol), Diego Torres (Rayo Vallecano), Óscar Álvarez, Jaio, Morales, Nano, Codina, Alfonso, Lupidio, Bolo (Numancia), Ekpoki (Vecindario), Alex Pérez, Miguel Pérez, Diego Reyes

After fifty six years away, the mighty Gimnastic of Tarragon are back in the top flight, to boost Catalonia’s total of Primera teams to three. Although, it looks like a fine place to watch football from the pictures, with the stadium nestled in the hills, it is likely that away fans will only have one chance to go there before their life in the second division continues as normal.

‘Nastic’s plan A, B and C is relying on the goals of ex Real Madrid and Bruges striker Javier Portillo. This is not going to work. The only thing extraordinary about the player is his mullet which puts Fernando Torres’ efforts over the years to shame. The only other notable features of the side is the excellently named ‘keeper and left back - Bizarri and Mingo. Sounds like an ITV detective show.

Prediction - 19th (relegated). One to Watch - Javier Portillo

Osasuna: Last season - 4th

Juanlu (Betis), Soldado (Real Madrid), Javad Nekouman (Al Sharjah FC), Héctor Font (Villarreal), 'Cuco' Ziganda (manager)

Mikel Arruabarrena (Xerez), Javi Martínez (Athletic), Ortiz (Atlético), Sosa, Clavero (Tenerife), Brit, Moha (Espanyol), Fran Moreno (Numancia), Aguirre (manager)

Tuesday night’s relegation from out the Champions League to the UEFA cup may be a mixed blessing for Osasuna. Playing a league match on the weekends, and a tough Champions League tie in midweek may have seen the side ‘do a Betis’ and end up struggling near the bottom, for the season.

Instead, visits to the likes of White Hart Lane should not be too much of a drain on their resources, although Osasuna will find it hard to repeat last years heroics. Manager Javier Aguirre has gone, Savo Milosovic is one year older and slower and the stadium still has a silly name (Kingdom of Navarre).

The biggest transfer of the summer was the signing, on loan, of Real Madrid’s Roberto Soldado and it might turn out to be a good one. He rarely got the chance to impress at the Bernabeu, so a year with some mountain air might be the lift he needs. Elsewhere, the squad is fairly similar and if they get a good start, then a top six place is possible. But hard to do. The side should perhaps focus their energies on the UEFA cup instead, where they are capable of going a long way.

Prediction - 11th. One to Watch - Ludovic Delporte

Racing Santander: Last Season - 17th.

In -
Sobis (Internacional de Porto Alegre), Rubén y Balboa (Real Madrid Castilla), Catalayud (Málaga), Munitis , Antonio Tomás, Momo y Rubén (Deportivo), Colsa (Atlético), Luis Fernández (Betis), Miguel Ángel Portugal (manager), Cristian Álvarez (Tenerife), Aganzo (Beitar)

Out -

Aouate y Antonio Tomás (Deportivo), Samuel (Sporting), Trevi (Eibar), Jonathan Valle (Málaga), Damiá (Betis), Casquero (Getafe), Antoñito (Sevilla), Valencia, Pinilla, Pablo Casar (Alavés), Fernando Marqués (Castellón), López Caro (manager)

To be fair to Racing Santander, they have certainly given it a go over the summer - but things never quite went to plan. Another forgettable season which saw them flirt relegation, ended with the departure of both the president and the coach. In came a new bubbly regime and their first choice for the manager’s job, Juan Roman Lopez Caro, fresh from his Real Madrid ordeal.

He soon walked out over the ‘direction of the club’ according to Marca and hot footed it to Levante - with his appendix being removed in between. His replacement was Miguel Angel Portugal, whose only previous experience is with Toledo and Real Madrid’s B team. It does not look good.

Whilst the club are still chasing Mexican players to tie up a tv deal, their main import has been Pedro Munitis from Deportivo and a couple of Real Madrid rejects. It should be enough to stay up and perhaps hold onto their favoured midtable spot.

Prediction: 13th. One to Watch - Pedro Munitis

Real Madrid: Last season - 2nd

In -
Diarra (Lyon), Van Nistelrooy (Manchester United), Cannavaro y Emerson (Juventus), Fabio Capello (entrenador)

Out -
Diogo (Zaragoza), Rubén y Balboa (Racing), Portillo (Nástic), Jurado (Atlético), Arbeloa (Deportivo), Soldado (Osasuna), Zidane (retired), López Caro (entrenador)

Real Madrid’s year could well follow a similar story to 90s disaster epic ‘Armageddon’. But without the asteroid, moon buggies and, sadly, Liv Tyler. What is does have in common is that a bunch of old men have been brought in to save in an ailing institution from complete destruction.

With the exception of Diarro, the rest of Real Madrid’s imports are all on the wrong side of thirty and can only have been brought in as a stop gap. Considering that most of the younger reserve team squad has been flogged over the summer, this may be a little short sighted. However, needs must and the club needs to start winning things fast. They will not be starting with La Liga.

Prediction - 2nd. One to Watch - Antonio Cassano.

Real Sociedad: Last season - 16th

In -
Diego Rivas (Getafe), Gerardo (Málaga), Felicio (Uniao Leiría), Juanito (Alavés), Bravo (Colo-Colo)

Out -
Juan Domínguez (Real Unión), Oskitz (Eibar), Markel (Vecindario), Gabilondo (Athletic), Nihat (Villarreal), Mark González (Liverpool), Alberto (Valladolid), Barkero (Albacete), De Paula (Cádiz), Boris (Numancia), Larrea (Almería), Susaeta (Salamanca), Castillo (Las Palmas), Romero (Racing de Avellaneda), Ximun (Eibar)

Sociedad were a complete mess, last season and realistically nothing has changed over the summer to change La Liga Loca’s view of their future. Whilst the defence and midfield may have been tightened up with the purchase of Getafe’s Diego Rivas - officially the filthiest player in the league - the club have lost the key reason for why they avoided relegation last season. Mark Gonzalez.

Having lost their only other good player, Nihat, Sociedad are now stuck with the injury prone Darko Kovacevic up front, partnered with the lumbering but effective Morten Skoubu. It will be enough to keep them up, but not much else.

Prediction - 17th. One to Watch - Goalkeeper, Asier Riesgo. Always a hoot.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Chunky Season Preview - Part Two


A whopper of a game for Valencia tonight that will define their entire year, as they play their second leg Champions League qualifier at home to Salzburg. Unfortunately, for them, it’s a match they are 1-0 down from the first tie, so David Villa and co are going to have to find their shooting boots sharpish. Heaven knows what will happen should they fail to go through to the group stage, but it will probably involve torture the likes of which even the Inquisition would have blanched at.

Osasuna have a slightly easier task in their encounter with Hamburg after managing a handy 0-0 away draw in the first leg.

It is worth keeping an eye out on the AC Milan result tonight. All the papers in Spain are reporting that should the Italians complete a victory over Red Star Belgrade, then Ronaldo will be returning across the Med to join Berlusconi and co. Should make for a very interesting derby with Inter next season - the club he walked out on a few years back.

A host of Real Madrid departures are expected this week as the fringe players are forcibly removed from the premises - Helguera is off to either Fenebahce or Villarreal, Ruben to Racing, Gravesen to either Newcastle, Celtic or Everton, Pablo Garcia to either Celta or Racing, Pavon to Villarreal and Diogo to Zaragoza.

