Friday, September 29, 2006

The Haiku Weekend Round Up


Athletic Bilbao (17th) DLLD v Barcelona (1st) WWWD

Eto’o’s knee is screwed
But does it really matter
Against crap Bilbao?

Away win


Mallorca (12th) DDLW v Villarreal (14th) DLLW

Poor old Mallorca
They cannot score many goals
Like Villarreal


Real Zaragoza (9th) LWWL v Levante (11th) LLWW

Ian Harte’s Levante
Visit quite a decent team
They will surely lose

Home win

Deportivo (6th) WDWL v Sociedad (19th) DLLW

Depor have problems
Their strikers are all injured
Sociedad still crap

Home win

Recreativo (7th) DWLW v Real Betis (15th) LWLL

Strange name for a football team
So is Gimnastic


Real Madrid (2nd) DWWW v Atletico Madrid (5th) DLLW

Ruud van Nistelrooy
Has had a baby daughter
New nose bag needed

Home win

Sevilla (4th) WWWL v Getafe (8th) WWLD

Do Sevilla fans
Mind that their club is run by
a dodgy geezer?

Home win

Racing Santander (20th) LLLD v Celta Vigo (6th) LWLL

Racing are racing
To the second division
Perhaps with Celta?


Espanyol (17th) LLWL v Osasuna (10th) LLWW

If Espanyol lose
Their coach is in big trouble
Good-bye Ernesto

Away win

Valencia (3rd) WWWD v ‘Nastic (13th) WLLD

It was a very
Good week for Valencia
More fun on Sunday

Home win


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Trouble Brewing at Espanyol

Valverde on Borrowed Time

With only four games of the season gone, it seems that la Liga’s first managerial neck is on the brink of being placed on the chopping block of life. The potential victim is the luckless manager of Espanyol, Ernesto Valderde. The former Athletic Bilbao ‘B’ team coach - not a great background - said before the season that he wanted his team to play “entertaining football which makes people come to the Montjuic to enjoy themselves and not suffer”. Technically, he has gone fifty percent of the way to achieving this, but his promise only applies to away teams.

Just one win and three defeats from their opening matches forced Espanyol’s board to issue a statement, on Tuesday, declaring that it is far too early in the season to jettison a manager, but the situation the club is in, is causing some concern. ‘AS’ speculate that if the club fail to win tonight’s UEFA cup tie with Artmedia (currently at 2-2) and lose the weekend home match with Osasuna, then Valverde will be joining the massed ranks of the unemployed on Monday.

All this seems a little harsh on the new guy, who only joined the club in June. Instead, the blame for Espanyol’s current troubles should be planted firmly at the hands of the club president, Daniel Sanchez Llibre.

Last season, the club had a perfectly good manager, in Miguel Angel Lotina. In his single year in charge, he gave the club a decent - if slightly dull - run in the UEFA cup, a famous Copa del Rey victory and a kept the side in the top flight, all be it thanks to a dramatic last minute goal.

Unfortunately, this was not enough for Llibre who did his level best to undermine his manager at any given opportunity and constantly threatened him with the sack. It was enough to drive his poor coach to tears on the last game of the season and to hand in his resignation minutes after the season’s end.

If the prickly president decides to force yet another manager out the Montjuic door, it would be another poor piece of judgement. Espanyol have some quality players - Fredson, Luis Garcia and Raul Tamudo - and one of the most gifted, but occasionally erratic goal keepers in Idriss Kameni. Valverde just needs to be given a little time to work with them. Looking at his boss’s track record - he may not have it.

In Other News...

As always Raul is the main point of discussion in Spain - well, Madrid anyway - with news that he likely to be dropped from Luis Aragones’ next international squad. Until two days ago, few would have any issues with this decision, however, Raul’s double strike on Tuesday night has brought out his dwindling number of fans in their droves to claim that he is a must for the upcoming match with Sweden.

The horrific injury suffered by Dario Silva was not the only car crash mayhem endured by a footballer this weekend. Atletico Madrid midfielder, Gabi, was also hospitalised after his car aquaplaned and hit the crash barriers on Sunday night, as he returned home after the match with Sevilla. Fortunately, he was wearing his seat belt - a rarity in Spain - and only suffered minor cuts and bruising to his collar bone. He is expected to be back in action in a few weeks.

As has been widely reported, Samuel Eto’o looks set to be out of action until Christmas after knackering his knee in last night’s draw with Werder Bremen. Speculation is rife that the club are going to have to a gigantic U-turn and bring Javier Saviola back into the fold, as cover.

Diego Milito had his favourite red football boots stolen from the Real Zaragoza dressing room - “perhaps they liked the colour”, he speculated as his shuffled around the training ground in just his socks.

The Spanish footballing authorities are considering punishments for Celta Vigo after racist taunts aimed at Samuel Eto’o were heard in the season opener with Barcelona.

The current confusion at Bilbao seems to be finally over, with confirmation that Fernando Lamikiz has finally stepped down as club president, to be replaced by Ana Urkijo. Once the board has prised Lamikiz’s hands from the table they reportedly gave the former big cheese a one minute standing ovation for having guided the club to one of the worst ever periods in their history.


“Where are the players to restablish the order? Raul is constantly being questioned, Casillas is still young and Guti is out on the sidelines” - Valencia manager and possible mascara wearer (judging by tv pictures, last night), Quique Sanchez Flores, sees bad times ahead for Real Madrid.

“The elections have done nothing to stabilise the club, the postal vote was a colossal mess” - Johan Cruyff adds his thoughts.

“Javier is a player that can score and make a real difference” - A shame that Frank Rijkaard is not allowed to play him. At the moment.

“Everything I have done in my career up to now has been a waste” - Francisco Tavano, Valencia’s forgotten summer signing, joins the real world.

“I’d like to apologise to the manager, players and everyone at Valencia” - Tavano claims to have been misunderstood, the day after. There’s definitely something strange in the water, at that club.

“If we think everything is shit and become pessimistic, it won’t get us anywhere” - Athletic Bilbao keeper, Iñaki Lafuente, clearly on the happy pills.

“There are no more excuses. If we don’t make Europe, it’ll be a disaster.” - Fernando Torres talks tough. Again.

“I’ve been wanting to score in that competition for ages” - David Villa has a dream come true with his midweek strike against Roma.

“If only you had just a little bit of quality” - Levante manager, Juan Roman Lopez Caro, tries a new motivational technique on his defender, Luis Rubiales.

“We’ve got to lose the fear that we have” - Jose Marie Bakero, Real Sociedad, coach in a conceptual mood.


The Iniesta Fan Club Grows

I've been singing Iniesta's praises for 2 years now to anyone who would listen. He has been the tactical weapon in Rijkaard's back pocket and has always been brought in to add a lift to a game or just to bring more ball movement to midfield.

If anyone cares to go back and check they would notice that in Barca's Champion's League final against Arsenal, the game started to change when Iniesta was brought in. We always knew he had goals in him though, so I'm delighted to see him score.

He more than anyone else has been the beneficiary of some patient grooming by Rijkaard. The casualty in all this is Xavi. Iniesta found his opening when Xavi was injured last season. Xavi already knows that he has to fight for his spot.


Eto’o's Catalan Catastrophe

i really do have so little interest in barça,that i didn't realise that this had happened. (Eto’o being criticised for failing to take a question in Catalan). Fantastic,it proves everything and more. WHAT A LOAD OF FUSS ABOUT NOTHING. as if scoring goals and keeping fit isn't enough. but how about this for hypocrisy.

The supposed two greatest players in Barça's history (Kubala and Cruyff) are beyond criticism. Neither of these two speak catalan and both have lived here most of their lives.

Maybe it could be to do with skin colour. Ronaldinho, Rivaldo (who spoke portuguese disguised as spanish) Maradona and the hits just keep on coming. Not a "Bon Dia" amongst them. Catalans have this fantastic attitude with the language,they can't understand why anyone who visits here doesn't understand the language and even day trippers from the Costa Brava,don't ask for things in Catalan.

it drives them crazy, but the they go to Prague or Budapest and complain that nobody speaks Spanish. Do any of them bother to learn Czech? I've lived here for 10 years and i can understand Catalan,but i don't speak it.

The problem is that it's a vote winner a way of distracting the people from "real political issues". I have taught people involved in promoting the catalan language for years now,they all think that this "language nazi" approach loses more friends than it gains. but when you have to fill a newspaper or a tv debate or programme what could be better.

Catalunya is bi-lingual, like it or not and i choose Spanish because it makes more sense for me. if i want to get a job in madrid or south america what
good is catalan to me then?

Paul, Barcelona

Keep then coming. Just click on comments or email here

p.s Apologies to Linda who wrote in. Unfortunately, the comment got deleted as I was de-spamming the inbox. Modern technology still troubles me.

All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Slightly Late Weekend Round up

Heroes and Zeroes

Fabio Capello

Real Madrid’s current brand of football may be as popular as the concept of a foreign holiday to the Spanish people, however, it’s certainly effective. Ex Juve boss, Fabio Capello, was hired and handed the mission impossible of turning a disparate bunch of lazy arsed mercenaries into something resembling football team. His progress so far is best summed up by Betis keeper, Antonio Doblas - whose team were at the wrong end of 1-0 score line, on Saturday - “last year, we had six or seven chances (in this match), today, we had none”.

So far, Real have won three, drawn one, scored seven and conceded just one goal - a Casillas howler against Levante. Raul has started scoring again, Ronaldo is looking slimmer and Guti is showing signs of being the quality midfielder that is buried deep inside his frazzled mind. All minor miracles in themselves. A 5-1 thrashing of Dynamo Kiev, last night showed that the side can play exciting football, as well. So far, so good for Capello.

