Return of the Galácticos? Spanish Fútbol 23-24

sdiaz1

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Barca are on pace for 84 points this season. In all honesty Xavi is mostly is paying the price for how good Madrid have been in the league this season.

84 Points wins or is within 3 points of the league winner almost every year if we look past those 5 or 6 years when Real/Barca went absolutely nuts and where by and far the best teams in the world.
 

Zososoxfan

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That's a really interesting way of looking at it, and one I honestly hadn't thought about. I could be taking him too literally sometimes. I remember earlier this season Xavi saying essentially that players got the ball in positions to make plays that he used to make as a player, but that they could not make the same play (paraphrasing of course). I took that to mean "Players are not making the plays that I am putting them in the position to make." Perhaps what he was saying to the board is "That way of playing, the way Barca played when I was a player, will not work. We need to do something different." And now he's sort of unshackled from the past and can set the team up how he wants to? They look so much better now and they don't possess the ball like they used to.
I'll defer to you re whether the style of play has changed, but Xavi definitely got a pass last year when he decided to focus on defense during the title run. I mean, Barca's defensive record last year was insane, and that was a really good team. The only reason it won't be remembered more fondly is because they got hit with a brutal UCL group and couldn't make it out. Bayern were perfect in the group stage and even though it was far from the best Bayern outfit, it's still Bayern--Barca's UCL boogeyman. And Inter beat Barca once and held them to a 3-3 draw both in controversial matches, and that was the end of that. TBF, being able to focus on La Liga likely helped Barca.

I hope that the club can hang on to the young core of players- Pedri, Gavi, Balde, Fermin, Cubarsi, Fort, Yamal, Guiu, Araujo- and be open to selling literally anyone else at any price. I imagine Saudi clubs will be in the market this summer and rumors are that they will make a move for Raphinha. Dest has recovered value, so he should be easy to sell. Kounde is playing better and might find suitors too. The one older player I would for sure look to on to is MATS. He was pinging the ball around yesterday and made a few world class saves.

The other question which isn't so unspoken right now is: what if Barca finish second in La Liga, win the next Clasico, and get past PSG? Do they look to talk Xavi into staying? I think he feels a sense of betrayal by people on the board and in the media that he expected more support from, but he hasn't 100% closed the door either.
The thing about La Masia players is that only so few can stay. I've said this before, but take a look back at La Masia products during the golden era that DIDN'T play at the club: Gio Dos Santos, Thiago, Alba (had to leave to get minutes before coming back gloriously), Bartra, Bellerin, Sandro, Traore, Cucurella, etc. Some of those were probably let go for monetary reasons towards the end, but it's kind of like Chelsea's academy--some of this is like a business model and these players are intended to be sold, even if they're very good, just not Barca good. Right now the calculus is messed up because these academy products count entirely as profit (as opposed to the Koundes and Raphinhas of the world), but also because Barca are not up to their own standards.

TL;DR - even if these guys are all amazing, some of them are gonna go. At this moment, the only ones I'm confident of staying are Gavi, Pedri, Cubarsi, Yamal, and Araujo. If the right price comes in for Balde, Fermin, Guiu, and maybe Fort (not sure who's the priority between Balde and him), they gone.

Barca are on pace for 84 points this season. In all honesty Xavi is mostly is paying the price for how good Madrid have been in the league this season.

84 Points wins or is within 3 points of the league winner almost every year if we look past those 5 or 6 years when Real/Barca went absolutely nuts and where by and far the best teams in the world.
Eh, Barca just haven't looked good this season, I don't think Xavi is a victim of Madrid's success. Atleti are having a relative down season, and Sevilla fell off a cliff. Girona made a nice run, but the top of La Liga just isn't as strong as usual.
 

rguilmar

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Courtois reinjured his knee and won’t be back. Lunin has done an admirable job in goal for Real Madrid but he is no Thibaut.
 

rguilmar

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International breaks are always a good time to take stock of the season, and it seems like there has been universal admiration for what Athletic Club have done this season.

