|Spanish Supercup||Atlético Madrid v Real Madrid||22 Aug|
|First division||Week 1||23-25 Aug|
|Champions League qualifier||Athletic Bilbao v Napoli||27 Aug|
|Europa League qualifiers||Villarreal v Astana
Krasnodar v Real Sociedad
A late goal by Xabi Prieto gave Real Sociedad a narrow lead against FC Krasnodar in the first leg of their Europa League play-off. The locals did most of the attacking early on, Bergara bringing a good save out of Dikan with a header following an early corner, and Xabi Pireto and Chory Castro putting efforts wide. However the Russian side caused some problems for Zubikarai either side of half time, and Joaozinho steered an easy chance just wide of the post midway through the second half. Xabi Prieto won it though with a low shot after Granqvist could only deflect a De la Bella cross in to his path some twenty minutes before the final whistle, and Prieto himself came close to a second when he headed a corner against the bar near the end. (21.08.14)
Villarreal are virtually sure of a place in the league stage of the competition after a convincing 0-3 win at Astana in Kazakhstan. The locals had already won through three rounds, and they caused a few problems early on. However with just over half an hour gone Cani opened the scoring, bouncing the ball past Eric after Cheryshev’s shot was blocked, and just three minutes in to the second half Gio made it two with a shot from close up after intercepting a wayward effort from Trigueros. Astana were left with ten men a few minutes later after Anicic picked up a second booking, and substitute Vietto missed an open goal just seconds after coming on. However Mario Gaspar scored a third with seven minutes to go, and Foxi fired the home side’s best chance over the bar with the game already in time added on. (21.08.14)
The summer transfer window is open again, and clubs have until the end of August to build up their new squads. The latest moves are set out below, and you can follow all the transfer news at the above link (subscribers only). (20.08.14)
|Date||Player (Country)||Old club||New club||Position/Comments|
|20/08/14||Zuculini (ARG)||Manchester City (ENG)||Valencia||MF This time's for real! Deal with Depor called off and will be moving on loan to Mestalla. Also signed Benfica's Cancelo.|
|20/08/14||Lucas Vázquez||Real Madrid Castilla||Espanyol||MF Last part of the puzzle for Sergio. Young winger joins on one year loan to complete squad.|
||Udinese (ITA) / Granada||Mallorca||DF Played at Granada last year, and will return to Spain on loan. Have also persuaded Marti not to retire.|
Barcelona’s 6-0 victory over Club León in their own Gamper trophy just about wraps up the pre-season fixtures for another summer, although Real Madrid still have to find a date for their Bernabeu trophy, provisionally against River Plate. This year saw the inauguration of the LFP world Challenge, with La Liga sides playing international opposition around the world, and there were usual summer tournaments, such as the Ramón de Carranza in Cádiz, the Teresa Herrera in La Coruña and the Colombino in Huelva – for details follow the above link. All of that is now over though, and after a three month lay-off (World Cup excepted!) it all starts again this weekend! (20.08.14)
The Spanish supercup ended all square after Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid drew 1-1 in the first leg, although the league champions have home advantage going in to Friday’s return match. Both goals came in the last ten minutes, half time substitute James putting the locals in front with a shot which deflected in off Ansaldi, and Raúl García equalizing following a Koke corner with just three minutes to go. (19.08.14)
A promising start for Athletic in their Champìons League qualifier, a 1-1 draw against Rafa Benítez’s Napoli giving them the advantage going in to next Wednesday’s return leg in their newly finished San Mamés stadium. The Basque side held off the early pressure, and Laporte headed a Beñat corner just wide before Muniain opened the scoring after controlling a De Marcos cross shortly before half time. Higuaín levelled the scores though with twenty minutes to go, and only a couple of late saves by Iraizoz from Mertens and Higuain prevented the Italians from taking the lead on the night. (19.08.14)
The LFP decided yesterday to ignore Murcia’s appeal and go ahead with the second division as planned. LFP president Javier Tebas explained that, under the league’s rules, they were unable to apply the court’s decision without the Spanish federation’s approval, and that the RFEF themselves had refused to increase the number of teams above the original 22. With Mirandés already reinstated, that meant that there was no room for Murcia, who in any case had clearly violated the leagues “economic control” rules, and not for the first time. Tebas also said that the on-off league programme will finally go ahead as planned, which means that the first matches will take place this weekend. Murcia will appeal the decision, and have even threatened to take penal action against the LFP, but such actions in Spain are notoriously slow, and could take months or even years. In the meantime the club (who are also banned from making new signings) will have to decide whether they agree to compete in the second division B in the place of Mirandés, which means they will be grouped in the “regional group I - North East”, requiring journeys of a minimum 700 Km every other week from the South West of the country. (19.08.14)