Maxi Rodriguez

When Maxi volleyed home his stunning winner for Argentina in the World Cup against Mexico, one or Atletico Madrid fans had to put down their cañas in shock. Was this the same midfielder who had promised so much but delivered so little, last season. It was. And it looks like the Argentinean goal machine is getting back to his best with two late strikes at the Calderon to give the rojiblanco’s victory over Sevilla.


Liverpool fans must be getting a little annoyed at the new trend of once misfiring strikers finding their shooting boots at new clubs. First it was Fernando Morientes for Valencia and now it is Sinama-Pongolle who scored the very, very late winning goal for Recreativo against Real Sociedad, in their 3-2 victory. With seven points gained from their first four matches, it is a cracking start to the season for Recreativo who are surprising many - including this blog - with their form.

Andrés Iniesta

Whilst he is hardly an unknown at the Nou Camp, the diminutive midfielder is the new shining star star for Barca. With the goal against Valencia - his second this season - Iniesta is proving that the twenty two year old deserves a chance in the starting line up, as opposed to his current super sub role. Whether either Maxi or Deco deserve to be dropped to make room for him is a bit of a poser though.


Javier Saviola

His five minute cameo against Valencia seems to have got everyone very excited, considering that he was expected to be playing no part in the league campaign, this season. Instead, people should be condemning the striker for his sheer laziness and greed. Despite being told by all at Barca to sling his hook, he has turned down all possible moves away by insisting on exorbitant wage demands. In years to come, he may well regret the one year soon to be lost of his playing career.


The kings of Navarre are back in business. A tremendous 2-0 away win at Celta Vigo - a team they have never beaten in their Balaidos stadium - is their second victory in a row after a very wobbly start to the season.

Real Sociedad, Espanyol

Oh dear. Sociedad conceding three goals at home to a newly promoted team and Espanyol collapsed rather limply at Real Mallorca where they had the added humiliation of Maxi-Lopez scoring against them. It doesn’t get any worse than that.


Reportedly, the former league leaders were a little unlucky to have lost Saturday’s match to Atletico Madrid 2-1. Having two men sent off by yet another shocker of a performance from a Spanish referee cannot have helped. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing television black out in force with Sevilla, we’ll never know for sure.

Mir is Villar-fied

Those readers with long memories will be familiar with the name, Villar Mir - the sour-faced old codger and one of the losing candidates in Real Madrid’s presidential election fiasco. Despite promises he could not possibly have kept of bringing Arsene Wenger and Cristiano Ronaldo to the club, Mir eventually finished in third place, mainly thanks to a judicial suspension of the postal ballot - a poll that he was accused by his rivals of having rigged.

Ever since his defeat, Mir has refused to give in gracefully and return to running his myriad of corporations. The former government minister - and Florentino Perez stooge - has been campaigning to have the 10,501 or so postal votes counted and has maintained that Ramon Calderon was merely the ‘provisional president’.

Unfortunately for Mir, his plans to retake the Real Madrid throne were thrown into disary with news that he might have to do so from prison. Spain’s anti corruption task force - very busy people these days - have requested that the construction company boss be thrown in the slammer for nearly three years after dropping a number of fraud charges on him.

Mir has been accused of 1.6 million euros of false invoicing when he was director of Recol - an internet company. Should he be banged to rights, then he may well be enjoying the company of Sevilla president, Jose Marie del Nido, as his cell mate, who himself his facing a string of corruption charges.

Meanwhile, investigators continue to trawl through the wreck of the club’s presidential election. So far, 150 fraudulent ballots have been found amongst the postal votes, with a further 300 under investigation.


In Other News...

Real Madrid right back, Cicinho, definitely won’t be moving to Roma in the winter having knacked his cruciate knee ligament in the win over Betis on Saturday night. The Brazilian faces eight months on the sidelines.

Confusion still reigns at Athletic Bilbao with the news that Fernando Lamikiz still remains president of the club, despite reports that he had resigned last week. A seven and half hour board meeting took place, but without agreement being made as to his future.

Espanyol lost their appeal to the Spanish federation over accusations that Barca fielded two ineligible players in last month’s Super Cup defeat. The footballers in question, Carles Puyol and Xavi were withdrawn from Spain’s friendly away to Iceland - apparently through injury - only to appear for Barca just three days later. Spanish regulations state that players may not play for their club sides for five days, should they withdraw from international duty. Unless it is Barcelona or Real Madrid, of course.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Sugar Free Weekend Preview


Real Betis (10th) LWL v Real Madrid (4th) DWW

You can bet your last peseta that if Real win on Saturday, the headline writers will be falling over themselves to point out they are top of the league - seeing as no one else plays until Sunday, it’ll be true. But, they aren’t going to win. Betis look good for a few goals this year - although they may well let in one or two at the other end. For this reason, Fabio Capello is going to field a team entirely made up of dour midfield blockers. Soon the squad will resemble the moment in ‘Being John Malkovitch’, when the actor enters his own psyche to discover a universe populated by himself. Except everyone will look like Emerson. Draw.


Atletico (7th) DLL v Sevilla (1st) WWW

There’s only one team in the league with the freakish ability to turn the tables, upset the cart horse and worry the sheep. Atletico Madrid. It’s time for Sevilla’s impressively large bubble to burst - and the ‘rojiblancos’ are the needle. Yet again, though, there will be a televisual blackout so no one will be able to see the footballing equivalent of a medieval massacre with Sergio Agüero bagging his first hat trick of many to come. Home Win.

Mallorca (16th) DDL v Espanyol (13th) LLW

Tough to find anything interesting to say about this. Home win.

Villarreal (17th) DLL v Real Zaragoza (6th) LWW

Zaragoza’s matches this season have been like John Woo films. Violence, bad language and non stop action. This may well come to an end at Villarreal - a team in the doldrums and not in the mood for such cinematic hi-jinks. Their main problems - aside from Diego Forlan - are that they simply cannot score, confidence is at the bottom of a big well and the only thing they have to look forward to is the return to fitness of Pascal Cygnan. However, statistically, they have to win some time. And it could well be on Sunday. Home win.

Levante (15th) LLW v Deportivo (5th) WDW

Unbeaten Depor - words, rarely written - will fancy their chances of a sneaky away win in Valencia, if manager Joaquin Caparros has his managerial trousers set to ‘danger’, that is. Levante scraped a 1-0 away to Recreativo, last weekend, but have shown little evidence of being the new Getafe - as many had thought before the season start. Away win.

Real Sociedad (18th) DLL v Recreativo (9th) DWL

Not one to immediately set the raise the footballing pulses, but an intriguing game, nonetheless. If Sociedad, who have been dreadful so far, cannot win this home encounter, then the entire squad might as well give up and find new professions. Especially, manager, Jose Mari Bakero - although his Joshua Tree Bono mullet would be sorely missed. Home win.

Getafe (8th) WWL v Athletic Bilbao (19th) DLL

Not a great week for Athletic Bilbao. Thrashed by Atletico Madrid, fans revolting, president resigning and now a less than tantalising trip to the cursed capital to meet a team bursting to open up a can of whup-ass on them. Getafe are still grumbling at alleged slights in their Valencia defeat, last Sunday, and are looking to get back to winning ways as soon as possible. Home win.

‘Nastic (12th) WLL v Racing Santander (20th) LLL

A classic showdown between La Liga’s hottest in-form teams. Exactly what this tie isn’t. If there was to be a goal in this match, it would require a miracle of such staggering proportions, it would make Jesus’ fish, bread thing look like kid’s stuff. Draw.

Celta (11th) LWL v Osasuna (14th) LLW

Interestingly - or not - Osasuna have an identical record to Espanyol this season. Two lost, one victory, two scored, five conceded, three points. And Espanyol beat Celta 2-1, last weekend. But at home. Which would logically make this a draw. Unfortunately, this is the best method of guessing what these two teams are going to do on Sunday, so odd has their respective starts to the season been. Draw.

Barcelona (2nd) WWW v Valencia (3rd) WWW

If Sky were promoting this match, they would surely have run out of breathless superlatives by now. Both teams are looking in decent form, but will not be inclined to give too much away to their title rivals, this early in the season. Draw.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Eto'o Facing Catalan Cat Calls

Samuel in Brand New Controversy

The people of Catalonia are a precious lot. They insist on speaking a language few can understand, they sponge of Castilian tax payers and they never get their round in. Or so say the people of Madrid - but certainly not ‘La Liga Loca’ who has always had a lot of time for the frenchies to the east of the capital.

Samuel Eto’o is firmly in the Catalonian bad books after asking a journalist, at a press conference on Monday, to repeat a question in Spanish, having failing to understand it in the original Catalan.

Not an unusual - or indeed unreasonable - request you’d have thought from someone still learning the language. Unfortunately for the goal machine, Eto’o’s apparent blunder has occurred at the same time as Barca are running with their “more than a club”, “Catalonia is not Spain” (branding) campaign.

Despite the fact that the Cameroonian striker’s consistent goal scoring prowess has helped deliver two league titles and a Champions League victory to his club, he has been accused of showing a lack of respect for all things Catalan.

In response to calls for Eto’o to make an fawning apology - not something he is inclined to do often - the grumpy forward claimed in his defence, that he is learning the language - it is in his contract to do so - but struggles if questions are asked to him quickly.

He also revealed that club president, Joan Laporta, speaks to him in the local tongue on a regular basis. Joan Laporta - the embodiment of all things Catalan and the man who knowingly recruited a card carrying Francoist to his board and then fibbed outrageously about it.

Did Eto’o slip up? Or is it a big fuss over nothing? Click on comments or email here for your say


Lamikiz to the Slaughter...

Athletic Bilbao still continue to make the news - although not in the Real Madrid obsessed footballing press. On Tuesday, president Fernando Lamikiz - currently as popular in the Basque country as José María Aznar at a Batasuna barbecue - resigned his from his position. It was a bit of a surprise, as the day before, the board had decided on mass to hang - at least until the end of the month, despite massive fan protests. However, it seems that a scapegoat was needed and it was to be Lamikiz.

