|First division||Day 27||8-10 Mar|
|Champions League||Atlético Madrid v AC Milan
Barcelona v Manchester City
|Europa League||Round of 16, first leg||13 Mar|
|First division||Day 28||14-17 Mar|
|Champions League||Real Madrid v Schalke '04||18 Mar|
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Spain beat Italy 1-0 in the final warm-up game prior to the naming of their World Cup squad, a single goal by Pedro extending the unbeaten home record to 31 games. Del Bosque used the occasion to give a first cap to Atlético’s Diego Costa, who played the full ninety minutes in his team’s Calderón stadium together with fellow Brazilian Thiago, plus Azpilicueta, Javi Martínez and Jordi Alba. There was an early scare when Cerci hit the post in the fourth minute, but after that only an effort over the top by Osvaldo caused any problems for Casillas in the local goal. The Real Madrid keeper’s opposite number Buffon did have some work to do before the break though, saving shots from Pedro and Iniesta, with Fàbregas and Costa also going close. After the restart Buffon had to be at his best to keep out Thiago and Silva, but with just over an hour gone a good move between Silva and Iniesta ended with Pedro latching on to a loose ball to force a shot under the keeper. Italy almost equalized with a couple of minutes to go from a corner which Xabi Alonso eventually cleared, but Costa fired a shot just wide and Cazorla and Navas tested Buffon again near the end. Another win for Spain though, and a good chance for Del Bosque to have a look at some of his fringe players before deciding who he will take with him to Brazil. (05.03.14)
Spain’s under 21 side extended their incredible unbeaten record to 33 games after a 2-0 victory over Germany in the latest friendly international. The youngsters have not lost since November 2009, and they got off to another good start, Morata hitting the post in only the second minute and Isco curling a shot wide. Volland did go close for the Germans before the break, but seven minutes in to the second half Morata scored the easiest of goals after Leno’s clearance fell to him just outside of the area, and just a minute later the striker set up his Real Madrid team mate Isco to score the second. Morata hit the woodwork twice more after that, but Julen Lopetegui’s team had already done enough to clock up a fourteenth straight win. Along the way Muniain recorded a record 28th appearance for “La Rojita”, one more than Santi Denía and David De Gea, and Derik Osede and Denis Suárez both made their debuts at this level. (04.03.14)
Match round-up - First Division, Day 26
Real Madrid stay in top spot after they held Atlético Madrid to a 2-2 draw on Sunday afternoon. Benzema gave Ancelotti’s side an early lead, but strikes by Koke and Gabi turned the scoreline around by half time. Ronaldo made it all square though with seven minutes to go to keep his team three points ahead of their city rivals in the table. Barcelona closed to within a point of Madrid after they beat Almería 4-1 later in the evening. An Alexis strike and a Messi free kick put the locals two up with only a quarter of the game gone, but Trujillo headed one back soon afterwards, and it was not until the last ten minutes that Puyol and Xavi wrapped things up. Athletic’s win on Friday has opened up a six point gap over the two teams vying with them for the last Champions League spot after both faltered. Villarreal were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom club Betis on Sunday lunchtime, Rubén Castro saving a point for the Andalusians after Bruno had opened the scoring from the penalty spot with twenty minutes to go. And Real Sociedad were beaten 1-0 by Sevilla, substitute Gameiro scoring the only goal after Diogo put him through late on. Sevilla now occupy seventh position after their closest rivals Valencia lost 1-0 at Rayo Vallecano, Larrivey heading in Rat’s cross on the hour mark to take the Madrid based side to within three points of safety. (02.03.14)
Most of the top teams play on Sunday, with Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid meeting each other in the evening to decide who goes top (Barcelona permitting), but meanwhile Athletic Bilbao consolidated fourth place after a 4-0 win over Granada in the Friday night game. Aduríz helped himself to a hat-trick, including a late penalty after Mainz was shown a red card for bringing down the striker, and Gurpegi rounded things off near the end. Levante are back up to seventh after they beat Osasuna 2-0 on Saturday afternoon, Diop and Rubén García scoring in the first half, and the Valencia based side holding on for the victory despite having Casadesús sent off. Elsewhere Elche moved clear of the danger zone after a 1-0 win over Celta, substitute Carles Gil scoring the only goal with six minutes to go. Valladolid stay down in the bottom three though despite a 1-1 draw at Málaga, Larsson saving a point after Santa Cruz had headed the Andalusians in to an early lead. Málaga themselves remain just three points above their opponents, and a point below Getafe, who could only draw 0-0 at home to Espanyol. Luis García’s side have now gone eleven games without a win, and the coach may not have much longer left at the club. (01.03.14)
Spanish international squads
Vicente Del Bosque confirmed the call up of Diego Costa for next Wednesday’s friendly game against Italy in Madrid, and it now looks as if the Brazilian born striker is going to be in Spain’s plans for the summer World Cup. The coach has also drafted back Azpilicueta and Thiago in to a 22 man squad which looks light on defenders, but he has left out such big names as David Villa, Fernando Torres and Mata, as well as Arbeloa, Monreal and Iñigo Martínez, who all played in the last two friendlies in Africa (and Piqué, who is injured). Julen Lopetegui has also named an 18 man squad for the under 21 friendly against Germany the day before, with Derik and Denis Suárez the new faces. Isco and Alberto Moreno drop down from the senior squad. (28.02.14)
Keepers: Víctor Valdés (Barcelona), Reina (Napoli), Casillas (Real Madrid);
Defenders: Juanfran (Atlético Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Javi Martínez (Bayern Munich), Raúl Albiol (Napoli), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid);
Midfielders: Cazorla (Arsenal), Koke (Atlético Madrid), Busquets, Fàbregas, Iniesta and Xavi (Barcelona), Thiago (Bayern Munich), Jesús Navas and David Silva (Manchester City), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid);
Forwards: Diego Costa (Atlético Madrid), Pedro (Barcelona), Negredo (Manchester City).
