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.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

W17 preview

With Barcelona proving they’re the best team in the world by beating
useless sides no-one’s heard of in Japan this week, Real Madrid have
an ideal opportunity to reclaim their 3 point cushion at the top of
the Liga before the winter break. Egos in the Real dressing room are
bruised and battered after last week’s humbling in El Clasico. Despite
the increasing feeling that the power balance may have been shifting
at the top after years of Catalunian dominance, Barca’s 3-1 victory,
and Cristiano Ronaldo’s ineffective display were an all too familiar
return to the status quo. All Real can do in response is do what they
have been doing all season (before last week’s interruption) and win.

Sevilla have been awkward opposition for Los Merengues over the past
few years, having won four of their last six Liga meetings between the
two sides at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium. Saying that, Jose
Mourinho bucked the trend when his side registered a 6-2 thrashing in
this fixture as recently as May this year with Ronaldo scoring four.
This season, Los Blancos have been devastating away from home with 21
goals from 8 games. However they come up against a Sevilla defence
that has looked far more organised this year and put in a magnificent
display to earn a clean sheet at Camp Nou earlier this term.

Real have no new injury worries, with just Ricardo Carvalho out
long-term. Sevilla’s Argentine winger Diego Perrotti is struggling
with a knock. This should be a victory for Real. 3-1 Real, look out
for a vengeful display from Ronaldo.

Third placed Valencia also had a wobble last week when they stopped
playing after 89 minutes and conspired to lose against Real Betis.
This week, It’s a case of “old money” (maybe that should be, “no
money”) versus “new money” as they take on the nouveau riche Malaga.
Los Che need to get back to winning ways with Levante rediscovering
their form and breathing down their necks in fourth place. Unai Emery
welcomed back the classy Ever Banega during the midweek Copa del Rey
visit to Cadiz and the Argentinian schemer could be back in the
starting line-up this weekend. I’ll tip a Valencia win. 2-1 Ones to
watch: Soldado and Tino Costa.

Levante have a tricky visit to Granada but should prevail against the
promoted side who have one of the meanest defences in the Liga. This
is likely to be a low-scoring affair with Aruna Kone the best bet to
nick a goal.

Osasuna have had an excellent start to the season in stark contrast to
Villarreal who they host this weekend. The Pamplonans have been free
scoring and great entertainment value. They welcome back born-again
midfield maestro Raul Garcia this week, and in tandem with attacking
dynamo Alvaro Cejudo, Los Rojillos are more than capable of heaping on
further misery for the Yellow Submarine. 2-0: Ones to watch: Nino,

Espanyol and Sporting Gijon go head to head after both sides recorded
impressive wins last week. Expect a low score draw. Ones to watch:
Romaric (Espanyol), Nacho Novo (Gijon)

Athletic Bilbao take on the struggling Zaragoza at San Mames. This is
an ideal opportunity for Bilbao to get back to winning ways after a
stuttering spell in La Liga. Underachieving wing-wizard Jermaine
Pennant suffered some kind of anterograde amnesia in 2009 after he
signed for Zaragoza: he was always late; forgot where he parked his
car and seemed to lose all footballing ability during his stint on the
continent. A similar collective sickness appears to have gripped a
side who have become totally devoid of talent, ambition or desire and
are now rooted to the foot of the table. Bilbao are without suspended
captain Andani Iraola and Fernando Llorente is a doubt. 3-1 home win.
Ones to watch: Ander Herrera, Toquero, Muniain and Susaesta.

Atletico Madrid come galloping into their home tie with Real Betis off
the back of their triumphant Europa Cup performance in midweek.
Despite the fact their fans hate them, Gregory’s Manzano’s boys love
playing at home and with Falcao, Ada Turan and Diego all starting to
purr, expect another home win. 3-1 Atletico.

On paper, Mallorca versus Getafe may look like the sort of game that
any neutral would rather poke their own eyes out than endure. However,
it excites me, if only because Mallorca are starting to look like they
can win and this could be one of the most one-sided games of the
weekend. Getafe are useless. Victor knows how to score

Racing Santander versus Sociedad is up there in the tedium rankings.
Sociedad keep squeezing out the points and Carlos Vela is starting to
fulfill his potential as the poor man’s Lionel Messi. Racing Santander
can’t excite me unless Kennedy Bakiricoglu is playing, and he’s still
a doubt. A deathly 1-1. Snooze fest

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Nacho Novo ruined my weekend

Nacho Novo crawled out of his tiny mouse hole, dusted himself down, picked himself up and put in a devestating performance last weekend that saw him pick up the dubious honour of "highest scoring player of the week in Yahoo Fantasy Football La Liga". Not many diminutive ex-Rangers strikers can say that. Novo spearheaded a Sporting Gijon side that did a naughty and upset my predictions by tonking Rayo Vallecano 3-1 on their own turf. Hugely disappointing considering the Gijon started the weekend 2 pts off the bottom and promoted Vallecano have exceeded expectations with a promising start to the season.

The spaniad spent almost 10 years in Scotland playing for Raith Rovers, Dundee and Rangers and achieved legendary status with the Glasgow side, winning all the major domestic trophies.

Novo was dominant against Vallecano with 2 goals, 4 shots, a matchwinning goal, and a total of 29.5 pts. All from a meagre value of 5.48. Astonishing effort from the number 10 who has struggled for goals since his return to Spain last year.

Extra tit-bits about Novo:

He hates Aberdeen fans.
He lowered his shorts at their fans once.
Fan site
Discussion of PES attributes
He almost became scottish
Depite never representing Spain, he has played for the regional side of Galicia.
He features in countless Rangers' fans tribute videos:

Best of the rest
The top XI from week 16

Nacho Novo, 29.5pts, Sporting Gijon
Victor, 22, Mallorca
Sergio Garcia, 21.5, Espanyol

Romaric, 26.5, Espanyol
Verdu, 23, Espanyol
Xavi, 19, Barca
Aranburu, 14, Sociedad

Nano, 19, Levante
Juanfran, 11, Levante
Gonzalez, 12.5, Racing

Munua, 22, Levante

Results (predicted score in brackets):

RCD Espanyol 4 - 2 Atlético Madrid (1-0)
Athletic Bilbao 1 - 1 Racing Santander (2-0)
Málaga CF 1 - 1 Osasuna (3-1)
Real Zaragoza 0 - 1 RCD Mallorca (1-0)
Villarreal CF 1 - 1 Real Sociedad (1-0)
Getafe CF 1 - 0 Granada CF (1-0)
Rayo Vallecano 1 - 3 Sporting Gijón (1-0)

Real Madrid 1 - 3 FC Barcelona (2-1)
Real Betis 2 - 1 Valencia CF (0-1)
Levante UD 1 - 0 Sevilla FC (0-0)

Friday, 9 December 2011

This weekend. Clasisco, Valencia and more

Predictions and probabilites

Real Madrid v Barcelona

Whisper it quietly, but for the first time in a long while, Real Madrid feel like favourites for El Clasico.

Pep Guardiola is unbeaten at the Bernabeu since he took over in 2008, with two wins and a draw. However, Barca's current away form is poor by their high standards. They have only won two from six away Liga games, and their last outing ended in a humbling 1-0 defeat at Getafe.

Meanwhile, Real have gone through an unstoppable spell and are looking
for their 16th consecutive victory in all competitions. In La Liga,
they have scored 49 goals in 14 games, and have not dropped a point at
home all season.

