Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Dutch Disaster

Well, it´s not been the happiest of weeks in the world of Spanish football. First off, the tragic death of Antonio Puerta. And then the somewhat unsettling image of Betis president, de Lopera, and Sevilla head honcho, del Nido, in a tender embrace.

"We are brothers in Sevilla and must stay united", said the Betis big shot. La Liga Loca gives it a week before the two club godfathers are at eachother's throats again. And that is approximately how long Thursday's El Mundo gave it, too.

If people are looking for some light relief to lift the gloom a little, then Real Madrid must be the first port of call. In the early hours of Sunday morning, Royston Drenthe was driving about town, with his bird and a couple of mates.

His GPS system, told the Dutchman to make a left turn, to reach his desired destination - home, obviously. He followed the instructions - and drove straight into a police car, coming in the opposite direction.

Fortunately no one was injured. And fortunately, Drenthe passed his breath test, otherwise a swift move to West Ham may well have been on the cards.

Meanwhile, in Castle Greyskull, Schuster and co have made a whopping U turn on their newly recruited 'cantera' products. At the beginning of the summer, the likes of de la Red were signed up on long term deals and brought along to the training camps. Indeed, must of them featured in their subsequent pre season thrashings.

But in a change of heart, it seems that five of them are now surplus to requirements and are set to be shipped out to ABG - that's Anywhere But Getafe. Yet again, Calderón is refusing to sanction any move to the Coliseum, due to his feud with Getafe president, Angel Torres.

Atletico Madrid are set to play footballing roulette by toying with the idea of signing Riquelme. One of La Liga Loca´s very unreliable sources, suggests that Riquelme desperately wants to stay in Argentina, but Villarreal have stuck a price on the player's head that Boca Juniors cannot afford.

The one paced midfielder's crazy plan, allegedly, is to find a club where he can do bugger all for a year, sulk and thus lower his transfer value. And Atletico Madrid are the perfect club for this dastardly deed.

AS's Atletico expert, Iñaki Diàz Guerra, certainly isn't impressed by the possible move and suggests that rearranging the entire set up of the team to accomodate the new arrival is not a smart move. "It's obvious that the summer's planning at Atletico has been a disaster. And I don't know whether to be happy or scared about the Riquelme deal", continued the hack on the slightly portly looking Argentinean's arrival.


All blog content, copyright of La Liga Loca, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Antonio Puerta: 1984-2007

Over the last fifteen months, Antonio Puerta was with his Sevilla teammates, every step of the way, as they fought their way to footballing glory. Over the last three days, Antonio Puerta had to face his toughest battle alone. Tragically, it was a battle he lost.

Over the next few days and weeks, questions will be asked as to how an athlete, supposedly in peak condition, can have his life cut short in such terrible circumstances. And it is right that these questions are asked.

But first, let's take the time to remember a cracking player.

Antonio Puerta was a key part of one of the most exciting, exhilarating teams in world football.

Like his companion on the right, Dani Alves, Puerta's position on the pitch was hard to define. It was either left back, left wingback, or left midfield. Marca plumps for the latter, in their profile of the player. As long as Puerta was hurtling down the wing, giving defenders a crappy evening, he was happy.

However, being Spanish and on the wing, Puerta was also an outrageous and accomplished diver - and it was for this reason that he first made his debut in La Liga Loca's ramblings. That and his tremendous musketeer beard, that made him look so much older than his twenty two years.

But, Puerta really made a name for himself with this - in extra time of the semi-final of the 2005-06 UEFA cup against Schalke. With the first leg goalless and the second drifting towards penalties, Puerta thumped home one of the most celebrated goals in Sevilla's history.

Without that goal, who knows what might have happened to his side. Instead, it helped Sevilla become one of the most successful clubs in Europe today.

Antonio Puerta was born in Seville on 11th November, 1984. He rose through the ranks of his local club as one of Monchi's boys, eventually making his league debut for Sevilla against Malaga in March 2004. However, it was not until the 2005/06 season, that Puerta became a regular in the first team.

Last year, he featured in forty seven of Sevilla's matches and scored two goals.

Puerta had started to push his way into the Spanish national team and won his first call up against Sweden, in November 2006. Over the summer, Manchester United were looking at Puerta as a long term replacement for Ryan Giggs - a small indication of the talent that football has lost.

Antonio Puerta was also six weeks away from becoming a father for the first time.

Although it is no consolation to Puerta's family and friends, his untimely death may lead to some small good. It may lead to an end the often infantile and bitter feuding, between his city's two clubs. Reports of 5000 Sevilla and Betis fans gathering together at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Tuesday night, to pay their respects, certainly offers hope.

The best way to close this tribute to Antonio is to quote Sevilla president, José Maria del Nido, who for once found the perfect words to describe the feelings of many Sevillistas - "That diamond left foot of Antonio Puerta's has left us, that left foot that changed our lives has left us".