Atletico’s nine month hunt for Maniche took another set back yesterday when Dynamo Moscow refused to sell the midfielder to the Spanish club after having received higher bids from Monaco and Galatasaray.

Real Betis striker Ricardo Oliveira has met with the his club’s management, explained himself and has been promptly hit with a one million euro fine.

Barcelona’s ex president Joan Laporta looks like being reinstalled in his presidential box by the end of the week, after his opposition candidates failed to acquire the required number of signatures to enter the ballot.



Joaquin on the Shelf?

“Quick comments: I don't know why Joaquin is still at Betis and why he is taking so long to leave. Now that he's yesterday's news he's now looking to cash in on his lowered status. He should have gone 3 years ago when his name struck fear in hearts of fullbacks everywhere. Also, is the Ricardo OIiveira situation funny or what? Betis can't pay this guy to show up.

What are the rules on a football player going AWOL in South America. Its like he defected back to Brazil. Comical. Finally, I see Fernando Torres as Joaquin in reverse. He is the hot commodity in Spain with the big clubs hoping that he will make a move.

But alas, just like Joaquin, he seems intent on wasting away his best years on a club that is a Uefa Cup contestant at best, spurning offer after offer. He may be taking notes from Joaquin, Guti, Solari and Sean
Wright-Philips on how to destroy a career.

For goodness sake I hope he runs into Shevchenko and learns the vital lesson of cashing in on your value while you're hot.”


Espanyol’s Thrashing

“God we got stuffed last night. they looked really good, we were mediocre to say the least. never mind a good night for shouting abuse in the house of the devil.

We just don't seem fit enough. i see us mid-table this year. best thing of the night was my friend,who was asked who he wanted to be president of barça, answered "Gaspart, things were much better with him". irony
and sarcasm they just don't get.

i'm going to come up with 10 reasons to hate barça, but it needs trimming
down from the 73 i have at the moment.”

Paul, Barcelona.

To join in the fun either click on comments or email here.



“He’s more serious, a bit introverted, but I’m sure he’ll pull through” - Real president Ramon Calderon voices genuine concerns that something is not quite right with Iker Casillas. La Liga Loca thinks back to his Psyche 101 course taken at Harvard to suggest post traumatic stress disorder caused by single handedly having to keep the club afloat for three years.

“I go to Madrid, or I don’t play” - Diarra adopts the time honoured football tradition of sulking, to get his move to Spain.

“It’s crazy to think that Kaka will come, just because I said so” - Ramon Calderon reinterpreting the word ‘promised’ to mean ‘said’.

“He’s impulsive and temperamental” - Depor’s out of favour Lionel Scaloni will no doubt continue to be so, after this attack on his manager, Joaquin Caparros.

“Only Florentino Perez believed in the Zidanes and Pavones” - Ex-Madrista and now Levante striker Javier Portillo lashes out at his old club.

“They told me they had confidence in me...but now I feel cheated” - Real’s Pavon joins Portillo in the fun, as he talks his way into a quick transfer.

“ There are well known players Reggi, Kapo, the French guy who was at Ze..Harte...” Levante’s new midfielder Damiano Tomassi rapidly runs out of straws to grasp at.

“If the whole world is talking about him, it must be for some reason” - Fabio Cannavero with a glowing endorsement of his new team mate, Diarra.

“Going down, going down, going down” - Villarreal fans taunt the Real Madrid team in last weekend’s 1-0 friendly victory.

“Espanyol will have good fun in the Super cup, but I hope Barca will win” - Espanyol’s new midfielder Jonatas has yet to read the ‘loyalty’ section of his contract.

“As a player (Torres) I give him 10 out of 10. As a person, 20” - Atletico Madrid president, Enrique Cerezo, still shows he same flair for figures that lead to him being found guilty of fraud and sent to prison a couple of years back.

“Espanyol don’t know how to lose gracefully” - Barca’s Joan Laporta makes an already volatile relationship with their city rivals, even worse.

“It’s good that he’s angry - it means he wants to be on the pitch all the time” - The ever optimistic Ronaldinho excuses Samuel Eto’o’s storming from the stadium after being subbed at half time during Sunday’s Espanyol clash.


Part Two of the Previews

Deportivo: Last Season - 8th

In -
Alcántara (Villarreal), Aouate y Antonio Tomás (Racing), Verdú (Barcelona B), Arbeloa (Real Madrid Castilla), Rodri (Barcelona B), Barragán (Liverpool), Estoyanoff (Cádiz), Cristian Hidalgo (Barça B), Riki (Getafe), Pablo Álvarez (Sporting), Juan Rodríguez (Málaga), Lopo (Espanyol), Bodipo (Alavés)

Out -
Munitis, Momo y Rubén (Racing), Víctor (Panathinaikos), Héctor (Mallorca), Iván Carril y Xisco (Vecindario), César (Levante), Romero (Betis), Molina, Jesús Muñoz, Gallardo (Sevilla)

Yet another tough season ahead for Depor, especially if the pre season is any indication. A disappointing campaign, last year, has been followed immediately by a fractious summer. Manager, Joaquin Caparros has had to deal with loss of his favourite player, Pedro Munitis - who was sold from under his nose (not literally) whilst putting up with the presence of one or two ‘big names’ he would desperately like to see the back off. Yes, you Mr Tristan.

Depor’s main troubles in recent years have stemmed from having squad packed with footballers who either did not want to be at the club, or were wholly indifferent to the situation. For this reason, Caparros’ strategy, this summer, has been to import young talent from smaller clubs with the hope that they gel, to form a winning spirit that has been lacking.

Although Depor have been buoyed by a decent friendly results that included 3-1 victory over AC Milan, it is improbable that the likes of Bodipo, Arbeloa and co will enough to lift them back into Champions League contention - their ultimate ambition. However, there is enough quality in the squad for Depor to have a good old go at a European place. Again.

Prediction - 7th. One to Watch - Riki.

Espanyol: Last Season - 15th

In -
Jonatas (Flamengo), Rufete (Valencia),
Lacruz (Athletic), Moha (Osasuna), Ernesto Valverde (manager)

Out -
Robusté (Poli Ejido), Domi (Olympiacos), Posse, Juanfran (Real Madrid), Lopo (Deportivo), Pochettino, Jofre (Murcia), Lotina (manager)

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear. The future looks very bleak indeed for Espanyol. Last season, they escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth through a last minute goal, but this time round, the ‘pericos’ will not be so lucky. Their squad looks no stronger and - with a history repeating itself moment - the team finds itself yet again having to balance a La Liga campaign with a UEFA cup run. This, combined with a lengthy but victorious Copa del Rey run, nearly cost the side a place in the top flight, last year. It will do so again.

Prediction - 18th (relegated). One to Watch - Luis Garcia.

Getafe: Last season - 9th

In -
Abbondanzieri (Boca), Lucas Matías Licht (Gimnasia de la Plata), Albín (Nacional Montevideo), Cortés (Mallorca), Casquero (Racing), Contra y Manu del Moral (Atlético), Sousa (Valladolid), Alexis y Nacho (Málaga)

Out -
Miki (Jaén), Cubillo (Rayo Vallecano), Nano (Cádiz), Diego Rivas (Real Sociedad), Riki (Deportivo), Pernía (Atlético), Craioveanu (retirado), Matellán (Nástic), Gavilán (Valencia), Calatayud

Germanic genius, Bernd Schuster has a near impossible task this season - bettering his team’s remarkable ninth place finish, from last time round. To accomplish this, he has decided to go back to basics by dismantling last year’s squad and bringing in a plethora of eager new faces. An undefeated pre season seems to indicate that Getafe’s approach is going to be built on the strength of a rock solid defence, lead by Davide Belenguer with Argentinean international keeper Roberto Abbondanzieri between the posts.

