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La Liga half-season review: Leganes, Real Betis, Girona, Espanyol, Getafe, Real Sociedad and Celta Vigo
Nedim Maric posted an article in FeaturesLeganes This team being 9th in the table is something you don't see very often. Not because of their name or their just recent entrance into the first division, but because of the playing style that has seen them scoring a shocking 13 goals in 17 fixtures, the worst record along with Malaga and Alaves, who are both in the relegation zone. Of course, this is tempered by a strong defence, with 14 conceded goals, and it's a big testament to their team unity, making up for lack of talent in the hustle section. They knocked Villareal out of the Copa del Rey, and are looking to stay in the top 10, but to do so, they'll need more firepower. Gabriel Pires, a 23-year old central midfielder, is their most creative player who they base most of their attacks on. To go along with that, he's scored 4 goals, and adding an assist to that directly contributing to 38% of all of their goals in La Liga. It will be interesting to see what their plan is moving forward, as maintaining this goals to points ratio is nearly impossible. Real Betis Here are the kings of La Liga! Yes, I realize that them being 10th placed in the league doesn't really adjust it, but what Setien Quique is doing is magical and what football is all about. A man obsessed with space, just like another Spanish genius, famously known as Pep, is playing some of the most beautiful football in Europe. And, as we all know, very often does result ignore the beauty and bury it deeply, just as the recent Betis run is showing. After a hot start in La Liga, they collected 4 defeats with a single draw and a win in the last 6 matches, which saw them dropping to the exact middle of the table. However, it was never boring with them. Just look at some of their league results: 4-0. 4-4, 3-6, 5-0, and a recent big 3-5 victory announcing the bounce back which we all hope to see. No, the above weren't random water polo results, it's the actual La Liga mid-table team. Their 0-1 victory at Bernabeu was something to watch, as they provided not resistance, but rather a show where they controlled the champions of Europe. Their wild 30-34 goal-difference tells you all you need to know, as they are fifth best in goals scored category, and second worst in goals conceded. Definitely not something you expect from the team pinned to the middle of the league table. Setien Quique once said: "I understand football trough the ball“, and as long as he keeps doing it, we'll be the privileged ones to watch them. Girona The small, but likable team from Catalonia is really coming through as a stable La Liga candidate. Sitting 11th, they’re far away from the relegation zone, with no worries for the rest of the season, but to keep their steady pace and look forward to the future and possible summer acquisitions. They took both 2 defeats and wins in their last 4 games, a rhythm they certainly won’t mind keeping. Notable players are 31-year old Cristhian Stuani, who managed to score very surprising 9 goals considering the low scoring Girona team. Another player to watch is City loanee, Maffeo who did very well during the first part of the season playing 17/18 games and making a great experience by literally man-marking world’s best player in an unusual performance against Barcelona. Biggest moment of the season was 2-1 win over Real Madrid, where they managed to turn things around after losing 1-0. What’s noticeable, the win came just in the heat of Catalonian protests and political movement which saw them gain big popularity amongst the pro-independence crowd. Espanyol Just below their regional rivals lies Espanyol. We are more than used to their season, always somewhere in the middle of the table, making a leap towards top 10 or dropping to the dangerous zone here and there, but most of the time they can guarantee for staying up which is their most important goal in the season, and everything else is a bonus. They have scored only 15 goals, but it was never a trait applicable for Espanyol side. 25-year-old forward Gerard Moreno scored a pretty neat 7 goals, an amazing number considering Espanyol’s defensive orientation and lack of bodies upfront. Defensive midfielder Sergi Darder also played a great role in destructing opposition attacks and providing stability for his side. Getafe After returning to La Liga after a short stint in the Segunda, it's the same old Getafe. Boring but consistent, good enough to be safe out of the relegation zone, but not good enough top fight for top 10 or excite anyone. Juan Cala and Djene Dakoman combined as a winning combination as pair of central defenders. They're also the best Getafe players, nothing unexpected from defensively-orientated side. They both played their hearts out, combining 35/36 appearances in La Liga and providing much needed stability. Getafe's main striker was 30-year old Angel Rodriguez, scoring 6 goals, just enough to keep Getafe in the safe zone. They welcome Getafe and Bilbao in next two matches, and will look to get something out of those matches so they can enter the late Januray in relaxed mode. Real Sociedad Here is a team no one expected to see this low. The Basque side consistently lacked balance this season which is clearly reflected in their 31-30 goals difference. While they managed to score a lot (5th best), they also managed to concede quite a lot, too (4th