|Europa League qualfier||Athletic Bilbao v TBC||30 Jul|
|European Super Cup||Barcelona v Sevilla||11 Aug|
|First division||New season, day 1 (TBC)||15/16 Aug|
As usual there will be an intensive programme of pre-season matches, starting in July and going on beyond the beginning of the season (you can follow all the details at the above link). The start date for the 2015-16 campaign has yet to be decided however, with the league (LFP) insisting on the weekend of 15/16 August, and both the Federation (RFEF) and players’ union (AFE) pushing for a week later. With the three bodies at loggerheads all year, the decision may have to go for arbitration to the sports’ commission (CSD). Meanwhile for those of you waiting for the new season fixtures, these should be fixed and published after the Federation general assembly on 14th July, assuming we have confirmation of that starting date by then! We are also waiting for the decision on Elche’s appeal against relegation to know the final make-up of the first and second divisions, but that could even change at a later date if any of the clubs fail to meet the 31st July deadline for being up to date with their financial obligations. As we’ve said many times before, welcome to Spain!. (30.06.15)
Bilbao Athletic and Huesca have been promoted to the second division after both won through their play-off finals on Sunday. Athletic Bilbao’s B side faced off against southern group regional champions Cádiz, the match kicking off at mid-day with temperatures around 40ºC. The Basque team (runners up to Huesca in their own regional group) were two goals up from the first leg, but with less than ten minutes on the clock Jona got one back for the locals with an acrobatic shot after a long throw was headed on. Villar and Villalibre both hit the woodwork as the Andalusians bore down on Remiro’s goal, but with the match in injury time Salinas ran on to round Aulestia and make it 1-1 on the day.
Cádiz are the only one of the group champions not to go up after Huesca beat Huracán Valencia 2-0 later in the evening. Visiting keeper Paco had to save from Camacho, Tyronne and Mainz before the break, but some ten minutes in to the second half Tyronne got on the end of a Morillas cross to open the scoring. Just three minutes later Mainz made it two from another Morillas centre, and although Aridai did test Dani Jiménez a couple of times after that, the result was never in doubt. Huesca return to the second division just two years after they went down. (28.06.15)
Teams promoted: Nàstic, Oviedo, Huesca, Bilbao Athletic.
The transfer window is open again, and clubs have until the end of August to complete their squads for the new season. As ever though, the first job is to get the coaching staff on board, and some of the top flight teams have opted for a change. That includes Real Madrid, Ancelotti being asked to leave after failing to win any major titles this season, and Napoli’s Rafa Benítez returning to the club where he began his coaching career some twenty years ago. Others though are taking their time, in part due to uncertainty as to whether they will be in the first or second division next season, with Elche appealing against a decision to relegate them due to financial irregularities, Eibar provisionally reinstated, and Getafe struggling to meet all their financial obligations with players and tax authorities by the stipulated deadline. All three are currently managerless. Córdoba however have opted for José Luis Oltra to help them win back promotion, and Granada are trying to convince Sandoval to stay on after he pulled off a Houdini type escape act at the end of last season.
As everyone no doubt knows, FIFA’s transfer ban on Barcelona remains in force for another six months, although they have moved to tie up Sevilla’s Aleix Vidal for next January, and will be ending Denis Suárez’s two year loan spell with the Andalusians a year early to fill the spot left vacant by Xavi, subject to federation approval. Atlético Madrid are also under scrutiny by FIFA, but with Mandzukic off to Juventus and Miranda being tempted away by Inter Milan they have already taken steps to sign Villarreal striker Vietto, and have Porto’s Jackson Martínez in their sights. Villarreal themselves get Leo Baptistao on loan in return, but they have tied up Málaga’s promising namesakes, Samuel García and Samuel Castillejo as well, and have taken PSG’s young keeper Areola on loan as cover for the injured Asenjo.