However, the loss of Pernia, Riki and Diego Rivas - three key players who have moved onto bigger and better clubs (well, Atletico, Depor and Sociedad) may well be too big a loss to recover from. The fans at the delightful Coliseum stadium are going to have to lower their expectations for the season ahead, just a little.

Prediction - 14th. One to watch - Abbondanzieri (may be value for money signing of the season).

Levante: Last season - 3rd (Segunda division)

In -
Tommasi (Roma), Albert Meyong Ze (Belenenses), Álvaro (Levante), César (Deportivo), Robert (Benfica), Dehú (Olympique Marsella), López Caro (manager), Manolo Gaspar (Almería), Nino (Elche)

Out -
Nagore, Sandro y Jesule (Málaga), Culebras (Tenerife), Javi Rodríguez (Lorca), Congo (Sporting), Lombardi

And so we say a big welcome back to Ian Harte’s Levante after their one year exile in the second division. At the helm of a new look team is a familiar face to La Liga watchers - last season’s Real Madrid managerial stooge - Juan Ramon Lopez Caro - who decided to hot foot it from the capital (via a brief stop at Racing) to Valencia with the aim of keeping the city’s second team in the top flight.

Through some astute summer signings with age and experience aplenty - including Damiano Tommasi and Lauren Robert in midfield - Lopez Caro has every chance in achieving his goal. The main hope of the Levante fans will be to avoid a repetition of their most recent season in the Primera which saw them reach fourth and then plummet dramatically to relegation. They are unlikely to experience the former again. But, happily, neither the latter.

Prediction - 17th. One to Watch - Meyong Ze

Mallorca: Last season - 13th

In -
Héctor (Deportivo), Maxi López (Barcelona, Varela (Betis), Jordi López (Sevilla), Dorado (Sporting)

Out -
Delibasic (AEK Atenas), Cortés (Getafe), Campano (Nástic), Farinós, Okubo, Tuzzio, Borja (Real Madrid), Potenza, Maciel, Yordi (Xerez), Braulio (Atlético)

Mallorca are another one of the La Liga’s zombie clubs who have lost their way a little in recent years. This season is one when - like Carolanne in Poltergeist - they need to find their way back to the light. Quickly - although they are unlikely to be devoured by a evil preacher demon, should they fail. Small mercies.

Gregorio Manzano, who came into the club last season to save it from relegation, will aim to build on the rapid progress he has made so far, and has added a more potent attack to an already solid defence, although he will never be able to fill the Eto’o shaped hole left by the Cameroonian’s departure to Barcelona a couple of years back. The best that Mallorca fans can hope for is a quiet season, a mid table finish and perhaps a decent cup run. They may get their way.

Prediction - 15th. One to Watch - Maxi Lopez (brought in from Barca with a point to proof).

All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Chunky Season Preview - Part One

From Athletic to Celta...

With just five action packed days left until the start of another new season of La Liga action, it’s time to have a sneaky peak at this year’s runners and riders for 2006 - 2007. Who will be ‘doing an Osasuna’ and who will be the new Malaga?

As ever, your views and prediction are welcome (and probably more accurate). Are your team champions in waiting or completely doomed?

Just click on comments for instant satisfaction, or by emailing here.

Athletic Bilbao: Last season - 12th

In - Félix Sarriugarte (manager), Javi Martínez (Osasuna), Gabilondo (Real Sociedad), Alex García (Racing B), Sarriegi (Alavés)

Out - Arriaga (Las Palmas), Azkorra (Albacete), Lacruz (Espanyol), Guerrero (retired), Javier Clemente (manager), Tarantino y Felipe (Numancia), Karanka (Colorado), Escalona, Bordas

If there’s one thing that Bilbao really needed this summer more than a spot of rain, it was stability. Of course, being La Liga, this was always going to be an impossible dream. Last season was a disaster for the club and their 12th placed finish belies the fact that Athletic came incredibly close to relegation for the first time in their history.

Fortunately, Javier Clemente was on hand to step in and rescue the club in his third spell in charge. However, he never really had the backing of club president Fernando Lamikiz, who gleefully took the opportunity to sack the team’s saviour, over the summer, after some less than complementary words in the press about the direction of the club. Bilbao were then hit by the resignation of their vice president, the retirement of Julen Guerrero and the banning of Carlos Gurpegui for two years.

This season, new coach Félix Sarriugarte - whose hands are tied by the club’s restrictive but admirable transfer policy - will be looking to a strong defence and the goals of Aritz Aduriz and Ismael Urzaiz to keep them safe from harm. It should be enough.

Prediction - 10th, One to Watch - Javi Martínez

Atletico Madrid: Last Season -10th

In - Jurado (Real Madrid), Mista (Valencia), Pernía (Getafe), Agüero (Independiente), Seitaridis y Costinha (D. Moscú), Zé Castro (Académica), Javier Aguirre (manager), Miguel de las Cuevas (Hércules)

Out - Toché (Valladolid), Braulio (Salamanca), Sosa (River Plate), Zahínos (Valladolid), Mané (Almería), Jorge (Celta), Colsa (Racing), Contra (Getafe), Pínola (Nuremberg), Ortiz (Poli Ejido), Manu del Moral (Getafe)

You could gather together a small army of pundits, soothsayers and mystics to predict the year ahead for Atletico and still end up with no idea whatsoever. In theory, the signs are positive. The club has Osasuna’s old manager in charge, have spent 40 odd million euros on a gaggle of ‘good on paper’ new players and are getting to keep the incredibly overrated but still handy Fernando Torres for at least another season. On the other hand, the club have been truly rotten in their recent friendlies and appear to be having problems integrating all the new names into the squad.

With their fans already on their back, Atletico really, really need a good start to their season, more than anyone else. It could well define their trajectory for the year which could range from a top four finish to another spell in mid table. “I’m convinced we’re going to have a great year”, says president Enrique Cerezo. At the moment, few others share his optimism.

Prediction 6th, One to Watch - Sergio Agüero

Barcelona: Last Season - Champions

In - Zambrotta y Thuram (Juventus), Gudjohnsen (Chelsea)

Out - Ludovic (Sparta de Praga), Mario (Recreativo), Maxi López (Mallorca), Larsson (Helsinborg), Gabri (Ajax), Óscar López (Betis)

Over the weekend, Barca picked up their first trophy from a possible six this season with a super cup victory over Espanyol. The imperious swashbuckling style and manner of their victory was a response to all those who may have doubted the club’s hunger for a third successive title. Or it may simply have been down to Espanyol being a bit crap.

With Xavi and Messi available for a whole season and the cunning recruitment of Gudjohnsen, Thuram and Zambrotta, Barca are looking even stronger than last year’s double winning outfit. The side has quality coming out of its ass and the challenge for anyone wanting to beat them is going to be tougher trying to buy a sandwich in Spain that does not contain ham, in some form.

The one chink in their armour may be squad fatigue induced by the hefty match playing responsibilities of a CL winning side, with all manner of time-wasting extra games being organised by FIFA. However, with the likes of Oleguer, Giuly, Iniesta, Edmilson (and possibly Saviola) warming the bench, the side should have sufficient cover to ensure another great year.

