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La Liga - Week 4 Fixtures - 15-18th September 2017

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Friday 15th September, 2017
Eibar vs Leganes, 19.45

Saturday 16th September, 2017
Levante vs Valencia, 12.00
Getafe vs Barcelona, 15.15
Real Betis vs Deportivo La Coruna, 17.30
Atletico Madrid vs Malaga, 19.45

Sunday 17th September, 2017
Alaves vs Villarreal, 11.00
Girona vs Sevilla, 15.15
Las Palmas vs Athletic Bilbao, 17.30
Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid, 19.45

Monday 18th September, 2017
Espanyol vs Celta Vigo, 20.00

 

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There are a few very interesting games this week...

There's the city of Valencia derby between UD Levante and Valencia CF which will be a good watch due to the fact Levante have started off pretty well and got a draw at the Santiago Bernabéu last week.  Then there's Valencia who a week earlier drew away to Real Madrid also and could've actually won the game.

Getáfe CF v FC Barcelona is also an important watch because that's traditionally a game Barça trip up on.  Obviously Barcelona are pretty confident right now but it's games like this where confidence can be very traitorous.

Real Madrid playing away at the Anoeta against Real Sociedad has to be the game of the weekend because of La Real's brilliant start to the season with a 100% record shared with Barça.  Real Madrid have had two straight draws at home and now travel away with the return of Cristiano Ronaldo who scored a brace in this week's Champions League against APOEL.  One team (the home side) is flying in confidence while the other one is under a bit of shock at their stuttering start to the La Liga season.

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1-1 Denis Suárez equalises for Barcelona. Barça have been very substandard today. 

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Getafe CF 1-2 FC Barcelona (FT)

Paulinho with the winner and not much else to say other than it was a hard fought game where Barça struggled to create real opportunities. A lot of possession but without penetration. Important win though!

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1-2 in the end, Paulinho with the winner after coming off the bench.

 

It was a poor performance overall but this game would have been a loss last season and the substitutes made would have made no impact. Today there were positives to take out of both substitutions making the difference in the end in Denis Suarez and Paulinho. There is the depth there for me, but it's about if Valverde can get the best out of everyone and make the right substitutions for the right moments, which he did today.

Credit also must go to Getafe as they made it very difficult(Shibaski's goal was also magnificent) and Barcelona often struggle in these 3oclock(well 4 in Spain) kick off games for some reason so it wasn't an easy game and was a very important 3 points in the end. It's these type of games where leagues can be won or lost.

Dembele's injury is a blow as he needs to keep going in order to grow in confidence in a very new system for him. Hopefully it's nothing too serious and he's back soon.

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Griezmann scores the first ever goal at the Wanda Metropolitano!!

Credit has to go to Correa though for great skill to make room for a cross which Griezmann tucked away. 1-0 Atletico.

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Comfortable win for Atletico. There was only so long Malaga could hold out for. They had one chance towards the end which Oblak tipped over but the points were never really in doubt. 

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Whilst being unimaginative doesn't necessarily mean things are going badly for Atleti, I just don't think they help themselves at times and no matter how much control they have in a game I'm pretty sure they could do without the nerves at the end particuarly in games against this type of opposition.

Despite Correa's improvement, they play so much better with a presence up top, can't state how much potential impact Costa would make to this team. Despite playing like Bambi on ice, Torres looks relatively effective in this Atleti team for his presence alone which suits their style, it's just his general play is shite.

Furthermore, players like Carrasco are essential for Atleti because of his ability to commit and run at players, his ability to offer something different permits their style much needed change and unpredictability in attack. Vitolo will be useful for them in this regard also, he should suit their direct style whilst having the ability to offer something different by running at players (like Carrasco).

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37 minutes ago, carefreeluke said:

Whilst being unimaginative doesn't necessarily mean things are going badly for Atleti, I just don't think they help themselves at times and no matter how much control they have in a game I'm pretty sure they could do without the nerves at the end particuarly in games against this type of opposition.

Despite Correa's improvement, they play so much better with a presence up top, can't state how much potential impact Costa would make to this team. Despite playing like Bambi on ice, Torres looks relatively effective in this Atleti team for his presence alone which suits their style, it's just his general play is shite.

Furthermore, players like Carrasco are essential for Atleti because of his ability to commit and run at players, his ability to offer something different permits their style much needed change and unpredictability in attack. Vitolo will be useful for them in this regard also, he should suit their direct style whilst having the ability to offer something different by running at players (like Carrasco).

