Saturday, 5 May 2012

La Liga Week 37 Preview

The main business may have been decided midweek but there are still many crucial issues to determine before the Liga season concludes.With Real Madrid finally crowned champions and Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola announcing he will step down at the end of the season, this week has marked the end of an era for La Liga. Guardiola’s astonishingly successful spell as the head of the Catalonians has finally come to a self imposed end and Barca will have to settle for second best for the first time in 4 years. Meanwhile Jose Mourinho has done what he was brought in to do and we can start looking forward to next season to see whether Real can withstand Barca again and, more importantly, can the Special one bring home the Special trophy – the Champions League. Attention now turns to the dramas developing at the bottom of the table and the battle for the final European places.

The two most important games of the weekend are Sevilla v Rayo Vallecano and Real Zaragoza v Racing Santander. Real’s poorer neighbours Rayo are suddenly fighting for their Primera status having plummeted down the table after losing 8 of their last 9. It is unbelievable that the only break in this run was a 6-0 demoliton of Osasuna – a side chasing a top 5 finish. Rayo now travel to Sevilla who sit 10th and are winless in 4. Vallecano are big outsiders at 4/1 for the win but they need to do something extraordinary to save their season. Real Zaragoza are 3 points behind Rayo with just 2 games left and Luis Aragones’ side can go level on points if they beat relegated Racing. Zaragoza are one of the league’s form sides having registered back to back victories over Levante and Athletic Bilbao without conceding. Racing have slipped out of the top flight without much of a fight and Zaragoza are 1/3 for the win. Barca B winger Edu Oriol will be looking to score for his third successive game.....

Continued at

Saturday, 14 April 2012

La Liga Week 33 Preview

This is the beginning of a massive two weeks for Spain’s giants. With Real Madrid and Barcelona separated by just four points and next week’s El Clasico sandwiched between two legs of Champions League semi-finals this will be a real test of nerve for both sides. At the other end of the table, with six games to go, it looks increasingly like the final three have been decided with a seven point gap now opened up between the bottom three and 17th placed Villarreal.

Real Madrid host doomed Sporting Gijon on Saturday. Sporting are marooned in 19th but gave themselves hope with an impressive 3-2 win over Levante on Wednesday night. They will still need a miracle to escape the drop now though and Javier Clemente’s side won’t have much of a prayer at the Bernabeu with the form Real have been in. Jose Mourinho’s side registered another emphatic victory in midweek as they crushed their local rivals Atletico 4-1 thanks to a hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo. Los Merengues are just three goals away from scoring 107 for the season and breaking the record number of goals for a Liga season set by John Toshack’s Real in 1989-90. Ronaldo also set his own record by becoming the only player in Europe’s top four divisions to score 40 goals in successive seasons. With the midweek Champions’ League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich coming up Mourinho will be tempted to rotate his side. Ozil, Marcelo and Higuain were all rested against Atletico and could be brought back in against Gijon.

Barcelona just need to keep on winning. They visit a Levante side sat in fifth and still very much in the hunt for a place in next seasons’ Champions League. On Wednesday, Pep Guardiola’s side cruised to a 4-0 victory over Getafe to make it ten wins in a row and are in fine fettle ahead of El Clasico. Levante caused a shock early in the season as they beat Real with a solitary Aruna Kone goal but they are 14/1 to repeat the feat against Barca. The Champions have no new injury worries and they received a boost this week as David Villa announced that he would be back in contention before the end of the season.

Unai Emery gave himself a reprieve as Valencia crushed Rayo Vallecano 4-1 in midweek to give themselves a two point cushion in third place above Malaga. The Turkish manager has come under criticism from Los Ches fans as his side’s form has dipped with Malaga and Levante threatening to steal automatic qualification to the Champions’ League. Valencia visit Espanyol on Sunday and need to keep up their momentum to keep the chasing pack at bay. The Catalunians’ hopes of qualifying for European football next season have taken a hit in recent weeks as they are winless in five. Valencia have also won four of the last five meetings between the two sides.

Malaga will be looking to get back to winning ways against Real Sociedad. Malaaga’s charge into the top four has been laboured and they would be third had it not been for recent upsets against relegation threatened Betis and Villarreal. The odds favour the home side and the likes of Cazorla, Rondon and Isco should feast on a leaky Sociedad defence. Malaga will be without keeper Idris Kameni who was sent off at Villarreal in midweek.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Liga Team of the week 22 (saturday and sunday games only)

Messi*: 30 pts1 goal, 1 assist and 5 sots in 2-1 defeat of Sociedad

Kone - Levante: 18 pts
1 goal and 3 sots in 1-1 with Racing Santander

Llorente - A.Bilbao: 17.5 pts
1 goal and 2 sots in 3-3 draw with Espanyol. 4th 10+ week in a row. hot

Borja Valero - Villarreal: 18 pts
1 goal and 3 sots. Instrumental in 2-1 upset of Sevilla.

Carmelo: 17.5 pts
1 goal, 3 scs, 2 cws, in all action display. Surprise of the week starting with value of 1. Gijon 1-1 Osasuna.

