La Liga: Why the Sky Isn’t Falling in Spain

The current feeling in Spain is just as the title states: The Sky is Falling!

Thinking about it today, I must be one of the only people that believes this isn’t the case. On Monday’s The Offside Podcast Ian and I chatted about this exact subject.

My thoughts on the pod were this. There are really two views you can take from this issue. The first is looking at it from the ‘galaticos’ point of view. If you are a madridista you probably are running to your nearest church praying to whatever god you choose. You’ve just bowed out of your fourth straight Champions League title in the round of 16, but 6th straight since winning the title in 2002. You are also out of the Copa del Rey and now only have the league to fight for.

This view is completely Madrid-centric (or Big Club-centric for that matter). Only the big clubs are sitting there, complaining about the terribleness that is happening in Spain. Reuters Soccer Blog ran a story about how the Spanish game is losing its touch as of late, and cites Madrid’s as it’s main source, but more criticizes their style of play for this downfall.

The favoured Spanish style of slow, patient build-up play has passed its sell-by date. Too many players and coaches confuse possession with danger, while opponents who play on the break are criticised as if they were adopting some sort of underhand tactic. Few Primera Liga sides possess the pace, verve and dynamism of sides like Roma, Arsenal and Manchester United.

I guess I can see where that is coming from. Fabio Capello was let go last year after Madrid’s title due to his supposed ‘boring’ style of play, but I have to say that Schuster’s style of play isn’t any more free flowing than his predecessor’s.

Still, the Reuters article doesn’t even talk about the League in general, but focuses the downfall only on what is happening in Europe. Could it be that simply Spanish football is having an off year? It’s more of a focus on Madrid football then anything concrete about Spanish football in general. Madrid’s success does not parallel that of Spanish football as a whole, unfortunately.

Continue reading

Advertisements

More UCL Predictions: Chelsea, AS Roma, and FC Porto

FC Porto vs. Schalke 04
(0-1)

Coveted winger Ricardo Quaresma has promised a win at the Dragao, but it is Schalke with the one goal lead. Porto will be heading into this with a bit of momentum as Schalke still in the race for the Bundesliga title has lost three consecutive league games. If Kevin Kuranyi can find an early goal on the counter, Schalke could do what they did in the first leg – defend. The German international’s lone goal in the last encounter was partly due to a Helton handling mistake, but with the way things have been going, Schalke is going to have to take whatever they can get.
Prediction: 2-0 (2-1 on aggregate, Porto)

Real Madrid vs. AS Roma
(1-2)

The biggest advantage Real has today is the fact that they managed an away goal in Rome during the first leg. They are home at the Bernabeu but Real’s time since the first leg 2-1 loss has been frustrating, eeking by a pesky Recreativo side last weekend, 3-2. Injuries have depleted Bernd Schuster’s squad selection prospects hurt him most on the backline with Sergio Ramos suspended, Christoph Metzelder. The midfield and forward corps could miss the Dutch trifecta of Arjen Robben (definitely missing), Ruud van Nistelrooy, and Wesley Sneijder. AS Roma travels to Spain with little to worry about injury-wise, but certainly a lot to play for.
Prediction: 1-1 (2-3 on aggregate, AS Roma)

Chelsea vs. Olympiakos
(0-0)

Chelsea’s 4-0 win over West Ham United this past weekend mixed with media reports of Chelsea players ready to abandon Avram Grant make it a ‘pull-it-together’ kind of match-up at Stamford Bridge. The Blues will have to strike early and often in order to put away that freak, 90+ minute away goal that puts the EPL title chasers away. The Greek champions managed to beat Lazio away from home, 2-1, and it’s likely the Blues know that.
Prediction: 2-0 (2-0 on aggregate Chelsea)

Yesterday’s Results

Arsenal 2, AC Milan 0 – Cesc Fabregas’ long-range take was nice but don’t you think it was a little more the questionable anticipation of Zeljko Kalac?

Barcelona 1, Celtic 0 – Xavi, CHI February Best XI pick (posted tonight), comes through again but their win is overshadowed by an injury to Lionel Messi

Manchester United 1, Lyon 0 – Lyon looked dangerous in the second half, but experience, some dude named Cristiano Ronaldo, and composure seemingly always trumps flashiness and youth in the end

Sevilla 3, Fenerbahce 2 (5-5 on aggregate, 3-2 Fenerbahce in penalties) – a great game for those spectators that were neutral, for a report on this see Ryan’s – a Sevilla faithful – post

La Liga: Madrid Celebrate…Getafe Scores…Madrid Cries

In case you haven’t seen any of the commotion from the Madrid – Getafe game, here is the highlight that may seal the deal that Real Madrid either get helped immensely by the ref, or they get screwed six ways to Sunday.

