La Liga 2019-2020: Barca's title to lose?

bosox4283

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We have only two team-specific La Liga thread -- Barcelona and Atletico -- and since I refuse to start a Real Madrid thread, I thought I'd lump together the rest of the La Liga news.

Real Madrid is in a jam: Asensio is out for the season, Bale wants out, Zidane doesn't want James, and Zidane wants Podga but he's still at ManU. Atletico just thrashed Real Madrid in a friendly, 7-3, sending Madrid into bit of a tailspin. What's more is that Atletico acquired one current (Marcos Llorente) and one former (Mario Hermoso) Real Madrid players in this transfer window, in a sense rubbing it in their faces.

I honestly don't know what to expect from Real Madrid, whether Zidane will be able to work his magic or if the team is a step or two behind Barca and Atletico. Real Madrid has finished third in the last two league campaigns, so there is clearly the room -- and the need -- to improve.

Valencia is on the verge of disaster before the season even begins. Yikes. David Cartlidge reports the following:

"In short for those unaware: Lim (owner) and Alemany (transfer guru) have been at each others throats for some time and it has culminated in one big fall out. Lim wants more power over transfers so Alemany is walking. Marcelino finds out what has been going on and also wants out."
 

bosox4283

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Real Madrid loses again today, this time with a lackluster performance against the Spurs.

Will Pogba really change this team's potential?
 
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Zososoxfan

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Real Madrid loses again today, this time with a lackluster performance against the Spurs.

Will Pogba really change this team's potential?
Looking at Madrid's squad, I'd say Pogba is just what the doctor ordered. The defense should be fine with another season of Varane and Ramos at CB, Carvajal at RB, and Mendy at LB. Presumably Nacho is the 3rd CB and Militao may get some run. Will Marcelo continue to wither and will Odriozola get enough PT to be happy?

In attack, Jovic and Hazard are shiny new toys to pair with Benz, Vinicius, Isco, and others. Lucas Vazquez, James, and Bale are still on this squad FFS. Needless to say, I think they have enough tools in attack to score lots.

However, in the MF, Casemiro is still solid as a pivot but Kroos and Modric are a year older. No one else is a Madrid-caliber MF. So yeah, put Pogba into the mix and I think Real becomes a helluva more threatening.
 

bosox4283

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In attack, Jovic and Hazard are shiny new toys to pair with Benz, Vinicius, Isco, and others. Lucas Vazquez, James, and Bale are still on this squad FFS. Needless to say, I think they have enough tools in attack to score lots.

However, in the MF, Casemiro is still solid as a pivot but Kroos and Modric are a year older. No one else is a Madrid-caliber MF. So yeah, put Pogba into the mix and I think Real becomes a helluva more threatening.
It seems that Zidane has little interest in having James and Bale on the squad, though Zidane does seem to be relenting a bit on Bale.

At this point, while Kroos and Modrid still have the ability to perform at a high level, there seem to be too many defense holes. I agree with with @Zososoxfan: Real Madrid really needs -- needed? -- Pogba on this squad to improve performance.

As constructed, I have a hard time seeing how the team leaps ahead of Barca and Atletico.
 

Clears Cleaver

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so it sounds like Barca offered Coutinho, Racitic and $80M EU for Neymar. PSG doesn't want Rac but the RB instead (forget his name...)
 

sodenj5

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Real’s been tinkering with running a 5-3-2 with Carvajal and Marcelo playing more like wingers and Militao playing the third CB.

I think it helps their midfield quite a bit, relieving some of the defensive pressure on the midfield and letting Marcelo and Carvajal more freely attack.

The problem is you essentially need to move Hazard to a striker role and Jovic and Vinicius/Bale move to the bench.

I still think their best 11 include Vinicius and Jovic, but their midfield and defense isn’t strong enough to play a 4-1-3-2 or a 4-4-2.
 

Zososoxfan

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Barca kicked off the season with a tough fixture away at San Mames and without Messi looked discombobulated and generally terrible. The backline was as expected, with Semedo appearing to be the first choice RB going into the year. In MF, FDJ, Alena, and Roberto got the start, with Suarez, Dembele, and Griez up top. Suarez went off towards the end of the first half with a calf injury, but even before that Barca was abjectly awful. Before going into a Barca rant, Bilbao deserve a ton of credit for being super tough and getting an insane Aduriz classic banger at the whistle for 3 points. Hopefully, this serves as a wakeup call to Barca.

