Return of the Galácticos? Spanish Fútbol 23-24

rguilmar

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I’m jumping the gun on a La Liga and all things thread even though the 22-23 season isn’t finished in some of the lower divisions because Real Madrid can’t keep themselves out of the news. They just dropped over €100 million for Jude Bellingham and now Kylian Mbappe looks to be trying to force his way to the Spanish capital as well. Benzema leaving the club likely a year before anticipated really changes things. It’s annoyingly impressive how Florentino Perez has built this Real Madrid team. They will be very strong, very young, and very deep.

Less impressive is how Barcelona continue to handle their finances. After pulling all those palancas last off season poor European performances, bloated salaries, and reduced income from the move to Montjuïc have combined to leave them needing to shed about €300 million before they can return to business as usual. They’ll return a strong squad and have been able register new contracts but they will have to get creative to finalize the squad.

Both of the huge Spanish clubs are in massive transitions. On the other end, Atletico Madrid will be going into the season likely with El Cholo leading the squad for the 13th(???) consecutive season. I’m sure there will be lots of transfers throughout the summer and lots of other news, plus one more team to welcome to La Liga.
 

Zososoxfan

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I’m jumping the gun on a La Liga and all things thread even though the 22-23 season isn’t finished in some of the lower divisions because Real Madrid can’t keep themselves out of the news. They just dropped over €100 million for Jude Bellingham and now Kylian Mbappe looks to be trying to force his way to the Spanish capital as well. Benzema leaving the club likely a year before anticipated really changes things. It’s annoyingly impressive how Florentino Perez has built this Real Madrid team. They will be very strong, very young, and very deep.

Less impressive is how Barcelona continue to handle their finances. After pulling all those palancas last off season poor European performances, bloated salaries, and reduced income from the move to Montjuïc have combined to leave them needing to shed about €300 million before they can return to business as usual. They’ll return a strong squad and have been able register new contracts but they will have to get creative to finalize the squad.

Both of the huge Spanish clubs are in massive transitions. On the other end, Atletico Madrid will be going into the season likely with El Cholo leading the squad for the 13th(???) consecutive season. I’m sure there will be lots of transfers throughout the summer and lots of other news, plus one more team to welcome to La Liga.
Agreed that Madrid's competence is frustrating. However, they still have some transitioning to do, as Kroos, Modric, and Benz all played over 3000 minutes last season, Militao is still a starting CB, and Nacho played over 2500 minutes. They're also not as deep as I thought, and several spots in the XI have a big drop from starter to backup. Funny enough, MF is the one unit that has good depth (Valverde, Tchoua, Camavinga, Kroos, Modric) but there's no doubt that Jude comes in as a starter. Then again, I thought the same about Tchoua. If they bring in Mbappe this summer, they should play 4-4-2 with Vini and Mbappe up top (Rodrygo rotating in).
 

sodenj5

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Agreed that Madrid's competence is frustrating. However, they still have some transitioning to do, as Kroos, Modric, and Benz all played over 3000 minutes last season, Militao is still a starting CB, and Nacho played over 2500 minutes. They're also not as deep as I thought, and several spots in the XI have a big drop from starter to backup. Funny enough, MF is the one unit that has good depth (Valverde, Tchoua, Camavinga, Kroos, Modric) but there's no doubt that Jude comes in as a starter. Then again, I thought the same about Tchoua. If they bring in Mbappe this summer, they should play 4-4-2 with Vini and Mbappe up top (Rodrygo rotating in).
Carlo, much like Zidane, can’t quit Luka and Toni. The future looks obvious with Bellingham, Camavinga, and Tchouameni.

A 4-4-2 would be interesting. Camavinga already showed he can play out wide to an extent. He and Valverde could play as the wide mids, with Bellingham and Tchouameni inside. This would also close the hole at RW that Madrid has. They’ve consistently deployed Rodrygo as a False 9.
 

rguilmar

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High drama in the Segunda playoff final between Alavés and Levante. The final is played over two legs. The first leg ended 0-0. The second leg also ended 0-0, and it headed to extra time with no chance at penalties as the higher seeded team wins with a tie. In this case it would be Levante going to La Liga with a tie. In the 120th minute VAR awarded a penalty to Alavés. On loan Villalibre slotted it home and Alavés are back in La Liga.

Levante were 28 seconds away from promotion.
 

speedracer

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High drama in the Segunda playoff final between Alavés and Levante. The final is played over two legs. The first leg ended 0-0. The second leg also ended 0-0, and it headed to extra time with no chance at penalties as the higher seeded team wins with a tie. In this case it would be Levante going to La Liga with a tie. In the 120th minute VAR awarded a penalty to Alavés. On loan Villalibre slotted it home and Alavés are back in La Liga.

Levante were 28 seconds away from promotion.
Ok I had to look this up and this is absolutely mind-blowing (fast-forward to 2:20)

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkUjC9GuASE&t=2m30s
 

rguilmar

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Another top Spanish manager off to the Prem. Bournemouth’s statement in hiring Iraola who did a fantastic job at Rayo Vallecano.

I don’t know if it’s random or if it’s something in the water, but Iraola joins Lopetegui, Arteta, and Emery in the Premier League. All four aren’t just from Spain, and they aren’t just from the Basque region, but they’re all from the same tiny province of Gipuzkoa which I believe is the smallest province in Spain. It’s also home to the highest percentage of soccer players per capita in Spain, which is probably related, and the big city of San Sebastián has (or had?) the most Michelin Stars per capita in the world, which might not be related.

View: https://twitter.com/afcbournemouth/status/1670793827915907074?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ
 
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rguilmar

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Reports out of Brazil are that Carlo Ancelloti will take charge of the Selecao when his contract expires after this upcoming season. They asked Real Madrid if he could start earlier and the club said no. It’s been a strange situation for a while now in Madrid.
 

sodenj5

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Reports out of Brazil are that Carlo Ancelloti will take charge of the Selecao when his contract expires after this upcoming season. They asked Real Madrid if he could start earlier and the club said no. It’s been a strange situation for a while now in Madrid.
I think it’s stranger for Brazil than it is for Real, isn’t it? Brazil is willing to wait another full year without an actual appointed manager in order to get Carlo.

Carlo is going about his business and both sides seem fine with him seeing out his final year before moving on.

Madrid is probably facing a down year if they don’t secure Kane or Mbappe this transfer window, so moving on from Carlo probably becomes pretty easy from their perspective and Carlo basically has his next gig lined up already.
 

rguilmar

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I think it’s stranger for Brazil than it is for Real, isn’t it? Brazil is willing to wait another full year without an actual appointed manager in order to get Carlo.

Carlo is going about his business and both sides seem fine with him seeing out his final year before moving on.

Madrid is probably facing a down year if they don’t secure Kane or Mbappe this transfer window, so moving on from Carlo probably becomes pretty easy from their perspective and Carlo basically has his next gig lined up already.
This is probably true. It’s been a strange situation in Madrid for a few years. Carlo was brought back when the team had low expectations and the season was supposed to be a transition year, then they surprisingly ran away with La Liga and won the Champions League so both sides decided to give it a go again last season. They only won the Copa del Rey and I think the board/Perez have wanted to move on from Carlo. The problem is that he’s under contract and very, very popular with the media and many fans. Unless Zidane is walking though that door, they’d rather not fire Carlo. Ancelloti for his part seems like he would rather coach Brazil right now but doesn’t want to quit on Madrid, the players, or the fans. So we have this situation where neither Carlo nor the club really want him at Real Madrid but neither is willing to do the dirty bit of prompting the split. If things go well at Madrid, everyone will be happy. If not, Perez can blame Ancelloti’s lack of focus, fire him, and honestly all parties probably are still kinda happy.