Prediction - 1st. One to Watch - Rafael Márquez (a fine World Cup finally got him the recognition he deserves)

Betis: Last season - 14th

In - Damiá (Racing), Romero (Deportivo), Óscar López (Barcelona), Maldonado y Fernando Vega (Lorca), Javier Irureta (manager)

Out - Juanlu (Osasuna), Israel (Mérida), Luis Fernández (Racing), Cañas (Alcalá), Varela (Mallorca), Castellini, Serra Ferrer (manager)

Mmm. A tricky one to predict. Rather like Bilbao, this is a side looking to put a wretched year behind them and start anew, but rather like their Basque counterparts, Betis have suffered a fairly traumatic summer with the departure of popular manager Serra Ferrer and not that popular and slightly unhinged club president, Manuel Luiz de Lopera.

On the footballing front it is still unclear whether want away winger Joaquin is staying with the team or if Ricardo Oliveira’s Brazilian disappearing act will lead to his transfer. Without these two players, Betis’ season will be mediocre at best, with them, they are a good shout for a cup run and a top ten finish.

Prediction - 12th. One to Watch - Joaquin (if he stays)

Celta Vigo: Last season - 6th

In - Tamas (Spartak), Nené (Alavés), George Lucas (Gremio de Portoalegre), Jorge (Atlético), Lequi (Lazio), Guayre (Villarreal), Placente

Out - Vela (Arsenal), Toni Moral (Alavés), Iago Bouzón (Recreativo), Maric (Las Palmas), Sergio (Zaragoza), José Enrique (Villarreal), Silva (Valencia), Giovanella, Juan Sánchez, Méndez

If there’s one certainty in La Liga this year, it’s that Celta Vigo’s season is never going to be good as the last one. A tremendous 6th place was even more remarkable than the latest Spanish Eurovision entry managing to be ear rippingly worse than ever before. Or the god awful ‘El Canto del Loco’ selling out Madrid’s Ventas stadium three nights in row.

Harry Potter - but middle aged - look alike Fernando Vasquez is one of the few managers to remain in his position over the summer and has the challenge of balancing a UEFA cup campaign with the league. To make life extra difficult, he will have to do this without Silva and Sergio who are notable departures. However, an excellent defence and tough tackling midfield should be enough to keep the side in the top half. But no more.

Prediction - 9th, One to Watch - Borja Oubiña

Coming up in Part Two - Deportivo, Espanyol, Getafe, Gimnastic, Levante.

In Other News...

Villarreal’s pre season just got considerably worse after it was announced that a knee injury to Robert Pires is set to keep the midfielder out of action for at least six months. This comes on top of being knocked out of the Inter Toto cup, the loss of defender Quique Alvarez for the season and the possible departures of Juan Pablo Sorin and Marcus Senna. And you thought, you were having a bad day.

As mentioned earlier, Barca spanked Espanyol 3-0 last night (4-0 on aggregate) but the main talking point was Samuel Eto’o’s absence from the celebrations after being subbed for Eidur Gudjohnsen. “I’ll be talking to him in the morning”, said Frank Rijkaard in response. The club now face a friendly on Tuesday against Bayern Munich and then their European Super Cup match with Sevilla, in Monaco. Then the season starts.

Meanwhile Espanyol - like a dog with a bone - are continuing to appeal to the sport’s federation in response to Puyol and Xavi being included in the Barca team, after they had been withdrawn from the international side through injury.

Real Madrid’s new toy Mahamadou Diarra is due to take the club’s less than vigourous medical today, before being presented to the fans before Wednesday night’s friendly with Andelecht.

Atletico Madrid are confident in finally being able to sign Maniche from Dynamo Moscow after the two clubs agreed a fee...Janis Joplin impersonator, Pablo Garcia, has been linked with Celta Vigo as Real Madrid continue their effort to ditch some deadwood before the start of the season.

And Ricardo Oliveira is back !


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Incredible Sulk Arrives

Makelele Replaced - Three Years Too Late

In Friday’s action packed edition of La Liga Loca, it was reported that Lyon midfielder Mahamadou Diarra was using the footballer’s tried and tested negotiation technique to ‘persuade’ his club to sanction a move to the Bernabeu. He went on strike - and yet again it has worked.

The lure of the Real Madrid cheque book and the thought of a Malian malingerer sulking on the sidelines, has lead to the very speedy transfer of the ‘new Makelele’, who signed on Saturday night - about the same time as his new side were being beaten 1-0 by Villarreal in a pre season tournament in Cadiz. The transfer fee of around 25 million euros has taken the side’s summer spending to up 62 million euros - by far the most by any club in La Liga, during the close season.

As well, as bringing the average age of a geriatric-looking squad down a little, the move poses one or two questions -

- is this the end of the line for Guti ?
- will he play alongside Emerson ?
- will Real become the dullest side in the league? (after Valencia, of course)
- will Casillas and Ramos be the only Spanish players regularly starting in the team?

On the pitch, Fabio Capello suffered a bad weekend, as he watched his expensively assembled ‘Dad’s Army’ being beaten on penalties by Real Betis, after a 3-3 draw - a result that was then followed by the 1-0 defeat to Villarreal. Despite this the Italian coach seemed strangely happy with the performance and announced that the side was ready for the new campaign.

Derby Day - Part 2

Espanyol are still livid ahead of tonight’s (Sunday’s) second leg of the Spanish Super Cup. Their protest to the league over the inclusion of both Puyol and Xavi in the Barca side for the first leg despite being too injured to play with the international team has been thrown out by football federation.

Espanyol director Pedro Tomas - with actual steam coming out of his ears - responded to the judgement by dramatically comparing it to the Floyd Landis scandal affecting this year’s Tour de France, where a Spanish rider is still officially in second place despite the eventual winner's failed drugs test.

Thanks to Paul in Barcelona for this e-mail, which sums up the feelings of the Espanyol fans, nicely...

“what can i say? why do they have to cheat? break laws like
they don't apply to them.
there are like the big kids in the playground, they kick, push, elbow and
then cry like babies when they get back what they dish out. i am the only one who realises that puyol,when he's going to lose the ball,falls over and claims a foul.
some of Deco's tackles(?) are instant reds.

p.s. the boixos nois attacked old men and kids at a kiosk then ran away when
anyone older than 14 turned up. needless to say the police started hitting anyone in blue and white.
god i love this city.


“as the federation have decided to take no action,i think a
fine or banning them from the planet was sufficient, maybe us pericos are not as paranoid as people think.
maybe it helps that the president supports barça and no decision ever goes
against them. not even madrid are this bad.”

Any Barc fans care to respond in the spirit of the the fine Spanish tradition of having a good old row?

You can send your views to the blog either by clicking on comments or emailing here

In Other News...

Martin Petrov was sent off for Atletico Madrid in Saturday night’s 0-0 friendly draw with Getafe. The bad tempered Bulgarian looks even more likely to be leaving the club this week, with Spurs still being linked.


Roma 0-0 Zaragoza
Mallorca 0-0 Inter Milan
Almerica 0-3 Athletic Bilbao
Beria-Mar 0-0 Celta Vigo


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Super Nasty Super Cup

Is There Anybody There?

It was not a great night for the handful of Espanyol fans that made the effort to turn up to the delightful Montjuic stadium on Thursday for the first leg of the Supercup final, against Barcelona. Not only did they have to spend ninety minutes sitting in a concrete carbuncle but they also watched their team go down 1-0 to their city rivals, making the second leg in the Nou Camp a tricky, but not insurmountable affair.