worst), with similar situation as Betis, but with far worse end product. However, their big hope for the future, Oyarzabal is proving to be worth the trust, as he scored 3 and assisted 2 goals this season, just like former Manchester United wonderkid, Adnan Januzaj, but the latter did it in just 9 matches as a starter. Illaramendi, meanwhile, showed up as a team leader, providing a great range of passing and defensive responsibility. Their form isn't what they would've hoped for, racking up three losses and a draw with a single win in last 5 games. This season is now probably lost for them, and it's a perfect opportunity to test out some of the young guns and give them priceless experience in La Liga. Celta Vigo Arguably the weirdest team in La Liga. One week, you'll see them putting on a show against Barcelona or Real Madrid, and the other week, you'll find them being unable to cope with the likes of much weaker teams on paper. To put this on paper, they scored 32 goals, and only Barcelona (1st) and Valencia (3rd) managed to net more goals. They're only one of three teams that avoided defeat against Barca and they also managed to get a 2-2 draw against Real Madrid last weekend in a match they could've won if they were a bit more focused. Iago Aspas is playing yet another amazing season, scoring 11 goals and creating the whole offense of the team. Pione Sisto isn't too far back, joining in with 9 assists. But, as you could expect, their defense was lacking, conceding 27 goals in 18 matches, certainly not a good defensive numbers in this context. It's really a shame to waste such an offensive potential and we all hope to see the likeable Galician side to lift themselves to the top half of the table. How is the relegation battle in La Liga shaping up? Find out with Nedim Maric's fourth and final instalment of his half-season review, or return to part 1 or part 2. 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Aneesh posted an article in FeaturesAnother exciting weekend of Spanish football is here. Some big games are coming up this weekend including Real Madrid v Sevilla and Villarreal v Barcelona. Let us now go through the 10 fixtures this weekend. ALAVES v LAS PALMAS Gameweek 15 will begin with the Friday night game between 2 teams in the relegation zone. 19th placed Alaves welcome 18th placed Las Palmas. A win for either side can take them above the relegation zone depending on other results. Both teams won their respective fixture in gw 14 and this will be a massive showdown. Hat-trick hero for Alaves last weekend Ibai Gomez will be up for it. Jonathan Calleri is the top scorer for Las Palmas this season with 5 goals. Prediction - Score Draw GETAFE v EIBAR 8th placed Getafe host 13th placed Eibar at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez. Getafe became the first team to beat Valencia this season and Eibar as well come into this game in some form winning their last 3 fixtures in the La Liga. Getafe have been hot and cold at home this season winning 4 and losing 3 while Eibar away from home have just faced defeats in 2 out of 7 games. Prediction - The narrowest of home wins REAL MADRID v SEVILLA The first massive clash of the gameweek is the 2nd game on Saturday evening at Santiago Bernabeu between Real Madrid and Sevilla who sit at 4th and 5th spot in the table respectively. Sevilla come into this game after winning their last 3 matches whereas the Madrid giants have drawn 2 of their last 3. Surprisingly both draws were goalless which is not what we expect from Zinedine Zidane's men. Marco Asensio and Isco are top scorers for Real so far with 4 strikes. Surely the now 5 time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo has to increase his goal tally which is stuck at 2 right now. Prediction - Real Madrid cannot afford to drop points now so expect them to beat Sevilla DEPORTIVO LA CORUNA v LEGANES 17th placed Deportivo welcome surprised package Leganes who sit at 7th spot in the table at the Estadio Riazor. Cristobal Parralo's side are just 2 points above the relegation zone and badly need a couple of good results to release some pressure. Lucas Perez, the Arsenal man on loan at Deportivo, is their top scorer with 4 goals and has to take responsibility for this game as well. Prediction - Draw VALENCIA - CELTA VIGO High flying Valencia, who have just suffered their first defeat of the season last weekend at Getafe, face 10th placed Celta Vigo at Estadio Mestalla on Saturday night. This game can turn out to be a goal fest as Valencia are 2nd top scorers in the league with 33 goals while Celta are 4th best with 28 goals. Simone Zaza has been sensational and has already scored 9 goals for Valencia this season. Iago Aspas is also flying high this season and has scored 8 already for Celta Vigo. Prediction - Home victory for Valencia REAL SOCIEDAD - MALAGA 9th placed Real Sociedad welcome basement dwellers Malaga at Anoeta Stadium. The visitors have suffered defeat in all of their 7 away games this season whereas La Real have won just 2 of their 7 home games. Willian Jose is the top scorer for La Real with 7 strikes while the goals not coming frequently for Malaga, Uruguayan Diego Rolan has struck 3 times. Prediction - Home win for Real Sociedad REAL BETIS v ATLETICO MADRID 11th placed Real Betis host 3rd placed Atletico Madrid at Estadio Benito Villamarin. Atleti are not having a great season but are still unbeaten in the league and have the joint best defence conceding just 7 goals in 14 games while