Return of the Galácticos? Spanish Fútbol 23-24

sdiaz1

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7 minutes in on the Alaves v Valencia match and I'm not exactly sure what I am watching

2 missed penalties
1 own goal
 
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rguilmar

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Barca with another not-so-convincing win at Osasuna. I thought the result was unfair to the hosts. Osasuna had a legit penalty shout only to have a very iffy pen given to Barcelona. The ref did go to VAR, and everyone including the announcers thought he would reverse the call. Instead he doubled down and gave a red card to the Osasuna defender. But we did get a Chimy Avila banger. He’s still one of a kind. There was also a brief moment where Avila and Gavi, two of the grittiest players in the game, were 1v1 but nothing wild happened.

7 minutes in on the Alaves v Valencia match and I'm not exactly sure what I am watching

2 missed penalties
1 own goal
Sounds like a game between two teams that most predicted would be in the relegation fight.
 

Zososoxfan

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Barca with another not-so-convincing win at Osasuna. I thought the result was unfair to the hosts. Osasuna had a legit penalty shout only to have a very iffy pen given to Barcelona. The ref did go to VAR, and everyone including the announcers thought he would reverse the call. Instead he doubled down and gave a red card to the Osasuna defender. But we did get a Chimy Avila banger. He’s still one of a kind. There was also a brief moment where Avila and Gavi, two of the grittiest players in the game, were 1v1 but nothing wild happened.



Sounds like a game between two teams that most predicted would be in the relegation fight.
I really didn't understand what happened on the pen review and subsequent roja directa. The ESPN English announcers didn't either. Hopefully getting Cancelo at RB helps settle the D, especially in Araujo's absence. One of brightest performances came from Kounde, who got to play RCB next to Christensen. Although I also saw Inigo Martinez get his first minutes over the weekend. Gavi is an animal and had his ear stapled together on the field. He's got Puyol's heart and fire in half the size! Love that MADLAD. The team really misses Pedri (any team would TBF). Lewa looks like he's lacking confidence so hopefully the pen gets him on course. FDJ also had a terrific game and I refuse to believe he won't shine in Catalunya before it's all over.
 

rguilmar

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Speaking of ESPN La Liga announcers, one of the announcers doing the Betis game was both effusive in his praise of the additions made to the club and emphatic in his belief that they had no chance at 4th place. Isco has looked great and they’ve been able to hold on to important pieces. Fekir is on his way back, Abde is in town, Luis Henrique will be back soon enough. They go two deep at every position on the field. Villarreal are a great team but always seem on the verge of sacking Setien. Sociedad traditionally fade as the season goes on and got off to an ok-but-not great start. Sevilla remain pointless, though their game this weekend was postponed. In other words, Real Betis have a chance at top four.

Barca have a really nice lineup now, and obviously Madrid have maximum points along with the hottest commodity in Spain in Jude, but I’m taking Atleti to win La Liga. I just like the team they’ve built.

Edit: apparently Setien was sacked earlier today!
 
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bosox4283

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Speaking of ESPN La Liga announcers, one of the announcers doing the Betis game was both effusive in his praise of the additions made to the club and emphatic in his belief that they had no chance at 4th place. Isco has looked great and they’ve been able to hold on to important pieces. Fekir is on his way back, Abde is in town, Luis Henrique will be back soon enough. They go two deep at every position on the field. Villarreal are a great team but always seem on the verge of sacking Setien. Sociedad traditionally fade as the season goes on and got off to an ok-but-not great start. Sevilla remain pointless, though their game this weekend was postponed. In other words, Real Betis have a chance at top four.

Barca have a really nice lineup now, and obviously Madrid have maximum points along with the hottest commodity in Spain in Jude, but I’m taking Atleti to win La Liga. I just like the team they’ve built.

Edit: apparently Setien was sacked earlier today!
Thanks for the vote of confidence . . . I think.
 

Zososoxfan

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Speaking of ESPN La Liga announcers, one of the announcers doing the Betis game was both effusive in his praise of the additions made to the club and emphatic in his belief that they had no chance at 4th place. Isco has looked great and they’ve been able to hold on to important pieces. Fekir is on his way back, Abde is in town, Luis Henrique will be back soon enough. They go two deep at every position on the field. Villarreal are a great team but always seem on the verge of sacking Setien. Sociedad traditionally fade as the season goes on and got off to an ok-but-not great start. Sevilla remain pointless, though their game this weekend was postponed. In other words, Real Betis have a chance at top four.

Barca have a really nice lineup now, and obviously Madrid have maximum points along with the hottest commodity in Spain in Jude, but I’m taking Atleti to win La Liga. I just like the team they’ve built.

Edit: apparently Setien was sacked earlier today!
Back to the cow pastures!
 

sdiaz1

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1 Question and 1 Observation regarding Real Oviedo:

Question - As best as I can tell, Santi Cazorla.has yet to appear on the squad sheet for Oviedo. Is there any reason for this?

Observation - I was super excited that ESPN+ has started to show Liga 2 matches but am dumbfounded and dispaointed that they neither streamed live or on on demand El Derbi Asturiano between Gijon and Oviedo.

Regardless it has not been a great start of the season for Los Azules as they only have 2 points from their first 5 matches.
 

rguilmar

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1 Question and 1 Observation regarding Real Oviedo:

Question - As best as I can tell, Santi Cazorla.has yet to appear on the squad sheet for Oviedo. Is there any reason for this?

Observation - I was super excited that ESPN+ has started to show Liga 2 matches but am dumbfounded and dispaointed that they neither streamed live or on on demand El Derbi Asturiano between Gijon and Oviedo.

Regardless it has not been a great start of the season for Los Azules as they only have 2 points from their first 5 matches.
I haven’t heard yet from Sid Lowe on the Spanish Football Podcast regarding Carzola. Im a couple of episodes behind but he usually gives an update on his beloved Oviedo who are still winless but thankfully climbed out of the Segunda basement. They have a new league sponsor but it’s officially something like La Liga Hypermotion now.

ESPN+ used to carry most of the second division’s games, regardless of name. They have really cut back this season, and missing a big derby like the one in Asturias is a huge mistake. Though it does give me the chance to share one of my favorite Derby Days episodes.

View: https://youtu.be/dt3NPQo4c7M?si=x8hd2fHBW7c9_qhL
 

rguilmar

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La Liga released the wage bills for each club and Barca have a severally reduced budget this season down below €300 million, actually third on the list below Atleti. Last season it was more than double that number. Meanwhile Madrid have a budget over €700 million.
 

sdiaz1

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Well the Osasuna supporters were certainly not shy about expressing their thoughts about Getafe's newest singing.