Cheers, Antonio. RIP.

Quotes of the Week

More Crazy Talk

"Let's see what happens. I don't know" - Frank Rijkaard's ingenious tactical plan on how to play the increasingly tiresome 'fantastic four' together.

"He wants to learn. But he talks too much" - A very prescient Fabio Capello after one of his first meetings with Ramón Calderón.

"I'm going to show that I'm not made of glass" - Tough talk from Arjen Robben at his Real Madrid presentation. Robben is out for the next three weeks.

"I'm disappointed with the treatment and the lack of the respect" - Says Dani Alves, who is currently refusing to play for his employers in the Champions League.

"You came as a kid. You left as a mercenary" - A banner from the Sevilla match, at the weekend, shows the slight lack of sympathy from the fans, on his plight.

"The only thing we didn't do, is score" - Samuel Eto'o. A Spanish Match of the Day pundit in the making.

"I'm not bothered about being on the bench" - Hands up who believes Deco, after this post Racing Santander gem. Thought so.

"Robben is the best winger in the world? Ramon Calderón said the same about me!" - José Antonio Reyes, mishearing the Real Madrid president, who described the player as the best whinger in the world.

"He doesn't want me and he doesn't have the balls to tell me in person" - Anyone with Sevilla striker, Ernesto Chevantón, in their fantasy team may want to move him out, after this ill-advised comment in Juande Ramos' direction.

"We won't be going on holiday together" - Juande Ramos ruins the image of himself and Sevilla president, José Maria del Nido, packing their Speedos into the club Ford Cortina and heading off to the beach.

"Magnificent work" - Recreativo's insanely cheerful, Victor Muñoz, on his team after their pre season which produced a grand total of no wins.

"Tactically, the teams in England aren't as strong as in Spain" - Fernando Torres, forgetting the small matters of Barcelona v Liverpool and Chelsea v Valencia, last season.

"We lost today. But if we play like this then we'll win a lot of games" - Atletico coach, Javier Aguirre briefly goes back in time nine months, during the post derby press conference.

"My intention is to find a space here" - Says Valencia's Angel Arizmendi who is either in the car park of his local garden centre, or talking about the future at his new club. He will have more success in the former.

"This is a final" - David Villa popped up with the first "this is a final" comment of the season, ahead of their eventual first leg rout of Elfsburg.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday´s Good Day, Bad Day

Buy, Buy, Buy!!!

Read this, buy this and watch Extra Time (live today on Real Madrid tv at 17.30 UK time and repeated throughout the week) as The Spanish Thing tries to avoid Ramón Calderón's crocodile pit. And swearing.

Bad Day

'The Man'

For heaven's sake, Spanish football suits, sort yourself out. The not insignificant fixture of the Madrid derby was blanked out for everyone outside of Spain. Good going. Even the club's own tv station was locked out of the commentary box.

Fixtures were moved around willy-nilly. One minute, there was to be no live matches, the next La Sexta were transmitting four. At the time of writing, there is still no schedule for next weekend's games, leaving fans, coaches and players up the creek, with a mere lollipop stick for a paddle.

And TVE2 have replaced 'El Rondo' with Hugo Gati - an octogenarian Peter Stringfellow look alike - sporting a black see through shirt. La Liga Loca misses the entertaining big orange man and Lourdes, already.

José Antonio Reyes

"We're going to win 2-0 and I'm going to score", boasted little José before Saturday's derby. Fine sentiments, had he not forgotten two key issues. He was playing for Atletico Madrid. And he was on the bench. He is joined in the bad day section by Mariano Pernía who opted against marking the excellent Sergio Ramos for much of the game, and gave the full back enough time to write his shopping list, before floating in the cross for Raul's equaliser. And as for Simao!

To be fair to the rojiblancos, this was a tough test for a season opener. Next week's homer against Recreativo should give more of an indication of which path Javier Aguirre and co will be treading, this year.


Big sigh. Barcelona were not as bad as an hysterical Sport are reporting. And Racing are better than La Liga Loca suspected. True, the home side were beaten 3-0 by the Catalans at a similar stage, last season, but that was before former coach, Portugal, was able to work his magic on the team. This time round, it's ex-Recreativo boss, Marcelino at the helm - a man who knows how to get a result. Even with ten men.

However, as Frank Rijkaard admitted, "we lacked freshness" - a worrying confession for a team just one match into the season. "It was not a good day", confirmed the Dutchman.

But yet again, there was a great deal of fiffing and faffing around the opposition box, without too much end product. And the sooner Barcelona can get Gaby Milito and Carles Puyol back to fitness, the better.

p.s. Not the way Ronaldinho would have wanted to remember his last game for the club, before his move to Chelsea on Friday.


Dearie me. Aside from the ever excellent Ricardo Oliveira and his excellent strike, it was a load of old gumpf from Real Zaragoza on Saturday night. If forward, Sergio García, had spent less time on his homage to Craig David beard and more on target practice, then things might have been a little different for the visitors.


