Friday, May 25, 2007

La Liga: Round 36 Preview

Written by Chris (B Squad)

With just three matches remaining, the title race has come down to four teams separated by a mere four points. The top four will all be playing at home this weekend, where they've felt quite comfortable and have the records to prove it.

Valencia is a side that, while only four points behind Real Madrid, will need to take the full nine points remaining in their season in order to keep the flame of their title hopes lit. They defeated Villareal 1-0 in the corresponding fixture in January. And while Valencia does sport an impressive home record, allowing only ten goals this season, Villareal have won five straight, including a win against Barcelona. Villareal will be well motivated for this match, as they are just one point out of the final UEFA Cup spot. Valencia have seen Joaquin and David Silva hit their stride in recent weeks and will hope David Villa can regain some of his early season form. Villareal, however, must rely on the inconsistent but occasionally brilliant Diego Forlan, who will need to have an impressive match if they are to take any points with them.

Prediction: Valencia to win 2-0

Sevilla, meanwhile, will be playing host to Real Zaragoza in what looks to be the most difficult match for the top four. Zaragoza is firmly entrenched in a UEFA Cup spot, and only seven points out of the fourth and final Champion's League spot. Sevilla is hardly out of the title chase, two points back, but will need some luck coupled with a few mistakes by Barca and Madrid. On average Sevilla concedes less than one goal a game at home, but Zaragoza is one of the better goal scoring teams on the road. They also took three points from Sevilla in January, winning 2-1. But Sevilla are still on course for a possible treble, and Freddy Kanoute seems to have a nose for goal in the dying moments of the match.

Prediction: Sevilla to win 2-1

Getafe will visit the Nou Camp just weeks after shocking Barcelona 4-0 and sending them crashing out of the Copa Del Rey. They will look to continue their good run of form and push toward the final UEFA Cup spot. Barcelona, on the other hand, has been wildly inconsistent, looking disinterest, unorganized, and at times outright lazy. Many, including myself, declared them to be dead and buried before last weeks 6-0 slaughter of Athletico Madrid. Getafe are not the most offensively minded side, having scored just 38 goals all season. And with Eto'o, Ronaldinho, and Messi looking as if they've awoken from their hibernation, one wonders if Getafe will be able to find the goals needed to match this newly tuned machine.

Prediction: Barcelona to win 3-1

And finally the team who now seems destined to take home the honors this season, Real Madrid, will host lowly Deportivo La Coruña. Depor has the worst goal scoring record in La Liga at just 26 goals, and only nine away from home. Considering the fine form Beckham, Guti, Robinho, and RVN have found, Depor will be lucky to leave with any shred of dignity. They have very little left for which to play and are coming off of an awful run of form. Real, in the meantime, have won five straight and look nothing short the future title holders.

Prediction: Real Madrid to win 3-0

17 comments:

Chris O said...

Great article, Chris!

At this point, I'd have to say my money would be on Real Madrid, but things have been changing a lot in La Liga recently...

Chris (B Squad) said...

Thanks. Real also hold the tie-breaker over Valencia. And they have the easiest schedule of the top four, 2 of their final 3 coming from the bottom half of the table.

Chris (B Squad) said...

It appears now that Kanoute will miss Sevilla's finale game in order to play for Mali.

Smart said...

Nicely done, Chris B.

And you've gotta love that Kanoute...

Chris O said...

That's a blow for Sevilla. I think I'll put that bet on Real Madrid after all!

haveyouseenlucky said...

I know nothing of Sevilla except how well they can roll around on the pitch crying at the Refs for 90 minutes as they did in their 2nd game against the spurs, and they can do that VERY well.

The game's played differently in Europe I guess.

Chris (B Squad) said...

Theatrics would be a nice way of putting it. That's what makes La Liga interesting, the balance between the diving and the moments of absolute heavenly play.
Sevilla have some fantastic players though. Alves may well have established himself as best right back on the planet. It'll be interesting if he stays in Spain with Benitez calling him to Costa del Anfield.

Chris O said...

Smart - as a Spurs fan, do you concur with Haveyouseenlucky's opinion that Seville were, how shall we say... rather dramatic?

Chris (B Squad) said...

Anyone else think this B squad looks more dangerous than team McClaren usually trots out?

Scott Carson, Phil Neville, Ledley King, Michael Dawson, Nicky Shorey, Aaron Lennon, Gareth Barry, Jermaine Jenas, David Bentley, Michael Owen (c), Alan Smith.

Smart said...

Chris B - the B side looks 'stronger' as he is playing players in there right positions - ie. Left sided players on the left, and not trying to fit in all the "big" names into not enough positions.

Chris O - Sevilla, like most foreign sides, are fully paid up members of the amateur dramatics society.

Thats what bugs me about players such as Christiano Ronaldo. Theyhave so much skill that they dont need to resort to gamesmanship - but they do.

Unfortunatley, due to the amount of overseas players in the premiership, its now becoming 'acceptable'.

Take Andy Johnson and on occassions, Steven Gerrard.

*Lights blue touch paper and stands well back*

Chris (B Squad) said...

Oh I agreed the play better when you have players playing their natural positions. But honestly there are players on the B team that deserve a look, certainly Bentley and Barry, who were among the best at their positions this season. McClaren is always looking for a winger (usually not much further than Downing), all the while Bentley has played as well or better than anyone that's been out on the right.

Chris (B Squad) said...

Well, it was the Diego Forlan, which nobody on the Valencia side wanted see, that turned up today. Valencia had their chances, but the combination of Forlan and Tomasson, whose first touch was a well slotted goal, saw Villareal earn all three points. Thus ends Valencia's slim title hopes.

Chris (B Squad) said...

Madrid did not disappoint. Depor made it interesting for a bit, but Beckham played another outstanding game and there could be only one outcome.

Chris (B Squad) said...

Barca kept their end of the bargain as well, beating Getafe after a very questionable red shown to Ronaldinho. Very crass game played by Getafe and interesting allegations of Real paying them to hurt Barca players.

Chris O said...

Amazing how Beckham's return to form at Madrid has now suddenly earned him a place back in the England squad again.

Chris (B Squad) said...

I feel for McClaren in that respect. Beckham had been mailing it in up to that point, and England needed to go in a different direction. But with the move to MLS, Beckham has gone through a bit of a renaissance (I'd go through a couple for 250m). Now with England languishing and the possibility of missing the Euros, what choice does McClaren have? I think this is the one time he's gotten it right.

Smart said...

Chris O Said :

"Amazing how Beckham's return to form at Madrid has now suddenly earned him a place back in the England squad again."

Is it that, or desperation on McLarens part to keep his job?

Beckham wasn't exactly out of from when he was dropped.

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