I will admit that I am not to aware about the circumstances surrounding the charges against Greenwood being dropped but the evidence presented publicly made a convincing case that he is a POS. With that said, he probably does not deserve several hundred people chanting for his death.

It will be interesting to see what the league does. The match was in Getafe so I am not sure what responsibility can be laid against the club.
 

rguilmar

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There are a lot of dynamics at play. The only similar instance I can think of was a Real Betis-Sevilla game. I can’t remember what the punishment was for Betis when their fans chanted “Die Ramos” at Juan de Ramos, but that was a home game and Ramos had just been knocked out by a projectile thrown from the stands (and I think they blocked the ambulance too) so it’s not totally apples to apples.

La Liga didn’t punish Atleti for their verbal abuse against Vini last season but punished Valencia for essentially the same thing after the player fought back against the abuse. There was widespread criticism of the Valencia ultras- well deserved- which I imagine is why they were punished and Atleti were not. Basically, La Liga and the Spanish Federation will only act when there is a lot of criticism. I don’t see too many people expressing outrage in defense of Greenwood outside of southern Madrid, so my best guess is La Liga shrugs and says “Hey that Jude guy looks good, and aren’t we excited by Lamine??”

On the pitch, what Zoso’s Barca did to my Betis was just cruel. It wasn’t just the “manito”, it was the way they did it. Like the back-to-back-to-back nutmegs? My lord. I haven’t watched the Sociedad-Madrid game yet but am hopeful my second team can take something out of Madrid.
 

bosox4283

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Atletico got thumped on Saturday morning, losing 3-0 to Valencia who actually looks like they could be decent this year.

Atletico tends to struggle over the international break with players like De Paul, Molina, and Correa having to fly long distances (and De Paul came back injured) and players like Griezmann getting a lot of extra playing time instead of rest (Griezmann was at his best last year when he could rest between matches).

Per usual with Atletico, the bad luck with injuries has returned -- this time, Thomas Lemar has ruptured his Achilles so he's out for probably the season.

I think the team may have to move back to a 4-4-2 or some variant, though I suspect Simeone won't want to change. With Carrasco's departure, that's a major loss at LB. Then, Hermoso tends to be prone to make a costly mistake every few games; Savic is aging and Witsel has aged; Gimenez is often injured; Azpilicueta is solid but no longer young; and the Turkish guy is injured and has yet to make a consistent impact.

So, with four defenders, Simeone can move Riquelme and Lino to the midfield, use Galan or Reinildo (when he's back from a torn ACL) as a LB, reduce the number of hold-your-breath CBs that he has to play each match, and put players like Llorente and Correa into better positions for them.

I'm still optimistic about this team, but I do worry a bit about the lack of quality depth with the departure of Joao Felix (who I wanted gone, but still), Carrasco, and Lemar.
 

Zososoxfan

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There are a lot of dynamics at play. The only similar instance I can think of was a Real Betis-Sevilla game. I can’t remember what the punishment was for Betis when their fans chanted “Die Ramos” at Juan de Ramos, but that was a home game and Ramos had just been knocked out by a projectile thrown from the stands (and I think they blocked the ambulance too) so it’s not totally apples to apples.

La Liga didn’t punish Atleti for their verbal abuse against Vini last season but punished Valencia for essentially the same thing after the player fought back against the abuse. There was widespread criticism of the Valencia ultras- well deserved- which I imagine is why they were punished and Atleti were not. Basically, La Liga and the Spanish Federation will only act when there is a lot of criticism. I don’t see too many people expressing outrage in defense of Greenwood outside of southern Madrid, so my best guess is La Liga shrugs and says “Hey that Jude guy looks good, and aren’t we excited by Lamine??”

On the pitch, what Zoso’s Barca did to my Betis was just cruel. It wasn’t just the “manito”, it was the way they did it. Like the back-to-back-to-back nutmegs? My lord. I haven’t watched the Sociedad-Madrid game yet but am hopeful my second team can take something out of Madrid.
Barca did look like a different team with the addition of the Joaos. Cancelo is the answer to the Dani Alves question that hasn't been answered for years. He's equally adept at setting up on the touchline, but usually setup further inside to allow Ferran space to receive without pressure on the wing. He's incredible on the ball and will help Barca's shape immensely. His goal at the end of the match was easily predictable 5-10 seconds before the hit, and the confidence with which he took that poor defender on was palpable.

Felix also seems to provide something that was missing to this team, and that's someone to play between the lines, especially while Pedri's out. Felix is very direct and can be the key player to transition from possession to direct attack. He was a good option for FDJ, Romeu, Lewa, Gavi, Ferran, and the FBs. His goal was exceptional, and that little touch to beat the keeper was incredible, and the half volley finish wasn't easy either. He also seems to have good chemistry brewing with Lewa already, as his dummy allowed the Pole to score his goal.

Ferran had a very good game, and it's pretty wild to see how confident he is compared to last year. He reminds me of Fernando Torres, in that you always knew he had the skills and attributes, but he was touch and go on consistency. We'll see how long he can keep these levels up. The FK goal was quite cheeky.

I don't have much to say about Gavi, Balde, FDJ, or Christensen, they were all very good and played up to their standards. MATS made 2-3 incredible saves and he's playing with a lot of confidence.

Kounde really looks out of sorts. He overjumped a bouncing ball that looked straightforward, and had a couple of mental lapses in the second half. His best role on this team is CB3. Araujo and Christensen are the clearcut starters, and Kounde should still see a fair amount of PT as backup CB and RB. Martinez getting some run is also good, although I suspect that's more about resting him for UCL.

I also felt that this game was a microcosm of the Raphinha experience. He's lightning quick, a tricky dribbler, and his best asset is his quick powerful shot. He smartly shoots every chance he gets, but he also makes frustrating decisions and his teammates also seem to get annoyed with him for the same reason.
 

bosox4283

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For those of us following Real Oviedo, the club fired the manager, Alvaro Cervera. The results have been really poor, and from what I read, the play looks rather dull, predictable, and way too offensively minded. AS is reporting that Oviedo is bringing in Luis Carrion who was previously at Cartegena. His past record looks poor, so hopefully he's learned from his past experiences and improves upon his previous tenures.
 

rguilmar

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To be fair, from the times I’ve watched Oviedo over the past few years, they’ve been pretty dull and predictable for a while now. Last season their results read like binary code. Just a bunch of 1-0 and 0-0 games. This year isn’t much different. 6 games played, two goals scored and five goals conceded. It’s early but they’re in the drop zone and they absolutely cannot get relegated. The third tier in Spain is soccer purgatory. I was hoping for Santi Carzola player-manager though.