The premise is Real Madrid score what looks to be a goal, only to have the goal waved off for offsides. While Robben and Madrid are still jumping around and celebrating, Getafe put the ball back into play, and go on essentially a 6-2 break. Uche then gets a great pass across the middle and slots it past Iker Casillas for the win.

You can be the judge on whether it should count or not. I certainly think it does. Why not? Once you put the ball down and back into play, it’s game on. Serves them right for celebrating.

AS printed out this cover today with the headline Pardillos which means ‘Stooges’.

And how.

If you want to see a bigger roundup of La Liga action, go see my buddy Striker here

One-Liner guide to La Liga- Jornada 25

The One-liner Guide to La Liga is back like a Rolling Stones reunion tour.  Let’s go.
Your Spanish Cosita

Each town in Spain has their own feria. Feria is basically, a carnival. But they are the most intense week long carnivals you will ever be a part of in your life. Spain’s most famous feria is ultimately the Feria de Sevilla, which is always held in April. The Feria de Sevilla was started in 1847 as a cattle trading fair, but quickly escalated into the party that it is today. This is one of the most traditional ones where women still dress in the typical flamenco dress. The ferias are also well known for having casetas which are the typical ‘little houses’ along the streets were people go and dance and eat.

Continue reading

Champions League-La Liga Edition: A Tale of 3-2’s

Le Sigh. =(

Fenerbahçe 3 – Sevilla 2

A Sevilla side with no excuses couldn’t defend worth a damn and still almost came out of Turkey with a win. Three Fenerbahçe goals scored on TERRIBLE defending by Sevilla.

I’ll spare a recap of the game since everyone knows how much I hate doing them. But I’ll still give my two cents.

Continue reading

The giants are now awake…, Liverpool over Inter 2-0 in CL Home Leg

Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt hit for two late goals – Gerrard’s individual effort being the most spectacular of the two – to surprise the crap out of Serie A leaders Inter Milan.

This also wasn’t an example of finishing what little chances the Reds had – Liverpool dominated Inter – 19 shots to 4, finally breaking through Inter’s 10-man ‘catenaccio’. Yep, 10-men – the Reds got some help from Marco Materazzi when he was sent off for a second yellow card offense in the 30th minute for tugging on El Nino’s jersey. Inter then had to play a whole hour a man dow, at Anfield, after one of the worst losses in Liverpool history (might not be THAT bad).

This will be a huge morale boost for Liverpool and it was led by none other than captain Steven Gerrard (would you expect otherwise?). Rafa also put in timely subs (Crouch, Pennant – assisted Kuijt’s goal) and allowed the fullbacks, Fabio Aurelio and Steve Finnan, the proper room to serve the dangerous ball in. The wings, as a whole, were wide open once Materazzi was out of the picture. Lucas Leiva put in a promising 60 minutes for a young midfielder still learning about European soccer.

It was Liverpool’s 100th European victory at Anfield and – rightly enough – it was Gerrard’s 50th goal at home.

Other scores:

Schalke 04 1, FC Porto 0Schalke uses Kevin Kuranyi’s early goal to head away to Porto a goal up
Olympiakos 0, Chelsea 0Chelsea holds off the Greek champions at home and is ready for a Stamford return
AS Roma 2, Real Madrid 1David Pizarro and Mancini overcome a decent looking Real Madrid side to secure the home win

One-liner guide to La Liga–Jornada 4 ¡Qué guay!

In my constant quest to indocrinate the Western World in the joy that is the Spanish culture, I present to you sangria. Now, you can make sangria in lots of different ways, but I give you my recipe, which I find to be the best. It’s adapted from a few Spanish recipes, but I find it to be the best tasting, sometimes a bit strong.

1 bottle 750ml red wine (white just isn’t the same)
1 to 1.5 cups of Brandy (no rum!)
2 oranges
1 apple (the apple sucks a lot of the flavor out)
A bunch of Cherries
1 lemon
1 lime
2 20 oz bottles of Sprite or 7-up
Sugar-add to taste
Cut the fruit into little pieces, you don’t have to skin the fruit if you don’t want. Add the alcohol together, then put in the fruit and add sugar. Don’t worry about adding too much sugar as it should be somewhat sweet, but the bottles of 7-up take out the huge alcohol taste (if my Spanish family knew I was putting 7-up in they would kill me). When done, settle in for a great week in La Liga. (Hey, if I could buy Cruzcampo or Mahou in the states, I wouldn’t have to make sangria!)

And without further ado, CHI’s very own One Liner Guide to La Liga–Jornada 4
As always kickoffs are in Spanish time, (minus 6 hours for the East Coast, etc)

 

Menudo Partidazo of the week!

Barcelona-Sevilla Saturday, 22:00 La Sexta
Both had 3-0 games in the Champions League but on other sides of the win loss column, does Sevilla have what it takes to win La Liga this season?

The rest after the jump

Continue reading