The biggest disappointments have to be Dembele and Griezmann. Dembele saw lots of the ball and gave it up easily and frequently. Dembele seems like one of those athletes who's body can move so fast that his mind sometimes can't keep up. When he's on, he's just about unstoppable. When he's off, he's a huge liability. Griezmann also was anonymous. In the first half, he was parked on the wings and slowed play down repeatedly. In the second half, he played as a central striker and didn't see any of the ball.

With Suarez out, Valverde chose to overload the MF and inserted Rafinha for Luis and Rakitic for Alena. Rakitic immediately gave the team more balance and verve. Barca overall looked rusty for matchweek 1, but Rakitic and FDJ seemed like the players with the most touch. However, pretty much every iteration of Barca's MF on Friday seemed duplicative and certainly ineffective. I have to think Busi will play next match and allow for FDJ to play higher. Roberto did tons of running and I generally like the player more than most, but he wasn't up to snuff today. A Roberto/Rak/FDJ MF is worth a shot at some point as those 3 could probably press pretty effectively together.

FDJ was certainly a silver lining to an otherwise miserable match. He has more touch and creativity than just about anyone else on the field. He seems destined to be the Rakitic replacement, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Busi, Rak, and FDJ get lots of matches together (4-2-1-3). If Alena (or Rafinha) was ready to consistently step up and be the attacking MF in the trio, he would be a better fit, but I think if the attack gets sorted out, Rak and FDJ can stir the drink sufficiently.

With Suarez out for some time, the front line should settle in to Dembele-Messi-Griezmann. To me, that screams false 9 Messi. Dembele and Griez are fast enough, like to cut inside, and are capable of combo play with Messi to allow Messi to drop deeper, combine with Rak/FDJ (and other mids) and let one FB at a time provide the width. The idea being that the defense (especially the CBs) should be uncomfortable and unsure about when to step to a player and when to hold position.

Finally, what would a Barca post without the requisite EV bashing. EV's tactics and gameplan were...uninspired. I'm not sure what the plan was for the first half, but Griez and Alba did not look comfortable playing together, Alena and Roberto were not a good MF pair, and Semedo was the only one really helping create space in the final third. Once Suarez went out, EV's plan went to shite even further, and only some individual efforts from Rafinha created any trouble for the remainder of the match. Barca did not press and generally looked like they didn't get much done this summer. It's obviously early and I'd never draw conclusions from one match, but EV needs these players to start gelling sooner rather than later.
 
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sodenj5

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Real looked better in weekend 1 than they did the entire preseason. In fact, they probably looked their best playing with 10 men after Modric was shown a straight red which felt pretty undeserved.

Oddly enough, Gareth Bale might have been the man of the match for Madrid. He had a great run and cross in to Benzema for one of Real’s goals, and generally looked fit, fast, and put in effort in both halves of the pitch.

Kroos hit an absolute banger into the top left corner from outside the box and looked solid. Defense looked better than they did in the preseason, even going with 4 men in the back and missing Carvajal.

Overall, a pretty encouraging performance on all fronts for RM.
 

Awesome Fossum

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I'm going to be in Barcelona Oct 19-21, and I'm hoping to see a match. It looks like Barca is away that weekend, but Espanyol is home. I was wondering if anyone had any guidance:

- Looks like date and time isn't finalized; if they end up on Friday or Monday, it won't work. But it looks like the previous week's time are finalized. So should that weekend's times be nailed down this week?

- Any safety concerns that I should be aware of? They're playing Villareal, if that matters. We'll avoid the supporters sections and away colors.

- Where would be the best place to buy tickets?

Thanks for any help!
 

bosox4283

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I'm going to be in Barcelona Oct 19-21, and I'm hoping to see a match. It looks like Barca is away that weekend, but Espanyol is home. I was wondering if anyone had any guidance:

- Looks like date and time isn't finalized; if they end up on Friday or Monday, it won't work. But it looks like the previous week's time are finalized. So should that weekend's times be nailed down this week?