Until a decision is made on when to hold new elections, Ana Urkijo steps into the hot seat. For those wondering how an actual, walking, talking woman has broken into the incredibly male dominated world of Spanish football, her father was a former director of the club. Family is still stronger than chauvinism in Spain. But only just.


Fernando Torres To Leave Atletico in January

With great fanfare, Atletico Madrid have announced that their striker, captain and all round big baby, Fernando Torres, has renewed his contract at the club until 2009. However and it is a really big ‘however’, his buy out clause - previously at around 500 billion euros - has been dropped to a very Man Utd tempting 40 million euros.


In Other News...

Real Madrid’s Guti looks set to renew his own contract 2010 - with more than enough cash thrown in to keep him in bleach for the next four years.

Deportivo, a very, very unlucky club when it comes to injuries, have lost striker Rodolfo Bodipo for the season after his did something very bad to his cruciate ligament in a pre season friendly.

Atletico Madrid have opened up a brand new museum displaying memorabilia from the past including photos from their La Liga winning glory days, shirts from the years gone by and the actual envelopes used by Jesus Gil and his family to smuggle in Marbella tax payer’s money to fund the club, a few years ago. Allegedly.

Quotes, Quotes, Quotes

“I think eight goals is plenty” - Levante manager, Juan Roman Lopez Caro, declares that his team are no longer going to be the whipping boys, after conceding eight in the first two games.

“We have good players, but we weren’t a team, we didn’t support each other” - Real Madrid’s geriatric midfielder, Emerson, repeats a very, very, very familiar refrain after their 2-0 defeat to Lyon.

“It would be a lie to say that relations (with the club) are currently at 100%” - Valencia defender, Roberto Ayala, still has to make his own tea after nearly walking out on the club, over the summer.

“I will never forget tonight because of the goal and because of the ten bottles of water I had to drink for the drugs test” - José Antonio Reyes’ urine may have dried up. His goals certainly haven’t.

“Raul - Your time is over. Thanks for everything.” - Hugo Gattion writing in Monday’s ‘AS’.

“I don’t understand why everyone has a go at Raul” - Fabio Capello soon will, though.

“I’m not going down the same path as with Raul” - The Real coach faces the Spanish Inquisition over his constant selection of Emerson.

“Strangely, we played better with ten” - Sociedad manager José Mari Bakero, after his team’s 2-0 defeat in the Bernabeu. And no, they didn’t.

“I’ve been a rebel. I’ve been up against an established power. I’m not going to stop anyone who criticises my leadership of the club.” Multi-trillionaire, lawyer and freedom fighter, Ramón Calderón. A man who, this week, received a grovelling note from the president of a local supporters group apologising for a sign criticising his management of the club.

“It was one of the most elegant penalties I’ve ever seen” - Pablo Aimar looks set to recreate Zidane’s World Cup final effort some time this season.

“Roman is special. He needs to feel very comfortable at a club” - Aimar again on his delicate Argentinean team-mate, Riquelme.

“To have numerical superiority, is definitely an advantage” - Zaragoza coach, Víctor Fernández, shows those years at manager school haven’t gone to waste.

“I believe it’s a symbolic gesture” - Fernando Torres on the inclusion of a 40 million buy out clause on his new contract.

A guest blogger, writes

Thanks to James Walker-Roberts who writes in to applaud Torres’ decision to stay with Atletico Madrid....Take it away, James.

Crime does pay but so does loyalty

What with all the talk of bungs, bribery and corruption it seems ironic that one thing that goes missing in the media is loyalty and goodwill and no-one has exemplified these qualities more recently than ‘El Nino’, Fernando Torres. For a supporter of the club, for supporter read follower as it is rather difficult to support a club from hundreds of miles away – especially when Sky seem intent on showing very Real and Barca no matter how low the opposition or insignificant the match (needed to get that out…)…. anyway as I was saying, for a supporter of the club, even one so distanced as myself,the loyalty that Torres has shown to Atleti just makes those hairs on the back of my neck – you know the ones – stand to attention and weep with proudness.

Now while this may sound a bit soppy, and it does even amaze me how much this shaven haired, tattooed assassin has helped me see my feminine side, it is deadly true. Indeed, over the last couple weeks there has been one
man who has helped me put Torres’ actions into perspective, the notorious villain Mr A. Cole. His constant displays of disloyalty, petulance and greediness have provoked exactly the opposite reaction of when one
thinks of F.T. – for those of you not so emotionally involved think of your loyal elderly pet dog and then flash, just quickly, to the big cheese himself Peter Kenyon…I think you get the picture.

It is not the fact that Cole says the offer of £55,000 a week that it is was a p*ss take and felt like a slap in the face (although this did of course contribute) which riled me so much but the fact he dares to say ‘ I was
naïve to believe my years of loyalty counted for anything’! Loyalty!

Loyalty!! How can ‘loyalty’ disappear just like that, one minute he loves the club he has always supported club the next…poof (no pun intended), no wait no he doesn’t he’s had a change of heart. Loyalty is what Torres, admittedly with a few ups and downs along the way, has shown to Atletico. As one of the most highly rated players in Europe no fan could blame him if he did leave Madrid but he decided to stay, for his love for the club and for the fans.

That’s enough of the hate campaign though, however if anyone wants to‘discuss’ it further please let me know (if you happen to have a couple of hours to spare), and to the point - why is the media obsessed with reporting
the negative news and hiding the positive stuff?

I mean, I wonder how many people reading this are aware Torres has recently signed a new contract for Atleti, tying him there until 2009, probably more than those who know of the massive amount of community work Brighton and Hove Albion does in Baghdad.

It may be said that ‘positive news’ doesn’t make good news but why shouldn’t it when, after all, what everyone seems so keen to promote are positive things in the game of football? So why don’t they do it instead of giving
some greedy **** (call him what you will) the back pages of the papers for days on end? One expects that it is probably for the same reason why nothing will happen following the FA investigation into corruption except a few slaps on the wrist and pocket money fines.

It would be refreshing to see something done though and while I’m not expecting to see Torres face gracing the back page of any paper anytime soon one can only hope that sometime soon more attention will be paid to the positive aspects of football rather than the negatives.

P.S. You can rewrite the definition of the word irony if Torres declares his desire to leave Madrid tomorrow.

James Walker-Roberts


All blog content, copyright of La Liga Loca 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Athletic Turkeys Vote Against Christmas

Lamikiz to Stay...For Now

If early results are any indication, Athletic Bilbao are on course for a season equally as disappointing as last year’s relegation fighting campaign. Just one point from nine, so far - including a disastrous 4-1 home thrashing by Atletico Madrid, last Sunday - has planted the club firmly in the bottom three. It’s a wearily familiar situation for Athletic’s fans but it’s not one they are prepared to take sitting down. Literally.

At the end of the debacle in the San Mamés, huge sections of the crowd were off their seats, waving their white hankies (do Spanish fans always take them to games, just in case?) and calling for the resignation of their unpopular president, Fernando Lamikiz, a man who knows next to nothing at all about football, according to one former manager. Since when has that been an obstacle in Spain? - is the obvious response.

Last night, in a response to the protests, the Athletic board held an emergency buffet session to decide their collective futures. After two and a half hours of waffling and volavon munching, they decided that they would not be standing down just yet, but would carefully reconsider the matter later in the month when the club’s accounts are presented.

The main gripe of the Athletic fans is the leadership of Lamikiz who is running the club as his own private fiefdom, according to many. Now entering his third year in charge of the club, the lawyer has worked his way through four managers, a vice president and oversaw the most disappointing season in the club’s recent history.

His biggest mistake appears to have been the sacking of popular Javier Clemente over the summer. Lamikiz was never a fan of the loudmouthed, three time, Athletic coach but had the appointment forced on him by a worried board who looked to him as the man to save the club from relegation, last season.

Clemente - who is never shy to give an opinion - commented yesterday that he felt confident that his old team would stay up this season and that he would be more than happy to help -”If Lamikiz called me tomorrow, I would have no issue with telling him the problems the club has”, said the ever helpful Serbian coach, who also added that, “if the fans want Lamikiz to go, he should do so”.

The current manager, Felix Sarriugarte - who appears to be avoiding much of the flack - still feels confident that his side can dig themselves out of the big hole they find themselves in - “having been in the dressing room, I feel more than ever that we are united”.

Yesterday, some of the players came forward to claim that the resignation of the board would be self defeating - not an unknown concept in La Liga - and that the real problems lie a bit closer to home. Goalkeeper, Daniel Aranzubia, commented that “the ones most responsible for our situation are the players themselves”.

Is he right? Do Athletic need a change of leadership or just need a bit of time?

Click on comments or email here for your say.

In Other News...

What footballers do on their day off - Part One: On Monday, David Beckham was in the UK proudly promoting his new book, “Making it Real - How to win bugger all in three years”....Ronaldinho was busy tucking into a fast food dinner with 100 Pepsi prize winners (as opposed to Ronaldo who was chomping through 100 fast food dinners)...Fabio Cannavaro was in the Emirates making the draw for the Gulf Cup and picking up a hefty cheque, no doubt...Guti was promoting particularly vulgar jewellery - something he is always quite happy to do - whilst Samuel Eto’o was in Mallorca signing autographs and promoting Toyota. Beats going to Ikea.

Injury news: With only three rounds gone, La Liga’s molly coddled players are starting to fall like flies. Valencia’s Carlos Marchena is out for four months with ligament damage, although David Albeda may be fit again for Sunday’s tie with Barcelona... Zaragoza’s Diego Milito is doubtful for the weekend...Real Sociedad’s Morton Skoubu may finally return to action...Espanyol’s Ivan de la Pena is set to miss his side’s next match.

