Mallorca are the third team to be promoted to the first division after they beat Deportivo in the play-off final. The two sides had knocked out favourites Albacete and Málaga in the semi-finals, and Depor appeared to have the edge after a 2-0 victory in the first leg. However Mallorca (who were only promoted from the regional second division B last summer) overturned the result with a 3-0 win in the Son Moix stadium to return to the top flight after a six year absence. (23.06.19)
Spain’s under 21 side qualified for the semi-finals (and consequently the 2020 Olympic Games) after winning through the group stage. A 3-1 defeat to hosts Italy appeared to have ended their chances, but a late strike by Fornals gave them a 2-1 victory against Belgium, and with Italy losing to Poland, Luis de la Fuente’s side came into their last group game against Poland needing to score three goals to be sure of topping their mini-league. They got those by half time though, and Ceballos and Mayoral added two more after the break to make it 5-0 in the end. (22.06.19)
Spain go into the summer break well on track for a place in next year’s finals after a 3-0 victory over second placed Sweden on Monday evening. The locals dominated the first half, Rodrigo having a goal ruled out for a borderline offside, and Olsen having to make a string of saves. Midway through the second half however Sergio Ramos opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Larsson handled in the area, and Morata converted a second penalty before Oyarzabal wrapped things up with his first goal for the senior side near the end. (11.06.19)
The league stage of the second division came to an end this weekend, and only the play-offs for the last promotion spot remain. Osasuna and Granada were already sure of the two promotion spots, and they celebrated with wins against Oviedo and Alcorcón. Málaga, Albacete and Mallorca had already secured their places in the play-offs as well, and only one spot had to be decided this weekend, Deportivo beating Córdoba 2-0 to stay ahead of Cádiz and Oviedo, who both lost. The play-off semi-finals take place over two legs this week, with Deportivo to face Málaga, and Mallorca playing Albacete. The last of the four relegation places was also decided last weekend, Rayo Majadahonda going down with Nàstic, Córdoba and Reus, and two of the teams that will be replacing them are already known, Racing Santander and Madrid based Fuenlabrada winning their “regional group champions” promotion play-offs last weekend. Racing of course have played many seasons in the top flight, but “Fuenla” are promoted to the second division for the first time in their history. The other two sides joining them will be decided in the remaining play-offs over the next three weeks or so. (09.06.19)
Spain stay top of their group after a comfortable 1-4 win over the Faroe Islands on Friday evening. A Sergio Ramos header and a strike from Jesús Navas put the visitors two up within twenty minutes, the two defenders dedicating their goals to their recently deceased ex-Sevilla team-mate José Antonio Reyes. Olsen got one back for the hosts on the half hour mark, but just three minutes later keeper Gestsson deflected the ball into his own net after Isco’s shot came back off the upright, and after the restart Gayà wrapped things up following a Marco Asensio assist. Spain’s next match is on Monday night against Sweden, currently second in their group. (07.06.19)
Valencia won the Spanish cup for the eighth time in their history after beating Barcelona 1-2 in the final on Saturday, a fitting end to their centenary year. The Catalans were looking to win the title for the fifth year in a row, but Piqué had to clear off the line from Rodrigo early on, and with twenty minutes gone Gameiro combined with Gabriel Paulista and Gayà on a rapid breakaway to open the scoring. Some ten minutes later Rodrigo headed the second from a fierce Carlos Soler cross, and Jaume brought off good saves from Messi and Rakitic before the break to keep his team in front. Valverde (missing the injured Luis Suárez), brought on Vidal and Malcom at half time, and Messi hit the post before pulling one back after Jaume could only push out a header from Lenglet. But Marcelino packed his defence after that, and Guedes could have added to the lead had he been able to find the target on a couple of counter-attacks near the end. (25.05.19)