Florentino said in a recent interview that they are done this transfer window after the Joselu business is wrapped up, which is obviously meant to pressure PSG to drop the Mbappe price. The plan for Real has always been to sign Mbappe on a free next season anyways.
 

rguilmar

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Do you know the FFP/La Liga cap implications of registration? Like, why was it so important to register Gavi and Balde?

Re Madrid, getting Jude is legit, but they paid a fuckload for him when I don't think he's necessarily the best use of funds. First and foremost, they have Camavinga, Valverde, Tchoua, and the aging legends still in the fold. They also have a rather big gap at striker in the absence of Benz. Leaving that aside, would you rather pay €120M for Jude or €80M for Barrella? How about €60M for Sociedad's Merino?

If they still nab Osimhen, Muani, Alvarez, or god forbid Mbappe this summer, then I'll shut my stupid mouth.
Moving this over here so as to not bog down the transfer news. For the registration, it does increase the wage bill as essentially both players are signed to new contracts. That will impact how much they can spend in the transfer window but that’s a negligible item. It was important because until these players can be registered they are still playing under their old contracts. That means they cannot have certain uniform numbers, which is more of a pride thing than anything else. More importantly, they still have to play at a lower wage and with lower release clauses. What’s to stop a team like Real Madrid from needling Barca by offering much higher wages to these players and paying the release clause? It was never likely to impact Gavi in the short term, but you can see the concern.

I guess when I look at Barca v. Real Madrid in recent transfers, Real Madrid seem to have a plan. They wanted Camavinga and Bellingham years before signing them, so they have the funds set aside in advance. They seem to have contingencies- Mbappe not signing or Man U coming for Casemiro. Barca on the other hand seem to wait to see who might be available which leads to buyers remorse (Raphinha, Torres etc). Madrid is proactive and Barca is reactive, at least that’s how it looks. Even now, Madrid can spring for Mbappe or punt this season and sign him for free next year. It feels like they know what they’re doing which hasn’t always been the case.

I think the thing with Bellingham isn’t just his talent but his age. This Madrid team needs a 9 but there is a lot of young talent there who will be the backbone for up to a decade. Barella is 26 and Merino 27. Idk much about Inter’s position, but I doubt Sociedad are in the mood to sell anyone and it’s really hard to get a Basque player out of San Sebastián right now. I know he left Pamplona a while ago, but Osasuna had to sell players to pay off their massive debt back then. Different time and different team. Even so, looking at what Premier League teams are paying for decent but not great talent, does €103 million plus add ons for Jude seem like ton? Declan Rice, who’s a fine player but older, a touch below Jude IMO, and a DM, is likely to fetch a similar amount.

You might very well end up being correct in the end. These are more of a gut feeling and perceptions on my part than anything else. Barca are coming off a La Liga title so who am I to judge?
 

rguilmar

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Osasuna are apparently on the verge of being disqualified from the Europa Conference League. Ten years ago several directors of the club were guilty of a match fixing scandal where these directors paid opposing players to impact results. Spanish courts have ruled on the matter. Since the club is member owned, the courts found that the club was a victim in the incident since the directors illegally diverted club money. The president at the time and directors involved spent time in jail. The club was punished as well, but apparently the club’s role in the scandal can still impact their eligibility for European competition. I’m not sure why the club continue to be punished for admittedly terrible actions ten years ago, but it is what it is.

https://theathletic.com/4636130/2023/06/23/osasuna-uefa-europa-conference-league/?amp=1
 

Zososoxfan

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Moving this over here so as to not bog down the transfer news. For the registration, it does increase the wage bill as essentially both players are signed to new contracts. That will impact how much they can spend in the transfer window but that’s a negligible item. It was important because until these players can be registered they are still playing under their old contracts. That means they cannot have certain uniform numbers, which is more of a pride thing than anything else. More importantly, they still have to play at a lower wage and with lower release clauses. What’s to stop a team like Real Madrid from needling Barca by offering much higher wages to these players and paying the release clause? It was never likely to impact Gavi in the short term, but you can see the concern.

I guess when I look at Barca v. Real Madrid in recent transfers, Real Madrid seem to have a plan. They wanted Camavinga and Bellingham years before signing them, so they have the funds set aside in advance. They seem to have contingencies- Mbappe not signing or Man U coming for Casemiro. Barca on the other hand seem to wait to see who might be available which leads to buyers remorse (Raphinha, Torres etc). Madrid is proactive and Barca is reactive, at least that’s how it looks. Even now, Madrid can spring for Mbappe or punt this season and sign him for free next year. It feels like they know what they’re doing which hasn’t always been the case.

I think the thing with Bellingham isn’t just his talent but his age. This Madrid team needs a 9 but there is a lot of young talent there who will be the backbone for up to a decade. Barella is 26 and Merino 27. Idk much about Inter’s position, but I doubt Sociedad are in the mood to sell anyone and it’s really hard to get a Basque player out of San Sebastián right now. I know he left Pamplona a while ago, but Osasuna had to sell players to pay off their massive debt back then. Different time and different team. Even so, looking at what Premier League teams are paying for decent but not great talent, does €103 million plus add ons for Jude seem like ton? Declan Rice, who’s a fine player but older, a touch below Jude IMO, and a DM, is likely to fetch a similar amount.

You might very well end up being correct in the end. These are more of a gut feeling and perceptions on my part than anything else. Barca are coming off a La Liga title so who am I to judge?
Thanks for this post, very informative. I agree with you that Madrid looks way ahead of Barca ATM (ha!) regarding transfer strategy. I do think Barca's current transfer "strategy" is a result of Barto's gross mismanagement and the need to stabilize the club's revenues. So of course they need to go bargain hunting on free transfers and making very limited and targeted transfer investments where possible.

All that said, I do think Cancelo makes sense as a target. Even if they can't swing the full transfer, a loan makes a lot of sense for all parties involved. Otherwise, Barca need to find strong players at small and medium statured clubs. Here's a silly list just pulling from TM with TM Value listed (in Euros):

Gusto, Lyon, 25M
Foyth, Villarreal, 25M (I'm very familiar with him as an Argentine and Spurs supporter and he's a terrific fit opposite Balde. Does anyone know about Villarreal's financial position?)
Geertruida, Feyenoord, 25M
Di Lorenzo, Napoli, 25M
Dodo, Fiorentina, 20M
Vanderson, Monaco, 18M
Kadioglu, Fenerbahce, 17M
Joao Mario, Porto, 16M
Boey, Galatasaray, 16M
Fresneda, Valladolid, 15M
Martinez, Girona, 15M
Bah, Benfica, 14M


Names in bold are good fits and players currently in the Iberian leagues, where Barca recruits from heavily.
 

rguilmar

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All that said, I do think Cancelo makes sense as a target. Even if they can't swing the full transfer, a loan makes a lot of sense for all parties involved. Otherwise, Barca need to find strong players at small and medium statured clubs. Here's a silly list just pulling from TM with TM Value listed (in Euros):

