Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's Quotes of the Week Time - And More

This Week’s Crazy Talk

“I’m very happy playing for Real Madrid. When I’m playing” - David Beckham with a whopping big “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!” message to the rest of the world.

“We defend against a team, not a player” - Recreativo’s Mario on their cunning defensive plan for handling Racing ‘giganton’ Nikola Zigic. The same crazy scheme which saw them concede four goals - including two to the big Serb.

“I’m getting really tired of this” - Deportivo’s Christian responds to renewed ‘crisis’ talks at the club. He’s going to have to bear with it for at least another week after their 4-1 pounding by Osasuna.

“Dani is the best striker we have” - ‘so why not select him then!’ says the rest of the world to Real Betis manager, Jabo Irureta.

“If he said this, why hasn’t he picked me for two months?” - says Dani, not unreasonably.

“It’s been a very bad November” - master of understatement and Valencia coach, Quique Sanchez Flores.

“I’m to blame for everything that happened” - Rare ‘mea culpa’ plea from David Villa after he rather predictably limped out of last Sunday’s Real Madrid encounter having claiming that he was feeling fine and dandy, thank you.

“It’s the same team as before with no personality and no ambition” - Barcelona’s ‘Sport’ is not feeling the love for Atletico Madrid.

“I do a lot of work that people just don’t understand” - Real Madrid’s Emerson starting to sound like a scratched record.

“I’m still in shock” - Former ‘Nastic coach Luis César in need of a swift drink.

“It’s not my fault they gave me the trophy. I didn’t vote” - Fabio Cannavaro on the rather unfair backlash that the Italian defender received on receiving his ‘Ballon d’or’.

“They’re just jealous in Barcelona” - Pedja Mijatovic points the finger as Real Madrid do their best to claim the prize for themselves.

“A lot of my friends ended up on the streets and went down the road of drugs and stealing” - Robinho

“Our team is the star of the league. We have had plaudits from every sports writer in Spain” - It had been a suspiciously quiet time from Sevilla president Jose Marie del Nido. Until now. Welcome back!

“What’s not normal is firing a coach after just twelve match days” - Former Athletic boss Felix Sarriugarte really isn’t happy.

“I respect the board but I have my own theory on the situation however, I’m not going to make it public” - Really, really, not happy.

“More time working, less time arguing” - Former Athletic boss, Javier Clemente, gives his solution to the problems in Bilbao.

In Other News....

Weirdest article of the week can be found in today’s ‘Marca’. A gushing insight into the daily routine Recreativo president, Francisco Mendoza. Although his name sounds like he is a bad guy in Miami Vice, he is, in actual fact, the ‘most humble president in the league”. Evidence for this spectacular claim is the stunning revelation that he goes shopping, speaks to common plebs on the street and even buys newspapers and coffees from them! And has no body guards!“I am a citizen and all citizens were created equal”, said Mendoza after being asked why he behaved in such a peculiar manner. One thing he does have in common is that he owns a construction company. Of course.

Valencia injury watch - latest addition to their rather overcrowded clinic is right back Miguel who is set to miss out for the next three weeks and also Fernando Morientes who will miss out on the lovely trip to Recreativo. ‘AS’ have actually started to detail who is fit, to save time and space - just seven players at the moment.

Real Madrid president, Ramon Calderon, confirmed that he will not be announcing new elections at the upcoming annual club congress, instead it will be “an assembly of friendship”. A day later, the judge investigating fraud during June’s postal vote reaffirmed her stance that the boxes will not be opened until she has finished her investigations, some time in 2027.

Former Espanyol coach Paco Flores to take over at ‘Nastic. Paco Flores was succeeded at the Montjuic by Miguel Angel Lotina, who took over in November at Real Sociedad from Jose Marie Bakero, who took over from......

Former Real Betis manager, Serra Ferrer, responded to repeated attacks from Manuel Ruis de Lopera by hitting back in some style. “He’s not worth the effort of talking about, either as a president or a person” - Kapow! “Why has he got this obsession with me, when he should be worrying about Betis”. Why indeed?

More fun and games at Real Betis with Capi and Assuncao getting into a training ground fist fight. Lucky for all that Atletico are the visitors, this weekend.


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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Real Betis Indebted to their Godfather

Betis on the Brink

“I don’t need much money to live”, said Real Betis’ ever humble Manuel Ruis de Lopera, at the beginning of the November, when responding to suggestions that he should sell his majority share holding, sling his hook and let the club get back off its knees. But it is something he isn’t keen to do, any time soon - “My heirs are the good people of Betis” he confessed, wiping a tear from his eye. “What bollocks”thought the rest of Spain.

Not since the days of the Roman empire has there been anyone whose perception of himself has differed so greatly from that of everyone else. When the Andalusian Prince of Darkness, Manuel Ruis de Lopera asks his magic mirror ‘who is the fairest of them all?’ - after all, he doesn't have a reflection - ‘You are, you big hunk!’ is the response.

Lopera sees himself as the saviour of Betis, a man who delivered the Copa del Rey to the fans (and then made them pay to see the trophy). He is ‘the one’ who is adored by loyal ‘beticos’ - apart from those troublesome few who insist on booing and accuse him of being the cancer of the club.

The rest of the footballing world sees Lopera as a corrupt old bugger, constantly on the take, trying to screw the club for every penny he can and - to quote Edmund Blackadder - ‘madder than mad Jack McMad”. ‘A mafia gangster’, said one former president and a brave former player.

Whilst his antics have always been more than a little odd and worth a chuckle,up to now, his behaviour has been so out of kilt, recently, that he has become even more of a threat to the future of Real Betis - a club he claims he has loved since the he was a young urchin.

The latest round of lunacy started with the announcement, nearly a fortnight ago that Lopera was to allow fans to choose the new club president - and not himself, which was the normal process. A fine gesture one could have thought, apart from the tiny fact that most potential candidates would immediately be ruled out by the stipulation that barred anyone that Lopera saw as an opponent.

On top of that, any surviving candidate would have to win 60% of the support of those permitted to vote. Unsurprisingly, with just one day left until the application deadline expires, no one has been able to jump through the right number of hoops to qualify for his most gracious offer.

Soon after bombshell, he made the announcement that the club would be moving to the city’s Olympic stadium early next year, to allow much needed repair work to be done on their own ground. Curiously, they would be sharing the facilities with Sevilla who are on the move while they expand the capacity of their own home. A situation that sounds like the set up plot of an 80s sitcom.

However, ‘El Mundo’ reported yesterday that the real reason for the unexpected relocation is that sections of the Manuel Ruis de Lopera ground are about to be seized by creditors, after loans repayments that were secured to cover the still to done repair work remain unpaid. This is not an unfamiliar territory for Lopera - one of the biggest landlords in Spain - and a man who was hit with a four million euro fine in December of last year, having been found guilty of financial irregularities and tax avoidance.

This explains in some way, today’s change in tune from Lopera who had always maintained that he would never sell off his stake in the club and ‘desert’ the fans. According to ‘AS’, Lopera can now be bought out for 75 million euros - 25 million less than his shares are worth, according to his own estimates.

But this is only the tip of the Lopera iceberg of his odd behaviour. Last week he went before a bemused press back, armed with boxes and files in an attempt to discredit former manager Serra Ferrer - a man who left in the summer and someone who has since gone on to guide AEK Athens to the second round of the Champions League for the first time.

Lopera was responding to criticism that he never should have forced him from the club by claiming that all the players disliked him and than others, like Ivan de la Pena of Espanyol were refusing to move to the city while Ferrer was in place. Lopera then claimed that he had wanted to boot his manager out of the club at the end of the last year after Ferrer had handed him a report listing fourteen players he wanted to sell in the transfer window. Not a particularly unusual move for a manager, one would have thought.

Last Friday, Lopera was back in the news again, being pictured in his tremendously kitsch, Liberace-style home, surrounded by images and statues of the Virgin Mary - and hugging one of his huskies. This time, the target for his smears was former players that he was criticised for selling - including Milano’s Ricardo Oliveira, who is hated by everyone at his new club, according to the Betis big wig. This comes on top of insulting his current squad, such as the comment that Brazilian international Rafael Sobis was available to buy for one thousand pesetas.

All this would be very entertaining if it was not so damaging to a fine club. Lopera is dragging his team and supporters through the mud with his antics. There cannot be a happier person in the world at the moment, than a Sevilla fan - who can enjoy the spectacle while their own club battle for the title. But even they must have one tiny bit of sympathy for their big city rivals?

What can be done? Just click on comments or email here for your say...



The Revolving Door

This revolving door of coaches in Spain really hurts the teams. There is no long-term stability and a proper squad cannot be built. I think Barcelona's success can be directly linked to the stability of the coach.

Athletic Bilbao shoud have kept Javier Clemente. A club with Athletic's history deserve's better than this mismanagement. Also Gimnastic was clearly too hasty. Building a team for the top-flight is a long-term project. Just look at Getafe.


Bisbal Rules

While I agree that it seems unfair for 'Nastic to sack the coach who achieved their first promotion to La Liga in half a century, a quick look at the table shows, given the struggles of better known clubs, that they have a reasonable chance of retaining their status if they can find a coach who can better Luis César's average of one win in twelve.

At least by disgarding sentiment and acting early the management at 'Nastic have given new coach Mane a decent crack (and the January transfer window) at keeping them in the top flight.

Will you post an apology to the 'pea brains' if they stay up? (like Cassano - sorry isn’t in my vocabulary! La Liga Loca)

P.S. - 'Buleria' by Bisbal wasn't that bad.



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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Another Juan Bites the Dust

Rant Time

La Liga’s romantic affinity for the footballing little guy is to be tested to the limit, this season, with the news that the impressively titled Gimnastic of Tarragona had rather unnecessarily fired their coach, Luis César, on Sunday night, soon after the team’s 3-2 home defeat by Mallorca.

Luis César, who displayed more dignity in his little finger after the dismissal than the cowardly wind bags who kicked him out onto the street, was just starting out in his third year in charge at the club. In his short - but long in La Liga years - spell at the club, the bold-headed boss had lead ‘Nastic back to the top flight after an absence of fifty-six years.

