La Liga 2022/23 All Out of Palancas

rguilmar

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Looks like @trs got a fun game, despite the fact that poor Betis were manhandled. Got to see the Joaquin farewell tour. If he plays every game this season, he will become La Liga’s all time leader in appearances (including GKs). Lamine Yamal got in the game, becoming the youngest Barcelona player ever. Bonus points for getting to the Nou Camp before the team leaves for Montjuic for the foreseeable future.

La Liga are doing Real Madrid no favors. Los Blancos had 9 games in April and will have 6 games in 17 days- the first four are La Liga games followed by the Copa del Rey final then a little date with Manchester City. Some of it is European competition, but there are several midweek La Liga games late in the season, and Madrid will have two games a week for all of April and May. They’re not particularly deep, especially up top, but they need to win the Copa and likely the UCL to have a “successful” season while also holding off noisy neighbors Atleti who are playing as well as anyone right now.
 

bosox4283

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Sorry to have disappeared for a bit. But gracias a todos for thinking about me and my Atletico.

The team is clearly playing excellent football, and Griezmann has been outstanding the last several months. I'm not sure what has changed to improve the squad. Did getting rid of Joao Felix and Felipe take away options from Simeone, which has allowed the team to gain more consistency? Have fewer fixtures -- no Copa del Rey, no European football -- given Simeone's somewhat-aging players a chance to rest and be at top form? Has Simeone made some key tactical adjustments, such as playing Mario Hermoso at CB? Have the players just gotten their heads out of their asses and are playing to their full potential?

I really can't figure it out, but it's been wonderful to watch them fire on all cylinders and now pass Real Madrid on the table.

Given the age and health history of some key players, I hope that this hot streak does not take away from the fact that there may need to be a renewal of sorts. There are few players below 26 on the squad, which is fine, but Simeone and the club will need to be strategic with integrating some new players over the next year or so to give players like Griezmann, Koke, and Savic rest at key moments.
 
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rguilmar

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Jaoa Felix out, Griezmann in is an oversimplification, but there is some truth to it. At least on the Griezmann side of thing. He’s been the best player in La Liga this season for my money, and that includes the insane season MATS is having in net.

I thought that Atleti were lucky to get results before the World Cup break. The performances did not justify the results, and I thought they’d be battling for a Champions League spot right now. After the break though, completely different team. I think it is more than a hot streak. They’re the best team in Spain over that stretch and damn fun to watch. Not just in the upstart foil to Barca and Madrid, but legitimately attractive soccer.

You’re right, they do need to get younger. If Felix is moved, they need to reinvest. Barrios is going to be a heck of a player, and both Riquelme at Girona and Lino at Valencia have impressed on loan (as has the striker at Rayo but I’m blanking on his name). More will be needed though. They need to decide if and when it’s time to move on from Simeone as he requires a certain kind of player. Is the rebuilt squad for him or someone else?
 

rguilmar

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Five games to go and there is more clarity. Barca have it in the bag, the two Madrid teams will battle it out for second (Atletico have a one point lead) and Real Sociedad have a seven point gap ahead of fifth place Villarreal. Betis got a huge win at San Mamés. Joaquin did not play and will not become the all time leader in appearances in La Liga history, but I’m sure he’ll take that trade. Sevilla (!!) have a legit shot at making Europe. Not a great one, and probably Conference League, but that’s saying something based on how they started the season.

At the bottom, Espanyol are in real trouble. They look like a team destined for relegation, letting in strange goals, losing in heartbreaking fashion. I’m sure Zoso will shed a tear or two if it comes to be. There is still a royal rumble to come for those last two relegation spots though and Valladolid have joined the fray.

Only one game this weekend and it is the big one. Osasuna take on Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.
 

rguilmar

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Madrid won the Copa del Rey 2-1 but it was always about Osasuna. They gave a great account of themselves, their fans were amazing (despite almost lighting themselves on fire at one point), and it clearly meant a lot to the fans and the team. Just amazing scenes in La Cartuja and Pamplona, and it was great for one of these “other teams” get the spotlight for a week. Proper club (not without warts) with proper fans.