Under 21 squad:
Keepers: Kepa (Athletic Bilbao), Pacheco (Real Madrid);
Defenders: Sergi Gómez (Barcelona), Carvajal and Derik (Real Madrid), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla), Jordi Amat (Swansea), Bernat (Valencia);
Midfielders: Sergi Roberto and Denis Suárez (Barcelona), Sarabia (Getafe), Saúl Ñíguez (Rayo Vallecano), Isco (Real Madrid), Rubén Pardo (Real Sociedad);
Forwards: Muniain (Athletic Bilbao), Deulofeu (Everton), Jesé and Morata (Real Madrid).
A full house for Spanish sides in the Europa League, all three making it through to the last 16. That of course means that there will be a Sevilla city derby for the first time ever in a European competition, the (bad) luck of the draw pairing together Betis and FC Sevilla in the next round! Betis had the hardest battle tonight, the Andalusians going in to the return match against Rubin Kazan in Russia with a 1-1 scoreline from the first leg. However they weathered temperatures well below zero to run out 0-2 winners, local keeper Ryzhikov deflecting a wayward shot by Nono in to his own net just before the break, and Rubén Castro scoring the second with a delightful chip over the keeper after a good run by Leo Baptistao. A little later in the evening Sevilla made sure of their place in history with a 2-1 win over Maribor, and although goals either side of half time by Reyes and Gameiro put them well on their way, there was a late scare when Vrsic got one back for the Slovenians in injury time. Valencia joined their Southern colleagues after a 2-0 aggregate victory over Dynamo Kiev, the two goals scored last week away from home enough to take them through together with a 0-0 draw in the Mestalla stadium tonight. Valencia’s opponents in the next round will be Bulgaria’s Ludogorets, who knocked out Lazio thanks to a last minute strike earlier in the evening. (27.02.14)
Watch out Europe, Real Madrid are on the prowl! Ancelotti’s side completed a clean sweep for La Liga teams in the first knock-out round after a humiliating 1-6 victory over Schalke ’04! There were two goals each for the B-B-C front trio, Benzema starting things off after a back-heel pass by Ronaldo fell kindly to him off a defender. Casillas had to make a fantastic reaction save from Draxler just a minute later, but soon afterwards Benzema won the ball down the right wing and passed in for Bale to cut past three defenders and fire a low shot inside the near post. Ronaldo hit the upright and had a couple more efforts saved by Fährmann before the break, but soon after the restart he picked up Bale’s pass and dummied past Matip before firing an angled shot past the keeper. Five minutes later Benzema made it four after a quick passing move with Ronaldo, and Bale ran on to a Sergio Ramos through ball to steer home a fifth with twenty minutes to go. Ancelotti started to rest players for this weekend’s big derby game, but Ronaldo completed the set near the end, rounding the keeper after good work by Isco and Benzema. Huntelaar did give the home fans something to cheer about with a spectacular volley in injury time, the first goal that Casillas has let in for ten games, but Madrid had sent a clear message to the rest, and the bookies odds on them winning that elusive “decima” are shortening by the minute. (26.02.14)
Match round-up - First Division, Day 25
Villarreal are vying with Basque sides Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad for the last Champions League spot, and they kept themselves in the fray with a 1-2 victory at Espanyol in the Monday night game. Moi Gómez put the visitors ahead shortly before half time after 17 year old Nahuel set him up, and Perbet added a second soon after the restart. Córdoba got one back though with a quarter of an hour to go, and Sergio García wasted a chance to save a point for the locals in the last minute when Asenjo saved his penalty kick. (24.02.14)
Real Madrid stay three points clear at the top of the table after Atlético Madrid were beaten 3-0 by Osasuna on Sunday evening. All the goals came in the first half, Cejudo opening the scoring and Armenteros and Roberto Torres adding two more to take the Pamplona based side safely up to mid-table. Atlético and Barça both appeared to have paid the price this weekend for exhausting Champions League games midweek, but Real Madrid have their own European match at Schalke next Wednesday, and with the derby game in the Calderón stadium coming up on Sunday, the three-way tie at the top could soon be restored.