They do look rather unimaginative most times although if you watched the game they played away to AS Roma midweek in the Champions League, then you'd be telling a different story.  They CAN play football and it seems to depend on when Diego Simeone lets them do it depending on the opposition which is something he studies vigorously.

But fundamentally their philosophy is only one and the clubs adopted father summed it up in the most transparent manner... "SOLO IMPORTA UNA COSA... GANAR, GANAR Y GANAR!!!".

He was and is their prophet and nothing will move that stone and neither do they want it moved!

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10 hours ago, SirBalon said:

Getafe CF 1-2 FC Barcelona (FT)

Paulinho with the winner and not much else to say other than it was a hard fought game where Barça struggled to create real opportunities. A lot of possession but without penetration. Important win though!

Valverde read the game really well, Paulinho was the correct substitution at the moment and it paid. Like you said, Barça possession was sterile and a guy like Paulinho who can penetrate and break the lines with good finishing was what that game was asking. 

I think I´ve mentioned here at the time, but I´ve always thought Paulinho could add something different to what Barça already had in their squd and give Valverde more depth, the price was questionable but I think he can be a useful although not brilliant player, for Barcelona.

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Suarez(Luis, definitely not Denis!) needs dropping if he continues to play as poorly as he has I'm afraid. How long can he continue to play this awfully for, yet continue to start? He's missing sitter after sitter, his first touch is poor, his passing is off, he doesn't run at players, even his off the ball movement is lacking. He's been slowly getting worse for 12 months now and last season, he really was a player in the side who had dropped a level and it doesn't look like he's regaining this level, in fact he's just getting worse every game.

 

@Blue would have been correct if he had claimed that Suarez has dropped a level, rather than Messi, as he has and this has been evident for 12 months. Suarez needs to start doing something, or he should be dropped as it's like playing with 10 men with him on the pitch. He hasn't just been under par, but utterly dreadful. The rest of the team are playing well, although he's been shite.

 

 

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4 hours ago, El_Loco said:

Valverde read the game really well, Paulinho was the correct substitution at the moment and it paid. Like you said, Barça possession was sterile and a guy like Paulinho who can penetrate and break the lines with good finishing was what that game was asking. 

I think I´ve mentioned here at the time, but I´ve always thought Paulinho could add something different to what Barça already had in their squd and give Valverde more depth, the price was questionable but I think he can be a useful although not brilliant player, for Barcelona.

 

If Paulinho can score a few more goals like that this season in games which look like a loss/draw, then he will be worth every penny mate. I don't think he'll ever be a big star for the club, but as you have mentioned, he can certainly add something different.

It was a well taken goal yesterday. The pass from Messi was nice, but Paulinho still had it all to do there. He used his strength well, before smashing it home.

Maybe he can be a very useful squad player like Keita(for example) used to be? We(well not yourself, but the rest of us on here) doubted this signing, although he's been useful so far.

 

As for Denis, it's good to see him having an impact off the bench. The more he does so, the more chances he will be given and he deserves it.

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Sometimes it's about confidence even when it looks like it's an attitude thing.  Luis Suárez simply has to play because he's so good that helping him to regain that fluid motion is extremely important for the side throughout a whole season. Once he sticks in a couple of difficult ones in one game then he'll feel a lot better and it will all click into place.  @The Rebel CRS You're right that the one who's dropped a level is Luis Suárez and not Lionel Messi.  But I think I was the only one defending the fact he is an EVEN better player than he was in 2009 or 2011.  I have no doubts about that and all the experts say it!  He has lost physical explosiveness because of age and thus has been so intelligent to have metamorphosed into a more complete player....  Sometimes you get the incredible pass, sometimes he does a Xavi and spins to spray rhythm changing passes,  sometimes the explosive dribble and sometimes you get him intelligently turning into a natural 9 for a bit and scoring hat-tricks.  What do you want?  He hasn't gone down any bloody level...  HE'S GONE UP 5 LEVELS!  I didn't want to get into stupid debates on that thread and I'll leave it here only once!  He doesn't just receive the ball on the wing anymore so as to run at defences, go past 4 or 5 and score a Maradonaesque goal.  Now he plays in the most difficult part of the field, is the best in the world in that part and then decides to play also in other areas further up front.  That's called more, not less!

