Tag Archives: La Liga

Former Real Madrid and Spain keeper calls it a day

As the well-known saying says, all good things must come to an end. That time has come for former Real Madrid and Spain legend Iker Casillas.

The 39-year-old goalkeeper has decided to hang up his gloves for good and will always be remembered for being somebody loved by the Spanish people.

During a 16-year career at the Bernabeu, he made 725 appearances for Real, winning three Champions League titles and five La Liga crowns.

He also helped Spain win the 2010 World Cup and two successive European Championships in 2008 and 2012.

Casillas joined Portuguese side Porto in 2015 making 156 appearances for them, winning two Primeira Liga titles and one Portuguese Cup.

Casillas played for the Spanish national side for six years winning 167 international caps. Only former team mate Sergio Ramos has made more appearances for Spain.

The Spaniard hasn’t played since April 2019 after suffering a heart attack during training. Considering his age and recent health issues it probably comes as no surprise he came to this eventual decision.

He joined Real Madrid at the tender age of nine and the club said recently he was the best goalkeeper in their 118-year history.

The 39-year-old currently holds the record for most Champions League clean sheets and was also part of the Real side that won the Champions League three times in his distinguished career.

To prove what a footballing legend he is, in 2014 he became one of four players to represent Spain at four World Cups. He was also named as the second-best goalkeeper of the 21st century, behind who else but Gianluigi Buffon.

But he will always be remembered by football lovers around the world for his time at Real Madrid. He is without doubt one of the finest keepers ever to play the game and somebody whom strikers at last will be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief that they don’t have to face him anymore.

What was do you think was Iker Casillas greatest moment of his historic career?

Real Madrid win La Liga Title after three year gap

Real Madrid clinched their first La Liga title since 2017 following a 2-1 victory over Villarreal on Thursday.

Real wrapped up the title with a game to spare after a Karim Benzema brace secured victory.

In an empty Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium, Benzema opened the scoring in the 29th minute. The forward added a second in the 77th minute from the spot.

Vincente Iborra pulled a goal back late in the game, but it was to late for the visitors.

Zinedine Zidane’s side were crowned La Liga Champions for the 34th time in their history. They head into the final day of the season with a seven-point lead over second place Barcelona.

Since the restart back in Spain in June, Madrid have won ten consecutive matches and have been unstoppable.

Zidane said:

“Today is one of the best days for me as a professional,

“After everything that happened, the three-month break, it is fantastic what has been achieved.”

La Liga titles have been in short supply for Real, this is only their third in the past nine seasons.

However, when it comes to European success it is a different story. They won three consecutive European Cups in Zidane’s first tenure.

What makes Real’s success this season even more remarkable is that last season they were also rans behind Barcelona. Barca finished a notable 19 points clear of their rivals and looked favourites to complete another La Liga triumph this season before a ball was kicked.

However, Zidane’s troops had other ideas. The Frenchman has always been hailed for his man-management abilities and tactics.

Despite virtually having the same squad as last season, Zidane knew there was a problem defensively with the side. This campaign has seen Madrid a much solid unit at the back.

As a result, they currently boast the best defensive record in the league having conceded only 23 goals in 37 games thus far. This is half the number of goals conceded in their last campaign.

Ferland Mendy has looked assured at left back and Raphael Varane having the best season of his career. Thibaut Courtois, meanwhile, is looking back to his best between the sticks and with Sergio Ramos such a competitive leader along with the outstanding Casemiro, this side oozes quality.

Madrid have had goals in them all season with 21 different players getting in on the scoresheet. In fact, their forward line has fired blanks all season.

That said it is an all-round squad that performs in all departments that will win you silverware and Real have proved this.

On a night of high celebrations, it was noticeable that Gareth Bale wasn’t one of those joining in the fun.

The Welshman was pictured standing away from the group. Bale was also spotted tamely punching the air at the end of the back row. He was then caught on camera attempting to trip up his teammates as they jumped around in a circle.

Make of that what you will but could that be a message to the Spanish giants to say I’m off soon, thank you very much?

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi has come out and been critical of his Barca colleagues, saying “things have to change” at the club.

He went on to add:

“We are a weak team who can be beaten with enough intensity and enthusiasm.”

Scathing words indeed from the world’s greatest footballer. That said, the magician has a good point.

Barcelona haven’t performed up to their normal high standards this season. They have looked as always to Messi to lead from the front, which he has and delivered as well.

It is others who are not keeping up to the very hight standards of performances that Barca expect from them.

Overall, Real Madrid have deserved their La Liga title and they will be a difficult act to catch again next season. Barcelona have to raise their standards for the next campaign, otherwise Zidane will be smiling from ear to ear once more.