Betis have conceded 4 times more - 28 goals. Great chance for Diego Simeone's men to win this game and hope to close the gap on Barcelona and Valencia. Antoine Griezmann is expected to increase his goal tally which is at 5 right now. Prediction - Away win for Atletico Madrid LEVANTE v ATHLETIC BILBAO 14th placed Levante welcome 16th placed Athletic Bilbao at Estadi Ciutat de Valencia. Athletic Club held Real Madrid to a goalless draw last week but their last win came in gameweek 8 when they beat Sevilla at home. Levante and Bilbao both have won just 3 of their 14 games so far and have scored 14 goals each. This is really a game between out of form and short of confidence sides. Prediction - Goalless draw VILLARREAL v BARCELONA Sunday night's game promises to be a cracker as 6th placed Yellow Submarines welcome the league leaders to Estadio de la Ceramica. Villarreal are without a win in 3 games but can be expected to give Barca a tough fight. Barcelona were surprisingly held at home by Celta Vigo last weekend but are still unbeaten. Cedric Bakambu tops the scoring charts for the home side with 9 goals and no prizes for guessing the top scorer for Barca. Hint - he's the best in the world. Prediction - Barcelona win ESPANYOL v GIRONA The last game of this weekend is the Monday night fixture between 15th placed Espanyol and 12th placed Girona at the RCDE Stadium. Quique Sanches Florez' team is not doing really well which is bit of a surprise. They have just scored 11 goals in 14 games and 8 of those came from Gerard Moreno (5) and Leo Baptistao (3). Uruguayan Cristian Stuani is the top scorer for Girona. The ex-Boro man has scored 8 times so far. Prediction - Home win for Espanyol The La Liga Santander action resumes tonight and we expect some very interesting games which can have a massive impact on the league standings. Adiós. Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
Sevilla have announced the appointment of Eduardo Berizzo as their new head coach. Last week, it was revealed that the former Europa League holders had "reached an agreement in principle" for former Celta Vigo manager Berizzo to become their new manager after the departure of Jorge Sampaoli. Sevilla have now officially confirmed the arrival of the 47-year-old, who is determined to bring more success to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. "My aim is that of Sevilla, for it to continue to win. The challenge is to make sure that happens," Berizzo told reporters. "I expect to have and build a strong group based on work, which is the only thing one can guarantee. I haven't been given a specific aim, but I know what this club wants. We need to keep growing. "I didn't hesitate to accept this job because it's a big club, a winner and this is a huge challenge for me. I hope I can repay the confidence and the enthusiasm the club and the fans have shown in me through my work and commitment." Share your thoughts about this news story on Pride of Nottingham by signing up to the website, visiting the forum and joining in the chat with hundreds of fellow Notts County fans.
Joe Jones posted an article in Manchester UnitedJose Mourinho says he is pleased with Manchester United's performance in their 1-0 win over Celta Vigo, "but not with the result". The Red Devils claimed a slender advantage in their Europa League semi-final tie after Thursday's first leg in Spain, courtesy of a Marcus Rashford free kick. However, the Portuguese coach feels that Man United should have been able to make more from their dominance and put the tie beyond doubt ahead of the return leg next Thursday. Mourinho told BBC Sport after the game: "I am very pleased with the performance but not with the result. At half time we should have been three or at least two but the result is open. "We played well enough to have result closed but we have to go and play at Old Trafford. Let's hope Old Trafford want us to win because when Old Trafford wants it, we win." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
Joe Jones posted an article in European LeaguesBarcelona have re-signed former Manchester City midfielder Denis Suarez on a four-year contract. The 22-year-old returns to the Nou Camp after a year on the books of Villarreal, who he joined last August after spending two years playing for Barcelona's B team. A statement on Barca's website said that the Catalans had paid €3.25m (£2.7m) to buy Suarez back from Villarreal, with a buy-out clause for the player set at €50m (£42m). Suarez, who has won the Europa League with Sevilla while on loan there, joined Man City from Celta Vigo in May 2011 and made two cup appearances before moving to Catalonia in August 2013.
Joe Jones posted an article in Manchester CityManchester City have completed the signing of Spain forward Nolito from Celta Vigo. The 29-year-old has signed a four-year contract at the Etihad after they met his £13.8m release clause, and he becomes City's third summer signing. New manager Pep Guardiola has already brought in Ilkay Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund for £20m, as well as Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy. "I think that Pep Guardiola is one of the best managers in the world," said Nolito. "He knows a lot about the game and he's going to help me progress as a player. I'm sure he'll get the best out of me." Nolito started all four of Spain's matches at Euro 2016 before they were knocked out in the last 16 by Italy.
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