Foyth, Villarreal, 25M (I'm very familiar with him as an Argentine and Spurs supporter and he's a terrific fit opposite Balde. Does anyone know about Villarreal's financial position?)
Foyth at Barcelona makes a ton of sense. I think he’s the ideal player for what Xavi is trying to do at RB. I can’t speak to a lot of other players on this list though. I have no clue about Villarreal’s finances except to say that they never seem to be in financial difficulties. They’re never rushing to register players or anything. I’m not sure if it’s final but they’re offloading Jackson to Chelsea for €35 million or so. He had a nice few months in La Liga but is still more potential than anything. Rumors have been flying around about Chukwueze too ever since his brace against Madrid so he could be sold too. Premier League clubs are supposedly interested (Liverpool and Arsenal maybe). Just reading the tea leaves but they seem solid financially with some offensive holes to potentially fill.
 

rguilmar

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June 28 is Pride Day in Spain, and some teams posted rainbow flag themed images on social media. This is the number of social media unfollows* that resulted (and in the case of Las Palmas, followers gained)

View: https://twitter.com/dsaura/status/1674456529632624640?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ


*These are worldwide clubs with worldwide followers, so it’s more a reflection of worldwide soccer fandom than anything specific to La Liga. That Barcelona leads the list by a wide margin isn't surprising given their huge appeal. Some comments along the lines of “I want Barca to stay out of politics” are comical. Like, do you even know the club? Part of their allure is their involvement in politics. Hell, half the board is made up of past and future Catalan politicians.
 

Zososoxfan

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June 28 is Pride Day in Spain, and some teams posted rainbow flag themed images on social media. This is the number of social media unfollows* that resulted (and in the case of Las Palmas, followers gained)

View: https://twitter.com/dsaura/status/1674456529632624640?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ


*These are worldwide clubs with worldwide followers, so it’s more a reflection of worldwide soccer fandom than anything specific to La Liga. That Barcelona leads the list by a wide margin isn't surprising given their huge appeal. Some comments along the lines of “I want Barca to stay out of politics” are comical. Like, do you even know the club? Part of their allure is their involvement in politics. Hell, half the board is made up of past and future Catalan politicians.
That's some combo of irony, being through the looking glass, and other metaphors/sayings I probably don't use correctly.
 

rguilmar

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News from around La Liga keeps coming, there is no break. Obviously lots of transfers but most of those are in the Transfers thread. Suffice to say that Madrid appear to be building a long term monster of a squad. Not everything will pan out as designed, but even a 50% hit rate on these young guys will be scary. For their part, Barca seem to be taking a page from Madrid and following a plan. Like Madrid, they signed a young Brazilian who will join the club in the future (Vitor Roque) and are targeting players who fit their system (Ivan Fresneda). They’re looking to bring old friend Oriol Romeu back to his boyhood club too which is obviously more of a short term fix than anything.

Two clubs I’m worried about this season already are Valencia and Rayo Vallecano. Both have very unpopular owners. Both will have new managers. Both seem to be completely rutterless. Neither seem to have any plans for the recent cash infusion from La Liga. I know that nobody will shed a tear for Valencia if they get relegated, but it’s a legit possibility. They’ve never finished below their rivals Levante, but could this be the year? Rayo have done well recently, mostly due to smart loan moves and the ingenuity of Iraola. The manager and loanees, Fran Garcia (Real Madrid), Alejandro Catena (Osasuna), and Santi Comesaña (Villareal), are gone, and I worry that the success won’t be replicated.

Two clubs that I’m intrigued in for the summer are Sevilla and Villareal. Rumors are that Sevilla are having trouble balancing the books even with Champions League games this season so everyone is for sale. Monchi is gone, picking a good time to go apparently. This is the price the club have to pay for having a veteran team on high salaries. A couple of seasons ago they made a real run at La Liga, it didn’t work, and now the club could pay. Villareal have sold Jackson to Chelsea and Torres to Villa. Chukwueze could be off to Milan soon too. They’re a smart club and I can see their reasoning. Jackson is very raw and might never pan out. Torres made some real errors last season and doesn’t really fit their style of play. Chukwueze was likely gone the moment he scored that golazo in Madrid. I’m curious to see what they do with the money.

Celta Vigo are celebrating their 100th year this year and are really doing whatever they can to survive. Gabri Veiga is all but gone, but Rafa Benitez is in. Their social media team has been en fuego with their content and they have a really nice looking centenario kit all in Galician blue with a special crest. And of course Iago Aspas is still there. As a USMNT fan, I’ll be interested to see how LDLT is used (I’m also interested to know how he got the nickname “Mr. Happy Face”).

I cannot promise that I’ll stop bringing up Osasuna’s unfair expulsion from the Conference League, but I’ll try. They lost their appeal and are now bringing UEFA to court. Sid Lowe has chimed in on the events. The Fiesta of San Fermin was last week (highlighted by the running of the bulls) and Pamplona was lit up with pride in the local club and anger at UEFA. For a club with the finances of Osasuna, any European competition can be season changing.
 

rguilmar

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Isco recently gave a rare interview that spanned many topics, but it will be remembered for one specific incident. The player alleges that Monchi, the former sporting director at Sevilla (now at Villa) assaulted him and grabbed him by the neck after an argument. Monchi himself has said he won’t comment as he’s focused on the Villa job and the club essentially said that any incident has already been dealt with. People in Seville are noting that neither denied that the attack took place.

Celta are also in the news for both good and bad things. First the bad, Santi Mina had his conviction for sexual assault upheld. Because of Spanish labor laws, he must continue to get paid and be allowed to work until his final appeal is heard, so we have this awkward situation where Mina is literally practicing by himself as the club want nothing to do with him. On the brighter side, the club is getting a lot of positive feedback for their new anthem written by rapper C Tangana celebrating their 100th year. It is sung by various Galician folk groups. Write ups have appeared in places like the New York Times and the Guardian. I don’t claim to be a musician, nor do I speak a lick of Gallego, but both the anthem and the video are pretty spectacular.

View: https://youtu.be/d_6f0JQOfM8
 

rguilmar

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From around Spain:
Mallorca have added Cyle Larin who presumably will play alongside Muriqi giving the islanders two massive target strikers. It’ll be interesting to see how they are utilized together, but it’s fair to say that there will be a lot of crossed coming into the box in the attacking third.
In a strange story, Betis have loaned Alex Collardo to a Saudi team just days after signing him. I had hoped this was because of their rumored interest in Abde, but it appears that they would not have been able to register all of their players without doing so. I like Collardo but getting Abde would’ve been delightful. Oh well. The club don’t want a repeat of last summer where they tried to get Alex Moreno to move before sacrificing Marc Bartra at the end of the summer.
Apparently this is the end of the line for Sergiño Dest at Barcelona. He doesn’t fit Xavi’s system and quite honestly hasn’t looked good for his club in a while. The club will apparently try to buy him out and make him a free agent.