With the first three berths almost sure to be taken by those top three, just one Champions League spot is up for grabs. As things stand, Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad and Villarreal are the main candidates, although Athletic maintain the four point gap over the others after a 0-2 victory at Betis earlier in the evening. The locals may have grounds for complaint after an officious referee awarded a dubious penalty against them (which Muniain converted) and then sent off Perquis and Lolo Reyes either side of half time, but substitute Guillermo came on to head home a second which left the Andalusians even further down at the bottom of the table.
Meanwhile Valencia and Sevilla kept up their push at least for the Europa League spots with victories on Sunday. An injury time goal by Rubén Vezo gave the Ches a last gasp 2-1 win against Granada, an earlier strike by Paco Alcácer cancelling out Piti’s second half opener. And a Coke header from a long Rakitic free kick some ten minutes after the break helped the Andalusians to a 0-1 victory at next to bottom club Rayo Vallecano in this weekend’s mid-day kick-off. (23.02.14)
Real Madrid move to the top of the table after last week’s leaders Barcelona lost 3-1 at Real Sociedad on Saturday evening. Alex Song deflected a Canales cross in to his own net with just over half an hour gone, and although Messi equalized just a couple of minutes later, strikes by Griezmann and Zurutuza early on in the second half gave the Basque side a victory which takes them up to fifth. Real Madrid themselves beat Elche 3-0 earlier in the afternoon to move three points clear of their rivals, Illarramendi opening the scoring late on in the first half, and Bale and Isco adding two more in the last twenty minutes.
The other two games on Saturday involved teams in the lower half of the table, Getafe coach Luis García probably saving his job for another week after his side drew 1-1 at Celta. Lafita gave the visitors the lead midway through the first half, but Rafita levelled it with an individualist goal after the restart. Getafe stay just ahead of Almería and Málaga, who cancelled each other out in a 0-0 draw. And Valladolid remain in the relegation spots, still three points behind Málaga, after they drew 1-1 against Levante on Friday evening. The point takes the Valencia based team up to seventh pending the rest of the weekend matches. (22.02.14)
Confirmation that the cup final everyone has been waiting for will take place between Spain’s big two after Barcelona drew 1-1 at Real Sociedad in the second semi-final. A packed crowd turned up at the Anoeta stadium hoping for their team to overturn the 2-0 scoreline from the first leg, but their dreams were shattered when Messi ran through from midfield to score a vital away goal midway through the first half. That meant that the Basque side needed to score four, but although Carlos Vela hit the bar after the interval, the best they could manage was a late equalizer from Griezmann with three minutes to go. Barcelona and Real Madrid meet again in another final, although the venue for that has yet to be decided. (12.02.14)
Real Madrid cruised in to this year’s cup final with a 5-0 aggregate win over city neighbours Atlético Madrid on Tuesday evening. Already three goals up from the first leg, the tie was over as a contest when Ronaldo converted two penalties in the first fifteen minutes to make it 0-2 on the night. Casillas pulled off the save of the tournament from Sosa near the end though to keep up his unbeaten record in the competition (eight games and counting), the first time ever that a side has reached a final without letting in a single goal. Madrid’s opponents on 19th April will be either Barcelona or Real Sociedad, the Catalans the favourites after winning the first leg 2-0. (11.02.14)
The usual late flurry of activity at the end of the January transfer window, with over 30 players changing clubs in the last two days. Valencia were the most active of those, competing the signings of Keita, Araújo and Senderos to add to that of Vargas, and finding homes for Banega, Canales, Guardado, Postiga and Pabón. No movements at all for Barcelona and Real Madrid, although Atlético have finally been able to bring back Diego from Wolfsburg, letting Oliver Torres and Guilavogui go out on loan to Villarreal and Saint Etienne respectively. Rayo Vallecano, Levante and Málaga have also strengthened their squads in the last few days, and in the second division Deportivo and Mallorca have made important new signings. For details of all of those and more please follow these links. (01.02.14)
Summary of 2012/2013
|Spanish cup winners||Atlético Madrid|
|Promoted to the first division||Elche, Villarreal, Almería|
|Relegated to the second division A||Mallorca, Deportivo, Zaragoza|
|Promoted to the second division A||Alavés, Tenerife, Eibar, Jaén|
|Relegated to the second division B||Guadalajara, Racing Santander, Huesca, Xerez|
|Champions League||Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Real Sociedad|
|Europa League||Valencia, Betis, Sevilla|
|European Super Cup||None|
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