Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Barça Back Out of Iberian Battle

With Frank Rijkaard having waved a big white flag of surrender on the title race with his rather defeatist, "it seems that no-one can beat Real Madrid," comment, it's time for everyone to work out how they are going to pass the next four months or so, with only the plight of Valencia for entertainment.

'La Liga Loca' has got hold of 'Heroes' at last, is a bit behind on the ongoing adventures of Jack Bauer and has never seen 'Prison Break', so it is all sorted until summer.

'Sport' has taken to printing emails from irate readers - those who can send emails in between the powercuts attacking the city - across its opening pages to send a powerful message to those running the Kingdom of Catalunya.

"There is a complete lack of application from some players," grumbles Oscar Senén. "The team needs solutions and Rijkaard has none," declares Mercedes Gallego, "a fan and a member," who will probably find out she isn't one, once Joan Laporta tracks her down on his presidential database.

A bit further along inside the paper, Joan Batile declares in an editorial that, "last year, the bosses watched the side on teletext and never watched them in person as they could see that Barcelona were on top."

Not anymore, he reports, guessing that they are still tuning into "Look Who's Dancing!" on match nights.

'El Mundo Deportivo' are continuing to show an admirable faith in Ronaldinho's abilities by trumpeting the Brazilian's fiftieth return to training, this season.

"He's smiling!" they declare on the front page, hoping his big happy grin will be enough to shut out Villarreal, on Thursday.

Carles Puyol, for one, is delighted to see his team-mate back having grown tired of Citizen Oleguer's ongoing ruminations on whether the French rogue trader is a hero of the people or capitalism's pig dog. "He can bring back the joy we are missing," pontificated the permed one.

'Marca' were feeling very pleased with themselves indeed on Wednesday, having secured an interview with Zizou. Despite offering the fantastic Frenchman with their cheap and tatty all round god award, Zidane still gave them an interview. Once he had wiped away his tears, or course.

"This means a lot to me," claimed the thunderous thug. "Then there was a silence and you could see Zidane was very emotional," claimed 'Marca'.

The paper splashed the headline, "I see Madrid as European Champions!" as Zizou's big prediction. "I don't just see Madrid as European Champions. There are other teams, Manchester United," was what the geriatric genius actually said.

Those non-Roberto Gómez fans may skip this section, but today's ranting ruminations from the paper's chief jester concern Real Madrid's lack of attendance at a local trade fair - a trade fair where he suggests Iker Casillas should be standing next to a model of the Bernabeu. Instead of lying on a bed with Eva González counting his money.

"When Jesus Gil was president of Atlético Madrid and mayor of Marbella, the whole squad went," boasted Gómez neatly side-stepping the fact that Gil stole tax payer's money from the people of Marbella to fund his pet club and would have gone to prison for it, has he not keeled over with a heart attack just before.

Losing two matches in a row constitutes a crisis here in Spain, so Atlético Madrid's three defeats on the trot signifies a full on CRISIS! in the papers. There are no words in Spanish to describe Valencia's slump.

The two sides face eachother in the Vicente Calderón, on Wednesday night, in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter final clash. And 'La Liga Loca' will be there to watch the footballing equivalent of Ivan de la Peña and Pedro Munitis fighting over a comb.

Valencia have a 1-0 advantage and despite the absence of Vicente - who would probably have played in goal - and Silva, central defence - Ronald Koeman is a chipper mood. "We are two victories away from being able to win a title!" announced the doomed Dutchman.

Getafe travel to Mallorca with a 1-0 advantage with housewife's favourite, Michael Laudrup reckoning that, "one goal would be enough." Sounds like a fun night in store at the Ono Estadi.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Has Cuco's Cookie Crumbled?

As expected, the Sevilla v Osasuna post match mayhem has caused more foul-smelling fallout than a dozen rumbling Russian reactors blowing their tops.

But it is not the water throwing, the neck grabbing or police punching that has caused all the to-do but the very, very alleged accusation from a Sevilla blogger that Cuco 'the Hulk' Ziganda had yelled something very unsavoury about Antonio Puerta, during the match.

"If I did say this, then I'll retire," said the vein-throbbing Osasuna coach, who advised that the whole matter was in the hands of his lawyers who are considering suing the author of the original allegation.

Naturally, everyone and everybody involved in the matter - and, of course, those with no connection whatsoever - have thrown their hot-tempered hats into the footballing ring of fire.

"Ziganda is a gentleman, not like some of those in Sevilla," claimed Navarre's regional president, Miguel Sanz, poking his nose in where it really wasn't wanted.

Osasuna pressie, Patxi Izco - Basque scrabble must see some high scoring scorchers - has gone on the offensive and brought up the terrible memory of last season's UEFA cup match against Sevilla.

Izco recalls with a sob and a shudder in AS that he and his delegates were forced to sit in row three of the Pizjuán presidential balcony and not the first. "It was offensive," stuttered the traumatised titan, who must still be taking counselling sessions to get over the experience, the poor baby.

A brand new week means a brand new round of weird wackiness at Valencia - now officially the worst club in the city and probably the whole world when looking at recent results.

El Mundo and AS write that Juan Bautista Soler - a man unable to attend Mestalla on doctor's orders - was on the brink of resigning after the Villarreal defeat, last weekend.

But instead of the board telling Daddy's boy to bugger off, they persuaded him to stay. And this is why Soler's was in attendance at a meeting on Monday to decide the fate of Ronald Koeman.

Although the club's spokesman, Rafa Solem, claimed that "we have total confidence in the coach," Marca reckon that if Valencia don't pull off a decent result against Atlético Madrid in the cup on Wednesday and Valladolid in the league on Sunday, then Koeman's hook will be well and truly slung.

Seeing as the Dutchman was handed a contract till 2010, it is unlikely that he will be that bothered should it come to pass.

There was fighting talk from the players - again - with Raul Albiol declaring that it is 'madness' to talk about relegation but that the team needs to be "practical and forget about nice football." La Liga Loca is already looking forward to its trip to the Calderón on Wednesday night.

Tuesday sees Marca diving into the murky world of Spanish politics with what will be an entertainingly embittered general election just around the corner. Roberto Gomez, for one, has declared that he is scribbling his X in the box marked Mariano Rajoy, the conservative opposition leader, on March 9th.

And the reason why the bearded Galician has won over Gomez' political heart is because Rajoy "supports Deportivo but the team he really loves is Real Madrid," unlike Zapatero who has a fondness for Barcelona but "clearly likes sport, but nothing more."

More importantly for Gomez, the PP primero can also help get him his lucrative old weekly chat show gig back, if he gets into power. "Rajoy reads Marca and would like to see the return of El Rondo."

At time of writing, the PSOE have been disgracefully silent on their policy on the recent cancellation of the footballing shout-fest.

Another of the paper's writers who has come over all political for no apparent reason is Sergi Arola, who rants entertainingly about people stopping him smoking and driving too fast.

"It's like being under Franco," he grumbles. "Why don't we ban Messi, Kun and Robinho from playing badly under threat of expulsion?" is the logical conclusion to those trying to prevent him from running over his fellow citizens or giving them passive lung cancer.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday's Good Day, Bad Day - Round 21

For the Spanish Thing's ruminations on Sevilla, click here for full satisfaction.

And for those wanting to see La Liga Loca in beautiful surround sound, HD 3D, tune into Extra Time (22.05 UK time) on Real Madrid TV - a show repeated throughout the week.

Bad Day


Ok. Hands up in surrender. This isn't funny anymore. La Liga Loca is very, very sorry. The pins have been removed from the Juan Soler doll. No more evil thoughts will be heading in Valencia's direction.

Not really. This is hilarious. Without a victory in nine. Two goals scored in ten. Six points from thirty. And losing at home to Almería.

"If someone wants to destroy a team in two months, ask Koeman. He has the instruction manual," advises El Pais on a Valencia side that now has a record worse than Levante's over the past ten rounds of action.

"The club is in crisis," admitted the Dutch destroyer on Sunday evening, "but I'm not running away after two months." He may not have a choice, as 40,000 very angry Mestallans are the brink of chasing Koeman and his crazy ways right out of town.


Oh dear. Ronald Koeman is not the only man who needs that frown turning upside down. Paul from Barcelona is in the same boat of despondency too, having seen his side lose three in a row in the league.

"Short but sweet today folks. Too depressed to put any effort in. Crap defending and seemingly half-fit team threw away 3 points. Betis were not very good but won't go down.

First goal looked offside to me and we missed at least 8 good chances. One sitter from Coro 5 mins from time was...can't think of a suitable word. "Crap" maybe? Sooner we get a new striker the better.

Good away fan turn out as always. Going to listen to Leonard Cohen to cheer myself up."

Paul, Barcelona


Having only caught the briefest of snatches of this match during, before and after a trip to the Bernabeu on Sunday night, La Liga Loca is about the least qualified person in Spain to say what happened. Not that this stops most of those writing in Marca and AS day in, day out.

The press seems to be agreed that Barcelona should have won the game by scoring a second, but didn't. And that Athletic Bilbao suddenly produced the kind of gonad-grasping grit that has been absent from their play for much of the season.

"A draw that's a defeat," was the opinion of the newly signed up Andrés Iniesta, after the game.

The gap from Real Madrid is now nine points. It's not a chasm, but its big enough to make you think twice about jumping it. "Real Madrid do not seem to be disposed to dropping their guard," writes a thoroughly depressed and defeatist sounding Josep Maria Casanovas, writing in Sport.

One most hope Casanovas' pessimistic appraisal is wrong, as this season could be turning very very dull, very very soon, if Barcelona don't get their act together.


