Thursday, November 5, 2015

La Liga Week in Review 11/5

Barcelona’s players did more than just scare their opponents Saturday night.
 By Justin Sherman (@JShermOfficial)

It was another bizarre week in La Liga, as headlines made off the pitch again took center stage. Who’s rising and who’s falling? Find out below.

Stock Up      


Alen Halilovic (Sporting Gijon) 

For newly promoted sides, the talent gap between themselves and the heavyweights of the league can be astronomical. Homegrown talent can only get you so far, and with transfer budgets so low, loans are vital to survival. Strapped with huge potential, Alen Halilovic is just the latest Croatian sensation to hit world football.

At the tender age of 19, Barcelona decided it was time to increase the competition level needed for a player's progression.  Instead of having him featured in Barcelona’s second division B side, they decided to loan him out to the highest bidder. In stepped Sporting, and the return couldn’t have been better.

He has started eight games for his new side, scoring twice, while assisting three directly for his team-mates. His strike over the weekend gave Sporting a 1-0 win over Malaga, securing three precious points for the Asturians. If he can continue to develop, Halilovic could have a real chance at first team football with Barcelona next season.

 Sergi Roberto (Barcelona)

Shuffled in-and-out of the lineup and forced to fill in at right back has done Sergi Roberto no favors in his development. Finally given the chance by coach Luis Enrique to start in his preferred midfield role, the Spaniard dazzled.

With two goals against Getafe, Luis Suarez and Neymar have now between them scored all of Barcelona’s 13 La Liga goals since Lionel Messi got injured in late September.

On Saturday neither would have been possible without the sensational assists of Roberto. His first was a first-time, spinning, no-look flick that freed Suarez inside the box. The turn resembled a pirouette that would make even the Bolshoi Ballet proud. The second was a 40-yard counterattacking run, before sending a pinpoint cross-field ball giving Neymar a first-time finish at the back post.

The creativity exuding from the midfield was exactly what Barcelona needed, relieving some of the pressure put on Suarez, and especially Neymar to create their own shots.

Jese Rodriguez (Real Madrid) 

Coming out of Real Madrid’s youth academy - La Fabrica - can be a gift and a curse. Many have tried, failed, and even been given the opportunity again. The latest experiment is one Jese Rodriguez, who arguably, could be the most important player to emerge from the academy in a decade.

When it comes to it’s stars, Madrid prefer the microwave technique. The long arduous process of oven baking just doesn't fly.

If you taste good right away, you’ve made it. Need a little extra seasoning? Straight to the trash.

For Jese, patience was always needed. Few remember, but before an ACL injury crippled his right knee in March 2014, he had five goals and four assists to his name in just 18 games, the majority of which came as a substitute, plus another three in eight Copa del Rey appearances.

The road back was long, and detrimental.

Replacements were brought in, and the Spaniard further slipped down the pecking order.

Coming into this season minutes were seen as a luxury, not the norm. But injuries happened. Benzema, James and Bale all go down for extended periods, forcing the hand of Rafa Benitez.

Seizing his opportunity, Jese has been more than the swagger-laden goal or nothing player from the past. His commitment to tracking back on defense and all out hustle have not only been a breath of fresh air, but something Benitez requires for playing time.

This weekend, he did his best Cristiano Ronaldo impersonation with an outside/inside dribble, before firing a rocket into the bottom corner of the net. With its Galacticos rounding back into health, it remains to be seen if Jese again is overlooked.

At the very least, he is now being seen. 

Stock Down  

 Barcelona’s Halloween Prank 

In stepped Shrek, Batman, and some sort of prisoner.

Getafe’s forward Víctor Rodríguez was seated with the press, cameras rolling and all, discussing his side's loss to Barcelona. Amongst the commotion, a mask went up, and the players realized something was wrong. Panic ensued, as Barcelona’s players tried to their damnedest to escape out the back door, or any crevice of freedom.

Attempting to prank their own head coach Luis Enrique with a bit of a scare, but instead, they got backlash for an unintended lack of respect towards Getafe.

Local papers ran with the story, coming up with headlines such as:  “Luis Enrique came as an ogre with irritable bowels, but no one realized he was wearing a costume,” from Juanma Trueba in AS.

“They’re scary,” ran the cover of El Mundo Deportivo on Monday morning. Just in case you didn’t get it first time, the huge headline running across pages two and three reads: “They’re frightening again.”

For their part, Barcelona issued a public statement apologizing for the episode.

“We would like to personally apologize to him, as well as to express our respect for him. The images recorded demonstrate that one of the players who was participating said, ‘Where are we going? We went the wrong way.’

No need to apologize Barca, this was just the latest example of what makes La Liga the most bizarre and entertaining league in the world.

Nuno (Valencia)

A 3-0 win in the city derby will usually bring most fan bases to a standing ovation. Instead, the Mestalla rose for a man not even dressed for the match. “Negredo! Negredo! Negredo!” they chanted.

Purchased for 27 million Euros over the summer after a successful loan spell, Negredo was locked in to be Valencia’s starting striker, and principal goal scorer. After a promising, albeit brief start to the season, things started to go south. The hard pressing, attacking style of play that Valencia implored the season before suspiciously vanished. With it came a string of poor results and players bemoaning to the press, and none were more vocal than Alvaro Negredo.

Having failed to feature in a game since October 4th, the Spaniard has been, essentially, frozen out. Nuno continues to claim the decision was based on “ tactical reasons,” but no one is fooled. Valencia’s supporters are out for blood, and only one man’s head can satiate that thirst.


Just another week at the office for Granada, as they blew a lead for the third consecutive game. For good measure, they conceded in the final minute in two of those. This week's variety happened in the 94th minute at Espanyol, despite playing with a man advantage. The latest loss keeps the Andalusian side in the relegation zone. Had they won just one of the games, they would be in 16th; two of those and they could be 10th. Coach José Ramón Sandoval could only hide his head in shame after the equalizer. After the match, his mood only seemed to worsen:

“This is not tactical or technical, it is personality. All the effort of the squad cannot be thrown down the drain like that. We have to know what we’re playing at and what’s at play … in my case, my life. There are kids in playgrounds who are better at the ‘other football’ [being streetwise and smart] than we are. How am I? How would you expect me to me? Ask the fans how they are.”

Goal of the Week

Writer’s note: This week brings us two incredible goals. The first is classic Barcelona link up play, set up by an incredible Sergi Roberto pass. The second is a 30 yard curler off the foot of Pablo Hernandez. The shot was not only beautiful, but it came in the 88th minute giving Vigo the win.

Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

Pablo Hernández (Celta de Vigo)

Games to Watch/ Matchday 10
1. Barcelona vs. Villarreal 11/8 10:00 AM
2. Sevilla vs. Real Madrid 11/8 2:30 PM
3. Celta Vigo vs. Valencia 11/7 10:00 AM

La Liga Standings

Table: PTOS- points , PJ- games played , PG- games won, PE- games tied, PP- games lost

No comments :