A goal from Ludovic Guily put the champions in front, but it was not until the second half and the introduction of Lionel Messi that Barca got going. Still, Frank Rijkaard is not quite ready to clear a space in the club trophy cupboard, just yet - “the result is important but there is still another game left,” he claimed after the game, “then they’re dead meat,” he failed to add.

The main talking point before the game - aside from which of Barca’s new players would feature - was the news that a few days before, an Espanyol supporting taxi driver had refused to pick up new signings Thuram and Zambrotta from El Prat airport upon recognising them. Hostilities of a different kind broke out on the evening of the encounter when there were scenes of violence in the city with one hundred fans taking part in clashes which left four people in hospital.

After the game, Espanyol director general Pedro Tomás announced he would be making a formal complaint to the Spanish Federation after the appearance of both Carles Puyol and Xavi in the Barca side - just five days after they were signed off (supposedly) injured and excused international duty in Iceland.

Seconds out for round 2 in a few days.

In Other News...

Real Madrid are still trying to close deals with both Mahamadou ‘I go to Real or I don’t play” Diarra of Lyon and Arsenal’s Jose Antonio “it’s too cold, here” Reyes. The former has gone on a Gallas-style strike at his current club and refused to play again until a move to the Bernabeu is arranged. However, the French club are demanding a king’s ransom that Real maybe either unwilling, or unable to pay. The futures of a number of Real fringe players still hang in the balance with Carlos Diogo linked with a loan move to Zaragoza, Thomas Gravesen bullying new teammates at either Celtic or Newcastle and Ivan Helguera contemplating filling Roberto Ayala’s soon to be vacant boots, in Valencia.

Valencia have given Fernando Morientes and David Villa a bit of help next season by signing Italian striker, Francisco Tavano from Empoli for around 10 million euros.

Atletico’s poor pre season continued with a 1-1 draw at Albacete, which was inexplicably televised live in Spain as some kind of punishment for an unknown misdemeanour. The club are still looking for a midfield ‘boss’ to glue a still disparate looking side together, but are close to parting company with Petrov who may leave for Spurs.

Celta Vigo have put striker Javi Guerrero up for sale after manager, Fernando Vasquez failed to believe his illness excuse he gave for missing a team meal and a training session.

Deportivo are having talks with both Diego Tristan about a possible move to Bolton and also Lionel Scaloni about a possible move anywhere. However, the Argentinean fullback has no intention of leaving the club, despite the manager Joaquin Caparros’ wishes - “he knows when he faces me, he is not dealing with twenty year old baby”. Quite.

You can send your views to the blog either by clicking on comments or email here


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ricardo Come Home

Real Betis with Tranquilliser Gun at the Ready

It’s looking increasingly likely that Real Betis are going to have to call in the footballing bounty hunters. On the run striker Ricardo Oliveira does not want to come home - and not even the threat of a one million euro fine is enough to persuade him to board a plane to Spain, anytime soon.

When the Brazilian was loaned out to Sao Paolo in April, the idea was for him to recover from his knee injury picked up against Chelsea the previous October, by spending four months playing a bit of South American football. In an ideal world, he would then due to return Betis ready for a new Spanish season, where his proven goal scoring abilities would be badly needed. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world, as the existence of Lily Allen shows.

Instead, Oliveira has rather enjoyed his spell back home and has showed little sign of wanting to return to his original club (although, he was technically removed from Betis’ books so they could sign another Brazilian player and not exceed their quota).

The cue for Ricardo to dig his heals in was the South American cup final, last night, where Sao Paolo were in action. The attacker was demanding Betis allow him to take part in the final, despite the fact that his loan deal had expired on August 10th and he was due back in Sevilla on August 12th.

The trouble was that Betis could not have granted their striker his wish even if they had wanted to - and they certainly didn’t. FIFA rules state that loan deals must be a minimum of three months. Not used to having to live by rules and laws like the rest of the world, Oliveira went into an almighty sulk and cancelled his flight home, using a card accident involving Sao Paolo’s third choice keeper as a cover story.

Meanwhile, back in Betis, the club’s management and own team-mates were steaming like kettles in response to his antics. ‘He must be here on the 12th August’, fumed club president Pepe Leon, “it doesn’t seem right to me that he wants to swan off without the club getting any money for the deal”, argued Juanito, Betis captain.

As a gentle hint, Betis have threatened a fine of a million euros to Oliveira, if he does not get his posterior onto a plane soon. The threat appears to have worked. Yesterday, the striker confirmed that he would be returning to Spain on Saturday but was a little upset at the attitude of his club who are maintaining that he will be punished heavily on his return.

Amusingly, Oliveira’s agent his current trying to negotiate an improved deal for his client. Good luck with that.

Other news at Betis is not much better. Joaquin’s decades long ‘going, staying, going, staying’ saga took a new twist when the winger went down on one knee and begged the club to let him leave. “I’ve achieved everything I possibly could here,” he pleaded, “I want to continue my career at another club”. Favourites in giving him a new home are Valencia, although Roma have been on the hunt for some time.

Cassano v Ronaldo

Thanks to Andy for the following on which attacking heavy weight should start for Real next season.

“I say let the coach have his way. He should be free to craft his vision. I wish for Capello, what I have wished for all Real Madrid coaches: time and freedom to mould a team according to their philosophy.

If Real loses the El Classico again hopefully the board will not have another knee jerk reaction like they did last time when they fired Luxemborgo. One interesting side effect of Beckham and Ronaldo's potential demise,is
the loss of revenue stream that Real gets on the backs of both players.

This is indeed a tidy sum and can be addictive. Let us see how far they are willing to indulge Capello. It would seem though that Madrid is desperate enough for silverware that they will give this latest adventure a try. We shall see.”

As always send your views to the blog either by clicking on comments or email here

Quick and Easy Quotes

“It’s like training in my garden when I was a kid. It’s good fun” - Gianluca Zambrotta is enjoying life in camp Barca.

“It’s just not normal. They should have given us better explanations” - The reaction from Depor captain, Pablo Garcia, at his managers sudden mysterious cancellation of a training session.

“If I’m happy, I play well. If I’m unhappy, I’m a complete disaster” - Antonio Cassano tells the world, what it already knew.

“I’m more than happy to be playing alongside Cani, Nihat and Pires” - Juan Roman Riquelme’s response to his fruitless hunt for a contract loophole.

“I never said he was liar” - Athletic Bilbao manager backtracks on his verbal attack on Sport’s minister Lissavetzsky.

“If he comes, he has to do so voluntarily and with a real desire to be here” - Oliveira receives a vote of confidence from his manager, Javier Irureta”.

“He seems to think I am bad apple, but in my nine years I’ve not given anyone a single problem” - Deportivo fullback Lionel Scaloni joins Tristan and Duscher in the cue to leave the club.

“It really bothers me that Milan made an approach for Ronaldo” - Real Madrid president, Ramon Calderon, with an early bid for hypocrite of the year considering his best efforts to unsettle Kaka and Cesc.

“I would have liked all three to come (Kaka, Robben, Cesc) but my first rule is to follow what Capello and Mijatovic want” - Ramon Calderon declined to take responsibility for his failure to implement his pre-election pledges.

“Conspiracy is too strong a word for it, but I believe there are certain parties who do not have the best interests of the club at heart” - Barca president, Joan Laporta, has his tin foil beanie firmly on his head.

“Are you tired of people asking you about when you took your trousers off at the airport?” - ‘Marca’ trying their luck with this question to Laporta.