Speaking of a load of old gumpf. Valencia, explain yourself! Already being outplayed by Villarreal and 1-0 down, David Villa decided to pick up two yellows - dissent and diving. And then at 2-0 down, Joaquín (breast fed till he was six, by the way) pulled off the same trick with a straight red for some unfortunate comments aimed at the linesman.

Carlos Marchena should have followed him, for pretending to have been punched in the face by Matigol. "We had a bad game", admitted a very depressed Quique, after the match, as he picked up this week's "no sh*t Sherlock" award.

Deportivo, Ian Harte-less Levante

Very long seasons ahead for these two wasters. However, "a pathetic Deportivo" - as AS branded them - were probably the worst after their 3-0 home drubbing by Almería. But Levante were not too far behind with their own flaccid 3-0 defeat at Mallorca.

Athletic Bilbao Fans

As predicted by La Liga Loca, last week, the season is not going to be a pretty one for Athletic and their battling Basque support. Joaquín Caparrós has built a side that is going to be as tough as old boots at the back, but a little limp up front. An approach perfectly seen by their 0-0 stalemate with Osasuna, a match they really should have won, if they are to avoid another year of woe. And except some refereeing conspiracy whispers from the North over Aitor Ocio's sending off.

Real Betis

Not the most convincing of starts to the season, sniff AS, who wrote that "Hector Cuper shouted and shouted, but with no result". Recreativo didn't lose, so they are probably quite chuffed.


Mmm. 1-0 home to defeat to Valladolid. And Paul from Barcelona was one of 16,000 to enjoy this footballing feast. Take it away.

"What a shower, no not the weather, the 11 players of Espanyol.
We were desperate and well done to Valladolid. A well deserved but incredibly easy 3 points. The starting 11 was wrong, then again Valverde f*cked it up 1st match last year (0-1 vs 'Nastic), 2 defensive midfield players and no centre forward. AT HOME !!!!!!!

I hope the club kept the receipt for Valdo,hopefully we can exchange him for a cardigan or a pair of socks,something useful.

We have 5 days to sign a striker or 11 new players, i don't care, and my motorbike broke down on the way to the match and i had to push it 5 miles home. Most of the fans were singing "Walter Pandiani" a Jaap Stam style transfer disaster.

So if this continues,i look forward to an injury time winner against Almeria on the last day of the season to keep us up....It really was that bad.

If anyone saw the match on Canal +..was the linesman on the far side as bad as he looked? From my point of view, he had no idea what the offside rule was, not just for us, but for both teams

Paul, Barcelona


Good Day

Real Madrid

A tremendous game to kick off the new season. And a fairly decent performance from Bernd Schuster's men, considering the talk of doom and gloom from La Liga Loca. And considering the goal conceded in about five seconds.

On the plus side for Real, Robinho looks a lot more comfortable on the right. As does Sergio Ramos, who now has a licence to charge around the pitch, Dani Alves style. Something Royston Drenthe did, until chained to the left wing in the second half, by Schuster. On the downside, the defence dithered far too much - and to borrow corporate talk - were far too reactive, than pro active.

A more interesting test for Real Madrid, lies next week, against a tasty looking Villarreal.

Pedro Munitis

Like a tiny bold-headed steam train. If that's possible.

Pablo Garcia

Perhaps, La Liga Loca was a little hasty in condemning Almeria and Murcia to relegation hell, this season. The latter's performance was by far the most impressive, with Pablo Garcia - now morphing into Suzi Quatro - running the show, by setting up both Mejia and Baiano for their goals, in the victory over Zaragoza.

Ariel Ibagaza

There are one or two pundits out there who suggested that La Liga Loca had been drinking or banged its head when suggesting Mallorca might be a little bit tasty, this year.

Fair enough, they may have been taking on a Levante side described by their own coach as "a crock of old sh*y, quite frankly" - or not - but Ariel Ibagaza and co have continued their good work, from the latter half of last season. If Dani Guiza scores any more, then La Liga Loca is going to have to spend a weekend finding that annoying double-dot symbol on its keyboard, that sits above his name.


Hard to know whether to put Sevilla, into this or the bad day section, considering the terrible situation with Antonio Puerta. But they are top, after a 4-1 win over Getafe. Not that they will much care.

Santiago Cazorla

What a way to make yourself popular with the crew of the Yellow Submarines. Sunday saw a busy, bustling display from the former Recreativo man, that gave Valencia's defence a torrid time.


Anyone missed? Just click on comments or email


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Big Season Preview - Part Two

From Murcia to Zaragoza


Championship legend, Gifton Noel Williams, could have been the only Englishman in the Spanish top flight this season. Instead, the club felt that the former Burnley giant might struggle against Milito and co and ditched him over the summer. Fair enough. Coming into the squad are Real Madrid's Alvaro Mejía and another reject from the Bernabeu, the highlighted Pablo García, who is now at his fourth side, in four seasons. If he doesn't want to play in the Segunda next year, then he'll have to make it club number five, next time round, as that's where Murcia are going.