Yeah not terrible business, but I read this morning that Barca are trying to keep the full 50M instead of remitting half to Dembele as his agent understood the framework. Abde is almost certainly staying in the fold as Raphinha hasn't impressed in preseason and he's inconsistent anyway, and Ferran is probably the backup striker in addition to being in the rotation at wing. Ansu had a nice goal yesterday and I'm thinking that Barca might continue with their 4-4-2 and play Ansu as a traditional 7/11.
Moving this over here so as to not bog down the transfer thread. I like how you are calling it a 4-4-2 (because it is). Several Barca fans, including my cousins, refuse to say that they play anything but a 4-3-3. The Athletic had a piece where they referred to Gavi’s position as a “withdrawn winger” which I hadn’t heard of before. Anyways, it still feels like there are some round pegs and square holes. Obviously Lewa start up top, with any one of Raphinha, Ansu, Torres, Yamal (if they want to bring him up) and Abde with him. If Gavi plays like he did last season as a LCM, left withdrawn winger, or whatever you want to call it, that puts the other non- Lewa attacker on the right. Abde and Ansu are both better on the left. Do you think they move Gavi and Pedri around to accommodate them? There is the knock on effect on the defenders, specifically Balde. Or put differently, if we assume a De Jong, Gundogan, Pedri, Gavi midfield, do either Abde or Ansu fit at all given their preference to play on the left? And if they do play on the left, what do you do with Balde, who operates more as a LW than a LB? Maybe Ansu works as a replacement for Gavi? I am just not seeing how Xavi can use some of these guys given how his system utilizes Balde and Gavi.

And I would still rather have Dembele to the right of Lewa over any of these options.
 

Ale Xander

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Many many great seats (and bad)still available for Athletico v RSG La Liga Summer Tour (ESPN) in Monterrey.
 

Zososoxfan

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Moving this over here so as to not bog down the transfer thread. I like how you are calling it a 4-4-2 (because it is). Several Barca fans, including my cousins, refuse to say that they play anything but a 4-3-3. The Athletic had a piece where they referred to Gavi’s position as a “withdrawn winger” which I hadn’t heard of before. Anyways, it still feels like there are some round pegs and square holes. Obviously Lewa start up top, with any one of Raphinha, Ansu, Torres, Yamal (if they want to bring him up) and Abde with him. If Gavi plays like he did last season as a LCM, left withdrawn winger, or whatever you want to call it, that puts the other non- Lewa attacker on the right. Abde and Ansu are both better on the left. Do you think they move Gavi and Pedri around to accommodate them? There is the knock on effect on the defenders, specifically Balde. Or put differently, if we assume a De Jong, Gundogan, Pedri, Gavi midfield, do either Abde or Ansu fit at all given their preference to play on the left? And if they do play on the left, what do you do with Balde, who operates more as a LW than a LB? Maybe Ansu works as a replacement for Gavi? I am just not seeing how Xavi can use some of these guys given how his system utilizes Balde and Gavi.

And I would still rather have Dembele to the right of Lewa over any of these options.
I would build the team's attack around Pedri, Gavi, and Lewa, and to a lesser extent Balde and FDJ/Gundo. That's not entirely fair to Ansu, who's still just 20 years old, but this is Barca and if you don't perform right away then there's the risk that you get sidelined and possibly sold. While you're right that these players all leave the team lopsided towards the left, assymetrical formations aren't unheard of and managers usually look to accommodate attacking wingers with balanced fullbacks. So if Kounde continues to play as a RB, then it mitigates some of the leftsided problems.

But ultimately against really stout defenses, you want balance. So one of two things happen here IMO. Either Barca sign a RW/RWB (Read: Cancelo), Raphinha and Ferran are given a chance at RW, or Xavi builds in strategies addressing the suboptimal squad composition. Since the first two options don't require much explanation, I'll focus on the latter. In possession in the final third, I don't think it's complicated to imagine Lewa and Ansu operating centrally and Balde providing touchline width on the left. I don't think it's a problem for Lewa to have some room to receive to feet on the right channel since he's a surprisingly good passer, although I can admit that taking him away from the front of goal is suboptimal. Nevertheless, when trying to move around a defense there are worse options than drawing the CB and LB away from the center of goal with Lewa. But more interestingly, I could see Gavi taking up the RAMF position since his speed and tenacity get him running in behind already, and he's more than willing to sprint back on recovery runs. Again, not optimal but something that's probably in the toolkit already anyway. That allows Pedri to operate on the left to cut in on his right where he's surprisingly dangerous (6 La Liga goals in under 2K minutes). All that space on the right is also going to look very tempting for FDJ and Gundo to make their late runs into the box so it's not like the LB is going to be unoccupied and invited to cheat inside to help against Lewa.

All that said, I think Barca's preference is to land Cancelo as he does seem like a hand-in-glove fit for the RWB role, but Raphinha as a backup is not bad at all. 7 goals and 7 assists (2nd in G+A for Barca) in his first season isn't bad, and he has attributes that complement the rest of the squad nicely. He's much more willing to run in behind than anyone not named Lewa and he's surprisingly good in the air for a small Brazilian. He's a willing defender (much more so than Dembele) so it allows for one of the MFs to run ahead of him knowing Raph has their back. He's not the dribbler that Dembele is (very few are, goofy loose touches notwithstanding), but he's a better progressive passer, and he really shines as a progressive receiver (a/k/a outlet). Finally, he underperformed his xG last year (9.3 xG translating to 7 goals) so I think some modest improvement is the floor. Ansu also underperformed with similar numbers.
 

rguilmar

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Thanks for your insight @Zososoxfan. Definitely puts some meat on the tactical bones. Barca are down to 5ish CMs with the sale of Kessie (depending on how you feel about Serge Roberto in the middle) which adds another layer to it all.

And holy hell, La Liga kicks off on Friday. With some tasty pintxos of matches too.
 

rguilmar

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La Liga kicks off tomorrow. There is so much uncertainty right now with the transfer market still in high gear and so many unregistered players across Spain, so any predictions are pretty impossible. But there are some great games this weekend:

Athletic Bilbao host Real Madrid and get the full ESPN treatment. This is the biggest game of the season for Bilbao, even bigger than the Basque Derby against Real Sociedad, because of the political implications. It’ll be loud, that’s for sure, and Bilbao do have some dangerous weapons like the Williams brothers, that can cause Madrid some problems.

Villarreal host Real Betis in a battle of European hopefuls. Villarreal have unloaded a lot of talent this summer hoping to avoid a Sevilla situation where they end up with a bloated payroll and are forced to sell their most valuable assets. But they’re a well run club and will be solid. Betis have added a bunch of depth pieces while not losing any important except maybe Edgar. It wouldn't be surprising if one of these two club ended up in the top four.

Personally I’m looking forward to Osasuna at Celta Vigo. How does Osasuna follow up their surprise season last campaign? Can Celta have a season when they aren’t fighting relegation? Gabri Veiga is likely off to Napoli, but they did bring in Rafa Benitez to manage the team and they have their 100th season mojo working for them. Iago Aspas always seems to will the club to survival, but idk how many more times he can do it. And does the new club anthem catch on?
 

sdiaz1

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Huge blow for Real Madrid this morning as Courtois tore his ACL and won't likely be available until late Spring.