Getafe are still in a bit of huff about Valencia’s apparent unsporting conduct on Sunday night. Manager Bernd Schuster was not happy at all, that his opponents failed to kick the ball out when their midfielder, Francisco Casquero, was lying injured, but instead burst up field to score. “It was an unforgivable action by Valencia” fumed the Getafe coach, having forgotten that players are no longer obliged to stop play when a player goes to ground. As in the Premiership, there appears to be mixed views in Spain on what to do in this situation. Barca’s Frank Rijkaard - ever the sportsman - claimed that he has told his team to kick the ball out in this scenario, whilst Mallorca’s Gregorio Manzano is more pragmatic and pointed out that, “it’s a decision for the referees to make”.

Sevilla’s refusal to sign a tv contract - leading to the current black out of all their league games - is set to ruffle a few feathers in Madrid, this weekend. With the leaders set to play Atletico in the Calderon - the club with the third biggest support in Spain - ticketless home supporters are less than supportive of the stance taken by their opponent’s manager, Jose Maria del Nido, which will deprive them of their opportunity to see new star Javier Aguirre in action. However, some more mischievous souls may comment that the Sevilla president may be doing the Atletico fans a big favour, if current form is any judge. Not this one though.



Just wanted to say that I was very glad your prediction of the Sevillian derby was off the mark. As a Sevilla FC fan, and a truly superstitious sports fan, I read your prediction of "the bubble bursting" for Sevilla with a mixture of trepidation and a little irritation. Thankfully, Kanoute is still scoring and so far, the boys from Nervion are beating all the critics. So, for the remainder of the season, I would appreciate you to always predict doom and gloom for every game and preview you write. There's only 36 games left for a perfect season after all :)

George ( or should I say Jorge ), Spanish Sevilla fan stuck in the rapidly freezing Capital of Canada.

Always happy to oblige, George !


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Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday's Heroes and Zeroes


Joaquin Caparros

Over the summer, it looked like the Deportivo manager was slowly losing the plot. He had moved key members of his squad to the sidelines and replaced them with untried youngsters from the league’s less fashionable clubs. With seven points from three games in the bag, the strategy is already looking good for the Michael Keaton look alike. Depor look sharper, faster and considerably more motivated than they’ve done in years. A top six finish is definitely on, if they continue in the same vein.


Not bad for a season’s work, so far. A European Super Cup victory, three wins in a row - including one over the old enemy - and a place at the top of the table. Even Freddie Kanoute is scoring. Heady days, indeed.

Jose Antonio Reyes

In his home debut, the performance of the former Arsenal winger was the only bright spot in a fairly uninspiring outing for Real Madrid. His replacement of Beckham on the right - apparently due to an injury to the former England star - gave the side much needed width and pace, that the still hopeless Raul could not provide on the far left. His sweetly taken free kick will certainly have been noticed by Fabio Capello, as well.

The New Superstars

Before the season, the two new youngsters to watch were Athletic Bilbao’s Javi Martinez - nicked from Osasuna’s ‘cantera’ (youth team) - and Atletico Madrid’s highly expensive, but highly thought of striker, Javier Agüero. Both scored cracking goals in their clash on Sunday night. The shape of things to come?

Espanyol, Levante, Osasuna

All three clubs picked up their first victories over the season, with Espanyol’s being the most impressive against a decent Celta Vigo side.


Men in Suits

As eagle-eyed readers will have spotted, the blog’s weekend preview incorrectly lists Racing Santander’s tie with Barcelona as taking place on Saturday night. At the time of writing this was more or less true. However, late on Thursday, it was decided - apparently at the behest of a tv company - to move the game to the Sunday, instead. With just 48 hours notice, the Spanish FA had messed with the plans of away fans (50% of Barca away fans were forced to cancel their trips, according to ‘Marca’), the Racing supporters who had cued for hours for tickets and also the preparations of both the clubs involved. Nice work.

Fernando Lamikiz

Every day now, the decision of the short tempered and ever so slightly incompetent Athletic Bilbao president, Fernando Lamikiz, to fire Javier Clemente is looking worse and worse. Although the newly installed Serbian manager had criticised the club’s board in to the local press over the team’s transfer policy, it is exactly the kind of shenanigans that Clemente has always been up to. Controversy comes with the managerial package. However, you can be sure that an Athletic managed by Clemente would never have been turned over 4-1 at home, yesterday. The future looks very bleak indeed for the Basques.

Fabio Capello

Both Diarra and Emerson in a five man midfield? One man up front? Against Real Sociedad? And Raul on the left with Robinho on the bench? This is getting silly. It’s no coincidence that Real Madrid improved significantly in the second half when Emerson was hauled off to be replaced by the Brazilian striker. Real were faster, wider and considerably more dangerous. The jury is still very much out on the Italian manager.

Atletico Madrid

After the disappointment of the 1-0 home defeat to Valencia, last weekend, Atletico carried on their fine tradition of unpredictability by tonking Athletic 4-1 on Sunday. Next week, they face up to league leaders, Sevilla, in the Calderon. What will happen there, is anyone’s guess.


E-mails...E-mails... E-mails....

Aragones’ Premiership Bias?

I think Aragones' days are numbered if he cannot win against Sweden.
But let's play devil's advocate - is the real problem in the Spain squad that there are too many foreigners playing in the top teams in the league, as Aragones professes.  Is that our problem?  Is this limiting his choices? I frankly don't think so.  We have plenty of top quality choices who are playing in the best teams in Europe.  Our problem is that he is still playing his favourites no matter if they are in form or out of form.  He comes from the old school mentality and does not know how to motivate our team.  He is too madrid-centric.  He will not play the Premiership top players from Spain together in the first team.  Why I have no idea?  And we are still living under the shadow of his stupid comments made about Henry and Reyes.  I think it's only time.

Elisa, Californ- I,A

A Good Day for Espanyol

because we won i'm writing in an ok mood for once. i slipped into a coma first half and didn't realise that the pocchetino tribute had finished (well deserved,by the way.met him on friday at the tribute dinner,top man).

second half much better, celta should have gone for it,might have got a point.a prediction,some team will stick 5 or 6 past them at some stage this season.Tamudo confused the defence by using his left foot and Jonotas scored(he's going to be very good) and despite the ref's best efforts we hung on to win.

the ref was desperate and we were at home,imagine what it's like away. thumbs up to Moises and Kameni. Celta's goal was a cracker,pity the blokes called Canobbio. thumbs down to the ref and the reverse weeble gustavo lopez , he wobbles and falls down.

Paul, Barcelona.

Keep them coming by clicking on comments or email here

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Friday, September 15, 2006

The Bite-Sized Weekend Preview


Racing Santander (17th) LL v Barcelona (2nd) WW

When poking through the shattered remains of Racing’s start to the season, it looks as if it is going to be the same old story for them. Flirt with relegation for a bit, then move up to mid table before things get too sticky - and perhaps pull off the odd shock win along the way. However, the managers of both teams to beat Racing, so far, (Atletico, Getafe) confessed that they were fortunate to do so. Maybe their luck can change against Barca? Doubtful. Despite many declaring panic stations after Barca’s iffy showings against Sevilla in Europe and Celta in the league, Frank Rijkaard’s men seem to be back on top form. And none more so than Samuel Eto’o. Their opponents may be tricky to break down, though. Away win.

Deportivo (6th) WD v Villarreal (14th) DL

Are the Yellow Submarines sinking fast? Yes, it’s time to dust off last season’s nautical puns and rediscover the crazy world of Villarreal. Since losing to Arsenal in the CL semi, last season, fortunes have fallen faster than Fernando Alonso’s marketing value, for poor old Manuel Pellegrini - the thinking man’s Arsene Wenger. His side missed out on a UEFA cup spot, buggered up the Intertoto and lost both Robert Pires and Quique Alvarez for the season. Villarreal were then beaten by one time relegation certainties, Recreativo. With no goals scored as yet, all - increasingly irritable - eyes are on Diego Forlan and Nihat to wake up and smell the coffee. Draw.


Zaragoza (8th) LW v Mallorca (13th) DD

After last week’s frenzied battle royale against Espanyol, Zaragoza face an encounter against another of La Liga’s potential strugglers. Mallorca have got off to a sluggish start with two draws and it is doubtful that the midweek purchase of old warhorse, Diego Tristan, will change much for them. Zaragoza definitely look like they have goals in them, but need to work on a leaky looking defence. However, their opponents will not trouble it that much on Sunday. The chase for the Champions League starts here. Home win.

Recreativo (7th) DW v Levante (20th) LL

Eight goals conceded, just one goal scored, bottom spot. Oh dear. The hang dog expression on former Real Madrid boss Juan Ramon Lopez Caro’s face, last week, was all too familiar. Having spent six months being kicked in the teeth by the media, his players and bosses at the Bernabeu, it appears that he’s for more of the same with his new team, Levante. Their promoted opponents on Sunday - in the dizzy heights of seventh - will be looking to this match as a fine chance make matters worse for their compatriots. As anyone stuck at a David Bisbal concert with no escapte knows - it’s a cruel world, sometimes. Home win.

Athletic Bilbao (16th) DL v Atletico Madrid (12th) WL

It's like ground hog day with these two clubs. Rampant optimism over the summer? Check. Exciting new purchases? Check. European aspirations? Check. Season collapse by the middle of September? Check. Athletic are following their normal routine - scrape points at home, disastrous away. So are Atletico - except they are disastrous everywhere. Draw.

Valencia (4th) WW v Getafe (3rd) WW

This is the first big test for Valencia. Giddy from their triumphant hat trick scoring, two goal conceding CL return, Valencia are facing the footballing equivalent of pack of Genghis Kahn at the Mestalla, on Sunday. It has been a cracking start for Getafe with both the heads of Osasuna and Racing stuck up on poles. However, pragmatism may well be the order of the day against Valencia, despite the fighting talk of midfielder, Francisco Casquero, who claims the side are bringing Sexyback and also gunning for victory. Draw.