Going into the Man City Champions League matches, there is good and bad for Real Madrid. The good is Vini Jr. He was otherworldly in the Copa and has been great for a while now. Obviously City are a different beast but Vini is a different beast too. The bad is Militao. Man he’s been bad lately including the Copa final. Just terrible.
 

rguilmar

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Barca can clinch La Liga with a Derby win at Espanyol while also severely denting their rival’s hopes of survival. It feels like there are 6-8 teams in the relegation scrap and 6-8 teams fighting for that last place in Europe.

La Liga clubs continue to lock up good players to new contracts, Isi at Rayo being the latest. He’s been an absolute monster this year. Villarreal extended veteran Raul Albiol (still playing well) another year, but you gotta think the Yellow Submarine might get raided this summer. Chukweze is definitely going to be a wanted man after his game at the Bernabéu, but there are several others who would interest many EPL teams. The interesting contract situation is Gavi, as Barca could not register him so he’s back on his old contract, in his old uniform, and his old release clause. Obviously he bleeds blaugrana but if some team wanted to needle Barca a little..:

I’m sure somebody can find a better race to the finish, but the Segunda is absurd. Top five teams are separated by 2 total points with three games left to go. Malaga are all but relegated to the third tier which is a shame. It can take forever to get out of there and it can be unforgiving even to big clubs, just ask Real Oviedo or Deportivo La Coruña fans. It wasn’t that long ago that Malaga was in the knockout stages of the Champions League. Great fan base, decent sized Spanish city (and a beautiful one right on the Mediterranean at that), wonderful stadium of La Rosaleda where the Spanish national team just played a game. At one point, ownership really put money into the club- managed by Pelligrini, they had Demichelis, Carzola, Toulalan, RUUUUUUUD, Julio Baptista, Nacho Monreal, Joaquín, and Isco on the same team. Obviously it didn’t work out. Adiós.
 

rguilmar

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Congrats to Barcelona on their well earned La Liga title. You don’t get to say this much about the Blaugrana, but what a defensive season for them. After the palancas and the scandals, a trophy was absolutely needed.

Barca players had an on field celebration before they were chased off the field and down the tunnel by enraged Espanyol pitch invaders. The initial lack of security was a bit shocking.
 

Zososoxfan

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Congrats to Barcelona on their well earned La Liga title. You don’t get to say this much about the Blaugrana, but what a defensive season for them. After the palancas and the scandals, a trophy was absolutely needed.

Barca players had an on field celebration before they were chased off the field and down the tunnel by enraged Espanyol pitch invaders. The initial lack of security was a bit shocking.
It was quite enjoyable to celebrate in Espanyol's house. This wasn't the main goal for the season, but it's a solid foundation to build on. With Busi officially on his way out and Alba looking likely to follow him, Xavi won't have to worry about the old guard anymore (not in the locker room at least, President Pique is probably only a handful of years away, and former teammates like Puyol are already in management positions). The club now have to cement their new identity around Araujo, Kounde, FDJ, Pedri, and Gavi. That's the core. Balde looks like he'll be slotted in on the left flank for awhile. Christensen looks like a solid bet to stay in the CB rotation. But beyond that, there's no one else in the squad who's guaranteed a place even 2 years out (i.e., I don't think they're selling Lewa, but relying on him beyond next season carries quite a bit of risk). I'll take the rest of this discussion to the Barca thread.
 

rguilmar

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There are some massive battles going on two fronts; relegation and the Conference League spot. Elche obviously are down and Espanyol don’t seem far behind. Teams from 18th place Getafe to 13th place Celta have not hit that magic 40 point mark. Then it gets tightly packed from 12th place Mallorca to 7th place Girona for that final European spot.

I previously said that it didn’t look like Valencia had the spirit for a relegation fight, but they definitely found it from their youth ranks as the kids have been saving the club. They’re born and raised in Valencia, and grew up in the club. They clearly don’t want to see the club go down.