The team I’m nervous for long term is Espanyol. Relegated teams get parachute payments like in other leagues, but even with these payments and losing major players like Joselu, Darder, Cesar Montes and of course Luca Koleosho, the club has a mid-tier Segunda allotted payroll. They have a reported profit of around €30 million after player sales but only have a €10 million allotment for payroll, which means that they would be bleeding money if they hadn’t sold off their best players. If they can’t get promoted this season they’ll be in real financial trouble and will again have to sell off their best players at a discount. This is how a big club ends up in purgatory.
 

rguilmar

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Another wild weekend in the books. The La Liga team that has played the most exciting soccer over the last two seasons, and just happens to be from my beloved Catalunya, finally leapfrogged Real Madrid. Unfortunately for Girona though, their noisy neighbors to the south have a better goal differential and lead La Liga.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid wrapped up the most Atleti of weeks by stomping Real Madrid in The Derbi a week after putting in possibly their worst performance in over a decade against Valencia (predictably right after I picked them to win La Liga) and just days after allowing a last minute equalizer to Lazio’s keeper. A lot has been said and written about Madrid’s tactics in this one, but full credit to Simeone’s men.

Cadiz-Betis ended 1-1 thanks to two outstanding saves by Conan, one denying Isco a goal after a wonderful passing move that ended with his heal flick being saved by the Barbarian. Real Sociedad and Getafe played a really fun game, and I mean that seriously, with La Real winning 4-3. At some point, we need to recognize just how good Take Kubo and Brais Mendez are. Mendez contributed to all four goals with a goal of his own, an assist, a hockey assist, and he won a penalty. Real Sociedad’s Academy just keeps pumping out talents too. Ander Barrenetxea is a handful at winger and Beñat Turrientes put in a shift this weekend too. I saw some marketing piece for the club that said that in the past decade over 40 Academy players have gotten a debut for the San Sebastián club. I don’t know how true it is, but they do produce a ton of talent. Still waiting for that JoGo debut though. If Oyarzabal and Sadiq can return to form after their knee injuries, the kids keep developing, and they get Andre Silva back from injury, they might be able to compete in all three competitions.
 

rguilmar

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Match Day 7 isn’t totally in the books yet, but when it is, thing will be certain: Girona are top of the league. No, they likely won’t stay there for very long, but it’s deserved. They are tied with Barcelona for most goals scored and in goal differential. A comeback win at El Madrigal, or La Cerámica, in Villarreal isn’t easy. Barcelona castaway Eric Garcia got the winner. On Saturday they host some minnows from Real Madrid.

Edited to add another great piece by Sid Lowe on the topic. Some stats for Saturday’s battle between first and second:
The game will be played at Girona’s small Montilivi stadium with a capacity under 15,000 people.
Girona are the 41st team in La Liga’s history to lead the league at the end of a match day. The last “new” leader was Villarreal in 2015 (shocking to me that the great Riquelme teams never got to first)
Real Madrid’s salary limit is 14 times that of Girona (€728 million to €52 million).
Amazing direct quote from the article: In their games last season there were four 2-2s, three 3-2s, a 4-2, a 5-3 and a 6-2; this season, it’s not just that no team in Europe has more points, it’s that no team has more goals either.
 
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rguilmar

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Because in La Liga there is as much going on off the field as on it:

Prosecutors have charged Barcelona with bribery stemming from the Negreira case. The club maintain that they paid the vice president of officials for consultation work. That may very well be true, but the sheer amount of money paid to Negreira’s companies and the secrecy with which it was done definitely raises some eyebrows.

Athletic Club Bilbao are facing sanctions by La Liga after their fans were chanting “die” to Mason Greenwood. This is the second time the chants were heard following Osasuna away fans doing so earlier. The league probably needs to do something about this sooner rather than later before it spirals out of control. Obviously I’m not condoning what Greenwood is accused doing but these types of things build and build in Spain. Given how poorly the league handled the Vinicius chants, I fully expect them to screw up what is a much more delicate issue in “protecting” an accused sexual assaulter in this political climate from over-the-top chants.

Staying with that game, there was a bit of a spat between Iñaki Williams and Getafe boss Jose Bórdalas. There was an on-field confrontation between the two which resulted in Bórdalas being shown a red card. After the game, Williams more or unless unloaded the frustration we all feel watching Getafe play; that they deliberately make the game choppy and slow it down, that the entire league is on to Bórdalas Ball, that it’s legal according to the rules, and that nobody likes it. Bórdalas responded with outrage, which is kind of outrageous because what Williams said is more or less true. I’d rather Bórdalas and Getafe just embrace the bad guy role. Nobody likes watching them play as it is, but I’d tune in to watch them play if they just said “we do whatever we can to get the most amount of points”.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Athletic Club Bilbao are facing sanctions by La Liga after their fans were chanting “die” to Mason Greenwood. This is the second time the chants were heard following Osasuna away fans doing so earlier. The league probably needs to do something about this sooner rather than later before it spirals out of control. Obviously I’m not condoning what Greenwood is accused doing but these types of things build and build in Spain. Given how poorly the league handled the Vinicius chants, I fully expect them to screw up what is a much more delicate issue in “protecting” an accused sexual assaulter in this political climate from over-the-top chants.
The real Scylla and Charybdis part for La Liga on this is when those two things get combined and some crowd decides that they need to racially abuse the domestic abuser.
 

rguilmar

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The real Scylla and Charybdis part for La Liga on this is when those two things get combined and some crowd decides that they need to racially abuse the domestic abuser.
Don’t give them any ideas. Most teams have at least some far right ultras…

The Spanish Football Podcast guys seemed to think the chants would be from supporters of Osasuna, Athletic Club Bilbao, Rayo Vallecano, Cadiz and maybe a few others. Rayo and Cádiz supporters are generally extreme far left politically. Osasuna and Bilbao are both more or less Basque nationalists though I’m not 100% sure why that fact would lead them to be more likely to verbally abuse a player accused of sexual assault. Maybe a rejection of Spanish machoism? Anyone who knows Basque politics would know more than me. I love traveling there, but they’re just a different people entirely.
 

sdiaz1

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Watching the reply (did not get to watch the actual match) it looks like the keeper really should have gotten that. It was a pretty tame deflection.
 

rguilmar

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A couple of massive games today-
Top of the table clash of Girona (!!!) hosting Real Madrid. These are the games where the traditional power crushes the tiny upstart, but Girona did win this fixture 4-2 last season…
The Basque Derby is probably a top 3 Derby in Spain (Betis- Sevilla and Atleti-Real Madrid, sorry to El Clásico). Sociedad hosting Bilbao is almost always a fun game. If you like winger play, this is the game for you.