Osasuna (19th) LL v ‘Nastic (11th) WL

Although many predicted that Osasuna would struggle to repeat last season’s top four finish, few thought they would be floundering at the bottom as the Spanish equivalent of Arsenal. But that’s where they are. Beaten at home by Getafe and then thrashed by Barca, Osasuna recovered a little composure with last night’s 2-2 UEFA cup draw with Trabzonspor - although they threw away a two goal lead. The visit of ‘Nastic on Sunday is a fine chance to snap out of their slump. Home win.

Espanyol (18th) LL v Celta Vigo (10th) LW

It’s easy to knock Espanyol. And sometimes fun too. Two matches, two defeats, too predicable. As one depressed fan commented on the blog this week, the side have yet to find their right formation and it shows. Against Zaragoza - like a hyped up shoe salesman - they were all over the shop. The footballing jury is still out on Celta Vigo. They were impressive in their opening match with Barca but struggled a little, away to ‘Nastic, last weekend. Celta beat the Belgians on Thursday night in the UEFA cup and are good value to do the same to the Catalans on Sunday. Away win.

Sevilla (1st) WW v Real Betis (9th) LW

La Liga Loca is going to put its misshapen neck out and be the first pundit to predict Sevilla’s bubble bursting in some style on Sunday night. They were fortunate to come away with a 2-1 victory against Atromitios on Thursday and at times looked a little too cocky. Betis will certainly be up for this derby, having tonked Athletic 3-0, last week, sadly, the world will be unable to watch this traditional blood letting hatefest due to the current footballing black out of all things Sevilla. Away win.

Real Madrid (5th) DW v Real Sociedad (15th) DL

There are few things in live as fickle as the footballing press in Spain. Having beaten (nine man) Levante 4-1 - something you and some mates could have managed - they were being declared as being potential champions. Three days later and a 2-0 shoeing by Lyon has returned Real to their alternative status of half-witted, clueless, lazy arsed showboaters. Whichever facet of their apparent multiple personalities turns up on Sunday night, it will be more than capable of knocking a few past the visitors. Home win.


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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Clash of the Titans

Godfather - Two?

For some time now, in the sticky city of Sevilla, there has been an unofficial competition running to see which of the club presidents of Betis and Sevilla, can act like the biggest crazy.

José María Del Nido has undoubtedly been the front runner in the battle, this year. His predilection to associate with some of the dodgiest characters in Spain - where the lawyer appears to feel very much at home - continued over summer when he decided to defend former mayor of Marbella, Julian Muñoz, in his forthcoming corruption trial. This is a bit of a tradition with del Nido who also represented former Atletico president and all round low life, Jesus Gil, before his untimely prison-avoiding death.

Unfortunately, del Nido himself is due in court soon facing accusations of false invoicing and fraud. On the footballing side, the Sevilla president has decided to cut off all tv access to his club having declared that being Super Cup champions of Europe (woo hoo) makes their previously agreed television deals redundant.
Over at city rivals Real Betis, it had appeared that del Nido’s former sparring partner, Manuel Ruiz de Lopera - a man recently accused of using ‘mafia techniques’, by a former president, was bowing out of the fight, claiming that he had had his fill of football.

The former ‘businessman’ had decided to step down as club head over the summer to lead a quieter life. His replacement, Pepe León, appeared to be considerably less unhinged than his predecessor and had even made overtures to Sevilla to improve relations between the two clubs. Very boring.

However - all was not lost on the entertainment front - as de Lopera has only managed to stay out of the limelight for a matter of months - enough time for him to count the cash packed into his shoe boxes, no doubt. Abusing his capacity as the major shareholder at the club, his first reappearance was to interfere in the transfers of both Joaquin - by sending him temporarily on loan to Albacete, at one point - and Ricardo Oliveira, whom he ridiculously hit with a million euro fine for returning late from a spell at Sao Paolo.

On Tuesday, de Lopera was back again at a presentation ceremony celebrating 99 years of Real Betis. Elbowing aside Pepe León, de Lopera charged to the front of the stage and happily took credit for the club reaching the illustrious milestone. “When Betis needs me, I’m always there for them,” he claimed. “And when they don’t need me, as well”, he failed to add. He also failed to mention that he had not attended a single home game since the beginning of the year having taken umbrage at abuse hurled at him by home fans, for the club’s poor league form.

Displaying the true signs of creeping megalomania - talking about yourself in the third person - he cited his financial intervention in the club, seven years ago, as the moment of salvation for the fans, “I am a Betico in my heart. When the club was 92, de Lopera turned and now Betis can see its 99th birthday”, he grinned, modestly.

La Liga was a duller place without this particular nut job around. Welcome back.


Europa, Europa

Well, Real Madrid can certainly claim they have improved. Last season, the club travelled to Lyon in the Champions League and were thrashed 3-0. This time round, the deficit was only two. Progress, in some small way.

Tonight, it is the turn of the La Liga’s UEFA cup teams to take to the stage. This year, Sevilla, Osasuna, Espanyol and Celta Vigo are set to enjoy invigorating tours of Europe’s footballing backwaters over the next few months.

Atromitios v Sevilla
Standard Liege v Celta
Trabzonspor v Osasuna
Artmedia v Espanyol


A Real Mess

The Real Madrid presidential election rancour continues. On Tuesday, losing candidate, Villar Mir continued to insist that Ramón Calderón was merely the ‘provisional president’ at the club. The ‘watch magnate’ is insisting that the highly dodgy postal vote count - which was suspended by a judge after a petition from the winner - is continued. He also attacked Calderón for attempting to change the statutes of the club to remove the postal ballot element from future polls.

The decision is still in the hands of a judge but the stakes are high. 10,800 votes (some duplicates, it appears, remain uncounted, with the margins between the three main candidates being fairly close (8,344 for Calderon, 8,098 for Palacios and 6,702 for Villar Mir).

Yesterday, Calderón replied to the taunts from his enemy and accused him upsetting the preparations for Real’s Champions League tie at Lyon. Responding to accusations that he was deliberately stalling on the decision on whether the restart the count, Calderón accused Mir of failing to let go of the past. “I tried to unite the candidates, but for some reason it wasn’t possible with him. I think it’s down to his ego.”. Pot. kettle, black, springs to mind.


In Other News....

Free agent Diego Tristan has turned down a lucrative spell with Charlton and opted to return to his former club Real Mallorca, where he has signed a one year deal. The president of the goal starved Balearic outfit, Vicente Grande, proudly boasted, “what manager wouldn’t want Diego?” Deportivo manager, Joaquin Caparros for one. And, also Betis coach, Javier Irureta. The club now appear to have ten attacking players competing for a place - not that their goal tally of one reflects this.

The Spanish federation have refused to investigate allegations that the referee for the last Sunday’s Zaragoza v Espanyol encounter abused home defender Leonardo Ponzio, as he sent the unfortunate player off. Two Zaragoza players had claimed that the match official shouted “I’m in charge, you son of bitch” at the right back.

Villarreal’s Quique Sanchez has admitted that his side’s start to the season - one point from two games - is unacceptable. An opinion shared by manager, Manuel Pellegrini, “we need to see what has gone wrong and fix it”, declared the Argentinean man of action.


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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Are We the Champions?

Today's sponsor - The very excellent Para Comer, Calle Sagasta, Madrid

A fine time was had by both La Liga clubs in action in the Champions League, last night. Fernando Morientes will have infuriated Liverpool fans even more by grabbing a hatrick in Valencia’s 4-2 away victory at Olympiacos, with Albiol scoring the fourth. After the match, all at the club were in very happy places with the president, Juan Bautista Soler predicting a return to Athens, where the CL final will be held - “I don’t know what the fans think, but I reckon we’ll be back here in May”, he trumpeted boldly.

Manager Quique Sanchez Flores was more circumspect and expressed concerns about his normally water tight defence, “Olympiacos are different to Valencia, they are a little anarchic and play with liberty which did not work in our favour” - making his Valencia team sound like the footballing equivalent of Coldplay.

Barcelona swept aside Levski Sofia in a rain soaked Nou Camp. Although their Bulgarian opponents laudably opted for an attacking approach to the encounter - something Rijkaard applauded them for - it was suicidal, as the 5-0 score line showed.

Tonight, Real Madrid return to Lyon - where they were stuffed 3-0 last season - with the hope and indeed expectation of a better result, this time around. Perky president Ramon Calderon has switched into Galactico default mode and is predicting a tenth Champions League win for his team. “I will feel a great responsibility to the team when I hear the anthem,” he confessed, as he considered his tough match responsibilities or shaking hands and being first at the buffet table.

On the pitch, those expected to be doing the actual work are Raul Bravo, moving into centre back with Sergio Ramos switching to right back. Not a great confidence booster for Cicinho.

Which of the three Spanish teams have the best chance of European glory, this season? Click on comments or email here for your say.


Thanks to Andy for the following on whether Luis Aragones should keep his job as Spanish team manager, despite him being as useful as a chocolate teapot.

"Personally I've felt Aragones should go ever since he made those racist comments about Terry Henry while "motivating" Reyes. I've felt that the comments were in extreme bad taste for a coach at the national level.

As usual the Spanish Federation chose to run and hide on this issue. Now we come to the issue of the Spanish national side and we find that they still haven't been getting it done under his rule, in spite of all the marquee talent to call on. I feel his World Cup performance was similar to Brazil's Parreira.

Like the Brazilian coach Aragones seems incapable of getting such a star studded team to consistently perform.
And like Brazil maybe its time for some young blood to try new things with the side.

I seems to be working for Brazil with Dunga. Maybe Spain should try the same strategy. After a World Cup is the perfect time to try new things."