A disastrous defeat at the hands of lowly Levante on Sunday, for Murcia. And it was a defeat that caused a number of home fans to call for the head of manager, Lucas Alcaraz, according to AS.

The bottom of the table is still a bit of a squeeze, so there is plenty of time for Murcia to dig themselves out of trouble. But only if Baiano picks up a shovel, some time soon.

José Antonio Reyes

People of the Primera! Culé's and Ché's. Perico's who come from Valladolid. It's time to focus on what unites us, not divides us. It's time to focus on what makes us strong, not makes us weak. (La Liga Loca is very much into American Primary season). It's time to unite behind the belief that José Antonio Reyes is a bit of a tit.

After a season where the winger has done nothing but complain off the pitch and ponce about on it, Reyes had the chance to put all this behind him and lead his side to victory against Mallorca. Instead, he saw red in a match Marca advised was his last chance to prove himself to Javier Aguirre.

"He's a fascinating but irritating study in human behavoir," observed AS on Reyes' two yellow cards for dissent and a dirty foul that was the highlight of their 1-0 defeat to Mallorca.

Cuco Ziganda

La Liga Loca first got an inkling that all was not right in the Osasuna manager's head at a post match press conference at the Calderón against Atlético Madrid - a match which saw four sent off for the visitors. "The referee had a great game," dead-panned Ziganda with ill-disguised sarcasm.

On Saturday night against Sevilla, Cuco went into complete footballing meltdown when a dubious penalty decision was awarded against his team, in injury time. "You should all be dead, like Puerta," was what Sevilla radio worker, Jesus Alvarado, claims Ziganda yelled at the Sevilla players - something that the Osasuna coach strongly denies.

With the penalty converted and the game lost, Cuco stormed onto the pitch, attempted to fight everyone there and then preceded to rant against refereeing slights that have bedeviled his side, all season.

All in all it was brilliant stuff.


With uncanny and rare predictive brilliance, La Liga Loca wrote that Recreativo would be next to slip into the relegation ejector seat. And so it came to be with a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Getafe for Muñoz' minions.

Recreativo have managed to increase their goal tally over recent weeks, but are still without a win in six.

Good Day

Real Madrid

La Liga Loca
loves Villarreal. With the defensive stylings of Pascal Cygan at the back at the rampaging Rossi up front, they always bring a smile to your face when they turn up for a game of football.

La Liga Loca is also growing fond of Robinho. Another cracking display from no longer young Brazilan put three more points in Real Madrid's title chasing bag - three more points that is starting to make the blog believe that maybe, just maybe Bernd Schuster's men aren't lucky so and so's playing crap teams.

This match was possibly the last big test for Real Madrid, this season - although the blog thinks next week's trip to Almeria could be an upset. Not that AS' Tomas Roncero would agree,

"This Madrid can't be stopped by the Yellow Submarine, nor an aircraft carrier, nor the Seventh Fleet." They probably could be. Especially, if they fly over it in La Saeta.

Real Betis

Betis seem to have one tactical move these days - lob the ball from the left for Edu to head home. But by thunder, it's effective. A very, very, very handy away win for a side, who, let's not forget are still quite rubbish.


A second win in a row for free scoring Getafe and a second match with three goals scored.


An away win! Three goals! These are, indeed, the End of Days.

Juan Carlos Valerón

A fantastic sight on the pitch in Riazor, on Sunday - not words you use often, these days. That was the sight of Valéron back playing football after a two year league absence and after a brush with retirement. The midfielder snapped his ligaments in January 2006, before coming back in a friendly, in July, when the same thing happened.

The following January, Valerón suffered another set back in January of 2007. A year later, he ran onto the pitch in their 3-1 win over Valladolid to give his side the teeniest sliver of hope for the future.


The best performance from a Primera debutant in sixteen years, thanks to run of three 1-0 wins a row. You still wouldn't want to watch them, though.


Anyone missed? Just click on comments or email the blog.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Big Weekend Preview - Round 21


Sevilla (9th) v Osasuna (14th)

Ten defeats this season - the third worst record in the league - means that excitable Sevilla coach, Manuel Jiménez, is almost certainly going to be thrown into the managerial dumpster over the summer, with a proper, less bouncy trainer being brought in. The two candidates for this prestigious post, according to AS, are Espanyol's Ernesto Valverde (the dream choice, apparently) and the miraculous Marcelino of Recreativo and Racing fame.

But Freddie Kanouté, speaking from the African Cup of Nations, says that it is the players who are to blame for their current malaise. "We have a serious problem," he observed with rapier like insight.

José Maria del Nido, busy hanging on to Luis Fabiano's ankle in a tug of war with Man City's Svennis, is pointing the finger of blame in Juande Ramos' direction. "He betrayed us for money!" declared the honest as they come, charity loving, former lawyer of Jesus Gil. Home win.


Racing Santander (6th) Zaragoza (11th)

Zaragoza begin the fortnight's second bright new dawn for the club, with grizzled old war horse Javo Irureta at the helm. The former Betis coach has the second highest number of league matches under his belt as a coach - after Luis Aragones - so he looks like being the right man to set Zaragoza back on the straight and narrow.

As long as he is allowed to kick Andres d'Alessandro from the side, that is - something that his two predecessors have been unable to do. One can only imagine that the Argentinean has pictures of a board member in bed with a donkey and a walnut whip. Draw.

Murcia (18th) v Levante (20th)

If Levante actually paid salaries, then the club's wage bill would be lighter by one head, this week. The latest man to leave lowly Levante is the fitness trainer, Pablo Artico. Even the rats are packing their tiny rodent suitcases and legging it. Home win.

Mallorca (13th) v Atletico (4th)

What might have been an emotional return to Getafe, on Wednesday night, by Mallorca striker Dani Guiza, turned out to have been a little on the sour side. On Monday, deadly Dani claimed that Getafe still owed him his bonus for the Copa del Rey final appearance. And this complaint was the straw that broke the back of Angel Torre's footballing camel.

"I was so tired of being his nanny," ranted the Getafe president, as he recalled the forward's spell at the club. "I once had to get up at four in the morning as he was out and didn't know how to get home...I had to go to a judge to pay his salary in...he drove without a license...he used to collect..." Home win.

Valencia (8th) v Almeria (10th)

After having been 7th or 8th in the league for what seems like decades, despite having failed to win a game in that time, Valencia have finally been caught by the stampeding pack of sides looking to avoid relegation. If Ronald Koeman's men fail to cut the mustard at Mestalla, on Sunday, then they will joining them.

The big news at the club, this week, was the ongoing war of words between David Albeda, his lawyers and Koeman. The maverick midfielder, along with Santiago Cañizares, broke cover this week with a series of radio and newspaper interviews where the goalkeeper revealed that he was having psychological help to get him through the current crisis.

Ronald Koeman was less than impressed by this claiming that the players cynically chose their recent defeat at Villarreal to put the boot in to best effect. On the team news, Ruben Baraja has been ruled out for a month, which means the midfield duo of Ever Banega and Hedwiges Maduro - "Albeda with less baggage" according to Marca - are set to start on Sunday. Home win.

Deportivo (19th) v Valladolid (7th)

Another club whose footballing existence resembles a dodgy Venezuelan soap opera is Deportivo. This week, Gustavo Munúa fought the law over his thuggish assault on Dudu Aouate - and the law won, with the goalkeeper being handed a six month suspended prison sentence and a fine.

But instead of firing the fist-flinging scumbag, Miguel Angel Lotina - at the request of the dressing room - has allowed both Munúa and Aoaute to return to full training. Which must make for a delightful atmosphere.

The club's bean counters were handed bad news with Albert Luque threatening to take Deportivo to court for 2.2 million euros, which he claims is an unpaid bonus from his 14 million euro move to Newcastle. Expect topless models with collection buckets at Riazor on Sunday. Home win.

Espanyol (5th) v Real Betis (16th)

Ernesto Valverde must have spent his Christmas walking under ladders, smashing mirrors and kicking cats of all description around the streets of Barcelona. Since their return to action, Espanyol have lost twice in the league, been booted out of the Copa del Rey have now lost Raul Tamudo for two months with a broken arm.

But to give their remaining players a much needed shot in the arm for the rest of the season, the club have struck a deal with the local Ecuadorian community leaders - a deal which will see 8,000 fans turning up to Montjuic to help fill the frequently empty stands. Home win.

Recreativo (17th) v Getafe (12th)

La Liga Loca was either having a funny turn whilst watching the sports news on Friday, or Getafe have replaced Michael Laudrup with David Boreanaz. Draw.

Athletic Bilbao (15th) v Barcelona (2nd)

When former Athletic Bilbao manager, Javier Clemente - a man not blessed with an enormous amount of cultural sensitivity - took over Serbia, a few gasps of astonishment were uttered in Spain. But luckily Clemente failed to restart the Balkan conflict as predicted by many. He also failed to qualify them for the European Championships.

And this is why Clemente is going to continue on his odyssey through the Axis of Evil by managing Iran - move that raised La Liga Loca's eyebrows to such an extent that they are still be talked down, a day later. "The war is in Iraq, not Iran" pointed out the country's new footballing Ayatollah with a thin grasp of geopolitical understanding.

Real Madrid (1st) v Villarreal (3rd)

La Liga Loca is feeling particularly triumphant today, as it has successfully located the LCD Soundsystem cd in FNAC. After a month long search. For those unfamiliar with FNAC, it is a DVD, book and cd store that has the thoroughly irritating habit of categorising every band on the planet into Rock Pop, International, Rock, New Tendencies, Alternative and so on.

