La Liga Round 19

26 Jan

Whilst all eyes were on the 127th el Clasico(s) of the last 12 months, there have also been some league games since the last La Liga update. After the crushing defeat at home to Barca before Christmas, Real have put together a fantastic run of victories – winning the last 4 league games, and scoring 17 goals in the process. They say a measure of a team is how they react to set backs. Mourinho’s men have certainly reacted well to the Barca defeat, and now hold a 5 point lead at the top after Barcelona dropped points to neighbours Espanyol. However, they’ll have to react well again after another defeat in the Copa del Rey to their bitter rivals, and talk of dressing room unrest between the Spanish players and the Portuguese speakers (which was also leaked to the press).

Jose is currently in the middle of a dressing room war, and looks very sad about it, though that could be because someone stole his glove puppet.

Valencia are sitting pretty in 3rd without having to do much, whilst Levante’s early season run is a thing of the past. No wins in 4 games, and only 1 goal. They’re still clinging onto 4th spot, but Espanyol have closed the gap to 3 points. I think most neutrals would be happy for either to finish in the last Champions League spot.

Onto the players and the Average Opposition Index. It’s no surprise to see Cristiano and Leo at the top. Ronaldo banged in 2 more goals at the weekend (both penalties) whilst Messi scored his 4th hat trick of another mediocre season. Like his boss, Ronaldo has also been under fire in the Madrid press, though he has since gone on to score in both legs of Madrid’s cup defeat to Barca. That should shut a few people up – and would suggest I wrote him off too soon myself in the Player Comparison.

Ronaldo’s 2 against Bilbao improved both his AOI and also increased his goals against Top 6 opposition to 9 – impressive stuff. Similarly, Messi’s hat trick against 8th placed Malaga also helped his average increase to 9.59. Prodigal son, Cesc Fabregas is still leading the way from an AOI ranking with a frankly ridiculous 4.78 ranked opponent per goal. He is the stand out big game player, and seems to be refusing to score against the bottom 6 teams.  Team mate Alexis Sanchez also deserves a nod for his impressive 6.73, and has scored 6 league goals in the last 6 games. The two major signings have certainly hit the ground running for Barca this year. The whole team seem to be able to do it regardless of the opposition (unless it’s Getafe).

Roberto Soldado continued his good season with his 12th of the season against 5th placed Osasuna. He’s currently many people’s choice for Fernando Torres’ international place – although with Villa out, he may get a stay of execution. Another rival for that place is Bilbao’s Llorente, who scored his team’s only goal in a 4-1 defeat at the Bernebeu. Nonetheless, it gave him his second goal vs the elite, and also improved his average to a decent 8.43.

 Falcao celebrating after scoring another goal against the local Blind School’s Under 12’s mixed XI

At the other end of the Index, despite what appears to be a cracking start to his career in Spain, Falcao continues to bully the smaller clubs. His hat trick at the weekend (his 2nd of the season) was against 14th placed Sociedad. Now, I’m not saying he’s a poor player, far from it, it’s just the facts would suggest he flatters to deceive. His 14 league goals have come in 8 games. The highest ranking opponent that he’s hit the net against was 10th placed Vallecano. He’s scored 3 of his goals against then 20th placed teams, whilst his hat trick at the weekend actually improved his AOI rating. He’s undoubtedly a good player, he just has to prove it againt someone half decent.

What will the second half of the season bring? Real to hold onto their lead and win the title ahead of the best team ever? Maybe. Messi and Ronaldo to score 100 goals between them in all competitions again? Probably. Fabregas to keep up his average opponent per goal rate? Unlikely.

It’ll be an interesting second half in Spain, personally, i’d love to see Levante hold on to 4th (if not, then Espanyol), Valencia to put a bit more pressure on the top 2, and Falcao to score against one of the Top 9.



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