Tomorrow Real Betis hosting Valencia is a sneaky interesting game. 9 pm kickoff in Seville is always fun and Betis always put on a party at night, as in a pregame concert. I know Valencia ultras make rooting for the club difficult, but they were pegged to be in the relegation fight yet are playing really good soccer while being led by the kids from their fabrica.
 

sdiaz1

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The real Scylla and Charybdis part for La Liga on this is when those two things get combined and some crowd decides that they need to racially abuse the domestic abuser.
Hopefully they would be wearing a Dani Alves jersey as they do it.
 

sdiaz1

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In the leadup to the Sevilla v Barcelona match, the Sevilla Board of Directors chose not to attend they typical pre-match luncheon and announced that they were not going to watch the match in the directors box with their Barcelona counterparts. This was of course in protest of the Negreira scandal and possibly a convenient way to distract from their disappointing start of the season.

Futbol Club Barcelona then did what they truly do best and released a press statement claiming to be the victim's of a unfair smear campaign. However what stuck out to me was the language that seemed to be not so subtle dog whistles to provencial grievances; referring to Sevilla's actions as an attack on a Catalan institution and making a point to remind everyone that Sevilla is in Andalucia (No shit sherlock).

Obviously, there are a ton of Andaluces and descendant of who live in Catalonia. For those of you more in the know -Is that still a major tension point in Catalan society? Possibly stirred up by the 2017 Referendum and seccesion push?
 
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rguilmar

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In the leadup to the Sevilla v Barcelona match, the Sevilla Board of Directors chose not to attend they typical pre-match luncheon and announced that they were not going to watch the match in the directors box with their Barcelona counterparts. This was of course in protest of the Negreira scandal and possibly a convenient way to distract from their disappointing start of the season.

Futbol Club Barcelona then did what they truly do best and released a press statement claiming to be the victim's of a unfair smear campaign. However what stuck out to me was the language that seemed to be not so subtle dog whistles to provencial grievances; referring to Sevilla's actions as an attack on a Catalan institution and making a point to remind everyone that Sevilla is in Andalucia (No shit sherlock).

Obviously, there are a ton of Andaluces and descendant of who live in Catalonia. For those of you more in the know -Is that still a major tension point in Catalan society? Possibly stirred up by the 2017 Referendum and seccesion push?
I’ll answer this as best I can. The secessionist movement is absolutely a major point of conflict in Catalunya. I’ve had family members’ marriages fall apart over it, close relatives refuse to speak to one another over it, and I’ve seen people reduced to tears talking about it. It’s about as close to a 50/50 issue as you can get in the region (I know how the “votes” have gone but only one side shows up to those). That being said, I don’t see much anti-Andalucían sentiment any more among the pro-Independence crowd, at least where my family lives. The Andalucians who live there were mostly born in Catalunya, their families migrating in the 50s. The bulk of these families were gypsies or other marginalized parts of Spanish society, and generally indifferent to Franco. With so many immigrants and migrant laborers in the area, the families assimilated pretty quickly into Catalan society. Many are pro-Catalan independence, many are not. I’ll also note that the absolute vast majority of Andalucians who migrated to Catalunya were Béticos. There is a segment of bourgeois Barcelona society the looks down on those of Andalucian descent, but it’s kind of like the Brahmin families here, looking down their noses at pretty much everyone else. To your point, I do think the board at FC Barcelona does have an ample number of these blue bloods of Catalan society though. The bulk of the secessionist crowd that I know will say that it’s all a push just to gain more autonomy in Spain, not to actually secede as they would be entirely cut off from Europe and European markets if they actually became an independent country. All of this is based on discussions with family in a very small farming town southwest of Barcelona and a few who live in the city itself, so don’t take it as gospel.

Anyways, fuck the Sevilla board. Last I checked, they have actual criminals that served four years in jail for bribery currently on their board (I’m looking at you José María del Nido). The same crime Barcelona is being accused of. Del Nido was president of Sevilla at the time of conviction and there is a non-zero chance that he rises to president of the club again. Of course he is opposing his own son, the current vice president. A real piece of work. You have it right, it’s nothing short of a stunt by a club that was poorly built to take attention away from their own failures that have been going on for two years. I also agree that the Barcelona response is more or less what you’d expect from them. Both clubs are just trying to control the narrative knowing full well the impact of the sports tabloids in Spain.
 

rguilmar

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Take Kubo’s goal celebration lol

https://x.com/nocontextfooty/status/1708220457650946424?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ

Kubo is one of many tactical, fun-to-watch players for Real Sociedad, along with Oyarzabal, Barrene, Brais Mendez, and a bunch of others. They have so much quality that Oyarzabal can’t get a start in the Derby. The announcers seemed to think the Spanish international and the club’s biggest star was being saved for the UCL game this week, but I think he isn’t as useful to this team as other players right now. Barrenetxia is quickly moving up the list of most fun players in La Liga, but Kubo has that extra touch of class. Tierney got hurt, and maybe Le Normand too, but Andre Silva is back from injury. This team is stacked and deep. This team is so well run, so talented, so fun to watch, so good at developing talent, with such a great fan base. When you factor in a great rivalry and location in San Sebastián, which between the beaches and the food is basically heaven on Earth, it’s pretty much the perfect club.

Another iconic moment in the Basque Derby has to be the entire stadium doing the Poznan celebration except for the a random Bilbao fan scattered here and there around the ground who continued facing forward. Unlike most derbies, the fans still can sit together here.
https://x.com/laligaextra/status/1708221030504833254?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ
 

sdiaz1

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I did not get to watch the match but what insanity happened this past weekend in Southern Spain. Luis Suarez did both of his namesakes proud with a hat trick made within 5 minutes. Despite that, the match ended with a draw.

Regarding the Basque Derbi, it is easily my favorite. It is always super intense, loud, energetic and competitive. However it always remains sporting and respectable with few signs of Hooliganism. A great celebration of Basque identity.
 

