Follow @nroberts88

Monday, December 12, 2011

5 things we learnt from El Clasico

It was the 7th of 2011 but we can still learn a lot from 90 breath-taking minutes.

1. Messi is better than Cristiano

Once again Messi proved he is on course for a hat-trick of Ballon d’Or’s this January. Real gave him an inch and he took a mile slid a perfect pass to Alexis (who still had a lot to do) to score a stunning equaliser. Messi didn’t have his most spectacular game, Iniesta was probably the best player on the pitch, but, Messi’s influence in big games is unwavering. Cristiano on the other-hand had a bit of a disaster, no matter how hard he puffed his chest out he couldn’t make a positive impact on the game. He missed two crucial chances one, a skewed shot when a simple pass to Di Maria was a much better option when it was 1-0. The second was even more uncharacteristic; a free header that went harmlessly wide from an inch perfect ball from Alonso when Madrid were trailing 2-1. Catalan dialy Sport declared that “We’ll have to expand the dictionary to find new adjectives for him, because majestic, lethal, magic, incomparable and divine have all been used up”. Messi was far from his best against Real but he was far better than Cristiano.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Are Real and Barca over reliant on foreign superstars?

Note: football is not played on paper.

The cold dark days of early December bare witness to some of Europe’s key dates. Friday the 2nd December saw the draw for the European Championships, 6/7th see the final group games of this year’s Champions League and the 10th is ‘El Classico’. Spain have been drawn into a challenging group alongside Italy, Croatia and Republic of Ireland. Del Bosque had lots of nice things to say about his opponents:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Weekend round-up and The changing roles of Malaga and Villareal

With the big three all playing on Saturday evening, Sunday was a day for the Spanish ‘second tier’ to showcase their talents. Levente this season’s surprise package got back to winning ways with a fantastic 4-0 home victory over Sporting Gijon. Athletic Club a side with so many talented players who have been so excellent this season were unusually stuck for ideas at home against Granada. It was a cautious affair but Granada despite spending the majority of the match defending went back south with 3 points away from home. Granada who have the worst shots to conversion in Europe’s top 5 leagues, 31 shots to every goal, just needed the one effort on Sunday an Inigo Lopez header.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Madrid take a 6 point lead

One football rule that really irks my dad like no other is the last man red card and penalty rule. He always said that a penalty was sufficient why do you need to send the player off as well, especially if it’s the goal keeper. Why should you be punished twice? The rule works both ways, for instance when Jens Lehman was sent off against Barcelona after 18minutes in the final of the 2006 Champions League final it spoilt the game, Arsenal took off Pires (his last game for the club, a real shame) and were down to 10 men. When Luis Suarez stopped Dominic Adiyiah goal-bound header in the dying embers of the World Cup quater-final with his hand he should have been sent off and a goal should have been awarded, Suarez was plainly cheating. On both occasions my old man was enraged, firstly Barcelona had been given a double advantage and Ghana had been cheated.

Goals, Racism and umbrellas

A look at the last weeks action; goals, racism and umbrellas.

Valencia vs Real Madrid delivered in everything aspect of football. Goals, bookings, Mourinho celebrating inanely and controversy. There were 5 goals the pick of the lot being the first from Karim Benzema, so many fouls 10 bookings, Mourinho jumped on Callejons back to celebrate Madrid’s goal to take a 3-1 lead and big penalty appeal by Valencia in the last minute of the game.
Mourinho being...well Mourinho

Friday, November 18, 2011

A look at the weekends fixtures.

Eleven games in and the league is really starting to take shape the top two are no surprise but the order might be. Real Madrid since losing to Levente have become unstoppable, after the defeat. Jose Mourinho dropped Sergio Ramos (read a great article by Football Ramble about his recnt form Interestingly Marca TV before the match against Osasuna were comparing Sergio Ramos to the great Hierro, Mourinho has brought Ramos into the centre of defence and looked like a natural, it’s difficult to see if Carvalho will get back into the starting XI. Upfront Higuain has scored 7 in 7 matches, Kaka is back to his counter-attacking best and CR7 and Benzama are looking electric. Barcelona on the other-hand have yet to get out of the early gears and looked flat away from home. It’s difficult to criticise Pep because he’s effortlessly cool, won nearly everything and a cracking player. However, I think he tried to tinker with his squad too much, obviously in football the saying ‘If it aint broke, don’t fix it’ doesn’t apply you always need to add and improve otherwise teams can get found out, but I think he has just tried to tinker a bit too much trying to perfect things. Football clubs don’t need perfection they need results and Barca have dropped more points than expected. This is the first time Real Madrid under Mourinho are 3 points ahead of Barcelona, Jose has never given up a 3 point lead in a league before. EVER!! This is exciting Real Madrid are going to win the league then surely?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review of Spain's games