Although the club had not exactly had the best of starts to the year with nine defeats and just a single victory, one would have thought that César would have deserved a bit more time and space to do his thing, rather than the paltry twelve games he was given.

Alas, the pea-brained goons who run ‘Nastic appear to disagree and took the easy way out and fired César on Sunday night. Clearly, the club’s leadership must have taken the decision, over the summer, that their man was up to the job - so by their own logic, they were wrong. So will anyone be taking the blame? carrying the can and taking the high road? Nope. There’s more chance of David Bisbal recording something that does not instantly make you want to take a sledge hammer to your stereo.

So what were the expectations of the club before the beginning of the season? A UEFA cup spot? Maybe a tilt at the Champions League? The signing of just six players - mostly from the lower leagues suggests the a relegation battle was on the cards.

Instead, César was forced in front of the press on Monday to bravely claim that the club had taken a “logical and correct decision”. “If you kill the dog, you kill the rabies, ”, he continued, admitting that he was still deeply shocked by events.

Another club where brain cells are in short supply is Athletic Bilbao, who today confirmed the sacking of their latest coach Felix Sarriugarte, after just twelve games in charge of the team. Sarriugarte had been promoted from the team bench after former club president Lamikiz decided to sack Javier Clemente after his public ruminations that his employers did not know their footballing arses from their elbows. One of the few times the current Serbian boss has actually made sense.

Current stand-in president at Athletic Bilbao (and Lamikiz stooge, it would appear), is Ana Urkijo who announced the dismissal of their latest scapegoat with “the look of someone who was doing something against her will”, according to El Mundo.

Athletic have now worked their way through a five coaches in just eighteen months and it still unclear as to whether any of the cigar chomping, expense account abusing half wits at the club have made the link between this statistic and the fact the club have been struggling at the bottom of the division for about the same amount of time.

The favourite candidate for the Athletic ‘electric chair’ as ‘Marca’ put it is Jose Manuel Esnal - or Mané - to his friends, the man who guided Alaves to the UEFA cup final a few years back, however, it can only be a matter of time before this poor chump joins an ever expanding managerial unemployment line.

What do you think? Just click on comments or email here for your say...

Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!

Valencia president, Juan Bautista Soler, has accused a couple of former employees of industrial espionage. The squillionaire majority shareholder and prize blow hard suggested, yesterday, that former director Javier Subirates and current Liverpool scouting head, Eduardo Macia had emptied the club’s scouting files, on leaving the club.

“At the training ground we found that all the computer databases had been left completely empty”, he fumed, desperately attempting to unsuccessfully deflect attention from the club’s unpopular move to the new Mestalla, injury crisis, in-fighting and recent defeat to Real Madrid.

He later went on lambast writers who had suggested he was contemplating firing Quique Sanchez Flores for his crazy notions of wanting selection and transfer control of the side - “we will not tolerate people spreading false rumours about our club” - he blustered, sending pieces of tortilla across the press room.

Especially, when they do such a great job of it themselves.

In Other News...

No word yet on what - if any action - will be taken against Atletico Madrid after crowd trouble broke out during Saturday night’s clash with Real Sociedad. The Ultras in the south stand were able to smuggle a fifty metre long anti-government banner into the stadium - along with some fireworks - and threw seats at the riot police who eventually moved in.



Another Good Day

I nominate Andres Iniesta for a good day. He had a fantastic game last weekend and scored a "wonder goal" himself.
It is great to see the coming of age of this wonderful player.



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Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday's Good Day, Bad Day

Good Day

Walter Pandiani

A late winning goal last weekend against Athletic, more in midweek in the UEFA Cup and an injury time equaliser for Espanyol on Sunday at Betis, means that the former Birmingham man, must surely be the player of the week.


Brought into the squad, last week, by a desperate Real Sociedad, the out of contract Sevilla midfielder made a massive difference to his new team on Saturday night. Unburdened, by months and months of despair and misery, the poney-tailed Jesuli gave Sociedad a much needed kick up the arse throughout the game, as well as supplying the pass for their solitary goal Added to a great deal of pointing and and shouting that was also in evidence, it was more than enough to impress an easy to please La Liga Loca. Jesuli saves? Maybe.

Roberto Soldado

Blimey. Someone was wearing his shooting trousers on Sunday evening. Two goals from the on-loan Real Madrid striker pushed Osasuna to an impressive - and very unexpected - 4-1 thrashing of Deportivo. His first was a run and blast from just outside the area, whilst his second was even better by winning the ball in midfield and it rocketing it past the keeper. With both Webo and Milosevic featuring on the score sheet as well, maybe it’s not too late for Osasuna to pull themselves out of their current nose dive.


It was his pass that set up Gudjohnsen for his penalty winning dive - which he duly converted - and it was his boot that connected with the ball for his spectacular overhead screamer and Barca’s fourth on Saturday. A good day at the office for the goofy one.

Athletic Bilbao

Technically, they lost and may well be firing their manager within the next twenty four hours. so a very bad day, one would have thought. However, there were enough positives on display on Sunday night, against Sevilla to suggest that there is life in the old Bilbao dog yet. Providing they hold their nerve and don’t fire their second manager in four months. There is still time for Aduriz and Yeste to develop into a decent attacking partnership with enough goals in them to keep the side in the top flight. But only as long as the back four get it together and stop conceding ridiculous goal’s like Sevilla’s free kick effort.

Miguel Angel Lotina

Cheer up. At least Sociedad didn’t lose.

Bad Day

Quique Sanchez Flores

A tactical balls up from the Valencia coach. Why select David Villa when the club’s doctors said he needed ten days rest after limping off midweek against Olypmiacos? Why play with four wingers up front when a recognised striker - sort of - Tavano was left on the bench until the last few minutes of the game. And why allow Joaquin anywhere near the pitch. The former Betis big match bottler is fast becoming the worse buy of the season, so far. Something anyone who has ever seen him play over the last eighteen months could have predicted.

Bernd Schuster

Poor Bernd. Forced to watch his team from a commentary box after a slight disagreement with the referee, last week, Getafe’s German coach was probably quite glad that there was a bit of distance between himself and the man in the middle on Sunday. Two quite clear penalties turned down for the home team certainly didn't help Getafe on what was one of their off days.


One of the more incomprehensible firings of the year so far is ‘Nastic’s decision to part company with Luis Cesar who has been at the club for two years and lead the team into the top flight, in the first place. Before the season began, the club president said that it was going to be a tough battle to stay up, so why fire the coach with only a third of the campaign gone so far? Does he have Marcelo Lippi lined up as replacement? To be fair, the club has lost nine of their twelve games they have played in, but there was still plenty of time and enough goals in the side for the architect of the team’s current success to turn things around.


Starting to wobble alarmingly and without a league win in five starts. Looks like Baby Depor has the sniffles.

Atletico Madrid

More on this week’s 365 report, but another failure for the ‘rojiblancos’ that is becoming all too predictable.

Anyone missed? Just click on comments or email here for your say...



Valencia’s Injury List

I'm a teacher, and I have a private class of doctors, one of whom said that the Valencia players looked much thinner this year (due to training methods, etc.) and that maybe this was a reason for the number of injuries they've been suffering...too much body mass has been lost, and therefore muscles, ligaments, etc., are more susceptible to knocks. Dunno how true this is, but thought I'd pass it on!

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Friday, November 24, 2006

The Slightly Late Weekend Preview


Barcelona (1st) LWDWW v Villarreal DWWLW (9th)

If you happen to pop into one of the swankier bars in Barcelona, this weekend, you’re likely to catch sight of a Gucci clad, loafter-wearing gigolo hanging at the bar with a babe on each arm, as if he were in a Jay Z video. No, it isn’t ‘Night-club’ Patrick Kluivert on a tour of old haunts, but instead it’s the city’s leading t-shirt printer, who must have made a fortune by now. Why? Because every time, that Barca lose a squad member, their big girl’s blouse of a team trots out onto the pitch with ‘get well soon Messi!!’ or ‘we are thinking of you Eto’o” across their chest. What ever happened to shooting your fallen comrades in the head, because they will slow you down? Or has La Liga Loca being watching too much ‘24’ recently? Home win.

Atletico Madrid LLDWW (5th) v Real Sociedad DLLDD (20th)

Not even Atletico in their most self-destructive of moods can bugger up this match. Javier Aguirre has managed to stop their recent rot by finally settling on his first eleven - something he never managed to at Osasuna in four years. Antonio Lopez has been pushed up into Martin’s Petrov’s left midfield hole whilst Galletti is managing to be not so crap as usual over on the right. Still not too sure about the Torres / cheaty Agüero partnership though which is going to have to find a way past Sociedad’s Chilean ‘keeper Claudio Bravo on Saturday night. A man who claimed that the pressure at bottom of the table Sociedad was nothing compared to that at his old club, Cola-Coco - “if you lost, you couldn’t leave your house for four days and people would throw stones at you.” Home win.


Real Betis (16th) LLLWD v Espanyol DDDDW (13th)

In Espanyol’s Montjuic stadium, there is a small group of supporters sitting, staring at the pitch in disbelief like a goldfish seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time. They have been there nearly a week now. Rubbish is starting to gather around them. That’s what witnessing nine goals in the week can do to fans starved of such riches for decades. Not only did Espanyol manage to whack three past Athletic Bilbao last Sunday, but last night, Pandiani and co, stuck six past Waregem - whoever they are. Like Ronaldo on dodgem car, Espanyol are now an unstoppable force. Away win.

Getafe (7th) WWLWL v Ian Harte’s Levante DDWLL (14th)

Getafe’s Champions League bid took a bit of a blow last weekend, when a rare slip from El Pato, let Villarreal sneak a 1-0 win. They should have few problems on Sunday making amends at a slowly deteriorating Levante. Still Ian Harte-less, although he did kick a ball, the other day. One thing’s for certain, on Sunday, potty-mouthed Bernd Schuster won’t be on the bench, having been sent off last week for shouting unmentionable things at the referee. Sounding like a Real Madrid season ticket holder on a rainy Wednesday night against ‘Nastic, it seems that Schuster may not even be at the game - “"I would prefer to pay for the game and see it in my house rather than see it from a seat in the stands”. Home win.

