Tuesday, September 22, 2015

La Liga Week in Review: 9/22

Fernando Torres celebrates after his goal in a 2-0 win at Eibar.
 By Justin Sherman (@JShermOfficial)

Who's rising and who's falling in Spain's largest soccer classification? Find out below.

Stock Up    

Keylor Navas (Real Madrid)

How’s this for a story? You’re the starting goalkeeper for perennial doormat Levante, yet you played so well that you were awarded La Liga’s goalkeeper of the season award. As a result, you attract the attention of one of the world's biggest clubs in Real Madrid, who then sign you for 10 million Euros. Once there, you’re buried on the bench behind club legend Iker Casillas, subsequently only appearing in a grand total of 11 games.

The following summer Casillas is sold, and you finally have your shot as the number one choice. Instead, rumors dominate the tabloids of the club trying desperately to land Manchester United goalkeeper and Madrid born David de Gea. On the final day of the transfer window you’re nightmare becomes a reality when Madrid agree to transfer you to Manchester United in part-exchange for de Gea.

Astonishingly, the deal collapses in the final minutes because the documents needed to complete the transfer were not submitted to FIFA before the Spanish transfer deadline. Seen as the ugly step-child, you shrug off the doubt and guide Real Madrid to five clean sheets through its first five games (something never done in the 113 year history of the club), while having your name chanted by the Bernabeu faithful in the process.

Welcome to Madrid, the grand authors of nonfiction are almost too hard to be believed.


Coming off a 6th place finish in last years table, not much was expected of the yellow submarine. The loss of Luciano Vietto and Denis Cheryshev were seen as a major blow resulting in another long season. Before the end of the transfer window, Roberto Soldado surprisingly signed on, making his return to the league he starred in with Valencia. So far, the move has paid dividends. With a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao, Villarreal won their third consecutive game, putting them joint-second in the table with Real Madrid and Celta Vigo at 10 points.

Fernando Torres (Atlético Madrid)

The year was 2008 and Spain faced off with Germany in the Euro Cup final in Vienna. Looking for their first title in 44 years, Fernando Torres raced towards net with Philipp Lahm snapping at his heels and Jens Lehmann rushing out. El Nino just got his toe to the ball lifting it with his right foot over the advancing goalie and into the net, delivering the decisive goal.

Fast forward seven years later to a pitch in Eibar, and Torres delivered a mirror image goal. Coming on as a second half substitute for the subpar Jackson Martinez, Torres was the delivery man as he assisted Angel Correa for Atletico’s first. With Eibar threatening for a draw, it was again Fernando who came through with his goal in the 77th minute to put the game away.

With goals in back-to-back games and a reinvigorated confidence, the Spaniard is putting his all into a chance at reclaiming past glory.

Stock Down


When Carlos Bacca and his 28 goals decided to depart for AC Milan, Sevilla fans were consoled by the fact that ownership didn’t stay still and pocket the cash. With summer signings including the likes of Fernando Llorente, Ciro Immobile, and Yevhen Konoplyanka, big things were expected.

Through 4 games this season the attack has more closely resembled the athletic prowess of my eight year old niece running the potato sack race. With only two goals scored and no wins to show, Sevilla find themselves dead last in La Liga. It’s incredibly early and much can change, but a 10 point gap for a team expected to compete for a UCL spot is downright stinky.

David Moyes (Real Sociedad)

You may remember the Scottish Manager from his tumultuous time as manager of Manchester United. That tenure lasted all of 10 months, the third shortest managerial stint in United history. In desperate need of a fresh start, Moyes departed to the Spanish league where he was hired by Basque side Real Sociedad.

After guiding La Real to a ho-hum 12th place finish, Moyes was retained and rewarded with a plethora of offensive weapons. Favorite son Asier Illarramendi was brought home from Real Madrid, while Jonathas, so impressive at Elche, was signed to lead the line.

Sociedad instead find themselves in 17th with their only goals of the season coming in last weekends defeat. Carlos Vela has been a train wreck, looking out of shape while dreaming of his next tapa of Patatas Bravas. Going back to last season, Moyes's side have won 2 of their last 14 competitive contests. Luckily, it’s still very early in the season and some players need time to gel, but if recent history is to be trusted, it’s only a matter of time before Moyes is packing his bags yet again.

Ter Stegen (Barcelona)

Forced into action through injury to the clubs number one Claudio Bravo, Stegen has failed to impress so far. The German has conceded, one way or another, in each of his games this season.

His last clean sheet was eight matches ago in April's Champions League semifinal first leg vs. Bayern Munich. In this weekend's game, Levante sent in a cross that Stegen came out and attempted to punch. In the process, he resembled one of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s opponents, whiffing embarrassingly, allowing substitute Victor Casadesus an easy finish into an unguarded net.

These performances may suffice against the Levante’s of the world, but with Bravo out for the foreseeable future Stegen will need to step up his play to keep Barcelona head of the table.

Goal of the Week

Ángel Correa (Atlético Madrid)

This weekend was lacking in the golazo department, so I decided to award tremendous touch and a deft link up. This week’s goal comes courtesy of Ángel Correa, who blasted home a lovely pass from Fernando Torres. That touch begins at 00:30 of the video below, and you can watch Torres' goal after.

Games to Watch/Matchday 5-6

Writer's note: This week will be jam packed with action as each side will play two fixtures in the same week. As a result, I have listed five games to watch, as opposed to the traditional three.

Celta de Vigo vs. Barcelona 9/23 - 2:00 PM
Athletic Club vs. Real Madrid 9/23 - 3:00 PM
Sevilla vs. Las Palmas 9/23 - 4:00 PM
Villarreal vs. Atlético Madrid 9/26 - 2:30 PM
Sporting de Gijón vs. Real Betis 9/27 - 6:00 AM

By Justin Sherman (@JShermOfficial)

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