Category: Spain

La Liga Season Preview 2017/2018 (Second Half)

La Liga Season Preview 2017/2018 (Second Half)

Unlike previous seasons, the 2017/2018 La Liga campaign is not a two-horse race. Barcelona have been dominating the Spanish elite division this term and their bitter rivals Real Madrid have slim chances of defending their trophy.

When Barcelona chiefs decided to sell Neymar to PSG in the summer transfer window Barca fans were angry with the club management, but they quickly changed their opinions. The club owners managed to prove the doubters wrong as Ernesto Valverde’s team impressed in the first half of the season. The Catalan giants are leading the La Liga standings ahead of Matchday 18 and they are 14 points clear of their fiercest rivals Real Madrid at the moment.

Barcelona did well to crush los Blancos at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in the first “El Clasico” of the season and considering that they welcome Zinedine Zidane’s troops at their Camp Nou in the second half of the season, we predict Barca will regain the domestic trophy without any difficulties. Leo Messi is not getting any older and the Argentine attacker, who has netted 15 goals in the Spanish top flight to date, is likely to pose a big threat for Barca’s rivals in the remainder of the season.

Real Madrid owners, on the other hand, did not make too many changes to the squad in the summer and seeing that Brazilian ace Neymar left Barcelona before the start of the season, many people expected that the capital club would easily defend their La Liga title. Nonetheless, los Blancos have been playing above expectations in the Spanish elite division this term and it has to be noted that key player Cristiano Ronaldo has scored no more than four goals in the national championship so far this season. Fellow superstar Gareth Bale played only six games in La Liga in the first half of the season and that is yet another reason why Real Madrid are 14th points behind league leaders Barca in the standings ahead of the trip to Vigo. Taking everything into account, Zinedine Zidane’s charges will be fully focused on defending their Champions League trophy in 2018.

The 2017/2018 La Liga campaign has been a mixed bag for Atletico Madrid to date. Los Blancos have been struggling in front of goal in the Spanish top flight this term and you should bear in mind that they have netted only 25 goals in 17 league fixtures. Antoine Griezmann has been struggling to find his best form and there is every chance the capital club will rely on their rock-solid defence in the remainder of the season. As things stand now, Atletico Madrid are unlikely to win the domestic trophy, but they are widely expected to book their place in the Champions League as they are seven points clear of fifth-placed Sevilla ahead of their first game of the year against Getafe.

Against all odds, Valencia finished the first half of the season in third place in the standings and it is more than obvious than coach Marcelino is doing a great job with los Che. Valencia, though, suffered a dip in form in December and they will have to get back on course as soon as possible if they are to finish the season in top four. Sevilla have been having their ups and downs in the 2017/2018 La Liga campaign, seeing that the Andalusian side have strength in the depth, we believe that they are going to sneak into the top four once again.

Speaking of the relegation battle, Las Palmas and Malaga are seen as main candidates to drop to Segunda Division at the end of the season, but they should not be written off just yet. Levante could easily drop to bottom three as they do not seem to be on top of their game at the moment, whilst Deportivo Alaves, who have been struggling in the Spanish elite division this term, are going to fight hard to secure the La Liga survival as well.

La Liga Season Preview 2017/2018

La Liga Season Preview 2017/2018

Real Madrid kicked off the new La Liga campaign with a 3-0 victory at Deportivo La Coruna and it is more than obvious that they are determined to defend their trophy. Fellow title contenders Barcelona will be without Brazilian ace Neymar in the 2017/2018 La Liga campaign, whilst Atletico Madrid are not allowed to sign players before January and it remains to be seen if los Blancos will take advantage of the situation.

Real Madrid impressed in the 2016/2017 season, with the capital club winning both Champions League and La Liga titles. Cristiano Ronaldo proved his worth in the 4-1 win over Juventus in the final of the elite competition, but the Portuguese ace will miss first five La Liga fixtures through suspension. Los Blancos, though, have been playing splendid performances at the start of the season even without CR7 in the starting line-up and it is more than obvious that trio Kroos-Modric-Casemiro is playing a key role in Zinedine Zidane’s team. Spain rising start Marco Asensio is expected to shine in the 2017/2018 La Liga season and it remains to be seen if summer signing Dani Ceballos is going to see any game action this term. Anyhow, Real Madrid are seen as No. 1 favourites to win the domestic trophy as Barcelona ace Neymar is going to be sorely missed this season.