‘Nastic (19th) LLLDL v Mallorca (12th) DWDLL

“Mallorca (in Catalan, Spanish, and English; also called Majorca in English) is one of the Balearic Islands (Catalan: Illes Balears, Spanish: Islas Baleares), which are located in the Mediterranean Sea and are part of Spain. Like the other Balearic Islands Ibiza (Catalan: Eivissa), Formentera, and Minorca ("minor island", Catalan: Menorca), the island is a popular tourist destination. In Germany and the United Kingdom, where package tourism to the island started in May 1952, Mallorca has remained a popular destination. Since the 1960s, however, it has become a synonym for mass tourism. The name derives from Latin insula maior, "larger island"; later Maiorica.” Thank you Wikipedia for helping La Liga Loca find something interesting to say. Draw.

Celta Vigo (11th) WLWLW v Real Zaragoza (4th) WWWLW

Beaten by Newcastle United. Now that’s embarrassing. And it serves Celta right for Cannobio’s sarcastic “brrr it’s cold” goal celebration - as if Galicia is some kind of sun baked desert paradise. Just a shame it wasn’t Titus Bramble who got the winning goal, to really rub it in. Maybe Zaragoza tearing them into little pieces on Sunday, will help warm the home players up a little? Away win.
- as a footnote, an admirable mention must go to Sid Lowe for restraining himself and not pounding Andres ‘tiki-taka’ git face into a pulp on Thursday on La Sexta. Can’t have been easy.

Osasuna (18th) LDLLL v Deportivc (10th) WLDDL

If La Liga Loca knew anything about how computers work, it would have posted one of those ‘haha!” clips from the Simpson’s Nelson every time it wrote Osasuna. But instead, you will just have to imagine it. Osasuna are simply dreadful this season. And that’s about it. Deportivo are starting to slip a bit, so perhaps the home team may have a bit of a chance, for once. Home win.

Racing (15th) DWDDL v Recreativo (6th) LLWWW

Starting to like Recreativo. Although La Liga Loca has not nothing but bad things about where they come from. Home win.

Valencia (8th) WLDDL v Real Madrid (3rd) WWLWW

By all accounts, David Villa is a miserable, self obsessed, pompous, ‘wouldn’t lift a finger to pee on a nun on fire’, sod of a man. But he is a brilliant player, which is why he is tolerated at the Mestalla. Despite knackering his thigh, midweek, during their 2-0 Champions League victory, Villa is set to start Sunday night’s Real Madrid tussle. But very much against doctor’s orders, which recommended ten day’s rest. As for their opponents, they are fairly decent away from home, these days, but will find it tough going to make a breakthrough without the suspended and injured Guti. La Liga Loca cannot believe it has just written that either. Draw.

Athletic Bilbao (17th) LDDDL v Sevilla (2nd) WWWDW

As La Liga Loca’s Lasagne is looking about done. Time for the briefest of updates. Athletic ‘Yeste is their only decent player Bilbao face Sevilla who are looking tastier than an ice-cream sandwich. Away win.


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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Quotes of the Week

Wise Words?

“If I score, I’ll certainly celebrate it” - Ex-Barca striker and now waste of space for Mallorca, Maxi Lopez, reduces the press pack to tears of mirth with just his first three words.

“One month of five people working the phones, never leaving the ground and ordering in pizza” - Recreativo president, Francesco Mendoza, reveals how the club managed to pick up it’s foreign legion which has guided them into sixth place.

“He’s the best manager we could have” - Valencia captain David Albeda spreads his marmalade on the Quique Sanchez Flores side, in the ongoing row with Amedeo Carboni.

“We never said we were unhappy” - Espanyol president Daniel ‘this is the worst moment in ten years’ Sanchez Llibre denies ever having bad words to say against his manager, Ernesto Valverde.

“Stopping Guti is fundamental” - Racing’s Pedro Munitis before last Saturday’s match, when Guti happily did the job on his behalf.

“It’s just one of those things he does sometimes” Michel Salgado has seen it all before with Guti.

“He has not missed one hour, nor one minute, nor one second of his recovery” - A hacked off Fabio Capello fields yet another Beckham-sized curve ball.

“I did not see any important stops by Casillas” - Fabio Capello manages to miss all eight of his ‘keepers blocks against Racing.

“He did two important saves. The rest were just for the cameras” - and then backtracks. Sort of.

“For a player of his quality, his career wasn’t as good as it could have been” - Fabio Capello on Guti. And so say all of us.

“The dressing room still congratulated him” - Getafe’s David Sousa confirms that there is still a lot of love for ‘El Pato’ despite his match losing gaffe against Villarreal.

“I only play to lose at football with my children” - Jose Mourinho denies speculation from Spain, that Chelsea may consider not trying that hard against Werder Bremen. Mmm.

“Everything is marvellous” - Valencia president, Juan Bautista Soler, with pants clearly on fire.

“We’re all here together as one, from the cleaning lady to the odd job man” - Which is no way for Depor manager Joaquin Caparros to describe Arizmendi and Riki.

“We are screwed from all different sides” - A positive sounding Betis manager, Jabo Irureta after his side were drawn with Real in the next round of the Copa del Rey.

“I’ve played better games” - Maniche tests the memories of football fans, after his two goals against Levante.

In Other News....

More injury news - Villarreal’s Nihat has joined the likes of Edu and Eto’o by knackering his knee. The striker now faces the rest of the season on the sidelines just as he has started to get going.

More bad news for Valencia, as David Villa limped off the pitch after just 20 minutes in their 2-0 victory over Olympiacos. He is set to be out for the next three weeks.

Real Madrid will be without Guti - worryingly described as the brain of the team, in one paper today - for three weeks after picking up an injury in the 2-2 draw with Lyon. Then again, he was set to be suspended for two games, anyway.

‘AS’ reported yesterday that Luis Aragones is set to resign from his post as Spanish manager in December and will be replaced by former Real coach, Camacho.

The Spanish football federation may be forced to tear down its national training centre, currently based just outside of Madrid in Las Rosas after it was revealed that it had no right to be there in the first place. It seems that the agreement signed between the FEF and the local council is legally invalid as the land was supposed to be for public use. This happens a lot in Spain.


Rijkaard Out?

I think he will go and Ronaldinho not long after.

Interesting topic...Fans generally don't give Rijkaard the respect and credit he is due. People also tend to underestimate him. It is unbelievable that anyone would doubt a coach that has brought home two league titles and the Champions League in two years. If another coach did the same he would be hailed as the best in recent times.

But Rijkaard is never given the same courtesy. People say that it was all Henk Ten Cate's work, pulling the strings
behind the scenes.

Rijkaard to me has proven that he is among the elite coaches today. He has set the current standard in La Liga.
His squad is the reference point in Spain. In Europe whenever people refer to "beautiful football" they refer to his squad.

Indeed Barca is constantly being compared against itself everytime it takes to the field. He has changed the language of the club. Players constantly talk of
"taking each game as it comes" and "having the correct mentality" and "the correct interpretation of the game"....this is all Rijkaard.

He has aggressively promoted and showcased the players in Barca B and the youth academy. In fact because of this Barca's Youth System is the place to go to. He has also taken players that people overlooked and critized and made them solid players. Consider the rise of Iniesta and the
faith placed in Valdez.

If Rijkaard goes to Milan I do not think that Ronaldinho will play for anyone else. Their relationship is very tight. I hope that Barca will recognise what they have and do the right thing.



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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Will Rijkaard Leave the Good Ship Barca?

A Sevilla Swap?

There are strange and peculiar noises coming out of the city Barcelona - and it’s not the sound of a local rummaging through his pockets to buy a round of drinks. It’s the sound of Barca boss Frank Rijkaard failing to answer a string of questions currently being put to him on his long term future of the club.

With reports that the Dutchman has as much control of decision-making at the club as Guti has brain cells, there are rumours galore in the Spanish press that the current longest serving manager in the Primera, will be packing up his natty outfits and loafers and heading to Milano to take over, in the summer.

It seems that just about everyone at Barca has their say in the direction of the team, from Joan ‘Joan’ Laporta, Johan Cruyff, to the tea lady. Everyone except Rijkaard. Both ‘Marca’ and ‘AS’ have reported that the manager requested winter time reinforcements to cover the long term absences of Saviola, Eto’o and Messi, only to have his wishes turned down.

“Last year it was Giuly who scored in Milan after a pass from Ronaldinho”, said the all powerful director of sport Txiki Begiristain, as he poo-pooed the concept of new players - and ignored the inconvenient fact that it was Larsson and Eto’o who helped save the side’s behinds in Paris. Two players who are not around at the moment.

So far, Rijkaard has ducked all questions on his future by stating that he has a job to do, but he has been as enigmatic as a Ferrero Rochet commercial when asked of his plans after the end of the season.

Further petrol was thrown onto the fire, this week when Txiki was reported to have claimed that he was a strong admirer of Sevilla’s Juande Ramos. The plot thickens.

Will he stay or will he go? Just click on comments or email here for your say...


Transfer Rumours

Real president, Ramon Calderon, has written his Christmas list and sent it to Santa - or the three magic kings, as they prefer in Spain. On it is River Plate’s relatively unknown - and unpronounceable - striker Higuain and Boca Junior’s Gago. The trouble is that the holding clubs are not playing ball. Having got wind of Real’s new seven year one billion pound tv deal (that’s 436,507 euro a day income), both have upped the fees required to bring the players over the Atlantic, in the winter.

Atletico have also been shopping for new talent and are still making eyes at Porto’s midfielder Quaresma - a player who had as much impact at Barca a couple of years ago, as Mark Van Bommel.

Real Sociedad are said to be making an audacious loan bid for ex player and now Liverpool’s Xavi Alonso. Good luck with that.

Osasuna are rummaging down the back of the club sofa in a bid to buy anyone who can kick a ball.

And Betis are looking to sign Albert ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ Luque from Newcastle. A player that may well be smuggling himself onto the Celta Vigo plane after Thursday’s UEFA cup clash at St. James Park.