The Spanish Football Podcast had special episodes from Bilbao. Five Athletic Club players were called up by Spain this week- Unai Simón, Nico Williams, Oihan Sancet, Dani Vivian, and Aitor Paredes (who later withdrew but also signed a new contract). They currently sit fourth in La Liga, ahead of Atletico Madrid who some fool picked to win the league, and have third place Girona squarely in their sights. They are back in the final of the Copa del Rey with a chance to win it for the first time in 40(!!!!) years. To be fair, they played the part of the Washington Generals to Barcelona in that competition for the past couple of decades. They’re doing it all playing a very fun style of play, as Sid Lowe wrote about last week.

Hopefully they’ll be able to hold onto Nico Williams. I know several very big clubs are circling, but maybe the draw of European soccer keeps him at home (I’m looking at you, Chelsea). There are so many factors involved, but rarely is it money because Athletic have plenty due to their transfer policy and aren’t shy about offering competitive contracts. But they also don’t hold their player back if they want to leave. All contracts in Spain have release clauses, so it’ll be up to the player himself and his own desires. Does he want to stay at his boyhood club with his brother Iñaki who more or less raised him or does he want to get out from his brother’s shadow and try a new challenge? It’s his call but I hope he stays.
 

rguilmar

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Jacoba Arrásate said that he will not be renewing his contract at Osasuna. He’s done a tremendous job at the club and is the second longest serving manager in La Liga, well behind Diego Simeone. He guided them from the Segunda to La Liga and brought them to the Copa del Rey final last season. His true passion is teaching, so maybe he wants to get back in the classroom. He will not be easy to follow.

Jose, come on down! I kid, of course, but Julen Lopetegui is available…
 

rguilmar

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Thinking this Isco guy may be pretty good lol.

He has been almost untouchable today
He’s been missed. That was a great game, highly entertaining. Girona got The late winner to break my heart.

Athletic and Real Madrid are playing a game like two teams with bigger games ahead. Rodrygo had a nice goal, but it’s been pretty pedestrian all around.
 

rguilmar

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Copa del Rey weekend is coming up! Granada and Valencia are playing their makeup game right now. The rest of La Liga has the weekend off, so all eyes will be on the game at La Cartuja. Mallorca last won in 2003. Athletic Club last won it in 1984 yet still have the second most Copas behind Barcelona. No matter who wins, it will be the sixth different winner in the last six Copas.

2019-Valencia
2020- Real Sociedad
2021- Barcelona
2022- Real Betis (yes!)
2023- Real Madrid

There was a very cool ad for the game with Athletic Club players speaking Catalan and Mallorca players speaking Basque but I can't seem to find it right now. Anyways, I imagine there will be a good portion of the soccer world rooting for Athletic Club on Saturday because of who they are as a club.

Meanwhile, the Segunda is still wild. Leganes have pulled ahead but only seven points separate second place Eibar and eleventh place Levante. Yes, both Asturian clubs are in that mix. In case anyone is missing out on Spanish soccer, ESPN+ will have four Segunda games this weekend that all will impact the race for promotion:
Friday at 2:30- Elche (5th) vs Oviedo (7th)
Sunday at 8 am- Huesca (14th) vs Leganes (1st)
Sunday at 12:30- Tenerife (12th) vs Eibar (2nd)
Sunday at 12:30- Espanyol (3rd) vs Albacete (19th)
 

bosox4283

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Meanwhile, the Segunda is still wild. Leganes have pulled ahead but only seven points separate second place Eibar and eleventh place Levante. Yes, both Asturian clubs are in that mix. In case anyone is missing out on Spanish soccer, ESPN+ will have four Segunda games this weekend that all will impact the race for promotion:
Friday at 2:30- Elche (5th) vs Oviedo (7th)
Sunday at 8 am- Huesca (14th) vs Leganes (1st)
Sunday at 12:30- Tenerife (12th) vs Eibar (2nd)
Sunday at 12:30- Espanyol (3rd) vs Albacete (19th)
The next eight weeks/matches are going to be fun for Segunda. There are 11 teams competing for the top 6 positions, with only 11 points separating 1st (Leganes) and 11th (Burgos).