Anyway...  Paulinho indeed scored a very difficult goal and to be honest not enough is being made of the goal he scored.  Yes, Messi's penetrative, eye of the needle through ball with a bit of hight so as to miss opponent's feet was amazing!  But as Rebel said, there was still a hell of a lot of work to do and Paulinho controlled the ball to perfection, then changed pace (that part was the moment that surprised me because it was a big turn of pace), and even managed to outpower the defenders that were trying to hold onto him!  All that and then to finish like a striker would!  Aaaaaaah....  Now I get what he was signed for!  They were leading us to believe it was just for when Busquets needed to be rotated or to close games off by actually giving Busquets a partner.  But it seems there's another facet...  A strange one and all I can say is that it is diversifying because that type of midfielder with strength is different and Barcelona have never had this as far as I can remember.  It's going to be interesting.

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3 hours ago, SirBalon said:

Sometimes it's about confidence even when it looks like it's an attitude thing.  Luis Suárez simply has to play because he's so good that helping him to regain that fluid motion is extremely important for the side throughout a whole season. Once he sticks in a couple of difficult ones in one game then he'll feel a lot better and it will all click into place.  @The Rebel CRS You're right that the one who's dropped a level is Luis Suárez and not Lionel Messi.  But I think I was the only one defending the fact he is an EVEN better player than he was in 2009 or 2011.  I have no doubts about that and all the experts say it!  He has lost physical explosiveness because of age and thus has been so intelligent to have metamorphosed into a more complete player....  Sometimes you get the incredible pass, sometimes he does a Xavi and spins to spray rhythm changing passes,  sometimes the explosive dribble and sometimes you get him intelligently turning into a natural 9 for a bit and scoring hat-tricks.  What do you want?  He hasn't gone down any bloody level...  HE'S GONE UP 5 LEVELS!  I didn't want to get into stupid debates on that thread and I'll leave it here only once!  He doesn't just receive the ball on the wing anymore so as to run at defences, go past 4 or 5 and score a Maradonaesque goal.  Now he plays in the most difficult part of the field, is the best in the world in that part and then decides to play also in other areas further up front.  That's called more, not less!

Anyway...  Paulinho indeed scored a very difficult goal and to be honest not enough is being made of the goal he scored.  Yes, Messi's penetrative, eye of the needle through ball with a bit of hight so as to miss opponent's feet was amazing!  But as Rebel said, there was still a hell of a lot of work to do and Paulinho controlled the ball to perfection, then changed pace (that part was the moment that surprised me because it was a big turn of pace), and even managed to outpower the defenders that were trying to hold onto him!  All that and then to finish like a striker would!  Aaaaaaah....  Now I get what he was signed for!  They were leading us to believe it was just for when Busquets needed to be rotated or to close games off by actually giving Busquets a partner.  But it seems there's another facet...  A strange one and all I can say is that it is diversifying because that type of midfielder with strength is different and Barcelona have never had this as far as I can remember.  It's going to be interesting.

Over the last 3 years, Messi, as an allround attacking footballer has been on a different level. The team  as a whole dropped off in the final year and a quarter or so of Enrique's stint and this blinds some people into thinking Messi himself has dropped a level, when that's far from the case. 2016 was arguably up there with some of his best years as an individual footballer and if the Ballon d'or was really for the best individual player of the year, then he should have walked that one. In 2016 he was light years ahead of the other candidates(you can understand why he will lose out this year though due to Ronaldo stepping up in a very important period of the team) and I don't see any other players who can score, pass and dribble to an above world class standard and show it consistently.

Paulinho could well prove us all wrong in the end and if he can continue to have an impact like that when the team need it the most, it could be decisive in the title race this season.

Let's not forget Denis either, his goal was nice, it enabled the team to get back into the contest and playing with more belief, and he showed some other moments in the game in what he's about, such as the lovely nutmeg. The more minutes he gets, the better at this point and I personally believe he should get a start mid-week against Eibar. Too many rotations can damage a team's form(as shown under Enrique towards the end where it got out of control), although at the same time, you do need to make rotations as to prevent fatigue and the mid-week game this week is the right type of game to rest a few players. Especially when you consider the 2 up and coming games after that against Girona(a potential Bannana skin) and the away fixture against Sporting in the champs league the following Wednesday.