Speaking of Neymar, the Brazilian winger signed for big-spending Paris Saint-Germain earlier this summer and Barcelona chiefs has yet to find an adequate substitution for him. All eyes will be on attacking duo Leo Messi-Suarez in the 2017/2018 La Liga campaign, but, as previously mentioned, Neymar seems to be irreplaceable. New coach Ernesto Valverde will surely use Gerard Deulofeu as a winger before the club owners sign a top-class footballer and it remains to be seen if the former Sevilla man is capable of producing splendid performances at this level. The Catalan giants failed to impress in the opening match of the season against Real Betis and, taking everything into account, I do not believe that they are capable of regaining the silverware.

Despite the fact that Atletico Madrid cannot register players until the first of January, los Rojiblancos are once again seen as one of the favourites to win the La Liga trophy. The club management did well to keep hold of key players in the summer transfer window and it has to be noted that Sevilla ace Vitolo, who currently plays for Las Palmas on loan, will join Atletico Madrid in January. Antoine Griezmann signed a new contract with the capital club and, no doubt, opposition defenders are likely to have their work cut out for them when facing the French striker. Diego Simeone’s men dropped two points in a 2-2 draw with Girona on the opening day of the season, but they are likely to find their best form soon. Anyhow, given the quality of their local rivals Real Madrid, I do not believe that los Rojiblancos are going to win their first La Liga title since 2014.

Sevilla are widely expected to secure yet another top-four finish as the like of Nolito, Muriel, Corchia and Kjaer joining the club, with duo Jesus Navas – Ever Banega returning to Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Villarreal are eyeing a place in European competitions and they are certainly capable of getting one, whilst Athletic Bilbao head into the season with an unchanged squad and they are likely to finish the season in top six as well.

Speaking of the relegation battle, newcomers Girona proved their worth in a 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid in their opener and that is giving fans a reason for optimism. Fellow newly-promoted side Getafe produced a fine display in a goalless draw with Athletic Bilbao at San Mames Barria, whilst Levante defeated Villarreal at home on the opening match of the season.

Las Palmas and Malaga seem to be much weaker than the last season and they could experience all sorts of problems in the 2017/2018 La Liga campaign.

Anyhow, we will once again enjoy watching clashes in La Liga, which is considered the best football league in the world nowadays.

La Liga 2016/2017: Ronaldo, king of Spain.

La Liga 2016/2017: Ronaldo, king of Spain.

The curtain has fallen on yet another La Liga season. Real Madrid managed to regain the trophy, with their bitter rivals Barcelona finishing the season in second place in the standings. As expected, Atletico Madrid booked their place in the Champions League group stages, whilst the likes of Sporting Gijon, Osasuna and Granada dropped to Segunda Division.

Real Madrid footballers were under big pressure during the 2016/2017 season as the royal club won their last domestic trophy back in 2012. Los Blancos were desperate to lift the silverware and thanks to a 2-0 win over Malaga on the last day of the season they managed to get their job done. Cristiano Ronaldo finished the season with 25 goals on his account and he once again played the main role in Zinedine Zidane’s team. To make things even better for the fans, Real Madrid made it to the Champions League final, but beating high-flying Juventus in the title game is easier said than done. Anyhow, yet another successful season is behind los Blancos, who won their 33rd La Liga title.

Barcelona failed to defend their La Liga trophy and they suffered an early exit in the Champions League knockout stages. Luis Enrique’s men were totally outplayed by Juve in the double-header, but the Catalan giants managed to save the season with a routine 3-1 win over Deportivo Alaves in the title game. The Basques were not capable of making life difficult for Barca in the Estadio Vicente Calderon clash, but they will represent Spain in the Europa League last term. Leo Mess scored 37 goals in 24 games in the league for Barcelona, with the Argentine superstar winning his fifth “El Pichichi” (the best goal scorer) award.

Over the years Atletico Madrid have established themselves as one of the dominant forces in Spanish La Liga, but they were having their ups and downs in the 2016/2017 season and, as a result, they failed to regain the domestic trophy. Los Rojiblancos finished the season in third place in the standings and, on the other hand, they were beaten by their local rivals Real Madrid in the Champions League semis. Top scorer Antoine Griezmann is widely expected to leave the club this summer and it remains to be seen if the club management is going to find an adequate replacement for the French ace.

Real Sociedad and Villarreal booked their place in the Europa League, with Athletic Bilbao missing out on a spot in European competitions. Speaking of the relegation battle, the likes of Sporting Gijon, Granada and Osasuna failed to secure yet another top flight survival. Levante secured a quick return to the Spanish top flight, whereas Girona will almost certainly finish the season in top two. Segunda Division play-offs winner are going secure promotion to the La Liga as well.