Real Oviedo's next three matches are against teams currently in 17th (Mirandes), 16th (Cartagena), and 12th (Tenefire), and all have negative goal differentials, so while any match is tough at this point, Oviedo has three winnable fixtures, so I hope they can take care of business and keep their spot in the top 6 for the next few weeks.
 

rguilmar

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That seven point gap between 2nd and 11th in the Segunda remains, though the order has changed a bit. There are a lot of clubs I would like to see in La Liga in that race, Oviedo leading that list. Unfortunately two teams I don't miss much, Leganes and Espanyol, sit in the automatic promotion spots. I do love a good derby, and we get two more if those teams do get promoted. A long way to go though.

The scenes in Bilbao are insane following their Copa del Rey victory. Somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 people from Bilbao were in Sevilla (maybe 1/3 of them in the stadium) and San Mames was sold out for a viewing party. The win was a little more difficult going to penalties, but Athletic Club were deserving winners (Mallorca put up a great fight imo). Club legends got a chance at glory in penalties, and both Iker Muniain and Raul Garcia converted theirs. Nico Williams got the MVP and he was dangerous throughout. I hope that they can hold onto him for another season or two. The city are dusting off the old barge that the team takes down the River Nervion after winning a trophy for the first time in 40 years. I assume it still floats.

Last I saw, the Copa was headed off to the Tree of Gernika which carries significant historical and political relevance to the Basque people.
 

bosox4283

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The scenes in Bilbao are insane following their Copa del Rey victory. Somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 people from Bilbao were in Sevilla (maybe 1/3 of them in the stadium) and San Mames was sold out for a viewing party. The win was a little more difficult going to penalties, but Athletic Club were deserving winners (Mallorca put up a great fight imo). Club legends got a chance at glory in penalties, and both Iker Muniain and Raul Garcia converted theirs. Nico Williams got the MVP and he was dangerous throughout. I hope that they can hold onto him for another season or two. The city are dusting off the old barge that the team takes down the River Nervion after winning a trophy for the first time in 40 years. I assume it still floats.

Last I saw, the Copa was headed off to the Tree of Gernika which carries significant historical and political relevance to the Basque people.
The final was incredibly exciting. Mallorca really competed hard throughout, but Athletic was able to find that extra gear in the second half and played excellent football. That said, Mallorca was really close to winning it -- it would have been an entirely different outcome had the Mallorca player buried that chance in the first minutes of the second half.

Athletic is a fun club to root for -- maybe, in part, because some players have been there for so long that there's a continuity that makes the team easy and fun to follow. Muniain has been playing with the first club for 15 years, Inaki Williams 10 years, and Raul Garcia 9 years.
 

rguilmar

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Athletic is a fun club to root for -- maybe, in part, because some players have been there for so long that there's a continuity that makes the team easy and fun to follow. Muniain has been playing with the first club for 15 years, Inaki Williams 10 years, and Raul Garcia 9 years.
Muniain is the prime example. He’s a fantastic player that not many people know. As recently as last season Valverde was trying to fit him into the starting 11, often at the expense of the rising Sancet. He made his debut at 16 and was called the Basque/Spanish Messi (he was always very good but was never going to be that great). He had serious interest from Premier League teams, Chelsea the most aggressive. He decided to stay in Bilbao where he had been since he was very young, though born in Pamplona.

If he had left, he likely would have been much richer and more famous. Nico Williams will be in a similar spot.
 

rguilmar

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A big weekend coming up for teams who might have their eyes on other competitions. Atleti host Girona needing a win to keep Athletic Club behind them. Girona aren't playing as well as they were at the beginning of the campaign but they still need points to stay in the top 4. Atleti are coming off of that 2-1 win at home versus Dortmund but need to stay fresh for the return leg. Simeone might need to rest a bunch of players, which could open the door for Girona. Of course, at this rate Athletic Club might not have enough sober players to take on Villareal following their Copa del Rey win. Seems like the fiesta has not stopped in Bilbao since Saturday. I believe at least four players have been reported for party-related incidents with the authorities so far, and that number might climb after today's victory parade.. The celebratory barge, La Gabarra, is floating down the Nervion River at this moment. The scenes are what you would expect them to be. You would expect Barca to handle Cadiz and Madrid to see off Mallorca, but both are on the road, are in the middle of UCL ties, and could get caught napping.
 

rguilmar

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Biased Bético post:

Isco is one of the most enjoyable players in the world to watch. Period. The second half last night was about as good as anyone can play the game. His fitness is there and he’s channeling his inner Griezmann with his defensive work rate. But when he has the ball, it’s just amazing. There were a few Isco-Fekir moments too, including the two hooking up for the second goal.