Key man - Pablo Garcia, although the mauling midfielder now looks like Janis Joplin with a lemon juice bleach job.

Prediction - 19th (relegated)


Spain hasn't seen this many people fleeing Pamplona since Andy and Lucas decided to play a week of gigs there. Over the close season, Osasuna has waved good-bye to Raúl García, David López, Roberto Soldado, Pierre Webó, Cuéllar, Valdo and Savo Milosevic. And they have only replaced them with Javier Portillo, Walter Pandiani and Hugo Viana. This does not suggest a fruitful season.

Key man - A fully fit Ludovic Delporte. Unlike most girl's blouse wearing poncy wingers, Delporte is a snarling, nut job genius.

Prediction - 14th

Racing Santander

The big man with the great touch, Nikola Zigic has gone. And Racing Santander are reportedly a good 20 million euros richer, so expect a late flurry of signings from the Cantabrians. Last year's coach, Miguel Angel Portugal, stomped off over the summer, to become Real Madrid's Sporting technical director. Or is it Secretary of sporting direction - an oxymoron if ever there was one. In his place is ex-Recreativo chief, Marcelino, whose number one priority must be to unearth a new striking partner for Pedro Munitis, sharpish.

Key man - Ezequiel Garay. If Racing Santander hang onto the talented, young Argentinean centre back for the whole season, then La Liga Loca is a fair and accurate reflection of the Spanish game.

Prediction - 13th

Real Madrid

If anyone out there can correctly predict Real Madrid's starting eleven against Atletico Madrid on Saturday, then you are doing well. And you may want to call Bernd Schuster. He could do with the help. And another two years of preseason, to stumble on a winning combination from Van Nistelrooy, Raul, Robinho, Granero, Baptista, Soldado, Saviola, Drenthe, Gago, Guti, Diarra, de la Red, Balboa, Sneijder, Higuaín and Robben.

There are two many good players for Real Madrid not to be challenging for the title, but too many open questions remain on whether Schuster is up to the task of seeing it through to the end. And if Ramón Calderón can hang on to what little of the plot is still in his grasp.

Key Man - Robinho. If Real Madrid are smart, they won't let the arrival of Robben block the path of the Brazilian who is finally starting to deliver on his potential. But it's a big 'if'.

Prediction 3rd


To come straight to the point, Recreativo are absolutely screwed, this season - something Marca readers also predict in a current poll. All the key figures that lifted Recre to a remarkable eight placed finish, last year, have buggered off. No more Marcelino, López Vallejo, Viquera, Uche and Cazorla. In fact thirteen players have moved out, with eleven coming in. And they all look rubbish.

Key man - Florent Sinama-Pongolle. The striker's move from Liverpool has now been made permanent, but it looks like he is going to be carrying the entire side on his goal scoring back.

Prediction - 18th (relegated)


La Liga Loca
has eternally underestimated Sevilla in its predictions - Sunday was the last time - and it is going to do so again. Dani Alves may well be flopping around and clutching his head at Chelsea some time soon and there is a fair chance that the love-hate relationship between del Nido and Juande Ramos may finally swing in the direction of the latter. Will be interesting to see how well Sevilla's Boulahrouz-containing squad cope with the stresses and strains of the Champions League.

Key Man - Jesús Navas. A quiet season, last time round, Sevilla are really going to need to see him back at his best. And travelling.

Prediction - 5th


Yet again, the biggest opponent for Valencia in their title chase, is Valencia. However, the side have helped themselves by ditching the former sporting director Amedeo Carboni, who has headed off to Italy to hatch dastardly plans for revenge on his former club. Probably. On paper, still the best squad in the league. But it is on grass - but more particularly grass away from home, that Valencia have stuffed things up over recent years.

Key man - Angel Arizmendi. Not really. Come on...five goals in two seasons and crazy people still claim he is a great striker.

Prediction - 3rd


The almost unpronounceable side, when a little bit tipsy, blew away the opposition to storm to Segunda division glory, last season - a campaign that included a twenty seven match unbeaten run. The combination of this momentum and the cannon fodder of Recreativo and co, should be enough to keep the new boys up.

Key man - Well, men really. Víctor and Llorente grabbed thirty six goals, this season and will form one of the few old fashioned striking partnerships in this year's top flight.



An awful lot of movement in the Yellow Submarines' waters, over the summer, suggests it may take time for Manuel Pellegrini to find a winning combination in his 4th season in charge. Forlán has moved on to Capital City and Ayala was in...and then out again, when he took the chance to move in with his Argentinean chums at Zaragoza. The front three of Rossi from Manchester United, Nihat (remember him?) and Tomasson have awfully big boots to fill, after Forlán's departure. How well they do it is the key to Villarreal's season.