I hear David de Gea may be available
 

bosox4283

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Can Celta have a season when they aren’t fighting relegation? Gabri Veiga is likely off to Napoli, but they did bring in Rafa Benitez to manage the team and they have their 100th season mojo working for them. Iago Aspas always seems to will the club to survival, but idk how many more times he can do it. And does the new club anthem catch on?
I love the club anthem from C Tangana — it’s outstanding, from being in galego to tugging on heartstrings to bringing in some traditional Galician musical songs.
 

rguilmar

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I love the club anthem from C Tangana — it’s outstanding, from being in galego to tugging on heartstrings to bringing in some traditional Galician musical songs.
I’m with you 100%. Love the song (though I don’t understand most of the words), love the story, love the video. I just wonder if the supporters sing it as the new anthem. Traditions are hard to break, especially in Galicia. I would be shocked if the anthem isn’t performed before the game though.
 

rguilmar

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Week 1 is in the books. To keep it strictly onomatopoeic:

Betis won at the death with a fabulous goal
Boss Bellingham had his moment
Bordales is back at Getafe

Game of the weekend was Villarreal hosting Betis. Both teams play attractive soccer and Willian Jose got the winner in the last minute of stoppage time. He’s rumored to be following Sergio Cáñales to Mexico. Isco got the start and looked really good for Betis, and there is still room aboard the Luis Henrique hype train (which I’m still riding). The most hyped game was probably Madrid visiting Bilbao because of what the game means to the hosts. Bilbao underwhelmed, but the story was Jude Bellingham getting a lucky (his word) goal and playing a really good game. The photo of him with his arms outstretched in front of a sea of red and white stripes is pretty epic, as is his new nickname “The Boss”. As for Bórdales, he’s back at Getafe and it is horrifyingly effective. There were 26 total minutes added on in there game against Barca and it felt like there should be more tbh. From Sid Lowe, a newspaper editor said he “turned off the telly horrified, feeling like ever more sinister spirits are destroying football. An affront to all of us who like football, this doesn’t work.” I’ll let Zoso share his own thoughts on that game, but it was pretty fuggo. Effective, but not enjoyable.

And in news that perhaps only Bosox and I care about, the new Celta anthem has definitely caught on in Vigo. They lost at home to a tough Osasuna team, but at least their singing sounded great.
 

Zososoxfan

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Week 1 is in the books. To keep it strictly onomatopoeic:

Betis won at the death with a fabulous goal
Boss Bellingham had his moment
Bordales is back at Getafe

Game of the weekend was Villarreal hosting Betis. Both teams play attractive soccer and Willian Jose got the winner in the last minute of stoppage time. He’s rumored to be following Sergio Cáñales to Mexico. Isco got the start and looked really good for Betis, and there is still room aboard the Luis Henrique hype train (which I’m still riding). The most hyped game was probably Madrid visiting Bilbao because of what the game means to the hosts. Bilbao underwhelmed, but the story was Jude Bellingham getting a lucky (his word) goal and playing a really good game. The photo of him with his arms outstretched in front of a sea of red and white stripes is pretty epic, as is his new nickname “The Boss”. As for Bórdales, he’s back at Getafe and it is horrifyingly effective. There were 26 total minutes added on in there game against Barca and it felt like there should be more tbh. From Sid Lowe, a newspaper editor said he “turned off the telly horrified, feeling like ever more sinister spirits are destroying football. An affront to all of us who like football, this doesn’t work.” I’ll let Zoso share his own thoughts on that game, but it was pretty fuggo. Effective, but not enjoyable.

And in news that perhaps only Bosox and I care about, the new Celta anthem has definitely caught on in Vigo. They lost at home to a tough Osasuna team, but at least their singing sounded great.
Didn't watch the Barca match live (was at the Rays game) but heard it was fugly and Bordelas went full evil tactics. Shame on the refs for not doing enough about it. I did see Raphinha's flying elbow though and that's not gonna help him make the team sheet. Will be interesting to see which of the youngsters gets the start against Cadiz, or if Xavi rolls with a 5-man MF (I kid...or do I?).

Oh, and we HAVE to talk about that Memphis GOLAZO!!

https://streamin.me/v/7fed06c9/o
 

rguilmar

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I think sometimes we exaggerate how much shithousery a Bórdales Getafe team can play with, but this was probably as shithouse as it gets in Spain. It seems like Xavi and FDJ both put the blame on La Liga and the referees for Getafe’s play, basically saying that this is how they’re allowed to play.

The thing is that La Liga’s solution, just to add more extra time, didn’t really solve the problem, which is that teams use tactics to break up the flow of the game. We aren’t just being robbed of the ball in play, we are being robbed of the continuity of play that makes the game great to watch. Stats show that the ball was in play for about 60 minutes which is the amount of time that leagues are targeting, or at least La Liga is. So it wasn’t that Getafe was going full CONCACAF but the impact that it had by destroying any rhythm to the game. I don’t know what the fix is, but it’s not adding more time, or stopping the clock when players are rolling around on the ground or the ball is out of play. It’s also not super common in La Liga as even the most relegation threatened teams will try to play expansive soccer. But it is depressingly effective for a team like Getafe.
 

Zososoxfan

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I think sometimes we exaggerate how much shithousery a Bórdales Getafe team can play with, but this was probably as shithouse as it gets in Spain. It seems like Xavi and FDJ both put the blame on La Liga and the referees for Getafe’s play, basically saying that this is how they’re allowed to play.

The thing is that La Liga’s solution, just to add more extra time, didn’t really solve the problem, which is that teams use tactics to break up the flow of the game. We aren’t just being robbed of the ball in play, we are being robbed of the continuity of play that makes the game great to watch. Stats show that the ball was in play for about 60 minutes which is the amount of time that leagues are targeting, or at least La Liga is. So it wasn’t that Getafe was going full CONCACAF but the impact that it had by destroying any rhythm to the game. I don’t know what the fix is, but it’s not adding more time, or stopping the clock when players are rolling around on the ground or the ball is out of play. It’s also not super common in La Liga as even the most relegation threatened teams will try to play expansive soccer. But it is depressingly effective for a team like Getafe.
The fix is to ref games consistent with the standard that La Liga tries to have. IOW, they ref the game to be less physical than the EPL and the result is the most skilled league in the world.
 

rguilmar

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For me, Real Madrid came into the season as the favorites to win La Liga despite losing Benz. This was in part because I’m not sold on Barcelona and I think the Catalans are due for some 1-0 regression, but back-to-back devastating ACL injuries to Courtois and Militao had me thinking that Atleti might sneak into the picture. Then Koke got hurt, depleting and already weakened midfield and I just don’t know who is gonna win this thing. Madrid have brought Kepa back to Spain, but idk what they do about CB. Alaba, Rudiger, and an aging Nacho will have to do I suppose.

Sevilla gave a decent account of themselves in the UEFA Supercup. The Andalusians went toe to toe with Man City only to lose 5-4 on penalties. They continue to play well in Europe and not so well in Spain. They lost their opener to Valencia at home. Bono is off the Saudi Arabia and En Nesyri is likely to be sold soon too. English teams seem to be interested in both Argentinian fullbacks. I don’t think they’ll be fighting relegation this year, but I struggle to see how they’ll be fighting for that all important 4th spot. Of course, they’ll just win the Europa League again somehow.

As mentioned in the transfer thread, the big news of the week is the return of Santi Carzola to Real Oviedo. He left the club after their double relegation, and if he can somehow be on the team that returns Oviedo to La Liga it would be epically special. Maybe Juan Mata can be brought back too? Anyways, 10% of his league minimum salary and all revenue from his jersey sales are to be donated.