- Any safety concerns that I should be aware of? They're playing Villareal, if that matters. We'll avoid the supporters sections and away colors.

- Where would be the best place to buy tickets?

Thanks for any help!
Amazing! Very cool trip.

Since I've been following La Liga 10 years ago, I don't recall any safe concerns about Espanyol. Villarreal is a mid-table competitor, so there could be some more energy, but I'm like 95% sure there will be no problems.

I went to Atletico-Real Madrid last year and bought the tickets through Stubhub. For your match, you may want to just buy through Espnayol's website.

La Liga is a mess and the lack of confirmed match days and times is a joke. That said, the league usually announces times about three to four weeks out.
 

rguilmar

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Valencia sack Marcelino in a very unsurprising move. Unsurprising in the sense that Valencia is a mess right now. I thought he did a great job for the club, bringing them back to relevance with two straight UCL appearances and a Copa del Rey victory. Seems like ownership was upset that Marcelino is given credit for the club’s revival, not owner Peter Lim. Disagreements over transfer policy, and there ya go. Good luck with Barcelona and Chelsea.
 

trs

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I'm going to be in Barcelona Oct 19-21, and I'm hoping to see a match. It looks like Barca is away that weekend, but Espanyol is home. I was wondering if anyone had any guidance:

- Looks like date and time isn't finalized; if they end up on Friday or Monday, it won't work. But it looks like the previous week's time are finalized. So should that weekend's times be nailed down this week?

- Any safety concerns that I should be aware of? They're playing Villareal, if that matters. We'll avoid the supporters sections and away colors.

- Where would be the best place to buy tickets?

Thanks for any help!
I think La Liga has eliminated the Monday fixture, so you shouldn't have to worry about that. Friday is always a 9:00pm start, and there's just one game.

In terms of safety -- you'll be fine at the game. Barcelona as a city unfortunately has a bit of a reputation for pick-pocketing and mugging. That being said, most of that unsavory stuff happens in the Barrio Gotico district. Perhaps you know this already, but feel free to message me for any suggestions on restaurants/bars/areas for your visit if not! Barcelona is certainly at-risk of over-tourism these days, but damn, it's a fun and beautiful city still.
 

Awesome Fossum

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Thanks! I don't know anything. I'll do a TBLTS sweep and definitely check back. Looking every day for a finalized start time, but still no luck. Glad to know our odds are probably 9/10, because we're looking forward to it.
 

Zososoxfan

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Valencia sack Marcelino in a very unsurprising move. Unsurprising in the sense that Valencia is a mess right now. I thought he did a great job for the club, bringing them back to relevance with two straight UCL appearances and a Copa del Rey victory. Seems like ownership was upset that Marcelino is given credit for the club’s revival, not owner Peter Lim. Disagreements over transfer policy, and there ya go. Good luck with Barcelona and Chelsea.
Yeah, that's ridiculous. Finishing 4th 2 years in a row in this league should buy him a ton of rope and he'll get scooped up by another shrewd club in no time.
 

trs

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Thanks! I don't know anything. I'll do a TBLTS sweep and definitely check back. Looking every day for a finalized start time, but still no luck. Glad to know our odds are probably 9/10, because we're looking forward to it.
Sounds good, just reach out and I'll send you a few places.

It may take awhile for them to announce the fixture times. It's the matchweek right after an international break, so they may not announce for another week or so. If you follow the Espanyol Twitter account, that may help, as the team Twitter accounts frequently announce when the times are set -- especially if they want to sell some tickets.
 

Awesome Fossum

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Yes, I'm excited! Next step is figuring out how to actually buy the tickets. The sale keeps getting rejected through the Espanyol website, even with a preauthorization from my credit card provider. I guess we'll just get them at the gate.
 

Monbo Jumbo

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My Real Madrid ticket experience.

I was ready when tickets went on public sale a week before the match. Repeated attempts to get the credit card to go through (at 4 am) were rejected. I did some googling and found out that no credit cards issued outside of Spain are accepted. Next step was to call the box office, and I was told that I could only buy at the stadium.

