La Liga Wrap Up–Jornada 2

 Happy Monday to everyone.  After a crazy weekend of moving and such, I’m back up and blogging.

Here are the results for this weekend’s La Liga action.  The Sevilla-Osasuna game was postponed due to Sevilla’s Champions League tie with AEK Athens on Tuesday.  The game will be made up mid week sometime this season.

Villareal 0 – Real Madrid 5
Real Madrid: Raul 38′ (2) Sneijder 48′ (2) Sergio Ramos 49′ (1) Sneijder 72′ (3) Guti 79′ (1)

After coming off of a 3-0 victory over Valencia last week in the Mestala, Villareal got a firm wake up call from the Blancos at home this weekend. Real Madrid pumped in 5 goals, 2 coming courtsey of the Dutchman Sneijder, who is the Pichichi (leading scorer in La Liga)

Real Madrid simply dominated this game from start to finish, never giving Villareal a chance. The attacking style of Real Madrid was too much for them to handle as Villareal never looked to threaten Casillas with any quality chances on goal. Bernrd Schuster looks to have found a winner in Sneijder, who is having a spectacular run in La Liga so far.

Levante 0 – Murcia 0

Both Levante and Murcia played a uber-conservative game in el Ciutat de Valencia, which culmonated into a nil-nil draw. The game was a bore from start to finish, but Murcia did show some signs of life a few times during the match, forcing Levante keeper Storari into making a few good saves.

Murcia may have played a defensive game, but they are looking for points to help them stay up in La Liga one more season, and they are not going to take chances in dropping points. 4 points in 2 games is not bad for them..not bad at all.

Zaragoza 1 – Racing 1
Zaragoza: Oliviera 74′ (2)
Racing: Óscar Serrano 54′ (1)

Zaragoza and Racing both took to the offensive in this meeting, but the keepers were up to the challenge. Racing was the better side throughout the match and attacked through the air on the shorter Zaragoza squad. Serrano netted his goal in the center of the Zaragoza area before the ball could be cleared.

Oliviera took advantage of a bad clear to tie the game at 1-1 and to ensure Zaragoza earned their first point this season.

Getafe 1 – Recreativo 1
Getafe: Manu del Moral 93′ (1)
Recreativo: Sinama Pongolle 84′ (2)

Manu del Moral saved Getafe from their second straight loss of the season by heading in a goal on 93 minutes. Getafe were playing with 10 men after Mario Cotelo was sent off for shoving a Recreativo player.

Sinama Pongolle scored on a brillant solo effort in the area.

The rest of the La Liga scores:

Betis 2 – Espanyol 2
Betis: Fernando 83′ (1) Sobis 84′ (1)
Espanyol: Luis Garcia 32′ 41′ (1, 2)

Valladolid 2 – Deportivo 2
Valladolid: Garcia Calvo 45′ (1), Sisi 71′ (1)
Deportivo: Taborada 53′ (1) Riki 77′ (1)

Almería 1 – Valencia 2
Almería: Negredo 62′ (2)
Valencia: Morientes 45′ (1) Moretti 79′ (1)

Valencia avenged their shutout defeat last week at the hands of Valladolid with a 2-1 victory over newly promoted Almería.

Barcelona 3 – Athletic 1
Barcelona: Ronaldinho 08′ (1) Ronaldinho 34′ (2) Yaya Toure 71′ (1)
Athletic: Markel Susaeta 70′ (1)

Atlético 1- Mallorca 1
Atlético: Güiza 18′ (1)
Mallorca: Pernía 77′ (1)

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La Liga Wrap Up–Jornada 1

The first Jornada of La Liga is behind us, and it was a weekend filled with some great football, but seemingly overshadowed by the current situation with Puerta in Sevilla. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid was not televised anywhere as the cable rights war is still going on between Audiovisual and Mediapro in Spain.

Real Madrid 2-Atletico Madrid 1
Atletico: Agüero 00′ (1)
Real Madrid: Raul 14′ (1) Sneijder 79′ (1)
Atletico Madrid came out to a lead on a header by Sergio Agüero, but the Madridistas would not be stopped as they countered with 2 goals by Raul and by newcomer Wesley Sneijder to take the win. Leo Franco should have stopped the last goal by Sneijder, but was screened by his own player in the process.

It was a shame not to be able to watch the Derbi as they are always entertaining. I wanted to see Diego Forlan shine for his new club, and also see how the new Real Madrid team does under Schuster.

