Monday, 24 August 2015

Some exciting news- WE'RE BACK!

Okay, so it's been a long hiatus due to college and journalistic commitments, but I intend to get this site back up and running for the new season, starting this coming weekend, matchday 2 of La Liga. The plan is to give an in-depth preview of each Primera División game every week, and I'm also mulling over the possibility of similar treatment for Spanish sides' ties in European competition. That latter part remains to be seen, but I'll give it a go and hopefully it won't prove too time-consuming as it's something I'd really like to include.

I will also resume previewing the Spanish senior national side's matches at the Euro qualifiers reach the crunch stage.

The idea is to impart the knowledge I've built up covering Spanish football as I enter my sixth season doing that as a journalist to give you the inside track on each and every game for the new season. So, whether for the gambler, the casual fan or the fanatic, I hope to be able to provide a useful, at a glance reference each matchday to enhance your knowledge and enjoyment of the Liga BBVA.

You can like us on Facebook and also follow us on Twitter, so.... spread the word. We're back in business.

Joseph Sexton,

Monday, 14 January 2013

Week 19- Goals & Highlights

All of the goals and highlights from the weekend's action in La Liga.










Thursday, 10 January 2013

Site update!

A new year, and finally a new location! The technical issues with the interminable on/off transfer to Blogger have all been pretty much resolved for now. One or two posts from the archive never made, but as they're old hat at this stage, we'll plough on.

Our normal preview services will begin again this coming week ahead of the matchday 20. Look out for all the weekend's La Liga goals before then, and start spreading the news- we're back in business today!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Migration issues

We're continuing to have issues with the migration from Wordpress to Blogger. Apparently there's no straightforward way of performing this, and third party tools have left us without large chunks of the site archive and/or major formatting issues on individual posts.

So for the time being we won't be updating this page until matters are settled- we intend to fix the issues during the league's Christmas in order to back up and running as usual in 2013.

In the meantime, you can continue to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, of course. We'll continue live tweeting games.

Also, you can check out our site editor, Joseph Sexton's, own personal Twitter feed. On this, you'll find news, nonsense, and eejitry to varying to degrees and links to all his articles.

Thanks for patience and continued support- and a happy Christmas and New Year to you all!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Week 13: Sunday's Previews

After the unfortunate technical difficulties which scuppered Saturday's previews, we're back in the gane. Here are all of Sunday's games, in briefer form than normal.

We'll have a preview for the Monday night game up later on.



Getafe did well to fight back for a 2-1 win over a gutsy Valladolid side. Luis Garcia Plaza's use of the bench was key, with the sub Lafita settling the game with a cracker.

Espanyol's rotten luck continues. They played very well Valencia and were worth a point. A penalty that was never was, and two sendings off off the back of it somes up their luck this season.

They can't keep dropping points in games where they've played well, but Getafe are in fine form here and will win.


Finally, the question will be answered. With top scorer Aritz Aduriz suspended following his yellow at the Bernabéu last week, will the ever-stubborn Bielsa continue to overlook him? He did just that on day 1, starting with the goal-shy Gaizka Toquero.

They'll be fresh at least following the suspension of Thursday's Europa League tie in Israel, a competition which they are now out of.

Even when playing well- and they have performed very well times, Deport struggled to turn draws into victories, or go down to defeat. A porous backline hasn't helped, though they are now back to full strength there. Going down 2-0 at home to Levante last time (the team with the least shots on traget in the league) tells you something. On the road, they've found things particularly tough.

The key to this lies in the atmosphere withing Athletic- especially with the farcical incident during the week *I wrote about here*. If the mood is right, they should resume the recent good form they took the Bernabéu they'll win this. If they're not, an improved Depor perormance could really put the hurt on Bilbao. I'm going with a home win


An interesting game, this. Already the colchonero fateful oare donning their cloak of pessismm. If anything, Real's defeat earlier tonight v Betis only heightens that. With the derby on the way, and the chance to move 8 points clear of their crosstown rivals, they've reverted to their fatalistic type. They also saw Sevilla produce their best football in years in that evisceration of Betis last week.