Zososoxfan

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Don’t give them any ideas. Most teams have at least some far right ultras…

The Spanish Football Podcast guys seemed to think the chants would be from supporters of Osasuna, Athletic Club Bilbao, Rayo Vallecano, Cadiz and maybe a few others. Rayo and Cádiz supporters are generally extreme far left politically. Osasuna and Bilbao are both more or less Basque nationalists though I’m not 100% sure why that fact would lead them to be more likely to verbally abuse a player accused of sexual assault. Maybe a rejection of Spanish machoism? Anyone who knows Basque politics would know more than me. I love traveling there, but they’re just a different people entirely.
What's the name of this pod? The Barca podcast I listened to has really struggled since the straight man (Craig) retired a few years ago, and the other guy (Gabriel) had to take over main man duties.
 

rguilmar

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What's the name of this pod? The Barca podcast I listened to has really struggled since the straight man (Craig) retired a few years ago, and the other guy (Gabriel) had to take over main man duties.
It’s just simply The Spanish Football Podcast. Three British expats living in Madrid. They all work in the Spanish media covering soccer. Sid Lowe is probably the most recognizable as he’s on the pitch for the main ESPN game weekly and writes for the Guardian. The other two occasionally do the play-by-play for less high profile La Liga games (say, Getafe-Cádiz). Weekly pod on Mondays doing a weekend review and another free pod during the week. It’s on the Apple podcast app, Spotify etc. I’m on their Patreon which has 2 additional podcasts a week, including a long Q&A.

You’d probably find that it covers more ground but less in depth. Obviously Barca and Real Madrid talk takes up a chunk of time but all teams will get shout. One of the hosts is an Oviedo fan, another a Rayo fan, and they’ll even talk briefly about the second tier.
 

rguilmar

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Oscar Trejo gave up his captaincy at Rayo Vallecano in protest of ownership’s treatment of the fans and employees. Rayo are a fantastic club and have wonderful fans, but ownership has continued to do pretty much everything wrong. This action very much fits in with the traditional ethos of the club and the neighborhood, and I’m sure fans will love the player even more for this.
 

rguilmar

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The Coliseum Alfonso Perez will be called just The Coliseum, at least until Getafe have a new stadium, after Alfonso Perez gave a controversial interview. In the interview, he went into the differences in pay between male and female players. It wasn’t so much the substance of what he said, at least at the professional level, but the demeaning and dismissive way he said it. He also went on about forcing players who play for Spain to kiss the Spanish flag, which just came off as weird. Obviously it’s in reference to Catalans and Basques who played for the national team while being supportive of regional independence movements.

Anyways, naming the stadium after him was always strange. He’s from Getafe but never played for the club.
 

rguilmar

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Every year La Liga has a lot of young talent that gets folks excited. These are my top five players that aren’t that well known… yet, so I’ve excluded the Barcelona guys (yes, even Yamal) and Bellingham (best player in La Liga) and those who have gotten a lot of press in the past (Riquelme, Lino, Pino, Baena, Abde, Nico Williams and so on). I’m also not including players on loan from other leagues, like Savinho at Girona on loan from Troyes.
  • Javi Guerra (Valencia)- he’s the best of the club’s youth movement that also includes Diego Lopez, Jesus Vazquez, and Cristhian Mosquera. He had season-saving goals for the club last year and he’s off to a flying start this season.
  • Arnau Martinez (Girona)- not a secret anymore. He had a great campaign last season and is the best young right back in La Liga. Idk what City Group have planned for him but I hope he stays in Spain.
  • Mohammad Ali Cho (Sociedad)- La Real have loads of young talent- Kubo, Zubimendi, Barrene etc- but Cho offers something different. He definitely reminds me of Ousmane Dembele, right down to the infuriating lack of quality with the final touch. But he’s only 19.
  • Assane Diao (Real Betis)- this kid came out of nowhere. I love the attacking players for the club, but he is really standing out. He scored in his first three games for Betis. Not bad for an 18 year old. With another personal binkie Henrique injured and facing another suspension, Diao will have time to shine.
  • Bryan Zaragoza (Granada)- another off the radar player, he had his coming out party this weekend against Barcelona. Jules Kounde does not normally get carved up like this. Five goals this campaign, two against Barcelona, is a great start.
 

Zososoxfan

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Every year La Liga has a lot of young talent that gets folks excited. These are my top five players that aren’t that well known… yet, so I’ve excluded the Barcelona guys (yes, even Yamal) and Bellingham (best player in La Liga) and those who have gotten a lot of press in the past (Riquelme, Lino, Pino, Baena, Abde, Nico Williams and so on). I’m also not including players on loan from other leagues, like Savinho at Girona on loan from Troyes.
  • Javi Guerra (Valencia)- he’s the best of the club’s youth movement that also includes Diego Lopez, Jesus Vazquez, and Cristhian Mosquera. He had season-saving goals for the club last year and he’s off to a flying start this season.
  • Arnau Martinez (Girona)- not a secret anymore. He had a great campaign last season and is the best young right back in La Liga. Idk what City Group have planned for him but I hope he stays in Spain.
  • Mohammad Ali Cho (Sociedad)- La Real have loads of young talent- Kubo, Zubimendi, Barrene etc- but Cho offers something different. He definitely reminds me of Ousmane Dembele, right down to the infuriating lack of quality with the final touch. But he’s only 19.
  • Assane Diao (Real Betis)- this kid came out of nowhere. I love the attacking players for the club, but he is really standing out. He scored in his first three games for Betis. Not bad for an 18 year old. With another personal binkie Henrique injured and facing another suspension, Diao will have time to shine.
  • Bryan Zaragoza (Granada)- another off the radar player, he had his coming out party this weekend against Barcelona. Jules Kounde does not normally get carved up like this. Five goals this campaign, two against Barcelona, is a great start.
Just watched the Barca-Granada replay last night, and wow is that kid special. Just a no nonsense direct goal threat and does his damage in a hurry.

Barca was just awful in that game. I like Fermin Lopez but he and the other 2 MFs were horrid. I know that Gundogan isn't really a holding MF but he was just terrible. His olé non-tackle in the opening minute was a more proximate cause of the goal than Gavi getting dispossessed. Gavi was being asked to do too much with Fermin looking discombobulated at best, and Gundogan not doing much of the defense nor the offense stuff.

Credit to Granada who really took Barca's frontline out of the game for an hour if not more. Ferran looked lost and kept coming to the ball just to get touches but he couldn't turn and couldn't make runs to threaten in behind. Felix was better than Ferran but only slightly. Yamal was probably the best of the 3 but at his age he's not totally comfortable demanding the ball and ordering around his teammates, but towards the end of the first half there was a break in play and the broadcast showed him speaking with Xavi, and his goal came shortly thereafter.

MATS will want a mulligan on that first goal--I think he'd be the first one to tell you he has to do better. The second goal was just Zaragoza magic combined with Kounde playing in one of his worst stretches I've seen for Barca.

