Real Madrid vs Sevilla

Real Madrid vs Sevilla Preview: The burden of the unbranded

Being this already a season to forget, Real Madrid will enter the field on Saturday at Santiago Bernabéu with a modest concern. A win over Sevilla guarantees the third position for Los Blancos, a place they must keep in order to make the history books less harsh about the club’s most ridiculous campaign in the last twenty years.

With the 1-0 defeat to Leganés last Wednesday, in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, Santiago Solari’s side registered it’s 10th loss this season – ironically on the same day the eternal missing Cristiano Ronaldo conquered his first trophy in a Juventus jersey.

To find so clumsy a year, one needs to go back to 1998/1999, when they ended in second position, being beaten 12 times in La Liga. At the end of the season, coach Guus Hiddink was replaced by John Toshack. But the thing about this Real Madrid is that some triumphs are as shameful as their losses.

Everyone that saw the 2-1 win over Real Betis last Sunday is aware that Quique Setien’s side was far superior for the whole of second half, and Ceballos’s decisive free-kick in injury time was an undeserved rabbit from the top hat, to say the least. Read More

Atletico Madrid vs FC Barcelona La Liga Preview

Atletico Madrid vs FC Barcelona preview: A duel between heavyweights

Only one point separates La Liga leaders FC Barcelona and third place Atletico Madrid, with the big showdown coming in the Spanish capital on Saturday.

Diego Simeone’s men are unbeaten in all competitions in November while Ernesto Valverde’s boys are coming off a 4-3 loss at home to Real Betis. With Ivan Rakitic receiving a red card and being sent off in the defeat, it means Lionel Messi’s team will not be able to count on the Croatian during their trip to the Wanda Metropolitano. Read More

Barcelona vs Real Madrid La Liga Preview

Barcelona vs Real Madrid: Fear and loathing at Camp Nou

Last time I wrote about Real Madrid for Twelve, one month ago, Julen Lopetegui’s squad was an exciting football machine, reinventing itself with freshness and bravery, with two re-ignited veterans, Karin Benzema and Gareth Bale, finding their way where Cristiano Ronaldo used to shine.

Then came Sevilla (3-0) and a Red October, and the dreams of a coach-oriented Real Madrid have evaporated. Now we come to the first Clásico since 2007 without the Cristiano-Messi duel, and the questions seem to multiply. Read More

Valencia vs Barcelona La Liga preview

Valencia vs Barcelona Preview: Tough test for Messi and co.

After what can only be called the Lionel Messi show on Wednesday night at Wembley, Ernesto Valverde’s team travel from London to Valencia as a stiff test awaits them in La Liga.

They made it six points out of six to start off their Champions League campaign with Lionel Messi running the show for them, but will they be able to turn it around and pick up a victory in the Spanish championship?

While Valencia drew 0-0 in their Champions League encounter against Manchester United, they’re at least able to say they recently won a match in La Liga as they defeated Real Sociedad 1-0 last Saturday.

For FC Barcelona, they have gone win-less in their last three matches with their last victory, ironically enough, also coming away from home in a 2-1 win against Real Sociedad. Since that game, they have drawn twice and lost once, with the defeat coming against bottom of the table Leganes. However, coach Valverde finally appeared to have got the starting eleven correct against Tottenham. Read More

Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid La Liga Preview

Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: Can Los Blancos bounce back?

After the first five games of this season an increasingly bullish mood had seemingly taken hold at Real Madrid as they began to believe they were successfully emerging in to the post-Ronaldo era. But that all dissolved over 90 traumatic minutes on Wednesday night as they were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Sevilla.

Real had managed to largely banish talk about their former number seven with four wins and a draw, which had left them sitting at the summit of La Liga level on points with Barcelona. But on closer inspection, Real had benefited from an accommodating fixture list that presented them with the modest opposition of Getafe, Girona, Leganes, Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol.

And as soon as they faced a credible opponent in fourth-placed Sevilla they looked bereft of ideas and were overwhelmed in the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Real will only be able to truly declare they have moved on from Ronaldo’s reign when they have negotiated their way past stronger opposition, and they will get another chance when they face city rivals Atletico at the Bernabeu on Saturday evening. Read More

Real Madrid vs Espanyol La Liga Preview

Real Madrid vs Espanyol Preview: Everybody forgets Cris

The day after Real Madrid crushed Roma in their Champions League debut, some newspapers have written dull headlines mentioning Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence. Well, amigos, just like Elsa sings in “Frozen”, it is time to let it go.