But a ouple of things- Cholo opted to give a rest to many players midweek, meaning the big guns go in fresh. And the sad news for their opponents is that top scorer Álvaro Negredo is injured. He didn't score in last week's rout (but was unlucky not to) but his abscence simply cannot be overstated.

There's a further knock on. José Antonio Reyes had his best game by a mile that night since his return to this club 11 months ago. And for sure, he'll not be wanting for motivation against the club he left. But will he and Navas be able to reach such heights in the absence of Negredo? On the plus side, Ivan Rakitic was sensational and Gary Medel excellent.

Whatever about the fans, I think Cholo will keep the jitters at bay for the Atleti players. One game at a time... and without their most potent attacking threat, I expect Sevilla to lose.

Sergio Ballestetros - "None shall pass!"


Levante, put simply, is a horrible place to go; and not just when the place was reduced to a waterpolo court on Real's recent visit. The fact that Real hadn't scored on this ground in four prior visits to that explains a lot. There is no great secret to Levante's style, but it's a succesful one. Outside of the top 2, they picked up more points in the league than any other side in the calendar year 2012, eventually making the Europa League where they've reached the knockouts already. Despiting the least possession of any team in the league, less shots on goal than anyone in the top half too, they're sitting 6th.

They're organised and teak tough. They know how mix it up physically, but are clever enough to play the refere in this regard. This is crucial as the level of inconsitency between referees in La Liga drives one to distraction at times. Suffice to say the homeside will have done their homework on today''s official, Pedro Jesús Pérez Montero.

In short, this is tie in which a Guardiola team might have struggled but Tito Vilanova is making a habit of winning games that previously had proven problematic in years gone by. Scoring lots of goals helps, for sure, but their propensity for scoring late goals is staggering- goals to run up the score, goals to turn around defeats. Goals, and lots of them.

The defence has been a problem for sure. No team in the last 32 years has led with so many conceded. But with the first choice centre pairing back fit, and with quality cover both there and in the full back positions, the days of leaking like a sieve at the back might just be over.

This is going to be a really challenge, but after a real fight I expect Barcelona to sneak off with a win.


Friday, 23 November 2012

Tech Outage!

Apologies, but it looks like we won't be able to get previews up for Saturday's action (nor tonight's game).

Hopefully this will be resolved soon, check back tomorrow night for all Sunday's previews.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

La Liga week 12: Goals & highlights

All the weekend's action right here for you.










Saturday, 17 November 2012

Week 12: Sunday Previews

All kick-off times local (CET)

Human after all? After drawing two blanks Falcao will be looking to get among  the goals again

Deportivo v Levante (12:00)

Two contrasting sides- Depor have been loose and naive and have conceded more goals than any other side in the division; Levante are gritty and have the joint fewest goals scored in the top half. Depor have two wins and a draw from five games at the Riazor, Levante have a solitary win on the road.

Depor welcome Aguilar, Ayoze and Marchena back, but Pizzi is suspended following his red card in the 5-3 reverse at Zaragoza, a big loss for them. This probably means Javier Camunas will start. Levante's only absentee of note is Diop, Michel should start.

Depor only have 4 points from the last 15, and have struggled to win even the games where they've been on top, but Levante have only scored two goals on the road. Martins spurned a golden opportunity against Real Madrid last week, but his overall form in front of goal could tip this in the visitors favour.

Celta Vigo v Mallorca (16:00)

Celta go into this on a poor run of form, but that has to be mitigated by the fact that they've recently faced both Real & Barcelona. They were also in complete control at 2-0 against Rayo Vallecano last weekend until Gustavo Cabral got sent off. He'll be replaced in defence by Jonathan Vila.

Mallorca, however, are sinking like a stone having lost 6 on the bounce to render their bright start to the season a distant memory. Certainly that's the case for forward Tomer Hemed who was hooked early againt Barcelona last week- though that was their best recent performance by a long stretch.