The second division programme has been suspended by the LFP after Murcia won their appeal to the local courts against their relegation! The club were refused registration this summer due to unsettled tax debts, with Mirandés reinstated in their place. However the judge ruled that they should be re-admitted forthwith, and although the Spanish Sports Tribunal issued a decision opposing the court ruling, the LFP have decided to put everything on hold pending a meeting between all parties on Monday 18th. If Murcia are allowed to rejoin, one possibility may be to make the numbers up to an even 24 for this season, presumably with Real Madrid Castilla also called back as the highest ranked of the relegated sides. Any change to the current make-up though would require a new fixture list, and presumably the first matches would then not take place until at least the end of the month. (14.08.14)
Real Madrid won the European Super Cup for the second time in their history after they beat fellow Spaniards Sevilla 2-0 in this year's final. Ancelotti drafted James and Kroos in to his line-up, even though neither had featured in pre-season games, and his opposite number Unai Emery also included new signings Krychowiak, Denis Suárez and Aleix Vidal in his starting line up. Madrid had the better of the opening minutes though, Ronaldo firing a free kick over the top and then bringing a good save out of Beto before he got on the end of Bale’s long cross to open the scoring on the half hour mark. Casillas did well to save from Carriço shortly before the break, but just four minutes after the restart Ronaldo fired home his second of the night after Benzema put him through. The Andalusians did put in a late flurry, with Casillas having to keep out Krychowiak and Diogo volleying a shot just wide of the post, but the European champions were worthy winners in the end. (12.08.14)
The summer transfer market is well under way, and clubs are close to putting together their squads for next season. Real Madrid in particular are hunting down last month’s World Cup stars, with Kroos, James and Keylor Navas already in the bag. Others will have to leave though to make room, Diego López already on his way to Milan, and Di María and Khedira current favourites to make their exits. Barcelona meanwhile have finally signed a couple of defenders, although they had to pay top price for Valencia’s Mathieu and Arsenal’s Vermaelen, the eighth “Gunner” under Wenger’s reign to find his way to the Nou Camp.
Atlético Madrid continue to build their new squad, Real Sociedad’s Griezmann and Málaga’s Jesús Gámez the latest additions, and several goalkeepers are on the move, Celta’s Yoel joining Valencia and Guaita switching to Getafe to make room, Real Madrid’s Jesús swapping shirts with Levante’s Navas, Mexico’s Ochoa signing at Málaga and Argentina’s Rulli at Real Sociedad. Three more weeks to go though, and expect plenty more surprises before that 31st August deadline. (09.08.14)
The draw took place yesterday for the first two rounds of the Spanish cup, which only involve teams from the lower divisions. Games will take place over the first two weeks of September. See links below for details. (01.08.14)
Spain recovered a little bit of dignity in their last match in this summer’s World Cup, a 0-3 victory over Australia at least sending them home with points on the board. Neither team had anything at stake after losing their first two games, and Del Bosque used the occasion to give a run out to the rest of his squad, with Reina, Juanfran, Albiol, Villa and later on Mata all getting their first minutes in the competition. Despite the changes though they dominated the first half, Villa volleying wide and Alba bringing a good save out of Ryan before Villa got on the end of Juanfran’s cross to open the scoring, his 59 th and probably last goal for “la selección”. With twenty minutes to go Torres scored a second after Iniesta put him through, and Mata wrapped things up with a third, steering an angled shot under the legs of the keeper after controlling a centre from Fàbregas. An unexpectedly premature end to Spain’s participation in the tournament though, and they now have to go home to get some much needed rest, and decide where they go from here. (23.06.14)
A sensational end to the play-offs, Córdoba winning promotion on the away goal rule with the last kick of the match! After a score-less draw in the first leg, Las Palmas went ahead at the start of the second half, Apoño finishing off after Raúl Bravo gifted the ball to Aranda. Two minutes in to injury time the local fans invaded the pitch mistakenly thinking that the referee had blown the final whistle. However the game eventually resumed after a long delay to clear them away, and Uli Dávila got a vital away goal to take the Andalusians up for the first time in 42 years. (22.06.14)
Second division B play-offs: Llagostera 3 - Nàstic 1 (after extra time); L'Hospitalet 1 - Leganés 1
Llagostera and Leganés promoted.
Match round-up - Second Division, Day 42
An amazing last day in the second division, with the final relegation spot in particular only being decided with virtually the last kick of the season! No less than 14 teams came in to Saturday’s fixtures not knowing which division they will be playing in next season, six fighting for the four promotion play-off spots and eight trying to avoid the drop. Two of the play-off places were decided pretty quickly, with Sporting Gijón beating Tenerife 3-0 and Murcia winning 1-0 against Real Madrid Castilla, all of the goals coming early on. Las Palmas had some problems though before running out 3-2 winners against Ponferradina, and Córdoba were forever looking over their shoulders as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Mallorca, their place only secured because the game between Sabadell and Recreativo also ended without goals. Córdoba will play Murcia and Las Palmas meet Sporting in the first legs of the semi-finals on Wednesday, with the return games next Sunday.