Romaric - Espanyol: 17 pts
A goal and plenty of extras for Espanyol's playmaking genius in 3-3 draw.

Michu - Rayo Vallecano: 15 pts
His 10th of the season from midfield as Rayo condemn Zaragoza to a 2-1 defeat. 3rd time he has scored 15 pts in 4 weeks.

Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid: 17 pts
Third of the season and a matchwinner in 1-0 win at Getafe.

Casada - Rayo Vallecano: 10 pts
Two assists from the fullback - his first of the season. Nice.

Coentrao - Real Madrid: 9 pts
A tidy display from the Portuguese. A bargain at 3.91

Diego Lopez - Villarreal: 17 pts
His 2nd 17pt week in a row.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Team of the week 18

1. Casto, BETIS, Goalkeeper
20.00 pts, 5 saves: Worked hard to keep clean sheet against Sporting Gijon.

2. Bernardo, RACING, Defender, 17.00
First goal for Racing for the Colombian Seville loanee, and a matchwinner in 1-0 win over Zaragoza.

3. Liassine Cadamuro, R.SOCIEDAD, Defender, 15.00
Outstanding Sociedad defender in holding Osasuna to 0-0 draw. Great value at 2.85

4. J. Valera, GETAFE, Defender, 14.50
Another impressive display from Getafe's best defender in 0-0 draw with Bilbao.

5. Borja Valero, VIL, Midfielder, 18.50, 0 goals, 1 assist
At the heart of all that's good about Villarreal: 2-2 with Valencia.

6. S. Feghouli, VALENCIA, Midfielder, 14.00
A goal against Villarreal. Great value at 6.22.

7. Mikel Rico, GRANADA, Midfielder, 15.00
Scored his second of the season in 5-1 defeat at Real Madrid

8. M. Özil, R.MAD, Midfielder, 16.00
Dominant creative display. 3 assists as Real beat Granada 5-1.

9. *K. Benzema*, R. MAD, Forward, 25.50 pts, 2 goals
Top player of the week with 2 goals.

10. J. Molina, BETIS, Forward, 14.50
Crucial goal in Betis' 2-0 victory

11. R. Tamudo, RAYO Vallecano, Forward, 15.50,
Matchwinner for veteran as Vallecano beat Sevilla 2-1

13. Andrés, OSASUNA, Goalkeeper, 17.00
12. C. Ronaldo, R. MAD, Forward, 14.50, 1 goal
14. Juanfran, LEVANTE, Defender, 14.00
15. S. Ramos, R. MAD, Defender, 14.00
16. A. Barrada, GETAFE, Midfielder, 12.00

Friday, 6 January 2012

Top 5 players from each Liga team for first half of season

Weekend Preview

The winter break is at an end: all hail the return of La Liga! How will the christmas parties and new year celebrations affected our stars? Will they be waddling around, weighed down by three weeks of excess and booze? Will they be chomping at the bit, itching to grace the stage once again with gusto and verve? The big news is the return of Diego Simeone to replace Gregory Manzano as head coach at Atletico Madrid. His arrival has conincided with the only big-name transfer of the re-opened window: Jose Reyes' return home to Sevilla.

Elsewhere, bottom of the table Real Zaragoza put Javier Aguirre out of his misery and replaced him with AEK Athens coach, Manolo Jiménez, and Villarreal welcome José Molina to the helm to replace the outgoing Juan Carlos Garrido.

Leaders Real Madrid (1st) have been given the chance to ease it in gently with a kindly home tie with Granada (13th) at the  Bernabeu on Saturday. With Barcelona playing Sunday, Mourinho's men will surely extend their lead at the top to 6 points. Real welcome back Sergio Ramos from injury. Portugease centre-back Pepe is out with suspension. Di Maria is doubtful. Granada managed some great results in the first half of La Liga, including wins at Bilbao and Sevilla, and despite being one of the lowest scoring sides in the league, they boast one of the best defences. Goalkeeper Roberto is one of the outstanding performers in the league so far and will need to be at his best if Fabri González's side have any hope of taking anything from this game. This game will surely see Real hand out yet another multi-goal beating.

Prediction: 5-0. Ones to watch: Ronaldo, Di Maria, Benzema, Marcelo

Meanwhile, back in Catalonia, Barcelona have the awkward prospect of a visit to their neighbours Espanyol. Espanyol haven't enjoyed much luck against their illustrious neighbours down the years. Last year, they were crushed 5-1 in the same fixture. Barca come into the tie on the back of a 4-0 defeat of Osasuna in the midweek Copa del Rey, while Espanyol suffered a shock loss to Cordoba. The Periquitos have had an excellent first half to the season, and are further bouyed by the news that playmaker Romaric is to be available throughout January having been dropped from the Ivory Coast African Cup of nations squad.  However, Barca are bound to have too much once again for their neighbours.

Prediction: 0-2. Ones to watch: Messi, Fabregas.

