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.

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Sevilla v Fenerbahçe–The Recap?? Sort of.

I don’t know about everyone else out there, but I’m not just a fan of the beautiful game, I play it. 5 nights a week in fact.

I remember last season in the Tehel Cup in Buffalo (the oldest Amateur soccer tournament in the country) and we were up 2-0 going into the second half of our game. The feeling I had going into that second half was the same feeling I had in the second half of this Sevilla game. I remember stepping out onto the pitch, trying not to win, but NOT to lose. We ended up drawing 2-2 after extra time, and losing in penalties 3-2 to be outsted from the tournament.

The same thing tonight happened to Sevilla. A terrible first half from both sides, in reality, saw Sevilla with a 3-1 advantage thanks to 2 gifts from Volkan, the Fener keeper. Lack of defending lead to the first Fener goal, and to a 3rd Sevilla goal before the half ended.

That 3rd goal from Kanouté essentially ended Sevilla’s thoughts about scoring, and they did not see another quality chance the rest of the game.

The second half was where it all went wrong. Sevilla came out and didn’t want to put the nail in the coffin. The game got very chippy and closed in, a far cry from the previous free flowing football in the first half. They then decided to go out and ‘not lose.’ This involves not attempting to play any type of attacking football and be content to clock watch until the whistle sounds at 90 minutes. The entire second half had a strange feeling attached to it, as if I was just waiting for the Fener goal to go in.

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Fenerbahçe v Sevilla – Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Sevilla take on Fenerbahçe Wednesday in a stadium that is reminiscent of the Winter Classic played between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Years Day. The current ‘blanket of snow’ aptly named by AS.com is in the process of being cleared.

Sevilla left the homeland for Istanbul with 20 players in tow.
Palop, De Sanctis, Daniel Alves, Mosquera, Drago, Crespo, Fazio, Escudé, Adriano, Renato, Poulsen, Maresca, Keita, Jesús Navas, Tom De Mul, Duda, Diego Capel, Koné, Luis Fabiano Kanouté.

The starting 11 will be:

Luis Fabiano–Kanouté

Capel-Poulsen-Keita-Jesus Navas

Drago-Adriano-Escude-Dani Alves

Palop

 

Today, Sevilla were allowed to practice in the stadium for around 70 minutes. The players described the pitch as ‘not frozen’ but said it was ‘irregular’ (aka It was a mess). Half of the stadium was available to Sevilla, and the other half was busy being cleared off for the match tomorrow.

On to the match itself. Sevilla head into this game unbeaten in their last 4 games (3-1 with the draw coming to Barcelona). Many of the pundits are talking about Sevilla finally <em>finding their form</em> and in fact, Sevilla find themselves sitting in 6th place, which gains them a UEFA Cup spot.

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But this game isn’t about <em>La Liga</em> it’s about the Champions League. I remember watching Liverpool play Beskitas in Turkey during the group stages. I’ve never seen a group of fans as crazy as the Beskitas fans were during that game. For 90 straight minutes the fans never stopped chanting, nor needed any part of their seat as they were standing all game long.

After starting physical therapy at the University at Buffalo Sports Medicine center, I met one of the graduate students, who is Turkish and just so happens to be a Fenerbahçe fan. The last 2 weeks have been nothing but cheap shots at one another, but I’ve also learned something about this Turkish team that I can safely say I knew NOTHING about before meeting him.

He says ‘We love Brazilians’. <em>Marca</em> has an article today entitled ‘Fenerbahçe dances samba’ (in reference to all of the Brazilians on the team. The most notable Brazilian on Fenerbahçe is Roberto Carlos, but they are rather stacked with Brazilians, with <strong>Zico</strong> is in his second year at the club as trainer while <strong>Aurelio</strong> speaks Turkish and is a naturalized Turkish citizen.

On to Sevilla. As mentioned earlier, we are on a 4 game unbeaten streak and want to continue that run through Turkey on Wednesday night. It would be stupid of me not to say the snow could play a bit of a role in the outcome of the game, but fortunately for the game of soccer in general, it is not meant to be played in the snow. Both teams will be struggling if the white stuff starts coming down.

Sevilla have no real injuries to talk about, except that <em>el capitan</em> Javi Navarro is still out and I still have no clue when he’ll be back. Chevantón is also out injured for a month, but will not really be of any necessity with both Luis Fabiano and Kanouté ready for the challenge.

Hopefully Sevilla can keep the scoring boots on and find the back of the net while on the away leg. Away goals are always a premium in these home-at-home series.

Some talk has been made of Diego Capel’s diving ability. As I posted on here a few weeks ago, Capel draws a yellow card every 69 minutes he is on the pitch and has 22 yellow cards against him in the first half of La Liga. That’s an insane amount of cards. He isn’t a diver. In the games I’ve caught this season, I have only seen him dive once or twice, not any more than your normal professional footballer.

That’s all I’ve got as I have a soccer game myself to catch. Let me know your thoughts about Sevilla in the comments!