Injuries are starting to pile up at Barca and while they've weathered the storm OK so far, it's understandable if the team is struggling with FDJ, Pedri, Lewa, Raph, and now Kounde out. Yamal has also been ruled out for Spain, but hopefully that's more precautionary than anything else. Aside from Yamal, that's 3 stapled on starters and 2 potential starters/rotation players.

Best hope right now is for Barca to weather the international break for 2 weeks and hope that the squad is healthier for the ferocious fortnight return with matches against Bilbao, Shakhtar, and Real (at least all 3 are at "home").
 

rguilmar

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Barca do seem to go two deep at every position. I know Xavi has been saying it isn’t a deep squad in terms of numbers but they really do have solid backups at almost every position. Contrast that with Real Madrid, because when you mention one club you have to compare it with the other. Madrid are super deep at CM and use some of their player versatility to cover up a lack of depth at other positions. Bellingham as a false 9, Camavinga at LB, Tchouameni at CB, Valverde playing the entire right flank and so on. I’m not saying one way is better than the other, just interesting how differently the two squads are built.

There are enough teams in the second tier of La Liga to make Barcelona’s life difficult. Teams like Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao, Real Betis, Sevilla, and Villareal who can think they have a good shot of taking point off of Barca either home or away. The next tier isn’t a cake walk either. Hell, Rayo had a four game stretch recently where they took ten points off of the Catalans. I know the perception of La Liga is that they have 2.5 legit teams and a bunch of also-rans, but there are a lot of good clubs out there who can beat anyone in the world on their day.

In other news, Sevilla sacked Mendilibar and brought in former Uruguay and Inter Miami manager Diego Alonso. This is a club in crisis right now. I think Monchi was well aware of this which is why he jumped ship. Too many old players, too many players with similar qualities, much too unbalanced of a squad. They have enough talent to sneak into the top of the table, but the Europa League title glossed over some real flaws. I’d be shocked if any manager can get them back to their heights of the last twenty years. Of course, they’ll win the Europa League again because that’s what they do. Almería hired Gaizka Garitano as their new manager. His the quintessential Basque manager- direct, defensively sound, tough to beat. The team has been bleeding goals so maybe this helps.

Atletico have been busy. They are bringing in Mateu Alemany, formerly of Barcelona. He’s a widely respecting sporting director, though he will be given a different role at the club. They are also signing Cholo to a new contract. At this time last year I thought Simeone’s days at Atleti were almost done. Whatever civil war that was going on within the club seems over, with Simeone coming out the winner. Griezmann is in, Felix is out, and they’re still my pick to win the title. They were the best team in La Liga by some distance after the World Cup. José María Giménez also signed a new contract with the club.

Valencia have also been keeping themselves busy. There are rumors out there that Saudi money might be coming for them, though I imagine that they might find team building a slower process in Spain than other places with the still-too-strict FFP rules. They might go after Marseille instead, which what set up an enticing PSG-Marseille Qatar-KSA battle. Valencia appear to be moving forward with the Nou Mestalla, which had been started years ago but construction was stopped in like 2010. I imagine this is tied to the winning bid to host the World Cup. Hopefully La Cartuja gets an upgrade too. And of course they have condemned Vinicius Jr for his accusation that the entire stadium was hurling racist chants at him. Of course they’re right, it wasn’t the whole crowd, but they continue to handle this in the worst possible way. Chan is one of the most unpopular owners in La Liga and he’s pandering to the lowest level of ultras here.
 

sdiaz1

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A good weekend up North in Asturias with some assistance from the visitors.

In Oviedo, an Albacete player made a hillariously bad and completley unnessary 2 footed tacke with studs showing from behind to be shown a second yellow. Oviedo then ran rampant (for Real Oviedo at least) scoring three after the break.

Then in the 97th minute in Gijon, Zarragoza's keeper dropped the ball to kick forgetting that a Gijon attacker was still a few yards behind him. Gifting a very late equalizer.

Both teams looking rather healthy in the midtable

To good to not share:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WM637Je4-qQ
 
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rguilmar

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Oh man, that was wild! I’d love to see Oviedo get back to La Liga, but I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the club, more of a soccer romantic who loves their story, so I’m also fine seeing Sporting Gijón get back up there too. El Molinón is a proper stadium and the fans get really loud. I have a soft spot for Zaragoza too since my grandmother lived there for a while. I remember them having a surprisingly large fanbase, at least when they took that government poll 15 years ago or so. They also have the claim to the deepest goal nets in Europe. I have some nostalgia for the Milito teams from back in the day, plus there are no teams from Aragon in La Liga. Speaking of unrepresented regions, it’s nice to see Racing Santander of Cantabria climbing up the pyramid and table. Racing are the only professional club in the region, and they were qualifying for Europe led by a young local kid named Sergio Canales around the same time Milito was scoring for Zaragoza. Looks like Leganés are off to a good start too, and as a fan of derbies, I’d welcome the renewal of the southern Madrid rivalry with Getafe, though go I’d prefer it if it took place in the second tier.

Going down the pyramid to third tier, and holy crap are Deportivo La Coruña in the dumps. They’re close to the relegation zone to the fourth (!!!) tier and well behind their huge rival Celta de Vigo who are currently close to promotion. Oh, sorry, Celta Vigo II. As we all know, Celta’s A team is in La Liga. Depor have six major trophies and a semifinal run in the Champions League in their history. How the mighty have fallen. A couple of Catalan teams are doing well. Gimnastic from Tarragona lead their group. Cornella de Llobregat have started well. I don’t know if there is any official connection to Espanyol or if they just share a stadium. Pedro Soma, a young American who has impressed in his USYNT camps, is on the books there.
 

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Barca sneak by Athletic with young substitute Marc Guiu scoring on his first couple of touches after coming on around the 80th minute. I didn't watch this whole match, but I was very impressed with Martinez's passing out of the back, Gundogan perhaps slightly starting to play better, Felix really putting pressure on defenses, Balde playing farther upfield and beating his man consistently, and Yamal beating his man off the dribble constantly as well.
 

rguilmar

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Barca sneak by Athletic with young substitute Marc Guiu scoring on his first couple of touches after coming on around the 80th minute. I didn't watch this whole match, but I was very impressed with Martinez's passing out of the back, Gundogan perhaps slightly starting to play better, Felix really putting pressure on defenses, Balde playing farther upfield and beating his man consistently, and Yamal beating his man off the dribble constantly as well.
I was going to ask you a question after seeing this game- is La Masia back? Gavi, Balde, Yamal, Araujo, Fermin López, and now Marc Guiu (no credit for Pedri). It’s getting to how Real Sociedad have been the last few season where you see a kid making his debut and think “Jesus, another one?”