However, Mourinho cannot boast the impressive home defensive record of his foes: while Barca have yet to concede at the Camp Nou, Real have conceded at least a goal a game so far at home this term.

In terms of personnel, both sides will be close to full strength having been able to rest their stars in midweek. Ricardo Carvalho (Real) and Ibrahima Affellay (Barca) are long term absentees. Adriano could return for Barca.

Mourinho has declared he will opt for one of Benzema and Higuain in a three-pronged attack with Ronaldo and Di Maria. Guardiola has something of a selection headache in attack,where the returning Pedro will be vying for a spot with the in-form Alex Sanchez.

Prediction: A win for Real, but Barca will score. Top picks: Ronaldo, Di Maria; Messi. 2-1

3rd place Valencia visit Real ”the slump” Betis. Valencia whimpered out of the Champions League after being given a good seeing to by
Didier Drogba and Chelsea in midweek. But that humbling is nothing
compared to that which Betis have received since daring to visit the
summit of the Liga standings in week 4. They are on a dismal downward
spiral and haven’t won since winning their four opening games – and
they’ve lost 10 of their last 12 meetings with Los Che. You get the

Valencia are big favourites and the only tricky bit will be
predicting the right players for the win. Tino Costa is loving it in
central midfield after getting more regular starts and is a reliable
pick. Roberto Soldado can be expected to net. Prediction: Away win 0-1

A fairly titillating tie involves Valencia’s plucky neighbours,
Levante. The fourth placed upstarts take on a sparkling Sevilla side in one of the most exciting games of the weekend. If Sevilla were to win, they would leapfrog their opponents into 4th.

The southerners have only scored three away from home all season, but they’ve only conceded two so they will provide awkward opposition to a Levante side with a healthy home record.

Neither side have any new injury worries. Levante have to be sure to suppress Ivan Rakitic and Jesus "the chosen one" Navas who were devastating in Sevilla’s 3-0 defeat over Getafe last weekend.

Prediction: low score draw: 1-1. Ones to watch: Aruna Kone and
Barkero; Rakitic, Negredo.

Malaga v Osasuna is the next match of interest, and by my calculations should be the most one sided fixture of the round. Malaga like to score, and Osasuna tend to concede away from home. Don’t get me wrong, Osasuna love to pull a shock win as much as Malaga like to pull a
shock defeat but the stats favour the home team.

Malaga have a number of injury problems with Wellington, Julio Baptista and Joaquin all confirmed as unfit for the game, but have the squad to cope. Osasuna are missing midfield maestro Javad Nekounam through suspension. Prediction: a win by a couple for Malaga. Ones to watch: Cazorla, Isco, Rondon. 3-1

Espanyol v Atletico Madrid. A close match to call with both sides
stumbling along inconsistently. While Atletico are healthily placed in
8th, they have terrible away form and Espanyol know how to scratch out
the home wins. It’s going to be tight.

Atletico welcome back first teamers Arda Turan, Diego "the liability" Godin and Thibaut Courtois. Espanyol are without Manchester City loanee Vladimir Weiss and the injured Javier Marquez. A home win is expected but a surprise upset could be worth a punt: 1-0

Atlethico Bilbao should ease back in to winning ways against Racing
Santander, but star striker Fernando Llorente is doubtful. The onus
will be on the likes of Iker Muniain and Markel Susaeta to bring the pain. 2-0

Rayo Vallecano v Gijon. A home win for Vallecano. Look out for goals
for Michu and Raul Tamudo. 2-0

Getafe v Granada. Granada and their mean defence have been on a tidy
run, lifting them to 12th. Getafe are missing Dani Guiza and Pedro Leon. Should be a slim home win but Granada more than capable of an upset. 1-0. Getafe's Miku and Castro to star.

Villarreal v Sociedad. Two of this season’s slow starters trying to
claw their way up the table. Javier Garrido welcomes back Nilmar and Cani from injury, but defender Mussachio is suspended. 1-1. Look out for: Ruben, De Guzman and a goal from the half-way line for Sociedad's Inigo Martinez.

Real Zaragoza v Mallorca. A grim prospect for the neutral but look out for forgotten Portugeezer Helder Postiga. 1-0

Monday, 5 December 2011

Team of the Week 15

Roberto, 20

5 saves as Granada earn hard fought victory over Zaragoza

Marcelo, 19

Real's Brazilian full-back shows rival Coentrao how it's done on the left side.

Moreno, 15

Defender of the week, with a goal and some bits and bobs, even as his side, Espanyol, went down 2-1 at Valencia.

Flano, 14

Surprise goal from defender as Osasuna beat Betis 2-1

Angel Di Maria, 19

Matchwinning goal and assist from Argie wing man.

Fabregas, 18

Two more goals gives the false-nine seven for the season.

Tino Costa, 14

Instrumental display, scoring a Pen and assisting for the second in Valencia's crucial home win.

Gabi, 14

The surprise attacking performance of the week. A goal, assist and own goal from the Atletico winger.

Messi, 23.5

A goal and a plethora of extras. Central to Barca's 5-0 demolition of Levante.

Falcao, 21

Matchwinning goal and assist on return from injury for 40m Euro man.

Alex Sanchez, 20

Another goal for the Chilean as his stock begins to soar.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Jornada 15 preview: Barcelona v Levante, Gijon v Madrid... and the rest

Bit gutted as my predictions calculations are missing this week. I ran them this morning but I have failed to get the appropriate JPG. What I can tell you is that the most likely results (from my memory mind) were:

Barca 2-0 Levante
Gijon 0-3 Real Madrid
Valencia 1-0 Espanyol
Racing 0-0 Villarreal
Atletico 1-0 Vallecano
Sociedad 0-0 Villarreal
Osasuna 1-0 Betis
Granada 1-0 Zaragoza
Mallorca 0-1 Bilbao
Sevilla 1-0 Getafe

All about the Classico now. "But the classico's not til next weekend" I hear you say. "But we have to bang on about it at every given opportunity. Work it in where you can. Classico Classico Classico"
Well, Barca are in dissaray. They are a massive 3 POINTS off the pace
after being ruthlessly battered 1-0 at Getafe last week while Real
Madrid mauled Atletico 4-1. Pep obviously has his mind elsewhere -
Chelsea probably, and Mourinho is king. the title race may as well be
over. Forget that Barca have won every home game in La Liga, averaging
4 goals a game without conceding one.

This week Barca host last month's flavour of the month (?) Levante.
Fourth placed Levante are just 5 points behind Barca but have
a formidable task ahead of them. However, the forgotten table toppers
Levante can boast that they are the only side to have beaten current
leaders Real Madrid this season. Barca could boast that they beat Rayo
Vallecano 4-0 in midweek but no one would listen. Levante also scored
a thumping 4-0 victoryover Gijon last week and likes of Aruna Kone and top-scorer Juanlu will need to maintain their excellent form if they have any
hope of taking anything from the game.