The big game of the weekend is Atletico Madrid playing Betis at the Benito Villamarín. Speaking of that glorious stadium, the club unveiled plans for a massive renovation. In true Betis way, they are looking to grow their global brand in unique ways, mostly through their Forever Green initiative which places them at the forefront of environmental sustainability in the soccer world. The stadium is a clear reminder of that. Plus it’s getting a roof over the stands, and Seville being the hottest city in Europe, this was probably long overdue. It will make one of the loudest stadiums in Spain even louder.

View: https://youtu.be/vGCJvUUzI20
 

sdiaz1

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The fix is to ref games consistent with the standard that La Liga tries to have. IOW, they ref the game to be less physical than the EPL and the result is the most skilled league in the world.
The fix may also be the impossible - try to get some level of financial parity among teams in the Spanish top flight. While I always detest when Atleti play this way, I think it is a little hard to be to critical of a team like Getafe. Jaime Mata is the closest thing they have a to star player and his main claim to fame was being once announced to the Provisional Spanish Squad for Euro Qualifiers and many fans assuming that Juan Mata had somehow came back from his cold, wet grave in Manchester.

*Did a quick google search on Jaime Mata and he apparently made the Spain Squad for two Euro qualifiers - Norway & Malta. He even came on as an 89th minute substitute against Malta! So my apologies for the hyperbole above.*

Now that I am thinking about Getafe, I figured that These ad campaigns should be revisted:
https://www.google.com/search?q="Zombies+Calientes+del+Getafe"&sca_esv=558002575&tbm=vid&sxsrf=AB5stBjCzzWwzJ_BpfYJ_iWiiAevtYKG0w:1692334075458&source=lnms&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjsvqLbs-WAAxWtVzABHd3HAb0Q_AUoAXoECAIQAw&biw=1242&bih=555&dpr=1.1#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:03cf7bc5,vid:KiGUpVg-V7w

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UH14Im6YNk
 
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rguilmar

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The fix may also be the impossible - try to get some level of financial parity among teams in the Spanish top flight. While I always detest when Atleti play this way, I think it is a little hard to be to critical of a team like Getafe. Jaime Mata is the closest thing they have a to star player and his main claim to fame was being once announced to the Provisional Spanish Squad for Euro Qualifiers and many fans assuming that Juan Mata had somehow came back from his cold, wet grave in Manchester.

*Did a quick google search on Jaime Mata and he apparently made the Spain Squad for two Euro qualifiers - Norway & Malta. He even came on as an 89th minute substitute against Malta! So my apologies for the hyperbole above.*

Now that I am thinking about Getafe, I figured that These ad campaigns should be revisted:
https://www.google.com/search?q="Zombies+Calientes+del+Getafe"&sca_esv=558002575&tbm=vid&sxsrf=AB5stBjCzzWwzJ_BpfYJ_iWiiAevtYKG0w:1692334075458&source=lnms&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjsvqLbs-WAAxWtVzABHd3HAb0Q_AUoAXoECAIQAw&biw=1242&bih=555&dpr=1.1#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:03cf7bc5,vid:KiGUpVg-V7w

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UH14Im6YNk
The second you go for financial parity in any of the main European leagues, not just La Liga, is the second the big clubs bolt for whatever the next version of the Super League is. The big clubs already think they give away too much money to the plebs.

Dealing Getafe’s tactics is interesting because the vast majority of clubs don’t really do anything very similar. So does La Liga employ “Getafe rules” where they book players early for time wasting and have referees let players writhe around in “pain” knowing that at times a mistake will be made? I would vote yes. And I do somewhat blame the club because it’s not like they’re broke. They are in the tier below Real Sociedad and Villareal in terms of revenues and salaries. They have nearly double the payroll of Rayo, Osasuna, and Girona all of whom play soccer. Sure, a club like Atleti are rough around the edges but they play soccer and are generally pretty far up the list of goals scored year in, year out. Last year they scored just as many goals as Barcelona and trailed only Real Madrid. I’d argue that post World Cup Atlético played the most attractive attacking soccer in La Liga.

For notable players, they do have Borja Mayoral who is their biggest earner and played for Spain through the youth levels, Enes Unal is a Turkish international (and whose current injury probably made the tactics even more “necessary” last weekend), Uruguayan international Mauro Arambarri, and of course Uruguayan Damian Suarez who is more of a caricature of their style of play than anything else. They have the money of an upper mid table team, they have players. They choose to play this way.
 

rguilmar

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Obligatory heartfelt piece from Sid Lowe, a massive Oviedo fan despite being an Englishman who lives in southern Madrid (close to Getafe fwiw), on the return of Santi Cazorla to his boyhood club. I knew he was severely injured at the end of his Arsenal days, but this shit is wild:

The injury he suffered in Oct. 2016 while at Arsenal should have ended his career: he was operated on 11 times and infection ate 10 centimetres of tendon. They tried everything. They built an Achilles out of a hamstring. The tattoo of his daughter's name -- half of it now on his arm and half on his ankle, cut out and placed there to patch him up -- serves as symbol of it all. In his own words every time they stitched him up the wound came open again, a huge hole in his heel acting like a window into the horror beneath. He was told he would be fortunate to kick a ball around the garden with his son. He went 668 days without playing.

And I know Spain isn’t unique in terms local loyalty, but with Iago Aspas saving Celta year after year (and Gabri Veiga clearly upset at leaving, not to mention C Tangana returning to create the new anthem), Lucas Perez paying his own way back to Depor, Santi going back to Oviedo and giving to the cause, Bellerin returning to his father’s club in tears of joy, the Osasuna/Sociedad/Bilbao crowd refusing to leave, the young kids born and raised in Valencia leading the charge and so on, the good vibes can be heard around the country. Every time I tune in, some kid from Cadiz to Alaves is scoring his first goal for the club he grew up in, and it’s special.
 

rguilmar

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Early contender for game of the season just wrapped up. Alavés 4 Sevilla 3. A handful of spectacular goals too.
 

rguilmar

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Random news from around La Liga:
  • There are three teams who have one both of their games: Real Madrid, Rayo Vallecano, and Valencia. One of them is shocking, and it’s the team not from Madrid.
  • Bellingham is settling in just fine- three goals and one assist. His goal celebration got him a stern talking to by a couple of Bilbao players and was copied by Vini after his goal last weekend.
  • Barca have struggled mightily to score and even create chances. They have been able to loan out Dest freeing up some salary space, and the club has said Abde is going nowhere. Lamine getting minutes is inspiring, and the first goal against Cadiz was really nice. Attendance at Montjuic however was… not nice as the temporary home had many empty seats.
  • The Luis Henrique hype train I’ve been riding has gone off the tracks as the player has been accused of betting (on yellow cards, I believe). Another player I adore, Chimy Avila at Osasuna, looks to be shooting his way out of town after a shocking tackle. The characteristics that make him a joy to watch also make him a liability
  • Rayo Vallecano put their season tickets up for sale today. They still have no online sales so the neighborhood lined up and waited for tickets. And waited. And waited. In excess of 12 hours, they waited. I personally would love to go to a game there, but it’s stories like this that have me leaning towards the Bernabéu or the Metropolitano.
  • Sevilla continue to look pretty tame. They’re one of three teams, all from Andalucía, without a point. Granada and Almería are the other two, but Almería looks like a potent team. Ramazani is becoming a nice player, and Robertone and Luis Suarez (not that one) are ballers.
  • Getafe played two Catalan teams. They shut one of them out and the other, Girona, blasted in three goals.
  • Highlights of the aforementioned Alavés-Sevilla seven goal thriller. It was non stop action. I would label six of the goals as “very nice” to “holy shit”.