The big one is Dembele being out. It's a blow as he was slowly starting to adapt to the system and needs the minutes to get to grips with his new team. This is a big chance for Deulofeu now, but let's also remember that Denis can play down the left himself, which is another option to consider. Maybe Denis down the left against Girona, with Sergi Roberto in midfield along with Rakitic and Busquets, giving Iniesta a well needed rest? Either that, or play Denis in the Iniesta role with Deulofeu starting. There are options and it's not like these players haven't played well enough this season so far when called upon.

Dembele is a loss, but at the same time, it's not like he was the team's most inform player, as he has simply just been adapting lately, so it shouldn't affect the way the team play. It's just not ideal to have him out of action already when it's an important part of his adaption period.

On another note, the defence has been strong this season thus far, it has to be said. Only one goal conceded so far and that came from a wonder strike.

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2 hours ago, Cannabis said:

Yeste

 suggested, this was a game where Barcelona were shocking in ball penetration and it was obvious that the introduction of Paulinho changed the dynamic of the game - rather fitting as a result that he bagged the winner. 

This result puts continuous pressure on Real Madrid and in turn sends confidence bursting through the Blaugrana, they look unstoppable at the moment. Eibar awaits!

I agree that he should be dropped but at the same time how can you bench somebody with as much potential as Luis Suarez? I was ecstatic when he scored against Espanyol as I thought it might have kicked him into action but unfortunately he was sub-par again yesterday. It's only a matter of time before things start to click again for him and when they do he's one of the best strikers in the world. It's a real catch 22 for Valverde in the sense that Luis should be benched but with as much talent as his can you really go ahead and leave him out?

That's the thing mate, he's the type who can still score you goals which still makes him a player who can be valuable, there are also less options avaiable now that Dembele has suffer and injury also. Given the form of the team overall though, maybe he will regain his best himself in the coming games.

After my criticism, he'll probably go on and score 18 goals in the next 3 games now :ph34r:.

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20 minutes ago, The Rebel CRS said:

Dembele is a loss, but at the same time, it's not like he was the team's most inform player, as he has simply just been adapting lately, so it shouldn't affect the way the team play. It's just not ideal to have him out of action already when it's an important part of his adaption period.

Indeed...  The rest of the Barcelona players have been quick to state and repeat that Dembélé is still adapting to the style of play at Barça which is no easy feat.  Lets ask not forget that it took Neymar a long long while to get used to the way Barcelona play the game and all that was visible for a reasonable amount of time was his individual qualities and talent which was never in dispute.  Dembélé has already shown glimpses of what he will eventually be giving the team and once he adapts he will be a very valuable asset.

22 minutes ago, The Rebel CRS said:

Over the last 3 years, Messi, as an allround attacking footballer has been on a different level. The team  as a whole dropped off in the final year and a quarter or so of Enrique's stint and this blinds some people into thinking Messi himself has dropped a level, when that's far from the case. 2016 was arguably up there with some of his best years as an individual footballer and if the Ballon d'or was really for the best individual player of the year, then he should have walked that one. In 2016 he was light years ahead of the other candidates(you can understand why he will lose out this year though due to Ronaldo stepping up in a very important period of the team) and I don't see any other players who can score, pass and dribble to an above world class standard and show it consistently.

I beg to differ on one point...  Yes indeed Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up in the final two months and a half where his goals took Real Madrid to wining both La Liga and the Champions League...  Nobody can dispute that!

But...  I may be being biassed, but in my own mindset I don't think I am and I will briefly explain why this is the case as far as I'm concerned.

Messi had a tremendous individual season win the last campaign.  He was by far the best player in La Liga and even in the Champions League he was tremendous right until the two legged tie against Paris Saint-Germain (Neymar being the star in that 6-1 it must not be forgotten).  But Messi was firing on all cylinders all throughout the campaign until Juventus knocked the team out.  These things happen but I'm not having 2 months determining an award that's based not only on 1 season, but on 12 months of football which hasn't even come to its conclusion yet.  Plus when Cristiano wasn't playing well (before those 2 and a half months) he had been terrible by his goalscoring standards until then...  We can pull back front page sports daily newspapers in Spain (the Madrid based ones for assurance) where the headlines were on many occasions on whether Cristiano should be dropped because he was playing so badly and that he was being a drag on the team.  Obviously and thankfully for Real Madrid fans, Zidane didn't fall to pressure from the Madrid cavern and through rotation he got the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo towards the end which these days is plainly based on almost only scoring goals as a front man.