One-Liner guide to La Liga- Jornada 24

La Liga keeps chugging along like tailgaters at a Buffalo Bills game. It’s Jornada 24 and I’ve decided to do something a bit different this week. I’ll still give out the Spanish cultural tid-bit so that you all may receive your weekly immersion. But, I’ll also drop a few links, quick stories about what happened in La Liga this week so that everyone can know what’s going on. In essence I’m making a more comprehensive preview, except for my brief previews that have evolved from one liners because well..thats hard.

By the way, I try my hardest to find stories on La Liga in English to link to for everyone, but part of the fact that I write about La Liga is because not many English blogs or Bloggers for the matter, are devoted to La Liga. Much of my reading takes place on Spanish Language websites or blogs, but when I can find the appropriate English links, I’ll give them to you all here. Vale?

Listos? Venga, vamos!

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La Liga: Sevilla Dethrowned as Barca Moves On

It’s been a tough year for Sevilla, and it’s just getting tougher now as the rojiblancos find themselves out of the Copa del Rey with a 0-0 draw today at the Camp Nou.  The draw puts Barcelona through with a 1-1 draw previously at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

The game was not worthy of the two teams in it.  It’s obvious that I’m a Sevilla supporter, but the referee’s for this Copa del Rey series were absolutly terrible.  I’m not one to complain about the ref’s, but seriously, this series took the cake.  It was enough to make my head spin, for both teams.

Sitting in front of my Arabic feed I was disgusted time and time again at the lack of calls for both sides.  I spare everyone from going into a epic rant about refereeing but as I previously said, it went both ways.

Tomorrow’s Copa del Rey games are:

Ida Partido Vuelta
09/01/2008 16/01/2008
0-0 Atlético – Valladolid Previa
2-1 Mallorca – R. Madrid Previa
3-0 Getafe – Levante Previa
1-0 Recreativo – Villarreal Previa
1-1 Athletic – Espanyol Previa
1-1 Sevilla – Barcelona 0-0
1-1 Zaragoza – Racing Previa
1-2 Betis – Valencia Previa

Your biggest game tomorrow is the Mallorca-Real Madrid clash at the Bernabeu.  Real Madrid are currently trailing 2 goals to 1, but only need a 1-0 win as Madrid would go through with the advantage in Away goals.

La Liga Para Todos–I’m Back, Schuster’s comments, Kanouté and llorón

Hey all, did you miss me?

It’s been an absolute mess with me the last couple of weeks with school, but since I’ve got a few minutes to spare daily now, I’ll play Jesus and bring ‘La Liga Para Todos’ back from the dead, and maybe even the Morning Hi-5, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

Without further adu, let’s get to it.

—Say it isn’t so Freddy, say it isn’t so. Freddy Kanouté’s agent came out in the English press today saying that there is a possibility that Kanouté could return to Tottenham come season’s end, especially if Berbatov says goodbye to Spurs. This is going to be the fallout from Juande Ramos leaving. Not that Sevilla go into a shell and cannot win but rather that Juande is going to come in and swoop all of Sevilla’s players up and bring them to the promised land. This could be an expensive move for Tottenham as Kanouté is inked with Sevilla until 2012 and will need to be bought out of his contract with Sevilla.

—Bernrd Schuster gets the quote of the week after the Sevilla -Real Madrid game. Schuster was less than happy with the referee in the encounter and made his feelings known after the match. When talking to reporters, Schuster asked

‘Where is the ref from?’

The reporter replies. ‘Catalonia’

Then Schuster replies with the classy statement.

There’s nothing more that has to be said. (No hace falta decir nada mas)

What a classy statement by Schuster. Really. Oh yeah, it turns out that referee Alfonso Álvarez Izquierdo is an Espanyol fan, and not a Barça fan. I watched the game, and yes, it was a bit rough of a game for the referee, but to throw the ref under the bus is uncalled for. Between Schuster and Sir Alex Ferguson, managers are all about tearing the refs a new one lately, a trend that I feel needs to stop.

–Spanish teams in the Champions League…Valencia lost 2-0 to Rosenborg in the Champions League nullifying the debut of new manager Ronald Koeman. I didn’t see the game but my friend Cesar at the offside gave a review of what he saw. Valencia may have problems that a manager change cannot solve. Their defense is ragged and in need of a change. Real Madrid drew 0-0 with Olympiakos. I was able to catch the last few minutes of the game and from what I’ve read, Madrid just didn’t have it today and could very well be reeling from the loss to Sevilla on Saturday.

And the last note, inspired by Sevilla’s beating of Real Madrid.

arrogance_122-copy.jpg

It feels good to be back. As always, comment away.

Also, if anyone wants to see anything in La Liga covered specifically, let me know. I can do the translating and follow the league on the forums, etc, so make sure to let me know!!!

Palabra del Día

Don’t think I forgot about this. Today’s word is

llorón crybaby, whiner (comes from verb llorar-to cry)

Joder tio, Schuster es un llorón.