An idol will always be an idol, that’s for sure. But, collectively, Julen Lopetegui’s Real Madrid grows bolder and stronger than most of its version in recent years under Ronaldo’s baton and Zidane’s management. There is no key player now – at least, none comparable with the Portuguese in imposing fear, thus diminishing the certainty of triumphs. But there is more fluidity within the game where only sparks and individualities were expected. In the end, they shot 30 times on goal, with 11 of those on target to Olsen’s net.

Against a strong, but humane Roma, Luka Modric conducted Madrid’s victory as he’d had all his colleagues connected under GPS. The Croatian wizard played at Santiago Bernabéu as someone who wants to justify a World Cup Golden Ball that was disputable, to say the least. His engineering of passing and articulating Madrid’s offensive moves promises a new era when combined to Bale’s Boltian speed and Asensio’s humiliating skills. Read More

Athletic Bilbao vs Real Madrid

Athletic Bilbao vs Real Madrid Preview: Should this be the Case?

Right after the international break, coach Julen Lopetegui will not only have a tough match, but a tough decision to make. Against Athletic in Bilbao, should he spare Casemiro, his pressing machine, from his third match in eight days, as he played for Brazil in two friendlies in the US?

That could be a good option in order to have a solid Real Madrid XI against Roma, for the first group stage match in the Champions League. But falling twice in a year against a bitter rival at San Mamés stadium is too expensive a cost.

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Real Madrid vs Leganés

Real Madrid vs Leganés Preview: Should Marcelo evolve to left wing?

Two La Liga matches are past, and Real Madrid’s concerns are all about how long Julen Lopetegui’s independence will last. The new coach played an unimaginable XI against Girona at Montilivi stadium, giving a game to keeper Keylor Navas, Nacho and Marco Asensio, while Thibaut Courtois, Raphaël Varane and Luka Modric – respectively the World Cup’s best goalkeeper, best defender and best player – were sat on the bench. And let us not forget Vinicius Junior’s debut for Castilla, Real Madrid’s second squad, in the Third Division. This was surely not president Florentino Perez’s dreams coming true?

And definitely not Marcelo’s, as the Brazilian ace once again failed to give solidity to his flank. On his back, 18-year-old Pedro Porro found the avenue he wanted to show speed and skills. On his side Girona found their only goal, when Lozano centered to Borja García, and that raises a question: should Marcelo be kept as left full-back? Or does he need more time to recover from this troubled World Cup calendar? Read More

Barcelona vs SD Huesca Preview: Can Suárez Get Back On Form?

Joint top of the table, FC Barcelona host third placed SD Huesca at the Camp Nou on Sunday in what should be a routine victory for the Catalan club.

Coming off a somewhat unconvincing 1-0 victory away from home against Real Valladolid, Barcelona will look to make it three wins on the trot against a Huesca side who snatched a 2-2 draw away to Athletic Bilbao on Monday. French forward Ousmane Dembélé was one of the stand out players during Barcelona’s win against Valladolid as he scored the only goal of the match.

Luis Suarez’s form surely has to be a worry for blaugrana fans though as the Uruguayan has not only failed to score in the opening two matches of the season but hasn’t particularly impressed either. Coach Ernesto Valverde still seems to trust the number 9 but a goal can surely do no harm in helping to continue spread the list of goal scorers. Forward Paco Alcacer was recently loaned out to German club Borussia Dourtmind, which means Munir El Haddadi remains as the only other striker available for Ernesto Valverde. Read More

Real Madrid vs Getafe preview

Real Madrid vs Getafe Preview: The Pursuit of Happiness without Rockstars

Real Madrid is about dominance and rockstars. Such an ambitious side, the first to rule Europe three times in a row in the Champions League era, they may look at this season not only with lower expectations, but also with despair: never have they felt so rejected.

Cristiano Ronaldo is gone, Zidane said farewell out of the blue and the remaining players, however brilliant, are not so triumph-assuring. Unfulfilled promises of the transfer window, Neymar and Hazard, haven’t shown up and now everything seems to be falling apart for the Spanish superpower, who ended up third place in the last La Liga season.

A disappointing campaign, which allowed a 17-point abyss behind the post-Neymar Barcelona still hurts the white hearts. They will face the humble Getafe on Sunday with a team that has been just made to look very inferior by Atlético Madrid in the Uefa Supercup.

Nevertheless, it should never mean a full reconstruction. A glimpse in the squad tells us that Real Madrid is still strong in the defensive line: Carvajal, Ramos, Varane and Marcelo are a well balanced rearguard, reinforced by Casemiro’s patrolling. Kroos and Modric, MVP of the World Cup, are midfield household names and Isco is a stunning young player yet to develop his full splendor. Read More