With everything decided at the top, the matches involving Barcelona and Real Madrid were postponed to Sunday. League champions Barcelona ended their season with a 2-2 draw at Eibar, with Messi scoring twice in as many minutes to overturn Cucurella’s early opener, and De Blasis saving a point for the hosts with a strike shortly before the interval. Messi now has 50 for the season in all club competitions, and is virtually sure of his sixth European Golden Boot. Real Madrid will be glad the season is over at last though after they lost 0-2 to Betis, Loren and ex Madrid forward Jesé getting the goals after the break to hand their hosts a twelfth league defeat of current campaign, leaving them 19 points adrift of Barça, the biggest gap between the two since the league began some 90 years ago! The Catalans of course still have the Spanish cup final to come, against Valencia next Saturday. (19.05.19)
Few surprises on the last day of the league championship, with Valencia tying up the fourth and final Champions League spot after a 0-2 victory at Valladolid. Carlos Soler and Rodrigo got the goals either side of half time to take them two points clear of Getafe, who finish a respectable fifth after a 2-2 draw against Villarreal. The Madrid based side twice took the lead through Portillo and Maksimovic, but goals by Iborra and Gerard Moreno pegged them back both times. Getafe end the season just above Sevilla, who made sure of sixth place after a 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao. A win would have taken the Basques above their hosts, but Ben Yedder put the locals in front just before the break. With the game coming to an end Iñigo Martínez hit the crossbar, but play went up the other end, and Munir made it two on the resulting counter-attack. That meant that Athletic even missed out on the third Europa League spot, and Espanyol took advantage to move above them on head-to-head goal difference after a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad, who were also in with a chance of overtaking their regional rivals. Rosales and China’s Wu Lei got the goals in the second half to take the Catalans back to Europe after a 12 year absence, and although they will have to enter at the qualifying stages, there were celebratory scenes at the Cornellà stadium at the end.
Disappointment though for Espanyol’s regional neighbours Girona, who confirmed their relegation to the second division after a 2-1 defeat at Alavés. Eusebio’s side needed a near-miracle to stay up, but strikes by Wakaso and Calleri ended any hope, and Portu’s goal came too late to change the result. As it happened however, even a seven goal victory wouldn’t have saved them after Celta got the point they needed in a 2-2 draw against Rayo Vallecano. An Embarba penalty and a strike by Medrán put the visitors two up, but late goals by Iago Aspas at least salvaged some pride for the Galicians. Rayo end the season at the bottom of the table after Huesca won 2-1 against Leganés to move above them in the table, ex Leganés defender Mantovani scoring a strange “hat-trick”, putting through his own net before the break, and heading both his team’s goals after the restart. Earlier in the day Levante and Atlético Madrid drew 2-2, the visitors going two down by the break through strikes by Cabaco and Roger, but coming back with ten men to save a point thanks to goals from Rodri and youngster Sergio Camello. (18.05.19)
With Luis Enrique absent for the last two months due to an undisclosed family problem, Spain’s assistant coach Roberto Moreno named the squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Faroe Isles and Sweden. The big surprise was the recall of Cazorla after a four year gap, and Sergio Ramos is also named despite missing the last few games due to an injury. Also new to the squad is Real Sociedad’s Oyarzabal (who did win one cap some time ago), and Dani Carvajal, Diego Llorente, Isco and Iago Aspas return as well, with Bernat, Sergi Gómez, Canales, Saúl, Muniain, Dani Ceballos and Jaime Mata left out to make room. Oyarzabal and Fabián are also included in Spain’s provisional under 21 squad for next month’s European finals, as is Ceballos, and rising talents such as Carles Aleñá and Brahim Díaz have also been called up by Luis de la Fuente. The full lists are as below. (17.05.19)
Keepers: Kepa (Athletic Bilbao), Pau López (Betis), De Gea (Manchester United);
Defenders: Iñigo Martínez (Athletic Bilbao), Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto (Barcelona), Mario Hermoso (Espanyol), Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Diego Llorente (Real Sociedad), Jesús Navas (Sevilla), Gayà (Valencia);
Midfielders: Rodri (Atlético Madrid), Busquets (Barcelona), Fabián (Napoli), Marco Asensio and Isco (Real Madrid), Dani Parejo (Valencia), Cazorla (Villarreal);
Forwards: Morata (Atlético Madrid), Iago Aspas (Celta), Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Rodrigo (Valencia).