Key Man - Robert Pires was the driving force behind Villarreal's astonishing end of season, Atletico Madrid-screwing run. The Yellow Submarines will be hoping he has one more corker of year left in his gallic footballing fuel tank.

Prediction - 8th


The canniest - or dodgiest - piece of transfer trickery this summer, was Zaragoza's diversion of Ayala to La Romareda to fill the Gaby Milito shaped hole in defence. Especially, as the side have also lost the on loan Piqué, who has returned to Old Trafford. Aside from that, the Zaragoza side is similar to last year's bunch, although they will be very relieved that they managed to repel a sneaky late bid from Real Madrid for Diego Milito's services.

Key man - Ricardo Oliveira. A superb bit of on loan business. The former Betis striker had a torid time at AC Milan, last season, both on and off the pitch. The Brazilian is a guaranteed fifteen goals a season, man.

Prediction - 6th


That table in full

1 Barcelona
2 Valencia
3 Real Madrid
4 Atletico Madrid
5 Sevilla
6 Zaragoza
7 Mallorca
8 Villarreal
9 Espanyol
10 Getafe
11 Betis
12 Athletic
13 Racing
14 Osasuna
15 Levante
16 Valladolid
17 Deportivo
18 Recreativo
19 Murcia
20 Almeria


All blog content, copyright of La Liga Loca, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Big Season Preview - Part One

From Almería to Mallorca


And so the Horned One arises - the club supported by Lucifer himself, David Bisbal, claws its way back into the Primera after twenty six years of Peter Cushing inspired banishment. But it is going to be a short stay. With a defence packed with Real Sociedad and Getafe rejects, Almería are going to be bottom of the pile come May.

Key Man - Almería are relying on the goals of former Real Madrid Castilla striker, Alvaro Negredo, to keep them up. Considering his last team were relegated to the Segunda B, the omens are not good.

Prediction - 20th (relegated)

Athletic Bilbao

The new season sees yet another president and yet another manager for Athletic Bilbao, the universe's most peculiar club. The permanently sleep-deprived, Joaquín Caparrós, has been brought in to avoid the relegation dramatics of previous years and he should succeed. But it won't be pretty to watch. Espanyol's highly rated Gorka Iraizoz is set to start in goal and Sevilla's Aitor Ocio has been drafted in to shore up last season's calamitous defence.

Key Man - Fran Yeste. Set to miss the start of the season - the club stalled on a decision to patch up his dicky groin - Yeste, when fit, is one of classiest midfielders outside of the top six.

Prediction - 12th

Atletico Madrid

Here we go again. Millions spent - check. Ambitious talk - check. Dodgy defence - check. But this time things are going to be different for Atletico. An attack featuring the talents of Simao, Forlán, Aguero, Luis García, Maxi, Reyes and Maniche (don't snigger) backed with the swashbuckling Raul Garcia in midfield simply cannot fail. Or can it?

Key Man - Diego Forlán. Within two months, it will be "Fernando who?" from the rojiblanco faithful.

Prediction - 4th


The city's entire infrastructure may have collapsed over the summer, in a tremendous cloud of blame-assigning, finger pointing and pot banging, that the Spanish do best, but the club has been as solid as a rock. Or has it? On paper, all the problem areas on the pitch have been fixed - a decent left back (Abidal), a partner for Puyol (Milito), someone who can tackle (Yaya Touré) and a rather handy attacking reinforcement (Henry).

With injuries, suspensions, d'inho fancying a crafty fag break and the African Nations cup, the debate over how to play the Fantastic Four at the same time is a false one. The real issue is how to balance the midfield and keep every one (i.e. Deco) happy.

Barcelona's main weakness is the very real fear of a Galactico-style implosion. And it's for this reason that the club have set up a weekly committee that will sit and review the on and off pitch behaviour of all the squad. Something the players are sure to enjoy.

Key Man - Yaya Touré. Set to be the buy of the season and the man to add a bit of lead into Barcelona's football pencil.

Prediction - Champions.


Betis will be hard pushed to have a season as wretched as the last two. And with tough nut "I smile sometimes" Héctor Cúper in charge, it is a fate that they should avoid. On the transfer front, a few wasters have either been kicked out (Robert, Pancrate) or parked at Cadiz (Dani, Contreras). Coming in is a proper goal keeper, Ricardo, and a new left flank in the shape of Marko Babic from Leverkeusen and Liverpool's Mark Gonzalez. The bad news is that de Lopera and his huskies have not yet been run of town.

Key man - Up front, Betis have brought in "the tank", Mariano Pavone, from Estudiantes. They will be hoping he is more Oliveira than Sobis, in front of goal.

Prediction - 11th


Marca note in their pre season review that if Deportivo do not bore the arse of either their opponents, themselves or their fans, then it would be a great season. For once, La Liga Loca concurs. However, the club are in a dreadful downward spiral. Players remain unpaid, debts are piling up and relegation battle specialist Miguel Angel Lotina has been brought it for the inevitable season long struggle against the drop.