Girona have moved back level with Real Madrid on points at the top of the table and moved past Atleti in goals scored. I doubt they hang for a top four finish, but they are fun to watch, this time coming back from 2-0 to beat Almería 5-2.
 

Zososoxfan

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I was going to ask you a question after seeing this game- is La Masia back? Gavi, Balde, Yamal, Araujo, Fermin López, and now Marc Guiu (no credit for Pedri). It’s getting to how Real Sociedad have been the last few season where you see a kid making his debut and think “Jesus, another one?”

Girona have moved back level with Real Madrid on points at the top of the table and moved past Atleti in goals scored. I doubt they hang for a top four finish, but they are fun to watch, this time coming back from 2-0 to beat Almería 5-2.
I don't think Barca get credit for Araujo either--he came over from Boston River (Uruguay) at 17 or 18 years old. I'd say the player has to be in the academy by age 15 or so for it to count as a credit to development. Araujo is a gem and Barca's scouting dept. deserves huge credit, but I'd say the player was mostly developed by the time he arrived.

Hard to say whether "La Masia" is back, because what does that really mean? When most people think of La Masia, I imagine they think of the golden generation--Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Busi, Pique, etc. And while La Masia certainly fueled the incredible run from approx. 2005-2015, what I also remember about that time is how many academy players they had to ship out because...how do you displace Xavi-Iniesta-Messi-Busi?!?? Some players that came through La Masia during that time and succeeded in whole or in part elsewhere include: Bojan Krkic, Thiago (probably a mistake not to figure out a way to keep him), Cesc, Bellerin, Pedro, Adama Traore, Alena, Rafinha, Deulofeu, Bartra, etc. That's a pretty good academy output that mostly didn't play for the club!

So what's the standard? Filling in half the XI for a club that wins La Liga or UCL? Is the amount of starters lower/higher? If the number is 5-6, does La Masia need to crank out a certain amount of starters in the Big 5 leagues over a certain period to reach our imaginary 'back-ness'? I'm not being snarky, but rather pointing out that while Gavi, Balde, and Yamal are LEGIT, it's possible that the club just got "lucky" with them. I certainly hope Fermin and Guiu stick and continue to develop, but it also wouldn't surprise me if they end up elsewhere in a couple of seasons.

We do need to do a Gazza 'deep dive' on European academies at some point. As SOSH denizens, we could probably develop some really interesting numbers regarding academy product output (e.g., number of players in EPL/La Liga, minutes played, goals, etc.) and financial performance.

On a related note, one of my pub league teammate's brother had a trial for Gladbach and Bayern recently, but ended up signing a youth contract with Cadiz. Previously he was with Inter Miami's academy.
 

rguilmar

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I don't think Barca get credit for Araujo either--he came over from Boston River (Uruguay) at 17 or 18 years old. I'd say the player has to be in the academy by age 15 or so for it to count as a credit to development. Araujo is a gem and Barca's scouting dept. deserves huge credit, but I'd say the player was mostly developed by the time he arrived.

Hard to say whether "La Masia" is back, because what does that really mean? When most people think of La Masia, I imagine they think of the golden generation--Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Busi, Pique, etc. And while La Masia certainly fueled the incredible run from approx. 2005-2015, what I also remember about that time is how many academy players they had to ship out because...how do you displace Xavi-Iniesta-Messi-Busi?!?? Some players that came through La Masia during that time and succeeded in whole or in part elsewhere include: Bojan Krkic, Thiago (probably a mistake not to figure out a way to keep him), Cesc, Bellerin, Pedro, Adama Traore, Alena, Rafinha, Deulofeu, Bartra, etc. That's a pretty good academy output that mostly didn't play for the club!

So what's the standard? Filling in half the XI for a club that wins La Liga or UCL? Is the amount of starters lower/higher? If the number is 5-6, does La Masia need to crank out a certain amount of starters in the Big 5 leagues over a certain period to reach our imaginary 'back-ness'? I'm not being snarky, but rather pointing out that while Gavi, Balde, and Yamal are LEGIT, it's possible that the club just got "lucky" with them. I certainly hope Fermin and Guiu stick and continue to develop, but it also wouldn't surprise me if they end up elsewhere in a couple of seasons.

We do need to do a Gazza 'deep dive' on European academies at some point. As SOSH denizens, we could probably develop some really interesting numbers regarding academy product output (e.g., number of players in EPL/La Liga, minutes played, goals, etc.) and financial performance.

On a related note, one of my pub league teammate's brother had a trial for Gladbach and Bayern recently, but ended up signing a youth contract with Cadiz. Previously he was with Inter Miami's academy.
These are all fair qualifying questions. I suppose I meant it in a way that you, as a Barca fan, are happy with the production at La Masia. More of a gut feeling in terms of confidence in the program at this point after several tough years. Any standard that includes producing a Messi-Xavi-Iniesta-Busquets crop of talent while redefining how the game is played and supplying the core of a World Cup winning team is too high, but for some, that is the standard. For me, a La Masia that is consistently developing top five talent is “back”, and I know we can quibble over “consistently” and “developing”. I would say that more players need to emerge over the next few years to reach that standard. For my uncle, a Culer, he wants at least 75% of the team to come from La Masia with nearly all of them being Catalan. So his standard is a little different and probably impossible to reach in this day and age.

You have more insight into Barcelona youngsters than I do. I understand that Guiu wasn’t some unknown who emerged out of nowhere, though that’s how he seemed to me. People in Spain rated him highly beforehand. Perhaps a better question is what is your confidence in La Masia going forward based on recent results? Do you feel like there has been a fundamental change that has led to this success and will continue to provide for the club either with first team players or players that will be bought by other top five clubs, or is this just a hot streak? My guess based on what you wrote, you’re like me and want to see more evidence.

Tangentially, I remember Chelsea buying Oriol Romeu as a youngster with a buyback clause for Barcelona back in 2011 or 2012 for more money than Barcelona payed Girona to get him back. Such was the reputation of La Masia at that time that a club like Chelsea was willing to play a developmental role for Barcelona with a deal like Rayo had with Real Madrid for Fran Garcia. Romeu had never suited up for Barca A at that time if memory serves, at least not in an official match.

I’m down for doing a deep dive into several La Liga clubs and their academies, specifically the Basque clubs like Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, and Osasuna. None are my favorite club but they all fascinate me. Sporting Gijón’s Mareo Academy has interested me since I learned what David Villa’s nickname El Guaje means.
 