Provisional under 21 squad (to be reduced to 23):
Keepers: Sivera (Alavés), Unai Simón (Athletic Bilbao), Dani Martín (Sporting Gijón);
Defenders: Martín Aguirre (Alavés), Unai Nuñez (Athletic Bilbao), Junior (Betis), Pedro Porro (Girona), Jorge Meré (Köln), Aarón Martín (Mainz), Jesús Vallejo (Real Madrid);
Midfielders: Aleñá (Barcelona), Dani Olmo (Dinamo Zagreb), Marc Roca (Espanyol), Fabián (Napoli), Dani Ceballos and Brahim Díaz (Real Madrid), Mikel Merino and Zubeldia (Real Sociedad), Carlos Soler (Valencia), Pablo Fornals and Alfonso Pedraza (Villarreal);
Forwards: Manu Vallejo (Cádiz), Rafa Mir (Las Palmas), Borja Mayoral (Levante), Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad).
With several issues still to be settled, all matches on the penultimate weekend kicked off at the same time on Sunday. At stake in particular was the last Champions League spot, Valencia the new incumbents after a 3-1 victory against Alavés. Ximo Navarro headed the visitors into an early lead, but strikes by Carlos Soler and Santi Mina turned the scoreline around by the break, and Gameiro rounded things off after the restart. The Ches edged ahead of Getafe on head-to-head goal difference after the Madrid based side lost 2-0 at Barcelona. The Catalans were looking to bounce back after their elimination from the Champions League midweek, and Vidal gave them a first half lead. However the result was in doubt until Arambarri put through his own net under pressure from Messi with two minutes to go. Sevilla are still in with a slight chance of fourth place as well, although they are two points below their two rivals after a 1-1 draw at Atlético Madrid, Sarabia saving a point after Koke had given the locals the lead. The result means that Atleti are sure of second spot.
Sevilla’s main objective next week though is to at least hold on to sixth place to avoid having to play Europa League qualifying rounds. To do so they have to draw or win next weekend against Athletic Bilbao, who moved to within three points of the Andalusians after a 3-1 victory over Celta. The Basque side went three up at the break with two from Raúl García and a third from Williams, and an Aspas penalty came too late to save the result for the visitors. Athletic themselves are defending seventh spot, and a defeat next Saturday would open the way for Real Sociedad and Espanyol to get past them. Real Sociedad won 3-1 this weekend against third placed Real Madrid, with Merino, Zaldua and Barrenetxea getting their goals after Brahim Díaz had opened the scoring for Zidane’s team, a seventeenth defeat of the current campaign signalling Madrid’s worst season in twenty years. And Espanyol beat Leganés 0-2, Borja Iglesias getting both goals there, the second from the penalty spot. Betis though have no chance of returning to Europe this year despite a 2-1 win against bottom club Huesca, Joaquín at least saving some pride with a last minute strike after his opener was cancelled out by a Juanpi penalty.
Further down the table, Girona are all but mathematically relegated after losing 1-2 to Levante. Stuani gave the Catalans hope with a goal on the hour mark, but a Morales header made it all square, and after the referee overturned a decision to award a penalty to the home team after consulting the VAR, Bardhi fired home a late winner to keep his side in the top flight. Villarreal and Valladolid also saved themselves this weekend, the former winning 1-0 against Eibar with a goal from Ekambi, and the latter beating the already relegated Rayo Vallecano 1-2, Sergi Guardiola getting the winner there after Medrán had equalised an Enes Ünal penalty. All of that meant that Girona can only catch Celta next weekend, although to do so the Galicians would have to lose at home to Rayo, and the Catalans would have to win at Alavés and make up a seven goal difference, as the head-to-head record between the two sides is even. (12.05.19)
Spain’s last chance of having a side in a European final ended when Valencia were beaten 2-4 by Arsenal on Thursday evening. The Ches started well, and Gameiro gave them hope of overturning the 3-1 first leg defeat when he opened the scoring in the tenth minute. However Aubameyang equalised for Unai Emery's team a few minutes later, and some five minutes in to the second half Lacazette put the game beyond their reach with a second away goal. Gameiro got his second of the night after that, but Aubameyang scored two more to complete his hat-trick and take the Premier League team through to a meeting with their neighbours Chelsea in the final. (09.05.19)