They must also summon the spirit of Nelson Valdez if they are to "do a Hercules" at Camp Nou.
Barcelona are full strength apart from wing back Adriano who has
picked up a thigh strain.
Barcelona are hot favourites for the home win and need the win ahead
of next week's Classico. Ones to watch: Messi,
Alexis Sanchez, Fabregas and Iniesta

Sporting Gijon v Real Madrid, 17.00
In the early kick off, the sensible money will be on Real Madrid
reasserting their 6 point lead at the top this weekend - vital
psychological advantage ahead of the El Classicoooooo. Real will be
without Ricardo Carvalho and the suspended Xabi Alonso as they look to
extend their thirteen match winning run. Alonso has been an integral
part of Mourinho’s line-up since he fled Liverpoo to play for a team
who might actually win things one day. The Special One has
several options to replace Alonso: tiny summer signing Nuri Sahin;
flaky youth Esteban Granero; or pompous wild man Lass Diarra. Who will
partner German tiger Sami Khedeira in this tricky away tie for the
league leaders.

Despite lying 18th, Gijon can delude themselves that they are more
than capable of causing an upset
having beaten Real at the Bernabeau only in April. Christiano Ronaldo
is a doubt with an ankle sprain picked up in the Madrid derby last
weekend, but should play despite having missed training earlier this
week. With 5 goals in 12 games this season, former Real Madrid trainee
David "the barrel" Barral carries the main threat for an otherwise
rather insipid
Gijon side.

No upset for Gijon this time. Madrid will coast to their fourteenth
win in a row. Ones to watch: Benzema and Ronaldo.

Valencia v Espanyol
If it’s guaranteed wins you’re interested in, look no further than
Valencia at home to Espanyol. The Andalucians have won 3 of their last
four and need to maintain their excellent run with Levante hot on
their heels. Valencia are still without long term absentees Sergio
Canales and Even Banega in midfield but Tino Costa and Sofiane
Feghouli have stepped up to the plate in their absence and have put in
some excellent displays in the centre of the park. Brazilian forward
Jonas scored his first of the season in La Liga last week and looks to
be coming into some form. While, still in the top half of the table,
Espanyol have been inconsistent of late and suffered a shock home loss
to Osasuna last week. While Christian Alvarez has put in some great
displays between the posts this season, Catalunia’s “other” side are
struggling for goals.
Home win: ones to watch: Soldado, Tino, Jonas, Diego Alves

Racing Santander vs Villarreal
Saturday’s fourth fixture looks likely to be terribly dull affair.
Racing Santander have lost Hector Cuper and Villarreal have lost their
identity. A great chance for the Yellow Submarine to grab a morale
boosting win but a low/no score draw seems more likely.

Atletico Madrid v Rayo Vallecano
Despite their woeful away record, Atletico are excellent at home. Will
they be buoyed or exhausted from their midweek Europa Cup victory at
Celtic? Falcao is back, but Adrian has more than made a case for
keeping his place ahead of the record signing. Vallecano are very much
capable of causing an upset.
Home win: Assenjo, Diego, Falcao

Sevilla v Getafe
Sevilla ground out a vital 1-0 win at Zaragoza last week. Despite
Getafe’s heroics against Barca, they still stink away from home.
Sevilla should build with another win.
Home win: Varas, Negredo, Rakitic, Trochowski

Granada will be favourites to beat Zaragoza, especially following
their surprise defeat of Atletico Bilbao last week. Their impressive
defence will need to keep a close eye on Zaragoza’s Helder Postiga.
Osasuna host Betis and are favourites to build on a good run of form.
Alvaro Cejudo, Raul Garcia and Nino can all be expected to do well.
Sociedad v Malaga is an awkward one to call and a draw seems the most
likely result. Finally, Bilbao must bounce back from the shock loss to
Granada and take the win at Mallorca.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Team of the week 14 - Levante and Getafe boys rule the roost

Team of the week (not including Malaga v Villarreal)

3-4-3: Moya (GET); Valera (GET), Lopez (GRN), Delo Horno (LEV), Lamah (OSA), Di Maria (RMA), Barkero (LEV), Juanlu (LEV), Kone (LEV), Aggiretxe (RSO), Pereira (BET).


Moya, 24 pts, Getafe

7 saves and 1 clean sheet helping Getafe secure shock result of weekend.


Juan Valera
Juan Valera, 21 pts, GET, (value 7.85)

Match winning goal, clean sheet and five passes intercepted.

Iñigo López, 19 pts, Granada (7.12)

A match winner and a clean sheet in one of the shock results of the weekend.

Del Horno, 12 pts, LEV (value 6.12)

A clean sheet, 3 tackles won and four passes intercepted in crucial home win for Levante.


Roland Lamah
 Roland Lamah, 18 pts, OSA (value, 8.49)

1 goal and 1 assist for this weekend's top scoring mid, guiding Osasuna to an unexpected 2-1 win at Espanyol.

Di Maria
Angel Di Maria, 16.5 pts, MAD (value 20.32)

A match winning goal and 6 fouls earnt for the Argentinian on his return from injury.

Barkero, 14 pts, LEV (value 8.75)

A match winning goal and 4 corners won. Instrumental in the 4-0 drubbing of Gijon.

Juanlu, 12 pts, LEV (value 12.86)

Ever dependable midfield maestro gets his 6th of the season.

Aruna Kone, 27.5 pts, Lev - 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 SOTs

 Imanol Agirretxe, 22.5, RSO, (value 7.8)

A goal, an assist and 3 SOTs as Sociedad upset Betis in Sevilla.

Jonathon Perreira, 22 pts, BET (value 6.95) - 2 goals in the same game

Friday, 25 November 2011

Jornada 14 Liga Preview: A visit to the capital for Barca, Madrid and Valencia

The predictions are in. Real Madrid are going to win by a massive margin, Barcelona are going to win too! Lots of wins this weekend. In order of the most likely to win:

Real Madrid

So you may like to pick players from those top sides! But of course, as its a double week for Barca only, you will be choosing as many Barca players as possible. In squeezing in Villa, Fabregas and Messi I have very little wriggle room for anyone else of note. I'm hanging on to Diego cos I reckon he's going to be a force for the rest of the season and he could sneak a few points as Real seem to go to sleep for at least 10 minutes or so every game.

If it wasn't a double, I'd love to have more Bilbao and Espanyol chaps. Bilbao's success is very enjoyable and I would like some Llorente and Muniain action this weekend.

Malaga would be a good side to go for too with Cazorla and A.N Other; Isco would be a laugh. A Levante fellow such as Aruna Kone would be fun, just for moral support. I like the speedy Ivorian.

So here's my team anyway. A bit dull. All eyes on Rui Forte.

Here's an extended preview if you have the time and inclination:

All the action will be in Madrid this weekend. The top three all come into their respective games on the back of eye-catching displays in the Champions League, with Barca and Real booking their places in the knock-out stages. Leaders Real host neighbours Atletico, while Barca face a visit to the Madrid suburbs to meet struggling Getafe. Valencia have an awkward trip to Rayo Vallecano.

As ever, Real will be overwhelming favourites against Atletico, who have not won this fixture since the last millenium.

The omens do not look promising for Gregorio Manzano’s side: their hosts simply cannot stop scoring while Atletico currently have the worst away record in their league. Their notoriously shaky defence face the almost impossible task of holding back the irresistible attacking forces of Ronaldo et al. The Portuguese forward will be refreshed after sitting out of the demolition of Dinamo Zagreb in midweek and will surely return to the front line. There will be some speculation about who will accompany the top scorer. Mourinho will rotate his side, opting for a more attacking line-up than the one that edged Valencia at the Mestaella last weekend, and Higuain is often preferred to Benzema to spearhead the attack at the Bernabeau. Carvalho is out with a back injury, and Kaka and Arbeloa are struggling with knocks. Marcelo and Di Maria have both recovered from recent injuries.

