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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.
Good day everyone and welcome to a new week. Following a great weekend of footballing action and with so much at stake over the next few days in Europe, there is plenty to discuss.
Let’s begin with a look at the FA Cup quarter-finals, and please add the weekend of April 16/17 to your diaries as the Manchester derby will make its way to Wembley for the semi-finals while Stoke face Bolton.
Seeing Sevilla’s rather dilapidated training ground for the first time in the beautiful Andalusian sunshine on Monday morning really brought home the gulf in resources compared with La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Currently fourth in the domestic league, a whopping 21 points behind leaders Real and second-placed Barca, Sevilla are the only other Spanish side still alive in this season’s Champions League but their Ciudad Deportiva José Ramón Cisneros Palacios is a world away from both the Madrid club’s enormous, state-of-the-art Ciudad Real Madrid out near Barajas airport and Barca’s gleaming Ciutat esportiva Joan Gamper.
One swallow does not make a summer, but Sevilla’s bristling 2-1 victory over Real Madrid on Sunday offers hope that the answer to the question posed in Thursday’s blog is ‘no’.
Three teams can challenge for the La Liga title this year.
Manolo Jimenez’s side inflicted a first defeat on Real with a vibrant, attacking display that was reminiscent of their performances under Juande Ramos when they won back-to-back UEFA Cups.
A few days ago, Real Zaragoza president Eduardo Bandres said: “The Spanish league will be a matter totally and absolutely between two teams, among other things because the system for distributing television rights determines that it will be this way. It is unique in Europe and because of this the Spanish league is one of the most boring in Europe.”
The television channels would beg to differ, as they regularly run adverts or open their coverage of matches from La Liga claiming it is the ‘best league in the world’ with clips of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi running in the background.
Florentino Perez began his second spell as Real Madrid president on Monday and immediately signed up Zinedine Zidane and Jorge Valdano for the project.
Those appointments are all very well, but the question we all want answering is which players Florentino is going to bring in. Will he content himself with one major signing, a la Zidane, or will he, as some have speculated, sign basically a whole new team.
I nearly fell out of my chair on Sunday night when I realised the identity of the Real Madrid player who had surged into the box and sent across a perfectly-weighted centre for Raul to score the equaliser against Sevilla.
Christoph Metzelder? What on earth is he doing up there?
The 28-year-old defender is trying to win back his place in the German national side but has only played in eight of the Spanish champions’ 33 league matches this season and has said he is considering moving on if he doesn’t get more time on the pitch.