The same process is happening for Real Madrid at the moment, with the team being branded as lucky, good, good but lucky, good compared to everyone else and so on. Draw.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Weight Watching at the Camp Nou

Kelly Osbourne's recent diatribe against a 'fatist' society has fallen on deaf ears in Spain - exactly what people wish they possessed every time the portly popster opens her mouth to sing, as it happens.

This isn't because of the local custom of everyone speaking at the same time, without listening to what anyone else is saying, but because there is still far too much fun to be had poking fun at the titan of tapas, Ronaldinho.

On Wednesday, Sport, published a grubby photo of d'inho on the beach, in a pair of dodgy Speedos, running against a giant rubber band being held by another gentleman sporting dodgy Speedos.

The Barcelona barmy paper has either landed quite a scoop on a brand new side to the midfielder's private life or they have uncovered evidence of Ronaldinho's 'pre-season' as described by El Pais, who write that 'officially, he is out with tendonitis'.

Joan Laporta is another man concerned with the weighty issue of his prize possession. The Kind of Catalunya is pictured in AS staring intently at Ronaldinho's abs, having asked the titanic tubster to lift his shirt up for him.

All in all it's all very undignified, thinks Frank Rijkaard, in a very jovial mood on Wednesday. "Ronaldo was a fatty," said the mischievous manager "but I see Ronaldinho every day and he's fine". "Not that I have a problem with fat players," continued Rijkaard, on his rolly-polly rant, "as long as they are great fat players."

Onto slightly more serious matters and Deportivo reserve keeper, Gustavo Munúa, narrowly escaped a six month prison sentence, for smashing Dudu Aouate in the face a couple of weeks ago.

The penalty was the original punishment for the Depor player, but the judge later made it a suspended one and ordered the guilty party to pay a fine of 3600 Euros.

Poor old Dudu is still being left out of the Deportivo squad as he has yet to apologise to his teammates for having carelessly put his face into the path of Munúa's flying fist.

"Neither have fulfilled the conditions of the dressing room and apologised publicly," said Miguel Angel Lotina, who should be sacked for that comment nevermind having offered the football fans of Spain one of the most tedious teams in the league.

Wednesday night saw a couple of Copa del Rey quarter final, first legs. In the first, Valencia grabbed a 1-0 win over a ten man Atletico side that was 'disinterested' say El Pais and 'getting worse by the day' report AS.

The home side failed to get the sell out crowd they hoped for. And this is because the match was played at the insane time of 10 o'clock at night, claims Ronald Koeman. "If my son asked me to go to Mestalla at ten to see a game, I wouldn't let him," grumbled the Dutch destroyer. The fact that his side are a bit sh*t doesn't help either.

Getafe beat Mallorca, 1-0, in the other thrilling match at the Coliseum. And just 6,000 bothered to turn up, thanks to the 30 euros and rising ticket prices offered to most fans.

The "Thump! Thump! Buzzzz" noise coming from Spain is the sound of AS continuing to flog the 'Ronaldo to Real Madrid' dead horse, for the third day running. He "needs to come to Spain to win the 'Ballon d'or" were the reported words of his agent, according to AS who cited Fabio Cannavaro as a correct but at the same time completely incorrect example of what could happen to the Jacuzzi-jizzing superstar if he came to the Spanish capital.

Ideally the Real Madrid's time would be better spent trying to get their 36 million euros back from the Arjen Robben transfer. Harvesting his organs to oil billionaires with failing kidneys seems to be the best option, at the moment.

In the 'give him an Oscar before he pops his clogs' tradition of the film industry, UEFA are set to make country-swapping old timer, Alfredo di Stefano, a 'president of honour' at a ceremony in February. Which is nice.

Zaragoza's ex-midweek manager, Ander Garitano, has spoken out about his reason for quitting the post he held for a week before thinking better of it and jacking it in.

"Strictly personal," was the main reason given from the man who said that he didn't quite have the energy for it and wanted to quit on the Thursday. His departure was nothing to do with Andres d'Alessandro, of course, a player who blubbed in the dressing room after Sunday's match, having been booed off by the home fans.

Betis big cheese, Manuel Ruiz de Lopera has shown why he is the right man to lead the club forward into a bright, dazzling future. "I wouldn't change the Betis squad for that of Espanyol or Racing Santander," boasted Andalusia's biggest loon, turning down the chance to field Raul Tamudo, Luis Garcia, Torrejon, Riera, Kameni, de la Peña, Garay, Munitis...


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Who's Next for La Liga Loca's Voodoo Hoodoo?

It hurts when La Liga Loca types today. Oh it hurts. That's because La Liga Loca has plasters on most of its fingertips. And that's because La Liga Loca was up half the night making a brand new voodoo doll. And we all know what happened the last time, that happened. Well, Valencia fans do.

The brand new voodoo doll bears an uncanny likeness to Real Zaragoza owner, Agapito Iglesias - although it looks like he is suffering from bulimia due to the extraordinary stuffing demands of Soler's doll, last year.

The reason for this revenge on a club that the blog has always had a soft spot for is that they have now lost their second manager in a week. Last Monday, Ander Garitano was appointed after Victor Fernandez was rather cruelly kicked out. This Monday, the new boy swiftly became the old boy after Garitano handed in his resignation.

The reason cited for angry Ander throwing in the footballing towel after just seven days was his bosses complete refusal to kick Andres 'the Punk' d'Alessandro out of the club and to sign a new central defender - two requests of Victor Fernandez and two requests also turned down by his former know-better-than-you bosses.

Zaragoza have already moved in on Jabo Irureta as Garitano's replacement, once he has successfully completed the "will you do exactly as you're told, gimp-boy?" one question interview.

All this talk of voodoo hoodoo leads us nicely to Valencia. One of the many despondent men watching their crapulent capitulation against Villarreal, on Sunday, was new signing, Hedwiges Maduro - a player who looked like he had been promised Jessica Alba on a blind date, but had just seen Esperanza Aguirre walking into the restaurant.

The latest news from Mestalla is that Ronald Koeman, a man who knows a metaphor, has ordered that a wall is built to separate the players from journalists. But it is too late for one of their footballers as just about everyone got their grubby hands on David Albeda, on Monday.

The misfit midfielder revealed that he has had no contact from Juan Soler and he probably won't now, considering Aldeda told Marca that "he is the main person responsible for all this, not Valencia as an institution."

"They've done me irreparable damage and I'm going to fight for my rights," warned Albeda who should perhaps read David Beckham's "how to get back into favour" play-book.

Aside from making legal threats and working on his Sudoko skills, Albeda has been looking over offers from both Chelsea and Spurs. "I'm attracted to England. Especially London."

Valladolid's Joseba Llorente is very much the man of the moment in Spain with everyone wanting a word with the six-second striker. The forward revealed that the cunning plan to catch Espanyol off guard, when "Torrejon was still thinking about what he will have for tea," as one paper put it, came on the centre circle when his striking partner, Victor, turned to him and said, "Are you ready for a sprint?"

Victor told a neo-con tastic El Mundo - which cited Blitzkriegs and Sun Tzu's Act of War in their interview - that "we are going to have to find another new surprise attack."

Those evil doers at AS - and therefore, those evil doers at Real Madrid, as they are one and the same - have plumbed new depths by plastering Cristiano Ronaldo's mother on their front cover for Tuesday.

"Before I die I want to see my son at Real Madrid," pleaded a clearly being used, abused and manipulated Dolores.

The scumbag rag doctored a photo of Sergio Ramos and stuck Ronaldo's head on it for her to pose with, causing poor old Dolores to remark, "when did my boy play for Real Madrid?"

The other news from Castle Greyskull is that the 'is Pepe worth 30 million euros o'meter' has swung back towards the 'you're having a laugh!' end of the chart with the news that he faces yet another injury lay off. This time, for a month.

Missing from La Liga Loca's Monday report was Tomas Roncero's thoughts on the derby result - a result, rather annoyingly, he predicted correctly.

"I recommend that Aguero goes to England soon," said AS's ass, "like Torres did, so he can grow and one day he could play for Real Madrid." Not content with that gem, he went on to praise the Real Madrid supporters in the stadium, "the best fans since football was football." The riot police outside the Calderon, on Sunday, may disagree.

Roberto Gomez' love affair with Florentio Perez continues in Marca with a renewed attack on Ramon Calderon. "He was very bad," grumbled Gomez on the Real Madrid president applauding his players off the pitch, on Sunday night. "It's the second time he's stayed on the balcony to do that - the first was in the Camp Nou. He's either inconsistent or a provoker."

Over in the Kingdom of Cataluyna, Thierry Henry's latest inexplicable and rather disturbing goal celebration - which sees him giving himself a wedgie with his shorts - has upset at least one member of the Camp Nou camp.

"I didn't want him to score," confessed Victor Valdes, "I don't like his celebration at all." La Liga Loca is with you Victor.

In transfer news, Villarreal's Rio Mavuda goes to Lille on loan. Valencia's Sunny is set to be moved out of the club, having only just moved in. Atletico Madrid are looking at Juve's Tiago as their 'brain' after discovering Maniche didn't have one.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday's Good Day, Bad Day - Round 20

For more dirt on the Madrid derby - click here for full satisfaction.

Good Day

Francisco Casquero

The match between Getafe and Sevilla was similar to one of those tug-of-love American tv movies for La Liga Loca. But without the scenes of domestic violence and bad guys being stabbed in the eye that are frequently broadcast pre-watershed in Spain.

It was a match between the blog's two favourite teams La Liga. Plucky underdogs against the most entertaining side on the planet. But both sides needed the points! Oh, the angst.