    View: https://youtu.be/BludGfBf8bQ?si=7zMrFAQoLGzMBscK




 

trs

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  • Rayo Vallecano put their season tickets up for sale today. They still have no online sales so the neighborhood lined up and waited for tickets. And waited. And waited. In excess of 12 hours, they waited. I personally would love to go to a game there, but it’s stories like this that have me leaning towards the Bernabéu or the Metropolitano.
The Rayo owner's unwillingness to make the ticket-buying process more streamlined is one of many reasons why he is largely despised by the team's own fanbase. The stories this year of season-ticket holders needing to wait hours in line (during a heat wave) for renew their tickets or try to change seats were a little shocking. One fun part of their "process" was that if you were an adult season ticket holder and wanted to change your seat, there was a window of dates to do that. However, if you were an adolescent or child season ticket holder, there was another window of dates. When it was pointed out that this doesn't make a lot of sense, given that children can't come to the games alone and probably want to be seated next to their parent(s), there was no official response.

The stadium itself is an embarrassment. Yes, it's wonderfully located right on the main drag in Vallecas and the seats themselves offer amazing views of the pitch, but the "concourse" is a concrete obstacle course and the bathrooms resemble waste dumps. A few years ago after a recent promotion, Rayo was again told to update their stadium and it was found that some of the upper levels were not safe anymore. To "test" the safety of one section, this was done: View: https://youtu.be/FRMOTi80bGw?si=lx1S2bLbEJnhiX2i
.

That is where the away fans sit in the stadium.

Anyway the "small-town" feel of needing to get your tickets at the box office in the days leading up to the match itself kind of worked when Rayo was in the Second Division and playing against Burgos or something. Monday they play Atletico at 21.30. They announced ticket sales yesterday. You can buy them at the stadium today, tomorrow, and the day of the match. It does keep it such that it's harder for non-locals to get tickets, but needing to dedicate hours of your life while you wait for two counters to get through a long line with the very real chance that by the time you arrive at the counter there are no tickets left have made it such that I am sitting in my apartment typing on a message board this morning and not getting tickets to what should be a pretty good game.

That being said, it's a wonderful atmosphere to see a game. I try to get there a few times a season, but mostly against lesser-cared about teams so that I can just get a ticket a few hours before the game. Also there's this great shellfish restaurant nearby. And one of the best pubs in Spain. So make it a day.
 

rguilmar

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The Rayo owner's unwillingness to make the ticket-buying process more streamlined is one of many reasons why he is largely despised by the team's own fanbase. The stories this year of season-ticket holders needing to wait hours in line (during a heat wave) for renew their tickets or try to change seats were a little shocking. One fun part of their "process" was that if you were an adult season ticket holder and wanted to change your seat, there was a window of dates to do that. However, if you were an adolescent or child season ticket holder, there was another window of dates. When it was pointed out that this doesn't make a lot of sense, given that children can't come to the games alone and probably want to be seated next to their parent(s), there was no official response.

The stadium itself is an embarrassment. Yes, it's wonderfully located right on the main drag in Vallecas and the seats themselves offer amazing views of the pitch, but the "concourse" is a concrete obstacle course and the bathrooms resemble waste dumps. A few years ago after a recent promotion, Rayo was again told to update their stadium and it was found that some of the upper levels were not safe anymore. To "test" the safety of one section, this was done: View: https://youtu.be/FRMOTi80bGw?si=lx1S2bLbEJnhiX2i
.

That is where the away fans sit in the stadium.

Anyway the "small-town" feel of needing to get your tickets at the box office in the days leading up to the match itself kind of worked when Rayo was in the Second Division and playing against Burgos or something. Monday they play Atletico at 21.30. They announced ticket sales yesterday. You can buy them at the stadium today, tomorrow, and the day of the match. It does keep it such that it's harder for non-locals to get tickets, but needing to dedicate hours of your life while you wait for two counters to get through a long line with the very real chance that by the time you arrive at the counter there are no tickets left have made it such that I am sitting in my apartment typing on a message board this morning and not getting tickets to what should be a pretty good game.

That being said, it's a wonderful atmosphere to see a game. I try to get there a few times a season, but mostly against lesser-cared about teams so that I can just get a ticket a few hours before the game. Also there's this great shellfish restaurant nearby. And one of the best pubs in Spain. So make it a day.
Thanks for this insight!

Just to add to the absurdity of it all, La Liga handed out massive amounts of cash to all clubs that was earmarked for capital improvements. Off the top of my head, the only clubs in La Liga both of the last two seasons without a renovated or new stadium (or one in the plans) are Rayo and Valencia, teams with the least popular owners. Mallorca are an exception given the municipal ownership of the stadium, which goes to the club in Palma with the highest finish (Mallorca were nearly passed a few years ago) and the club is exploring building their own stadium. I think maybe the same might be true for Vallecas but I could be wrong, and Rayo don’t appear to be looking for an upgrade or replacement, so at the very least they can hire more staff or build out their website so what happened this week isn’t repeated.

I really would like to get to Vallecas, but given the following, it’s incredibly hard for me to get there. I’d basically have to use Madrid, Atleti, Getafe, Leganés etc as backups.
  1. The way I travel- basically land in Barcelona or Madrid and speed around the country trying to get to as many games as I can
  2. The lack of certainty around game times- matchups are set in advance but day and time only about 4 weeks beforehand. Hell, I’m going in late January and game dates are way up in the air between the 21st, 24th, and 28th because of other competitions
  3. Tickets going on sale the Monday before the game
  4. Rayo’s lack of online sales.
 

sdiaz1

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Vini Jr coming off with a muscular injury has to be a big worry for Carlo.

Joan LaPorta needs to stripped of all his Vodoo dolls immediately. The Real squad is having the worst possible start of the season despite their 9 points.
 

trs

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Thanks for this insight!

Just to add to the absurdity of it all, La Liga handed out massive amounts of cash to all clubs that was earmarked for capital improvements. Off the top of my head, the only clubs in La Liga both of the last two seasons without a renovated or new stadium (or one in the plans) are Rayo and Valencia, teams with the least popular owners. Mallorca are an exception given the municipal ownership of the stadium, which goes to the club in Palma with the highest finish (Mallorca were nearly passed a few years ago) and the club is exploring building their own stadium. I think maybe the same might be true for Vallecas but I could be wrong, and Rayo don’t appear to be looking for an upgrade or replacement, so at the very least they can hire more staff or build out their website so what happened this week isn’t repeated.

I really would like to get to Vallecas, but given the following, it’s incredibly hard for me to get there. I’d basically have to use Madrid, Atleti, Getafe, Leganés etc as backups.
  1. The way I travel- basically land in Barcelona or Madrid and speed around the country trying to get to as many games as I can
  2. The lack of certainty around game times- matchups are set in advance but day and time only about 4 weeks beforehand. Hell, I’m going in late January and game dates are way up in the air between the 21st, 24th, and 28th because of other competitions
  3. Tickets going on sale the Monday before the game
  4. Rayo’s lack of online sales.
Yeah, no idea where that money goes to. Interestingly, Rayo does spend decently on players (though apparently forget to pay their women's club a bit too frequently...), but it does seem that Presa wants to avoid any long-term investments. What a cabron.