Real Madrid meanwhile are still waiting for Benítez to settle in, although Danilo was signed some time ago, and Casemiro will be returning from Porto after the club exercised a buy back option. Khedira is moving on to Juventus to get some playing time, and all eyes are currently on their goalkeeping situation, with De Gea all but signed from Manchester United, and speculation that Casillas will be the one to be nudged out to make room. Elsewhere Sevilla have been quick to agree terms with Celta’s Krohn-Dehli and Chelsea’s Kakuta (who was on loan at Rayo last season), and Celta themselves have brought in another Dane, Daniel Wass, to replace his fellow countryman. Still a long way to go though before the new season begins, and we will be keeping you informed of all the moves as and when they happen. (24.06.15)
|Date||Player (Country)||Old club||New club||Position/Comments|
||Villarreal||Atlético Madrid||FW Villarreal confirmed striker has been sold to Atleti for €20 Mio. Will replace Mandzukic.|
||Chelsea (ENG) / Rayo Vallecano||Sevilla||FW Had good season on loan at Rayo, and buy him outright for fee of +/- €3.5 Mio.|
||Málaga||Southampton (ENG)||FW Spanish international striker moves to Premier League side for fee of around €7 Mio.|
Las Palmas will be playing in the first division next season after beating Zaragoza on the away goal rule in the play-off final! Last season the Canary Islanders missed out on promotion with the last kick of the match against Córdoba, and once again things looked difficult for them after a 3-1 defeat in the first leg. Keepers Bono and Casto were in action early on to save long free kicks from Jonathan Viera and Pedro, and Culio saved the day for the locals when he deflected Dorca’s header onto the crossbar following a corner. With just over half an hour gone though Angel, Araujo and Culio combined to set up Roque Mesa for the opener, and after that it was one way traffic as the home side pushed for the second goal they needed to win the tie. Bono made good saves though from Araujo and Ortuño and David García headed a corner against the bar, and time appeared to be running out until Araujo fired a shot in off the crossbar after Aythami hooked the ball across goal following a long Viera free kick. Las Palmas return to the top flight after thirteen years away, and Zaragoza will have to wait another year.
That just leaves one issue to be settled, namely which two teams will join Oviedo and Nàstic in the second division. The first legs of the two promotion play-off finals took place on Saturday, with Athletic Bilbao B winning 2-0 against Cádiz in a packed San Mamés stadium, and Huracán and Huesca playing out a 1-1 draw in Valencia. The retrun legs take place next Sunday. (21.06.15)
Zaragoza are coming good at the right moment, and they are now close to return to the top flight after beating Las Palmas 3-1 in the first leg of the play-off final. The Maños only just made it into the play-offs, and they appeared to be down and out before coming back to beat Girona in their semi-final. And once more they seemed to be in trouble when Jonathan Viera opened the scoring for the visitors after David Simón won the ball off Cabrera on the right of the area. Popovic changed his formation though with only half an hour gone, bringing on Jaime Romero for Cabrera, and soon afterwards Diego Rico headed the equalizer from Pedro’s chipped cross. Pedro himself scored a second after Willian José laid the ball back to him just three minutes after the restart, and although Roque and Viera went close for the visitors, Willian José rounded things off after Lizoain could only push out Alamo’s centre with a quarter of an hour to go. The Canary Islanders are not out of it yet though, and after missing out on promotion last season with virtually the last kick of the final match against Córdoba, they will be giving it everything they have got on Sunday afternoon. (17.06.15)
Another tight win for Spain, Del Bosque’s side beating Belarus 0-1 to hold on to second spot in the table. The coach returned to his tried and tested line-up for this match after giving a run out to others in the midweek friendly, Casillas back in goal and Morata leading the attack. Pedro and Ramos brought early saves out of Gorbunov and Jordi Alba volleyed a shot over the top as the visitors dominated, but it was not until the stroke of half time that David Silva collected a long Fàbregas corner on the far post to open the scoring with an angled shot in off a defender. The hosts came out strongly after the restart, Kornilenko in particular firing a free kick wide and then bringing the save of the night out of Casillas. Gorbunov responded though deflecting a shot from Silva over the bar, and Morata missed a couple of chances to put the game to bed later on. Not the best of performances, but with Slovakia and Ukraine both winning as well they at least got the result they needed to stay on track for a place in the finals. (14.06.15)