Also the Guido-Johnny double pivot is very strong. The American will probably be part of a rotation for now but hopefully he learns a little from the Argentinian before replacing him next year.
 

trs

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Biased Bético post:

Isco is one of the most enjoyable players in the world to watch. Period. The second half last night was about as good as anyone can play the game. His fitness is there and he’s channeling his inner Griezmann with his defensive work rate. But when he has the ball, it’s just amazing. There were a few Isco-Fekir moments too, including the two hooking up for the second goal.

Also the Guido-Johnny double pivot is very strong. The American will probably be part of a rotation for now but hopefully he learns a little from the Argentinian before replacing him next year.
Isco... I used to absolutely abhor that guy when he was on Real. For no real reason other than that he seemed to embody all the negative stereotypes of a Real Madrid heel (for those of us non-Madristas...). He looked more like he wanted to be drinking gin tonics on Calle Ponzano than actually doing anything that related to "work rate."

I'm glad he's turned a corner though for Betis. He was definitely a talent at Real that never seemed to fully blossom for some reason or another.
 

rguilmar

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Isco... I used to absolutely abhor that guy when he was on Real. For no real reason other than that he seemed to embody all the negative stereotypes of a Real Madrid heel (for those of us non-Madristas...). He looked more like he wanted to be drinking gin tonics on Calle Ponzano than actually doing anything that related to "work rate."

I'm glad he's turned a corner though for Betis. He was definitely a talent at Real that never seemed to fully blossom for some reason or another.
I think everyone is writing the obvious narrative regarding Isco. He was an obscenely talented player at Madrid, at times maybe the best on the team, but didn’t seem to actually care about doing the things a professional player must do. So he fell down the depth chart and had that disastrous move to Sevilla. He was there for four months, and the most memorable thing he was involved in was being physically attacked by Monchi. His contract was terminated and he didn’t sign with anyone for the rest of last season, though there was an agreement with Union Berlin (both sides claim that the other made last minute changes to the contract that caused it to collapse). So we have this made-for-film story of a gifted player who didn’t try, perhaps was spoiled by his talent, and having it alll taken away from him because of his own lack of effort. He hits a nadir, then signs for Sevilla’s rivals- he’s Andalusian and knows exactly what he’s doing- reemerging as a player transformed. Now he’s putting in defensive effort, winning balls he shouldn’t win, making full field sprints in the 90th minute both forward and defensively. He still possesses amazing technical talent, he’s scored some wonderful goals, and some of his passes are out of this world. I was nervous that he would fall back into his old ways after his injury, but he’s back. After his two goals against Barca I bought my #22 jersey.

View: https://youtu.be/FN7SlOUUkT4?si=TtRDizWQXYbVOxmz
 

sdiaz1

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Isco in Madrid is simmilar to Bale in Madrid. He always felt like a disapointment despite making 246 appearances across 6 seasons for a team that won 5 UCL titles.

He did not always start but was generally often used as the first guy off the bench to further spread thin the opposition.

Speaking of Isco and Madrid. Some reports in Spain suggest that Arda Guler could be loaned out to Betis. That could be fun to watch.
 

rguilmar

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Speaking of Isco and Madrid. Some reports in Spain suggest that Arda Guler could be loaned out to Betis. That could be fun to watch.
Don’t tempt me with a good time. Betis are pretty loaded in the attack/attacking MF and are losing most of their CBs, a GK, two DMs (Roca and the all-important Guido), and likely their best LB in local lad Juan Miranda. But if they want to add more attacking creativity to Isco, Fekir, Diao, Abde, Rodri, Ayoze, Willian Jose, Chimy Avila and so on and try to win games 5-4, that’s fine by me.
 

sdiaz1

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Huge home win in the early match for Vigo with club legend Iago at the brace. Now they are 6 points clear of Cadiz (who are yet to play).