“It’s the same every summer” - Anonymous Valencia player rues the ‘dead time’ which causes such chaos at his club, every year.

In Other News...

Dreadful performance from the national team in a coma inducing 0-0 draw against Iceland on Tuesday. Most upset by the result were the sports writers who were rather insulting to their opponents who dared to be five hours flight from Spain and not be easy pickings.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Beckham to be Benched?

The End of the Untouchables

David Beckham is definitely not having one of his better weeks. A few days ago, the Real Madrid midfielder was dropped from the England team with great fanfare by Steve McClaren, in his pursuit of a ‘new direction’ for the national side. Now there is considerable speculation in the Spanish papers that his club place is under threat from Fabio Capello.

The cause for the latest round of gossip by an admittedly bored-sounding footballing press was the less than impressive displays from Becks in Real’s pre season friendlies. This eventually lead to him being dropped from the starting line up against the final match against Real Salt Lake, over the weekend - although he did feature in the second half.

It would appear that Capello in contemplating using Cicinho as his right midfielder because of his pace, trickery and shooting prowess with Sergio Ramos moving to right back as support. This is despite the fact that the Brazilian prefers a more defensive role which seems to be at odds with his glaring lack of ability in that position.

All this is in contrast with the way things looked just a few weeks ago. The arrival of his former team-mate RVN had seemed to signal the rekindling of a beautiful friendship which had produced bags of goals at Man Utd. Instead, Becks - who has started 111 from his 113 games for Real Madrid - may well be watching much of the season from the bench as Capello starts to put pressure on his squad and reinstall the crazy notion of ‘competition’ back to the team.

The Italian manager was considerably outspoken in his unhappiness at the side’s performances during the American tour and signalled the link between the defence, midfield and attack as Real's main weaknesses. “I saw a lot of things I did not like at all, but there were some positives”, he grumbled.

One of those positives seems to be the re-emergence of Toni Cassano who is flourishing under the new regime. He has lost a couple of kilos and is forming a handy partnership with RVN, with Raul just behind them acting as a pivot.

Elsewhere at Real, Jurado is to complete his move to Atletico Madrid on Thursday after the two sides finally agreed terms which includes the midfielder being unable to play against his soon to be former club for two seasons.

Homesick Jose Antonio Reyes looks like moving to the Bernabeu on his return from international duty later this week, although the local press are less than impressed with him, “he’s no Zidane”, sniffed ‘Marca’, not missing a trick.

Beckham v Cicinho? Cassano v Ronaldo? email here or click on comments with your thoughts.

In Other News...

Barcelona have returned from their tour US and Mexico tour either “refreshed and ready for action” according to outrageously biased ‘Mundo Deportivo” or completely shagged out as reported in ‘AS’ (also equally as biased). Some conspiracy theories are floating around, though, with the withdrawal of Carles Puyol and Xavi from tonight’s Spanish squad due to ‘injury’. Barca are set to kick off a busy week on Thursday with the first leg of their Super Cup tie with Espanyol and some papers suggest some favouritism from the federation is afoot in sparing the two players a trip to Reykjavik.

Valencia - or certain factions within the strife-torn club - have reportedly bid 12 million euros for Inter Milan striker Martins.... Bolton are holding out for 1.5 million euros for their Mexican striker Borgetti.

Friendlies - Osasuna 0 - 1 S. Donesk....Tolosa 0 -4 Real Sociedad....S. Prague 3-0 Real Betis.

All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

Valencia's Enemy Within

Carboni and Quique - Friends for life (from AS)

BAU on the East Coast

There is definitely something strange in the water in Valencia . Always has been. It’s the only explanation for the endless bickering that plagues the Mestalla. It may also explain the strange smell around the city.

The latest in a long line of internal squabbles at the club is the increasingly nasty, but entertaining spat between geriatric 33 year old defender Ayala and newly-installed director of sport Amedeo Carboni - a man who is a walking advert for ‘Zara’ - over an extension to the Argentinean’s contract.

Ayala is claiming that before the World Cup, he made a verbal deal with club president Juan Bautista Soler to prolong his tenure the club for a further two years - on top of the one year that remains. Not a bad deal for a man definitely the wrong side of 30 and showing signs of slowing down a little.

Unfortunately, Ayala - if he is to be believed - made the mistake of trusting a man you wouldn’t even leave your hamster with, over a weekend. Soler has made his billions in the construction industry - where skulduggery is a prerequisite - and he is not prepared to see them being wasted on a mere footballer.

Although the dispute between the centre back and his employers had been simmering for a few weeks, the open hostilities that broke out were as inevitable as a Galician fireman being caught with an oil can and box of matches in hand. At a press conference last Wednesday, Ayala fired a broadside at Soler - “we shook hands on the deal”, said the Argentinean as he shuddered at the memory, “I feel completely cheated by Soler and Carboni”.

Carboni - a long-standing team-mate of Ayala just a couple of months ago - was wheeled out to respond - “I really regret these words,” said the Italian in his best Robert de Niro impression, “At Valencia, we want to count on players who are committed to the club and not pay cheques”.

With this last statement, Carboni revealed the key issue at the club. Valencia is broke, potless, destitute. Having wasted millions on euros on rubbish during the Claudio Ranieri era which saw them miss out on Champions League qualification, there is very little left in the transfer kitty.

Last week, Soler was forced to announce that if the team did not make it through to the Champions League group stage - they are 1-0 down from the first qualifying leg - then there would be no more cash available for new signings.

The summer so far for Valencia has been quiet on the transfer front with Fernando Morientes moving in and Pablo Aimar, Mista and Fabio Aurelio moving out - and possibly Regueiro to follow if a deal is agreed with Betis. This has left the squad as thinly packed as Posh Spice’s picnic hamper, especially if it wants to challenge the big two for the league title.

As well as the club’s challenges in bringing players in, Valencia also has issues with keeping the ones it already has - Ayala aside. Pablo Aimar was forced from the club after falling out with the management, Aurelio left for nothing to Liverpool after he said that he preferred life under Rafa Benitiz - a manager who left the club after he claimed to have been lied to about his transfer budget - and Mista was inexplicably dropped from the side last season after after twenty six goals, the two years before.

These tensions have now started to affect Quique Sanchez Flores, Valencia’s short tempered manager now facing his second year in charge. AS are reporting the relationship with Carboni is not going well at all and the two hair gel kings are very close to a bust up over his director of sport’s failure to get the players Quique wants.

Over the summer, talks have broken down with both Simao and Espanyol’s Luis Garcia - and both because of Carboni’s refusal to negotiate over players wages. The Italian is now trying to sign up full back Alessandre Mancini - a player the manager does not fancy - as well as causing the imminent departure of Ayala who is facing the wrath of the club’s disciplinary board.

If Valencia fail to overturn their 1-0 deficit against Salzburg next week in the Champions League, then it could well kick of an almighty row within the club not seen since, er, last season.


A whole series of pre season friendlies took place over the weekend, with mixed results for Spanish teams.

Barcelona beat NY Red Bulls 4-1 in a sprightly display on Saturday night, whilst Real Madrid completed their US mini tour with a 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake - RVN managing a penalty and Robinho with an overhead kick.

A very poor Sevilla were beaten 3-0 by Man Utd and will be hoping that new striker signing Chevaton knows where the goal is, as Fabiano and Kanoute certainly don’t. Even worse than Sevilla were Atletico Madrid who lost 1-0 to AC Milan in an awful game that simply wouldn’t end. They later went on to thrash Uruguayan giants Nacional, 2-1.