In the end it was Getafe who grabbed them after Casquero returned to his rocket roasting best to open the scoring and Contra got the winner in a mental period of injury time, after his side had thrown away a 2-1 lead, just minutes before.

"I watched the Manchester United game, earlier, and the same thing happened to Ronaldo, Rooney and Giggs. If they can make mistakes, so can we," said Michael Laudrup on their late, late show.

Real Madrid

The Spanish Thing writes that Real Madrid are lucky buggers. The Spanish Thing is way off the mark. As usual. AS, for once, are right when they comment that you don't win that many games by being lucky.

Real Madrid have now won on their travels in San Mames, Camp Nou, Mestalla, Vicente Calderon and La Madrigal. The second half of a season should be a doddle.

Monday's papers are praising Raul for his Calderón performance but the best player for the visitors, on Sunday, was Robinho - 57 times the footballer from the last two seasons. This new and improved version of Robinho runs, harries and harasses. He also does considerably less fannying about, than before.

Another topic for discussion, one day, is whether the team that is currently seven points clear is Bernd Schuster's, or Fabio Capello's but with more time to gel. The fact that Pepe, Robben, Metzelder, Heinze, Drenthe, Saviola nor Soldado have failed to make much of an impact, this season, suggests the latter is right.

Joseba Llorente

January's winner of the Dani Guiza flavour of the month award in goes to Valladolid's Llorente, who scored his 9th and 10th goal of the season, on Sunday, against Espanyol, and his fifth in two league matches.

But more importantly Llorente is now the proud record holder of the Primera's fastest goal with his 7.82 second effort. "It wasn't a rehearsed move," said a delighted Mendilibar, whose side now sit in 7th after three consecutive wins.


La Liga Loca was still picking its way through riot police and assorted Ultras being padded down as it returned home from the Vicente Calderón, as this match took place. But from snatches seen, it looked like Barcelona dominated play without making their chances count - and this is a familiar story for "a team in transition," says Sport.

To rehash a very old cliché, Sunday's match was a potential banana skin for Barcelona, as Racing Santander are no pushovers, this season. But, they "did the minimum to defeat them", reported Sport who have now taken to pragmatic football like a starving Spaniard to ham.

And what's with the booing of Giovani? Not exactly going to help with those tricky contract negotiations currently underway.


For the second week in a row, another late late show for Almeria and another 1-0 win to keep them out of the relegation rumble. At least for now, anyway.


It was the barn-storming, ball-busting version of Villarreal on display, on Saturday night, as they tore Valencia apart in a match when they could have scored about fifty. Maybe.

They are still a 50/50 bet for a Champions League place due to their ability to concede three against Deportivo and four against Zaragoza. But they are also capable of sticking three past Barcelona. And this makes their revenge mission at the Bernabeu, next Sunday, an intriguing one.


After nine matches, Real Zaragoza finally win a game. But the victory would have come with or without Víctor Fernández on the bench on Sunday evening. Zaragoza score far too many goals to remain the big, fat losers that they had become - especially with a Diego Milito in the line up, who now has thirteen league goals.


A point! And two goals! That's reason enough for a street party down Levante way. And it's reason enough to get into the Good Day section.

José Guardado

The Deportivo player should not feel too down in the dumps at his team's current plight, as he will surely be moving on to bigger and better things, next season.

Bad Day


After watching last week's defeat to Atlético in the Calderón, La Liga Loca was thinking that maybe, just maybe, there was hope for Valencia. Luckily, La Liga Loca was wrong. Valencia are doomed. Doomed!

Ronald Koeman's side has managed just 6 points from a possible 27. They have scored two goals in eight league matches; cowardly crackpot, Juan Soler, has vanished from the scene with a mystery illness, forcing his VP stooge to do the post match interviews on La Sexta and La Liga Loca has never seen players looking as despondent as those trudging off the pitch, on Saturday night, after a complete battering by Villarreal.


Ten defeats! Ten! "We should feel ashamed of ourselves after playing like that," grumbled Luis Fabiano, blaming their poor season on a complete lack of concentration on set pieces. "Everyone needs to defend!" shouted Oscar Jiménez minutes after he watched his side throw away two points against Getafe.


"A bad week," said Ernesto Valverde on a seven day period that saw brought two league defeats and a Copa del Rey exit. Is the party over for Espanyol?


According to the news wires, Deportivo manager, Miguel Angel Lotina is still hanging on in there in La Coruña. But only just.

"I'm tired of saying this, but my future on the bench matters little to me. The only thing that matters is Deportivo." Ahh. It's enough to bring a tear to your eye.

Fran Yeste

A head butt from the Athletic Bilbao battler saw him sent off from a 'horrible game' according to AS, that was played out in a blanket of fog and it saw Osasuna take the lead four minutes later with a thumper from Dady.

"On another day we could have got something from the game," mused Athletic coach, Joaquín Caparrós, before putting the thumbscrews to his misbehaving midfielder.


It's Murcia's turn to be sitting in the relegation zone's big game of musical chairs. Next week, Recreativo.


The kind of game Betis, really, really need to win, if they are to stay up, this season. But they didn't.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Big Weekend Preview - Round 20


Villarreal (5th) v Valencia (7th)

This week began with the normal mayhem in Mestalla, got marginally better, but will end with doom and despair when Valencia have their arses handed to them by their neighbours from hell, Villarreal.

The seven days started with defender, Raul Albiol, needing 13 stitches in his knee after a game of beach football - a game that presumably took place in Thunderdome. Soon after, petitions from Japan of all places, arrived at the club telling Juan Soler to bugger off and do one - but probably in a more polite manner.

Things picked up a little on Wednesday, when Valencia knocked Betis out of the Copa del Rey in front of just 20,000 fans. And on Friday, it was reported that the lord of the five knuckle shuffle, Ever Banega, will soon be partnered by Ajax's superbly-named central midfielder, Hedwiges Maduro. Home win.

Getafe (15th) v Sevilla (8th)

This second round tie between the two teams has some considerable significance for Sevillistas, as the first one was the match which saw the collapse and subsequent death of Antonio Puerta - an event that the Sevilla team has never fully recovered from.

Former team-mate and really rubbish striker, Kepa - now at Getafe - says that the best tribute to his fallen comrade would be a victory...for the home team. Perhaps the most peculiar thing said, this week, by anyone. Home win.


Osasuna (18th) v Athletic Bilbao (11th)

Osasuna have been talking the talk over the last few days, but are they capable of walking the walk? Last Sunday's crap capitulation at the hands of Racing Santander saw them slip into the relegation zone - but they won't be there for long, says pretty much everyone at the club.

"There's still time for us to have a good season," says Ricardo with the same blind optimism shared by those expecting the people of Spain to agree on the proposed lyrics for the national anthem. Home win.

Zaragoza (12th) v Murcia (14th)

After Víctor Fernández 'paid the duck' for Zaragoza's season long slump by being sacked, the latest addition to Spain's unemployment statistics sat down with a cup of tea and a muffin, during the week and talked to El Pais about the behind the scenes shenanigans at La Romareda.

It seems that Victor's relationship with club big cheese, Agapito Iglesias was all but non-existent and he didn't receive the backing from his paymasters over his decision to boot Andrés d'Alessandro from the squad.

So now, Zaragoza's destiny lies in the inexperienced hands of Ander Garitano who began his tenure by seeing his side get turned over in the Copa del Rey by Racing Santander. Home win.

Levante (20th) v Mallorca (13th)

Levante's Italian trio of Rigano, Storari and Cirillo set sail across the Med in boat flying a big white flag, this week. And it's 'good riddance' says Giovanni di Biasi who claims that his own rapidly sinking ship is now "a bit lighter".

Not only is it a bit lighter, but the air below decks is considerably clearer as the remaining players can now see each other's miserable faces, for the first time this season, as the departing threesome were also smokers.

"So what if a player smokes? In Italy and in Europe there's no problem if a player has a ciggie or two after a meal," complained Rigano misplacing the continental location of Spain.

The not so super striker also reflected on his oh so happy time in Valencia. "In Levante we were going down and it seemed that no-one cared," said the forward who showed how much he cared by sodding off at the earliest possible opportunity.

Meanwhile over in Mallorca, the soon to be departing Jonás, revealed that not all footballers are porno-obsessed gigolos. Some get their kicks out of old fossils - and not in the Wayne Rooney sense.

"My favourite dinosaur is the velociraptor," mused the palaeontology-loving man-child of Mallorca who also has a soft spot for brontosauruses, apparently. "I've seen Jurassic Park about fifteen times," he giggled whilst crayon-drawing a picture of a T-Rex on the dressing room wall. Away win.

Almería (10th) v Deportivo (19th)

Finally, some kind of sense has been seen in La Coruña. The talk in the football world had been on whether Munúa's apparently unprovoked attack on Dudu Aouate would leave both players out of the squad for the rest of the season. But, at last, the talk in the real world has turned to the fact that a man had his eye socket smashed in.

The local legal authorities are investing the incident to see whether charges will be pressed against Munúa, seeing as Aouate is unwilling to do so.

Earlier in the week, the four club captains held a join press conference to discuss both the affair and a four hour meeting held with Miguel Angel Lotina. "The two of them have to apologise to the team," declared Manuel Pablo, "Dudu for talking about things he knows nothing about and the other for the punch." Tough justice in Depor. Home win.

Valladolid (9th) v Espanyol (4th)

Espanyol have taken their midweek cup defeat to Athletic Bilbao in good spirit. Not really. A red card for Luis Garcia has provoked a fusillade of fury from club president, Daniel Sanchez Llibre against referee, Rodríquez Santiago.