I then turned to StubHub. I had been watching the site and seen what the general markup from face was. I managed to find two seats at an extremely reasonable price (10 euro above the non-member sale price). They were season passes. Had them mailed to the airbnb, which was easy to do. But returning the passes was another matter. Stubhub wanted the passes back in two days after the match. I emailed a confirmation of that fact, but didn't give a time and place to do that until after the Saturday afternoon match. Turns out, Stubhub has no customer service on weekends, and their international customer service works on US hours, so I couldn't set up anything until Monday at 1 PM Madrid time. I let them know they are a seven day a week business and their customer service should be available seven days a week also.

It was raining pretty good that afternoon ,and we got soaked walking all the way around the stadium looking for out gate. (they don't let you in any gate except the one specified on the pass/ticket.) I assumed our seats were not covered, but was surprised that it was dry. At the end of the day, a great experience.
 

candylandriots

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Yes, I'm excited! Next step is figuring out how to actually buy the tickets. The sale keeps getting rejected through the Espanyol website, even with a preauthorization from my credit card provider. I guess we'll just get them at the gate.
I can try with a German card if you think that might work. PM me if you'd like me to try.

It's always a challenge getting tickets for these matches. I have a story a bit like Monbo's. My wife and I were in Rome and really wanted to see a game. Turns out Roma was playing Lazio. We talked to the concierge at the hotel and he said, "just go to the stadium and buy the tickets". We took a taxi out there and waited in line and asked to buy two tickets. We eventually figured out that the box office was asking us if we lived in Rome. Of course, we did not. But they would only sell tickets to Roman residents because they wanted to keep out Lazio fans, and therefore potential violence. I tried to explain that we were the last people they needed to worry about, but our pleas fell on deaf ears and we went back to the hotel, defeated.

So yeah, it's a hassle.
 

trs

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While Villareal is performing rather well so far, I really wouldn't worry about getting tickets at the box office. If you're a little worried, check when the Box Office is open and swing by the day before if you have time. There won't be a line and you should be fine -- I wouldn't expect much of a hassle, as this is hardly the Rome Derby!v Enjoy!
 

bosox4283

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I'm really curious to see how La Liga plays out this year. Real Madrid and Barcelona both look to be off their top-form, though it is still very early in the season. Atletico is also not at peak-form, mostly because the team is rebuilding after several key departures and, per usual, is trying to find a consistent offensive rhythm within Simeone's scheme.

Meanwhile, Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, and Sevilla look to have put together solid squads this year that could propel them to compete. I thought Valencia might be in this group, too, but with the last-minute firing of Marcelino who knows what will happen to them. I still like Celta and Betis, too, as they think they have really dynamic teams that could be dangerous if they got hot at the right time.
 

Zososoxfan

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La Liga is set to resume in full fury on Thursday with the Derbi Sevillano at 4pm EDT (!). For those of you thinking 'hey that's pretty late for a European match to start', you are absolutely right. La Liga has announced that some matches (mostly those in the South) will begin as late as 11pm local to mitigate the summer Spanish heat. As a Floridian, I scoff at this notion. However, for midweek games, I'm all about these late start times that will facilitate me watching.

For the league generally, this is going to be an 11-match sprint with matches for each club every 3-5 days. Several rule changes have been implemented for this portion of the league. Matchday squads have been expanded to 23 players, and teams will be permitted 5 substitutions per match that must be made at 3 set times (including halftime). I haven't seen much official notice about these rules and I think some of them are still being negotiated (this is Spain after all), so I wouldn't be surprised if things are slightly different come Thursday.

Barca have complained that this will disproportionately harm them, but if the alternative is risking players' health even more than just playing does, then I don't care. Also, the players association have asked for mandatory cooling breaks for any match with a temperature greater than 82.4 degrees (28 Celsius) and no matches to be played in heat greater than 89.6 (32 Celsius). Temperature seems like a poor metric and I'd use heat index instead, since humidity can make such a huge difference for the body's cooling mechanisms.

