Can Mallorca get out of the hole?

The only pending question in the relegation battle

I guess we can now safely say that the relegation battle is almost over. Only Mallorca, in the 18th spot, have a slight chance of dribbling their way out of the Segunda next season. They’re five points behind Celta with 18 points to play, which means that, in order to stay up, they need at least 8-10 points and a terrible end of the season from one of the four following teams: Celta themselves,  Alaves, Eibar or Valladolid. The first condition looks really hard, especially because they still have to play Atleti and Sevilla in those last six matches, but they will also face a few teams who are playing for nothing at this point, so that could get them those points they need. Continue reading “Can Mallorca get out of the hole?”

Tough times to run FC Barcelona

LaLiga still up for grabs, but the Azulgrana have plenty to think about

Are Barcelona really at the end of an extremely successful cycle? I’m not going to dwell on what I wrote last week about the boredom that their current incarnation brings to the average football fan. The point is a different one this time: it’s not only that the sports side of things looks old, but especially that the club structure, eroded by years of poor management and ill-advised decisions, seems ready to implode. Continue reading “Tough times to run FC Barcelona”

Back to the old normal

Voice your indignation!

Believe me, it’s really hard to keep up with LaLiga’s frenzied comeback. Things get even more complex timewise as I’m moving to Brazil with my family and the whole process is a mess, but then it all becomes completely impossible to manage if I have to spend a long part of my Sunday evening trying to calm Phil down after the match between Reales.

“Everyone saw what happened yesterday in Anoeta”, said Barcelona’s Setién a few hours earlier today. We all did. What changes is the interpretation. But in any case, it’s not surprising that, VAR or no VAR, our national pastime is to feign outrage when calls don’t go our way. I’ll be doing exactly the same in the next few days, of that I’m sure. Continue reading “Back to the old normal”

Season Review

Who overachieved, delivered or underachieved this season in LaLiga

The final weekend in LaLiga only brought one surprise: Espanyol managed to finish 7th as they surpassed two Basque teams, thus making the preliminary round of the Europa League. The Catalans defeated an apathetic Real Sociedad at home, and those three points allowed them to overtake Athletic, who played another awful away match at Sevilla. Continue reading “Season Review”

The end of the road

Preview of LaLiga’s 38th week

It’s an intriguing weekend, this one. LaLiga has organised the relevant matches in two groups that kick off at the same time: one, on Saturday at 16:15, includes the matches that will determine who plays Champions League and Europa League football next season. The second cluster, on Saturday at 20:45, groups all teams in the relegation zone – and yes, Girona still has a minimal chance of staying up, but involves such a bizarre scenario that I believe that LaLiga has scheduled matches this way out of pure good manners. The remaining matches, completely meaningless, have been thrown around the weekend to fill the gaps for China – i.e. early kickoff times. Continue reading “The end of the road”

Strikers’ time

“They play like this [like a small team], that’s why they’re down [in the standings]”, were the bitter words of Mr Enrique Setién, coach of Real Betis Balompié, after his team were handed their backsides by Leganes back in February. That 3-0 victory took Leganes only three points below Betis, but Setién paid no attention to that fact and went on to say that if Leganes decided to attempt a ball possession approach like his inspiring, innovative, ground-breaking Betis (the adjectives are mine), they would miserably fail. Continue reading “Strikers’ time”

Getafe, Sevilla or Valencia?

Preview of LaLiga’s 35th week

The story of the season, Barcelona’s title aside, has to be Getafe. We’ve made fun quite often of his reduced set of followers, half empty stadium, bizarre decision-making in hirings and firings. But the fact is that coach Bordalas has put together such a competitive side that even though you’ll hardly fall in love with their tactics, watching them play is strangely addictive. Can they beat Sevilla and Valencia, much bigger and well funded clubs, for the fourth spot? That’s the most interesting subplot in these last four matches. Continue reading “Getafe, Sevilla or Valencia?”

Pep, hero or villain?

Preview of LaLiga’s 33rd week

I can’t help it. After reading hundreds of takes about Pep Guardiola – from the “Bald Fraud” to the “Inventor of Modern Football”, and many other more reasonable pieces / threads in between – I must give mine. First, and as a disclaimer, I have to link to this, an old piece I wrote for espnfc which is now only found in this blog that copied verbatim. The short version: I am a Madridista from birth, I have seen both the Guardiola player and the Guardiola coach defeat my team quite a few times, and therefore I should hate Guardiola with all my might, but I can’t. Continue reading “Pep, hero or villain?”

Title dead, long live title

Three real derbies, a couple of teams in revival mode to avoid relegation, a legitimate competition between seven teams for the Europa League spots… This matchday brings a few interesting questions, even if what was left of the title fight finished last weekend with Atleti’s defeat at the Camp Nou. The effect of this for LaLiga may well be several rotations for Valverde’s side – yes, that Valverde – and some upsets in the shape of Barcelona not winning a few matches between now and the end of the season as they try to preserve their top talent for their Champions League title run. Continue reading “Title dead, long live title”