Barcelona are out of the Champions League after losing 4-0 at Liverpool! With the Catalans having a three goal lead and most players rested at the weekend, nobody expected Jurgen Klopp’s side (themselves missing key players) to win. However with only seven minutes gone Origi gave them the lead, and Allison (the same keeper who thwarted Barça last season when at Roma) made top class saves from Messi, Coutinho, Alba and Suárez. Soon after the restart though half time substitute Wijnaldum scored twice in as many minutes, and a dozy defence allowed Origi to make it four from a quickly taken Alexander-Arnold corner with ten minutes to go. For the first time in six years there will be no Spanish side in the final and, despite being on track for a second domestic double in a row, the defeat leaves coach Ernesto Valverde fighting for his job. (07.05.19)
Valencia will be joining Barcelona in this season’s cup final after a 1-0 victory over Betis on Thursday evening! The visitors needed to score after the 2-2 draw in the first leg, and Jaume had to be at his best to keep out Canales and Jesé before the break. Some ten minutes in to the second half however Rodrigo got on the end of Gameiro’s cross to turn the ball past Joel on the far post, and Gameiro came close to extending the lead after that. The Ches now have a chance of some silverware in their centenary year, and Betis miss out on a final which this season will take place at their own Benito Villamarín stadium. (28.02.19)
Barcelona are through to their sixth Spanish cup final in a row after they beat Real Madrid 0-3 in the second leg of their semi-final tie! Madrid were slight favourites after the 1-1 draw in the Nou Camp, and they had the better of the first half, Ter Stegen having to save from Benzema and Vinicius, and Vinicius firing a couple of good chances over the top. Some five minutes in to the second half however, Luis Suárez drilled a shot past Keylor Navas after Dembélé laid the ball across, and a few minutes later Varane turned Dembélé’s cross into his own net under pressure from Suárez. Ter Stegen kept out a header from Reguilón before that, but soon afterwards Casemiro brought down Suárez in the area, and the Uruguayan striker lobbed the resulting penalty past Navas to wrap things up. (27.02.19)
Abu Dhabi, UAE. Real Madrid are world champions for the third year in a row and the fourth time in their history after beating Al Ain 4-1 in the final! The local champions were Madrid’s surprise opponents after they won through the previous rounds, and only Sergio Ramos’s foot prevented Elshahat from scoring early on. Just a minute later though Modric put the Liga side ahead with a shot from the edge of the area, and although Caio had a strike ruled out for offside, Benzema and Bale both had chances to extend the lead before the break. With an hour on the clock Marcos Llorente made it two with a first time volley after a Kroos corner was headed clear by Ahmed, and Sergio Ramos headed a third from a Modric corner with ten minutes to go. Shiotani did get one back with a header from Caio’s long free kick, but with the game in time added on Nader deflected a wayward shot from substitute Vinicius in to his own net for the final result. (22.12.18)
Semi final: Kashima Antlers 1 - Real Madrid 3
Spain’s hopes of reaching the Nations League finals ended when England came from behind to beat Croatia 2-1, and it will be England who go to next summer’s final four rather than Luis Enrique’s side. The coach is still building his squad however for the Euro 2020 championship, and he made nine changes for this friendly fixture against Bosnia from the team who lost to Croatia, with Mario Hermoso, Brais Méndez, Pablo Formals and Pau López all winning their first caps. The match rather vindicated UEFA’s decision to add the new competition to reduce the number of meaningless friendlies though, with little real action and multiple substitutions breaking up play. Asensio, Isco and Suso all tested Sehic before the break, and Morata missed the easiest of chances after the restart. Dzeko and Visca replied for the visitors, but the only goal came with twelve minutes to go when Méndez was in the right place to finish off after the keeper could only push out a long shot from Isco. Spain’s next match will be in March, when the Euro 2020 qualification begins. (18.11.18)
Spain lost their last group match against Croatia, and they now need England and Croatia to draw on Sunday for them to qualify for next summer’s finals. Despite scoring six against the East Europeans in the first leg, a defeat against England meant that they had to win this match to be sure of finishing top of the group. However De Gea had to push an early effort from Persisic on to the post, and Kalinic was not troubled until he tipped a long shot from Isco over the bar before the break. Some ten minutes into the second half Kramaric opened the scoring for the hosts after a poor clearance from Sergi Roberto was intercepted, and although Dani Ceballos combined with Isco to make it all square just two minutes later, Jedvaj headed in a Modric cross to restore the lead soon afterwards. Rebic and Morata both missed good chances before Sergio Ramos levelled it again from the penalty spot after Vrsaljko handled in the area, but with the game in time added on Jedvaj got the winner after De Gea could only push out a shot from Berkalo. The result means that any of the three teams could finish top of the group, and the only thing for sure is that Spain won’t finish last. (15.11.18)