Sevilla FC 4-Getafe 1
Getafe: P. Hernandez 2′(1)
Sevilla FC: Jesus Navas 45′ (1) Luis Fabiano 66′ (1) Kanouté 69′ (1) Kerzhakov 81′ (1)

A goal by Pablo Hernandez in the 2nd minute stunned the Sevilla side at home in the Sanchez Pizjuan. Hernandez cooly slotted home a set piece over the wall and into the left side of the goal, leaving keeper Andres Palop with no chance.

Sevilla controlled the ball well in the first half, but Getafe looked determined to avenge their defeat in the Copa del Rey final, attacking fearlessly in the first 20 minutes.

The wheels came off the Getafe bus when Sousa was sent off with two consecutive yellow cards. One for dissent on a clear non-penality call, and the second for what the referee deemed a deliberate handball on a Kanoute cross. Cortez was then sent off for a horrendously late challenge on Diego Capel on the left hand side, putting Getafe 2 men down.

Sevilla mounted a comeback in the second half, scoring 4 unanswered goals on a powerless Getafe defense. Duda was without a doubt the man-of-the-match, whipping in ball after ball from the left hand side, contributing on 3 of the goals scored in the game.

The game was overshadowed by the incident with Antonio Puerta, who is still in critical condition.

Real Murcia 2-Zaragoza 1
Real Murcia: Mejia 16′ (1) Baiano 68′ (1)
Zaragoza: Oiviera 29′ (1)

Newly promoted Real Murcia took the lead on a goal by Mejia on a pass by Pablo Garcia. Oliviera countered with a chip over Murcia keeper Notario.

Zaragoza dominated the play in the second half, but couldn’t mount a sustained attack and instead played a possession game. Murcia took the lead for good on a goal by Baiano, who again was set up by Pablo Garcia.

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La Liga Preview—Mallorca, Deportivo

For the past few weeks I have combed the paella and sangria filled landscape that is Spain to come up with a definitive La Liga preview. For the most part, La Liga coverage in English is a bit difficult to find, so I have had to do lots of digging to figure out what is going on with the teams that have ascended into La Liga from the Segunda Division last season. However, there is no shortage of talk about La Liga in Spanish, thus I do a good deal of time trolling the Spanish dailies and team forums to get all the goods. It was so much easier when I lived there.

In all of the previews, I’ll give you the team, stadium, nicknames, who’s out, who’s in and what is going on. I don’t give starting 11’s because I’m shockingly bad at that.

Today we have Real Mallorca and Deportivo de la Coruña 

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Real Mallorca (12th in La Liga in 2006)

Stadium: ONI Estadi

Nickname: Barralets, Ensaimada Mecánica

Interesting Fact: Mallorca is actually in the Baleric Islands, the only La Liga team to not be located on the Spanish Mainland.

In: Valero (Castilla), Lux (River), Webo (Osasuna) , Molinero (Atlético de Madrid) ,David Navarro (Valencia) , Güiza (Getafe) ,Gonzalo Castro (Nacional de Montevideo)

Out: Prats, Tristán (Livorno), Maxi López (Barcelona), Jankovic (Palermo), Jordi López (Racing) , Delibasic (Real Sociedad)

What an interesting summer it’s been

Real Mallorca have had an interesting pre-season, finishing 5-0-3 for the summer. This includes two games won 10-1 and 10-0 respectively, but more importantly, a 3-0 win over Bayern Munich. Yeah, that was a Bayern Munich team playing mostly second-stringers, but it is still the team most people pick for total world domination this season, so it should go as some sort of credit to Mallorca. Manager Gregorio Manzano is attempting to improve upon his 12th place finish last season.

A mix of veterans and young blood

Mallorca will rely on a healthy mix of both veteran and young players to succeed in La Liga this season. Dani Güiza, who arrived from Getafe during the off season, has adapted well to his new Mallorican side, scoring 2 goals in a draw with Gronigen on 13 August and scoring one in the aforementioned match with Bayern Munich. Güiza scored 20 goals in 60 games for Getafe and looks to be the leading scorer for the Bermellones. Gonzalo Castro comes over from Uruguay to the Spanish league this season. He will be looking to score some goals for his side, but is also a tough player that will do whatever it takes for his side to get the win. German Luz comes to Mallorca via River Plate in Argentina and should play a solid role in backup for Moyá, who is an ode to the ‘cantera’ system that Real Mallorca has in place. Webo scored 4 goals this pre-season, more than he scored the entire last season at Osasuna.