The huge game this weekend is El Gran Derbi. In some ways it is the biggest derby in Spain. Sevilla will be coming off their midweek Europa League match with an eye on salvaging their season (depending on how things go). Betis will want to secure their Europa League spot. It will be Joaquin’s final game against Sevilla. And the Sanchez Pizjuan gets very, very loud.
 

Zososoxfan

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There are some massive battles going on two fronts; relegation and the Conference League spot. Elche obviously are down and Espanyol don’t seem far behind. Teams from 18th place Getafe to 13th place Celta have not hit that magic 40 point mark. Then it gets tightly packed from 12th place Mallorca to 7th place Girona for that final European spot.

I previously said that it didn’t look like Valencia had the spirit for a relegation fight, but they definitely found it from their youth ranks as the kids have been saving the club. They’re born and raised in Valencia, and grew up in the club. They clearly don’t want to see the club go down.

The huge game this weekend is El Gran Derbi. In some ways it is the biggest derby in Spain. Sevilla will be coming off their midweek Europa League match with an eye on salvaging their season (depending on how things go). Betis will want to secure their Europa League spot. It will be Joaquin’s final game against Sevilla. And the Sanchez Pizjuan gets very, very loud.
Aaaaaaaaaand Valencia lose today with their match in hand and are now firmly in the relegation battle with 2 matches to play. Elche is mathematically going down. Espanyol is at 35 points (you hate to see it), but are somehow still in it, as Valladolid, Cadiz, and Getafe have 38, Almeria have 39, and Vigo and Valencia have 40. My guess is the list of relegation candidates gets cut in half after MW 37, but man I'm gonna try and watch a lot of Spanish futbol this weekend!
 

rguilmar

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Osasuna are currently in 7th and in the Conference League spot. A lot can change, but a Copa final, and a hell of a final at that, with qualifying for Europe would be a huge season for the club from Pamplona. They already get to join Barca, Real Madrid, and Atleti in the Supercopa next season.

There of course is the chance that Sevilla win the Europa League, which I’ve heard means that Spain will get five CL spots (Barca, Real Madrid, Atletico, Real Sociedad, Sevilla) one EL spot (Villarreal) and one Conference League spot (Betis). If true, what a nutshot for Béticos to have their biggest rival struggle so much but get into the Champions League while simultaneously knocking Betis out of the Europa League and into the less profitable Conference League.
 

rguilmar

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La Liga will be welcoming Granada and Las Palmas back next season. Granada were just recently relegated. The city isn’t so famous for its soccer culture, but it is famous for the Alhambra palace. Las Palmas haven’t been that top division since 2018. The location on the Canary Islands make is the most isolated La Liga team.

The final spot will come from Deportivo Alaves (recent home of Matt Miazga), Éibar (and their comically small stadium), Albacete (majority owner is Andrea Iniesta), and Levante (imagine if they passed rivals Valencia?). Alaves-Éibar is a tasty Basque Derby for a semi.
 

rguilmar

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Well, next weekend’s final slate of games has the same two points of interest:
Conference League 7th Place- three points separate 7th place Osasuna and 12th place Mallorca.
Relegation- two points separate 13th place Cadiz and 18th place Valladolid

Espanyol have joined Elche in the Segunda. Zoso will miss them more than he lets on.
 

sdiaz1

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Heartbreaking for Espanyol supporters to drop those two points so late in the game. I always have had a soft spot for them since the Raul Tamudo and Ivan de La Peña days.

Also it would have been great to have 19th through 12th separated only by 3 points heading into the final match day- shit could have been bonkers.