Barca currently lead Madrid by 2 points and Madrid has a 9-point gap on Sevilla. So it certainly looks like a 2-horse race for the title right now. The race for top 4 looks awesome though, with only 2 points separating Sevilla (47), Sociedad (46), Getafe (46), and Atleti (45). Valencia is within striking distance at 42, but would likely be thrilled with a top 6 finish. I'll also mention Villareal (38) here just because they have been playing entertaining football this season. They've netted 44 goals, but conceded 38.

At the bottom, Espanyol is almost certainly going down with only 20 points so far. Leganes has a big climb still with 23. Mallorca has 25 but has their destiny in their hands since Vigo (26), Eibar (27), and Valladolid (29) all still have points they need to get themselves. Alaves (32), Levante (33), and Betis (33) are all likely safe.
 

bosox4283

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Thanks for this post. The last match I watched was Atletico vs. Liverpool on March 11, so I've had three months to savor that victory.

More than anything, I'm excited that La Liga is returning because it signifies that Spain has made tremendous progress slowing the spread of COVID-19. My heart aches thinking of the suffering that Spaniards endured. I hope the return to football is a sign of continued confidence that the worst is over.

As for La Liga, it's going to be a wild ride with lots of weirdness. I hope players avoid long-term injuries, whether due to the heat or resulting from inactivity. When have elite players been off for three months?
 

Vinho Tinto

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La Liga has announced that some matches (mostly those in the South) will begin as late as 11pm local to mitigate the summer Spanish heat. As a Floridian, I scoff at this notion. However, for midweek games, I'm all about these late start times that will facilitate me watching.
In our last trip to Portugal in 2013 my wife (who is a morning person) was amused to see town squares full of families at midnight, but ghost towns at 7 AM.
 

Kliq

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Holy crap Valenica vs Levante is on right now and Valencia has the cut outs of fans in the stands and is piping in crowd noise. It does add something to the broadcast.
 

ElUno20

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This Valencia game is awful. Guys literally just standing around and not even attempting a fake jog.
 

Zososoxfan

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With many of the first fixtures now done, it's a good time for a check-in. First and foremost, I have to say I underestimated how happy I would be to have football back in my life. Just the weekend rhythm of having a game to look forward to changed the dynamics in my house considerably.

I don't know how the questions regarding rule changes ended up getting sorted out.

Sevilla kicked things off and won the Derby over Betis. I didn't watch the whole match but Argentine Luis Ocampos scored the pen and assisted on the other goal. Granada set back surprising Getafe with a 2-1 win. Valencia dropped a couple of points in a 1-1 draw with Levante. Espanyol got an encouraging result with a 2-0 win over Alaves, but they remain tied for last in the table. Villareal were lucky to steal a win with a very late goal away against Celta at Balaidos off of a turnover in the MF.

Barca smacked Mallorca 4-0 in a convincing return to action. Bilbao and Atleti played a hard fought 1-1 draw. I saw the first 10-15 minutes of this match and it was fun to see Atleti get a bit of their own medicine with vicious and late tackles coming in from all over the field. Madrid took care of a business in a 3-1 win over Mighty Eibar. Finally, Sociedad dropped a couple of points at home against Osasuna to finish the round.

Sevilla definitely looked the strongest of the second tier of competition. I'd be shocked if they didn't hold down one of the UCL spots. At the bottom, Espanyol had a terrific round by winning while the next 5 teams ahead of them all lost (albeit mostly against stiff competition).

To get a feel for how fast this league season is going to play out, the next round of fixtures begins today. Sevilla is in action away at midtable Levante and Betis hosts Granada in a midtable clash. Getafe-Espanyol tomorrow involves 2 clubs with much to play for, Barca have another tuneup against lowly Leganes, Celta and Valladolid are 2 low clubs who both need points to steer clear of relegation concerns, and Madrid host Valencia on Thursday to close out the round. The round or 2 after that feature lots of good matchups (Sevill-Barca, Real-Sociedad).
 

Zososoxfan

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Levante pulled a point back with a late OG by Sevilla yesterday and 3 (!) goals were scored from the 85th minute on in the Betis-Granada match in a 2-2 draw. I'll be going back to watch that later today hopefully.