Incredible drama though in the relegation battle, with Mirandés going down right at the end as Alavés came back from behind to beat Jaén 2-3 in injury time. Four of the goals in that game came in the last ten minutes, the situation swapping around with each goal, but in the end a 1-0 defeat at Lugo signalled the end for Mirandés, and a Houdini-type escape for Alavés. Jaén are relegated as well, as are Castilla, but Girona saved themselves thanks to a 3-1 victory over the already promoted Deportivo, and Lugo, Ponferradina and Mallorca will also stay in the second division for another season. (07.06.14)
Real Madrid have finally won the “décima”, their tenth European league title, after beating city neighbours Atlético Madrid in a dramatic Champions League final! Both teams came in to the match on their last legs after a grueling season, Pepe and Arda Turan failing late fitness tests but Ronaldo, Benzema and Diego Costa all coming through to line up at the start (although Costa lasted less than ten minutes before he had to go off). The start was tense though, and there were few chances in the first half hour, Ronaldo testing Courtois with a long free kick and Bale intercepting a poor pass by Tiago and running on to shoot just wide. With ten minutes to go to the break however Atlético took a surprise lead, Godín looping a header over an out of position Casillas after Juanfran headed a corner back in to the penalty area.
After the restart Madrid did most of the attacking, Courtois saving from another Ronaldo free kick and Bale shooting wide a couple of times, but just when it looked as if Atlético were going to hold on, Ramos got above the defence to head Modric’s corner in to the net. That took the game into 30 minutes extra time, and with ten minutes to go Courtois could only get a hand to Di María’s shot, and the ball bounced across for Bale to head it in on the far post. Atlético were finished, and in the last three minutes Marcelo ran on to score a third, and Ronaldo made it four from the penalty spot after Gabi pushed him over in the area, his own 17 th goal of the competition this year.
A frustrated Simeone got himself sent off after the final whistle for his protests, but he has done his side proud this year, winning the league last week and seeing his team lose the European title in the last minute, as they did in their only other European cup final appearance many years ago. They will surely be back! Bragging right though go to Madrid, and Ancelotti can rest easy. He had reportedly been told that if he didn’t win this one he was out. They set the bar pretty high in the Bernabeu! (24.05.14)
Match round-up - First Division, Day 38 (final weekend)
Atlético Madrid are the new league champions! Congratulations to Simeone and his side! Valladolid and Osasuna are relegated to the second division together with Betis though after both failed to escape the bottom three on the last day.
Osasuna and Valladolid will be playing their football in the second division next season after both were relegated on the last day of the season! Osasuna started the day in next to bottom spot, and although they beat the already relegated Betis 2-1, results elsewhere went against them. Oriol Riera put the Pamplona based side ahead in the twelfth minute, provoking a landslide in the crowd after a barrier gave way which delayed the match for over half an hour (luckily without any serious injuries). The other three games taking place at the same time were halted at half time to allow them to catch up, and when play resumed Acuña made it two almost immediately. That was it though, and Chica pulled one back later on as the bad news came in from the other grounds, putting an end to a run of 14 years in the top flight. Valladolid meanwhile were at home to Granada, a team just two points ahead of them in the table. That meant that at least one of the two sides would go down, and in the end the Andalusians saved themselves with a 0-1 victory, the only goal coming when Mitrovic turned Piti’s cross past his own keeper following a set-piece free kick shortly before half time.
Getafe and Almería came in to the last weekend three points above the drop zone, and both got the results they needed to stay up. Getafe were away to local rivals Rayo Vallecano, but it was anything but a friendly encounter as Cosmin Contra’s side ran out 1-2 winners in the end. Ciprian put the visitors head before the break, but Trashorras equalized with a long free kick which bounced past keeper Julio César, and (with a negative head-to-head record against Osasuna) there were some nervous moments for the visiting fans before Ciprian converted an injury time penalty. Almería did have a better record against most of their rivals, and only a strange combination of results would have seen them down. As it was though they played out a relaxed 0-0 draw against Athletic Bilbao, who had already done their homework a couple of weeks ago to finish fourth in the league.