Also, also- who doesn't want to see Valencia go down after the last few weeks?
 

rguilmar

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Also, also- who doesn't want to see Valencia go down after the last few weeks?
I get the sentiment but if we rooted for teams to be relegated due to reprehensible fan behavior, we’d be left with like Rayo and Cadiz in La Liga, and that depends on what you think about the extreme political left. Even Cadiz had an ugly on field incident a few years ago. Béticos, who are more recognized for being jovial and more than a little odd, have their own less-than-stellar moments, included the Juande Ramos incident which might seem funny now but was pretty serious when it happened. Barcelona, who are known for being a pretty socially progressive club, have some awful far right supporters groups too. Hell, Real Madrid do as well.

It might have more to do with the fact that I’ve been to Mestalla more than any other stadium in Spain, which is random because I’ve only intended to go to Valencia once. I still think what happened at the Metropolitano earlier this season was at least as bad as what happened last week, but I would still pull for Atleti to win La Liga over either of the big two.

I am very nervous about Celta Vigo being the team to go down. The thought of Iago Aspas in the Segunda makes me sad, to say nothing of our favorite octopus aficionado LDLT. Gabri Vega is apparently moving on regardless, so this would be a double gut punch for the Galicians.
 

sdiaz1

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Celta going down would be tragic as they are the only non-Basque team from the North still in the Primera. Previous PM aside, I really love almost everything Gallego.
 

rguilmar

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First legs of the promotion playoff semis were today.

Alaves and Éibar drew 1-1 at Ipurua. Stoichkov (nicknamed after Hristo, no relation) with a nifty back heel flick for the equalizer. Alaves with a head start heading home where a draw will put them through. Teams with a higher league finish advance if the teams are tied after two legs. Éibar will be without their captain who was red carded.

Albacete are in tough shape after losing 3-1 at home to Levante. They were up 1-0, gave up a soft equalizer, and never recovered. They’ll need to win by three goals in Valencia to advance.
 

rguilmar

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Two sets of games today to wrap up the season. First set is for teams fighting for 7th (and Atleti-Villarreal). Osasuna-Girona is the pick of these games are both are involved in the fight. Second set is for the six teams fighting relegation. Valladolid-Getafe is the pick here as either could be relegated. A Getafe win would relegate Valladolid and a Valladolid win would result in chaos.
 

rguilmar

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The battle for seventh really has taken off in the second halves. Athletic Club got a goal through Sancet at the Bernabéu to briefly put themselves in Europe only to have Budimir bag a brace in just a couple of minutes to put Osasuna up 2-0 at home against Girona. Looking likely, at least for now, that Osasuna will cap off an amazing season with a trip to the Conference League next season.
 

rguilmar

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Not so fast!! say Girona. They score to make for an interesting final 15 minutes.
 

rguilmar

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As of halftime in the relegation games, Valladolid are in pole position to go down. They’re tied with Getafe. Barca had a goal called of by VAR and Gabri Vega delivered a parting gift for his hometown club, Celta lead 1-0.

If Valladolid score, things get wild and I think Valencia would go down if other results hold. I think.
 

rguilmar

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Almería are now in the drop having fallen behind already relegated Espanyol 2-1
 

rguilmar

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Putting a bow on the final weekend:
  • Adios to El Pucela. Valladolid join Elche and Espanyol in La Liga SmartBank next season. I’ll miss their glorious purple uniforms and the occasional Ronaldo Fenómeno siting.
  • A likely adios to Gabri Veiga. He left the field after scoring two goals against Barca in tears, and not the “i just saved my boyhood club from relegation” tears but the “I’m leaving my boyhood club” tears. Celta’s president had already said it was impossible to keep him based on the money being offered up. I’m guessing one of those soulless EPL will pay huge sums of money for him. He’ll be missed at Celta and La Liga, but he’ll come home at some point. They always do.
  • Congrats to Osasuna on finishing in seventh and qualifying for the Europa Conference League. I know it’s not as big of a deal to some clubs, but it’s a big deal to Los Rojillos. 15-20 years ago Osasuna were a Champions League team, but a lot has happened since then, including scandal, relegation, and a club nearly disappearing. Who doesn’t love a redemption song?