Key men - Juan Carlos Valerón. The club should throw the permanently crocked midfielder onto the pitch, no matter what state his knee is in. Can't do any worse than the existing bunch of half-wits.

Prediction - 17th


Yet, again, Espanyol's challenge this season will be to keep their three big cheeses happy - Ivan de la Peña, Raul Tamudo and Luis García. Colouring books should do the trick. If they succeed, the Catalans could push for UEFA cup spot. The new signings have not exactly set perico pulses running, but there is enough talent in the squad to have a good season.

Key man - Raul Tamudo. Nearly went to Villarreal, but looks like he should be hanging around at the delightful Montjuic a little bit longer.

Prediction - 9th


Whither Getafe? The club has now lost Bernd Schuster after his constant grumbling delivered him the poisoned chalice of managing Real Madrid. And they have a UEFA cup run to content with, after their Copa del Rey final finish. Michael Laudrup has been brought in after a decent spell at Brondby and a strong pre season combined with handy reinforcements in Kepa and Uche up front and the next big thing in goal, Oscar Ustari, suggest that sporting director, Santiago Llorente's fears of a European distraction will remain unfounded.

Key Man - Francisco Casquero - lead a one man battle for the goal of the season, last time round.

Prediction - 10th


Now Ian Harte-less, but still perhaps the least favourite side of may of the blog's readers due to their fouling and alleged bribe paying ways. For once, the management have restrained themselves from sacking their coach - a rarity - and Abel Resino remains in the post. His team are a mixture of grisly old veterans and imports from all over the world. And, yet again, they will be horrible to watch.

Key Man - Shota Arveladze. Yes - Levante's goal scoring hopes lie at the feet of the former Rangers forward.


Six months ago, Mallorca were tedium on toast. Mid-table mediocrity. Watching them hack their away around the pitch was as pleasurable as sitting through any show broadcast by Telecinco. But then something changed, Gregorio Manzano turned his team into almost invincible goliaths at home and very nearly put the skids under Real Madrid's title dreams on the last day of the season.

This time round, a Mallorca an attacking line up of Ibagaza, Arango, Jonás, Wébo and Guiza, should see the Balearic battlers picking up where they left off.

Key Man - Dani Guiza. A tiresome whiner, but a solid striker returns to his old club after six year absence.

Prediction - 7th



Itchy Madrid

In my humble opinion, Madrid's problem is not lack of talent at any position, or poor coaching, or their style, or any other football-related issue. Rather, it's the team's inability to sit still.

How many new signings have Real Madrid made in the last six years? Ronaldo, Beckham, Walter Samuel, Robinho, Sergio Ramos, Pablo Garcia, Diogo, Baptista, Cannavaro, Cicinho, Michael Owen, Drenthe, Gravesen, Woodgate, Van Nistelrooy, Gago, Higuain, Saviola, Sneijder, Pepe, Diarra, Emerson, Reyes, Dudek. How many managers? Del Bosque, Garcia Remon, Queiroz, Lopez Caro, Camacho, Luxemburgo, Capello, and Schuster.

24 new players and 8 managers in six years. It might not be an exaggeration to say they have had the greatest amount of turnover for any major club in history.

Why? Real Madrid was spectacular six years ago. Now they're crap. Back then their core team of Casillas, Raul, Morientes, Roberto Carlos, Salgado, Hierro, and Helguera had been playing under one manager, Del Bosque for years together. Each year Florentino signed one or two players to add to the core. Now, it's a complete liquidation every six months. Players don't have time to adjust to one another's style, and so they don't improve. As soon as they adjust, they start from scratch again. It's so bad even success cannot save you at Real Madrid, as the club has fired the last two trainers to bring home hardware -- Del Bosque and Capello.

The front page of tells me that "Milito es la solucion!" Milito isn't the solution. Consistency is.



And Your Questions Answered...

dear laligaloca

the self-important, silverware-free, village of norf london, from where i write, is very much concerned with whether mr ramos will be coming to take over our local hotspurs. the spurs board (esp levy) definitely seem to want to dump martin jol, against the wishes of virtually all fans, but no movement so far. what are juan de's doubts? does he recognise that tottenham carry an atletico-style curse upon their heads? any intelligence welcome.

a village idiot

It looks like Ramos is staying put and seeing out his contract at Sevilla, which expires in June. After that? Who knows - La Liga Loca

I am a big fan, though i only began reading your blog during last years liga.

you bring a hysterical view to the games, and in footy deprived canada, it is one of my few options to read.

however, i have to ask, who is your team?

your supporter!