Conceivable that after the weekend is done they are in better position than Rayo (rooting that they dont go down).and Mallorca based on goal diffeence.

Edit- And the mighty Rayo Vallecano score twice after the 80th minute against Osasuna!
 
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candylandriots

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I think everyone is writing the obvious narrative regarding Isco. He was an obscenely talented player at Madrid, at times maybe the best on the team, but didn’t seem to actually care about doing the things a professional player must do. So he fell down the depth chart and had that disastrous move to Sevilla. He was there for four months, and the most memorable thing he was involved in was being physically attacked by Monchi. His contract was terminated and he didn’t sign with anyone for the rest of last season, though there was an agreement with Union Berlin (both sides claim that the other made last minute changes to the contract that caused it to collapse). So we have this made-for-film story of a gifted player who didn’t try, perhaps was spoiled by his talent, and having it alll taken away from him because of his own lack of effort. He hits a nadir, then signs for Sevilla’s rivals- he’s Andalusian and knows exactly what he’s doing- reemerging as a player transformed. Now he’s putting in defensive effort, winning balls he shouldn’t win, making full field sprints in the 90th minute both forward and defensively. He still possesses amazing technical talent, he’s scored some wonderful goals, and some of his passes are out of this world. I was nervous that he would fall back into his old ways after his injury, but he’s back. After his two goals against Barca I bought my #22 jersey.

View: https://youtu.be/FN7SlOUUkT4?si=TtRDizWQXYbVOxmz
The story I heard about Isco at Union is that Spanish contracts are quoted net of taxes, and German contracts are gross, and Isco thought he was getting like twice as much as he was actually getting as a result.
 

rguilmar

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The story I heard about Isco at Union is that Spanish contracts are quoted net of taxes, and German contracts are gross, and Isco thought he was getting like twice as much as he was actually getting as a result.
That’s what I heard as well. Italy and Spain salaries are post tax, Germany and EPL pre tax. That’s what people aren’t understanding about the Juve-Weston McKennie contract negotiations (and the recent tax hike in Italy). Juve can be offering a higher salary, but it will be reported as the same or lower as he’s paid now when accounting for the higher taxes.

One would think that this would be made clear in the negotiating process. But it’s soccer and common sense rarely prevails.
 

rguilmar

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Well, no hay Liga. Even if Barca won yesterday's Clasico it would have been unlikely that they could have come back and won La Liga. Now the attention will probably go to the battles for European places with a gap developing between 18th place Cadiz and the rest at the bottom. I'm not sure what the impact of a Real Madrid Champions League title would be on qualification for the rest of the clubs given the new format, but I believe Spain would get a fifth slot in that case, which would make things very interesting for Europa League and Conference League qualification.

For Madrid, Lucas Vazquez had himself a week. I know a lot of the recognition will go to Bellingham, but Vazquez made the difference in both Manchester and Madrid. He can play RB now which gives them some cover for Carvajal. Looking forward, the Mbappe saga looks to be winding up in their favor. They can wait out Munich on Davies if they want. I'm guessing that Nacho and Modric have played their last Clasico, Modric pretty much already ably replaced. Real Madrid can look to add a CB or not as they can bring Rafa Marin back from Alaves. In short, they are stacked now and have options going forward.

For Barca, I am not sure what direction they take. I continue to hope that they build through La Masia. Obviously Cubarsi and Yamal have been spectacular. Fort and Guiu have played well in spurts. They are tying up more of their young stars up long-term. Then they spend their resources on older players and loan moves. Joao Cancelo is under fire for his awful week. Deco was sitting down with Valladolid to buy Spanish youth international Ivan Fresneda, a teenage right back, when news broke that Cancelo might be available. Deco essentially dropped everything for Cancelo I understand the reputation of Cancelo, but looking forward it would be nice to have Fresneda anchored in a right back for the foreseeable future- admittedly I have lost track of him as he was sold to Sporting- instead of a loan for Cancelo who likely will be gone after this season. Add to that the Dest and FDJ injuries, two players the club can and is willing to sell, and I’m not sure what the direction of the club is. It feels like they’re paying expensive players to hit certain financial benchmarks so that they can continue to overpay for expensive players.
 

