As los Blancos take a trip to the tiny Ipurua, Tim Stannard ponders whether things really could get worse for Florentino Perez this weekend...
After last weekend’s fun and games in the Clásico followed by big, bouncing Champions League fun sacks, life in La Liga seems a tad dull in comparison this weekend, so apologies if LLL’s normal sprightliness seems a little subdued. The blog pretty much blew its annual dose of enthusiasm in a heady four-day period.
So here are some things that are a heck of a lot more exciting than they sound here...
Will bum-relief at Eibar ease football pain for Pérez?
Madrid have now conceded 10 goals in the last three games, although Benítez said that he left the game with more positives than negatives
“4-0 up. Looking good. Ronaldo and Bale hugging. What could possibly go wrong. Oh?”
Poor Rafa Benítez must have been watching, with some horror, the unravelling of Real Madrid in the final 12 minutes of Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Shakhtar that left the visitors hanging on for dear life at 4-3 at the end. Madrid have now conceded 10 goals in the last three games, although Benítez said that he left the game with more positives than negatives.
Next up is the mighty Eibar, and at least there will be some physical relief for the beleaguered Florentino Pérez – the club have just completed a refit of the VIP area in Ipurua. The Madrid president is perpetually scowling, sighing and frowning during games, so at least some comfy booty protection will ease the troubles to be potentially suffered against an Eibar team that will have had photos of Madrid's players pinned to dart boards for the past week.
Can Barça get back to reality against Real Sociedad?
The biggest challenge for Luis Enrique may not necessarily be the opposition in Saturday’s game, but hauling the boots of his Barcelona players back on the ground after a week where they jammed 10 goals past Real Madrid and Roma. The third in a hat-trick of ‘R’s is Real Sociedad, buoyed by a new boss and a victory last weekend. One fan of the incoming Eusebio is Sergio Canales, who prefers the more measured approach of the former Barça ‘B’ boss. “(Moyes) was a lot more direct, with quick transitions. With Eusebio, we value possession more, we want to be patient and from there create chances on goal.” Being able to communicate with him is a treat too, apparently.
Who'll win battle of struggling big-hitters?
The objective was to get back into the Champions League. Once you get there, the demands are higher, and it’s more difficult to achieve those expectations
Disgruntled fans, and another Champions League defeat to leave the team out of the knockout rounds. Yep, the frowns are very much going to be down for both clubs on Sunday as Sevilla host Valencia in the Sánchez Pizjuán. The mission for Valencia will be to get some kind of decent result at the start of a trio of fixtures that also features Lyon and Barcelona and could save or further condemn Nuno.
The pressure is a little less on Unai Emery, who has wins over Real Madrid and Barcelona this season to fall back on. But as the Sevilla boss noted after defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach, the pressure never goes away, harking back to his arrival in Seville three years ago. “The objective was to get back into the Champions League. Once you get there, the demands are higher, and it’s more difficult to achieve those expectations.”
Will Betis let things slip further against Levante?
A comfy mid-table berth for Betis with 15 points under the belt looks like a perfectly good haul for a team returning to the top flight. But that masks a touch of malaise at the Seville club who can brag just the one win from five and four home defeats in a row.
This has led to some elements of the crowd getting a little shirty. Xavi Torres suffered the wrath after an error led to Atlético’s winner last week, and a fair amount of midweek grovelling from the midfielder. “Who am I to tell people who have spent money what to do?” said the former Levante man.
Blame has also fallen upon Pepe Mel, who needs to walk carefully to avoid being sacked by the club for a second time in his career. Levante are next up on the agenda, a team doing rather well under their Primera novice boss, Rubi, having picked up four points from the last two games.
Will it finally be end of the road for Málaga’s manager?
More institutional trouble at t’mill for Málaga. Last week it appeared that there was a rift between the Qatari owners and rulers of the local leadership over the future of the team’s sporting director. The former wanted him out, the latter wanted him to stay. That disagreement now appears to have spread to the position of the manager, Javi Gracia.
Down in Málaga the local leadership want the coach gone, with the team currently bottom of the table on just two wins from 12. But the team’s president, Abdullah al-Thani, is backing Gracia. “The only thing I can says is that my support for the coach is total,” said the Qatari owner to local press in Málaga. But all that could shift if Málaga fail to beat fellow relegation strugglers Granada on Saturday.