Atletico have talked about “winning ugly” but hope will lie in the trickery and talent of the diminutive Diego who is at the heart of everything good they do going forward. Falcao is still missing through injury so Atletico’s own Portuguese star, Pizzi could well continue to lead the line after scoring last week.

Barca’s patchy Liga away form is the reason they are 3 points behind Real. With three drawers and two unimpressive 1-0 wins at Granada and Gijon, there is pressure on Pep Guardiola’s side to up their game away from the Nou Camp. Having just edged the fearsome tests of two of La liga’s lowliest sides, they now have another gimme in a matchup with the struggling minnows Getafe. Iniesta and Adriano are doubts but Pedro is ready to return. Whatever the line-up, this will surely be a prime opportunity for Messi and co to fill their boots and keep up the pressure at the top.

While Getafe have a couple of home wins, they have little to no form. Their Venezuelan star Miku carries the main - if not their only - attacking threat. He misses the creativity that Daniel Parejo (now at Valencia) provided from midfield last season, and his new foil, Dani Guiza is still trying to remember how to play in La Liga. On Loan Pedro "the lion" Leon is still missing with injury.

Valencia face an awkward tie with the mysterious Rayo Vallecano. Rayo have enjoyed some excellent wins and some unpleasant beatings but look healthy in 10th place in the standings. Valencia have not been prolific away from home but have been tidy, picking up three wins from five. The 7-0 thrashing over Genk will no doubt have gone some way to helping them recover from the home loss to Real last week. Valencia have no new injury worries and it’s tempting to go for a low scoring win for Unai Emery’s side.

Despite having lost three in a row, Levante are still the envy of most sides in La Liga, sitting just one point behind Valencia in fourth. The Andalucians have the perfect opportunity to get their season back on track with a home tie against Sporting Gijon. This is surely the ideal time to stop the rot and anything other than a win against the rojiblancos would be a bitter pill to swallow for the home fans after their fantastic start to the season. The likes of Aruna Kone and Ruben Suarez have to lead from the front and take their chances.

Fifth placed Malaga can be expected to take all three points against Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine’s troubles have been well documented, while Malaga are hanging in there and making a nuisance of themselves in fifth. This will most likely be one of the most one sided matches of the weekend. Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Rondon are misfiring and Iscoand Seb Fernandez are the form front men for Malaga.

The rest of the match ups should go with the home side this weekend with Betis, Espanyol and especially Atletico Bilbao picking up wins. Sevilla need to win at Zaragoza, while likewise Mallorca severely need the points at home to Racing Santander.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Jornada 13 Liga Preview: Real Madrid Valrencia Barcelona

Following the disappointments of the international break, La Liga’s
superstars will need to recover all their focus and resolve in another
hugely important weekend in the title race.
Real Madrid’s 3 point lead will be under threat as they face one of
their toughest tests of the season with a visit to 3rd placed
Valencia, while Barcelona will be licking their lips at the prospect
of entertaining a struggling Real Zaragoza at the Camp Nou.

Real are in a rich vein of form and handed Valencia one of their most
humiliating results at the Mestalla last year. Jose Mourinho’s side
were 5-0 up at half-time, going on to win 6-3. This time around, Real
go into the game on the back of four away wins in a row, where they
have notched 11 goals without conceding. They are more or less full
strength, but Mourinho will need to assess the impact of midweek
transatlantic flights on Gonzalo Higuain, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and
Xabi Alonso. Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Arbeloa also picked up
knocks on international duty. Angel Di Maria is out with a hamstring
but Kaka is back from injury.

Valencia are in a hot run of form themselves with four wins in a row
but will be without midfield trio Sergio Canales, Ever Banega and
Hedwiges Maduro who are all suffering from lengthy injuries.

Barcelona’s Pep Guadiola will have similar selection head-aches to
Mourinho for the matchup with Zaragoza. Winger Adriano returned from
international duty injured, and Spanish forward Pedro is still out,
but the rest of the squad is near full strength, barring the impact of
jet-lag. Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets, Victor Valdes,
Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez and David Villa all returned from a long
trip as they formed part of Spain's squad that played in Costa Rica on
Tuesday.Messi played in both Argentina’s matchups in South America.
Barca also have a vital visit to AC Milan next week as they look to
secure top spot in their Champions League group.

Zaragoza currently lie in 16th place. Portuguese striker Helder
Postiga is finding his feat and is the away side’s best hope of a
goal. Real Madrid hit 6 against them at the start of the season and
the away side will surely be just hoping for damage limitation.

In Saturday’s opening fixture, Villarreal will host Real Betis. The
Verderones have managed to stop losing – just. Following six losses on
the bounce, they managed to hold Malaga to a 0-0 draw last time out.
They will be looking to take advantage of an inconsistent Villarreal.
Beleagured manager Juan Carlos Garrido has lead the Yellow Submarine
to two clean sheets in a row, however he is still without three of his
main attacking threats in Rossi, Nilmar and Cani. A lot will rest on
young striker Marco Ruben.

Fourth placed Levante will be desperate to stop their slide down the
table. Having been top of the pile, they have now lost two in a row
and face a tricky visit to Atletico Madrid. Atletico will be without
their record signing Falcao but in U21 star Adrian, they have a more
than capable stand-in. Playmaker Diego has been quietly finding his
form and Levante will need to stifle the Brazilian dynamo if they want
to stop their losing streak.

Sevilla take on Atletico Bilbao in what should be one of the games of
the round. Blibao’s last match against Barcelona is already being
billed as one of the greatest games in recent Liga history, and
Marcelo Bielsa’s side are starting to impress, now unbeaten in five.
Sevilla have not won in five so the momentum will be with the away

Real Sociedad are in free-fall without a win in seven. They face an
in-form Espanyol side who are once again exceeding expectations with
an excellent start to the season. Real Sociedad will be without
suspended defender Inigo Martinez.

Osasuna have a strong home record and need to bounce back from their
7-1 thrashing at San Sebastien. They take on surprise package Rayo
Vallecano who come into the game off the back of a 4-0 win over

We have a couple of relegation dog-fights in Sporting Gijon v Getafe
and Granada v Mallorca, while Monday night sees the multi-millionaires
of Malaga visiting Racing Santander.

First 11.
Diego Lopez (Vil), Nyom (Gran), Siqueira (gran), Musacchio (vil),
Catala (vil), Diego (AM), Reyes (aM), Fabregas(bar), Ronaldo (rm),
Messi, Benzema

Friday, 11 November 2011

More Spain England Stats

Across both squads, where are the players based?

From the England squad, are more players based in the north or the south, and where were they born?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The North South Divide: England v Spain graphs

News today tells us that the credit crunch has further entrenched the UK's North/South poverty divide.

"Britain's north-south divide has widened since the start of the recession and is likely to worsen as households in the north-east and Yorkshire are among the hardest hit by rising unemployment and falling house prices, according to a report." (The Guardian)

With the world's wealthiest footballing nations - Spain and England - set to lock horns this weekend it seems timely to look at the related divides across the two squads. So here are some graphs:

Firstly, Spain have a 23 man squad, England a 25. 19 clubs are represented across the two squads. But which clubs have the largest representation?