Betis ground out a 1-1 with Levante, whilst Real Sociedad will be cheered by actually scoring a goal in their 2-1 defeat to Spurs. ‘Nastic continued a summer to forget with a 1-0 defeat to Villarreal whilst Osasuna contrived to lose to a newly bouncy Racing 2-0. Athletic Bilbao beat Everton 1-0. Deportivo managed the most impressive result at all with a 3-1 win over AC Milan - although two of their goals were a little flukey.

In Other News...

No sign as yet of Betis striker Ricardo Oliveira as he travels back from Sao Paolo to rejoin his club...Mallorca may pick up Atletico Madrid flop Ariel Ibagaza...Racing are after Ivan de la Peña from cash strapped Espanyol...Villarreal are hoping this week to find a resolution to the futures of Marcus Senna and Juan Pablo Sorin. They’re not the only ones.

To contact the blog either click on comments or email here

All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca 2006.

Friday, August 11, 2006

'Nastic's European Vacation

Back in Business

The great thing about Spain (apart from cheap oranges) is that whenever you leave the place, you can always be fairly sure of what will happen in your absence. The summer headlines rarely change from year to year - arsonists starting forest fires on behalf of unscrupulous construction companies, drought, traffic jams and of course the heat.

The football world is little different. Over the last week all the common themes have featured - fall outs, bust up’s, squabbles, outrageous hyperbole and made up transfer rumours. La Liga Loca brings you a round up of the best....

We start off with ‘Nastic of Tarragon and the tale of their pre season tour which will surely be immortalised on film with Chevy Chase playing a career saving lead role. ‘Nastic decided to prepare for the new season with a trip to Austria. Perhaps inspired by countless road trip flicks or under the orders of a miserly president, they foolishly undertook the journey by coach.

On arriving at their Alpine hotel at midnight - a full twelve hours after their departure - ‘Nastic discovered that the place was completely locked up. When they finally got into their new home, the team found there was no air conditioning, ice machines, press facilities, functioning kitchen or - worst of all - Spanish language tv channel. No crappy game shows, soap operas or 1970’s-esque variety shows for two whole weeks. Fortunately, they brought their own ham with them, so it was not a complete disaster.

The distinctly grumpy squad then found out that they faced a daily trip of 120 km to their training ground, which seems to have located in a completely different country to their hotel. This was just the start. Their first friendly game against Italian side Trevisi was a whopping 235 km away. Their second - a little closer to home - ended in a pitch invasion by opposition fans who then stripped the entire ‘Nastic side of all their clothes.

The third tie was supposed to be a morale boosting clash with Italian cheaters Lazio. Unfortunately, they pulled out at the last minute - a better offer perhaps -, so ‘Nastic played a hastily arranged match with the national team of Kuwait at the foot of a ski station 200 km away. All in all, not the best of preparations.

On their return, to cheer themselves up, ‘Nastic have signed up Real Madrid’s not very good Javier Portillo on a two year deal, as the ‘White Pride’ as they now unwisely call themselves continue off loading their reserve team.

The other members of the Real Madrid side have jetted off for a quick whizz around the US, with Thomas Gravesen being wheeled around on trolley like Hannibal Lector as punishment for punching Robinho’s lights out, last week. Their first tie against DC United ended up 1-1 with another goal from free scoring Toni Cassano and a debut for Fabio Cannavaro.

President Ramon Calderon has broken his first (or second with his failure to buy Kaka) pledge having claimed he would not interfere in the work of the management team. Reserve team midfielder Jose Jurado was all set to be moving south to Atletico Madrid after a fee had been arranged between the two sides.

This was before el presidente returned from holidays in LA and stepped in to block the deal until a more cash or a buy back deal could be squeezed from their rivals. The transfer saga of Jose Antonio Reyes rambles on as tediously and endlessly as the Pirates of the Caribbean film, but it looks like Real may well be breaking with tradition and actually signing someone Spanish.

Title rivals, Barcelona, have also been in action in North America and have squeezed in some games in between trips to NASA and the shops. Their first match was a 3-0 victory over Tigres of Monterey followed by 1-1 with Chivas of Mexico. The final match was a nail biting 4-4 draw, with Barca coming back from 4-1 down.

Samuel Eto’o has barely featured in the games having complained of jet lag for the last week, - “I am only sleeping four hours a night”. Never stopped Ronaldo in his party days. Luckily, Eidur Gudjohnsen is stepping up to the plate with a few goals.

Off the pitch and back in Spain, Jordi Medina - a losing and by no means bitter candidate from the 2003 presidential elections - has stepped into the ring to take on fellow heavyweight, Joan Laporta in September’s ballot. Medina is calling for a debate where he plans to probe his rival on a number of topics - hidden accounts, resignation of board members, the Echeverria incident, a promise breaking 40% rise in season ticket prices and many, many more. No response yet from the buffet king, Laporta.

Athletic Bilbao have awarded drug cheat Carlos Gurpegui with a two year extension to his contract just a few days after having his licence taken away for a two year period, having tested positive for nandrolone in 2003. The rest of the side have been in Holland and Germany playing the likes of Issekmeervogels.

Atletico Madrid have returned from an exhausting tour of Germany and China with two victories and two draws from their matches. On the transfer front, they are still looking for a central midfielder with Jurado, Maniche (again), and now Guti (!!!) being the main targets. However, it is thought they will need to sell before splashing out the cash again. Fernando Torres has extended his contract until 2009 - not that it will stop yet another summer of transfer speculation, in twelve months time.

Real Betis’ spat with Ricardo Oliveira is still dragging on, one week later. The Brazilian striker is currently on loan to Sao Paolo and does not want to come back. However, Betis disagree and expect him in Sevilla this weekend, on the expiration of his loan deal. Sao Paolo officials are to jet in with cash stuffed envelopes (allegedly) to negotiate a short extension, despite it being against Fifa regulations. And Joaquin might be going to Roma. Good.

Not that much going on at Celta Vigo aside from the entire province burning down. The club have signed defender Gabriel Tumas from Spartak Moscow and are looking at pinching Borja from Real Madrid. Porto have asked the selling price of striker Joao Baiano.

More strange happenings on at crisis club Deportivo, although Joaquin Caparros is still in charge despite La Liga Loca’s bold resignation predictions last week. Pedro Munitis has moved to former club Racing Santander - “I’m happy as I’m going home’ - in return for ‘keeper Dudu Aouate. Earlier in the week, Caparros stopped a training session just ten minutes into the start and stormed off with no explanation to the players or press.

Espanyol went off to Greece to play two friendlies and picked up a draw and a victory. The club signed Brazilian central midfielder, Yonatus Domingos from Flamengo on a four year deal. Luis Garcia has turned down lecherous advances from Valencia and extended his contract to 2013 - a year when we will all surely be flying around on jet packs.

Getafe have completed a tour of Germany which included a 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkeusen...Levante are after a central midfielder still but look like picking up striker Oliver Kapo from Juventus.

Over in Mallorca the Juan Arango v El Presidente saga looks over when the defender agreed to sign a new contract. “I’m happy because he wants to stay”, beamed manager, Gregorio Manzano.

Osasuna managed a useful 0-0 draw in their Champions League qualification away leg at Hamburg.

Sociedad’s dreadful pre season continued. After failing to score against the likes of Doncaster and Huddersfield, the team have now been battered by Olympiakos, 5-1. Not looking good at all for the new year.