"We know who he is," barked the big wig, "he's one who allowed Messi's handball goal in the derby last season, at the Camp Nou...We had to go to penalties thanks to his incompetence," wailed the walking heart attack. Draw.

Betis (16th) v Recreativo (17th)

"Long live Spain! We sing together, with different voices and only one heart!" What was wrong that that? Sounds like a dodgy Eurovision song, sure, but aside from that...

Atletico Madrid (3rd) v Real Madrid (1st)

"Enrique Cerezo, the excellent president of Atletico Madrid put to rest one of the most important questions of the derby," wrote Marca's Roberto Gomez - neatly overlooking Cerezo's criminal conviction for cooking Atletico's books a few years ago.

So what question was put to rest, according to Gomez? Atletico not bottling the derby. Again? Kun and Forlan winning the deadly striking duel against Ruud and Raul? Of course not.

"Where will the official lunch be held?" mused Roberto. Fortunately, it will be held in a restaurant of one of his best mates - which is the only conclusion one can draw from Wednesday's page long plug - a plug which no doubt saw Gomez having to wipe the drool from the keyboard as he gushed over the quality of ham that would be served up. And the pudding, of course.

Lunch was also the running theme of Friday's AS. The paper ran a four page feature on the meal thrown by the paper for Rámon Calderón and Cerezo. But the big news was that two actual, kitten-loving real life women were allowed to join the party of besuited old fogies which had an uncanny resemblance to a gathering of Republican party presidential candidates.

One person who was missing was the paper's Atletico Madrid correspondent. Instead Iñaki Díaz-Guerro was at home, "curtains drawn and head under the duvet," avoiding an event where, "the two presidents sit there, the world is lovely, flowers are pretty, what good friends we are, la la la." Draw.

Barcelona (2nd) v Racing Santander (6th)

Racing Santander and their miraculous manager, Marcelino, are the current toasts of the town in Spain. But Marcelino is too canny a cookie to know that this adulation may be momentary. "They could easily be singing 'Marcelino out!' in a month," said the coach when questioned about the songs being sung by giddy Racing fans, at the moment.
Home win.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2008

Thursday, January 17, 2008

An Incredible Night of Thrills and Spills!

"It was two nights of emotion...and suffering...and suffering...and emotion" is what La Liga Loca would have written on the Copa del Rey if it were Spanish. But it isn't and they weren't.

The big news from the Carling Copa del Rey was the elimination of holders, Sevilla, by the new and improved, down to earth, always gets the first round in, Barcelona. It's a revolution which sees Frank Rijkaard being praised in Sport for using 'plan B' and 'playing ugly' - a little unfair on the current Catalan playing style, thinks La Liga Loca, which is still fairly easy on the eye.

Whilst Joan Laporta has being having run-in's with door men and chauffeurs and goodness knows what, this week, his Dutch manager has been busy developing a less flouncy but more effective style of play.

And it sees them facing Villarreal in the next round of the cup - a cup that has had further tension sucked out of it, by having a pre-destined draw all the way to final, thus eliminating the chance of three separate lunches for the Spanish FA. La Liga Loca reckons they never thought that one through.

Real Madrid's dismal performance in the competition continued with a 0-1 defeat to Mallorca on Wednesday night. Both Marca and AS had radically different interpretations of the game with the former plumping for "Goodbye to the Treble!" as their headline, with AS opting for "Goodbye to the Treble!" Two papers, one tiny brain.

The tie was livened up with an entertaining pre-match tiff between Bernd Schuster and Gregorio Manzano. The Mallorcan manager commented on Monday that the match referee would be "an added rival" - incorrectly as it turned out.

Schuster was unable to resist the bait and accused his counterpart of "lacking respect" - something the German coach has never done of course, aside from having a pop at a Catalan referee, or boasting in an interview over the New Year that he regularly criticises the man in the middle as a cunning tactic to divert attention from his players.

The game ended with the two men failing to shake hands and Manzano commenting on Schuster that, "you can speak English, but it doesn't make you a good English teacher". Quite.

Professional idiot, Tomas Roncero, writing in AS chose to completely ignore the result in Thursday's column and tells us about his thrilling evening in the Bernabeu. "I had the chance to see the first half from the North Stand together with 16 friends and family," - he counted them! - "It was a Senate of Madridistas."

Surely, "a smug of Madridistas" would be more apt. "A depression of rojiblancos"..."a whine of Valencians"..."a conspiracy of Culés"...La Liga Loca senses a competition.

But back to Roncero, Tomas then looks ahead to Sunday's derby and cheerfully tells his readers to "put a 2 in the Quinela. Be sure of it!" before reminding all Madridistas that "our Castellana sanctuary continues to be a talisman. In the league and in Europe. Tremble Roma! Tremble Totti!"

As it stands, Real Madrid missed out on the opportunity to play Getafe in the quarters, who beat Levante 1-0 in Valencia in front of about 8 fans.

Espanyol lost out to Athletic Bilbao on penalties, Racing Santander put on a cracking display to beat back a sorry Zaragoza, Valencia disposed off Betis and Atletico sneaked through against Valladolid.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bang, Bang, Kiss, Kiss for Depor's Dueling Duo

Miguel Angel Lotina's crazy plan of letting Depor's third choice keeper take over for the rest of the season has been abandoned as swiftly as Spain's half arsed attempts at a smoking ban, some years back.

The four goals conceded by Fabricio on Sunday has made the miserable manager rethink Saturday's promise to ban his other two stoppers, Aouate and Manúa, for the rest of the year after the latter punched the former in the face in a tabloid style training ground bust up.

Lotina has said that if the alleged aggressor apologises to the alleged aggressee, then both will have the dubious honour of pulling on the Deportivo shirt, once again - and it's something Manúa says he is hunky dory with.

"I don't have a problem with talking to Dudu," said the fist-flying footballer, perhaps forgetting that the Israeli born Aouate could probably decapitate him with a plastic tea spoon if he wanted.

Manúa has given a different version of the original incident to that of his team-mate, who had reported that the attack came out of the blue, when he was getting changed.

"First we were arguing from afar (very Spanish), then we just went for each other (very non-Spanish)," explained the aggressive goalie.

Zaragoza woke up on Monday morning with a brand new manager after the club president had a long hard thing over Víctor Fernández' replacement - well, the time it takes to pour a cup of tea, any way.

The new, very cheap man at the helm of the club that Marca described as "a good watch that doesn't work', is Ander Garitano - current youth team coach and former player. He is backed by Santi Aragon, a man pictured wearing the worst cardigan seen by La Liga Loca since it last went for a wander around Madrid's Salamanca neighbourhood.

"Garitano has a magnificent relationship with the sporting director" reports AS - pin pointing the real reason why more experienced candidates such as Javier Clemente and Vicente del Bosque were passed on.

"In life there is always a first time," beamed Zaragoza's new shark bait - a man who has discovered the source of his new team's current malaise. "We have to improve in defence," revealed Garitano, as the assembled press pack gasped in reaction to his imperious perspicacity.

Meanwhile, Víctor waved goodbye to La Romareda vowing that he would not be back for a third time as manager, but maybe as a director or president.

"They never told me I was playing for my job," complained Fernández, on the 2-2 draw with Mallorca that was the final firing straw for his bosses. "I'm left with a feeling of dissatisfaction and pain," said Víctor echoing La Liga Loca's sentiments on watching Real Madrid, these days.

Speaking of the greatest, shiniest club in twenty years (using the twenty team league format, etc) Castle Greyskull's medical centre - which La Liga Loca can only assume is staffed by bikini models and the Cruz twins, such is the reluctance of players to ever leave it - continues to be the place to be.

After exhausting himself by chasing Riga all over the pitch, on Sunday, Pepe is set to miss out against Mallorca on Wednesday, as he is feeling a bit peaky. Heinze continues to have a hurty knee. Robben feels a little bit "you know, bleeur" and Metzelder has a rumbly tummy. Of course, all other media outlets will feed you some kind of balony about thigh strains and ankle knocks.

Iker Casillas has started musing on what he plans to do after he retires, which will be at 38 apparently. "I want to be President of Real Madrid," announced the super stopper, immediately causing Ramón Calderón to hit his desk button marked, 'Operation Eliminate'.

But that's not all Iker wants to do. He also wants to be a manager, starting with youth teams. He then revealed that he'd "like to be a referee," before adding train driver and spaceman to his list of career aspirations.

A rapidly running out of ammunition, ranting Roberto Gomez, writing in Marca continues his contractually-obliged support of Florentino Perez by predicting that anti-Ramón Calderón banners would soon be seen at the Bernabeu - what with Real Madrid having just beaten Barcelona in the Camp Nou and looking favourites for the league.

"The supporters are not happy with the style of play," wrote a man who has probably not spoken to an actual breathing supporter in about thirty-five years.

Atletico Madrid are on the brink of ditching Maniche - despite club president's Enrique Cerezo's denials from Thursday. "The club is making no move to loan or sell him," declared the film producing Pinocchio, as Maniche was heading off to Milan to sign a deal.

Meanwhile, more details as to the cause of Maniche's fall out with Javier Aguirre have come into the public domain - making La Liga Loca's legal team very happy, indeed. The big bust up finally came when the Mexican manager doubted Maniche's injury excuse which saw him miss out on a trip to take on Granada 74 in a Copa del Rey game.

"What have you ever won? Who are you to tell me anything?" was the reported response from the middle age spreaded midfielder to his coach's outrageous accusations.