Thanks also to Paul, an Espanyol fan looking forward to a fun year ahead.

“more doom and gloom from the real supporters in bcn. barça fans would love that last sentence by the way. we are that train crash scene in the fugitive,you know it's going to happen , everyone can see it except the eternal optimist in the audience.

the result was worse than the 'performance,yes zaragoza the cup final was the same. the balance of the team is wrong,i think rufete is a good player but then where do you play luis garcia?. if we play 4-3-3 where does ivan fit in? it's like championship manager.

hats off to you for foreseeing this season's struggle,i thought mid table. zaragoza will finish in europe,so might espanyol if we can find the right song.

travel advice-if you are thinking of going to zaragoza,don't!it's where dead people go to die. as i guide book i once read said about albacete"it has some
lovely hotels,but absolutely no reason to staying any of them.”


In Other News...

Fernando Torres has finally signed his contract extension which keeps him at the club - well, until next summer - but officially until 2009. He also received a one match ban for his red card against Valencia, on Saturday night.

Sevilla have reported that no agreement has been reached with tv companies on the broadcasting of the matches for the next few seasons. Overall, a kick in the teeth to all their fans over the world, especially those who travelled to their UEFA cup win in their thousands.

Real Betis striker Dani is set to miss the next month with a leg injury...Espanyol will be without both Fredson and de la Pena in their UEFA cup tie with Standard Lieges on Thursday...


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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The End of the Line for Aragones?


“If Madrid had wanted a defensive player, they should’ve signed Lee Carsley” - Thomas Gravesen takes us into the footballing Twilight Zone with this concept. Then again, the Everton midfielder couldn’t have been any worse that Pablo Garcia.

“He’s arrogant and an egotist” - ‘Mad’ Tommie Gravesen - now warming up - has a pop at his former manager, Fabio Capello.

“I believe that people should tell you things to your face and not later”, was the reply from Capello. Fight, fight, fight !

“Sooner or later, Kaka will play in Madrid. He was born to play here” - Real Madrid president, Ramon Calderon, is definitely not trying to tap up AC Milan’s Brazilian striker. Or unsettle him. Oh no.

“Milan is not a branch office of Real Madrid” - AC’s VP Adriano Galliani continues to be less than impressed with Real’s antics.

“We had ten very entertaining days with his transfer” - claims Real Betis’ scary Manuel Luiz de Lopera on the Ricardo Oliveira to AC Milan saga.

“Pablo, Madridista, Fuera de mi Vista!” - Not as good in English, but ‘Pablo, Madridista, Get out of my sight”. Just one example of the abuse thrown at Atletico’s Pablo Ibañez by the home fans on Saturday night.

“It just makes me mad to think of how we played” - Osasuna manager, José Ángel Ziganda , was in paint stripper mode after his team’s 3-0 thrashing by Barca.

“After the second goal, we didn’t do anything right” - Capello is a hard man to please.


Aragones stays on...for now

Despite an enormous amount of media pressure and the fact that he is a clueless buffoon, Luis Aragones remains - at time of writing - in charge of the Spanish national team. However, it had seemed that his two year tenure had come to an end when he handed in his resignation yesterday, only to have to have it refused by the Spanish federation.

‘Marca’ continues to lead the campaign for his dismissal by publishing a poll on Friday claiming that 78% of readers think the manager should step down. The paper has also started calling for a renewal of the team by calling for the dropping some of the old hands. The names of Raul, Albeda, Juanito and Marchena appear on their blacklist.

Should he stay or should he go? Just click on comments or email here for your say.


In Other News...

Things just get worse and worse for George Lucas. Panned by critics for the lamentable Star Wars trilogy, the film director decided to go in a whole new direction by joining up with Celta Vigo over the summer. Unfortunately, in just his second match for the UEFA cup chasing team, Lucas broke his leg and now faces a four month spell on the sidelines. Plenty of time to plan the fourth Indiana Jones flick, perhaps.

Champions League action tonight sees Valencia travel to Athens to take on Olympiacos and Barcelona at home to Bulgarian side, Levski Sofia.

Sevilla’s president Jose Maria del Nido has announced that negotiations will restart this week with television companies, to try to thrash out a deal for the forthcoming season. So far, no cameras have been allowed at the team’s matches, but the derby day encounter with Betis on Sunday has forced del Nido into action. However, as the ever excellent Sid Lowe wrote in the Guardian yesterday, he faces a quandary. Does he allow cameras in to broadcast a glorious victory over his rivals or ban them in case of a defeat? The size of del Nido's ego, suggests the former.

Real Mallorca have denied having any interest in former Depor striker and now free agent, Diego Tristan. 'Marca' reports that Real Madrid have come to an agreement with Roma over the sale of Cicinho during the winter transfer window.


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Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday's Heroes and Zeroes


Ruud Van Nistelrooy

“Am I happy? No, I missed a penalty”. It looks like the former Manchester United striker is a man on a mission at his new club. A fine hat trick on Sunday night opened his Real Madrid goal account in some style, in their comfortable 4-1 tonking of Levante. However, it could have been more as the Dutchman missed a second half penalty. Nevertheless, Ruud should be fairly pleased with his match statistics of three goals from five attempts.


It would be the laziness in the extreme to wheel out the old cliché that a good start to the season is vital for La Liga’s newcomers, but a good start to the season is vital to La Liga’s newcomers. And that is something that Recreativo have managed. The team fresh from the ‘Segunda’ had picked up a cheeky point against Mallorca in their opening match and have now added three more with a superb away victory at Villarreal. Just thirty six more to go and the party can start.


Having missed much of the last campaign and the subsequent World Cup through injury, it was great to see Valencia’s flying winger back to his best on Saturday night. For eighty two minutes the midfielder was the lynchpin of Valencia’s counter attacking play and was constantly exposing the weakness of Atletico’s right flank. Now, we wait with anticipation to see him in tandem with Joaquin - who was left on the sidelines for Saturday night’s match.


Two wins from two matches from Madrid’s top team.



Not a great week for the Real Madrid captain. Blamed by a furious Spanish press for the 3-2 defeat by Northern Ireland, Raul then ended up being substituted at half time - apparently due to injury - and replaced on the left by newboy Jose Antonio Reyes, a proper wide man. Is this the shape of things to come from Fabio Capello who claimed last week, that no one was untouchable?


It sounds a little odd to brand a team sitting proudly at the top of the table as losers, but there is some justification. The club’s management are still refusing to sign a tv deal which has lead to a blackout of all their games - including last night’s away trip to Real Sociedad. Next weekend, the club’s showpiece encounter is due to take place with the derby match with Betis - always one of the highlights of the season. Unfortunately, only a lucky few thousand are going to be able to see it.

Fernando Torres

With twenty minutes to go, Atletico genuinely looked like they could have grabbed an equaliser at Valencia and potentially a winner. The introduction of Maxi Rodriguez and Sergio Agüero combined with the fine work from Martin Petrov had given the home team the speed and fluidity lacking in the first half. Then Torres - the club captain - decided to contest his yellow card awarded for blocking Santiago Canizares goal - something he had been guilty of for most of the game. The subsequent yellow from the prickly Medina Cantalejo was depressingly predictable. Rather like Atletico.


Two defeats, five goals conceded, none scored and out of the Champions League at the first hurdle. It looks like Osasuna coach, Jose Angel Ziganda could well be the first managerial casualty of the new season. If this is the case, then it would be a harsh. The Pamplona club are having to contend with the loss of their inspirational former coach, Javier Aguirre and a squad significantly weaker than that of last season . And trip to Barcelona is never an easy proposition. Next week’s match with ‘Nastic is looking like a definite ‘must win’.


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Friday, September 08, 2006

The Great Weekend Preview

Round Two

After a very annoying two week international break, La Liga moves into round two with questions to be answered.

Will the Levante manager gain sweet revenge on his old club? Can Atletico soothe their fans suspicious minds? And will Sevilla keep their slender lead at the top?


Atletico Madrid (W) v Valencia (W)

The substantial lunatic fringe of the ‘Rojiblanco’ support would have been looking forward to this first home game of the season, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was a chance to see their new idol, Sergio Agüero in action alongside the legendary - but rubbish for Spain - Fernando Torres. More importantly it was a opportunity for them to hurl abuse - newly installed nets means that only scorn can he thrown - at central defender, Pablo Ibañez, after his ill-advised summer flirtation with one of the Real Madrid presidential candidates.

Sadly, due to injury concerns to all three players, the home supporters may well be disappointed on Saturday night. Valencia’s only major injury worry is David Albeda, who is out of the side for three weeks after fracturing his cheek bone thanks to a midweek collision with an Northern Irish elbow. It could be a close game, with Valencia looking to Fernando Morientes and David Villa to build on their promising looking partnership. Away win.

Barcelona (W) v Osasuna (L)

Having had their footballing wallets and keys pilfered by the Dickensian scallys of Getafe, last round, the last place Osasuna would have fancied a trip to was the Nou Camp, where a full on mugging maybe on the cards. Or maybe not. Such is the level of hype surrounding Barca these days, any kind of slip in form is leapt upon as a sure sign of their imminent decline and a wobbly win over Celta has set off a few alarm bells.

For this reason, Frank Rijkaard will be looking for a comfortable victory to keep a jittery press happy. However, if Osasuna can back to their fouling best and Real Madrid’s on loan Roberto Soldado - sure to have a friendly reception - can manage a debut goal, then a draw would not be a great shock. Home win.


Mallorca (D) v Deportivo (H)

Tristan-less Deportivo make a trip to the Balearics to take on the team that their now former striker increasingly looks like joining. Like rain on your wedding day, it’s a little bit ironic. These are clearly desperate times for Mallorca who managed to drop two points in their opening game, when keeper, Toni’ Prats palmed the ball into the back of his own net. They are never the strongest of teams on their travels, so need to kick off their home campaign against a side that added 16 new players to the squad over the summer and are still using name badges. This may give the Mallorca the edge. A cheeky home win.