Two more matches on Sunday, with Villarreal beating Real Sociedad 1-2 in the mid-day kick off to snatch sixth place away from the Basque side on the head-to-head results. Giovani and Uche put them two up before Carlos Vela got a late consolation for the locals. The result was important, as Villarreal now enter the Europa League at the last qualifying stage, whereas their hosts will have to start their campaign in the earlier rounds at the beginning of August. Not that that is all too bad, as Sevilla did just that last season and still went on to win the competition. Villarreal’s victory meant that they went in to the very last game of the season already sure of fifth spot, and there was a festival atmosphere as they ran out 3-1 winners against Elche. Iborra netted two of the goals, with Jairo getting one in between, and Boakye had the honour of scoring what was the last goal of a very exciting season. (18.05.14)
Atlético Madrid are league champions after holding second placed Barcelona to a 1-1 draw in the Nou Camp on Saturday! After failing to beat Málaga last weekend, Simeone’s side needed at least a point in their last match, the first time that the top two had met in an end of season decider in over 60 years. The visitors lost Diego Costa and Arda Turan to injuries early on, and with ten minutes to go to the break Alexis smashed a shot past Courtois to open the scoring. David Villa hit the post at the start or the second half though, and a couple of minutes later Godín got on the end of Gabi’s corner to head the equalizer. Messi thought he had scored the winner later on only for the strike to be ruled out by the referee for offside, and after that Atleti held on to take their first league title in 18 years.
Barça’s draw at least gave them second place, ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference even though Ancelotti’s side beat Espanyol 3-1 earlier in the evening. Ronaldo pulled out after aggravating an injury in the pre-match warm up, but Bale got the opener midway through the second half, and Morata added two more late on, with Pizzi replying for the Catalans. Elsewhere Valencia came back from a goal down to beat Celta 2-1, Feghouli and Piatti heading the goals either side of half time to overturn Iñigo López’s early strike, and on Friday Málaga ended their season with a 1-0 victory over Levante, Portillo getting the only goal on the hour mark. (17.05.14)
Sevilla are the Europa League champions after beating Benfica in a penalty shoot-out! The Andalusians had won the competition twice in the past when it was still known as the UEFA Cup, but they were up against last season’s losing finalists, who had knocked out Juventus (hosts of the final in Turin) at the semi-final stage. Reyes went close a couple of times and Moreno brought a good save out of Oblak in the first half, but Beto also had some work to do, in particular keeping out Maxi Pereira and Rodrigo shortly before the break. The Portuguese side built on that after the restart, Nico Pareja having to clear off the line from Rodrigo with the keeper beaten, and although Reyes fired a shot just wide, Beto had to be at his best to tip a long shot from Lima over the bar. The game went in to extra time though, with Beto stopping a Lima free kick and Rakitic putting Bacca clear only for him to curl a shot just wide of the post. But in the end it was down to penalties, and Beto saved spot kicks from Cardozo and Rodrigo to give his team the title. An amazing achievement, especially as the Andalusians only got in to the competition after Málaga and Rayo Vallecano were disqualified for financial reasons, and they had to enter at the early stages at the beginning of August. They are already sure of place in the Europa League next season though, and with Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid to meet in the Champions League final, there will be an all-Spanish European Supercup next summer! (14.05.14)
A wonder-goal by Gareth Bale handed Real Madrid a 1-2 victory over Barcelona, and a 19th Spanish cup title. With Cristiano Ronaldo still injured, Bale was given more responsibility, and he went close a couple of times early on before Di María opened the scoring in the tenth minute. Messi fired a shot wide and then struck a long free kick over the top either side of half time, but Bale and Benzema both failed to hit the target at the start of the second half, and Bale got the ball in the net only for referee Mateu Lahoz to rule it out for a previous foul on Pinto. Casillas had only really been tested by Marc Bartra though, and the young centre back got on the end of a Xavi corner to head the equalizer soon afterwards. It looked like the game would be going in to extra time, but with five minutes to go Bale picked up the ball in his own half and ran on past Bartra to poke a shot under Pinto for the winning goal. It was another blow for Tata Martino’s team, who in the last eight days have been knocked out of the Champions League and have thrown away their advantage in the race for the league title. A first title of the season though for Ancelotti and his boys, and who is to say they cannot complete a first ever triple this year? (16.04.14)
Summary of 2013/2014
|League champions||Atlético Madrid|
|Spanish cup winners||Real Madrid|
|Promoted to the first division||Eibar, Deportivo, Córdoba|
|Relegated to the second division A||Osasuna, Valladolid, Betis|
|Promoted to the second division A||Racing Santander, Albacete, Llagostera, Leganés|
|Relegated to the second division B||Hércules, Jaén, Castilla, Murcia|
|Champions League||Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao|
|Europa League||Sevilla, Villarreal, Real Sociedad|
|European Super Cup||Real Madrid and Sevilla|
|Borja Pantzov and his side-kick Goran Arsic are in Poland! You can follow their latest adventures in Borja's Blog.|