In the spain squad, 57% of the players come from Real or Barca.

Whereas, in England there is a broader distribution, but Man City have the most:

To be continued.....

Friday, 4 November 2011

More week 12 preview

Real Madrid vs Osasuna

Real Madrid should maintain their lead at the top of La Liga and the
question will be ‘how many?’ against Osasuna. Real are in a rich vein
of form having won six league games in a row and their excellent form
was compounded by a solid 2-0 victory at Lyon in midweek. Jose
Mourinho’s side took top spot in La Liga thanks to Osasuna who
registered something of an upset by beating surprise leaders Levante
last week. The Basque side will need to produce something special
again if they are to take anything away from the Bernabeau. Real are
missing Kaka and Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao is doubtful. Mourinho is
expected to rotate his front line and Argentine Gonzalo Higuain should
start after being a second half substitute in France on Wednesday.

Athletico Bilbao vs Barcelona

Barcelona will be looking for their third away win on the bounce as
they visit Marcelo Bielsa’s rejuvenated Bilbao. Pep Guadiola will be
taking on his former mentor in Bielsa and be eager to get one over his
old friend as his side currently lie second and just one point behind
arch rivals Real Madrid. Bilbao are unbeaten in eight games but have
not won against the Catalans since the 2005/06 season. Both sides are
near full strength. Barca remain heavy favourites and have no fresh
injury problems with Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Cesc Fabregas and
Alex Sanchex all back to match fitness. Only Spanish forward Pedro is

Levante vs Valencia

The Andalucian derby will be one of the most intriguing ties of the
weekend. Levante will be determined to prove that last week’s loss at
Osasuna was a blip and that they are not to suffer the same fate as
Real Betis (who have lost 6 in a row since going top in September).
The loss to Osasuna was their first of the season after making their
best ever start to a Liga season. Valencia are unbeaten in five and
would leap-frog Levante into 3rd place if they can take all three
points. However, Unai Emery has lost his midfield schemer Ever Banega
to injury: the ever present Argentinian playmaker joins Sergio Canales
in the treatment room with a knee injury. Emery will shuffle his pack
and hope that Sofiane Feghouli can continue his form in front of goal.

Mallorca vs Sevilla

5th placed Sevilla head to struggling Mallorca and will be favourites
to come away with all three points and secure their first away win of
the season. Mallorca will take inspiration from Granada who earned a
shock 2-1 win over the Sevillians last weekend. Manager Joaquín
Caparrós is still looking for his first victory after taking over from
Michael Laudrup four games ago. Sevilla’s Alvaro Negredo could return
after missing his side’s defeat last week. Midfielder Tomás Pina could
return for Mallorca

Real Betis vs Malaga

Two sides who have struggled after making bright starts to the season:
Malaga sit 6th while Real Betis are languishing in 14th having now
lost six in a row. Malaga secured their win against Espanyol last week
largely thanks to an inspired Salomón Rondón and will be looking for
more of the same from the Venezuelan striker. Julio Baptista is still
missing with a foot injury.

Espanyol v Villarreal

Espanyol will be favourites to get back to winning ways at home to
Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine gained just their second win of the
season at home to Rayo Vallecano last week but suffered another defeat
at home in the Champions League in midweek, all but ending their
chances of progressing to the final 16. With strikers Nilmar, Rossi
and Ruben all missing, manager Juan Carlos Garrido will need to pull
off something special to get anything from the game.

Getafe v Atletico Madrid

Getafe should triumph over Atletico who have a miserable away record
this term. Former Spain international Dani Guiza is starting to
rediscover his form and could well add to his tally for the season
against a very shaky Atletico defence.

Rayo Vallecano vs Real Sociedad

Rayo will be without veteran striker Raul Tamudo as they take on
struggling Sociedad. A win for the Madrid side would see them return
to the top half of the table.

Real Zaragoza v Sporting Gijon

Real Zaragoza just about have the edge in this bottom of La Liga
clash. Former Spurs striker Helder Postiga is finding his form for the
Iberian side and Gijon have lost three of their hour away games so

Granada v Racing Santander

Granada earned a shock win at Sevilla on Monday to lift them off the
foot of the table and will be hoping the three points kick starts the
season.  Fellow strugglers Racing registered their first win of the
season last weekend at home to Betis but are currently tied with
Granada in the relegation zone.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Jornada 12: preview Real Madrid to batter Osasuna and more...

Since football demands that we live in a hyper-real NOW where each second of our history is perpetually aching to spill into the next, as eagerly as the baying crowd anticipates the cheer that greets the instant the ball crosses the opposition goal line, since the collective reverie intensified by a state of glorfied amnesia demands that we rush to the next moment as seemlessly and fleetfooted as Lionel Messi latching on to a Thiago Alicantra flick, let us forget about the midweek Champions League action and focus on the domestic schedule. As quickly as it is forgotten, it will be recalled, thrust upon us in a fortnight's time, like a recurring dream accompanied by angels' choirs and horns of tempting us endlessly into the eleison of the night.

In the meantime, predictions ahead of this weekend's La Liga action. The only major favourites for this weekend are Real Madrid at home to Osasuna. The only complication is which Madrid players to pick. Aside from Kaka and Higuain I can't see any certain starters - even Kaka is carrying a knock.

Barcelona are the next favourites - tempting to bring in Fabregas after his midweek return.

Outside of the major 2, the rest of the match-ups are very close. Espanyol should do one over Villarreal and I like the look of Romaric, Weiss and Sergio. They are all so cheap that it makes me nervous though. I fancy a bit of Michu for Rayo Vallecano against Sociedad and it's not too late to jump on the Helder Postiga bandwagon with Zaragoza at home to Gijon. The portugeezer has scored two games on the bounce.

Getafe should hand Atletico Madrid's backsides to them and it would be nice to get a bit of Guiza, Castro or even Rios action. Real Betis v Malaga should yield goals and Malaga will probably win, although Betis are due a bit of luck.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Jornada 11: Saturday, Sunday

Barcelona 5-0 Mallorca

(Messi 38.5, Dani Alves 21, Adriano 19.5)
Predicted: 5-0

Exactly as was predicted, Barcelona eased up to 2nd. The tinkering Pep was the scourge of my team this week though as Iniesta and Fabregas never got on the pitch. Should have known with CL coming up this week. Messi and Adriano always play, whatever the situation. Goal scoring Cuenca needs adding to the game.

Real Sociedad 0-1 Real Madrid
(Higuain, 13)
Predicted: 0-3

Underwhelming display from Real. Those who stumped up the 25 pts for Higuain will have been a bit disappointed with his 13 pt return. Ronaldo only got 7. Only Fabio Coentrao did anything exceptional with 13pt score from 3.54 value.

Top performance: Cassilas: 22, Coentrao: 13.5 (bv), Higuain: 13

Valencia 3-1 Getafe
(Feghouli 19 pts, Arduriz 14.5 - Castro 9pts)
Predicted: 2-0

As predicted, a straight forward home win for Valencia. Not much to get excited about in this game apart from the surprise brace from Sofiane Feghouli from a value of 3.35.

Villarreal 2-0 Rayo Vallecano

(Valero 18.5, Zapata, 11pts, Bruno 10pts)
Predicted: 0-1

A much needed win for Villarreal, midfielders Valero and Bruno making up for the striker deficit.

