Tuesday, October 19, 2010

La Liga Lowdown - Round 7

Round 7 of the Primera Division saw Real Madrid go top of the table after Valencia suffered their first defeat at the hands of FCB. Villareal had a chance to go top for the first time in their history, but failed for the seventh consecutive time after drawing with Hercules in the Monday fixture.

So Real is on top with 17 points, and Villareal, FCB and Valencia all have 16 points.

At the bottom, Osasuna, Depor and Zaragoza are keeping spots warm for a couple of Segunda Division squads.

Saturday’s Games

Atlético Madrid 2 - 0 Getafe

Atletico Madrid continued their good start to the league season with a home win versus Getafe. Forlan was on the bench and Aguero did not make the squad, but Simao scored off the goalkeeper on a free kick to get things going. Then Diego Costa converted after good build up play to make it 2-0.

Barcelona 2 - 1 Valencia

So I missed the big match between FCB and Valencia. How, as La Liga correspondent, could you do this? I was earning precious points with the Mrs. that will pay off in the future. I’ll leave it at that.

The first thing I did when I got home was read the match reports and watch the highlights. Pep gambled on Xavi’s fitness, and he was handsomely rewarded. After FCB was dominated in the first half and down 1-0, Xavi set up Iniesta and Puyol and their goals turned around the deficit and handed Valencia their first defeat in league and European play this year.

Valencia were a tough opponent and were able to out-Barcelona Barcelona in the first half. But Xavi’s influence and the fatigue of high pressure took its toll. Still Valencia showed that they may be able to hang in the title chase for a while (and not finish in third, 28 points behind).

Couple of notes:

Villa, who could have had 2 or 3 goals, could not get one past Caesar. His form has not been stellar, and Barca will need more from him to win trophies this season.

Pablo, who was terrible for Spain against Scotland (see comments at http://austinlong1974.blogspot.com/2010/10/la-liga-lowdown-scotland-v-spain-euro.html), scored the opening goal for Valencia and should have made it 2-0 but was denied by Valdes.

Extended highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnTr6b7Azcs

Málaga 1 - 4 Real Madrid

After Barca’s game ended, Real took the field and dispatched Malaga with 2 goals each from CR7 and Higuain.

From the highlights, Real dominated the first half, hitting the woodwork twice and converting twice, once from Ronaldo to Higuain and then Oezil to Ronaldo. They continued their dominance in the second half as Oezil won a PK, which Ronaldo converted. A Malaga consolation goal was answered by Higuain who dispatched a layoff from Ronaldo.


After watching this match and the Depor match from two weeks ago, I fear for AC Milan in midweek. (Which of course means that Real will crash back down to Earth.)

Sunday’s Games

Deportivo La Coruña 0 - 0 Osasuna

I cannot believe I did not bet this game. This was by far the easiest over/under game on the board the entire season.

As for the match, I have no comment. It would have taken a large sum of money to do any research on this game.

Levante 2 - 1 Real Sociedad

Levante had the run of play in the first half but were relegated to long range shots that didn’t really test the Sociedad GK.

Things changed at the hour mark as a Levante corner kick was thumped in by Asier Del Horno (remember him Chelsea fans?). This was followed by a breakaway, which was converted by Caicedo. Sociedad grabbed one back with 10 minutes to go but there was to be no equalizer.

Mallorca 0 - 1 Espanyol

Mallorca could not build on their result against FCB before the Interlull and were undone by a first half PK from Luis Garcia. Despite having a man advantage for 65 minutes, Mallorca lacked the shape and intensity that have seen them get a draw at home against Real Madrid and a draw away at the Nou Camp. The result sees Espanyol climb to sixth place.

Racing Santander 1 - 0 Almeria

In a lively match with chances at both ends, only one goal was scored, a wonderful strike by Pedro Munitis, who I didn’t realize was still playing.

Goalkeeper of the week has to go to Diego Alves, who kept Racing from racing away with the match with several acrobatic and well positioned saves.

This match also featured a donkey of the week nominee in Markus Rosenberg. After having a decent run of it at Werder Bremen, he was atrocious in front of goal, missing from headers, square balls and bombs just inside the 18. Yikes. Outside Mid, thoughts? What am I missing?


