Wednesday, October 27, 2010

La Liga Lowdown - Round 8

Saturday featured three of the top four in action, with Sunday showcasing two of the challengers, Villareal and Atletico Madrid. At the end of the round, Real still lead the table on 20 points, a point ahead of Barcelona and Villareal, with Valencia slipping three points behind after a second consecutive defeat. Espanyol and Sevilla are hanging in there with 15 and 14 points respectively.

At the bottom, Racing’s pathetic display at the Bernabeu saw them fall into the relegation zone with Depor and Zaragoza.

Saturday’s Games

Real Zaragoza 0 - 2 Barcelona

FCB kicked of Round 8 week with a win at La Romareda to maintain their 100% away record, with two goals from Messi sealing the game.

Los Blanquillos troubled the visitors with a couple of first half chances, one with Braulio having only Valdes to beat, but they were undone by horrendous defending. First letting Villa set up Messi just before the break and then not clearing their lines, from which Messi lashed one in to confirm the victory.

There was unseemly incident in the match, with Alves getting Zaragoza midfielder Leonardo Ponzio sent off. Barcelona Football Blog states the case against the cheater:


Real Madrid 6 - 1 Racing Santander

After a full day with the kid, I sat down with a big Red Stripe and watched the replay of Real Madrid v Racing Santander. I had seen FCB take Racing apart on the opening day of the season, so I wanted to see if A) they had improved and B) if the Real machine was still churning out the goals.

Answers: A) no; B) yes.

When the feed started I was pleased that there was no Joe Tolleson and Shep Messing—awful and uninformative—but I was stuck with Tommy Onion Bags. (According to Tommy, Pepe is the least clashable player on Real Madrid. What?) Can’t win them all. Then I saw Racing’s away kit. . Ugh. Has to be a candidate for the Good, the Bad, the WTF. What is up with the collar and those accent marks? And what is SLAM?

Another Ugh was the Racing possession. How can you expect to compete when you give away possession constantly? They were punished within 10 minutes by Higuain and CR7 added a second a second just minutes later. He then added a third while ESPN Ocho was showing replays of Di Maria’s bicycle attempt. It took Racing 38’ to actually threaten the Madrid goal.

The second half was more of the same. Real knocking the ball around and exposing an unorganized Racing team who were playing a high line against a superior opponent. CR7 added two more before Ozil finally got on the score sheet to make it 6-0. Rosenberg finally did something positive by getting in the way of Diop’s shot and deflecting it into the Madrid goal.

Sergio Canales came on as a substitute against his former team and didn’t do too much. Hard to see how he is going to break into this team. Back to Racing in January?

That is now 18 goals in 4 matches in all competitions. Granted three of those matches were against relegation fodder, but they are definitely in the mood. In November we will get a better gauge of this team: (H) to Atletico, (A) to Gijon, (H) to Bilbao, and (A) to FCB.

Valencia 1 - 2 Mallorca

Valencia, after their great start to this campaign, were stunned/screwed by Mallorca. A

PK was given against the home side in the first five minutes. The infraction? Not sure. Castro converted the gift to put Los Bermellones on top. Later in the half, he was the first to react on a rebounded shot to put the visitors up 2-0 after half an hour. The Mestalla was stunned but were thrown a life line minutes later when Vicente went down just inside the box. Soldado made no mistake and it was 2-1 to the visitors at halftime. The score remained that way at the final whistle and Valencia falls to fourth place.


Sunday’s games

Almeria 1 - 1 Hercules

Espanyol 2 - 1 Levante

Getafe 3 - 0 Sporting Gijon

Osasuna 3 - 0 Málaga

Sevilla FC 4 - 3 Athletic Bilbao

The Match of the Week Award has to go to Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao. Bilbao
had a couple of early chances in the first half with Los Rojiblancos responding in kind. Luis Fabiano broke the deadlock on 35' and Sevilla pressed on after that. A suspect PK was converted by Kanoute and then Luis Fabiano scored a sublime goal on the hour. The game should have been done and dusted, right? Well . . . no. Llorente scored with 15 minutes to go and moments later the Basques were awarded a dodgy PK of their own (noting a theme?), which Llorente scored after Palop made the initial save. Then all hell broke lose. Sevilla were awarded a PK for, what looked like, nothing. Kanoute knocked it in surely dealing the final blow. Bilbao then scored a third in stoppage
time to lose 4-3 after giving yet another great effort. They may not be the greatest team but they surely have the biggest heart in all of La Liga.

Must watch highlights:

Villarreal 2 - 0 Atlético Madrid

Sunday afternoon I watched the battle of the pretenders, as Villareal hosted Atletico Madrid. Los Colchoneros got off to a quick start but were unable to test Diego Lopez. Ten minutes into the match, the Atletico backline did not step up to Nilmar who laid it off for Cani and it was 1-0 to the Yellow Submarine. Nilmar gave Atletico fits throughout the match.

Early in the second half, Rossi scored a great individual goal, keeping the ball away from three Atletico defenders inside the box before beating De Gea at the near post. After that Atletico never really got back into the match, despite the introduction of Forlan, who started brightly but faded. Here’s a question: What happened to Kun Aguero? Anyone? Anyone?

For long periods of the match, I felt like I was watching an MLS game. Lots of misplaced passes, lots of needless fouls and a general inability to create an attack. The only difference was moments from superb players like Nilmar, Rossi, Reyes and Simao. Based on this performance, neither team is going to push the leaders.

Jozy Alert: Unused sub, and only played a handful of minutes in Thursday’s Europa League game.

I don’t see how he gets into this team. Villareal play with two holding mids and let the four attackers go at players and quickly combine with one another. Nilmar and Rossi each have 5 goals now, and are technically far superior to Altidore. The only way I can see him playing is as an impact sub, option B, hoof it up to him player. He should really move on.

Monday’s game:

Real Sociedad 3 - 0 Deportivo La Coruna

Get the fork ready for Super Depor because they are done. Only one goal from open play this season.

I know you’re supposed to take them one game at a time, but you already have to look ahead to El Classico. Villareal might hang around for a while (ie Christmas) but the title is going to be decided by the results of the games between the big two in Spain.

Having said that, the dynamics of the game have changed. In 08/09, Real just tried to kick Barcelona around because of their inferior tactical and technical ability. Last year, Los Merengues improved with CR7 and Alonso and were able to keep Barca at bay and even have a go at them. This year, Real may have finally gotten it right, adding Carvalho, Khedira, and Ozil. FCB will continue to have the ball, but Mou doesn’t care (see Inter v FCB 2010). Messi and Co. will still have to break down Carvalho and Pepe and with Villa in shaky form, I’m not sure they can. Alonso and Khedira in the middle are a great shield for the defenders and a great platform for launching the counterattacks of Ozil, CR 7, etc, which Pique and Puyol have struggled with this term. Whatever the team and tactics, I don’t see Real laying down and getting run over like the 2 previous seasons.

1 comment:

  1. Did you know that you can earn money by locking selected pages of your blog or website?
    Simply open an account with Mgcash and embed their content locking tool.