The Mestalla Meltdown - Latest

A relatively quiet week in La Liga, with the Champions League occupying most of the spot light, but there is always something going on at Valencia. As everyone knows by now, there has been a bit of ‘tension’ between manager Quique Sanchez Flores and his newly installed director of sport, Amedeo Carboni on all manner of topics ranging from transfer targets to the softness of the club toilet paper. Unfortunately, this tension has been there for all the world to see.

It reached a head over the weekend, when Quique complained to the press that Carboni had gone into the player’s dressing room during their last league game and had proceeded to natter away on his mobile. Two laws broken, it would appear. Carboni then responded and aired the side’s dirty laundry to the press some more by saying that Quique should not be airing the side’s dirty laundry to the press.

Having had enough of this, club president and man who looks like a cross between Cliff Claven and a surprised walrus, Juan Bautista Soler, put down his cigar long enough to lock the two warring parties in a room, yesterday, and bang their heads together.

“There is harmony, now”, he said soon after, with a glint in his eye “all the problems we have are easy to solve” Soler continued, without realising that the Jedi Mind Trick does not work on journalists.

All the president has to worry about now is reducing the ever increasing injury list and the back to back matches with Olympiakos and Real Madrid.

Are the fires out at the Mestalla? Just click on comments or email here for your say...


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Monday, November 20, 2006

Monday's Good Day, Bad Day

Good Day

Walter Pandiani

As well as proving that La Liga Loca’s prediction skills are still just as poor, the former Birmingham striker also sealed the victory in what looked like a cracking game at the Montjuic. What was supposed to be a coma-inducing dismal encounter between Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao, turned into a 3-2 goal fest. And one that was attended by Paul from Barcelona - “Truckin' fantastic,walter ‘10-4’ Pandiani saves the day. we played reasonably well, bilbao were very poor. but have to say yet again, the referee was useless. he didn't have a clue and one of the linesman behaved like a man who had never seen a football match before. tamudo took his goals well,but he still doesn't seem happy. six matches unbeaten in the league. so can't complain”

Sergio Ramos

Is there anything the former Sevilla defender can’t do? Centre back, full back, goal scorer, filthy tackler and back flipper are all in his current repertoire. When injuries to both Cicinho and Michel Salgado had forced Ramos to the right back position - the one he occupies for Spain - there were many at Real who were more than a little relieved by the decision, as he had not always convinced in the heart of the back four. Although he has yet to properly master the art of when to push forward and when to defend - perhaps watching Roberto Carlos, too much - he is swiftly becoming a crowd favourite and starting to justify he rather hefty transfer fee that brought him from his former club, last year.

For more on Real’s victory at Racing on Sunday - have a peek at today’s Spanish Thing column on the 365 site.


Yet another win for Javi ‘the journeyman’ Guerrero and the boys - their third in a row to take them into sixth place. Just seven more needed to ensure another year in the top flight.


The Portuguese midfielder finally stopped blasting balls into the stands on Sunday evening and managed to get some efforts on target, for once, to produce two goals for Atletico. His first was a belter, whilst the second arose from some shocking defending. Atletico back in business? We’ve been here before.

Real Zaragoza

Showing real ‘bouncebackability’ from their defeat at Barcelona to trounce poor old ‘Nastic.

Eidur Gudjohnsen

His cutely taken two goals on Sunday, should keep the critics off his back, for at least another week. A nice game from Barca who pushed the offside rules to the limit with their four neat goals - with the Icelandic striker’s first being the pick of the bunch.


Bad Day


Guti recently hit 30 years old. But, you would never have guessed it judging by his infantile behaviour on Saturday night. Playing some of his best football in years, a regular in the first team, so what does Guti do with his team 3-1 up? Plants an elbow in the face of Racing’s Vitolo. Red card. However, it was not just a bad day for Guti, but also for Nieto - a ‘C’ team player who was on the touchlines and about to make his debut. A plan that was quickly scrapped once Guti was given his marching orders. “I’m not angry, just disappointed”, said Capello after the game. Anyone else believe him?


Since leaving Arsenal, the Brazilian midfielder has had rotten luck. His first year at Valencia was almost written off by a knee injury picked up before he had even kicked a ball for his new club. Things were looking at little better, this season, with Edu being a regular in the starting line up - until Saturday night, that is. An injury to the same knee picked up in an innocuous tackle means that Edu is set to miss the rest of this year’s campaign as well. The applause from the Sevilla fans as Edu was stretchered off, in tears, reflects the sympathy that people have in Spain for his recent run of fortune.


Oh dear. Unrecognisable from the side that finished fourth, last season, Osasuna have slipped into the bottom three after Sunday’s defeat at Recreativo. It's hard to see how they are going to dig themselves out of this particular hole they find themselves in.

El Pato

Human, after all.

David Beckham

His Roman holiday must surely spell the end of his time at Real. Read more in this week’ 365 piece.

Anyone missed? Just click on comments or email here for your say...


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Famous Weekend Preview


Real Madrid (3rd) LWWLW v Racing Santander (16th) WDWDD

As Joey from Friends once said, when pretending to be a boat captain - “’I’m not the sort of fellow to take a wife”, so Fabio Capello is not the type of fellow to take a chance. If Real really mean business, this season, then someone needs to put something fortifying in the cardigan-clad Italian manager’s double mocca frappucino before the game. He needs to show some ‘'cojones'’ for once. Give Diarra a bit of a rest, stick Becks on the right, put Raul in behind Ruud, attack, attack, attack and tear the opposition a new one, as it were. But he won’t. Instead Real will plod around the pitch and let a Racing, growing in confidence by the game, have a pop at them with a Zigic inspired aerial assault. Draw.

Sevilla LWWWD (2nd) v Valencia LWLDD (6th)

Hale-frickin’-luja, Sevilla are back on tv again so we can finally see how good the self proclaimed world’s number one team really are. Not that hot without Jesus Navas, it appears, after last weekend’s 0-0 Santander shut out, it seems. Unfortunately, the match up being broadcast on La Sexta with the injury wrecked Valencia will be ruined by devil incarnate, Andres Montes and his ‘tiki-taka!’, ‘futbol com patadas!’ ‘largo, largo, largo!” gibberish. Git. Home win.


Real Sociedad (20th) LDLLD v Real Betis (18th) DLLLW

And so to Sunday afternoon in San Sebastian for the match of the fey, the battle of the bad, the meeting of the mediocre. When Sociedad grabbed their point against Espanyol, last week, it was celebrated as if sun had been forecast in the province for the next day for once, such was the out pouring of relief and joy. But that was nothing compared to the delight seen at Betis, who have had a reasonable week, all things being equal. A victory, more lunacy from de Lopera and the news that Sevilla’s former club president, had been nicked for dodgy business in the Marbella corruption sandal and is on his way to the slammer. Perhaps to be joined by the current prez, who is also facing similar charges. Back to life and back to reality, this weekend though, with Sociedad to pick up their first win of the year. Home win.

Ian Harte’s Levante LDDWL (13th) v Atletico Madrid WLLDW (7th)

Probably a bad time to play Atletico - not words one uses often. Sergio Agüero appears to be finding his size four feet. Torres has stopped acting like a sulking kid and has reacted to his dropping from the national team by showing the old codger of a manager what he can do. Aside from sport amusing mullets, that is. However, the fact that it hasn’t stopped peeing down in Spain for about three weeks, probably won’t help Ian Harte’s Levante’s trench-like pitch much, whose two feet of mud will put off any kind of diving from the visitor’s front two - their main tactic. Draw.

Villarreal (10th) DDWWL v Getafe (5th) WWWLW

Seeing Getafe in fifth place on Sunday night’s table, gave La Liga Loca as much of a surprise as when it turned on the tv one afternoon, to see a band called ‘Spunk fool’ playing an electro-clash version of Nirvana’s Rape Me. However, like the football club, it shouldn’t have worked, but it did. With a collection of cast off’s from Malaga and Atletico, Getafe have stormed La Liga’s barricades and will see Villarreal as their next victims. But, after last week’s insipidly rubbish defeat at the Calderon, the Yellow Submarines are going to have to pull something out of the bag on Sunday to keep the fan’s happy. And not a cat, this time. Home win.

Real Zaragoza (4th) WWWWL v ‘Nastic (19th) LLLLD

Jumping Josepha, Zaragoza are in a very grumpy place at the moment. With accusations flying from the club president of unsporting behaviour from the Barca players, last weekend, the side are in mood to give someone a bit of pasting. And what better candidates than the less than fantastic ‘Nastic. Second from bottom. Only one point from the last fifteen and having to rely on Javier Portillo for goals. Dead men walking. A Republican mid-term style trashing surely awaits. Home win.

Recreativo (9th) LLLWW v Osasuna (17th) LLDLL

Despite having scored 6 goals, being fourth from bottom and having been trounced by a long-faced Dutchman, last Sunday, Osasuna manager, Ziganda has been given a vote of confidence by the club president. Probably because the cash strapped Pamplonans are too skint to fire him. So instead, they must stumble on doing ‘the walk of shame’, like the evening dress wearing lady La Liga Loca saw 8.30 last Monday morning. However, it remains to be seen whether they, too, are going to be experience a fun-filled Sunday night. Draw.

Espanyol (15th) DDDDD v Athletic Bilbao (16th) WLDDD

There is a least one regular contributor to the blog who will be like a kid on Christmas morning on Sunday, at the thought of this belter of a game. What could be better! A bottom of a table scrap between two teams who celebrate goals like you or I would at news of a multimillion pound lottery wins. If Espanyol should lose - which would at least break up their five draw streak - then the manager Ernesto Valverde will be so fired his feet won’t touch the ground until he reaches the Catalan border.