Today, Getafe fights to stay in a UCL spot against cellar dweller Espanyol who's coming off a rare win. Mallorca looks to bounce back and get out of the relegation zone against Villareal, and Barca looks to build more momentum against relegation-threatened Leganes before Friday's showdown with Sevilla.
 

bosox4283

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This rapid format has been entertaining. I like the larger benches and the five substitutions in this format, but I wouldn't want these changes made permanent.

After three matches, I feel much more comfortable about Atletico earning a spot in next year's Champions League.

My real worry, though, is my beloved second division Real Oviedo fighting to not descend into Segunda B, the third division. The club's majority owner is Carlos Slim's son-in-law, who first help the team avoid financial dissolution and then helped the team go from third division to second. Since then, the club has struggled to put the right pieces in place to compete at a high enough and consistent enough level to vie for a top-six finish (which allows a club to have a chance to earn a promotion to first).
 

Zososoxfan

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Fanatiz let me down, so I haven't been able to watch Barca-Sevilla yet, although I'm going to try tonight for the last time before switching back to Sling (sigh).

I did catch the second half of Real vs. Sociedad and what a half it was. Sociedad were mostly even with Real and Real were very fortunate to draw a pen early in the 2nd half. About 10 minutes later, Sociedad scored on a nice low shot from outside the box, but it was ruled off due to another Sociedad player being offside. I'm not sure how the rule is supposed to be enforced, but the player definitely did not touch the ball (in fact, he jumped out of the way) but he was near the ball's path. Shortly after that, Benz brought a ball down with his upper arm and scored, it was reviewed, but the goal stood. Pretty shady sequence of events made worse by the fact that Sociedad pulled one back before time.
 

Zososoxfan

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Was going to post this in the Barca thread, but I think it's better here. Looking at Real's remaining schedule, they play relegation zone Mallorca and @Espanyol before things get a bit tougher. Real then plays Getafe, @Bilbao, Alaves, @Granada, Villareal, and finishes with @Leganes. The Getafe-@Bilbao-Alaves stretch includes only 3 days rest between matches, so that plus Villareal (also coming 3 days after the @Granada match) are the key remaining tests. The @Bilbao match would normally be circled due to San Mames awesomeness but the fans not being there takes the worry out of it for them a bit. While there are plenty of solid midtable clubs in their home stretch, Villareal and to a lesser extent Bilbao are currently on the best form. Getafe and Granada haven't won since the restart, whereas Villareal and Bilbao haven't lost, and Villareal has won 2/3 and drew 2-2 with Sevilla in a fantastic match. Ramos did have to leave the Sociedad match after suffering a knee injury, but getting him some rest against Mallorca and Espanyol should be doable.
 

bosox4283

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Atletico seem to have righted the ship after the COVID break, now with three straight wins after a tie against Athletic. Notably, the larger benches and the five substitutions have given Simeone the chance to be more aggressive, both from the opening whistle and in the second half. And the club's depth is a real asset during this final stretch -- Costa and Morata give the team two strong striker options, Carrasco and Lemar provide good depth on the wings, and players like Thomas, Saul, Correa, and Marcos Llorente can play multiple positions at various points during a match.
 

Zososoxfan

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Huge matchup in La Liga this afternoon in the last match of the round as 6th place Getafe (49) hosts 7th place Sociedad (47). Getafe play a more conservative brand of football and Sociedad is one of the most exciting sides in the league, putting in the goals but conceding a bit too much yet nevertheless racking up a respectable point total. At stake is a chance for Sociedad to make a real push for European competition qualification. Getafe have been pretty bad since the restart, losing to midtable Granada, and drawing with relegation-bound Espanyol, lowly (yet Mighty!) Eibar, and lowly Valladolid. However, Sociedad have been worse with losses to lowly Celta and Alaves, a tough loss to Madrid, and a draw with midtable Osasuna.

Getafe features several interesting players, but I'll be focusing on their young MF pair of Maksimovic and Arambarri. The other guy I'll be watching for closely is Barca loanee (and hair maestro) Marc Cucurrella at LB/LMF/LW.