Veteran Sergio Ballesteros is the oldest player on the squad at 32 years of age, but he is a staunch central defender who is always working hard. He said in an interview with as.com that he sees his team as being ‘very competitive’ and that ‘there is a good union and a good mix between veteran and new players, with good vibrations’

What they will look like

The pre-season for Mallorca has left the team well set for the start of La Liga that is this weekend. The back four should consist of Héctor, Ballesteros, Nunes and Fernando Navarro, while the midfield will see Jonás Gutiérrez, Varela, Castro, Tuni, and possibly Arango Ibagaza and Borja Valero will be the front runners for the central midfielders, while Güiza and Webó will be the strike force upfront.

Survey Says

Mallorca have made a great addition in Güiza and Webó, who will seem to solve the scoring drought that has plaged Mallorca in recent years. They have two world class keepers and a solid back four. Look for the Mallorican side to jump up a few spots this season as long as the men up front can finish and do their job.

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Deportivo de la Coruña (13th in La Liga in 2006)

Stadium: Estadio Municipal de Riazor

Nicknames: Los Turcos (Spanish)/Os Turcos (Galician), Blanquiazules (Spanish)/Branquiazuis (Galician), SuperDepor

Interesting Fact: Deportivo fans fly Turkish flags because rival fans, especially those from Vigo, call Deportivo supporters “Turcos” to insult them. But the Riazor Blues section have taken this name with pride and therefore show Turkish flags during matches.

In: Pablo Amo (Recreativo), Rubén Castro (Gimnàstic), Xisco (Vecindario), Antonio Tomás (Racing), Momo (Racing), Guardado (Atlas), Manu (Sporting de Gijón), Lafita (Zaragoza), Aythami (Las Palmas), Filipe (Rentistas), Jairo (Sporting de Gijón)

Out: Capdevila (Villarreal), Duscher (Racing), Juanma (Tenerife) Arizmendi (Valencia) Estoyanoff (Valladolid) Andrade (Juventus) Joaquín Caparrós (entrenador)

  What a fall from grace

If you rewind the clock back to 1999-2000, you would see that Deportivo was not only sucessful, but sucessful enough to win La Liga.  Yes, it wasn’t Real Madrid nor Barcelona who won La Liga that season.  It was the Turcos from La Coruña who brought victory to Depor and it’s loyal fan base.

Now, bring it back to the present and here we are 7 years later.  Depor is in a state of transition, sitting in 13th place after last season, and on the brink of either moving back up the table to glory or to see a complete fall from grace and be relegated from La Liga.  They have not made the Champions League since 2003-2004 and have finished no higher than 8th place since then.

Putting all your eggs in one  two baskets

Depor looks to two men to help change what is happening in the Riazor. After ousting Joaquín Caparros from his duities as head coach, Depor looks to Miguel Ángel Lotina to take over the reins and guide this team to victory from the sidelines.

The second person is Andrés Guardado a newcomer to the squad from Atlas, who has already taken over a leadership role after only one month with his new club.  The Mexican left winger was quoted as saying that there is ‘A lot of optimism in Depor and that I hope we get off on the right foot on Sunday (the first day of La Liga)’  Some are touting Guardado to be the next big thing in La Liga, but that will have to wait to be seen after the first few weeks of action.

A new Depor

Lotina likes to keep things strong in the back four, with Manuel Pablo heading the back four and Guarado coming into control the midfield and the rest of the pitch with his presence.  Lotina will  bring a new style of play to the Riazor as he will have a solid back line, a pacy midfield that can deliver passes when necessary, and forwards that can finish when they are given the opportunity.  Juan Rodriguez and De Guzman will be the main Central Defensive Midfielders, while Riki looks to be getting the nod upfront after scoring  5 goals last season.

However, Lotina is still in search of a Left Center wing and a true goal scoring forward.  These two pieces to his puzzle are crucial for success in Depor and to bring back a winning team to La Coruña.

Survey Says

Until Depor can find a true goal scorer that can generate 20 goals a year, they will not have enough firepower to catapoult them to their former glory.  Don’t look for Depor to climb more than a few spots this season, unless they can sign Soldado or another forward who is looking to start over at a new club.