Mallorca (13th) WDWDL v Barcelona (1st) WLWDW

The home side’s goal tally of five goals and recent run of results -1.0, 0.0, 1.0, 0.0, 0.1, is sure to lead to an enthralling encount......zzzzzzzzzzz

Deportivo (8th) DWLDD v Celta Vigo (12th) WWLWL

For the uninitiated, Spain is quite a complex place. Technically, it’s one big country, but it’s made up of regions who are either hostile, indifferent, or quite like being part of the country. Within those regions, there are districts who are either hostile, indifferent or quite like being part of the region. In those districts, there are those .....and so it goes on, until you end up with two students sharing a flat in Albacete installing border controls and demanding their own currency. Such is life in Galicia where these two neighbours have been bickering all week. “We’re better than Depor”, claimed Celta’s president. “No! We’re better than Celta”, replied manager Joaquin Caparros. Aside from a few thousand rain soaked spectators, one else really cares. Home win.


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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quotes of the Week

More Crazy Talk

“These things happen” - Valencia manager Quique Sanchez Flores on sending David Villa from the training ground, after a series ligament threatening tackles on his team-mates.

“Serrer Ferrer did not give us the Copa del Rey. He owed it to us” - Betis’ evil overlord, Manuel Ruis de Lopera, has definitely struck his former coach off his Christmas card list.

“Atletico has promoted the name of Madrid, all over the world” - If you count “isn’t that the city with the club that spends millions, loses all the time, is run by the dodgiest family in Spain and is being kicked out of its stadium?” as making a name. Director general Gil Marin, talks nonsense as usual.

“Quique, Ayala, Cañizares. Yes ! Constructors, Soler, Out !” An example of the graffiti to be found around the Mestalla stadium on the day the clubs revealed plans for their new home.

“I didn’t like to see Antonio out on his own” - Fabio Cannavaro is happy to see Cassano welcomed back into the Real Madrid fold.

“On the pitch, I don’t have any friends” - Ruud Van Nistelrooy after being asked if he felt sorry knocking four past his former team-mate, Ricardo, in the Osasuna goal.

“He’s a great guy. He’ll murder you on the pitch though” - replies Ricardo.

“Signing for Betis is like going to the doctors. You suffer just as much as when you wait in line to see someone” - Betis manager, Jabo Irureta launches a stinging attack on the Spanish health care system, by comparing it to managing his current club.

“I agree with him. I’m only 22 and I still have a lot to learn” - Fernando Torres can creep with best when giving his reaction to Aragones dropping him from the Spain team. The same one that just lost 1-0 at home to Romania.

“I need to improve my defensive skills” - Real Madrid’s latest signing, Marcelino, shows he really is the new Roberto Carlos.

“I’ve never seen pressure being put on a referee like that” - Zaragoza president, Eduardo Bandres, comments on the Barcelona’s behaviour towards the man in black after Thiago Motta’s controversial sending off.

“The worst thing is that I’ve been thrown into the sea twice” - Samuel Eto’o confesses that he cannot swim. Something his team-mates were also unaware of, it seems.


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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

La Liga Loca's Alternative Eleven

Unsung Heroes

It’s another international week, another pointless friendly, so heck, its time to have a look put together a team of players who have caught the eye, this season. Perhaps not in the ‘wham bam thank you man’ Ruud Van Nistelrooy way, but in the ‘give yourselves a pat on the back’ sense.

Roberto ‘El Pato’ Abbondandzieri (Getafe) - Goalkeeper

Getafe’s new local hero and the big reason why Madrid’s second club are sitting proudly in fifth. When he was enticed over to cross the South Atlantic in June, after eleven years at Boca Juniors, there were quite a few questions asked as to how in the blazes did a club like Getafe managed to land Argentina’s World Cup ‘keeper. Well, they did, so boo sucks to them. And the side hasn’t looked back since. From his penalty save at Recreativo to his late, late block against Mallorca, el ‘Pato’ has only let in seven goals, this year, and has more clean sheets than a nun’s bedroom.

Angel David Ruano (Celta Vigo) - Right Back

He may be madder than a march hare with a worms eating throw its tiny brain, but Luis Aragones did a good deed when he called up Celta Vigo’s trusted right back to the Spanish squad this week. After four consistent years at the club, Angel has started to make a bit of a name for himself, especially after a good performance in the Bernabeu in his side’s win over Real Madrid.

Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid) - Left Back

Whilst some readers may now have to wipe recently spat coffee from their monitors after reading this particular name, Roberto Carlos is currently displaying some of his best form for years. Although he has complained that he being forced to curb his more attacking instincts by Fabio Capello, it has improved his game immeasurably and lead to the club extending his contract to 2008. Still rubbish at free kicks though.

Alexis Delgado (Getafe) - Centre back

You wouldn’t have thought that someone who was playing for relegated Malaga just six months ago, would be wanted by the likes of Milano, but it’s true with this particular twenty-one year old centre back. Like ‘El Pato’, Alexis is another reason why Getafe are riding so high on the table. He has formed an excellent partnership with old warhorse Belenguer and has even managed to get on the score sheet, as his looping header over Iker Casillas showed last month. Unfortunately, with a firm bid from Valencia already received, it looks like his stay in Madrid may be curtailed in January.

Javi Navarro (Sevilla) - Centre Back

Another player who is set to take to the field for his country tonight is Sevilla’s Navarro. Remarkably, at the age of 32, it is the defender’s first appearance for ‘La Seleccion’. As filthy and streetwise as they come, Navarro was one of the few players who probably enjoyed Racing Santander arial assault, at the weekend and has been a key part of Sevilla’s successes over the past two seasons. However, La Liga Loca has not quite forgotten how he whined like a girl and put sticky tape over his mouth to protest about the severity of the pre season training.

Andres d’Alessandro (Real Zaragoza) - Left Midfield-ish

He may look like his hair has been cut by a nearsighted six year old, but this Argentinean midfielder is finally starting to show on a more consistent basis the flashes of class he exhibited at Fratton Park, last season. On loan from Wolfsburg, d’Alessandro’s tireless running and dribbling - and willingness to get kicked around - has helped inspire the goals that has seen Zaragoza move into fourth.

Cristian Poulsen (Sevilla) - Central Midfield

Voted today by one Danish paper as their player of the year - a wiser decision than the whole cartoon business - and it’s easy to see why. Since arriving at the Pizjuan, the great Dane has made the central position his own - and really upset the former holder Maresca, who lamped a fellow player in training yesterday. It is his energetic dirty work that has allowing those in his team, less inclined to put the boot in, to strut their stuff at the top of the table.

Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) - Central Midfield

At last, the man who manages to look like both Ant and Dec has pushed his way into the starting line up, it seems. And deservedly so. It was his entry on the pitch that helped turn the Champions League final Barca’s way and Iniesta was one of the few players to give the Spanish team a bit of va-va voom in the second half of their World Cup defeat to France. Long may it continue.

David Silva (Valencia) - Left Midfield

Unlike fellow new boy, Joaquin, Silva has taken like a duck to water at the Mestalla. Able to play both on the left and right wings - and luckily so, due to Valencia’s injuries - Silva has had a cracking to start to the season and has been rewarded by a possible start in tonight’s Spain team that faces Romania. Although he has just one goal to his name, the former Celta midfielder’s assists has been a key part of Villa’s and Morientes’ goal scoring form.

Nikola Zigic (Racing Santander) - Striker

This particular big man with a great touch has managed to save both his manager’s hide and possibly his club’s status in the top division. Good on the ground, even better in the air and enough to give defenders a game to remember, the big Serbian’s three goals and assists for his very small striking partner Munitis should be enough to give his new club a comfortable season.

Florent Sinama-Pongolle (Recreativo) - Striker

Snatched on loan from Liverpool (via Le Havre), where he was, quite frankly, not very good, the 24 year old French man has racked up four goals for his new side. A remarkable feat that has dragged little old Recre into a nose bleed-inducing ninth spot in the league. With Peter Crouch and co not exactly hitting their footballing peak this season, what odds on his home club begging the striker to return to Anfield in the summer?

Who else should be admitted to the ‘have a go hero’ hall of fame?’ - Just click on comments or email here for your say...


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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Close the Gates to the Kingdom of Navarre

Shut'em Down

Although Ruud’s four star display ensured that the headlines were rightly his after the 4-1 win over Osasuna in their Kingdom of Navarre stadium, one other matter has been completely over looked in all the excitement. The disgraceful behaviour of the local fans, before and during the match.

The watching world was already aware of the constant bombardment that the Real Madrid players, match officials - and come to think of it, anyone standing near the pitch - had to endure, as all manner of objects were lobbed from the stands. Iker Casillas was hit on the back of the head by a cigarette lighter, taking a corner required a hard hat and even the Real Madrid subs had to stop warming up because of the hazardous nature of such an activity.

Today, more footage came out of what can only be described as Neanderthals, spitting at the players from the stands whilst screaming vein-popping abuse.

There is nothing wrong with creating a hostile atmosphere or using local political hostility to get the fans going, if it can help in a win. The same happens all over Spain. But children gobbing? Players being hit? Is this how the Osasuna management and fans want their club to be seen? When a team from France or Germany come, is this how they will react? After all, they‘re outsiders to their mountain domain too.

This is not the first incident of this kind in Osasuna’s ground. Last season, David Beckham came inches from being smacked on the head by a metal olive oil canister.

So what did the club do to prevent this happening this year? - Nothing.
What did the stewards or match officials appear to do during the game when players were being pelted? - Nothing.
What did the Osasuna officials say as way of apology after the game? - Nothing
What did the Spanish press say? - Nothing.
What will the Spanish FA do? - Nothing.

Last season, when a linesman was struck in the head by a coin thrown by a fan during the Valencia v Deportivo Copa del Rey game, the referee brought the players off and the game was ordered to be replayed behind closed doors - the right decision.

So why, when Iker Casillas was hit on the hit by a lighter were the players not brought off? To get the ref’s attention, should it have been a Zippo, or maybe a bottle of whisky like the one that nearly hit Andres Palop in the Sevilla goal last season in the Calderon? Would it have been better if the Real ‘keeper had bled a bit?

When a football pitch becomes waterlogged or snow bound, the referee has the power to abandon a game because of the risk of injury to a player. So why not, when players face being struck by bottles and coins?

Because there is a culture in Spanish football, from the Federation downwards of not rocking the boat. When the president of the F.A appeared before a Senate committee, the other week, ranting and raving to claim that there is no problem of racism in Spanish football, then clearly nothing is going to happen in regards to violent behaviour.