Zososoxfan

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These are all fair qualifying questions. I suppose I meant it in a way that you, as a Barca fan, are happy with the production at La Masia. More of a gut feeling in terms of confidence in the program at this point after several tough years. Any standard that includes producing a Messi-Xavi-Iniesta-Busquets crop of talent while redefining how the game is played and supplying the core of a World Cup winning team is too high, but for some, that is the standard. For me, a La Masia that is consistently developing top five talent is “back”, and I know we can quibble over “consistently” and “developing”. I would say that more players need to emerge over the next few years to reach that standard. For my uncle, a Culer, he wants at least 75% of the team to come from La Masia with nearly all of them being Catalan. So his standard is a little different and probably impossible to reach in this day and age.

You have more insight into Barcelona youngsters than I do. I understand that Guiu wasn’t some unknown who emerged out of nowhere, though that’s how he seemed to me. People in Spain rated him highly beforehand. Perhaps a better question is what is your confidence in La Masia going forward based on recent results? Do you feel like there has been a fundamental change that has led to this success and will continue to provide for the club either with first team players or players that will be bought by other top five clubs, or is this just a hot streak? My guess based on what you wrote, you’re like me and want to see more evidence.

Tangentially, I remember Chelsea buying Oriol Romeu as a youngster with a buyback clause for Barcelona back in 2011 or 2012 for more money than Barcelona payed Girona to get him back. Such was the reputation of La Masia at that time that a club like Chelsea was willing to play a developmental role for Barcelona with a deal like Rayo had with Real Madrid for Fran Garcia. Romeu had never suited up for Barca A at that time if memory serves, at least not in an official match.

I’m down for doing a deep dive into several La Liga clubs and their academies, specifically the Basque clubs like Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, and Osasuna. None are my favorite club but they all fascinate me. Sporting Gijón’s Mareo Academy has interested me since I learned what David Villa’s nickname El Guaje means.
I'm not expert on La Masia. I hadn't heard of Guiu until he scored the winner on Sunday. But I do find the world of academies and player development fascinating.

The one thing I will say is that Barca started investing in La Masia heavily since Bartomeu's departure, likely out of necessity more than anything. It's much cheaper to put money towards developing players than transfer fees, especially when their wages are depressed early on in their careers. To wit, Gavi makes €6.8M and Balde makes €1.7M(!). TBF, I think Balde recently signed a new contract though, and that number is likely coming up to €3-5M with the silly buyout clause to boot. Compare that to the fact that Lewa makes €21M and Gundogan makes €19M. So it's not hard to see how Laporta and Friends may have decided to slash the transfer budget by €20/30/50M per year for a period and shift that towards La Masia.
 

rguilmar

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Clásico Weekend!

It’ll be a little strange with the afternoon start time and the game at Montjuic, not to mention the absence of a lot of big name players. That being said, it’s Barcelona-Real Madrid, so it’ll have an impact on the table. Cue the arguments about the Spanish Civil War, the Franco regime, and maybe a little bit about soccer. It’s entirely possible that they enter the game 2nd and 3rd as second place Girona play today.

Betis are strengthening their squad by adding former Gunner Sokratis to their CB mix, a needed move after they sold red-card-in-waiting Luiz Felipe to Al-Ittihad at the end of the transfer window. Felippo Silva aka Tactical Manager (and friend of Johnny Cardoso) says that the American will likely be at Betis this January as well. He’s not as necessary to the club now as they are pretty stacked at the pivots, but big money clubs will be coming for World Cup winner Guido Rodriguez this summer, Portugal international William Carvalho is showing signs of slowing down, and Andres Guardado is really old. A transition period isn’t the worst idea in the world. He will make the move this summer if a January loan isn’t workable.
 

sdiaz1

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Real Madrid - "Yeah you may be the Rolling Stones but we are the Motherfucking Beatles and we will walk you down Abbey Road."
 

rguilmar

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With Granada losing 2-3 to Villareal, the match day ended with 11 teams scoring exactly two goals, and unfortunately for Granada they were the only team with two goals not to get a point. I know most eyes were on the Clásico but that was only one of several game with late goal scoring drama.

1-0 Girona over Celta with Herrera getting the winner in the 91st minute (LDLT had a goal disallowed by a foul on the GK that I just don’t agree with)
2-1 Las Palmas over Almería thanks to a 94th minute goal by Kaba.
2-1 Madrid because of you know who in the 92nd minute
2-1 Betis over Osasuna thanks to a rejuvenated Isco goal in the 94th minute
2-2 Rayo and La Real with Bebe (remember him???) scoring in the 91st to tie it
2-2 Athletic Bilbao and Valencia with Berenguer tying it the 97th minute

So that is six of ten matches decided by stoppage time goals. It was a fun weekend of games.
 

rguilmar

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Girona are top of La Liga once again. They’ve won four straight since the lose to Real Madrid and have the most goals scored in La Liga this season.
 

rguilmar

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Great start to the weekend with a wild Bilbao 4-3 victory over Celta Vigo. Speaking of Athletic, their great rival Real Sociedad had five players named to the Spain squad, and Alguicil said "Five [Real Sociedad players] are going to the national team, and three more aren't because they'd be embarrassed [to have so many]." Remiro, Le Normand, Zubimendi, Merino, and Oyorzabel are in. I assume Brais Méndez and Barrene are two others on the fringes. No clue who the third snub is, but Sociedad’s academy is a legit force.

The greatest derby in Spain, the Seville Derby, is coming up on Sunday. Real Betis are flying- they haven’t lost in La Liga since that 5-0 drubbing at Barcelona (and haven’t lost over since the next match at Rangers, the first game of the Europa League). That’s eleven straight unbeaten. Sevilla have fired their Europa League winning manager, more or less intentionally lost at the Emirates this week, and are near the drop zone again. So of course Sevilla will win this one.
 

rguilmar

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Glass half full: Lewa scored twice and Barcelona have won games that title winners need to win. They’re only two points behind Real Madrid, actually closing the gap a bit, and have been dealing with an injury crisis. The kids have looked really good, and Ferran Torres has reawakened a bit and scored some important goals while Lewa sorted things out. And Gavi is a tough SOB.

Glass half empty: Barca have looked very pedestrian. Alaves scored about twenty seconds into the game this weekend, and Barca started the game with the ball. Midweek Barca lost to Shakhtar Donetsk (who don’t play at home for obvious reasons) in the Champions League. Last weekend Barcelona won but were thoroughly outplayed by Real Sociedad. Since their back-to-back manitos in mid-September they haven’t beaten an opponent by more than one goal, a run of 11 games, and they looked damn lucky several times (see Glass Half Full).