While the point totals and recent form for both clubs are pretty similar, their squad composition is starkly different. Getafe feature a mostly veteran group sprinkled in with some promising young players, whereas Sociedad's entire MF and FWD are all worth watching closely (i.e. likely to get snapped up by bigger clubs soon). The headliner for me is still Odegaard who is finally starting to deliver on the promise that made him so sought after by Madrid a couple of years ago. Not to be overlooked though, are young LW Oyarzabal, solid veteran CF Willian Jose, young MF duo Merino and Zubeldia, Dortmund loanee Isac, and CB Llorente.

While both clubs have been stuck in the mud since the restart, both will need to throw everything at this match and it should be a great one.
 

Zososoxfan

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Getafe have been bossing the MF and Sociedad can't even get the ball to their forward players. Sociedad's keeper filled his pants on a clearance under pressure, and a defender gave away a PK that Getafe converted.

Cucurrella has been hammering every Sociedad player in sight and I'm shocked he hasn't gotten a card yet.
 

Zososoxfan

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Jul 30, 2009
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Getafe got the 3 points at home yesterday which likely secures them UEL football next season. It wasn't pretty, but Getafe capitalized on a blunder by Sociedad's keeper Remiro early and then scored a highly unusual goal with Sociedad getting caught napping off of a throw-in where Remiro got beaten thru the wickets on an impossibly narrow angle. Needless to say, it was a day to forget for Mr. Remiro. I keep hoping Rulli gets a chance at high-level club football so he can be a real option for Argentina's NT, so perhaps Sociedad will bring him back from loan in Ligue Un. Getafe play a disgusting but effective brand of football and they were smacking Sociedad around from the first whistle. I expect to see many of their players at Atleti soon (@bosox4283 ). Arrambarri is a combative DMF and stood out as a tone setter. I was also surprised to see how well Cucurrella has adapted to the shithousery. Barca should absolutely bring him back and keep him on the squad next year. Sociedad clearly have some nice skill players, but the defense was a bit soft and once it was clear the ref wasn't going to punish Getafe's aggressiveness they had no punch or response (TBF this is exactly what sides like Getafe and Atleti love and it's incredibly effective). Oyarzabal in particular was invisible on the LW and left a lot to be desired. I'm still puzzled why Sociedad's manager Alguacil didn't play Odegaard, but when you've lost 4 in a row more than one thing is going wrong.

This mostly solidifies the top 6 of the table with Getafe (52) and Villarreal (51) still chasing Sevilla (54) for the 4th UCL spot, and Sociedad (47), Valencia (46), and Bilbao (45) still hoping to sneak into UEL ahead of Sevilla. Villarreal and Bilbao are both playing well lately, but Sevilla hasn't been bad either. None of those 3 has an easy end to the schedule, but Villarreal's is by far the hardest. The bottom 3 is all but certain--Mallorca, Leganes, and Espanyol will be in La Segunda next year.

Barca-Atleti this afternoon gives Los Colchoneros a tremendous opportunity to continue building on their terrific recent form of 4 straight wins (albeit against middling-weak competition). Barca are reeling and seem somewhat disinterested, so Atleti can either get them to submit or Barca need to be ready to rise and meet Atleti's energy. Real enter their most crucial 3-match stretch of La Liga on Thursday against Getafe, and then only have 3 days rest before Bilbao, and another 3-day swing before Alaves. Barca need to win today in order for any Real slip-ups to matter.
 
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Zososoxfan

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Jul 30, 2009
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I watched a little of the Valencia-Bilbao match and Bilbao looked very impressive. Valencia are not a bad side but they couldn't maintain any possession or really generate much offense. Bilbao OTOH was pressing in spurts very effectively and looked very dangerous in possession. Raul Garcia is still a very good striker at his age, Inaki Williams is a treasure, Muniain is crafty, Yeray is a good CB at a young age, and the team is generally cohesive.

Villarreal continue their excellent form with a 2-0 win over Betis yesterday. Since the restart they've won 5 and drawn 1 (importantly the draw was against Sevilla). Villarreal remain 3 points behind Sevilla for the 4th UCL spot but currently sit 2 points ahead of Getafe (who has a match in hand). Unfortunately for them, it would be difficult to craft a harder schedule down the stretch: Barca, Getafe, Sociedad, Real, Eibar. Sociedad, Bilbao, Valencia, and Granada could all still catch Getafe for the 2nd UEL spot, but time is starting to run out with only 5 left to play for most of these clubs.