Taking everything into account, a very entertaining campaign is behind us as Real Madrid sealed the La Liga trophy on the final day of the season. The 2017/2018 season is likely to be a two-horse race as well, but it remains to be seen if Atletico Madrid will be capable of closing the gap between the two Spanish giants.

Luis Enrique leaves, who will be the next to lead Barca?

Luis Enrique leaves, who will be the next to lead Barca?

Luis Enrique has announced he will leave Barcelona at the end of the season and, as a result, the club chiefs have already begun the search for a new manager. A few names are on Barca’s radar and it remains to be seen who will take over the reins at Camp Nou.

Seeing that Roma struggled during Luis Enrique’s spell at Stadio Olimpico, nobody expected that he would help Celta Vigo establish themselves as a top-table side in La Liga. Os Celeste were impressive under Luis Enrique in the 2013/2014 season and, as a result, Barcelona owners decided to bring their former superstar back to Camp Nou. The Catalan giants won both La Liga and the Champions League title in his inaugural season and they are leading the chase for the 2016/2017 Primera Division trophy. Barca are definitely capable of defending their title, but regardless of the outcome, coach Luis Enrique will not be in charge of the Camp Nou outfit next season.

Luis Enrique did help Barcelona win two domestic trophies, but many football experts believe that the Catalan side were producing much better displays under Pep Guardiola. Despite being regarded as favourites to win the Champions League tie against PSG, Barca were outclassed by les Parisiens in the first leg (0-4) and, no doubt, they have slim chances of making it to the quarter-finals of the elite competition. The La Liga champions suffered the embarrassing loss to Unai Emery’s troops and it will be remembered as Luis Enrique’s biggest failure during his spell at Camp Nou. Anyhow, Enrique is in need of rest and the likes of Jorge Sampaoli, Jurgen Klopp and Ronald Koeman are considered as one of the main favourites to replace him as Barcelona coach.

Klopp, Koeman or Sampaoli?

As reports in England suggest, Barcelona are considering replacing coach Luis Enrique with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Klopp is a very ambitious tactician and he is always hungry for more success, but I do not believe that he will leave the Anfield outfit should they happen to book their place in the Champions League. The former Borussia Dortmund coach is well known for his attacking style of play and that is the main reason why media link him with a move to Barcelona. However, my prediction is that he will not leave Liverpool at the end of the season as his job at Anfield is half-done.

Two years ago Jorge Sampaoli helped Chile win their first ever Copa America trophy and he has been doing a great job with La Liga side Sevilla as well. Los Sevillanos are on the right track to finish the season in top three and it is no surprise Barcelona chiefs are eyeing the Chilean tactician. Spanish football expert Guillem Balague believes that Jorge Sampaoli is the right man for the job as his assistant Juanma Lillo, helped Pep Guardiola develop as a coach. Sampaoli’s right-hand is well known for his ideas about the positional game and, no doubt, the duo would quickly adapt to the new surroundings.

Former Barcelona midfielder Ronald Koeman is yet another candidate to replace Luis Enrique as Barca boss. Everton have been scoring goals for fun under the Dutch coach this season and it is no surprise he is linked with the Camp Nou job. Koeman scored the winner for Barcelona in the 1991/1992 European Cup final against Sampdoria and I believe that fans would be more than happy if he returns to Spain. Many people predict that he would take over as Barca coach, but the former Southampton manager has distanced himself from taking over the reins at Camp Nou.

Anyhow, Luis Enrique has achieved success with the Camp Nou club and I predict that he will receive a standing ovation from Barca fans on the last day of the season. Luis Enrique did play for Real Madrid in the past, but he will always be remembered as one of the most significant names in the history of Barcelona. 

Wonder Coach: Jorge Sampaoli

Wonder Coach: Jorge Sampaoli

Jorge Sampaoli has been making outstanding results with Sevilla ever since he took over the reins at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. The former Chile boss is on a quest to bring glory days back at “Pizjuan” and it remains to be seen if he is capable of helping the Andalusian outfit clinch their first La Liga title since 1946.

Early life

The Sevilla manager is a man who loves football. He played for amateur teams as a youngster and in 1977 he joined Newell’s Old Boys youth ranks. Many people expected that he would become a top-class footballer, but after suffering two serious injuries (tibia and fibula) in 1979, he decided to retire.