rguilmar

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@rguilmar Oviedo is likely going to lose today, which puts them out of the top 6 and makes the next six games basically must-win. Yikes.
They’re level on points for the last couple playoff spot with arch rivals Gijon but definitely should have gotten four points out of the last two games where they only got one point. They have a games against teams nowhere near the drop or promotion, which should help. Of course, the have to play strong teams like Éibar and Espanyol too. So there so many team still so close that it’s hard to predict who will finish where.

One of my other binky clubs, Deportivo La Coruña, has pulled six points clear atop their group in the third tier so they might be righting the ship a bit.
 

Zososoxfan

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Well, no hay Liga. Even if Barca won yesterday's Clasico it would have been unlikely that they could have come back and won La Liga. Now the attention will probably go to the battles for European places with a gap developing between 18th place Cadiz and the rest at the bottom. I'm not sure what the impact of a Real Madrid Champions League title would be on qualification for the rest of the clubs given the new format, but I believe Spain would get a fifth slot in that case, which would make things very interesting for Europa League and Conference League qualification.

For Madrid, Lucas Vazquez had himself a week. I know a lot of the recognition will go to Bellingham, but Vazquez made the difference in both Manchester and Madrid. He can play RB now which gives them some cover for Carvajal. Looking forward, the Mbappe saga looks to be winding up in their favor. They can wait out Munich on Davies if they want. I'm guessing that Nacho and Modric have played their last Clasico, Modric pretty much already ably replaced. Real Madrid can look to add a CB or not as they can bring Rafa Marin back from Alaves. In short, they are stacked now and have options going forward.

For Barca, I am not sure what direction they take. I continue to hope that they build through La Masia. Obviously Cubarsi and Yamal have been spectacular. Fort and Guiu have played well in spurts. They are tying up more of their young stars up long-term. Then they spend their resources on older players and loan moves. Joao Cancelo is under fire for his awful week. Deco was sitting down with Valladolid to buy Spanish youth international Ivan Fresneda, a teenage right back, when news broke that Cancelo might be available. Deco essentially dropped everything for Cancelo I understand the reputation of Cancelo, but looking forward it would be nice to have Fresneda anchored in a right back for the foreseeable future- admittedly I have lost track of him as he was sold to Sporting- instead of a loan for Cancelo who likely will be gone after this season. Add to that the Dest and FDJ injuries, two players the club can and is willing to sell, and I’m not sure what the direction of the club is. It feels like they’re paying expensive players to hit certain financial benchmarks so that they can continue to overpay for expensive players.
Yeah, pretty depressing how well Madrid are setup for the near and medium term. Only thing I can see being problems for them (if I squint--I feel like Mel Gibson grasping at straws re Cornwallis in The Patriot) is too many egos in the forward line, or Carlo moving on (he's such an OG and one of the best man managers around).

Re Barca, I think the whole squad looks differently if they can bring in a capable DMF. FDJ, Gundo, et al are just so much better playing ahead of someone who can handle that role, and that frees a lot of the ability of the other mids (Pedri, Fermin) and the wingers. Getting Gavi back will also help a great deal.

This season has been a huge step back for some marquee players at Barca. I'm thinking specifically of Pedri and Araujo. Both have been plagued by injuries this year, but these are guys I was sure would be staples in the XI for the next decade. Now, I'm not sure Kounde didn't have a better season than Araujo (something I NEVER thought I'd say) and Pedri stalled out. Maybe it's as simple as Gavi frees Pedri to his thing, Pedri is following a fairly typical trajectory of a star at 21, but it's a bit discouraging nonetheless.

The other obvious key to the offseason is getting the right manager. The squad is still insanely strong (albeit with a LARGE gap at DMF, and possibly both FB spots), and I do have some concerns about Lewa (age) and MATS (performance in big games, age) but a real manager gets a lot out of this squad.

