We need you, Basques

Preview of La Liga’s 16th week

derby vasco

With the obvious depressing state of Basque football, the fight over a top six finish in La Liga seems already settled for the rest of the season. Unless something shocking happens in the next couple of months, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Villarreal, Valencia and Atlético de Madrid will end the tournament in spots that give access to European football next season, while the rest of the clubs will have to fight to avoid relegation or die of boredom in mid table.  Continue reading “We need you, Basques”

Barcelona win the Madrid derby

messi rie
Messi, closer to another La Liga title

The match:

The derby exemplified quite well why these two Madrid teams sit 10 points behind leaders Barcelona. Neither Real Madrid nor Atletico can score like they did in previous seasons, and that without major changes to their starting line-up in the summer. Their lack of goals has to do with the shape of their starters, although in the case of Real Madrid some may point to the reduced attacking alternatives from the bench now that Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez have left.

But the fact is that the same Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema that so well interpreted the service that Real Madrid’s midfield provided last season, and the same Antoine Griezmann who looked omnipresent in the final third for Atleti just a few months ago, now look completely disconnected from the rest of their teams, unable to find an opening in 90 minutes. Continue reading “Barcelona win the Madrid derby”

A desperate Madrid derby

italy outI don’t dislike international breaks one bit, especially when World Cup spots are at stake. Although the bunch of nil-nils was a bit disappointing, we got to see some feel-good stories and a few shocks, such as the Italian disaster. However, I’ll admit that these breaks do alter the pace of the national tournaments quite a bit and all they imply: analyses, gossip, team’s form, certain La Liga blog… Continue reading “A desperate Madrid derby”

Boring Liga?

ligaboring

Right before another international break, La Liga offers a somewhat underwhelming picture: an unassailable leader; a mild fight over Champions League spots; few real candidates to compete for Europa League positions; and a crystal clear bottom-three.

Is the tournament becoming boring? Continue reading “Boring Liga?”

Sour Grapes

zidane enfadado

The match:

For the first time since Zinedine Zidane took over, Real Madrid have lost two matches in a row. More than the defeats, the way in which they have happened is what should concern the French coach. This team succeeded because of their dominating midfield, but is now losing and looking completely overwhelmed because of that same midfield. Continue reading “Sour Grapes”

Time for Zidane to step up

zidane girona

If we have to judge by their performance in Girona, Real Madrid seem determined to abandon all hopes of retaining their La Liga crown well before Christmas. Of course, there’s still plenty of tournament ahead, including two head-to-head matches against leaders Barcelona, but for lack of a better description, Zinedine Zidane’s team looks almost bored with the competition this season. Continue reading “Time for Zidane to step up”

The Benzema Debate

In the overblown controversy between Gary Lineker and Zinedine Zidane over Karim Benzema’s talents (or lack thereof), some have missed the obvious. One of them is a pundit doing his job: opinions on the game, including his personal preferences about players, even if he does not watch them play that often. The other is a coach also doing his job: defending his squad no matter what, especially against any outside critics.

Debates about Benzema’s right to start for Real Madrid begin with a very misleading fact: he wears the number 9 shirt. Continue reading “The Benzema Debate”