The visitors are missing several first team players, most notably Giovani Dos Santos (who admittedly has flattered to deceive) and Joao Victor, and with such a short squad this leaves them rather bare. Celta, results aside, have been playing some good, positive football. There's a high level of understanding between their front four, and Aspas struck two against Rayo. A more than decent defence is well screened by Oubina and Alex Lopez. In short, they have a lot more about them than Mallorca and should be good enough to see them off.

Getafe v Valladolid (17:50)

Getafe are dropping away after straight defeats to Atleti and Real Betis but have shown themselves to be a good side this term. Their three-quarter line of Pedro Leon, Abdel Barrada and Diego Castro have been excellent. In front of them, Álvaro Vazquez has been anything but, registering a solitary goal to date and his place as a starter is in doubt.

Valladolid have been one of the stories of the season. They've taken their atrractive possession-based approach up a level, and have outperformed Celta & Depor who finished above them in the segunda last season.

Abraham is still out in defence for the hosts, whereas Marc Valiente is less of a loss for the visitors. Home or away, the philosophy stays the same for Miroslav Djukic's side. They claimed a draw via the penalty spot at Valencia last week but are up against and obdurate bunch in Getafe. A difficult game to call.

Granada v Atletico Madrid (19:45)

Suddenly, Granada are starting to show signs of life. They felt they were in their defeat here to Bilbao a fortnight ago but set that right in claiming a most unexpeted win at high-flying Betis last weekend. Left back Guilherme Siqueira should return, and with Dani Benitez integrated back into their starting XI after his lengthy ban, they can count on a vital component of the side that avoided relegation last term.

But this is a big ask for them. Atletico got back to winning ways last week against Getafe an Silvio is the only absentee here, and would probably not have started anyway. Falcao hasn't scored in his last two, form which he took into the midweek friendly against Brazil in New Jersey. He played the full 90 minutes there, as did Juanfran in Spain's junket in Panama.

Given the importance of both of those players, they'll be hoping to travel doesn't exact a hefty toll. At least others have been easing the goal buden on the Colombian. Adrian scored his first of the season last week, and Raúl García has chipped in with 3 despite being in out of the side.

All the signs point to an away win, and that's fully what I expect here.

Sevilla v Real Betis (21:30)

The Seville derby is one of those great La Liga occasions and Betis' strong start adds further spice to the encounter. Neither side enjoyed the last matchday; Sevilla went down in Bilbao while Betis were stunned at home by struggling Granada.

Benat has been a huge part of the Betis success story, but Pepe Mel would be happier had he not played the whole 90 minutes in 30c heat in Spain's win in Panama. He was the difference between the sides last season when Betis triumphed 2-1 on this ground.

Damian Perquis missed this through injury from the visitors but Mario fit again to take his place in defence that's not such an issue. Piotr Trochowski, out long term is Sevilla's only absentee as Diego Perotti has been named in the squad.

That old maxim about form going out the window in derbies is a lazy cliche, but this is certainly fiendishly tough to call. On the one hand, one can point to how well Betis have down this term. But Sevilla are only 4 points behind their neighbours, and in that run of three defeats in six was the game where Barcelona hauled themselves back from 2-0 down to triumph. Álvaro Negredo's having an excellent season, with 8 goals in 12. I have a slight fancy for Sevilla, but I'd more inclined to look at the market for red cards in this one. Gary Medel's a serial offender in this regard, with 1 to his name already this season (4 yellows in total).


Friday, 16 November 2012

Week 12: Saturday Previews

Pochettino's last stand?

All kick-off times local (CET).

Here's a summary of the suspensions and injuries affecting those sides in action on Saturday.