When Barcelona have still not served their two match closed doors punishment for throwing a pig’s head and coins at Luis Figo, then clearly nothing is going to happen.

When Betis have still not served their one match closed doors punishment for repeated pitch invasions at the end of last season, then clearly nothing is going to happen.

When Osasuna’s website’s main story, today, is Ludovic Delporte having to apologise to the club and support for reacting to both verbal and physical abuse from his own fans, then clearly nothing is going to happen.

When Fabio Capello did not express his outrage that his player’s safety was under threat throughout the encounter, then clearly nothing is going to happen.

Osasuna should be made to play one match behind closed doors, immediately. The precedent was set with the Valencia affair.

True, it’s not fair that those in the stadium who applauded Ruud Van Nistelrooy after his fourth goal, should not be punished, but what happened on Sunday night, was not just one or two isolated supporters going too far. This was thousands of people in a mass hysteria.

If neither the federation, media, nor players in Spain are going to do anything about this, then maybe it is up to fans to take action.

Or does someone have to be really hurt, first?

Is La Liga Loca just having a bad day? Just click on comments or email here for your say...

In Other News...

Barcelona appear to have less strikers than a crushed under heel union during Margaret Thatcher’s heyday. First, Samuel Eto’o was lost in space until March and now the club are set to miss out on Leo Messi’s metatarsal-blighted mercurial talents for the next three months, as well as Javier Saviola for up to six weeks with a torn thigh muscle. Although the paper’s are full of rumours that Henki Larsson could be returning from Helsingborg, now that the Swedish season has shut down, it seems unlikely. “I have not closed the door, because I never even opened it”, said the former Barca forward as he munched on his herring burger during a spot of ice fishing.

Real Madrid, having realised that they are one Ruud Van Nistelrooy leg break away from disaster, are making nine million euro eyes at French / Argentinean / French River Plate striker, Pipita Higuain. Unfortunately, few people have actually seen the youngster play, so too early to say whether he is any good or not but his Dad seems to think so. The club have announced the signing of tiny Fluminese left back, Marcelo for 6 million euros, on a seven year deal. The defender - who seen as the new Roberto Carlos - describes himself as fast and someone who likes to get forward - “I still need to improve my defensive skills” - Definitely, the new Roberto Carlos.

More to do about Rafa ‘No ne jodas, Guerrero’ and his supposed string of refereeing errors over the years, including calling for the sending off of Barca’s Thiago Motta after a theatrical tumble from Zaragoza’s Milito. ‘As’ today complained of the constant publicity that surrounds the match official, by giving him more publicity. It’s like rain on your wedding day, as Alanis once sung.


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Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday's Good Day, Bad Day

Good day

La Liga

With the Premiership looking like a two and possibly one horse race, La Liga is the place to be to catch a bit of excitement, this season. For those lucky enough to have tuned into Sunday evening’s nine goal double-headed goal fest, it was quite a treat. From ‘dinho’s latest return to form to Real’s Ruud awakening and Sevilla’s slip it was quite a day all round. Apart from ‘Nastic v Depor, of course.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy

Whilst his first two strikes were classic goal nicking efforts by the Dutchman, it was the last two efforts that had tapas-filled Spanish mouths dropping to the floor in astonishment. His third goal was a delicious low strike to beat Ricardo on his inside post with the fourth being a curled beauty into the top right corner. Naturally, all four were from inside the box. That’s the only kind of goal he can score, according to many, still.


Like Emerson’s mad man flapping at burning insects celebration for Real, last weel, ‘dinho’s giant leap into the arms of Frank Rijkaard after his first headed effort, was the sign someone who had just had an enormous amount of weight lifted from his shoulders.


He may play with the image of Jesus strapped to one shin pad and the local virgin - in the catholic sense - on the other, but it seems to work for Real Betis striker, Capi, who came off the bench to score a very late but very important winner on Sunday night, against Levante.

‘The Duck’

Yet again, Getafe’s goalie Roberto ‘El Pato’ Abbondanzieri saves the day. After his ninety-third minute penalty save against Recre a few weeks ago, gave his side three points, so did a ‘quacking’ last minute block from Mallorca’s Nunes.

Racing Santander

It certainly didn’t look pretty, but Racing’s performance was enough to stop Silky Sevilla in their tracks.


The 2-1 victory at Celta Vigo, their second in a row, shows this team are drinking Irun Bru and must be made from girders. This year’s Getafe?

Atletico Madrid

Welcome back to the right side of the page. Manager Javier Aguirre announced this week that Sergio Agüero was finally ready for the challenges of La Liga at last, and he wasn’t wrong. A lovely chip past the Villarreal keeper in the second half secured the win for his side and made his striking partner, Fernando Torres, look chirpier than he has done for some time. Until he had his knee pulverised that is. Atletico will be waiting on his injury news with some concern.

Bad Day


There is more on this match in this week’s 365 update, but that was a sloppy two points to throw away. It remains to be seen whether the one that they gained is enough to keep the lid on the Mestalla.

Guti’s Legs

Not quite up there with the hundreds of kicks he received at Atletico, earlier in the season, but Saturday’s match with Osasuna is one that the midfielder will feel for some time after. But it was the type of game that Guti relishes - and he almost certainly knew what was coming having been kept awake by the chanting Osasuna fans, throughout the night. And all stemming from his excellent ‘you’re too ugly to play for Real Madrid’ comments to Raul Garcia last season. The four yellow cards awarded to Osasuna players caught trying to rearrange Guti’s skeletal structure, suggest he may have struck a nerve.

Ludovic Delporte

Without Savo “I’m going to break your f**king neck, Ramos” Milosevic and Roberto Soldado available, it was always going to be tough match for Osasuna. Despite the best efforts of Webo up front and left winger Ludovic Delporte, they team only played well for a short period in the second half, when they grabbed their consolation goal. Delporte - who tried to leave the club in the summer - was booed throughout the match and eventually taken off to jeers from the home fans, with whom there was a reported altercation after the match.

Iker Casillas

After his near miss, last season, with a metal olive oil can in Pamplona, this time the Real Madrid keeper was not so lucky and was struck in the head by an unknown object. It remains to be seen what action the Spanish federation will take. Probably very little.

Real Sociedad

A great chance to pick up three points at home was spurned by an equaliser from Espanyol’s Luis Garcia - whose somersaults suggest he was quite pleased by the goal.

Celta Vigo

The defeat of Real Madrid in the Bernabeu, followed by a 2-1 home defeat to Recre. Still hard to work out what is going on up in Galicia.

Anyone missing? Just click on comments or email here for your say...

All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca 2006.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

La Liga's Quotes of the Week

Copa Del Rey

Before launching into the latest crazy talk from La Liga, a short Copa Del Rey update for all those thousands out there, desperate for news of Spain’s premier cup competition.

This week saw the second leg of the latest round of matches. Biggest victims were cup holders Espanyol who were beaten 0-1 in the Montjuic by Segunda B outfit Rayo Vallecano and crashed out, much to the annoyance of the 6,450 home fans who turned up to watch the game.

Other Primera outfits to fall at the first hurdle (for them) were Real Sociedad (although they managed to win the second leg to Malaga), ‘Nastic, Racing, Recre and Athletic. Atletico’s match with Levante was postponed due to heavy rain.

Tonight’s ties include Real Madrid who take on Segunda B team Ecija and will be trying to built on a plucky 1-1 away draw in a packed Bernabeu. Yes, packed. The club have taken advantage of a bank holiday in the capital and dropped the ticket prices to between 3 and 15 euros to attract the punters and it looks like working.


Quotes of the Week

“What does Beckham have that Antonio Lopez doesn’t” - Marca’s Roberto Palomer wonders why Maria Sharapova made a beeline for the Real Madrid training ground and not the Calderon after arriving in the city for a tennis tournament.

“The hardest thing is that he’s got no confidence in me and I don’t know how to win him over” - Score goals, lose weight, get fit, stop partying, stop whining, etc. Some advice for Ronie who is feeling very unloved by Fabio Capello.

“They were long minutes. Very long. I thought about everything” - Well, snack foods anyway. Ronie on his forty minute warm up before ‘Nastic.

“It’s the first time I’ve really liked the team” - Fabio Capello’s judgement on Real after their 2-1 home defeat to Celta Vigo. He must really have enjoyed the Getafe game, then.

“People must understand that Emerson is not Zidane” - Roberto Carlos clears a few things up for any confused Real fans.

“They have players who have already won everything and now lack desire” - Celta Vigo midfielder and Real Madrid ‘socio’, Antonio Nuñez, on his opponents after his team’s 2-1 victory.

“This is win or die” - Atletico manager Javier Aguirre, before his sides midweek Copa del Rey match at Levante - which was eventually rained off.

“I have no idea when it’s going to stop” - Valencia’s Emiliano Moretti after being added to his team’s ever expanding injury list after a crunching tackle with Espanyol’s Ivan de la Peña. Considering Valencia have just lost Regueiro for a month, the answer to his question is ‘not yet’.

“My style depends on the players I have” - Fabio Capello claims that he can play a free flowing attacking style if he wants. If he hadn’t chosen to buy and play both Emerson and Diarra, then maybe he could have.

“He can sell Sobis for 1000 pesetas, if he wants” - Real Betis big cheese, Manuel Ruis de Lopera gives one tiny concession to the next presidential ‘yes’ man to picked by the fans.

“He wants 51% of the shares so Valencia can be part of the family business. Like his cinemas” - Ex club director-general, Manuel Llorente has some doubts as to the long term motives of current Valencia president Juan Bautista Soler.

“It was the worst match in my ten years at Espanyol” - Club president Daniel Sanchez Llibre backs his team to the hilt, as always, after Wednesday night’s 1-0 cup defeat to Rayo Vallecano.


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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Will Real Elections Ever be Held at Real Madrid?

An Election Special

With football taking a backseat this week - unless you’re counting the Copa del Rey - of course, now seems a good time to shine a light on one of the biggest off-field stories in Spain. The ongoing fight for power at Real Madrid.

