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  1. Barcelona have confirmed that Lionel Messi has been ruled out of Saturday night’s La Liga trip to Malaga for "personal reasons". Messi was rested for the Catalan Super Cup clash with Espanyol in midweek but was expected to play on Saturday after training with his teammates on Friday. Indeed, the Argentine was named in the Blaugrana squad on Friday but will now miss the game, with Yerry Mina taking his place in the travelling party. The club tweeted on Saturday morning: "[LAST MINUTE] Change to the squad. Messi is out for personal reasons and Yerry Mina takes his place." According to Spanish outlet AS, Messi's wife Antonella gave birth to their third child overnight. Messi has started every game for Barca in the league this season except for one, against Espanyol when he came on as a sub, and has five goals and two assists in his last five games. 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.
  2. Levante If you were to ask me the definition of struggler, my first and instant answer would be - Levante. Just like Getafe, they were in La Segunda last season, bouncing back to La Liga immediately and taking up one of the bottom 5 spots. The fact that they won 3 matches in the whole season really tells you all you need to know. They play defensive, muddy football, focused on stopping the opponent, which resulted in 9 draws, by far the highest number of those in La Liga. Luis Morales is their catalyst, as the veteran 30-year old managed to both score and assist for 4 goals, huge numbers in a team that scored only 15 goals to date. Deportivo La Coruna Deportivo looks like the embodiment of the fallen giant and it really isn't getting any better for them. They stand just above the relegation zone with second worst defense in the league (35 conceded). Luckily for them, the offense picked up the pace to some degree and many players participated in scoring 20 league goals, led by short-time Arsenal striker, Lucas Perez who managed to score 4 goals in 12 starts so far. It's never nice to see a club as big as Deportivo fall like this. But sometimes, hitting rock bottom can lead to the light at the end of the tunnel and a better future. But for now, they're just one of the strugglers hoping to extend their agony for another season. Alaves After returning to La Liga in 2016 after long outing that lasted exactly ten years, Alaves managed to survive last season. However, things aren't looking bright for them, as they're currently in the relegation zone, but have a decent chance of staying up if they start playing up to the level of their squad. Currently, they have Manu Garcia and Alfonso Pedraza as standouts, but Ibai Gomez's goalscoring abilities certainly help, as 28-year old scored 4 goals along with 2 assists in 13 starts. Barcelona loanee Munir is also playing decently, both scoring and assisting for 3 goals, and this providing the spark that could mean the world at the end of the season where a single goal means difference between life and death for the club. Also, they managed to reach the quarter-finals of Copa del Rey, and they're facing Valencia - Alaves they definitely won't be an easy opponent to The Bats. Las Palmas It's sad to see Las Palmas side, who played such an attractive and offensive football last year, fall this low. They didn't play up to last year's standard and now they're fighting for their La Liga life. In hoping to stay up, the exotic club appointed the most exotic coach out there – Paco Jemez. They hope he can provide the spark and guidance with his mad passion and huge football knowledge. Paco will find a solid squad led by Jonathan Viera, their best player this season who scored 3 and assisted the same amount of goals, but he's been doing all-around work being the leader the team in this situation desperately needs. The most obvious fall back was in the goalscoring department, where they scored a miserable 15 goals, such an uncharacteristic trait for the side that brought so much excitement and passion to their matches last year. Malaga Exactly ten seasons ago, Malaga played in Segunda, and as things stand, history looks like it will repeat itself. They've been playing shockingly bad, especially lately, where they were able to rack up 5 defeats in the same amount of matches played. They scored an abysmal 6 goals from open play, horrifying figure by any means. It looks as if they couldn't replace Sandro Ramirez, the current Everton player who isn't seeing much of the pitch this season, so perhaps a January transfer is on the cards to save the day? To see how the sides above these in La Liga have done, feel free to check out part 1, part 2 and part 3 of Nedim Maric's 2017-18 half-season review. Share your thoughts about this review feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  3. Another 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.
  4. Malaga have announced the appointment of Michel as the club's new head coach, just two hours after confirming the departure of Marcelo Romero. Michel, who has been out of work since getting sacked by Marseille last April, has agreed a deal until the end of the 2017-18 season. Romero, who has been part of the coaching setup at Malaga since 2014, was handed the top job just three months ago but, after guiding the team to just one win in 10 games, was dismissed. A club statement said: "Jose Miguel Gonzalez Martin, better known as Michel, will be the new Malaga CF coach through to the 2017/18 campaign. "The coach will manage his first training session on Wednesday morning and will be unveiled to the media later that day at the La Rosaleda stadium." Michel takes over the reins with Malaga currently 15th in the La Liga table after winning just six of their 26 league fixtures, but they remain seven points clear of relegation. The 53-year-old, who made over 400 appearances for Real Madrid during his career, has also managed Rayo Vallecano, Getafe, Sevilla, Olympiakos and Marseille. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.

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