Oscar De Marcos, Ander Herrera (Athletic Bilbao)
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
Christian Stuani (Espanyol)
Emiliano Armenteros (Osasuna)
Aly Cissokho (Valencia)
Abraham, Cristian Sapunaru (Zaragoza)

Galarreta, Inigo Pérez (Athletic Bilbao)
Eric Abidal, Isaac Cuenca, Marc Muniesa, Thiago, Adriano, Alexis Sánchez (Barcelona)
Sergio Sánchez, Nacho Monreal (Málaga)
Punal, Masoud, Nino (Osasuna)
Marcelo, Gonzalo Higuaín (Real Madrid)
Jeremy Mathieu, Sergio Canales, Joao Perreira, Fernando Gago, Pablo Piatti (Valencia)
Ivan Obradovic, Glen Loovens, Maurizio Lanzaro (Zaragoza)

Fernando Amorebieta (Athletic Bilbao)
Alex Song (Barcelona)

Osasuna v Málaga (16:00)
OSASUNA probably even surprised themselves last weekend, producing a stunning and badly needed 3-0 win away to fellow bottom feeders Espanyol. It was a curious game, where in many respects they were second best, but they produced a level of intensity not seen their home defeat to Barcelona in week 2. As such, a massive lift after their struggling start to the season.

They'll go into this one weakened, however. Armenteros has been their one outstanding player to date but he won't feature here. There's a big doubt over another important player, midfielder Punal, and another regular, Nino.

MALAGA come into this off the back of their first real dip of the season. They've not won in their last four in all competitions. In particular, their last two games, both at home, which saw 2-1 defeats to Rayo & a Real Sociedad shorn of Antoine Griezmann were desperately disappointing. Perhaps the shortness of their squad is beginning to catch up. Nacho Monreal is a big loss at left back.

The respesctive changes in form makes this one very difficult to call. As such, there's two important areas to consider in assessing this one. Firsly, there's the absentees, which look to hit the hosts a lot harder. Secondly, there's the question of whether they can match last week's intensity and whether Málaga's scope to improve will give them the edge.

Valencia v Espanyol (18:00)
VALENCIA have been edging up the table in recent weeks, while struggling to match the consistency they've showed in Europe. Last week's draw against Valladolid put the breaks back on after their impressive win over Atlético but the sending off of Aly Cissokho and subsequent penalty- which angrered their coach Pellegrino- conditioned that draw.

Cissokho is thus suspended, and with Jeremey Mathieu still injured, Valencia are missing their two first choices at left back. Joao Perreira isn't ready on the other flank, which means that Antonio Barragan should continue there.

Fernando Gago is back on the injured list, which makes matters trickier still. Fortunately, Ever Banega's integrated himself back into the team offsetting the loss of his compatriot. It was puzzling to see Pellegrino opt for Nelson Valdez from the start last week. Roberto Soldado replaced him, and will be restored to the starting line-up here.

ESPANYOL were left shellshocked after going down 3-0 at home to Osasuna last week. Few would have seen that one coming as with their recent upswing in form this was a game they were strongly favoured to win. The result was particularly harsh given that they dominated possession and created far more chances. But despite hitting the woodwork, they familiar failings in the final third were all too evident.

Christian Stuani picked up a yellow to earn himself a suspension, meaning on-loan Samuele Longo will step in up front. Finally, that ridiculous list of injuries that's plagued their season has cleared. Wakaso impressed in the opening weeks, though his form has dropped off since. They'll be hoping his midweek goal for Ghana helps him rediscover his mojo.

Off the field, the farce continues. Ahead of next week's elections, talk emerged last weekend that Mauricio Pochettino was on his way out. Previously, there'd been talk of him getting the sack, but last weekend in fact it was a case of him wanting to walk. He's staying for now, but every passing week sees his position under further scrutiny.

An important one for both sides. Valencia's performanes, particulary in Europe has lifted the pressure on Pellegrino as the heat's been turned up on his compatriot Pochettino. Valencia's overall incosistency leads me to hesitate a little on calling this one, even if all else points to a home win. In Espanyol's favour, the expectation of gaining points here is low, but regardless there's been a element of rabbit in the headlights running through their displays all season.