Athletic Bilbao 2 - 1 Real Zaragoza

In an attempt to broaden my La Liga horizons, I watched the reply of this match Sunday afternoon. I had seen Bilbao a couple of weeks ago against FC Barcelona in a match where their work rate kept the Blaugrana at bay for about an hour before fatigue and a red card undid them. I had not seen Zaragoza this season but had read several articles on their problems to the start of the season, so I wanted to see with my own eyes what kind of quality they had.

Let’s just say this was a match between an average team and a team in complete disarray.

The ESPN crew, which was Joe Tolleson and Shep Messing, started the broadcast with a stat that most of the goals that Zaragoza have given up have been in the first 30 minutes. What happens? The Lions of Bilbao jumped out to 2-0 lead within 25 minutes, thanks to a sweet opening goal from Iraola after a poor clearance and another goal for Llorente, who transferred his fine form for country to his club team.

After this, Zaragoza, who started poorly, fought back a little, but they had poor team shape and committed lots of fouls, with very little edge in their attack.

The second half was very choppy as Bilbao could not deliver the real knockout blow and Zaragoza were left to chase the game with a couple of long range shots and several crunching fouls. They were able to grab a late consolation goal but the result was pretty flattering to them.

Couple of player notes:

Llorente had a strong match. Constantly tested the Zaragoza back line and forced the goalkeeper into a couple of tough saves. As a target player, he is in sterling form and the rumors continue to swirl about a possible transfer to Real or Barcelona.

Toquero for Bilbao really got involved on the right hand side, providing several decent crosses. He switched to the left side for the last 10 minutes or so of the half but was not as effective and not really a factor at all in the second half. He was subbed with 20 minutes to go.

Susaeta, the #14 for Bilbao, was quite impressive. Nifty footwork and set up the second goal.

Ibai Gomez, a 20 yr old attacking player making his debut for Bilbao, only lasted three minutes after sustaining a serious injury. Here is an update from goal.com: http://www.goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2010/10/18/2171368/distraught-athletic-bilbao-attacker-ibai-gomez-faces-three

Pinter was a big fat hack for Zaragoza and deserved to be sent off early in the second half.

No player really stood out for Zaragoza from an attacking perspective.



Finally, I know NY Kid has a weekly acronym that I can’t quite work out, so I’m going to go with something a little more direct. Dive of the week: Braulio for Zaragoza. He was not even touched and acted as if his leg was broken. I’m still trying to find a highlight package with the incident. Just trust me.

Sporting Gijon 2 - 0 Sevilla FC

Sevilla took a step backwards after great week before the international break. Gijon struck early on Sangoy’s well placed header. Sevilla responded and Alfaro had two decent chances to equalize.

Gijon scored early in the second half on a delicate flick by Diego Castro Gimenez. From there they closed out the win and picked up three big points, which took them from the relegation zone to mid-table.

Monday’s Game

Hercules 2-2 Villarreal

A match filled with 4 goals and three red cards that I could not watch to job requirements. About 25 minutes in, Hercules went up through Valdez but were pegged back quickly by Capdevila. Then it gets interesting. Trezeguet pokes one in with 5 minutes to go in the half. Shortly after, he got 2 quick yellows (one can only assume for industrial language) and was off just before halftime. http://www.101greatgoals.com/videodisplay/david-trezeguet-sent-off-villareal-7251362/

Villareal comes out with the man advantage but doesn’t score until the hour mark through Valero. With about ten minutes to go, Villareal gets two men sent off in 2 minutes and finished with nine men playing against the ten of Hercules.

The match finished in a draw and another chance goes begging for the Yellow Submarine to sit atop La Liga.

Highlights: http://www.101greatgoals.com/videodisplay/hercules-villarreal-7251958/

Jozy Watch: on the bench and was an unused substitute. Based on previous matches, he will probably start and get significant minutes in Thursday’s Europa League match.

Here are a couple of other items I came across on the interweb.

Eduardo Alvarez shares his thought on the end of the Raul era at Real Madrid:


Also, in getting ready for the weekend’s action, I came across this post from FCBnews.com:


Seems strange to be me somehow.

Ta Ta.

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