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La Liga had a familiar look to it on Tuesday morning.
Wealthy behemoths Real Madrid and Barcelona top the standings on goal difference after each recorded emphatic wins against opponents who were utterly outclassed.
Villarreal, through to the Champions League group stages after finishing fourth last term, were thrashed 5-0 by Barca at the Nou Camp on Monday night, a day after Real Madrid romped to a 6-0 victory at Real Zaragoza.
Barca’s financial clout was underlined by the fact that coach Pep Guardiola was able to start without Spanish World Cup-winners Xavi and David Villa as new signings Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez scored on their home debuts in the league.
In our latest post on Spanish soccer, Iain Rogers in Madrid looks at the latest round of speculation over the future of Cesc Fabregas and classy Mali striker Frederic Kanoute’s decision to play on at Sevilla for one more season.
Do Barca really need to splash out on Cesc?
The annual ‘will Cesc Fabregas leave Arsenal and return to Barcelona’ media machine has been cranking into gear in recent weeks and the man himself showed up in Madrid last week to present a new fragrance at a trendy art gallery near Atocha railway station.
In our latest Monday post on Spanish soccer, Mark Elkington in Madrid reviews the first of four games in three competitions in 18 days between arch rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid and takes a look at surprise La Liga package Levante.
One down, three to go
Real Madrid and Barcelona achieved their primary aims in Saturday´s 1-1 “Clasico” draw, the first of four titanic clashes between the arch rivals in 18 days.
In our latest Monday Spanish soccer post, Iain Rogers in Madrid looks at the calm before the “Clasico” storm, Johan Cruyff”s latest musings on the Real-Barca rivalry and the recent fine form of Valencia and striker Roberto Soldado.
Real in fine fettle ahead of four-game Barca showdown
With an unprecedented four “Clasicos” in 18 days just around the corner (unless something very strange happens in the Champions League quarter-final second legs), Real Madrid and Barcelona had a final run-out in La Liga before they meet next weekend, wins for each meaning Barca will travel to the Bernabeu with an eight-point lead with seven games remaining.
In our latest Monday Spanish soccer post, Mark Elkington in Madrid reviews the situation in La Liga after Real Madrid’s shock 1-0 defeat at home to Sporting Gijon and looks ahead to this week’s Champions League action.
La Liga is Barca’s to lose
In a week when Real Madrid were reported by local media to have vetoed the playing of any Shakira songs in the Bernabeu because of her romance with Barcelona’s Gerard Pique, the Spain defender gained more than ample revenge.
In the latest edition of our Monday Spanish soccer blog, Mark Elkington looks at a dispute that threatens the next round of La Liga matches, Spain’s Euro 2012 qualifiers against Czech Republic and Lithuania and the problems affecting second-division leaders Rayo Vallecano.
Many of La Liga’s finest packed their bags and headed off to represent their countries last week while the action in Spain switched from the pitch to the courtroom.
Starting today, Madrid-based Reuters sports correspondents Iain Rogers and Mark Elkington will be writing a regular Monday column on La Liga for the Reuters soccer blog.
In its inaugural edition, Iain looks at the how the great rivalry between Spain’s dominant clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid has taken on an added piquancy this season and reviews some talking points from the weekend league action.
Like many of Europe’s biggest clubs, Barcelona find themselves at a crucial point of the season, with their hopes in two of the three competitions they are contesting in the balance.
Worryingly for fans, Pep Guardiola’s side have been hit by a rash of niggling injuries to key players at a highly inconvenient moment.
Arsenal did a lot of things right in Wednesday’s fine 2-1 comeback win over Barcelona, not least finishing more clinically than their La Liga visitors, but it would be a big surprise if Barca were as generous in the return leg on March 8.
World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, who netted all four goals in a 4-1 demolition at the Nou Camp last season to give Barca a 6-3 aggregate victory, missed at least two golden chances at The Emirates and Spain forward Pedro was also guilty of profligacy.
During Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid at the Nou Camp last Saturday, which set a Spanish record of 16 straight La Liga victories, there was one thrilling passage of play which perfectly illustrated the work ethic Pep Guardiola has instilled among his squad of wonderfully gifted players.
The ball was played into space for Atletico forward Sergio Aguero. Lionel Messi suddenly appeared, sprinting back into defence. The World Player of the Year ran shoulder to shoulder with his Argentina team mate, stole the ball, beat Felipe Luis with an audacious piece of skill and started yet another assault on the visitors’ goal.