Racing Santander are still chasing a bunch of Mexican players to ensure a lucrative tv deal for the new season....Recreativo beat Bolton 3-2.

Sevilla’s - perhaps soon to be in prison president - Jose Maria del Nido is in confident mood for the new season - “the team is ready for all four competitions”, he boasted. “And hopefully, I can watch all of them from my cell” - he failed to add.

Valencia look set to lose Roberto Ayala after he was left out of the team that lost 1-0 to Salzburg in their Champions league tie. Not that it had any significance to president Juan Soler who attempted a Jedi Mind Trick with “the story of Ayala’s absence is off no importance at all”.

Villarreal drew 3-3 with Newcastle but are still in the dark over the future of Marcus Senna’s possible move to Man Utd.

And not much happened at Real Zaragoza.


To contact the blog either click on comments or email here


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What's Eating Thomas Gravesen?

(image from AS)
Mr Misunderstood
There is a particularly memorable episode of Buffy, when an evil warlock puts a spell on the good people of Sunnydale during the town’s Halloween celebrations. The affect of the curse was that anyone in costume suddenly became the character they were pretending to be.

The same thing has happened to Thomas Gravesen - metaphorically. Over the space of eighteen months, the Danish midfielder has changed from a likeable team player into an argumentative hooligan - something, rather akin to his appearance.

When the Danish midfielder made his debut in the Bernabeu in January 2005, few in Spain could ever believe that the wild eyed, screaming Shrek-like figure in front of them had developed a reputation at Everton as a skilful play maker and free scoring midfielder.

Even Wanderley Luxemburgo, the Real manager, did not believe it. At the time of his signing, the club was in dire need of a bit of bite in the midfield and for some reason, they seemed to think that ‘Howlin’ Thomas’ was the answer. It was a bad mistake both for the club and for the player.

Not only did Gravesen have to contend with having to adapt to new team-mates, football styles, opponents and tactics, he also had to learn a completely different position on the field of play.

However, he did throw himself into his new role with some gusto and became a bit of cult hero for many who enjoyed his crunching tackles on unsuspecting opposition players. His looks of bewilderment as he received card after card from referees became a source of great amusement for the fans, as well as his attempts to understand tactical instructions from team-mates.

Sadly, last season, Gravesen suffered a torrid time of it when the combination of injury and banishment to the bench restricted his appearances for the club to just seven. His growing unhappiness in Madrid was made obvious with a number of public outbursts attacking the style of play in La Liga, cheating players and incompetent referees.

This frustration appears to have peaked at Real’s Austrian training camp over the past few weeks. Reports had come out concerning the less than friendly nature of some of Gravesen’s tackles on his own team-mates. Then there was the bust up with Raul Bravo who he accused of being a second rate footballer. A fair point, some might say.

(image from AS)

Finally, the volcano exploded on Monday afternoon, when a series of increasingly violent challenges on Robinho was enough to provoke the tiny Brazilian into throwing a punch at Gravesen. Bad idea. The Danish midfielder exploded and launched himself into an assault on his team mate. Luckily, the intervention of Baptista and Raul - the quickest both of them have moved for some time - was swift enough to stop any permanent damage being done to the winger’s face.

Both players were then ordered from the training ground by Fabio Capello. It is likely that only one will ever be returning. A sad end to a disappointing spell.

Should he stay or should he go? email here with your thoughts or click on comment to post directly.

Quick and Easy Quotes

“I have the pleasure in presenting, our new star, Ernesto Ferreira ! Sorry, Emerson Ferreira” - Real President, Ramon Calderon, fluffs his lines - begging the question, who is Ernesto?

“Apart from being in pain, I’m happy to be back at work again” - David Beckham’s holiday must have been really bad.

“I want to celebrate at the Cibeles fountain with a title...what?....I mean Neptune fountain” - Atletico’s new signing, Mista, mixes the city’s two celebration points. Neither of them have seen much action recently, to be fair.

“He’s a cold striker. He feels no pressure - nothing affects him” - Leo Messi is a firm member of the Sergio Agüero fan club.

“I hope Betis can be convinced. I want to stay here and play in the Liberadores” - Real Betis’ Ricardo OIiveira is in no big hurry to return to Spain.

“Me going is the best for both parties” - Depor’s Diego Tristan lays it on the line.

“What’s the name of the new President?” - Marca.
“Xavier, something?” - Silvinho adds himself to the long line of Barca players who have no idea of who their new boss is.

“Very interesting” - Villarreal’s Marcus Senna is not giving much away in his response to news of interest from Man Utd.

“They only gave me five minutes to look at the figures” - Benfica’s Simao comes close to sussing Valencia’s contract negotiation tactics.

“I would like to make it clear to people that I have not come here to quietly finish my career.” - Robert Pires makes himself clear, before rushing off to view a timeshare.

Resignation Alert

Do not be surprised if the news breaks over the next few days of the resignation of Joaquin Caparros, manager of Deportivo. The man may well have reached his limit. After one or two disagreements with the club president, last season, with regards to the non-appearance of promised transfer funds, he had come fairly close to walking out in his first season. Somehow, he was persuaded to stay, but he has since been experiencing a lousier summer than those stuck for two days at Barcelona airport last weekend, after a wild cat strike.

So far, Caparros has faced the problem of players disappearing (Coloccini), injuring themselves (Andrade, Valeron) and refusing to leave (Duscher, Tristan). Now, he has to contend with his bosses trying to sell one of the few players Caparros actually likes, Pedro Munitis, to Santander.

Yesterday, Racing president, Fransisco Pernia, revealed that the person blocking the move was Caparros himself, “he has some difficulties accepting the negotiations”, revealed the Santander boss.

Should the move go through, then it could well be the last straw for the Depor coach. Things are not looking so cosy in La Coruna.

Athletic Chief Philosophical Over Drug Ban

Not content with firing a manager and causing his VP to resign last month, bully boy Bilbao president, Fernando Lamikiz, has now turned his attention to the drug lab that ran the tests in 2003 on the now banned Carlos Gurpegui. The furious Athletic head branded the lab as being packed with “incompetents and drunks” and declared the positive nandrolone test of his player was a mistake.

Lamikiz then vented his considerable spleen against Minister of Sport, Jaime Lissavetsky, and blamed him for the two year ban handed down to the midfielder. However, Carnelo Ruiz, writing in AS was quick to point out to the Athletic president, that the ban was handed down by an independent judge. Ruiz attributed the outburst to “the hooligan element of the Bilbao club”.

What Lissavetsky was actually responsible for was putting in the anti doping processes in place during his former job, that Bilbao have fallen foul of.

In Other News...

Sevilla have finally captured Monaco’s Urguayan but with an Italian passport striker, Ernesto Chevanton, on a five year deal. “I’m fast with a hunger for goal,” claimed the attacker on his presentation. Unlike Ronaldo who is fast with a hunger.

Relations have completely broken down between Valencia president Juan Soler and Ayala in acrimonious talks to discuss an extension to the defender’s current contract, due to expire in one year. Business As Usual at the Mestalla then.

Yet more cases have come to light of Real Madrid members who have been recorded as having voted - despite not doing so - in July’s presidential elections

Atletico Madrid are said to be enamoured with their new Shanghai training camp - especially the 39 degree weather and 96% humidity.

La Liga Loca will be taking a short sabbatical but should back on line in a week.

In the meantime, any comments, news, etc - please email here or click on comments to post directly.
All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca 2006