Messi was doing it all in an underperforming side!  He was a protagonist on the European stage both in La Liga (ended up top scorer) and the Champions League with a team that was in a pretty bad state as was seen at the end where they got knocked out of the Champions League and ended up runners-up to Real Madrid in La Liga.  I look at the whole picture and not just easily platformed headlines when it's all said and done.  I don't suffer from amnesia!

Anyway...  I know how these awards really work and you can view in the Barcelona thread some posts back how Messi's performance against Juventus in midweek didn't even get him into the UEFA Champions League team of the week and Cristiano did for scoring the same amount of goals (2) against APOEL!  Messi didn't just score 2 goals against JUVENTUS...  Messi had a performance described by the Juventus manager as one of "a martian, an extra-terrestrial" and by Buffon as "This is what you expect from the greatest player to have played the game".

35 minutes ago, The Rebel CRS said:

On another note, the defence has been strong this season thus far, it has to be said. Only one goal conceded so far and that came from a wonder strike.

Umtiti is on another level mate!  He's keeping Mascherano completely out of the side because even yesterday against Getafe he was the main man at the back.  Piqué is Piqué and when he gets rolling he leads the team and his technical ability is something that combines well with Umtiti's reading of defensive decisions.  Alba has the whole flank to himself once again and Semedo we've all spoken about that looks very promising indeed.  For me the issues if any still remain in midfield and if that is sorted, then the team will compete for everything...  Don't know if they'll win stuff obviously because this season the competition in the Champions League is MASSIVE!  La Liga has an Atleti that looks very strong, Real Madrid who look to have one of their best sides ever even if they are stuttering right now and maybe the usual surprise up top which seems to be being La Real at this moment in time.

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@SirBalon I reckon Celta to win with both teams to score. 

Think I've only watched both teams once this season (Espanyol's loss to Barca last week and Celta's win over Alaves). 

On paper, Celta's team looks stronger. Aspas could be the game-changer tonight. 

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44 minutes ago, Stan said:

@SirBalon I reckon Celta to win with both teams to score. 

Think I've only watched both teams once this season (Espanyol's loss to Barca last week and Celta's win over Alaves). 

On paper, Celta's team looks stronger. Aspas could be the game-changer tonight. 

Espanyol seem to be in some sort of depression with their football.  Their pre-season was almost excellent against very good sides on the main (I think they only lost to Roma by the minimum).  Although pre-season isn't anything to go by, their end to last season plus that and some acquisitions during the summer pointed to a strong season.  But it's anything but!

Celta have started indifferently and they should be careful that they don't have one of those types of seasons because the last time they were relegated with a very good squad, was one of those types of seasons where you don't start the season well enough to be in contention for the European slots and the team becomes indifferent and complacent...  Suddenly where at least it all looks safe to stay up you get drawn into a relegation battle right at the end because you're playing sides battling for their lives.

Both Celta and Espanyol have very talented sides considering their financial clout.  But anything is possible...  Way too close to call!  Celta play the better quality football in my opinion and I hope they win (biassed there hahaha).

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Espanyol have got off to a flyer here. only 10 minutes gone and have gone 1-0 up after missing a few chances already. Moreno turns a defender on the edge of the box and powers it in to give his side the lead. Possibly offside though. 

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Did not see this coming! Espanyol double the lead through Pablo Piatti. 

Celta have not got going at all.

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Berizzo leaving has hurt them. If they don't see reality soon, Celta will go down. 

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Sisto pulls one back with 20 minutes to go. He's had a poor game but with the help of a deflection, halves the deficit. 

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RCD Espanyol 2-1 RC Celta Vigo (FT)

Espanyol manage to pull themselves out of relegation with that victory and at the same time pass the issues they're suffering full blown onto Celta.  I hope I'm not right, but I can see big problems for Celta this season.  The table is a lot stronger than last season and I can't see a pair of clubs being left behind by Christmas like what happened in the previous campaign.  It's going to be very tight from mid table to the bottom as far as I'm concerned...  I know it's extremely early for these types of predictions but from what I'm seeing, clubs like Girona who are up for the first time in their history are no pushovers.

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Celta should have done more with the possession they had in the 2nd half of the game. Unzue made some good changes in the 2nd half, Emre Mor especially. He was more offensive and direct when attacking Espanyol. For all their possession though they only carved out 1 or 2 opportunities. Espanyol were somewhat fortunate Celta didn't have someone of even better quality to threaten them. They looked shaky and should have done more to protect their lead more comfortably. 

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