Spain beat Costa Rica 2-1 in a warm up game three days before their European qualifier against Belarus. There was a bit of added spice to the match as the two current Real Madrid keepers, Casillas and Keylor Navas, were in the squads, as well as the man tipped to replace them in the Madrid starting line up, De Gea, and Del Bosque gave the Manchester United number one pride of place in a starting eleven which also included debutant Aleix Vidal. It only took the Central Americans six minutes to beat him however, Venegas connecting with Joel Campbell’s cross to fire a low shot inside the near post. Just two minutes later though Paco Alcácer equalized after Fàbregas played a long ball from Sergio Ramos into his path, and on the half hour mark Fàbregas made it two after Nolito laid a long Vidal centre into the six yard box. Navas made two first class saves from Ramos after the restart, and Bartra and David Silva both went close, with Bryan Ruíz firing a shot over the top for the visitors later on as both coaches made the usual round of substitutions. A good curtain raiser though for Sunday night’s big match, and the only real complaint Del Bosque had was about some whistles from the Real Madrid supporters in the crowd when Piqué came on, protesting about his remarks during Barcelona’s triple celebration. (11.06.15)
Match round-up - Second Division, Day 42
An incredible end to the season in the second division, Girona missing out on promotion with virtually the last kick of the match, and Sporting Gijón going up in their place. Girona needed to win against Lugo, and a Sandaza strike put them ahead until the 90th minute, when Caballero equalized for the Galicians. The game was suspended though for almost half an hour when a linesman was hit by a bottle after an injury time strike by the Catalans was ruled out for offside, and there was an immense confusion before the teams were called back onto the pitch to play out the last 40 seconds. With Girona drawing, Sporting needed to win by two clear goals at the already promoted Betis to overtake them in the table on goal difference (the head-to-head record being level). The Asturians went one better though, a 0-3 victory seeing them return to the top flight after a three year absence.
Girona will have to pick themselves up however for the play-offs, where they will meet Zaragoza in the second of the two-leg semi-finals this Thursday. The Maños held on to sixth place despite a 2-2 draw at Leganés, Ponferradina unable to catch them after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Alcorcón. The other semi-final will be between Valladolid and Las Palmas, both of whom were already qualified a couple of weeks ago. Their first leg will be on Wednesday. Excitement as well in the battle to avoid the drop, Osasuna saving themselves in the last minute after coming back from two behind to draw 2-2 at the already relegated Sabadell. That kept them a point above Racing Santander, who go down despite a 0-1 win at Albacete. The Cantabrians will however be hoping for a reprieve as several clubs are struggling to meet their financial obligations, and any one of them could be relegated in their place. (07.06.15)
Barcelona won the Champions League for the fourth time in nine years and the fifth time in their history after beating Juventus 1-3 in the final in Berlin! Messi, Neymar and Iniesta combined to set up Rakitic for the opening goal with only three minutes on the clock, and only a great save by Buffon prevented Dani Alves from scoring a second soon afterwards. Morata equalized for the Italian side though some ten minutes in to the second half after Ter Stegen could only push out a shot by Tévez, and for a few minutes Barça were on the back foot, Morata and Tévez going close and Pogba having a penalty appeal turned down. Midway through the second half however Luis Suárez restored the lead after Buffon blocked a shot by Messi, and Neymar felt himself unlucky to have a headed goal disallowed as the ball hit his own hand on the way into the net a couple of minutes later. The result was still in doubt though until the seventh minute of injury time, when Neymar wrapped things up with a third goal after picking up a return pass from substitute Pedro on a quick breakaway. For the second time in six years the Catalans had completed the triple, and like Guardiola before him, Luis Enrique has done all that in his first year in charge. (06.06.15)
First Division update
Elche have been relegated to the second division after failing to pay amounts due to the Spanish tax authorities! The new owners had presented guarantees to the authorities, but the local courts decided that this was insufficient, and that the ruling should still stand. The club are appealing to the Spanish sporting tribunal, but as things stand they are down, and Eibar will be reinstated as the best ranked of the teams who were relegated at the end of the season. Things could get worse for Elche though, as they still owe back wages to their players, and if these are not settled by the 3st July deadline then they will drop down to the regional second division B. Other clubs are struggling too to make the deadline, in particular Getafe, and they could also be relegated if they can’t sort out their problems in time. (05.06.15)
Spain’s under 19 side qualified for this summer’s finals in style, Luis de la Fuente’s team clocking up three big wins in their Elite round matches. The youngsters began with a 1-4 victory against hosts Georgia, then beat Turkey 5-0 and Portugal 4-0. Real Madrid striker Borja Mayoral was the group’s top scorer with four goals in three games. (03.06.15)