Today features a huge matchup with Real hosting Getafe and a nice undercard of Sociedad trying to right the ship against Espanyol.
 

teddykgb

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Jul 16, 2005
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Chelmsford, MA
Bumping this because I saw that in the end Leganes were relegated after Barca used that ridiculous rule to buy their #1 striker. Is there an uproar about this?
 

Zososoxfan

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Jul 30, 2009
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[snip]
Barca currently lead Madrid by 2 points and Madrid has a 9-point gap on Sevilla. So it certainly looks like a 2-horse race for the title right now. The race for top 4 looks awesome though, with only 2 points separating Sevilla (47), Sociedad (46), Getafe (46), and Atleti (45). Valencia is within striking distance at 42, but would likely be thrilled with a top 6 finish. I'll also mention Villarreal (38) here just because they have been playing entertaining football this season. They've netted 44 goals, but conceded 38.

At the bottom, Espanyol is almost certainly going down with only 20 points so far. Leganes has a big climb still with 23. Mallorca has 25 but has their destiny in their hands since Vigo (26), Eibar (27), and Valladolid (29) all still have points they need to get themselves. Alaves (32), Levante (33), and Betis (33) are all likely safe.
Madrid are your 2019-20 La Liga champions and it's hard to say it's not deserved. This is neither best Madrid or Barca team of recent memory, but their old legends like Ramos, Benz, Modric, and Kroos were supported by excellent seasons from Casemiro, Varane, and Carvajal (I feel supremely gross just typing that), while breaking in some young players like Valverde, Vinicius, Rodrygo, and Mendy. The story of this season for Real in my opinion is their depth. Note that Hazard, Jovic, Isco, Bale, and Marcelo all had unspectacular seasons at best. Whether the younguns plus Hazard and Jovic are ready to lead a campaign next year is the narrative I'd apply going into next season.

Barca are a mess and if you want to hear my tirades about their board and management join me over in the Barca thread.

Atleti and Sevilla finished 3rd and 4th respectively and have earned UCL football. I'll leave the Atleti analysis to @bosox4283 , but I'd imagine they were expecting a better attack to go with their typically staunch defense. Morata had an OK season with 12 goals, but as a club scoring 51 goals (7th in La Liga) is not good enough for a club trying to challenge for the title (which should be their goal IMO). Lodi, Felix, and a couple of other promising young players did get some good PT though.

Sevilla will likely consider a top 4 finish a success. Ocampos had an outstanding season as a loanee and put in 16 goals for them. Munir (still only 24) also had a very good season with plenty of goals and assists. Some young players broke in such as Kounde, Jordan, and Reguilon, but this team is still super old. Navas at 34 (!) led the club in minutes played, which means he's likely destined to join Barca next season. Reges (32), Banega (32), and De Jong (29) also logged serious minutes. They will likely face stiff competition next season to finish top 4 again, although they qualified comfortably this season, finishing 10 points ahead of Villarreal.

After Madrid's surge netting them the title and Barca's shenanigans, Villarreal have to be the story of the restart. They came from 7 points behind 6th place to nab 5th. They scored 19 (!) goals since the restart, and only conceded 11 in 11 matches. Oddly (to me anyway), they've signed up Unai Emery to take over for Calleja. Some nice young players came thru for them this season, but much like Sevilla it was done with a smart blend of seasoned vets, young players, and shrewd transfer business.

Sociedad held on for dear life and finish with 6th place (on GD) as their prize. Importantly, this means that Getafe gets nothing, which is terrific news. The future looks very bright at Sociedad with Oyarzabal having an outstanding season, Isak doing well, Merino pushing thru, and other young players getting valuable experience. Villarreal and Sociedad are some of my favorite Liga teams to watch and I'm thrilled they'll get a chance in UEL next season.

Sociedad and Bilbao will play for the Copa Del Rey. Since Sociedad have already qualified for UEL, Bilbao will have much to play for.

Espanyol (obligatory Nelson HA HA!!), Leganes, and Mallorca are going down. Vigo and Alaves barely scraping by to stay in the top flight. Cadiz, Huesca, and Almeria will be joining the big boys from La Segunda next season.