Are Real Madrid now La Liga favourites?

Due to Liverpool’s Premier League dominance this season, many fans have cast an eye over European football in the search of a title race. It looked like a fantastic one was forming in Germany, with Bayern Munich stumbling through the campaign and all of Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Borussia Mönchengladbach showing impressive form.

Unfortunately, the appointment of Hansi Flick by the Bavarians turned out to be a stroke of genius, as they put together an incredible run only losing twice in the Bundesliga between 9th November and the end of season. The 1-0 win over Dortmund after the season’s restart all-but-killed the title race with six games to go.

Serie A was also shaping up very nicely, with Inter Milan and Lazio giving Maurizio Sarri’s ailing Juventus side a run for their money. Juve have since improved slightly but that tile race is very much still on. It’s Juve’s to lose, however, as they’re now four points ahead of Lazio with 10 games to go and eight points ahead of Inter.

The closest major title race now appears to be in La Liga. Unfortunately, it’s only a two-horse race and it’s between two of the biggest teams in the world. In a similar style to Bayern, Real Madrid started the season horrendously but now appear to have found some impressive form.

They sit two points ahead of Barcelona having played the same amount of games. Los Blancos have won their last five La Liga fixtures and put themselves in a great position to win their first title since 2016/17. It would also serve to keep Barcelona at arms-length in the fight to have the most La Liga titles in the history. If Zinedine Zidane’s men can deliver the title this season, they’ll have 34 titles in comparison to Barcelona’s 26.

In terms of the run-in, Barcelona have a very tough couple of games coming up. They’re home to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night and then have an away trip to sixth place Villarreal. After that, however, the fixture list looks more desirable. They have the derby vs bottom-side Espanyol at the Camp Nou, followed by a trip to 14th place Real Valladolid. Next up is a home game vs Osasuna who sit in 11th and they round off the campaign away at 16th placed Alaves.

Real probably have the toughest fixture list out the two sides but not by a clear margin. They have three games that could be very difficult. The first is at home to fifth placed Getafe. That game is followed by a trip to San Mames to play Athletic Bilbao. A more appealing home match against Alaves is followed by the visit of Villarreal to the Santiago Bernabeu. They finish the season away at Leganes.

Barcelona have made a stuttering restart to the season, with draws against Sevilla and Celta Vigo allowing Real to claim top spot. Quique Setien’s inability to get the best out of Antione Griezmann is starting to cause fractions at the club. As well as this, the recent swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic now means that one of Barca’s key midfielders is likely disgruntled at being forced out the club that he had no initial interest in leaving.

Beyond this title race, Barca seem to be a club in turmoil. Their recent transfer dealings have been questionable to say the least. Their wage bill is full of wasted talent that it will be hard to offload in a Covid-19 effected transfer market. Lionel Messi seems to look more unhappy game by game and the majority of the first choice eleven are heading well into their mid-30’s. It’s this ageing squad factor that makes the Arthur and Pjanic swap deal even more unusual. Arthur is 23, and Pjanic is 29.

Less and less players seem to be graduating from La Masia to any great effect in the first team, with Ansu Fati the current exception. Just in the past few days it’s been announced that promising academy full backs, Marc Cucurella and Marc Jurado, will be leaving the club.

Real Madrid seem to be riding the crest of a Karim Benzema’s inspired wave right now. The French forward has come into his own as the club’s main man since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure. The return of Marcos Asensio from a lengthy injury spell has given them a new attacking option, and the youthful Vinicius Junior is starting to fulfill his considerable potential.

If Barcelona were to deliver a third successive title to Catalonia, there’s a very real chance that it would merely paper over some very big cracks at the club. Setien hasn’t settled in as expected, and the squad is in need of a major overhaul.

A title for Real on the other hand may be the springboard for another era of dominance. While their squad still has some players the wrong side of 30, it looks in better shape than their fierce rivals.

La Liga Match Day 30 Preview: Tough Fixtures for the Top Two and a Relegation Six Pointer

La Liga’s blistering return to our screens continues over the coming weekend, with Barcelona and Real Madrid both facing tough away tests. There’s also a huge game at the foot of the table.

Table toppers Barcelona will be looking to strengthen their grip on the title but face a difficult trip to Andalucía to face Sevilla on Friday night. The Catalans secured a comfortable 2-0 victory over Leganes last time out, which took them up to 64 points but Real Madrid are not far behind. There’s just a two point gap between the teams following Real’s impressive 3-0 home win over Valencia on Thursday night.