Barcelona v Zaragoza (20:00)
Leaky at the back, but still flying, BARCELONA put their defeat at Celtic Park behind them against Mallorca to extend their best ever start to a domestic season. Not without making things interesting though. Flying into a three goal lead, two for the hosts left them sweating a little 'til Messi's 76th goal of the calendar year made the points safe.

The injury situation's improving too. Gerard Piqué is already back, and while Carles Puyol is available for selection he's likely to be eased back into action. Timely stuff, as with Alex Song almost certain to miss out and with Sergio Busquets suspended, they'll be able to play a defence comprised of actual defenders for the first time since the transition to democracy.

Alexis Sánchez reported back injured following Chile's defeat in Serbia, but Pedro's double against Panama cotinued his hot streak for the national team. David Villa struck his 299th career goal that night, and will fancy his chances of reching the 300 mark against his former club should he get the nod.

ZARAGOZA come into this one in excellent form. Four wins from their last five sees them in the dizzy heights of 11th, impressive given it was assumed they'd be hovering around the bottom again. They produced a fine comeback from two down against Depor last week, albeit aided greatly by the expulsion of Pizzi. Hélder Postiga's fine form continued with a brace.

They go into this one short their first choice full back pairing however, and Zucculini was hauled off in the first half following a nightmare display last week. This would be problematic at the best of times, but it's positively disastrous given the task they'll face here.

The so-called FIFA virus has plagued Barcelona in recent seasons, but its symptoms appear banished under Tito Vilanova. Given that Xavi was left out, and both Iniesta and Cesc played 45 minutes each, the midfield will be fresh. Zaragoza have excelled against middling oppostion this term, but their 4-0 defeat at the Bernabéu a couple of weeks back- even if it flattered Real to a fair degree- offers a fair indication of how this one will go. Vilanova may well continue his policy of shuffling the deck in midfield and attack as they look to clinch their Champions League group in midweek, but it's unlikely to cause Barcelona any difficulty.

Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao (22:00)
REAL welcome back Karim Benzema and Sami Khedira for this game. With the defensive injury crisis eased, we should see something approaching their strongest first XI here. Cristiano Ronaldo missed Portugal's midweek friendly following an injury sustained at the elbow of Levante's David Navarro last week, but is fit to start here.

That was a big win for Real, especially in the circumstances. It was their first win in four games at the Ciutat de Valencia, where they lost last term. On a paddling pool of a pitch, under pressure, and having surrendered the lead after the break, the victory was a sweet one.

As such, Mourinho will be more satisfied than he's been of late. He criticised their performance despite the win to Zaragoza the week before, and indeed the 4-0 scoreline was flattering.

ATHLETIC's situation is a little trickier. Curiously, they're on the same points total as this time last season, but with all the brouhaha that's surrounded their season the outlook couldn't be any more different. They've lost 15 of their last 16 meetings against the Champions, and lost 4-1 on this ground last season.

Friday's news is that Fernando Amorebieta is highly doubtful. It's unlikely that he'll start here. Suspensions rob them of the inportant duo of Oscar De Marcos abd Ander Herrera. Marceloa Bielsa intends to try Gurpegi in midfield, which should mean a central defensive pairing of Mikel San José and Ekiza.

Markel Susaeta marked his debut for the national side with a goal against Panama on Wednesday. The ongoing nonsense means that Fernando Llorente is unlikely to start. In his place, Aritz Aduriz has scored half of their 16 league goals to date but he's one booking away from a suspension, which could leave Bielsa with an interesting dilemma ahead of next week. Last week's home win over Sevilla was huge, coming off the back of a lucky 2-1 at Granada.

Bilbao will do well to get anything here. Real are unbeaten at home since Barcelona's visit last December. A smart bet would be for to lead at half-time and full-time. Both of these sides' games tend to entail goals, so look for prices on three or more in total.

Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrao; Khedira, Alonso; Cristiano Ronaldo, Modric, Ángel di Maria; Benzema

Iraizoz; Iraola, Ekiza, San José, Aurtenetxe; Gurpegi, Iturraspe; Susaeta, Muniaín, Ibai Gómez; Aduriz