Osasuna 2-0 Levante

(Alvaro Cejudo 15.5pts, Nino 15pts, Andres 12 pts)
Predicted: 0-1

Surprise result of the weekend, Levante finally giving up first place in the table. The awesome Alvaro Cejudo with a bizarre game winning performance which somehow included a sending off.

Malaga 2-1 Espanyol

(Rondon 20pts, Duda 9.5 pts, Apono 7pts - Alvaro 10.5pts)
Predicted: 1-1

Malaga knicked 6th spot away from Espanyol, largely thanks to a strong show from Rondon, scoring his first goal of the season. Solid all round from Malga without being too exciting. Lots of 9 pt performances.

Sporting Gijon 1-1 Atletico Bilbao
Bilic 11.5pts, Barral 10.5pts - Susaeta 7.5pts)

Atletico 3-1 Zaragoza
(Adrian 20.5 pts, Dominguez 13.5 pts - Postiga 16pts)
Predicted: 2-0

Diego is starting to create. Postiga got a notable 16.

Racing Santander 1-0 Real Betis

(Tono 20pts, Cisma 10.5 pts - Pereira 10.5, Benat 10)

Predicted: 0-0

The Sevillians are crashing and burning. Santander; an invaluable win, largely down to magical Tono in between the sticks. Betis' midfielder Benat still keeps turning in excellent point scoring performances.

team of the week:

Messi 38.5
Rondon 20.5
Adrian 20.5

Feghouli 19
Valero 18.5
Cejudo 15.5

Alves 21
Adriano 19.5
Coentrao 13.5
Dominguez 13.5

Tono 20

Friday, 28 October 2011

Jornada 11 preview and predictions

Some figures to mull over:

Barcelona v Mallorca

Barcelona will be looking to regain some fluency this weekend at home to struggling Mallorca. After 28 goals in their first seven games, the champions have only managed one in their past two outings and currently lie 3rd in La Liga. However, Pep Guardiola’s side have only dropped points once at home this season, and that was down to an astonishing goalkeeping performance from Sevilla’s Javi Varas in their last game at the Nou Camp.

The Catalans welcomed back international defensive duo Puyol and Pique back to training this week and both should feature. Summer signing Alexis Sanchez also returned after a 6 week absence and could be in line for a starting place with Pedro injured.

It is not easy to see how Mallorca can hope to get anything from the game despite having escaped with a 1-1 draw in the same fixture last season. They come into the game on the back of a 2-1 defeat at home to Sporting Gijon and lie 13th. Some magic from midfield talisman Gonzalo Castro will be their best hope of upsetting the odds.

Real Sociedad v Real Madrid

Real Madrid are in a rich vein of form having scored three or more in their last 5 Liga games and kept four clean sheets. That run has included two 4-0 away wins in a row and the signs are ominous for Real Sociedad who have lost four of their last five and are currently 15th. Jose Mourinho has no new injury concerns and a near full squad to call on.

The Portuguese manager is likely to rotate on the back of the midweek victory over Villarreal. Gonzalo Higuain was rested for Benzema against the Yellow Submarine but should be back to lead the line. The Argentine has 8 goals from his last four appearances and can well be expected to add to his tally of 9 for the season in this game. Kaka could well be rested for Ozil who was benched midweek. Summer signing Nuri Sahin is tipped to make his first appearance while fellow new boys Rafael Varane and Fabio Coentrao could also be in line to start.

Sociedad’s will be hoping that Xabi Prieto can dominate his midfield battle against his Basque counterpart, Xabi Alonso, and on-loan Carlos Vela can probe and find space against a formidable Madrid defence.

Valencia v Getafe

Valencia are heavy favourites to beat Getafe at the Mestalla and need the points to keep within touching distance of 3rd placed Real Madrid. Valencia are in good if unspectacular form, and haven’t managed more than 1 goal in a game since their 2-2 draw against Barcelona last month. The promising Sergio Canales is now out for several months with knee ligaments.

Apart from Canales, the Andalucians have a near full strength squad but could rotate following the midweek victory at Zaragoza. Tino, Jonas, Mathieu and Aduriz could all be promoted to the starting line up.
Getafe have only taken 1 point away all season, and despite ex-Spain international Daniel Guiza getting his first goals of the season in midweek, the Azulones will be lucky to get anything from the game.

Villarreal vs Rayo Vallecano

Villarreal’s season is going from bad to worse with the news this week that star striker Guiseppe Rossi has been ruled out for 6 months with a knee injury. With Nilmar still recovering from surgery, this leaves Juan Carlos Garrido’s side with just one fit striker in the form of rookie Ruben. The Submarines are going through one of their worst starts to a Liga campaign with just one win and currently lie in the relegation zone. They will need a big performance from their attacking midfielders Cani, De Guzman and even Camunas if they are not to go down to yet another disappointing defeat.

Liga new boys Rayo Vallecano have made an excellent start to their first season in the top league for 8 years and currently lie 9th. They will be buoyant after an impressive midweek win at home against Malaga and the likes of Raul Tamudo and Michu will relish the opportunity to get at a shaky Villarreal defence.


Osasuna v Levante

Top of the table Levante will be looking to maintain their lead with a win at Osasuna. Osasuna are strong at home with the likes of Cejudo and prodigal son Raul Garcia pulling the strings in midfield. However, it would be foolish to bet against Levante who keep upsetting the odds. Levante’s superb goalkeeper Munua will need another excellent game to hold off the home side.

Atletico Madrid vs Real Zaragoza

While Atletico’s away form has been as dreadful as ever, they remain a good bet at home and should cruise past a patchy Zaragoza. Everyone is waiting for the tantalising forward line of Reyes, Falcao and Diego to click and Zaragoza should allow plenty of opportunity for them to do so.

Malaga vs Espanyol

Despite an excellent start, the multi-millionaires of Malaga have slipped away from the running, while Espanyol have been quietly resurgent; climbing to 6th in the table based on a miserly defence and some excellent goalkeeper performances from Alvarez. For Malaga, Santi Cazorla and co will be desperate to recover their form following the midweek defeat at Rayo Vallecano.

Sporting Gijon vs Atletico Bilbao

Two sides who have been quietly finding some form; perennial strugglers Gijon have been nicking points here and there, while Bilbao are starting to purr under the stewardship of Marcelo Bielsa. The former Argentina and Chile manager has three wins in his last four and star strikers Fernando Llorente and Iker Muniain will be looking to continue their scintillating form against the Liga minnows.

Racing Santander v Real Betis

Real Betis have now lost 5 in a row after their bright start which saw them briefly sitting top of La Liga. Racing Santander are on a rotten run themselves, without a win yet this season. The Cantabrians almost pulled off a surprise win at Sevilla in midweek and will be buoyed by the performance. Both sides are in desperate need of a win.


Sevilla vs Granada

Sevilla have the form in this tie and should triumph over bottom of the table Granada. Manu del Moral has been a revelation up front but star striker Alfredo Negredo could return to the starting line up after coming off the bench midweek. In midfield, Ivan Rakitic is pushing for a start with some eye-catching displays as a sub, while Piotr Trochowski is also starting to look a real force.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Wednesday night football: Levante, Real good

Real Madrid 3-0 Villarreal
Benzema (19 pts), Kaka (8.5 pts), Di Maria (19.5 pts)

Real cruised to an expected victory at home to Villarreal. Higuain rested, Ronaldo scoring 4.5 and Kaka getting 8.5 even while scoring a goal would have left many FF managers frustrated. Villarreal need a result soon. Ozil's stock continues to fall.