Villarreal (D) v Recreativo (D)

Today, Villarreal striker, Nihat, followed the footballing politeness protocols by saying that Recreativo could make things difficult for his team. If this happens, then Villarreal will not have a good season. After the excitement of an opening game which they narrowly avoided a defeat in, Recreativo will be crashing to earth more violently than Rod Hull with a whopping defeat at a team itching to give out some punishment to someone. Welcome to the future. Home win.

Real Sociedad (D) v Sevilla (W)

Part one of a Basque Country v Sevilla city match up sees La Liga’s and quite possibly Europe’s in form side take on their direct opposite, in every way imaginable. Both teams are hampered by injuries to strikers, with the home team missing both Morten Skoubu and Darko Kovacevic - which is not a huge surprise - and the visitors are still unable to give a run out to their new striking hope, Ernesto Chevanton who has been ruled out for a month. On paper, it looks like being another three points for Sevilla. However, Sociedad look to be made of sterner stuff than last season where their defence was effective as an Italian speed limit. Draw.

Real Betis (L) v Athletic Bilbao (D)

On Wednesday, 200 Betis fans were so desperate to see their new look team in action, that they broke into the stadium to watch the players in a supposedly closed training session. Tensions are high at the club and Sunday’s opening home match of the season is must win if Betis are going to improve on a disappointing last campaign. Bilbao will be more than happy with a point and will play that way. But it won’t be enough. New signing, blond bombshell, Rafael Sobis to shine for his new team in a home win.

Getafe (W) v Racing Santander (L)

A surprising away win at Osasuna last round and this dead easy encounter with Racing gives Getafe a massive opportunity to get some points on the board, early doors, as Ron Atkinson would say. Despite a massive overhaul of the squad, German genius Bernd Schuster appears to have performed his magic again and the season looks promising for Getafe. The same cannot be said for their opponents. Home win.

Real Madrid (D) v Levante (L)

Having never attended a footballer’s presentation to the fans, La Liga Loca pottered up to the Bernabeu today to witness Jose Antonio Reyes introduction to the Real support before he assumes his inevitable position on the bench. If last round’s match at Villarreal was any indication, the one minute Reyes spent aimlessly kicking a ball around the turf will be the most exciting action seen at the club this year. The main point of interest in this game is that Real’s opponents, on Sunday, are managed by Juan Roman Lopez Caro - trainer of six months, last season - and a man treated appallingly by his old club. Although he denies it, Lopez Caro must be itching to put one over Real. Unfortunately, it will not happen, this weekend. Away win.

‘Nastic (W) v Celta (L)

Can the mighty ‘Nastic make it two out of two? Can Celta pick themselves up after their 3-2 defeat to Barca. Will anyone be watching? Away win.

Real Zaragoza (L) v Espanyol (L)

If Zaragoza are going to have a bash at a Champions League spot, this year, which many are predicting - including this blog and a poll of La Liga players - then this is exactly kind of game they should be looking at winning, without too much fuss. Their opponents, Espanyol, look very ropey indeed. Despite gaining a victory against a second string Barcelona midweek, in a friendly, their first league outing was a calamitous home defeat to new boys ‘Nastic. If they were to pull off an unlikely win - it could give the side a much needed boost. However, there is more chance of that than of Ronaldo running a marathon. Or simply running. Home win.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Barcelona to Save the World

Laporta feeling very, very pleased with himself

There is a classic episode of ‘The Simpsons’ featuring environmental campaigner, Ed Begley Jr, driving around in an golf cart powered by his own sense of self satisfaction.

If such a concept existed outside of Springfield, then Barcelona president, Joan La Laporta, would be able to fuel an jumbo jet on it, today. The newly reinstalled chief ‘Culé’ announced, yesterday, at the United Nations HQ in New York, no less, that the club will be carrying sponsorship on their shirts for the first time in the side’s history.

However, in a bit of twist, instead of having the name of an evil, exploitative, corporation tainting the Barca brand, the logo of ‘UNICEF’ will be emblazoned across the chests of Ronaldinho and co for the rest of the current season.

But that is not all, La Laporta also confirmed that the club would be paying the UN aid organisation 1.5 million euros over five years for the privilege. “Barcelona will be helping the future of children all over the world. We will be proud to carry the logo of UNICEF on our shirts”, beamed the President outside the Security Council offices.

For an extra gold star, Barca also reminded all that the club recently turned down a 22 million Euro sponsorship deal with ‘BetandWin’.

In stark contrast to this limelight-grabbing event, ‘Marca’ carries a picture of Real Madrid president, Ramón Calderón, in an apron helping the dignitaries of Valladolid with their local fiesta celebrations.

Whilst a grinning Laporta was earning plaudits off the likes of Kofi Annan, Calderon is portrayed standing uncomfortably next to a cigarette smoking Mercedes Cantalapiedra, head of the local tourist board.

Shortly before dicing his media co-ordinator into little pieces, no doubt.

La Seleccion

Oh dear. Just a few days after the people of Spain had suddenly declared themselves to have been life long basketball fans and were toasting their team’s World Cup victory, the football side have brought them crashing back down to earth.

It looks like Luis Aragonés’ team are about to embark on yet another disastrous qualifying campaign that will surely end in eighteen months time with a snow bound play off tussle somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Last night, Spain managed to lose 3-2 against Northern Ireland in an absorbing match, in Belfast. Despite holding the lead twice with goals from Xavi (Spain’s 1000th) and David Villa, Spain eventually lost out to a route one special from the outstanding David Healy in the closing minutes of the game. All the Spanish manager could do was adopt his familiar posture of sitting on the bench mumbling to himself with his head on his hands.

Coming off a disappointing World Cup, the defeat must spell the end of Aragonés reign in Spain, although he declared last night that he intended to carry on in the job - “if they want me to go, I will, but I am happy in my role”.

‘Marca’ certainly don’t think so and have started a campaign to have him removed from the top job. “With these faces, we’re not going anywhere,” declared the paper as portrayed photos of a unsurprisingly glum players trudging of the pitch, on today’s front page.

Barcelona based ‘Sport’ are touting the cuddly ex Real Madrid coach, Vicente del Bosque, as a possible replacement for the current hapless incumbent.

Any Spanish readers have any thoughts? Just click on comments or email here.

Love is all around in Sevilla

After a whopping 2123 day gap, the two footballing presidents of the city of Sevilla finally shook hands again, yesterday. In a tear jerking moment José León of Real Betis and his counterpart, Jose Maria del Nido, grasped each other and posed uncomfortably for the cameras. It is still unknown whether the Betis big cheese had a quick check to make sure his wrist watch was still attached to his arm.

For the past five years, the city’s various club presidents had been bitching away in the press and refusing to set foot in eachother’s stadiums for the derby games. But now, a new spirit of détente has spread through the city.

“I’ve known Jose Maria del Nido all my life. Since he was little”, claimed José León, forgetting that his counterpart is still little, thus tempting a Joe Pesci in Goodfellas type reaction from the Sevilla boss.

With bridges now rebuilt - at least temporarily - del Nido can return to his other job of defending the former mayor of Marbella in his corruption case, as well as preparing for his own day in court.


In Other News...

Thomas Gravesen has spoken about his eighteen months at the Bernabeu for the first time since his transfer to Celtic. As he sat back in his leather bound arm chair, the Danish midfielder went misty eyed as he recalled his old colleagues. “Some of the superstars at Real are a bunch of wankers”, remarked Gravesen with a fond smile. However, he had special words for his former manager, Fabio Capello, “he arrived and said that he didn’t want me at the club, even without ever seeing me play”, he eulogised, “he is arrogant and egotistical”.

Last week, La Liga Loca predicted that stories would soon appear in the Spanish press concerning Racing Santander’s new 2,02 metre signing, Nikola Zigic, and his inability to find beds to sleep in. Well, it took just one week before ‘Marca’ reported the Serbian striker joking that “for some matches I have to sleep with my feet hanging outside the bed !” As tediously predictable as a David Bisbal song.

Ivan Helguera’s stay at Real Madrid may only be temporary. The unwanted and unloved centre back may well be heading to Racing Santander to train for the next four months, until the transfer window swings open again.

Barcelona have signed a deal giving the club first dibs on any youth team prospects at Arsenal - the Argentina based Arsenal, that is.

Pressure is mounting on Atletico coach, Javier Aguirre, to play the expensively purchased Sergio Agüero alongside Fernando Torres up front, instead of the rather more cheaply purchased and considerably less glamorous Mista - which is the Mexican’s preferred option.


In tomorrow’s La Liga loca - the famous weekend predictions.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

‘La Tristeza’ of Tristan

Where did it all go wrong?

We kick off today’s ramblings with a very timely e-mail from Steve concerning the dramatic recent collapse of Diego Tristan’s career. In the space of just one year, the Deportivo striker has managed to go from being a free scoring Spanish international and club hero to unemployed footballer contemplating a move to Bolton Wanderers.

"I just wanted to ask about what has happened to Diego Tristan? I remember him playing against Man Utd in the Champions League a few years ago and looking like an absolute world-beater - now he is without a club and even Betis don't want to sign him. Where did it all go wrong?

Quite fancy Valencia this year and Zaragoza look quite exotic."

Steve (Liverpool fan, very sad that it never worked out with Fernando...)

Thanks Steve. The short answer is that nobody outside this mysterious club is entirely sure how the situation was reached last Thursday, when his club of six years decided to terminate Tristan’s contract to leave him a free agent.

Depending on who you choose to believe, the Depor striker had either done something unimaginably bad to Joaquin Caparros’ cat, knocked up the club president’s daughter or the club had rid themselves of a player they considered to be a self important ‘vago’ or lazy arse.