Ipswich Town. And I am a one team man - La Liga Loca


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bernd Schuster's Angry Mob

"A pathetic image that doesn't invite the minimum of optimism" - No, Barcelona based Sport hasn't been assessing La Liga Loca's career prospects, but instead is in full editorial rant mode after Real Madrid's somewhat unorthodox pre season, culminating in a five goal thrashing by a super charged Sevilla in the Supercup.

When La Liga Loca headed off to pastures new to smell the footballing airs, elsewhere, Guti was king of hill at the Bernabeu, after a dazzling display against mighty Lokomotiv Moscow. Two weeks and defeats to Hannover 96, PSV, Deportivo, Sevilla (twice) and Betis have now lead to stories of Guti to Newcastle, of all places.

Certainly his case has not been helped by the double Dutch purchases of Royston Drenthe and Wesley Sneijder. But still, his situation could be a lot worse. He could be Fernando Gago (twenty four million euros!)

The hype poured onto Bernd Schuster earlier this summer has now turned to bite him in his Teutonic arse, in fine mixed metaphoring style. "He is in a sea of doubts" laments Marca. "Barça Smell!" declares AS, trying to ignore a pre season that has been one of Real's worst for years.

As most football fans know, pre season results aren't worth a hill of beans but that has not stopped the backlash against poor old Bernd, who is starting to understand that he isn't in Kansas anymore. Well, Getafe.

"Can't you all find another theme?" questioned Schuster pointlessly on Sunday night, after the press repeated the "why don't you drop Raul?" topic. "One day his luck will change and he'll start scoring", claimed Bernd, already starting to sound like all his predecessors.

One man who already looks every euro worth his 30 million fee is the tiny headed Pepe, who has already spat at and headbutted opposition players, given away a penalty, conceded five goals at home and got himself sent off. And the season hasn't even started.

It is a very different story in Sevilla, who have now won five trophies in fifteen months, "even Lopera would applaud", claim AS quite incorrectly. Sevilla president, del Nido, still refuses to let all the success go to his head and declared modestly that, "we are the best team in Spain. Only, we know how to win".

La Liga Loca
senses a Nelson style "Ah ha!" at the pint sized prezzie, should his pomposity prevent him from keeping his claws on the supposedly departing Juande Ramos and Dani Alves.

All seems to be fairly quiet in the Barcelona camp, with the only uncomfortable noises coming from Deco's direction. The success of Yaya Tourè (or is it Touré Yaya) in midfield has left only two positions for Deco, Iniesti and Xavi to fight over, in a mighty midget death match.

"If I don't have a place here, then I'll go", moaned Deco, already conceding defeat. And this attitude received a swift public retort from Samuel Eto'o of all people. "If one day, I'm on the bench, it doesn't matter", commented the Cameroonian, a player who enjoys sitting on it so much, he once refused to come off.

The only real doubt in the Barcelona camp, seems to be over a possible repeat of the star heavy Real Madrid demise. "I hope the same thing that happened to them, doesn't happen to us", said Xavi.

Meanwhile, AS have been doing their very best to find cracks in the Barça dam. "Ronaldinho arrived for training six minutes late!" declared the paper, last week, "with no explanation!"

Valencia made the curious move of paying a good ten million euros too much for Racing Santander's 'giganton', Nikola Zigic, to add to their already scary array of attacking talent. And Arizmendi.

And the Mestalla men are still making eyes at Rafael Van der Vaart at Hamburg, whose wife certainly seems keen on a move to Spain, "I'm afraid, especially for my son, when Rafael is not at home," admitted a lady who has clearly never heard of the Valencia "fires" festival, where Spanish parents let their five year old darlings blow their own hands off with fireworks, once a year.

Athletic Bilbao and Getafe ignored the 'friendly' aspect of their pre season matches by scrapping with opposition teams on tours, in matches that were eventually abandoned.

Top scorer in pre season has been...wait for it...Villarreal's Guille Franco with nine efforts - mostly against one side though. And it has been a fine summer for the Yellow Submarines, despite the loss of Ayala to Zaragoza.

And speaking of want away Argentineans, Manuel Pellegrini's men are still trying rid themselves of Riquelme. Boca want him on loan, but Villarreal are only interested in cold hard cash for the midfielder.

Drop in on La Liga Loca on Wednesday and Thursday for a full season preview and hopelessly wrong predictions. But feel free to join in by clicking on comments or emailing


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Achtung Maybe for Bernd?

La Liga Loca is feeling bothered and bewildered; crazed and confused; dithered and dumbstruck. No it isn´t still trying to recover from the mental enema that is Transformers, but La Liga Loca feels that it has been lied to. Oh yes.

When Marca and AS heralded the arrival of Bernd Schuster, the writers of these two footballing bibles declared that it would bring in a new era of peace and harmony across the world.

That the lion would lie down with the snake. That the Spanish would stop moaning about the heat. That Real Madrid would sweep all before them in such a manner that all watching fans would immediately full under their thrall. But they lied. And La Liga Loca feels used and abused.

