Life in La Liga yet

Some young players have a special gift for announcing their presence to the football world. Dani Raba, hitherto a player floating quietly on the margins of Villarreal’s first team, decided on Sunday night to leave his calling card in the possession of Sergi Busquets, and the rest, as they say…..could be history.  Up to that point in the 60th minute of the game at La Ceramica, Villarreal were beginning to struggle a little and the sand of the game might have slipped through their fingers anyway, but as Busquets flew, so did the home side’s chances of taking anything from the game.  Twelve minutes later, Luis Suarez scored the inevitable, followed ten minutes later by the even more inevitable second from Messi.  A third successive game without a win would have left Barcelona’s flank more vulnerable, especially with the clásico now visible on the horizon.  As it stands, despite Raba’s contribution, the league is still alive.

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Poor pitches, combi players and the rabbit’s tail

Phil Ball analyses the weekend in La Liga.

Maybe it’s because my kids are away at university now and I’ve got too much time on my hands, but I’ve been watching a lot of old footy-related stuff on Youtube recently, and it’s always educational.  And some of the stuff I’ve seen this past week fits nicely with some of the themes that have some up during this latest weekend in Spain. Continue reading “Poor pitches, combi players and the rabbit’s tail”

Ghost goal keeps La Liga alive

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It was as an interesting weekend in La Liga, and not simply because Valencia were playing Barcelona.  One of the side-shows at the fair was Villarreal v Sevilla, important for its Europa League implications next season perhaps, but also because at this stage of the campaign a possible defeat for Barcelona was destined to give hope to the winners elsewhere.  Sevilla’s thermo-nuclear comeback against Liverpool in midweek, after trailing 0-3 at the break, put one in mind of Liverpool’s own similar feat in the Champions League in 2005 in Istanbul, except that was in a final , of course.  Continue reading “Ghost goal keeps La Liga alive”

Valencian virtue

Who would have thought, dear readers – who would have thought that we would be looking at Sunday November 26th as the decisive date on the La Liga calendar?  And just in case you’re not with me yet, at 20.45 on that same evening, Valencia entertain Barcelona in a game that may have more significance than the clásico that follows it a month later, on Saturday December 23 in the Bernabéu – the day before Santa starts checking that his sleigh is airworthy.  Can anything have more significance than the clásico?  It would appear to be the case this season, especially after the events of this weekend.

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Emotional Rescue

I’d just got back from the Basque derby between Real Sociedad and Eibar, jumping off the late bus with my neighbour and scout Vicente Biurrun into the fangs of a howling gale. Biurrun is an ex-professional –  and suitably prepared for inclement weather as all good goalies are, he’d opened his brolly into the gale and beckoned me into its protection, but the wind got the better of the situation and almost wrenched it out of his large keeper’s hands.   Biurrun packed in the game in 1995, the year my son was born, a year that produced an extraordinary crop of midfield players in the Gipuzkoa region of the Basque Country, several of whom are now playing at the top level.  Another of this crop had just made his debut, coming on for Eibar in the 60th minute, replacing Kike with the score at 3-0 to Sociedad. Continue reading “Emotional Rescue”

Girona Jonah, a cathedral for Barcelona

Two games obviously stood out this weekend, one at the new San Mames and the other in Girona. The rest seemed like a sideshow, although Valencia’s 1-2 win at Alavés which opened the weekend’s sparring on Saturday lunchtime was both predictable and useful, since it obliged Barcelona and Real Madrid to ensure the three points in their respective games.  Valencia had to work hard, but they remain undefeated and have now won six consecutive league games since their draw with neighbours Levante back in mid-September. Continue reading “Girona Jonah, a cathedral for Barcelona”

Fires in the east

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So you want entertainment ?  Look no further than Betis, Real Sociedad and Valencia.  Betis and Real’s nine and eight games respectively have so far produced a whacking 72 goals, each side involved in 36, in their own net or in that of their opponent.  Valencia are close behind on 35 but remain undefeated, so we’d better give them the crown. Valencia – wot?  You mean they’re actually doing well again?  They are indeed, and the interesting thing is that nobody saw it coming.
Continue reading “Fires in the east”