Two down and one to go! Barcelona followed up their league title with a 1-3 victory over Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish cup final, and with the Champions League final coming up next week they are still on track for a historic triple. Although the match took place in the Nou Camp, Barça were designated as the away side, and half of the 100,000 fans made the trip from Bilbao to support their side. The Catalans dominated from the early stages though, Neymar connecting with Messi’s cross to find the net in the tenth minute only for referee Velasco Carballo to incorrectly rule out the strike for offside. Herrerín had to save from Luis Suárez soon afterwards though, and with twenty minutes gone Messi opened the scoring with a shot inside the near post after an amazing run from wide out on the right. Herrerín kept out Neymar and Piqué again soon afterwards, and with ten minutes to go to the break Luis Suárez set up Neymar for a second. A goal from Valverde’s side could have changed things though, and Williams fired a first time volley against the top of the bar shortly before the break. But Messi brought another good stop out of Herrerín with a well struck free kick, and with a quarter of an hour to go Messi made it three after Dani Alves set him up. With their fans behind them however Athletic kept going, and after Williams got one back with a header from Ibai’s cross there was a moment of hope. Ibai even tested Ter Stegen with a long shot, but Xavi (in his last match in the Nou Camp) almost added to the lead near the end with a free kick which hit the upright. A 27 th cup title for Barcelona though, and they go on to Berlin with their morale at a high. (30.05.15)
Sevilla are Europa League champions again after the Andalusians beat Dnipro in a thrilling final in Warsaw on Wednesday evening! Having won the competition three times in the last ten years, the latest only twelve months ago, Emery’s side were clear favourites. However despite dominating play they were caught out in a quick counter-attack early on, Kalinic getting on the end of a Mateus cross to head the opener past Sergio Rico. The Andalusians reacted though with two goals in a three minute period around the half hour mark, Krychowiak turning a shot past Boyko following a set-piece corner, and Reyes slipping a pass through for Bacca to score the second. Rico had to make a finger-tip save from Konoplyanka soon afterwards though, and with the first half coming to a close Rotan made it all square once again with a well struck free kick. The pace dropped off in the second half as the two teams battled it out in midfield, but with seventeen minutes to go Vitolo poked a pass over for Bacca to fire home his second of the night. Boyko did well to stop the Colombian striker from heading in his hat-trick a few minutes later, and there was a late worry (unfounded in the end) when Mateus collapsed on the pitch after a clash of heads with Trémoulinas, but Sevilla controlled the final minutes after that for a win which not only gives them a record fourth title, but also ensures them their place in next season’s Champions League. (27.05.15)
Match round-up - First Division, Day 38
Clarifications: It appears that Sevilla’s upgrade to the Champions League as Europa League winners does not free up another Europa League spot for next season. Spain will therefore only have two teams in that competition for the 2015/16 edition, Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao. Our appologies for any confusion. Meanwhile Almería have decided to withdraw their appeal against FIFA’s three point deduction to avoid the possibility of the penalty being applied next season. The Andalusians were relegated anyway, but their points total has been adjusted down to 29 accordingly. (31.05.15)
Another amazing end to the season, with several issues not decided until late on in the evening. Barcelona had already won the league title though, and there was a festival atmosphere in the Nou Camp, with Xavi saying goodbye to the home fans. Visitors Deportivo needed a point to stay up however, and although they went two down to strikes by Messi, two late goals by Lucas Pérez and Salomao forced a 2-2 draw which keeps them in the top flight for another season. As things panned out Granada and Atlético Madrid both needed a point to achieve their differing objectives, the locals to steer clear of the drop zone and the visitors to stay in third spot, and it was no surprise that their match ended 0-0. Excitement though at Almería, where the Andalusians went ahead twice before eventually succumbing 2-3 to Valencia. Paco Alcácer’s late strike meant that the Ches hold on to the fourth Champions League spot, and Almería go down, irrespective of whether the CAS docks them the three point penalty or not. All of that meant that Eibar are also relegated despite a 3-0 victory over bottom club Córdoba, the Basque side losing out on head-to-head results in a three-way points tie with Deportivo and Granada. They still do have a remote chance of saving themselves though if teams such as Elche or Getafe cannot settle their financial obligations by the stipulated deadlines.