Atlético Madrid finally beat city rivals Real Madrid in a European final, Simeone’s team scoring twice in extra time in Tallinn to take their third European Super Cup title! With less than a minute on the clock they were already in front, Diego Costa heading on a long ball and holding off his markers to beat Keylor Navas from a wide angle. The Champions League winners were missing Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time, but new coach Julen Lopetegui still put out a strong line-up, and with just under half an hour gone Benzema headed in a long cross from Bale to make it all square. Early in the second half Sergio Ramos made it two from the penalty spot after Juanfran handled a Kroos corner, but Costa appeared again to equalise following a good team move. That took the game into extra time, and Saúl and Koke latched on to assists from substitutes Thomas and Vitolo to hand their neighbours their first defeat in an international final in 18 years. (15.08.18)
Barcelona came from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 in this season’s Spanish Super Cup, the thirteenth time they have won the tournament. For the first time ever this was played outside of Spain, the venue being Tangiers, Morocco, and also for the first time it was played over one leg rather than two. The new VAR system was also making its debut in Spanish competitions, and it only took eight minutes before it came into action, Sarabia’s opener originally ruled out for offside before the video evidence proved otherwise. Barcelona were level at the break though, Piqué turning in the rebound after Vaclik pushed a Messi free kick onto the post, and with twelve minutes to go Dembélé caught out the keeper with a long shot which went in off the crossbar. Pablo Machin’s team did have a chance to take the game into extra time when Ter Stegen gave away a late penalty on ex team-mate Aleix Vidal, but the German keeper guessed correctly and saved Ben Yedder’s spot kick. (12.08.18)
LaLiga and the sports paper Marca are running their Spanish Fantasy Football game once again, and we have set up a Soccer Spain private league as we did last year for our readers to compete. Follow the link https://ax9m.app.link/6nRb0O0xiP to enter. If you played last season you can use the same account, but if you are new to the game you have to set up an account. Alternatively you can enter at https://game.laligafantasymarca.com and when you are in to your account, choose “Join a friend’s league”, and enter the code R0MCFRGQ. Good luck! (11.08.18)
The summer transfer market is in full swing, with clubs having until the end of August to complete their squads. The first job was to get the new managers on board where necessary, the most notable move being Julen Lopetegui’s appointment at Real Madrid just two days before the World Cup started after Zidane’s surprise resignation. Lopetegui though won’t be able to count on Cristiano Ronaldo, who, a little jaded at Madrid and hounded by the Spanish tax authorities, has decided to try pastures new at Juventus. The European champions have spent some of the €100 million or so that they got for Ronaldo on a new goalkeeper, Courtois, with Kepa (who was close to signing for Madrid last winter) replacing the Belgian at Chelsea. Several other players will be leaving us this summer, in particular Iniesta and Fernando Torres, who have both gone to Japan. Barcelona seem to have gone for a change of style, replacing the elegant Iniesta with bulldog Arturo Vidal, although they have also drafted in some Brazilian class in Arturo and Malcom. Atlético meanwhile have been adding to their squad with the likes of Lemar, Kalinic and Rodri, and Valencia, Sevilla, Betis and Villarreal have all been strengthening their sides as well for their European campaigns. Still over two weeks to go though until the window closes, and you can follow all the moves at the link below. (10.08.18)
|Spanish cup winners||Valencia|
|Promoted to the first division||Osasuna, Granada, Mallorca|
|Relegated to the second division A||Rayo Vallecano, Huesca, Girona|
|Promoted to the second division A||Racing Santander, Fuenlabrada + 2 TBD|
|Relegated to the second division B||Reus, Nàstic, Córdoba, Rayo Majadahonda|
|Champions League||Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, Valencia|
|Europa League||Getafe, Sevilla, Espanyol|
|European Super Cup||None|
|Club World Cup||None|
|Day 38 - May 19|
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