Over in the Kingdom of Catalunya, Leo Messi is in trouble after making an unauthorised trip to Qatar to do some work for 'charidee'. However, considering he could well be fit to play this weekend, any punishment will probably consist of having to spend an hour in the company of Oleguer as he discusses Thomas Paine's 'The Rights of Man'.

Barcelona go into tonight's Copa del Rey match with Sevilla with an on-fire Thierry Henry up front - a player who is "Crack Happy!" according to Mundo Deportivo in a headline that way well grab the attention of the Spanish doping authorities.

Sevilla arrived in the Catalan capital with a fluey and feverish Luis Fabiano in tow and it looks like he will be kicked onto the pitch, no matter how bad he is feeling.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday's Good Day, Bad Day - Round 19

You can read The Spanish Thing making Murcia fans' day, by clicking here.

Bad Day


The only good thing about testimonial matches is the sight of Westlife stars looking a bit rubbish and getting to watch normally box-bound centre backs playing as strikers. With hilarious consequences.

Ronald Koeman has opted for the same selection principles in proper games. Sunday's 'surreal line up' as El Pais described it, boasted two strikers on the right flank, two wingers up front and a central defender in midfield. "If Marchena is better than Albeda that I am better looking than George Clooney," commented an unimpressed AS, before the match.

It was only when the Dutchman brought on Banega and Zigic at half time, that Valencia started to make sense and they could easily have grabbed a point against an off colour Atletico. But they didn't and they are now nine points from the Champions League places and without a win in seven.

The Spanish press were strangely impressed by Ever Banega and his handiwork - this time, on a football pitch. La Liga Loca wasn't. He came on in bright yellow boots, passed the ball accurately, sideways, a few times - which already makes him better than Gago - but showed little or no interest in defending. A tendency for which he was punished by being forced to stay back for corners.

There is hope for Valencia, but only if Ronald Koeman stops letting his cat pick formations.


It looks like the African Cup of Nations may hit Sevilla very hard, indeed, over the next few weeks. With Kanouté, Koné and Keita off on their travels, Luis Fabiano suspended and Kerchakov injured, Sevilla arrived in Bilbao, "on a bicycle when they are used to going around in a tank," said AS.

There was a huge Goodfellas shrug of "whaddyado?" from Sevilla after Saturday's defeat - a defeat that wasn't helped by Escudé's dreadful dismissal.


The doomed Deportivo cause has had a bad few days with the devil vomiting into their footballing kettle. After the dropped Dudu Aouate moaned to the press that he should be playing ahead of Gustavo Munúa, his riled rival punched the Israeli stopper in the face, giving him eight stitches above the eye, in the process.

"I was starting to get changed and Manúa came in," recalled the battered goalie, "'what are you looking at?' he said. Then he punched me in the eye."

Miguel Angel Lotina took a dim view of this incident and decided to kick both protagonists from the side. "I can't allow anything the divides the dressing room," declared the 'hanging onto his job by his fingernails manager. "And I can't have any player saying that they have to play."

On Sunday, the third choice keeper, Fabricio, came in - and promptly let in four.


'Losers!" says La Liga Loca. "Nearly everything we did was bad," complained Ernesto Valverde. But what does Paul from Barcelona say?

"Been saying all week we would lose. We have real trouble against crap teams. It's all very strange. Taking the game to the opposition will be our failing this year. We'll beat all the good teams because it takes something extra but doing the ordinary."

Paul, Barcelona.

Wesley Sneijder

"Is Guti being punished for something the fans don't know about?" muse Marca. That can be the only explanation for Bernd Schuster's continuing insistence of playing the Dutchman ahead of the local lad.

For the umpteenth game this season, Sneijder did bugger all. To be fair to the midfielder, he is being forced to play on the right flank - causing him to constantly drift into the centre - but his substitute, Higuain, did more in 20 minutes than Sneijder has done in 220.

Real Madrid are in desperate need of a top class, inexpensive, right midfielder who can play in the Champions League. A bit like the one currently training with Arsenal?


Two league defeats at the start of the year have dropped Getafe right back into the relegation mire. But Michael Laudrup is not ready to get his big stick out, just yet - in the non Ever Banega sense.

"We were very different from the last match," revealed the Dane.


"If we keep playing like this, we'll...." started Juanma. "...still get relegated because we're thirteen points from safety, have only scored eleven goals and haven't been paid in months?"

In a more a charitable mood, La Liga Loca would praise plucky Levante and their sterling work, on Sunday. But as the metro accordion player who now has to empty his instrument of wee knows, the blog is never in a charitable mood.

Víctor Fernández

Mmm. La Liga Loca is going to have to sleep on this one. A decision will then be made on whether there will be another voodoo inspired incantation, this time against Zaragoza for kicking out their coach. Or whether it was a fair cop, considering the side have not won in eight and are just two points from the relegation zone.


The latest team to be jammed in the revolving door of doom, that is the third relegation spot, after a disastrous 0-2 home defeat to Racing.


The worst scoring record in the division. It won't be too long before they are occupying Osasuna's position.

Good Day

Real Madrid

Marca's headline of 'the best winter champions in history (despite how bad they were, yesterday)' is a fair reflection of the papers' attitude towards Real Madrid, on Monday morning, as the stats show that the current haul of 47 points is the best of any side in the first round of a 20 team league format.

"I'm happy with the result, not the performance," said Bernd Schuster whose side have not played well at all, since the start of the year. "It's very normal in Spain, for everyone to relax after Christmas," explained the German coach, missing out the words, 'before' and 'during' from his excuse.

El Pais write that it was "Doctor Van Nistelrooy who turned up to give the anaesthetic to Levante," with his 10th and 11th goals of the season - the first of which was a maybe/maybe not penalty depending on your interpretation of the ball to hand, hand to ball rule.

Roberto Palomar, writing in Marca, is simply stunned that, "Ramón Calderón, a specialist in creating problems where there aren't any, is strangely quiet,"

And anyone out there who has any idea what Tomás Roncero is going on about, please write in. His columns are increasingly turning into gibberish code.

Markel Susaeta

A late scrambled effort gave Athletic Bilbao a desperately needed three points at San Mamés on Saturday night, but their plucky performance still can't cover up the fact that Joaquín Caparrós' charges are still not that good.

Two notable points from the game are that the midweek attempt to shrink the Athletic pitch now means there are two touchlines, on each side. And Susaeta has the most impenetrable accent La Liga Loca has ever come across, since José Antonio Reyes gave a press conference whilst eating a bag of crisps.

Thierry Henry

"Oh la la!" squealed Sport, coming over all French by praising a 'una noche magnifique'. 'Hay Gol!" screamed Mundo Deportivo. Well, there was goal once Barcelona had broken down a stubborn Murcia defence through Eidur Gudjohnsen.

The fancy dan Frenchman followed a perky midweek display against Sevilla with another on Saturday. The opposition full back wasn't in the same league as his opponent, which allowed Titi to top off a fine match with two assists.

Nevertheless, Saturday's opening scorer was the one to throw cold water over some of the Catalan crowing. "this isn't the best Thierry Henry. I've seen him play better games in England," commented the Iceman.

Frank Rijkaard now has some tricky decisions to make - aside from the daily gel/no gel dilemma. Saturday's victory was achieved without the likes of Iniesta, Deco, d'inho, Milito, Abidal and Messi.

The question is, does the Dutchman continue with "the revolution of the others" that Mundo Deportivo put down to producing the win? Or bring back the big guns of d'inho and Deco now that Samuel Eto'o - the King of Cameroon, as Bernd Schuster grumpily called him - is off to join up with his international side?

Christian Abbiati

Despite the cash that was merrily splashed on the likes of Simao and Forlan, over the summer by Atleti, it's quite possible that the rojiblancos' best deal cost nothing. Since Leo Franco was crocked - a keeper who never inspired confidence with La Liga Loca - the on-loan Italian, Abbiati has been magnificent.

His performances are enabling his team-mates to grab points, when over previous seasons, they would simply have chucked them away in comedy fashion.

"I'm just doing my job," said the humble stopper after a match when Atletico did not play particularly well but still got a win to lift them into third.


The game of Russian Roulette that is Villarreal's season continues. And this time, the Yellow Submarine finished the weekend without their footballing brains, splattered all over the wall.

As usual, on Sunday, it was the strategy of hoping more goals are scored than conceded that was selected. And this time it worked against Deportivo in a 4-3 win.
But only just, says Manuel Pellegrini, "that was one of our worst home matches," he complained.


Single handidly prevented his Betis team from throwing away a three goal lead, which, obviously, wouldn't have been in the least bit funny.

Joseba Llorente

"It's not easy to score three goals in a game, especially when you play for Valladolid," commented AS, rather uncharitably. But that's exactly what Llorente did on Sunday to swat aside Recreativo.

Racing Santander

Who needs strikers when you have the magical Marcelino as manager? Racing Santander are now in 6th - with a five point gap over Valencia.


Anyone missed? Just click on comments for your say.


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Friday, January 11, 2008

The Fluffed Up Weekend Preview - Round 19

You can catch - but only, if there is nothing else to do - La Liga Loca on this weekend's Extra-Time on Real Madrid TV, free to air Sky digital at 23.05 CET and repeated over the next two days.


Barcelona (2nd) v Murcia (9th)

"Yes, to this Barcelona!" squealed a girlie-giddy Sport, after Barcelona's 1-1 cup draw over Sevilla, on Wednesday night, a result that was 'therapeutic' according to the paper. One person who wasn't so enthused with the performance was Frankie Rijkaard who took the rare step of criticising some of his starters, after the game.

