The most important part of the international break is not who qualifies for what, or who got injured playing for whomever, but instead which stories happened that people actually care about. And when the word ‘people’ is used, the blog means La Liga Loca.
Judging by this scenario, then, the rating is about 6/10. LLL doesn’t really buy the attempt to big up the Bale vs Ronaldo feud, but it was amused by the notion than when Barcelona can finally return to the transfer market, the club may not have any money to spend due to a few budgetary issues. Here are some more ramblings for the weekend to come...
Can Villarreal benefit from table-topping timeout?
There’s only one place to hang out this weekend, and that’s El Madrigal; two of the most sprightly sides in La Primera will be duking it out as league-leading Villarreal take on should-be-league-leading Celta Vigo.
The man leading the line for Celta has been at the centre of transfer speculation – Nolito, the former La Masia product who might be returning to Barcelona in January at the age of 28. “The only thing I know right now is that I belong to Celta,” said the on-fire forward.
The question is whether the international break has put the brakes on the progression of either side or given some players a bit of a breather. If the latter is the case then Villarreal may have benefited most, what with them also in the Europa League. Then again, Celta play at such a breathless pace that a bit of inactivity might have done the team the world of good.
Villarreal vs Celta Vigo - Sunday 12.00 CEST
Will bravery lead Rayo lambs to Camp Nou slaughter again?
Here we go again. Barcelona against Rayo; Barça against the manager who likes his team to play a bit like them. Rayo are normally all or nothing in games, with coach Paco Jémez being of the opinion that draws are for sissies. This non-pragmatic approach has always had limited effectiveness at the Camp Nou, with 12 goals conceded and just one scored in the past two games in the Catalan capital. Expect more of the same for the Vallecan Flash, with Jémez demanding a “brave team” on Saturday and players promising to be themselves. Oh dear.
Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano - Saturday 20.30 CEST
Will feuding Madrid roosters play nicely together?
Fight! Fight! Fight! Well... there probably won’t be really, despite the Madrid press attempting to stir things up a little between Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo after the Welshman’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, said that his client wanted to focus on football rather than sell underwear. Now that sounds bad on paper but the original context was very different, giving the Mr 20 per-center the benefit of the doubt. However, that heckle was needed to fan the flames in an existing rivalry between the pair of Florentino prize fighters. “Two roosters in a chicken house,” was the comparison from AS director Alfredo Relaño.
It’s just another fun problem for Rafa Benítez to deal with against Levante, although the Madrid manager was quick to note in a radio interview that “there’s a better atmosphere in the dressing room here than people think”. Matters appeared to be better on Friday, with AS reporting that the pair had spoken, hugged it out and all would be well for Saturday’s rout at the Bernabeu. Perhaps the highlight of the whole affair was Marca boasting that in Wales, Bale was more famous than “Ken Follett and Catherine Zeta-Jones”. No mention of Windsor Davies, though.
Real Madrid vs Levante - Sunday 16.00 CEST
Can Negredo ease the Mestalla nerves against Málaga?
When Alvaro Negredo hangs up his scoring boots, then life in the diplomatic world awaits. The footballer was being probed by Marca on the eternal question for any Valencia player this season: so what’s with the team, then? The Mestalla forward weaved around a bit but then acknowledged that maybe, just maybe, the team was not as direct as it was last season and he was not playing near enough to goal – but that all tactical systems were just as valid as each other.
Negredo also revealed the joy of playing in Mestalla when the crowd are moody, as they will be against Málaga on Saturday. “You hear the murmuring from the stands when you miss a chance or a pass. It’s not great to hear this, but the fans pay for their ticket and decide what to do.”
Valencia vs Málaga - Saturday 22.00 CEST
Can Moyes fire up flagging Real Sociedad?
Gritty is the word that might best describe Saturday’s encounter between Real Sociedad and Atlético Madrid. David Moyes’s men need to pull their finger out sharpish in a season that has been largely plodding. The problem is that an overriding ‘pragmatism’ sees the side spending much of games sitting on their metaphorical hands. Finger extraction is made more difficult.
Meanwhile, the Atlético Madrid grumblings revolve around Jackson Martínez, who has yet to set the Rojiblanco world alight, and just spent nearly two weeks away with Colombia not getting up to much.
Real Sociedad vs Atlético Madrid - Saturday 16.00 CEST
Will Getafe see membership swell in nine months?
The club with the most sensationally bizarre promotional videos – hot zombies, anyone? – has come up with a new wheeze to get people to go and watch Getafe: the chance to get some after the game. The 'some' is not fit to be written on a family blog, but some developers have set up the ‘Getafinder’ app which works a bit like Tinder. The gadget will enable Coliseum attendees to find each other during games and then spend long, lingering nights discussing the pros and cons of Pablo Sarabia.
Lonely souls will be able to hook up for the first time during Sunday’s Las Palmas game and have liaisons in stairwells, bathrooms or storage cupboards as the tremendous promotional video recommends. Oh, and back in squad Yoda is, after injury seven months.
Getafe vs Las Palmas - Sunday 18.15 CEST
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