Keen Real watchers - or despairing fans - will remember that back in June, elections were held to find the new head honcho at Real Madrid. This was required after the club had got through more presidents in a tumultuous season than Ronaldo has had waffles, with the aim of restoring some semblance of normality and order at the club. However, things never really went to plan.

To be the president of Real Madrid in Spain is to be top of the ‘pijo’ hill, the loudest stuffed shirt and the biggest cheese in the land. It was no surprise then, when the summer time battle for the hearts, minds and more importantly, votes of the side’s ‘socios’ turned out to be a childish, undignified, mud slinging hatefest of a contest. Nevertheless, it was very entertaining.

Back in June, five candidates were battling for the prize title with Villar Mir - “a Francoist minister without a single democratic conviction”, according to one of his competitors - being the front runner. He was also Florentino Perez’ candidate / puppet and was widely suspected to have been up to a bit of postal vote skulduggery during the campaign - the same accusation that was thrown at his mentor, last time round.

It was for this reason that Ramon Calderon - the eventual winner - went before a judge and managed to get the postal vote suspended. It just so happens that Calderon is one of the most powerful, richest and well connected lawyers in the country.

A few days after the judicial blocking, it seemed that Calderon’s suspicions that some of his competitors were up to no good, had been proved right, when 4000 postal ballots suddenly turned up in a cupboard storing the eligible ‘pre-ruling’ votes. Despite the police being called to the stadium to investigate, the culprit was never found.

When the day of the elections was held, only those who were physically able to travel to Madrid had their votes counted, with just over 10,000 postal ballots left uncounted, to this day. With 20,000 supporters unable to make the journey to the capital - only around a half of Real’s electoral base were able to practice their democratic rights.

Rather than restarting the whole process in the aim of gaining a proper mandate to run the club, Calderon declared that having another ballot would be destabilising and against the best interests of the club. Exactly the same argument used by Fernando Martin - Perez’ temporary successor and Calderon’s arch business enemy - earlier this year, before giving into fan pressure.

However, the story does not end there. The 10,511 uncounted votes are still in play and an official ruling has not yet been made on what to do them, although Madrid’s own electoral council has declared that the votes will never be counted - especially when a cursory check found a number of anomalies.

Fortunately for Calderon, several of the candidates, including Arturo Baldasano and former president Lorenzo Sanz, have had their names thrown out due to “not fulfilling the correct legal prerequisites” of the election. Another, Juan Palacios - dropped out of the campaign, shortly before being added to the previous list. However, the defeat for Real on Sunday has lead to another name taking over his candidature, Fernandez Tapias, a vice president under Perez and kicked of a new round of bickering. “If we win a recount and we elect another president, it could be me”, said Tapias yesterday.

The one person who has refused to give up his claim, is Villar Mir who still refers to Calderon as the ‘provisional president’ and who also says that he was robbed of the title after the cancellation of the postal vote - which he seems strangely certain of having won.

“I hope to be president”, he exclaimed, yesterday “I am convinced that if they open the boxes, my candidature will be the winner”. He later went on to claim that he was guaranteed the votes of a number of supporters groups and 1000 employees of his companies who took gave him a Soviet style block support that would give him a total of 4.700 votes. As the margins of victory for Calderon - who only picked up around 12% (8.344) of the eligible vote - Mir would probably wrest the title from his competitor.

However, there is more to this very personal battle than meets the eye. Mir, who currently faces corruption charges on an unrelated financial matter, has very strong links with Real Madrid and Perez. It was his construction company that won the contract to build the four towers on the land that was formerly the club’s training ground - and also got to build the club’s new training ground, itself. Being club president - should he stay out of jail - would be very good for business.

The only way to clear the mess up is to go through the whole electoral process again. With 3-4% of the postal ballot thought to be rigged, it is the only way forward.

Interesting, it is something that ‘AS’ have called for today and have branded the whole affair, “a big mess”. The editorial from Alfredo Relano says that “although he (Calderon) considers himself legitimate, it will be difficult to lead a club if, after each defeat, there are more rumours that raise these kind of doubts”.

Is it best to let sleeping dogs lie or should people have the power?

Just click on comments or email here for your say...


Democracy Arrives in Betis - Sort of

For just a few minutes yesterday, it seemed that the world as we knew it had changed forever. The dark master and majority shareholder at Real Betis, Manuel Ruis de Lopera, had decided to let all the good, good, people decide who should run their strife-torn club. Then reality kicked in again.

As reported yesterday, Betis are in a fine mess at the moment - and it got worse yesterday when the current president and a number of board members offered their resignation. This forced the dark master into his shock announcement.

“I have made the decision that has never been taken before in Spanish, European, World or in any kind of football, ever,” he began, “the matter of who will be the president of this club will be made by the fans and I will accept it”, he said to gasps of astonishment and the cries of fainting ladies.

All well and good - but with one minor detail. The candidates for the elections to be held in January must be meet certain criteria. They must be...

- of sound economic circumstances
- a member of the club for five years


- will not be allowed to either mortgage or sell the stadium
- have no links whatsoever with the “Beticas por el Villamarin” group who are supporters of the club’s former president.
- nor be related to, nor supporters of, nor have served on the board with Villamarin.

Lopera did add, that the new president would be able to run the transfer policy and that “he is free to sell Sobis for 1000 pesetas”, if he so desired. The prince of darkness also declared that he had no intention of selling up and moving out as he did not want to leave the club ‘in the wrong hands’.


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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Tale of Two Cities

Jabo Hangs On

Sevilla fans must be in a very happy place at moment. Not only is their team the current UEFA Cup supremos (making them officially the 33rd best club in Europe), but it’s also sitting proudly at the top of the Primera, after Barca’s weekend draw at Depor and their own win over Osasuna.

But this is perhaps not the real reason for their big goofish grins. Their origins come from when they glance at the league table and see Real Betis a lowly second from bottom with just four points and in deep, deep trouble. Life couldn’t get any better for at least one half of the Andalusian city.

Yesterday, Real Betis made their one and only smart move of the season by opting to not fire the legendary Javier Irureta after just ten league games at the club. However, the former Depor coach is very much on borrowed time and just has this weeks Copa del Rey tie with Recreativo and the weekend’s league clash with Levante to save his bacon. Then again, it is quite possible that ‘Jabo’ may consider a firing and a handy pay off, a blessed relief.

Whilst La Liga Loca has delved into the problems of Betis on a previous posts - the sale of Joaquin, Oliveira and their replacement with inferior players and so on - the real issue at the club is the continued meddling of their lunatic main shareholder - and let’s face it - real president Manuel Luiz de Lopera.

He is a figure so loathed by the fans that he refuses to go to the club’s stadium because of the abuse he would receive, however, his huge ego - and financial interests in the team - make it impossible for him to step aside and allow someone who may actually know what they are doing, to take charge.

The club - or Lopera - made the decision to keep hold of Irureta, who lead a team in the top flight for the 600th time against Villarreal on Sunday, after a meeting between Jabo and the actual ‘president’, Jose Leon - who quickly retreated to Lopera’s lair to report back to his master.

On first impressions, the footballing set up of their hated city rivals, Sevilla, seems to be very similar. It is run by one of the most odious characters in Spain. Club president, Jose Maria del Nido, made his money - and continues to do so - by representing clients accused of being involved in organised crime - including Atletico Madrid’s Gil family.

He, himself, is also facing corruption charges having being accused of defrauding the Marbella town council over a period of years - however, don’t hold your breath about him sharing a cell with some of his current clients, also involved in the ‘Operacion Malaya’ corruption investigation.

However, whilst he is not exactly liked by Sevilla fans, he is tolerated because of the recent success he has helped bring to the club, where he is relatively hands off - although he never tires of having his face on the television or in the papers.

The key successes of Sevilla over recent season have been the ability to pay off the club’s debt through the sale of Reyes, Ramos and Baptista whilst managing to replace them with home-grown talent from the ‘cantera’ such as Navas, Puerta and Kepa. This achievement and the ability to get goals out of the likes of Freddie Kanoute must be attributed to ‘Monchi’, the club’s sporting director who has helped turn the club into one that reminds many La Liga watchers of ‘Super Depor’ and Valencia of a few years back - although not as dull as the latter was in their prime.

For these two famous clubs, the season ahead could not be more different. Betis face yet another relegation battle and more instability that can only end badly, whilst Sevilla may well be playing them next season as champions of Spain.

What will happen next? Just click on comments or email here for your say...

Building Boom

Over recent years, Spain has gone construction crazy. Stand still for more than five minutes in Madrid and you will soon find yourself encased by a five story studio apartment block. Unfortunately, house prices are still prohibitively high for the average city minion and any piece of green and pleasant land is swiftly being redesignated by city officials to be turned into concrete carbuncles. At least, when an envelope stuffed with cash is received from the construction company, that is.

A recent government investigation discovered nearly thirteen thousand illegal buildings had been put up in the last eighteen months alone, whilst ten of Madrid’s city councils are being investigated by a special task force for dodgy dealings. In Andalusia, plans are afoot to build flats for 20,000 people in a village with the current population of 143. Should be quite a queue at the stand pipe, I imagine.

As many of the Primera’s top clubs are owned by construction companies, it’s no wonder that quite a few of them are currently keen to get in on the action, before the bubble inevitably bursts.

- Atletico Madrid look set to sell the Calderon for a very handy 350 million euros and move to the site of the current athletics stadium.

- Espanyol are to move to a new home in 2008. And about time too.

- Getafe are planning to move 500 metres down the road to a new site located right next to the same charming motorway - but nearer the shopping centre.

- Athletic Bilbao are trying to raise cash to refurbish the San Mamés. All collections will be gratefully received.

- Sevilla may be moving for a year as they upgrade their ground and add 12,000 new seats.

- Valencia’s plan to build the Mestalla 2 has come a cropper when the city council refused to reclassify the land they are coveting. More envelopes needed, perhaps. It is not yet known whether the Soler construction company will win the eventual stadium contract, due to be awarded by Soler, the club president.


In Other News...

Valencia’s extraordinary run of bad injuries continues, with news that Italian fullback, Moretti is set to miss the next three months. He is in good company and joins del Horno (back in 3 months), Marchena (back in 2 months), Baraja (back soon), Albeda (back in 5 weeks), Gavilan (out for season) and Vicente (back in a few weeks), on the sidelines.

