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.
 

jkempa

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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.