Predicted score: 6-0 Real
Levante 3-2 Real Sociedad

Nano (12 pts), Valdo (11.5 pts), Suarez Ruben (10pts) - Daniel Estrada (12 pts), Martinez (11 pts)

Suarez Ruben blasted home an injury time free kick winner to ensure Levante maintained their vice-like grip on the top of La Liga. Struggling Sociedad had given the Andalucians a scare with goals from Estrada and Martinez but the leaders squeezed out the victory.

Juan Ignacio Martínez's charges continue to stun the football world while leaving FF managers non-plussed with the paucity of FF points. This time, even regular hero Munua in goal could only stump up 1 pt.

Sociedad's surprise performance lead to a few noteworthy performances. Daniel Estrada is excellent value in midfield, scoring his 12 from a value of 5.6, and Inigo Martinez - when he's not getting sent off or booked - proved again he is an excellent source of goals when he wants to be. One to watch would be Arsenal loanee Carlos Vela. The tiny mexican got 10.5 by making himself busy with sots, crosses and cws

The predictions were correct in so far as Levante were 85% on to to win the game, and most likely to score 2 goals. Sociedad's 2 away goals were a big upset to the odds though, being predicted aat 81% to score 0.

Predicted score: Levante 2-0

Real Zaragoza 0-1 Valencia
Alba (82)

Wide man Alba keeps Valencia's hand in the hunting pack at the top of the table. Not much else to talk about from this game apart from defender Bruno's 11pts. Parejo got some more minutes.

Predicted score: Valencia 1-0

Rayo Vallecano 2-0 Malaga
Bothelo (21 pts), Tamudo (17.5 pts)

Botelho with a crushing performance, scoring 21 pts from defence and a value of 3.6. All Rayo's strikers got 10+ suggesting they gave Malaga a real going over. What has happened to Pellegrini's chaps?

Predicted score: 1-1
Getafe 2-2 Osasuna
Guiza (2 goals, 21 pts) - Ibrahima Balde (2 goals, 20.5 pts)

Two braces from two strikers scoring for the first time this season meant a deadlock at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez. Getafe's ex-Spain international, Guiza, broke his duck to score for the first time in nine games. Ibrahima's double reply was his first score in six.

Guiza's strikes, from a value of just 7, gave him a healthy 21pts taking him to 38.5 for the season. From a value of just 8.04, Ibrahima built on a solid 12.5 performance at the weekend to score 20.5, taking him to 30.5.

The only other performance of note from this game was another excellent display from midfielder Raul Garcia who scored 12.5 with 2 assists and various sundries from a value of 9.7.

The surprise strikes upset the predictions which had given Getafe a 52% chance of a win. A draw came in at 29%. Getafe were expected to win by 1-0; if not, 2-0. A 2-2 draw was the 8th most likely result

Predicted score: 1-0
Mallorca 1-2 Sporting Gijon
Castro (23 pts) - Bilic (9 pts), Joao Victor (og -2.5 pts)

Castro with an imperious 23 pts but nothing else for the islanders to be proud of. No player from Gijon scored 10+ despite the win. GK Juan Pablo was their top scorer with 9.5.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Tuesday night action: Granada 0 - 1 Barcelona, Sevilla 2-2 Racing

Key points:

  • 1 goal from Xavi.
  • Lots of bookings and cards all round
  • Good points for Barca defenders. Notably Maxwell.
  • Barca youth striker Cuenca played 90 mins but not available for FF selection yet.
  • Fabregas back from injury. Played 71 mins.
  • Out of form Pedro now injured.
  • Granada seem pretty handy at keeping the scores down.

Teams and FF points scores:

Barca team and individual FF scores v GRN

Granada team and individual FF scores v Barca

Predicted number of goals:

Barcelona to score 1 and Granada to score 0 was the most likely outcome.

Sevilla 2-2 Santander


Sevilla were expected to score 2 goals or 1, with an 81% chance of winning the tie. Santander were heavily favoured to score nothing so upset the odds with their 2 away goals. Essentially, for FF pickers, the sensible money would have been on goals and points for the home side players, which came through in the shape of Rakitic, Manu. Trochowski was the value pick, the former Hamburger Pole scoring 12 pts from a value of 4.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Day 10 preview

Barely time to pause and reflect on the weekend's action. Especially if you've been off-line in Tallinn all weekend. The predictor has put in a sound performance though. The major shock only really being Varas' astonishing GK performance for Sevilla (although, Kaka's ability to score 0pts as Real routed Malaga 4-0 caused some consternation. The Real Betis bubble seems well and truly burst with their dour home defeat to Vallecano. Raul Garcia is quickly becoming an undroppable demi-god for Osasuna. I need him

Key points for Matchday 10.

  • The huge favourites are Real Madrid, Sevilla and Levante 
  • Where do I trust the goals be: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Seville, Mallorca.
  • I haven't had time to change my team this week, but if I had, I would have liked any from:
  • Barcelona: Iniesta, Villa, Messi, Fabregas
  • Sevilla:Rakitic, Manu, Navas
  • Real Madrid: Ronaldo, Ozil, Higuain, Kaka
  • Levante: Kone, Juanlu, Valdo
  • Mallorca:Hemad, Castro, Nsue

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Week 9: predictions

  • Most likely wins: Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Real Betis
  • Where do I trust the goals be: Barcelona, Malaga, Real Madrid, Sociedad, Atletico Madrid, Real Betis.
  • Barcelona: Alves, Iniesta, Villa, Messi, Pedro
  • Malaga: Cazorla, Van Nistelrooy,
  • Real Madrid: Ronaldo, Ozil, Higuain, Kaka
  • Sociedad:I. Agirretxe, D. Zurutuza, A. Griezmann,
  • Atletico Madrid: Falcao, Diego, Reyes
  • Real Betis: Benat, Sevilla, Santa Cruz

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Week 8 review: Postiga!

The results are in. Higuain has broken my heart, but there is little else to complain about. Forgetting my own lack lustre performance, there's plenty to enjoy about jornada 8's action.

The spreadsheet predicted a 4-1 demolition for Real Madrid over Betis and the Madridistas duly delivered. Higuain lashed 40pts and rendered Ronaldo a bystander with the portuguese notching a paltry 10.5pts. The Argentine was great value at 26.  

Kaka got the fourth and was good enough to prove me right in one sense, continuing his good form and getting me a goal, meeting his 16 pt value with 16 pts. The Brazilian has-been was also top scoring mid of the week.

Messi gave a tidy return of 31.5 for his 45.2 value. Barca cruised to a 3-0 win, not doing quite as well as the 7-0 drubbing predicted and not doing much to get excited about. I had Thiago and Pedro who got paltry scores of 1.5 and 7 respectively.

For me, the most exciting attacking display of the weekend came in one of the most uninspiring fixtures as ex-spurs man, Helder Postiga banged a brace and 24 pts from a value of 9 as Zaragoza overturned Real Sociedad 2-1. Dreamy. If only I could have been brave enough.