Atletico Madrid are introducing a tough new incentive programme ahead of tonight's Copa del Rey away tie with Levante - where they are currently 1-0 down. “It’s win or die”, says manager, Javier ‘the Undertaker’ Aguirre.

Want to have Christmas dinner with a Barcelona player? Thought not. But you can if you want as part of a money making scheme being dreamed up by the club where you can hire a squad member to talk - and eat turkey. It’s not clear if Xavi brings his own high chair, should he be sent along to your particular do. And no reports either on whether Ronaldo has put in a request to return to Camp Nou and get in on the free lunch action.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday's Good Day, Bad Day

Good Day

Celta Vigo

If you’re looking for the footballing embodiment of ‘not pretty, but effective’ - in Spain, then look not further than Celta Vigo. Fernando Vasquez’ men are swiftly joining Getafe as one of Real’s bogey teams, after last season’s 4-0 win was repeated by a 2-1 victory, last night. With a stifling five man midfield in front of a decent back four and last year’s ‘Pichichi’ in goal it’s a formidable wall to break down - as both Ronaldo and Ruud found out.

Celta only had two clear cut chances, but took them well. The first was a nicely executed end to end move, whilst the second was a clinically taken effort after Reyes decided to give the ball away on the edge of his own box. Whilst Real probably deserved at least a point from the game, Celta continue their impressive run against the league’s ‘big’ clubs having already beaten Valencia and only just lost out to Barca thanks to some refereeing help to the visitors. Maybe another top six finish is on the cards for the Galicians?

Real Zaragoza

Like the latest Muse cd, Zaragoza are loud, brash and slightly mad. With twenty goals racked up already and eleven conceded, the Aragonese outfit is probably the most entertaining team in the division at the moment - even without the injured Pablo Aimar. Next Sunday’s visit to a flagging Barcelona in the Nou Camp could be a classic.

Toni Prats

He may have a slightly unfortunate name in English, but there can be no doubting the quality of Mallorca’s keeper who has now kept a clean sheet for 426 minutes, to single handedly carry a team who cannot score, at the moment. Luckily, nor could their opponents, Atletico.


With five wins from five home games, it’s clear where Sevilla’s main strength lies - but it could have been so much better for Juande Ramos’ men. Had it not been for refereeing decisions going against them at Atletico Madrid - where two men sent off in a 2-1 defeat - and a disallowed goal in the Nou Camp, Sevilla’s lead at the top could have been considerably more than the current one point margin.


A crucial home victory against fellow new boys, ‘Nastic was a huge boost to their survival chances. Good job.


Bad Day

Mahamadou Diarra

Starting to look like a twenty four million euro turkey. It really isn’t clear why he was brought to the Bernabeu by Fabio Capello, who claimed that he would soon become one of the finest players in the world. He cannot pass, he constantly gives the ball away and is not even that good at defending. He was substituted at half time on Sunday night with the manager claiming it was because of a yellow card he picked up. But so did Guti - and there is significantly greater chance of him picking up a second, than Diarra.

Real Betis

If it hadn’t been for a shockingly bad header across goal from Betis, then the visitors may have picked up a point against a rejuvenated Villarreal. Instead, Cani was able to pick up the disastrous clearance and head home for his side’s winner.

Sergio ‘Kun’ Agüero

Even though Atletico have not scored in three league matches and without Mista, Agüero is still a highly expensive substitute. Manager, Javier Aguirre is too fine a boss not to have some good reason for leaving the Argentinean on the bench. However, it has not yet made itself clear.

Levante’s pitch

Holding a rock concert at the ground, in the middle of a league campaign and during Spain’s rainy season, is not looking that good an idea for Levante, in retrospect.

Real Sociedad

Oh dear.

Any more to add? Just click on comments or email here for your say...


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Friday, November 03, 2006

The Ham Loving Weekend Preview


Ian Harte's Levante (14th) WDLDD v Real Sociedad (20th) LLLLL

One of the more familiar sights in La Liga this season - aside from Fabio Capello’s rather natty cardigans - has been the perplexed look on the face Levante manager Juan Roman López Caro. His problem? Goals - or the lack of them. “It would be nice if we got some”, he moaned, last week “they’re quite important”. However, Lopez-Caro is being a little harsh on his team as Levante’s current tally of seven is still better than Osasuna (5), Espanyol (4) and their opponents on Saturday, Real Sociedad (5). As Sid Lowe wrote in the Guardian on Monday, you can analyse Real’s problems till the cows come home, but the simple fact of the matter is that they are rubbish. Home win.

Mallorca (10th) WLWDW v Atletico Madrid (8th) WDWLL

Interestingly - or not - Mallorca are one of the in-form teams of the league. Using ‘in-form’ in the ‘don’t concede many but blink and you’ll miss their goals” sense. Somehow, the side have clawed their way into the top ten with just five goals so far this season. Fresh from their now legendary 0-0 draw with Sociedad which had the crowd suddenly persuaded as to the merits of euthanasia and their 1-0 hammering of Betis, last weekend, the latest visitors - or victims - to the Balearics are Atletico Madrid, a side in full ‘nothing to see here’, ‘crisis, what crisis?’ mode. Lose this one and all that will change faster than Torres’ hairdo. ‘AS’ today published a picture of the Mallorca players in fits of laughter as they left a video session of Atletico’s last match. Do they know something we don’t? Home win.

Deportivo (7th) LWDWL v Barcelona (1st) DWWLW

One of the biggest disappointments of last week, aside to the new Kasabian cd, was the rubbish performance of Deportivo at Getafe’s Coliseum last Sunday. Manager, Joaquin Caparros has promised to buck the team’s ideas up for the visit of Barca on Saturday night and word from the training ground is that Baby Depor are going to try and outpass their opponents - which could be interesting to watch. Over in Cataluyna, it appears that Frank Rijkaard has thrown away his ‘nice guy’ demeanour by forcing the squad to run laps of the training pitch. Even Ronaldinho. The league leaders are set to be without Xavi and Gudjohnsen for the trip to A Coruna. Away win.


Sevilla (2nd) LWLWW v Osasuna (15th) WDLLD

Life being what it is, you would expect this game to be a dead cert defeat for Sevilla. With the tv cameras allowed back in and the a curious world waiting to see what wonders they have been missing out on, a hefty home loss may have been on the cards. Except Osasuna are visiting - who could not even beat Athletic. And have only scored five goals. And lost 3-1 last night away in Lens. Home win.

Villarreal (9th) WWDDW v Real Betis (18th) LLDLL

It could not have been a worse week for Betis had their devil incarnate himself, Jose Marie del Nido scored Mallorca’s winner in last weekend’s home defeat. With Chelsea hero ‘diving’ Dani banished to the sidelines and looking for a move, Rafael Sobis either injured or confused and a whole host of anti-Lopera protests just around the corner, things are definitely not tickety-boo in the Betis camp. Despite a poor start to the season, Villarreal are starting to get it together and have climbed up to ninth. Although Riquelme has not been the same player since his Champions League penalty miss to Arsenal, there is enough talent around to push his team further up the table. Especially with an easy three points against Betis to help them along. Home win.

Real Zaragoza (4th) LDWWW v Getafe (6th) DLWWW

Many will disagree - including the tv schedulers - but this match is the weekend’s tie of the round. Two thrusting teams daring to do something interesting and upset La Liga’s metaphorical apple cart. Tactically, it will be a curious battle - Zaragoza are reliant on outscoring their opponents - they have managed a whopping seventeen this season - without worrying too much about affairs at the back. Which is the complete opposition to Getafe whose defence is tighter than a Catalonian at drink-buying time - or so Madrileños claim. Home win.

Recreativo (12th) WWLLL v ‘Nastic (19th) DLLLL

Things have started to go a little bit Pete Tong for Recre despite their fighting start to the season which pushed them into a giddy sixth place. Still, it is considerably better than the luck of ‘Nastic who pushed Real Madrid hard last week, but still came away with a 3-1 defeat. This could well be a highly charged, blood and thunder, red card frenzy between two of the top flight’s new boys. Let’s hope so. Home win.

Athletic Bilbao (17th) DLWLD v Racing Santander (13th) DDWDW

During the week, Athletic striker Yeste - always with his finger on the pulse - admitted that his team’s ills lay at his own feet and his inability to use them to score goals. And he was quite right, but that has been the problem for some time now - although a defence that has leaked fifteen goals, so far this season, is just as culpable. Racing’s new found confidence and their striking duo of Munitis and Zigic may well fancy their chances of an away win here. But may not quite have the porridge to pull it off. Draw.

Real Madrid (3rd) WDLWW v Celta Vigo (11th) LDWWL

For all those double pivot loving Meringues out there, this is the most important game of the season so far for Real. Forget about the flashing knobs of the Barcelona match up, Sunday’s visit of Celta is exactly the type fixture that the side must win if they are to be considered genuine title contenders. But so far, they have failed to perform in similar games as their 1-1 draw to Atletico and 1-0 defeat at Getafe show. For those watching, it may not be a thriller. Celta tend to have a similar formation to Real, so a stalemate could be on the cards. The main excitement could be from seeing whether Celta manager, Fernando Vasquez can keep his potty mouth closed and avoid being sent to the stands for the seventh time in his career.

Espanyol (16th) LDDDD v Valencia (5th) DWLWL

This week, La Liga Loca thought it had found the most rarest of things - a Spanish vegetarian. ‘So you don’t eat meat?”. ‘Nope’, she said, ‘no meat’. 'Of any kind?' 'Nope. None' ‘Not even ham?’. ‘Of course ham!’ she exclaimed, looking at La Liga Loca like he had gone insane. “That’s not meat!”. Ham is a powerful force in Spain. Unfortunately for Valencia’s not yet used striker, Francesco Tavano, he was on the receiving end of it this week when he admitted to astonished team-mates that he wasn’t that keen on it. A horrified ‘Marca’ was forced today to dedicate an entire page to Spain’s favourite thing, just to calm people down. Away win.


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