Nonetheless, he never thought about leaving football. After his retirement Jorge Sampaoli started his coaching career in 1994 at Alumni de Casilda. He was then in charge of Argentino de Rosario, Belgrano de Arequito and Aprendices Casildenses as well, but he signed his first big-money deal in 2002.

Club career

The Argentinian tactician took over the reins at Peruvian club Juan Aurich, but it has to be noted that he recorded only one win with el Ciclon del Norte. He was soon contacted by Sports Boys chiefs and in May 2003 he signed a contract with los Rosados. Sports Boys recorded a 2-0 win over Coronel Bolognesi on his debut, with the team finishing the campaign in sixth position in the standings.

Jorge Sampaoli did not spend too much time in Callao as he took over the reins at Coronel Bolognesi in 2004. The Argentinian coach was doing a good job with the Estadio Jorge Basadre outfit as his men finished the 2004 season in third place in the Clausura. He helped Coronel Bolognesi book their place in Copa Sudamericana preliminary stage, but Chilean side Colo-Colo proved to be a big catch for Bolo.

In 2007 Jorge Sampaoli was hired as Sporting Crystal boss. Nevertheless, the Argentinian tactician failed to impress with the Peruvian club as los Celestes finished the season with only four wins. A number of football predictions suggested that he would get fired and the predictions came true at the end of the year.

The Argentinian coach took charge of O’Higgins and he had a lot of success with el Capo de Provincia. The team finished the regular season in 3rd place in the standings, but they were not capable of matching star-studded Universidad de Chile in the play-offs. Next season was not as successful for Jorge Sampoli as the previous one as O’Higgins finished the 2009 campaign in 8th place in the standings. Sampaoli was sacked in August 2009, but he returned to his coaching job in 2010.

Emelec owners hired Sampaoli to help the team record a good result in the 2010 Copa Libertadores campaign, but the Ecuadorian club were eliminated in the group stages of the elite competition. However, El Bombillo finished the first stage of the 2010 domestic campaign in top position in the standings and, as a result, they booked their place in the 2010 Copa Sudamericana and 2011 Copa Libertadores.

Sampaoli’s spell with Chile national team

After having a successful run with Universidad de Chile in Primera Division, Chile’s Asociacion Nacional de Futbol Profesional announced on December 3, 2012 that Jorge Sampaoli would become head coach of the national team. The Chilean FA made a good decision back them as Sampaoli won a number of trophies with la Roja from 2012 to 2016.

Chile started making progress ever since Jorge Sampaoli took over the reins and he helped la Roja book their place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Chileans impressed in the group stages of the elite competition as they outplayed title holders Spain at Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho in their second group game. However, despite producing a fine performances in the last 16 against Brazil, Chile were eventually eliminated by the Selecao on penalties.

Anyhow, Jorge Sampaoli remained in charge of the Chilean national team and he had big ambitions for the 2015 Copa America. Chile hosted the tournament, but nobody expected that they would win their first ever Copa America trophy. Nevertheless, Jorge Sampaoli had faith in his men and they did well to beat Argentina on penalties in the title game. Sampaoli became the national hero, but on January 2016 he resigned as coach of Chile after a row with new president Arturo Salah. Sampaoli’s successor Juan Pizzi led Chile to a win at the 2016 Copa America, but La Roja have been playing below expectations in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, but some football predictions suggest that they will book their place at the showpiece tournament in Russia.

A new beginning

Jorge Sampaoli returned to club football in June 2016, with the Argentinian coach taking over Sevilla on a two-year contract. Los Sevillanos have been producing scintillating performances under Jorge Sampaoli and, unlike previous seasons, the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan outfit are in the race for the domestic trophy. Sevilla have been impressive on home soil under Jorge Sampaoli and they did well to beat Spanish giants Real Madrid in front of home fans in January 2017.

Sevilla fans have faith in Jorge Sampaoli and it remains to be seen if the former Chile coach is going to help the team win their first La Liga trophy since 1946. Sampaoli is doing a great job with los Sevillanos, but his men will have to be at their sharpest in the remainder of the season if they are to turn their long-lasting dream into reality.

Anyhow, Sevilla have made a big progress under Jorge Sampaoli and they general football predictions are pointing towards the Andalusian outfit to book their place in the Champions League at the end of the season. January signing Stevan Jovetic has already started paying off as he scored the winner in the 2-1 triumph over Real Madrid.

One thing is for sure, Jorge Sampaoli is one of the best coaches in the world and after making history with the Chilean national team, he is on a quest to do the same with Sevilla.