It is nice to see Reyes back doing what he does best and scoring loads of points without getting a goal. The ex-Arsenal forward got 15.5 pts and 4 sots as Atletico and Granada bored everyone to tears in their 0-0 draw. Reyes and his buddies were good enough to see that Granada's GK Roberto was the highest scoring keeper of the round giving him 8 saves and 24 pts.

Roberto is now tied with Roberto of Real Zaragoza for the most number of saves made in the league this season with 36. Spooky

Check out this hugely stimulating footage of failed goal attempts from both sides:

Romaric is starting to shine at Espanyol and is the third highest scoring midfielder of the week. Having done nothing all season, the former Sevilla schemer put in a match winning performance as the Catalans upset Vallecano 1-0. Romaric got the only goal and 14.5 pts. See how calmly he slots it in:

Espanyol got their first away win in 9 month. In goal for the Catalans, the bargain Alvarez got a delightful 12.5 from a 1pt value.

The final midfield magus was Bilbao's Gabilondo who pumped in his second of the season and scored 14.5 pts as Bilbao impressively eased past Osasuna 3-1.

In defence, Valencia's Rami invites us to marvel at his mastery in defence with a goal to give his side a 1-1 drawer at Mallorca.

Sevilla's Caceres got the match winner and 15 points as the Orange eaters beat Gijon 2-1 to keep the southern side sniffing around the top spots.

Getafe's Cata Diaz is the final defender in the line up scoring 12 points without a goal. Always a nice touch. Getafe held Villarreal 0-0 at home.

Levante's stunning 3-0 crushing of Malaga is the actual story of the week but didn't throw up a lot of points to get excited about.

Team of the week:

Higuain, 40
Messi, 31.5
Postiga, 24

Kaka, 16
Reyes, 15.5
Romaric, 14.5
Gabilondo, 14.5

Rami, 15
Caceres, 15
Cata Diaz, 12

Roberto, 24

Monday, 17 October 2011

Higuain Pain

Ah, Higuain, why did I doubt you. Gutted that I went for Kaka and Pedro instead of the Argentine.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

La Liga Week 8 Predictions

Obvious winners the top two. Of the rest, I like the look of Vallecano v Espanyol and fancy midfielder Michu to do well. I also expect Getafe to do one over Villarreal - or at least score a couple. The home side have been high scoring unlucky losers in recent weeks. Miku is solid up front, Pedro Leon is good value in midfield and striker Guiza is surely due a goal. Sevilla should cruise past Gijon but their forward line is unpredictable with form man Negredo injured. I like Sevilla defenders, like Coke. Although the maths says Levante Malaga will be 0-0 these sides are both unpredictably good at the moment. I like the look of Aruna Kone for Levante, a bargain striker whose already done for Real Madrid this season. Are Bilbao now going to hit a bit of form after two wins on the bounce? Muniain and Llorente should do well in this one.

From Barca, sure go for Messi and Villa. Pedro is a bargain. Pique is back. Fabregas is out, but Thiago might do something.

For Real, Benzema is injured. Not sure if Higuain will be tired. Kaka and Ozil are nice midfield options.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Betis slip. Barca grind. Levante march on. Week 7 review

Barca have reclaimed their spot at the top of the pile snatching the lead away from the precocious Real Betis scraping 1-0 win at Gijon, thanks to a goal from full back Adriano. The fixture was generally a pain for fantasy pickers as returns from the champions were slim. Only Valdes, Messi and Adriano broke 10 points. Bargain bin Fabregas also broke down and will be out for the next 3 weeks. 2 of those will be internationals, leaving managers fretting over whether to stick or twist on his return to domestic action. Barca will surely dish out a multi-goal meat beating at home to Racing in week 8.

Juanlu mobbed by his mates (France24.com)
Real Betis went down at home 1-0 in the top of the table clash with Levante. Yes, Levante, who are now joint top, have picked up where they left off last season and are motoring along. Even though they have lost last season's top scorer, Caicedo, they continue to go from strength to strength. Munua contines to be one of the best keepers in the league, and midfielder Juanlu made it into the team of the week with his match winning goal. Defence is tight under the super Ballesteros and returning ex-Chelsea man Del Horno. Bargain striker Aruna Kone has to be a tempting pick against high fliers Malaga when the season resumes after the break.

Bargain man Alvarez (fourfourtwo)
Real Madrid, Malaga and Valencia are now all tied in third after victories. Real heaped misery on the many managers who have Espanyols 1million gk Alvarez with a hattrick from Higuain - if only we knew he was going to start. Will Madrid continue to deliver the beatings when Betis come to town next?

Malaga laboured to their 3-2 win over Getafe. Getafe always seem to score. Van Nistelrooy finally got his first goal (hooray for my team) but the Beast Baptista stole his thunder with a 19.5 point mwg performance. Could be a watershed moment for the AMC. Sadly, the uncanny conceding of 2 goals left many disappointed fantasy managers as Mathijsen and Demichelis had been solid so far this season.

Canales Mobbed
Valencia slithered to a 1-0 victory against struggling Granada thanks to the hotly tipped bargain that is the marvellous Canales - the only player who seemed to benefit from playing two games this week. Guaita - perhaps motivated by Diego Alves' midweek heroics - reminded everyone that he is also an awesome keeper by being the top scoring stopper of the week with 20 pts, making 5 saves. Hedwigs Maduro made a noteworthy 10.

Atletico Madrid and Sevilla cancelled each other out in a tedious 0-0 draw which didn't benefit anyone. Reyes gave a characteristically solid 9.5, while Turan continued his solid form with a 6. Diego remains tantalisingly cheap at 4.42.

Real Sociedad stumbled in the Basque derby, and Fernando Llorente capitalised with a heroic match winning brace to give Bilbao their first win of the season, and book himself a place in the team of the week.

The other Cejudo
Mid table maniacs Real Mallorca and Osasuna battled it out for an exciting 2-2 draw. Osasuna dominated, with the prodigal son Raul Garcia scoring his second in two games and the mecurial Cejudo notching his first of the season. Cejudo continues to fascinated and delight. He has 12 successful crosses, 11 tackles won and 5 shots on target already this year. He is everywhere. No Mallorcans scored over 7.5 which is odd considering they got 2 goals.

Villarreal continue to wade through treacle, flopping to a 2-2 draw at home to Zaragoza. Rossi managed a manly 20 pt performance which will be some solace to fantasy managers. De Guzman got an encouraging 10 from midfield without doing anything. And, who is Hernan Perez? A Paraguayan midfield maestro who scored with his first performance of the season on his debut. Most of the yellow lads did alright.

Santander and Vallecano delivered the most forgettable result of the week with a 1-1 draw. It is worth noting that Rayo's Michu again did well with 11.5 points without a goal and Tamudo was again amongst the goals.

Team of the week 7

Higuain. 33.5 (espanyol 0-4 REAL MADRID)
Llorente. 27 (real sociedad 1-2 ATLETICO BILBAO)
Rossi. 20 (VILLARREAL v real zaragoza)

Raul Garcia. 25. (OSASUNA v mallorca)
Canales. 22.5 (VALENCIA v granada)
Juanlu. 15 (betis v LEVANTE)
Cejudo. 14.5 (OSASUNA v mallorca)

Adriano. 21.5 (gijon 0-1 BARCA)
Inigo Martinez. 15. (REAL SOCIEDAD 1-2 bilbao)
Arbeloa. 11.5. (espanyol v REAL MADRID)

Guaita. 20 (VALENCIA v granada)