Villarreal (17th) v Valencia (3rd): Last season this would have been an eagerly anticipated battle for 3rd place, but now, The Yellow Submarine languish in 17th place. With new coach Molina in charge, fans will be hoping hard for a change of  fortunes after a wretched first half to the season. The vultures are circling for stars such as Nilmar. Wakaso has a broken nose and Catalá is likely to miss another month with a knee injury. Joan Oriol is still out. Valencia are still without Canales, Maduro and Tino in the middle. Albelda is suspended. After their impressive win at Sevilla in midweek, Los Che can be expected to take all three points. Prediction: 1-0 Valencia. Ones to watch: Soldado

Fourth placed Levante host Mallorca (15th) with the home-side determined to continue their excellent run of form and prove it wasn't all just a dream. Levante suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Alcoron in the Copa del rey on Tuesday. Del Horno, Valdo and Juanlu are doubts while Nano and Javi Venta are suspended. Prediction: 2-0. Ones to watch: Barkero, Kone.

Osasuna sit in 5th and visit Real Sociedad (15th). Osasuna have a pretty poor away record, with just one win so far but Sociedad have just two home wins. Sociedad have been one of the most unpredictable Liga sides so far. Sociedad's manager Phillipe Montanier has coaxed some excellent displays out of Carlos Vela and the Arsenal loanee will be the key danger man for the home side. Prediction: 1-1. Ones towatch: Vela

Sevilla (6th) visit Rayo Vallecano (16th). Sevilla will be hurting from their defeat to Valencia in the Copa del Rey. Reyes will be the star attraction as he returns to the side where it all started, but is unlikely to feature. Manu del Moral is suspended while Kanourte is doubtful. Prediction: 0-0. One to watch: Varas

Malaga (7th) v Altetico Madrid (10th) is one of the most hotly anticipated games of the round. The last time Atletico Madrid had Diego Simeone on their payroll, they managed a league and cup double (1995-96).

Imagine that! The Argentinian hardman has naturally brought in a new wave of optimisim to the rojiblancos. However, he has his work cut out. Atletico have the worst away record in the league with 1 point. He will need to inspire the likes of Diego and Falcao against a strong Malaga side. Joaquin is out for Malaga. Prediction: 2-1. Ones to watch: Cazorla, Rondon.

In the best of the rest, Racing Santander (19th) host Zaragoza (20th) in the old fashioned relegation 6 pointer. A spicy start for new Zaragoza coach Jimenez. Prediction 1-0 Racing. Getafe (12th) host Bilbao (9th) and Betis (11th) host Sporting Gijon (18th). Predictions: both 1-1.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Football Rumours: Kaka, Raul Albiol and Sami Khedeira


In Yahoo Fantasy Football world, Kaka's bit-part status in Jose Mourinho's squad has been a bit of a pain in the neck for Fantasy managers. The £50 million (former?) galactico has made just 5 starts and mustered 12 appearances in total out of a possible 17. We know there is always potential for goals. Yet, he doesn't seem to be trusted for the big games and has only had an impact against lowly opposition. His three goals have come against Betis, Zaragoza and Villarreal; all sides who currently sit in the lower half of the division. Three goals and two assists is a meagre return for a man of his talent and it is sad to see the once glorious playmaker now being used as a reliable back-up rotated to appear in Real's less significant matches.

It is no wonder he is being linked with any side with a bit of cash. Today it's Chelsea, Man Utd, and Paris Saint Germain. Manchester United in particular could certainly use a playmaking dynamo to link midfield and attack. However, he appears most likely to go to Chelsea where he would join up with another £50million duffer in Fernando Torres. A thought which is at once titillating and mortifying. However, at 29 there is a sense that Kaka's best days are behind him, and with the injuries he's had, he could well be planning to "do an Owen." It could well be enough to see out his time as a bit-part player in one of the great teams of the modern age.

Raul Albiol

A slightly less sexy rumour is that of Raul Albiol making the switch to the Premier League.

The former Valencia defender has been used just 5 times in La Liga and always seems to be a last resort. He has a delicious Fantasy Football market value of 2.2 which is very exciting if you know he is going to start, but then again, he has a tendency of collecting negative points. Of his 5 appearances, he has scored positive points just twice. Woo.

It seems unlikely that Manchester United would be desperate enough for his services, although it's understandable that Mourinho wants him out. He has plenty of cover at centre back with Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Ricardo Carvalho, Rafael Varane. Maybe a loan deal?

Albiol is nicknamed El Chori because of his big sausage.

Here is a vid of him being "owned" by Juan Mata

Sami Khedeira

Perhaps the least likely move, but apparently there is a rumour out there. The holding midfielder has not started the past couple of games and this has something to do with Lass Diarra putting in some lively shifts in the centre of the park. However, it's almost impossible to see Mourinho letting one of his first signings at the club move on to Chelsea or Manchester United, for any amount of money. If anything, it's more likely Mou wants rid of Lass.

Khedeira is now established as one of the great defensive midfielders of the game, but this role is notoriously impossible to represent in Fantasy Football. He is the kind of chap you avoid unless desperate. He has 7.5 points for the season from 12 games. He has no goals. He has one shot on target. His best stat is a total of 15 intercepted passes. So, only slightly more enterprising than Darren Gibson.