"I saw three players at a lower level than normal," grumbled the Dutchman. Marca suggests that the not-trying trio were Iniesta, Xavi and Eto'o. Deco and d'inho weren't under suspicion, for once, as they didn't travel to Sevilla. Due to injury. Of course. And shame on anyone who suspects that the pair have turned the club's gymnasium into an MTV crib and ain't coming out.

"It's a lack of respect to doubt their professionalism," warned Carles Puyol who has been barred from the den, until he loses the perm. Home win.

Athletic Bilbao (17th) v Sevilla (8th)

The Basque battlers have a loose cannon in the camp, a rogue agent, a maverick man, on the edge. It certainly isn't one of their incompetent players, instead, it's the groundsman. Before the midweek cup game against Espanyol, the Athletic turf-tenderer apparently made the arbitrary decision to reduce the side of the pitch by a metre on each side - with the aim of reducing the effectiveness of their opponent's easy on the eye wing play and assisting the home side's horrible hoofing.

Espanyol spotted the old lines being wiped out during their warm up, made an immediate complaint and forced the restoration of the old dimensions, pointing out that it is illegal to change the size of your pitch, midway through the season. Desperate times, indeed, at San Mamés. Away win.


Betis (18th) v Getafe (13th)

Old boy Joaquín was in town on Wednesday night, to score two goals against his former club and two goals to completely kill off Betis' pre Christmas mini-revival. The defeat to Valencia provoked the ever excitable Paco Chaparro to step onto his soap box and have a pop at the fuming fans, before later apologising for his comments.

Marca managed to collar Valencia's winger before he headed back to the mess at Mestalla to get his thoughts on the current situation at Betis. "The players tell me they feel they don't give off a sense of danger on the field," revealed the footballer who, let's never ever forget, was breast fed until the age of seven. "I don't see Lopera leaving, but if he doesn't go then a radical change is really needed." Home win.

Valladolid (12th) v Recreativo (14th)

Valladolid host Recreativo on Sunday in a midtable / relegation clash. But look! The Swedes are building a giant moose that will have restaurants built into its stomach. Home win.

Almería (16th) v Espanyol (3rd)

And a giant moose is about fifty times more exciting than Spain's transfer window. The rule that bars a player who has made five or more appearances for one club moving to another in Spain, means that the only imports to the Primera are unheard of footballers arriving on dodgy deals from South America. And normally involving Atletico Madrid. Eller and Cleber Santana, anyone?

Almería have signed two players to join their relegation battle - Iriney who may have played for Celta - and Guilherme. "Iriney arrives having been operated on and without a team," reports AS cheerfully. Draw.

Villarreal (5th) v Deportivo (19th)

An inevitable defeat for Deportivo on Sunday, will provoke an inevitable sacking for Miguel Angel Lotina, whose footballing voyage of doom looks set to continue. A last second escape from relegation left him blubbing his eyes out on the Montjuic bench, two seasons ago. This was followed by relegation for Real Sociedad and what is an almost certain relegation for his latest team. "If the president wants to talk to another coach, then it's within his right and I can't blame him," admitted Lotina, like a turkey in possession of an advent calendar.

Zaragoza (10th) v Mallorca (11th)

Another manager just itching to be fired is Víctor Fernández at Zaragoza, although a decent but fruitless performance at the Bernabeu, last weekend, might have given him a bit of breathing space. Well, about as much as you would get if you were locked in a wardrobe with both Ronaldo and Maniche. Home win.

Osasuna (15th) v Racing Santander (6th)

Two different sides with two very different striking problems. Osasuna have forwards coming out of their ears but none of them can score, leaving the Pamplonans hovering around the relegation zone. Racing Santander have almost no forwards but find themselves in sixth.

"I haven't forgotten to score goals," protests Osasuna's Javier Portillo, "I know they'll come." Racing go into the match with only two functioning forwards - Bolado and Tchité with Munitis and Smolarek sidelined. Goalless draw ahoy. Or a 5-4 classic.

Levante (20th) v Real Madrid (1st)

With the good people of Spain finally having gone back to work after a good two months off, the surgeries are full of perspiring patients attempting to blag 'a baja' - the magic document that gives you free reign to polish up your Playstation skills at the company's expense.

The reverse is happening at Real Madrid where the medical staff have been merrily letting players with one foot hanging off to sign for the club. Over the summer, the doctors gave the thumbs up to Pepe (crocked), Metzelder (knacked), Heinze (broken) and old glass legs himself, Arjen Robben.

This week, the Dutchman made the fatal error of sticking his arm in the air to hail a taxi or attempting to tie his shoelaces - an action that saw him break down again and miss out on Thursday's rubbish defeat to Mallorca and this weekend's visit to Levante. Away win.

Atlético Madrid (4th) v Valencia (7th)

One man who did not have a good time watching Reyes and the reserves grind out a Copa del Rey draw against Valladolid, on Thursday, was AS's Iñaki Diaz-Guerra. "The next time one of the Atletico Madrid reserves asks for playing minutes, Javier Aguirre should place some comfortable cushions on the bench and get a nice warm blanket for them." Oh dear.

La Liga Loca is expecting a much better game at the Calderón, on Sunday, especially when the prospect of seeing Arizmendi at full back is on offer. It may even take a camera. Home win.


All blog content is copyright of La Liga Loca 2008.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Return of the Copa del Grey

Hip, Hip Hooray! The Copa del Rey returns this week with all the fun and excitement of Spain's favourite tv show, Aida - a programme where a permanently menopausal, angry woman shouts and hits people about the head with hilarious consequences.

The two legged system and seeding for the big boys means that there isn't a single non Primera league side in the final sixteen - a situation provoking one letter published in AS calling for an FA cup style contest and "a draw without manipulation and rivals from the sixth division." Fat chance of that.

The most least boring of the ties is Sevilla v Barcelona - if it was one off game, that is. Instead the two titans will hack away at each other for 180 minutes both this week, and next.

Barcelona are travelling without Deco and Ronaldinho, who are both sidelined with muscle injuries. 'What b*llocks!' says a lairy La Liga Loca to that excuse - without any supporting evidence, whatsoever.

But this is the sensation felt by many other papers - a sensation causing Frank Rijkaard to testily comment that, "it's not right to doubt their injuries."

Quite right. Why would anyone want to doubt the commitment of d'inho and Deco - the latter being a player so married the Catalan cause that he recent told O Jogo that, "if we don't win anything and things don't go well, I'm off."

Barcelona have managed to get written permission from the Cameroonian FA for Samuel Eto'o to join up with his national side, a week late, so he is set to play on Wednesday night and this weekend, against Murcia.

Bernado Schuster is continuing his charm offensive, this time by being interviewed by AS's Thomas Roncero - about as challenging an experience as being fed grapes by a tipsy Elsa Pataky.

The Teutonic titan admitted in a moment of introspection that he can come across as bit of a miserable bugger, but promised to turn that frown upside down - "I was over disciplined but now I have gone over to the other side," chuckled Schuster, strapping on the same pair of clown shoes that Wesley Sneijder appeared to be wearing on Sunday night.

The German coach went on to point out the differences between his own defensive system and that of his predecessor, although both appear to result in Iker Casillas being busier than a one legged tap dancer. "Capello defends in the area. With me, we pressure teams thirty metres higher up the field," revealed big Bernd.

Over in Marca, Roberto Gomez, chief cheerleader for Florentino Perez - although you really wouldn't want to see him in a crop top and miniskirt - has had a brand new pop at Cálderon and co.

Gomez berates them for having failed to comment on the death of an amateur referee over the weekend, for the injury crisis in defence and for the over exuberant stadium announcer.

"This would not have happened under Perez," he sulked, before sniffing that, "all Cálderon and his colleagues are interested in are results." Considering that Real Madrid have made their best start to the league in nearly twenty years, I'm sure most fans will live with that.

Meanwhile AS continue the fine tradition of assuming all their readers have taken the Hippocratic oath by reporting that Julio Baptista is suffering from "faringoamigdalitis." Sounds nasty.

The IFHS - a group of Swiss statistical eggheads - have declared that Sevilla were the best team of 2007, behind Manchester United. Oddly, Real Madrid are in 19th, tied with Atletico Madrid and some way behind FC Hamburg.

Zaragoza's Pablo Aimar has, like Ever Banega, had his groin given a good seeing-to. The hobbling hobbit went under the knife on Tuesday and is set to be out for two months.


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2007

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Another Sticky Situation for Valencia

The internet has given us many, many great things. It is given us the chance listen to Manuel Ruiz de Lopera whenever we want and, of course, it has given us La Liga Loca.

It has also given bored footballers something to do when they are not driving into police cars like Royston Drenthe or flicking through Stuff magazine in the gym, like Ronaldino.

The latest player to do an Ashley Young and be in urgent need of screen clean is Ever Banega, Valencia's latest 18 million euro purchase - once Real Madrid get their two million dollars, that is. The Argentinean was recorded, ahem, relieving himself of some stress when visiting one of the t'internet's dirty places.

The man of the moment was at Valencia's goalless draw with Levante on Sunday and he knows the job in hand, ahead of him. The former / current Boca Juniors player is renowned for his hard tackle and is definitely his own man - two qualities Ronald Koeman is desperate for as he looks to Banega to give everything he's got on the pitch, week in, week out.

An anti-Soler protest organised for Sunday lunchtime by a Valencia fan group fell rather flat when only three hundred fans turned up. "It's lunchtime and Reyes," shrugged one supporter with nothing better to do with his time. However, things did liven up when a group of pro-Soler fans turned up for a session of finger stabbing and shouting with their opponents.