There are plenty of good manager options out there, so I'm honestly a bit less concerned about that. It's obviously important and getting it right is easier said than done, but the talent is there and it won't cost as much as players.

OTOH, the free agent list of DMFs this summer to me looks like Guido Rodriguez (Betis, Argentino!), Ndidi (LCFC), Gueye (Marseille), Sissoko (Strasbourg, no idea if he's good), and Tapia (Celta). There are others, but they're 32+ years old. Even though that list isn't AMAZING, I think they need to sign at least one to establish a baseline for performance. I don't think much of Guido but he can do a job. If Barca get approval to spend even a bit of money, perhaps they can buy someone line Amrabat, Varela (Porto, Argentino!), a young player from the Portugal/Dutch/French league, or shit even Hojbjerg for $20M.
 

Zososoxfan

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First Raul Garcia announced this is his last season at Athletic Club. Now Iker Muniain does the same. It makes perfect sense, of course. Muniain is a legend in Bilbao and I can see he going into youth coaching or something. More than anyone else, he really seemed to enjoy the Copa victory parade.

View: https://twitter.com/athletic_en/status/1783057442286268683?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ
That Copa celebration was like Spanish Gasparilla. I loved watching it.
 

sdiaz1

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Damn, two legends for Athletic. Shame to see them, especially Munian go.

Regarding the Xavi news.... whelp I am sure that everything will be smooth and drama free.


The difference between the level of admiration and respect that I had Xavi as player versus Xavi as a manager is imense.
 

rguilmar

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Xavi and Barcelona makes sense for everyone involved. Xavi stays on at the club he loves. Barca don’t really have the money to pay someone new. Laporta keeps his blame buffer since Xavi isn’t his choice. Winners all around!
 

Zososoxfan

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I'm not totally opposed to this, as Xavi hasn't done a great job this season, but I think the players have underperformed and the squad building is a problem Xavi didn't create. They probably took a look at the manager market, decided they didn't want a German running the show, and set some basic conditions (read: fire your bro) for Xavi to continue.
 

rguilmar

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Jul 16, 2005
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Huge clash right now between 4th place Atletico Madrid and 5th place Athletic Club. It’s tied 1-1 at the half. The two clubs are obviously tied together historically, but recently have had some troubles. There is no away section today at the Metropolitano as punishment for Atleti fans being ambushed at a bar in Bilbao prior to the second leg of the Copa. There was an ugly moment late in the first half with an Atleti fan shouting something vulgar at Nico Williams. Nico thankfully got the equalizer and celebrated right in front of that part of the stadium.
 

rguilmar

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Finally have some time to reflect after a painful Seville derby. Betis were the better team and should have won, but it ended 1-1. Sigh. From a USMNT perspective, Johnny was fantastic once again, and at one point he, Isco, and Ayoze went full Harlem Globetrotters on the sideline that got the Benito Villamarin (quite literally) shaking.

To wrap up the Atleti-Athletic match, Atleti ended up winning 3-1. A fan did direct monkey chants at Nico, and Nico responded by scoring and pointing to his skin. Protocol was followed, the fan has been identified, and the club has stated he will be barred from the stadium.

To add to this, I find that I probably need to root for Real Madrid to win the Champions League because of the knock on effect- Athletic Club getting the extra UCL spot, Real Sociedad getting into the Europa League, and Betis into the Conference League. All of this assumes that the old qualification rules apply to the new UCL format.

Not the best of times.
 

rguilmar

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Then I go on Twitter/X. I’m shocked in a good way at La Liga. So rarely do they do anything of consequence in a positive way.

View: https://twitter.com/laligamichael/status/1785362075822260282?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ



The Competitions Committee have decided to partially close the stands of Atletico Madrid’s Civitas Metropolitano. ‍⚖

The stands where Nico Williams was racially abused will not see football until next season.

Atletico Madrid will also be fined €20,000.
 

rguilmar

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Jul 16, 2005
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Congrats to Real Madrid who won La Liga while undoubtedly sealing the fate of Cadiz. This coupled with Barcelona’s loss to Girona gave Madrid the title. When is the last time a Catalan club finished above Barca? My best guess is 1932-1933.