    View: https://twitter.com/osasuna_en/status/1665426905435365376?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ
 

rguilmar

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Levante and Deportivo Alaves move on in the Segunda playoffs. Home and home tie with the winner promoted right back to La Liga a year after being relegated.

Osasuna’s qualification into next season’s Europa Conference League is now in doubt due to a match fixing scandal from ten years ago. There is no new info on it from what came out back then which resulted in sporting and financial punishments at the time. It’s just that UEFA apparently can still punish the club further.
 

rguilmar

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Good article in The Athletic about Martin Zubimendi and his style of play. He’s the obvious replacement for Busquets at Barca except for the fact that I don’t think they can get him. He has a €60 release clause which Barcelona cannot come close to affording, at least not yet, and paying that fee is the easy part of buying him.

https://theathletic.com/4600543/2023/06/13/martin-zubimendi-is-the-calm-and-methodical-heart-of-real-sociedads-midfield/?source=user_shared_article

“At 24 years old, his emergence feels timely. Sergio Busquets has bowed out at Barcelona, while Rodri has reached the pinnacle with Pep Guardiola by his side.

A player born and raised in a city captivated by the football of Xabi Alonso, coached by the man himself, playing where he once played — Zubimendi couldn’t be better placed to become the sport’s next great pivote.”
 

veritas

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Good article in The Athletic about Martin Zubimendi and his style of play. He’s the obvious replacement for Busquets at Barca except for the fact that I don’t think they can get him. He has a €60 release clause which Barcelona cannot come close to affording, at least not yet, and paying that fee is the easy part of buying him.

https://theathletic.com/4600543/2023/06/13/martin-zubimendi-is-the-calm-and-methodical-heart-of-real-sociedads-midfield/?source=user_shared_article

“At 24 years old, his emergence feels timely. Sergio Busquets has bowed out at Barcelona, while Rodri has reached the pinnacle with Pep Guardiola by his side.

A player born and raised in a city captivated by the football of Xabi Alonso, coached by the man himself, playing where he once played — Zubimendi couldn’t be better placed to become the sport’s next great pivote.”
Very interesting player. For all the hype, there's really nothing in his numbers that suggest he's the next great anything.
 

veritas

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Just like one former Barcelona CDM…
Are you referring to Busquets? Busquets has always had incredible passing statistics. Even old washed up Busquets right now has significantly better passing numbers than Zubimendi, across the board. His defensive numbers are still better too. I wasn't trying to put down Zubimendi, there are reasons covered in that article as to why he might be a better player than the numbers suggest, because of the role he plays. But his passing and defending numbers are pretty meh right now and he's already 24. That's a risky projection to make for 60 million.
 

rguilmar

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Are you referring to Busquets? Busquets has always had incredible passing statistics. Even old washed up Busquets right now has significantly better passing numbers than Zubimendi, across the board. His defensive numbers are still better too. I wasn't trying to put down Zubimendi, there are reasons covered in that article as to why he might be a better player than the numbers suggest, because of the role he plays. But his passing and defending numbers are pretty meh right now and he's already 24. That's a risky projection to make for 60 million.
Probably a better way of saying it is that, like Busi, Zubimendi is a more effective player than most stats might indicate. He will never be at the Busquets level, but he’s a player who you need to watch play in order to appreciate.
 

Zososoxfan

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Are you referring to Busquets? Busquets has always had incredible passing statistics. Even old washed up Busquets right now has significantly better passing numbers than Zubimendi, across the board. His defensive numbers are still better too. I wasn't trying to put down Zubimendi, there are reasons covered in that article as to why he might be a better player than the numbers suggest, because of the role he plays. But his passing and defending numbers are pretty meh right now and he's already 24. That's a risky projection to make for 60 million.
Re the bolded, if Busi's defensive stats are better than anyone's, then it's time to throw those stats away. I love Busi and even as a huge Barca fan it took me years to understand his value. But the guy is not any kind of defensive stalwart. His defensive value is directly tied to his full video game-like press resistance and keeping possession for his side. Like a FIFA 99 rating.