The England vs Spain game was a far from engrossing encounter it did have some real intrigue to it. Spain are noted and praised for their tiki-taka technique just as Barcelona are and the week before the international friendly Barcelona were held by Athletic Bilbao. Loco Bielsa kept his tactics fairly sane and the rain soaked pitch slowed down the movement of Barcelona. Bielsa was a cult figure in charge of the Chilean national team with his adventurous tactics but it was the defensive tactics of Bilbao that sought most of the praise from the media after the match. After the game Pep Guardiaola said that “We’ve never played against a team who were so intense, so aggressive, and has denied us so much space”. Capello apparently showed clips of the game at San Mames to his England squad.  England started with Phil Jones in midfield and his job was to be big and awkward which he did with aplomb.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

England vs Spain preview

England vs Spain preview.

International football friendly’s are rarely high profile affairs but this Saturday’s match between England and Spain at Wembley is certainly one to look forward to, although most of the English press has focussed on ‘poppy-gate’. It should be a fantastic match.

England Squad: Hart (Manchester City), Carson (Bursaspor), Stockdale (Ipswich Town); G Johnson (Liverpool), Jones (Man Utd), Cahill (Bolton Wanderers), Terry, Cole (both Chelsea), Baines, Jagielka* (both Everton), Lescott (Man City), Walker (Tottenham); Lampard (Chelsea), Rodwell (Everton), Downing (Liverpool), Barry (Man City), A Johnson (Man City), Milner (Man City), Parker (Tottenham), Walcott (Arsenal); Bent (Aston Villa), Sturridge (Chelsea), Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Zamora (Fulham), Welbeck (Man Utd).

*John Terry (Chelsea) has been brought into replace the injured Jagielka

Spain Squad: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), José Reina (Liverpool), Víctor Valdés(Barcelona); Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Jordi Alba (Valencia), Raúl Albiol (Real Madrid), Nacho Monreal (Málaga); Xavi (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets(Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Málaga), Javi Martínez (Athletic Bilbao), Cesc Fábregas (Barcelona), Andrés Iniesta  (Barcelona); David Villa(Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Fernando Torres(Chelsea), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Juan Mata (Chelsea),Jesús Navas (Sevilla).

Sunday, November 6, 2011


                               ‘We don’t want another Scottish League’

Hello and welcome to my blog on Spanish football. The aim of this blog is to inform and enthuse its readers about one of Europe's most entertaining leagues.

It’s hard to look past the current Barcelona team as the greatest ever footballing side, they are unstoppable and with Messi returning to top form after a reported ‘blip’ with two hattricks in two games who can stop them winning consecutive La Liga and Champions Legue titles? Real Madrid? They too are in free-scoring form with Cristiano Ronaldo notching up his 100th goal for Los Blancos in breath taking speed. As the league stands, Madrid are top with Barcelona just 4 points behind and kick off at home against Athletic Club in just over an hour.

However, we all know about Barcelona and Real Madrid, everyone does. La Liga also has 18 other teams and although they are light-years behind the formidable duo of Barca and Real they often produce quality, enchanting football. Levente even beat Real this season but have suffered two consecutive losses in their last two games (a 2-0 defeat at Osasuna* and last night they were beaten 2-0 at home by rivals Valencia) and find themselves in the lofty position of 4th! In fact without doubt the best game of the season featured neither Real or Barca it was contested between nouveau riche Malaga and rock bottom Getafe. It was a 5 goal thriller with all the goals coming in the second half (watch the goals below).

Villareal and Athletico Madrid have had contrasting weeks in Europe. Villareal who have been drawn in the group of death with German giants Bayern Munich, megabucks Man City and the exciting Napoli suffered a humiliating 3-0 home defeat to City. Athletico on the other hand trounced Udinese  4-0 who have had a flying start to their Seria A campaign. Villareal have a tough fixture away at Espanyol whilst Athletico Madrid will be hoping the goals continue to pour again bottom side Getafe.

*Osasuna shipped 15 goals and only managed to score one against Barcelona and Real Madrid this season.