Why La Liga refuses to set fixture times more than a few weeks out is mind-bogglingly annoying. It makes for trips to see teams basically impossible, as there's a decent chance the game will be scheduled on a Sunday night or even a Monday, making a weekend excursion to see a favorite team basically impossible to plan. How difficult would it be to set the times in advance? Yeah, it might be that a game needs to be changed because of Europe or some other large event, but hell these last-minute fixture sets get changed too!

Rayo will be at home in Round 21, and against Las Palmas. Unless some really weird shit happens in the first leg of the season, that ticket should be easy to get right up until kick-off. If you happen to be in Madrid whenever that game is played (and almost undoubtedly it will be a Friday night or Monday night game given the teams), just walk up to the stadium and buy your seat right before it starts.
 

rguilmar

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Jul 16, 2005
2,240
Yeah, no idea where that money goes to. Interestingly, Rayo does spend decently on players (though apparently forget to pay their women's club a bit too frequently...), but it does seem that Presa wants to avoid any long-term investments. What a cabron.

Why La Liga refuses to set fixture times more than a few weeks out is mind-bogglingly annoying. It makes for trips to see teams basically impossible, as there's a decent chance the game will be scheduled on a Sunday night or even a Monday, making a weekend excursion to see a favorite team basically impossible to plan. How difficult would it be to set the times in advance? Yeah, it might be that a game needs to be changed because of Europe or some other large event, but hell these last-minute fixture sets get changed too!

Rayo will be at home in Round 21, and against Las Palmas. Unless some really weird shit happens in the first leg of the season, that ticket should be easy to get right up until kick-off. If you happen to be in Madrid whenever that game is played (and almost undoubtedly it will be a Friday night or Monday night game given the teams), just walk up to the stadium and buy your seat right before it starts.
Great to know as I haven’t been to Rayo before! I’d appreciate any other advice.

The planning of these kind of trips is absurd. For MD 21 I definitely want to see Betis at home as this will be their last season at the Benito Villamarín for a while, so that game’s day and time will determine where else I go. If it’s Friday or Monday, I’ll see if I can get two others in that are pretty close to one another, probably the Osasuna and Alaves home games or the Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano home games (again depending on those start times and days). I’ve been to Mestalla several times so I’m less interested in the Valencia/Villarreal combo. If Betis play on Sat or Sun, I’ll probably try to get out to Granada instead of those games I mentioned before. Or if the scheduling gods are in my favor, I could for example do Granada on Friday, Betis on Saturday, Real Madrid on Sunday, and Rayo on Monday. But I won’t know until like three weeks beforehand, so getting hotels etc lined up is tricky. I go alone and don’t mind the hectic planning, but it makes going to even one game with a family tricky.

Then you throw in the fact that the MD 20, 21, or 22 fixtures might be moved to January 24 and 25th instead of their original dates and your head just explodes.
 

Zososoxfan

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Jul 30, 2009
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Barca-Villarreal yesterday was one for the books. Barca won 4-3 at La Ceramica, but Villarreal had the upper hand for most of the day after going down 2-0. Yes, you read that correctly. Villarreal is littered with former Barca players/academy products like Denis Suarez (I was a total stan for him when he was at Barca), Jorge Cuenca, etc. I also still have an irrational affinity for Juan Foyth--him being Argentine and former Spurs and all.

Barca was down 3 starting defenders with Araujo and Balde not fit to start and Christensen coming off at half. Roberto and Alonso were as vulnerable as you'd imagine, and while Erik Garcia is an OK player, he's not good enough to carry an out-of-form Kounde and vice versa. Gavi stepped up for Pedri in the latter's absence and scored a goal. FDJ and Gundogan were the other players in the middle and they did fine. Lamine Yamal (the namesake of the Barca thread) stole the show and was probably the best player on the pitch for either club. He was taking a ton of defenders on with good success and threatening the goal repeatedly. His quick turn and shot rattled the crossbar/post corner for an easy tap in for Lewa to finish. The other big story was Ferran coming on once again and looking very sharp. There's a real possibility that the starting front 3 for the next match is Ferran-Lewa-Yamal.
 

rguilmar

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
2,240
Barca-Villarreal yesterday was one for the books. Barca won 4-3 at La Ceramica, but Villarreal had the upper hand for most of the day after going down 2-0. Yes, you read that correctly. Villarreal is littered with former Barca players/academy products like Denis Suarez (I was a total stan for him when he was at Barca), Jorge Cuenca, etc. I also still have an irrational affinity for Juan Foyth--him being Argentine and former Spurs and all.

Barca was down 3 starting defenders with Araujo and Balde not fit to start and Christensen coming off at half. Roberto and Alonso were as vulnerable as you'd imagine, and while Erik Garcia is an OK player, he's not good enough to carry an out-of-form Kounde and vice versa. Gavi stepped up for Pedri in the latter's absence and scored a goal. FDJ and Gundogan were the other players in the middle and they did fine. Lamine Yamal (the namesake of the Barca thread) stole the show and was probably the best player on the pitch for either club. He was taking a ton of defenders on with good success and threatening the goal repeatedly. His quick turn and shot rattled the crossbar/post corner for an easy tap in for Lewa to finish. The other big story was Ferran coming on once again and looking very sharp. There's a real possibility that the starting front 3 for the next match is Ferran-Lewa-Yamal.
This game was the gem of a great weekend of soccer in Spain. Bilbao came back from 2-0 down to beat Betis 4-2 and Isco scored for the visitors. Osasuna scored in the 95th minute to win 2-1 at Valencia. Granada with a fantastic 3-2 win over Mallorca. Almería got a 95th minute equalizer. Even the dud games were entertaining. Vigo went after Madrid and had chances only to lose 1-0 to a late Bellingham goal, and Bellingham became the first player to score in his first three games for Real Madrid since some Ronaldo kid. Las Palmas tied Real Sociedad 0-0 but the Canary Island team really went for it, which isn’t surprising given the Barcelona influence there too (Sandro, Munir, Araujo) and Jonathon Viera is still a heck of a player. Overall it was a great advertising weekend for La Liga on the pitch.
 

Zososoxfan

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Jul 30, 2009
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South of North
This game was the gem of a great weekend of soccer in Spain. Bilbao came back from 2-0 down to beat Betis 4-2 and Isco scored for the visitors. Osasuna scored in the 95th minute to win 2-1 at Valencia. Granada with a fantastic 3-2 win over Mallorca. Almería got a 95th minute equalizer. Even the dud games were entertaining. Vigo went after Madrid and had chances only to lose 1-0 to a late Bellingham goal, and Bellingham became the first player to score in his first three games for Real Madrid since some Ronaldo kid. Las Palmas tied Real Sociedad 0-0 but the Canary Island team really went for it, which isn’t surprising given the Barcelona influence there too (Sandro, Munir, Araujo) and Jonathon Viera is still a heck of a player. Overall it was a great advertising weekend for La Liga on the pitch.
I see what you did there!