But for a while, the dream was very much alive. Last Friday, Stoke City were crushed like a grape in the hand of Satan by the mighty Whites in a 2-0 thrashing that sent shockwaves around the world. Raul´s "autentico golazo", that some heathens dared to describe as "a two foot tap in", showed the fearsome forward was back. Again.

But the Spanish media´s tissue of lies was torn apart - as was Real Madrid´s defence - by Hannover 96 on Tuesday night, when the German side trounced them 3-0.

Of course, this being La Liga Loca, exageration and untruths are both in play here, but this is a fraction of the pee-taking Bernd Schuster is going to receive from all sides, in the new season, if his team should fail in even one match, so high has the level of expectation been raised.

To avoid this fate, the German coach is still trying to bring in Robben from Chelsea, but the verbal dynamo of a president, Ramon Calderón is refusing to pay the 36 million euros demanded from a club, not really keen on selling the wonderful winger in the first place.

Of course, the president did not flinch in forking out 30 odd million for Pepe. Or 24 million for Gago. Or 24 million for Diarra. Or 8 million for...

Schuster has also hinted that he would quite like to bring Ballack into the side, but only being the manager of the team, his idea has been vetoed by Pedja Mijatovic.

But for more on Real Madrid´s latest escapades, La Liga Loca points readers in the direction of Sid Lowe´s piece this week, which points out that the club now has seven strikers, four right backs and no proper left backs. But it does have two technical secretaries who don´t speak to eachother.

Across the city José Antonio Reyes has been unveiled to a tremendously hostile, Atletico Madrid crowd. The winger´s less than warm welcome stemmed from him walking out on a deal, last summer to join Real Madrid where he spent the last two months grovelling outside Ramon Calderón´s office, so he could stay.

"I´m going to change the whistles to applause", predicted the Andalusian in his press conference.

The club have yet to complete their summer splurge and have now been linked with Castilla central midfielder, Javi Garcia - because Jurado worked out so well, last season.

But more importantly, Atletico have announced the signing of a deal that sees them moving out of the Calderón and into a soon to be reconstructed athletics stadium to the east of the city in 2010-11.

The book is open on whether the demolition of the Calderón will reveal whether the stadium was built on the site of an old Indian burial ground - which would explain a lot.

Doubts still future over the future of Barcelona´s Deco. The player confessed to The Sun - so it must be true - that it would not be terrible to be reunited with Jose Mourinho, sometime soon. "I like Barcelona, but if I´m not in the coach´s plans, then I´m off", he announced. However, the club have declared that the midfielder is not for sale. "He´s not for sale" declared Txiki.

Thuram has broken ranks by complaining about Barça´s upcoming trip to Japan and Hong Kong - "this is not best physical preperation for the team", complained the Frenchman who much preferred toying with Scotland´s finest and a spot of golf, as a warm up.

Another Catalan complainer is Thiago Motta, who is still grumbling that he is not being allowed to leave on a free transfer.

A delay to Sevilla´s departure to the US, gave Jesus Navas - the club´s own version of Mr T - the time to decide to get on that plane and travel with the squad, after all, for their pre season tour.

Valencia had mixed results in a mini competition held at Arsenal´s ground. The side conquered Inter Milan 2-0 with goals from Gavilan and David Villa, but then a less than strong line up suffered the humilation of losing to a French side, PSG, 3-0.

Espanyol have had a lot of fun on their own summer travels. A friendly against Irish side, Glentoran, kicked off two hours late after their airline, Flybe, refused to carry the team´s luggage until a lot of finger wagging and blustering had been done from the Catalan club.

On Tuesday, the club suffered more punishment, both physical and spiritual by a trip to Coventry. The joys of Bolton are yet to come.

Getafe have spared Dani Guiza from being sent to Russia, but have moved him on to Mallorca instead. And the striker is not happy about it. "I didn´t take the step, Angel Torres, did", grumbled Guiza, "he didn´t speak to me, he didn´t say goodbye", he continued, completely overlooking his complaints last season, that he wanted to move to a "bigger team, like Mallorca."

Villarreal have made the interesting move of signing Giuseppe Rossi from Manchester United to fill the Forlán gap. And the club are still trying to sort out Riquelme´s future, who himself is as unhurried in his decision making as he is on the football pitch. "Riquelme is one of the best in the world when he is dedicated to playing", declared manager, Pellegrini, as he started the Ebay bid for the midfielder.

Real Murcia have unveiled Pablo Garcia, complete with bleached blonde highlights to a stunned press. And they will be repeating the same event with Celta striker, Fernando Baiano in a few days time.

And Real Betis coach, Hector Cúper, has revealed just a hint of the the kind of fun his new side must be having in pre season. "I like discipline and order, I laugh when I have to laugh. I don´t laugh all the time." La Liga Loca´s readers will know how he feels.

And with that, the blog leaves you for a few weeks. Adios.

p.s Stupid spell check stupid software not working.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2007