The Spanish league is back after the break. Tim Stannard reports on a painted-in president, a curiously Scottish fan club and a disappearing eyebrow...
That was a long two weeks of nothingness with only a Ronaldo/Pérez spat-and-backtrack to keep the blog going for a fortnight. Spain’s rebuild is underway, nobody got fired and as far as La Liga can recall, Barcelona managed to avoid being investigated for some kind of tax/contract/signing misdemeanour. All very disappointing.
Aside from all the posers detailed below ahead of the weekend to come, LLL is also pondering whether Valencia’s promising start to the season can continue at home to Espanyol and is keen to see if Villarreal can live without the injured Giovani dos Santos at Granada. In the meantime, here are some bigger fish to fry.
Are Levante going to be the first to chop their chief?
Once again, the football universe underestimates the power of Joaquín Caparrós. Instead of praising the madcap creator of all that has been good in the game in Spain over the past 15 years, Levante let last season’s coach go to Granada and the Valencia side now find themselves in quite the pickle.
Levante have nothing to show for their two matches played and with Barcelona in town next weekend, Saturday’s trip to Málaga is looking like a big 'un. Coach José Luis Mendilibar was axed by Osasuna at a similar stage last season, and it could be a repeat performance by the end of September for the poor fella.
Málaga vs Levante: Saturday 18.00 CEST
Will it be Eibar the Brave against Deportivo?
One of la Liga's most fascinating storylines steams back into view with Eibar hosting Deportivo, in very winnable clash if the minnow's adventures so far are anything to go by. It was players-carried-on-the-fans'-shoulders stuff in the opening victory against Real Sociedad, and pluckiness ahoy in a narrow defeat at the Vicente Calderón against Atlético Madrid.
One of the fans watching the visit of the neighbouring Galicians in Ipurua is Aitor Muniozguren, founder of the wonderful concept that is the “Scotland the Brave” supporters club. “We like Braveheart and the relationship with Scotland, as it connects with the philosophy of Eibar,” revealed wee Aitor, who wished to point out that Deportivo may be able to take three points off his side on Monday evening, but they can never take his freedom.
Eibar vs Deportivo: Monday 20.45 CEST
Will this be last game for Getafe’s president?
Over in the corner, surrounded by his own paint, stands Angel Torres. In the ongoing saga with Pedro León, who is currently on the sidelines as his contract exceeds a Spanish league salary cap, the club president refuted the midfielder's claim that the club had received offers which would have allowed him to play this year, albeit elsewhere.
At which point, a copy of an offer letter from German side Hannover was handed over. “Let’s see if it's real,” responded Torres, who then added rather melodramatically that if there is any proof of any offer then he would leave football forever. Hannover duly confirmed the letter’s authenticity, forcing Torres to investigate whether or not he knew about it. This may take some time: until everyone has forgotten, LLL suspects.
Sevilla vs Getafe: Sunday 19.00 CEST
Can Atlético Madrid be more than set-piece specialists?
Although the Rojiblancos now have the looks of a perfectly balanced side with Alessio Cerci and Antoine Griezmann on the wings and a whole host of talented players to hover behind big No.9 Mario Mandzukic, it seems that Diego Simeone won't be overlooking the club’s most successful ploy.
Many a team have been undone by a big corner followed by a big header in the box from a centre-back - it is a particular thorn in Real Madrid’s side - but the Vicente Calderón club really could unleash a few hounds in the Santiago Bernabéu on Saturday.
LLL is usually completely wrong about things like this, but it does have the vibe that if Atlético let everything loose, then Real Madrid’s bums are ripe for a bit of a nip with vulnerabilities across the back four due to a midfield that Carlo Ancelotti is having to rebuild.
Real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid: Saturday 20.00 CEST
- Simeone boots up Atletico v2.0 to make sure Rojiblancos keep rolling
- Atleti's aerial prowess still a concern for Madrid ahead of derby
Will Barça be inspired by true colours in the Camp Nou?
After 114 years of struggle and campaigning, Barcelona have finally earned the right to wear two colours on their shirt in the Camp Nou, that don’t really go that well together: yellow and an orangey sort of red.
Seriously though, in a rare moment of unity in Spain, agreement between the Catalan club, Basque visitors Athletic Bilbao and the (Madrid-based) league, Barcelona will switch from their normal purple-blue affair to something considerably brighter – the colours of the Catalan flag, which was celebrated on Thursday in a day of all things Catalan, which involved people insisting on only paying for their own drinks.
Forgotten among the hubris though is Athletic Bilbao, who are all with the chirpiness these days, having surmounted the hurdle of Champions League football, and are good enough to give Luis Enrique’s side their first proper test of the season.
Barcelona vs Athletic: Saturday 16.00 CEST
Will Carlo Ancelotti’s eyebrow ever come back down?
Oh no. It had to happen at some point. LLL may have caught “finalitis”, the disease among footballers and managers to brand an encounter of any consequence as a final. It's an illness diametrically opposed to the “Pah! who cares about Sunday!” malaise which afflicted Betis for six months last season.
But Real Madrid’s game against Atlético Madrid really is a final in the magisterial sense. Failure to beat Atlético Madrid in the Bernabéu would add to a destructive mix: still being owned by the Rojiblancos, failing to recover from conceding four against Real Sociedad and potentially being six points behind Barcelona with just three games gone. No wonder Carlo Ancelotti’s left eyebrow seems to have crept ever closer to his Italian hairline.
Real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid: Saturday 20.00 CEST
ALSO ON STATS ZONE