The top 4 and relegation spots are pretty much set. Not much left to fight for outside of the other European spots. Real Madrid, Girona, Barca, Atleti will go to UCL, Athletic Club and La Real to Europa League, and Betis to Europa Conference League (Valencia and Villarreal are chasing). If Real Madrid win the Champions League, I think Athletic Club also go to the UCL and Betis are bumped up to the Europa League (or is it Mallorca???).
 

rguilmar

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Down in the 3rd tier, Deportivo La Coruña defeated second place Barcelona Atletic (Barca’s B team) 1-0 to clinch promotion back to the Segunda. Lucas Perez scored the winner. Perez paid his own release clause at Cadiz a couple of seasons ago so he could join his boyhood club on a minimum wage. Great story. I remember the old Super Depor days and would love to see them back in La Liga soon enough to face Aspas at Celta one last time.

The scenes outside of the Riazor before the game:

View: https://twitter.com/rcdeportivo/status/1789684978810302574?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ
 
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Zososoxfan

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Jul 30, 2009
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The least surprising signing, at least until Mbappe signs for Real Madrid. Guido is a great player who was available on a free. Barca needs a proper 6. He’s just a bandaid for a season or two, but it makes too much sense.

Now Betis must keep Johnny.

View: https://twitter.com/fabrizioromano/status/1788602945916870909?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ
Smart, obvious signing. Should be much better than Oriol. Limited in attack, but at least should provide a real shield to the defense, and perhaps can help with organization.
 

rguilmar

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Just in time for Cadiz to get relegated, Copa 90 and Eli Mengem are dropping a show dedicated to the club. Sid Lowe is making his near-required appearance.

View: https://twitter.com/copa90/status/1790038106088919191?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ


They have the reputation for being a fun club. Extremely steep stadium right by the ocean, passionate fans, known for being very far to the left politically (sharing a bond with like-minded Rayo Vallecano).
 

rguilmar

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Rumors in Catalunya are the Vitor Roque will not be at Barcelona next season, with his agent saying that Roque will only accept a permanent transfer, not a loan. Obviously a lot of posturing and it is pre-silly season, and the press around Barcelona are out of talking point, but of all of the recent bizarre transfers at Barca lately, this would absolutely take the cake. The Brazilian joined in January, earlier than the pre-arranged summer transfer because the Gavi injury opened up the option to bring Roque over early.

My guess is that he reluctantly goes out on a loan.
 

Zososoxfan

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Just in time for Cadiz to get relegated, Copa 90 and Eli Mengem are dropping a show dedicated to the club. Sid Lowe is making his near-required appearance.

View: https://twitter.com/copa90/status/1790038106088919191?s=46&t=XvGOrrWIyL-5CHVVL_0JYQ


They have the reputation for being a fun club. Extremely steep stadium right by the ocean, passionate fans, known for being very far to the left politically (sharing a bond with like-minded Rayo Vallecano).
This looks awesome. I've been to the Spanish Southern coast, but didn't make it to Cadiz. I definitely need to go and include a trip to Sevilla as well. I'm sure Jaen, Cordoba, and other towns are also worth a visit. That's the problem with visiting Spain--there's too many cool areas to visit! I'd love to go to the Basque country and Galicia too.
 

sdiaz1

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Apr 17, 2013
150
The plot thickens, Girona may be forced to play in Europa league to the investment from the Abu Dhabi group.

Come on down Athletic Club!
 

rguilmar

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The plot thickens, Girona may be forced to play in Europa league to the investment from the Abu Dhabi group.

Come on down Athletic Club!
Let’s take this a step further, shall we?

If this comes to happen AND Real Madrid wins the Champions League…

Betis to the UCL!!!!!!!
 

sdiaz1

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Apr 17, 2013
150
Damn, I want to see Isco in the UCL and make every mega team feel like fools as he dances through their midfield.
 

rguilmar

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Ernesto Valverde is staying at Athletic Club for another season. Well earned as they would have been the story of the season if not for Girona.

Luka Modric has informed Real Madrid that he would like to stay on for another season. He’s out of contract and could go anywhere, but he wants to stay and is willing to take a huge pay cut.