Valencia’s late win deprived Sevilla of fourth spot, even though Unai Emery’s team beat Málaga 2-3. They finish a point behind the Ches, although they have a second chance of making it into the Champions League next season if they can win the Europa League final next Wednesday. That would mean an unprecedented five Spanish sides in the top competition, and would free up one more spot for next year’s Europa League. One of those places is for the Copa del Rey winners, but finalists Athletic Bilbao hedged their bets by beating the already qualified sixth placed Villarreal 4-0 to finish seventh, which gives them a better class ticket anyway. If Sevilla are successful then eighth place will also allow entry to Europe, and Celta snatched that spot from several teams after coming from behind twice with ten men to beat rivals Espanyol 3-2. Rayo Vallecano also had an outside chance of making it into the top eight, although a 2-4 defeat at the hands of Real Sociedad meant they finished a still respectable tenth equal. Two other games with nothing at stake, second placed Real Madrid thrashing neighbours Getafe 7-3 with yet another hat-trick from this year’s “Pichichi” Ronaldo, and Levante and Elche playing out a 0-0 draw earlier in the evening. (23.05.15)
Spain's under 17s also failed to make it to the World Cup after they lost to England in the penalty shoot-out following another 0-0 draw. (19.05.15)
Spain are out of the European championships, Santi Denía’s side losing 2-4 to Germany in a penalty shoot out after their quarter final tie ended without goals. The youngsters still have one game left though, with a play-off against the loser of the tie between England and Russia to decide one of the six European places for the upcoming youth World Cup. (15.05.15)
Spain’s new under 21 side followed up their win against Norway with a 4-0 victory over Belarus on Monday evening. Team captain Gerard Deulofeu led by example, the Sevilla winger scoring the second goal himself and having a hand in the other three, the first midway through the first half with a cross from the right which Shastsilouski turned into his own net. After Munir put him through to score just after the break, Deulofeu returned the favour for the Barcelona striker to make it three soon afterwards. Six minutes later substitute Moi Gómez latched on to another Deulofeu assist for the fourth, and Williams could have added a fifth had his strike not been ruled out for a narrow offside later on. (30.03.15)
Real Madrid are World Champions after they beat Argentina’s San Lorenzo 2-0 in the final in Marrakesh! Once again Sergio Ramos was the hero of the night, the Spanish international defender shrugging off an injury and heading in another Kroos corner to open the scoring shortly before the break, a goal which won him the “player of the tournament” award. Before that Ancelotti’s side had been on top in a physical game, Ronaldo seeing a couple of free kicks deflected away by the defensive wall, and Benzema and Bale coming up against Torrico. Ronaldo felt he should have had a penalty when his shot hit Kannemann on the arm shortly before the interval, but some six minutes after the restart Gareth Bale added a second, shooting low under the keeper after picking up Isco’s pass. Benzema went close a couple of times after that, and Casillas wasn’t called upon until the last ten minutes, when he had to save long efforts from Kalinski and Mercier. A new trophy for Madrid, but their fourth title of the year, and after a record run of 22 consecutive victories they will be looking to add to their successes in the new year. (20.12.14)
Semi-final: Cruz Azul 0 – Real Madrid 4
Summary of 2014/2015
|Spanish cup winners||Barcelona|
|Promoted to the first division||Betis, Sporting Gijón,
|Relegated to the second division A||Elche, Almería, Córdoba|
|Promoted to the second division A||Nàstic, Oviedo,
Athletic Bilbao B, Huesca
|Relegated to the second division B||Racing Santander, Recreativo, Sabadell, Barcelona B|
|Champions League||Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla|
|Europa League||Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao|
|European Super Cup||Barcelona and Sevilla|
|Borja Pantzov and his side-kick Goran Arsic are in Poland! You can follow their latest adventures in Borja's Blog.|