Barcelona's attempts to save Ronaldinho, or least increase his market value as much as possible, seems doomed to failure. The Brazilian has returned from the winter break and resumed his residency in the club gymnasium with a hurty knee.

D'inho has had just three training sessions in fifteen days, but is still expected to travel to Sevilla for Wednesday's Copa del Rey clash, with the plan being to coax the striker out of the gym using a pastie and some cash on a stick. Another player travelling is Thierry Henry, who a desperate Sport claim is "needed more than ever."

The Osasuna coach has come up with a bold new tactic to boost his side's flagging campaign. Mad Cuco Ziganda has revealed that, "we are going to have to die in every game," - a tactic that may well require a busy time in the winter transfer market and some adjustments to current players' contracts.

Nearly every paper in Spain - except the Barcelona ones - are heaping praise on Iker Casillas for his 9, 11 or 55 great saves he made, depending on which rag you pick up.

Marca's crack investigation team came up with the revelation from one of the goalkeeper's friends that when going to his favourite restaurant, "he normally eats meat. He loves it."

Iker, who has now gone 378 minutes without conceding a goal, has advised that, "I'm not Saint Iker. I don't like it. I'm Iker Casillas."

In other news at Castle Greyskull, it appears that the club's newly employed stadium announcer has received a wrap on the knuckles - with a metal bar hopefully - for his recent matchday performances.

The idiotic orator has been deafening the crowds by blasting early 90's cheesy house music (Snap!, for heaven's sake) at eardrum shattering volumes and interrupting corners by playing, "We Will Rock You," over the speakers - something that the players have become increasingly fed up with, too.

Levante continue their downward spiral with the news that a further eight members of their squad are buggering off and joining Marco Storari who left the not so much sinking, as seabed resting ship, over the the weekend.

In other news, Racing's Pedro Munitis is out for up to two months with a knacked wrist - an injury that would be very bad news indeed for Banega. Maniche is on the brink of joining Inter Milan on loan, having turned down three offers from the Premiership.


La Liga Loca's Sack Race

Miguel Angel Lotina (Deportivo) - 5/1
Ronald Koeman (Valencia) - 7/1
Victor Fernandez (Zaragoza) - 9/1


All blog content copyright of La Liga Loca, 2008

Monday, January 07, 2008

Monday's Good Day, Bad Day - Round 18

For the Spanish Thing's pounding of poor old Levante, just click here.

Good Day

Samuel Eto'o

You can't please all the people all of the time. And if you are Barcelona, then you can't please AS, ever. If the Catalan club lose, then they are branded losers by the paper and if they fail to walk off the pitch carrying the still beating hearts of their defeated opponents in victory, then they are branded even bigger losers.

"Barcelona played horribly," grumbled the match reporter. "They were grey and boring," was the opinion of Fabian Ortiz.

Samuel Eto'o is the man who knows best the approach needed by Barcelona over the next few months. "The most important thing is to win," said the departing Cameroonian who contributed to the victory over Mallorca with a fine late strike.

Saturday's performance was not a classic one but to quote Andrés Iniesta, they have played well on occasions this season, lost and looked like idiots.

"Jogo Practico," wrote Sport, just about getting it right. With Eto'o gone for the next month or do - and boy, is Joan Laporta going to whine about it - the approach for Barcelona must be to win by any means necessary, stay within touching distance of Real Madrid and hope Iker Casillas has a accident with a wood chipper.

Iker Casillas

Speaking of Iker, another astonishing performance from the super stopper to bail his teammates out on Sunday night - teammates who could have been four or five nil down in a match where they only turned up for the last twenty minutes. "We didn't play well, we must be honest," admitted the fist-pumping Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

Casillas' tally of nine stops makes it 82 saves for the season now for the man from Mostoles - a full 20 more than Levante's Storari.

"He is the most decisive player in the league," sighed Zaragoza coach, Víctor Fernández, who personally went onto the pitch to congratulate the player after the game.

La Liga Loca's Guti-o-meter shot up a few points after he trotted onto the pitch for Wesley Sneijder, who brought a whole new dimension to the word 'ineffectual' on Sunday night. A match changing turn means that he will surely be starting against Levante, in place of the disintegrating Dutchman, next weekend.


'A supersonic team,' gasped El Pais. 'They are serious,' wrote Sport when they got round to mentioning the perico performance on page 22 of Sunday's edition. Fourteen games unbeaten, 10 goals for Tamudo and third place in the league means that Paul from Barcelona hasn't been on the Night Nurse for the past five months as one or two suspected.

"What a performance !!!! Espanyol totally destroyed Villarreal ("torpedoed the Yellow Submarine" is too easy). A master class from Tamudo, De La Peña and Luis Garcia was too much for the much over hyped Villarreal.

The first goal after about 8 minutes was an exchange of passes between "the 3 Musketeers" (crap nicknames are de rigueur in this city ) and ended with a fine finish from Tamudo. 1-0 easy easy.

A great free kick from Luis Garcia, which hit the bar, rebounded to Valdo who volleyed home in an unorthodox manner. This was called a "fancy flick" in my youth. 2-0

More to come. A corner flicked across goal by Valdo, his best game for us so far, to an onside Tamudo who headed into an empty net 3-0.

All this inside 35 mins, game over player one. Villarreal hit the post in the second half with a free kick from their only player of any note, Rossi.

Espanyol were denied a goal which crossed the line. A shame really because 4-0 would have been a fairer reflection. The gulf between the 2 teams was really that big.

Hyperbole i hear you say, by the way how do you pronounce that word? But I'm guessing quite a few of you saw the match and you know i'm right.

1) Villarreal pass the ball around quite well but like a soft-core porn film they lack penetration. In defence, Fuentes is crap.
2) Return to form of De la Peña. He makes a very good team into a potentially great one (well for this season anyway)
3) Lacruz and Valdo, regular readers know what I think but credit where credit's due, both played well.
4) David Garcia, Señor reliable. Had Pires in his pocket. Not literally of course. Need bloody big shorts

Overall, yet another fantastic performance from Espanyol who are playing some fantastic football. Best in the league? Champions League is so close I can smell a Shaktar Donetsk away trip. Happy new year to everyone as well."

Paul, Barcelona

Vivar Dorado

It was footballing Law of Sod, that the man Getafe kicked out over the summer for being too old, after five years service, would come back to boot them where it hurts.

Two goals from the former Coliseum captain - never the most prolific of players, normally - capped off a great display from previously goal-shy Valladolid and handed out a veritable spanking to Getafe ensuring all the children the club enticed to the game with free pizza, will never be going back.

Luis Fabiano

Grrr. Just as the blog was about to praise the pants on fire Sevilla super striker for his 11th and 12th league goals, he does a 'Kun' and punches the ball into the back of the net for the opener against Betis. "It hit my hand," confessed the Brazilian.

The Spanish league desperately needs a firing on all cylinders Sevilla to give some zing to what has been a fairly flat first half of the season. The Champions League places may be eight points away for them, but with Villarreal and Atletico not the most reliable of teams and Valencia in free fall, a top four finish is still possible for Manolo's men.

Sergio Agüero

The Argentinean striker had not scored in six league matches but ended the drought with a lovely effort against a doomed Deportivo. "We've played better, we've played worse," was the feeling from Javier Aguirre after the game, but he will be pleased Atletico picked themselves up after a disastrous defeat at the end of the 2007, against Espanyol.

It has been said before and will be said again on the blog, that the rojiblanco's will never have a better chance of making the Champions League.


A very handy victory from Murcia the first match of their centenary year. And another very handy performance from Swedish starlet, Henok Goitum, who is delivering the performances and goals that Baiano isn't managing.

Seven points in the last three games lifts Murcia to ninth and twenty two points - and gives the blog the chance to join in the one hundred year celebrations by sharing the specially written anthem with you lucky readers - an anthem that you will be humming for days. An anthem that will make you very grateful you don't live in Murcia.

Racing Santander

A slight wobble in their recent form is rectified with a 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao and sees them back in the European spots.

Bad Day


For Christmas, La Liga Loca bought a brand new pin to stick into Juan Soler's Voodoo doll. And what excellent value for money the blog's local branch of Haiti-R-Us gives.

This week, Manuel Fernandes spent the night in the slammer and the purchase of Boca Junior's midfielder Ever Banega was thrown into doubt by the annoying fact that Real Madrid have first dibs on the youngster.

On Sunday, Valencia failed to beat local rivals and bottom feeders, Levante and saw David Villa hobble off and Nikola Zigic sent off.

"Excellent!" as Mr Burns would say.


"For the first time, I'm worried about the feeling from the team," confessed Miguel Angel Lotina after yet another home defeat. A confession that makes one wonder what frickin' side the Deportivo coach has been watching over the past five months.


"An impotent submarine," opined AS on Sunday, although La Liga Loca is not sure that a nautical vessel can, technically, be impotent. Villarreal's problem all season has been an impressive attack and midfield paired with a truly rubbish central defence that has conceded the same number of goals as Deportivo.

Manuel Pellegrini said that Saturday's defeat to Espanyol was fair and life certainly wasn't made easy for his side with Rober Pires having to play upfront alongside Giuseppe Rossi, but in matches like those when your backs are against the wall and there's no-one else to call, you need a reliable back two - and that is something Villarreal are lacking.

Athletic Bilbao

The luck against the Basque battlers on Sunday evening, with one goal being disallowed when the Racing keeper seemed to carry the ball over the line and a great strike from Aritz Aduriz hitting the post.

Athletic begin 2008 fourth from bottom, just one point off Betis. Michael Keaton's men will stay up, but it could be a mighty close call.


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