Since the restart Sevilla have comfortably dispatched city rivals Real Betis 2-0 and laboured to a 1-1 draw with Levante. Despite that draw, however, they still sit in third place and are on track for Champions League football. The situation is still very tight behind them though, with just five points separating them in third and Villareal in seventh place.

Real’s difficult away game meanwhile comes at Real Sociedad, who, just like Sevilla are embroiled in the hunt for Champion’s League football. Their entertaining brand of football coming up against the superstars of Real Madrid should make for a fascinating encounter. Despite such a difficult start to the campaign Real know they’re in with a great chance of snatching the title back from Barcelona. With nine games to go however, they can’t afford any slip ups.

Two other teams involved in the race for Champion’s League football are Atletico Madrid and Getafe. They both have very winnable looking home fixtures this weekend. Diego Simeone’s side host 14th placed Real Vallodolid, who look like they’ve almost amassed enough points to avoid a relegation battle this season.

Atleti currently, however, are the lowest scorers of the top eight sides with just 37 goals. This lack of potency in attack means that home games against stubborn mid-table sides can become very frustrating for Diego Simeone’s men. This means an early goal could be vital. They found their shooting boots last time out by beating Osasuna 5-0 away from home. Getafe’s presentable fixture meanwhile is against 16th placed Eibar, who are only three points above the drop zone.

There’s a proper relegation six-pointer on Friday, as 18th placed Mallorca host bottom side Leganes. Mallorca currently have 25 points, while Leganes sit on 23. There’s a risk for Leganes that they could soon see themselves cut a drift, but a win on Friday would breathe new life into their campaign.

Here is the full fixture list:

Friday 19th June:

Granada vs Villareal 18:30 BST

Mallorca vs Leganes 18:30 BST

Sevilla vs Barcelona 21:00 BST

Saturday 20th June:

RCD Espanyol vs Levante 13:00 BST

Athletic Bilbao vs Real Betis 16:00 BST

Getafe vs Eibar 18:30 BST

Atletico Madrid vs Real Valladolid 21:00 BST

Sunday 21st June:

Celta Vigo vs Deportivo Alaves 13:00 BST

Valencia vs Osasuna 18:30 BST

Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid 21:00 BST

What is the state of play in Spanish La Liga?

Following the successful return of the German Bundesliga on May 16, the next of the leading European leagues to restart following the COVID-19 pandemic is the Spanish La Liga.  So how was it left when play was suspended on March 12?

Current situation

Well to start with Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid had just suffered a surprise defeat at Real Betis to hand the initiative back to reigning champions Barcelona.

The Catalan side currently hold a two-point lead over their fierce rivals, who remain in second.  The last time the league leaders played was on March 8, when they secured a hard fought 1-0 win over fourth place Real Sociedad thanks to a Lionel Messi 81stminute penalty.

Real Sociedad, however, bounced back just a few days later to secure a 2-1 win away at relegation threatened side Eibar moving them back up to fourth.

Atletico Madrid meanwhile, had wasted a 2-1 advantage at home against fellow Champions League hopefuls, Sevilla as they were ultimately held to a 2-2 draw.   The club from Seville currently sit third but are only two points ahead of Diego Simone’s side which is sixth.

The league’s surprise package so far this campaign has been Getafe, Jose Bordalas’s underdogs are fifth and have not only enjoyed league success but had also just knocked out last seasons Champions League semi-finalists, Ajax, to progress in the Europa League.

At the other end of the table, Barcelona’s local rivals, Espanyol, had suffered a 1-0 defeat against Osasuna leaving them six points from safety. Leganes and Mallorca are the other teams that currently make up the bottom three; however, Celta Vigo, Eibar and Real Valladolid remain very much in danger.

Next fixtures…

The league is set to resume on Thursday June 11 with the Seville derby between Sevilla FC and Real Betis. On Saturday June 13, league leaders, Barcelona are due to travel to face strugglers Mallorca, while Real Madrid will be looking to get their faltering title challenge back on track when they meet Eibar on Sunday June 14.

The plan is for the Spanish sides to complete their 11 remaining fixtures in just over a month, which would mean finishing on July 19.

La Liga chief Javier Tebas also spoke of plans to give a tribute to those who have died from the pandemic.  Fans will be encouraged to create audio recordings of themselves applauding the victims, which will be played in the 20thminute of each match.

Tebas said:

“Fans make football so special, and as they cannot be in the stadiums, we have created this initiative so they can play a part in the return of the competition and show their support for the heroes of COVID-19.”

How to watch?

La Liga fixtures will be available to watch free on Sky and Premier Player online for free throughout June.