Just three seasons ago, Tristan was the golden child of Deportivo and Spain. His twenty one league goals had shot his side to the top end of the table, the Champions League and even given him the odd run out for the ‘La Seleccion’. However, over the last couple of years, the goals had dried up to the extent that he only managed eleven last season.

To be fair to the striker, he spent a great deal of last campaign either twiddling his thumbs on the sidelines, causing him to complain openly - and justifiably - that he could not score goals or if he was hanging out with the deadbeats of the reserve team.

Over the summer, Tristan was told by his club to stay away from the club’s Canary Island training camp, lest he unsettle the rest of the team with his anarchic ways. It was a request that he refused to follow, complaining that he would not be able to find a new club if he was not match fit.

By this time Caparros had made it clear that Tristan was to play no part in his plans for the season ahead and that it was time to part company, “me leaving would be best for both parties,” declared the striker at the beginning of August. A move to Celtic was vetoed by the striker after he complained that it would be too cold for him, whilst Betis - who were interested for a while - eventually declined to take on the troublesome forward.

In his last press conference on Monday, the now former Depor striker confessed that he had no explanation as to why he had fallen so badly out of favour with his manager, who had joined the club at the start of last season . “ A year ago, it was Diego and ten others. Then a new coach came along and it was....”. The rest of the sentence was left hanging in the air.

The Depor striker’s claim of ignorance is supported when considering that he is not the only player who has been left out in the cold by Joaquin Caparros. Both Lionel Scaloni and Aldo Duscher have also been frozen out, with little explanation from their manager as to why.

One possible reason is that the manager saw these players as the root cause behind his team’s poor campaign last season which saw under perform on a regular basis and eventually lose out on a badly needed European place. Indeed, this was something hinted at on Tuesday, when Caparros responded to Tristan’s complaints - “you can be an international in the cafeteria, in the press, but you cannot hide on the pitch”, grumbled the manager.

Another explanation is the simple one that Caparros just didn’t like his attacker’s face - “I know my faults. I’m impetuous. I’m not always right”, he confessed.

If Depor fail again this season and his former striker makes of success of it in the Premiership - his current likely destination - perhaps the Tristan affair will be another occasion when the manager got it wrong.

Any other thoughts - either click on comments or email here.



“I’ve not come here as Levante’s saviour” - new goalkeeper, José Francisco Molina, gets his excuses in early.

“I fancied testing myself away from there” - Joaquin was in the hunt for new challenges.

“If I had to fight Raul, I will” - Real’s new signing, José Antonio Reyes, is in combative mood. Challenging him to a best of five shoot out should be enough to win the club captain’s place in the team.

“I’m the one who felt cheated by the Juve management and not me who has cheated them, like the fans say.” Barca’s Gianluca Zambrotta is not a happy bunny.

“The club is in the hands of someone who knows nothing about football” - former Bilbao and now Serbia manager, Javier Clemente has a pop at his former club president and forecasts them to be relegated.

“He can concern himself with managing Serbia and we will worry about us” - Fernando Lamikiz hits back.

“We have a special connection. I know his movements and he knows mine” - Real Madrid’s RVN knows David Beckham rather too well, it would appear.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Nothing to See Here

Story wise, there are slim pickings to be had in the world of La Liga, at the moment. With the two week international break in full effect and the transfer window now closed, Spanish football has gone very quiet, indeed. Which is in stark contrast to the rest of the country.

This weekend marked the end of the August holidays, when the population of the country is forced kicking and screaming from their mountain and coastal retreats and sent back to their designated work spaces, to sulk until at least Christmas.

In the nation’s capital, this mass immigration has meant that the city council is able to return to its five year long psychological experiment to drive its inhabitants insane through a never ending road works programme.

In football, what little news there is revolves around the ‘might have beens’ and ‘what nearly wasn’t’ on Thursday’s transfer deadline day.

Real Madrid were a few minutes away from missing out on the Reyes / Baptista loan deal with Arsenal. At 12.10 am - ten minutes after the transfer deadline - there was still no sign of the player’s registration fax at the Spanish FA. However, a few minutes later, the missing document came trundling out of the overworked machine having apparently been in the memory since 11.50. All was well for Real, although La Liga Loca suspects that the club would somehow have found a way round those pesky regulations anyway.

The other surprise move - or non move, as it turned out - for Real was, Ivan Helguera, who decided to remain with the club, despite being told that he was not in Fabio Capello’s plans, this season.

Atletico’s financial guru has revealed that the club’s apparent 59 million euro player splurge is only a trifling 33 million euro, due to the sale of Mateja Kezman and other outgoing transfer payments being deferred.

Recreativo were busiest on deadline day with six players arriving at the club in just 24 hours.

Some moves that very nearly went through but fell at the last, were Valencia’s Roberto Ayala or Depor’s Jorge Andrade to Real Madrid. Newcastle’s Albert Luque was linked with Espanyol, whilst Atletico Madrid were nearly tempted with former Bayern Munich player, Ze Roberto.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Friday, September 01, 2006

Deadline Day Deals

Welcome Home...

José Antonio Reyes has had his dream come true - no, not Gary Neville brought to his house in leg irons - but a move to Real Madrid, all be it, a loan one. “I’ve just signed and I’m the happiest man in the world” he beamed, looking like the happiest man in the world. Considerably less chuffed is former team mate, Julio Baptista, who now faces a year in north London at Arsenal - a concept he has never been overly keen on. However, there was late drama to the transfer after 'Marca' reported some initial uncertainty from the Spanish federation as to whether Reyes' registration fax had arrived before the midnight deadline.

Big news - in more ways than one - was that neither Inter nor AC Milan were able to do a deal with Real Madrid on the possible transfer - or shipping, in this case - of Ronaldo. It will now be interesting to see how much desperate badge kissing the tapas-king will attempt, to keep the support of the remaining seven home fans who don’t instinctively boo him every time he sets foot on the pitch.

Roberto Ayala has had a quick chat with Valencia president, Juan Bautista Soler, and elected to stay at the Mestalla - once his testicles had been released from the vice. His previously stalled contract talks had been resolved in a “satisfactory way”, claimed the centre back, who then attempted a spot of revisionist history by announcing that he had “always felt like a Valencia player”.

Javier Saviola has decided to take a short sabbatical from football by electing to stay at Barcelona, despite being told by Frank Rijkaard that there would be few opportunities at the club. To counter the insinuations that the Argentinean is a greedy so and so more interested in cash than his career, the striker claimed at a press conference that his “decision to stay here was sporting and nothing more”.

Real Betis’ bank balance will be looking considerably healthier after their second big money transfer of the week was completed. Ricardo Oliveira has patched up his differences with Betis and moved to AC Milan in a five year deal thought to be worth between 15 and 21 million euros. “I’m going to play football and be happy”, announced the Brazilian thoughtfully as he arrived in Italy.

Meanwhile, Betis president, Pepe Leon confirmed that the club would not be looking to Depor’s Diego Tristan as a replacement despite his confession that Betis had only signed “medium to medium high level” players this summer.

In a week that gets better and better for Valencia, the club have announced the transfer of Patrick Kluivert to PSV Eindhoven and the loaning of Italian midfielder Stefano Fiore to Torino.

Villarreal’s failure to capture Roberto Ayala has forced them into signing Arsenal centre back, Pascal Cynan, for a fee of around 3 million euros. He will a straight replacement for Gonzalo Rodriquez, who faces the entire season on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Celta Vigo striker Javi Guerrero has signed for Recreativo as the league’s new arrivals attempt to reinforce their forward line

Getafe forward Avelino Jackson Coelho or ‘Jajá’ has been loaned out to Brazilian club, Flamengo. The Brazilian arrived in the winter window from Feyenoord, but barely played a minute for the Madrid club in his spell there.

Depor fullback Lionel Scaloni and Diego Tristan have officially left the club leaving them free agents.

Striker, Adrián López Alvarez, moves from lower league Oviedo to Deportivo....’Nastic sign fullback Marco Antonio Ortega...


‘Dihno Cover Up?

“Do you know anything about Ronaldinho being dropped by Rijkaard for last Monday's game because he had missed training, rather than due to a minor injury which was Barca's official position? The story was first published by The Sun and was then repeated yesterday by Sid Lowe in The Guardian.

I live in Madrid and there has been absolutely nothing about the story in any of the media that I'm aware of. I would have thought AS and MARCA would have exploited the story given their pro-Madrid stance. And why would Barca hide the issue? I remember when George Best was forever being disciplined for missing training. I know the Spanish football press is full of nonsense at times but this one doesn't make sense to me.”


Thanks Douglas - I was thinking the same thing, when I read the stories from the UK and could not find any mention of them in Spain - in any of the papers. You’re definitely right to suggest that ‘AS’ and ‘Marca’ would have splashed a headline or two across their front pages, just to have a pop at Barcelona. As the story has disappeared from the wires just as quickly, perhaps ‘dinho was injured after all. We’ll probably never know.

Good day for Saviola, bad for Ezquerro

I'm a huge fan of Saviola, and I'm excited he's staying.  With as long of a season as Barcelona has, I think it will prove to be fortunate that he has.  From what I've read about him, the reason that Rijkaard "no cuenta" with Saviola is that his wages are so high.  Now that his situation has been resolved, I can see him getting some playing time, particularly if there are some injuries up front.  I think that he'll be the second striker on after Guddy.  Ezquerro might not see the light of day this year.

I like Valencia, and I hope for their sake they keep Ayala.   With Joaquin, Morientes, Tavano and Villa up front to go with Baraja and Albelda, they've got a heck of a line-up.  They just have to keep from self-destructing. 

On the whole, I think this going to be a great season at the top of La Liga.  Sevilla, Atletico, Villarreal, and Valencia all look very solid. People want to hand the title to Barcelona now, but I think there's going to be plenty of excitement for the top spots.



All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006