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.