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On the Catalan coast a fixture all-too-frequently gracing screens worldwide was staged in front of the home side’s largest attendance of the season. Except this wasn’t El Clasico, rather the mini version, the youngsters continuing the feud one league down from La Liga – a concept not familiar in England.
one. one win between the top eight.
Granada’s win against floundering Real Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona’s draw, Malaga’s point against Zaragoza and defeats for Levante, Rayo Vallecano and Real Betis meant that Atletico Madrid’s 1-0 win over Los Beticos was the only win for any of La Liga’s top eight heading into the weekend’s fixtures.[[MORE[[
two. espanyol still on the charge.
Since taking charge Mexican Javier Aguirre has led Espanyol on a fantastic run which has seen them lose just once - to city rivals Barcelona. This weekend they beat Levante 3-2 to record their fourth straight win at home and move a few more points away from the bottom three.
three. schuster to replace caparros?
Another weekend, another defeat for Mallorca. This time they lost 3-0 at Anoeta to in-form Real Sociedad. Following the defeat rumours are floating about that time is up for boss Joaquin Caparros and that he will be replaced by Bernd Schuster - watch this space.
four. big win for osasuna
Struggling Osasuna recored a 1-0 win against Celta Vigo, moving out of the bottom three for the first time in a long time.
five. big losses for galicia
That defeat against Osasuna dropped Celta Vigo into the bottom three alongside Mallorca and fellow Galician’s Deportivo la Coruna who themselves suffered a 3-1 defeat to Getafe on Saturday.
Over the course of the past six months I’ve spent a considerable amount of time conducting research on both nationalism and market integration in football as part of a long-term thesis project. On January 9th and 10th, I attended both Real Betis and Sevilla’s Copa del Rey matches. The disparate experiences seen in the neighborhoods that house the teams, Heliopolis and Nervion respectively, revealed the lasting effect of the financial crisis on the game and offered a view into the state of the coming years. This micro-level experience fell in line with my macro-level my analyses. First: football responds to the market before the market in economic downturns and slower in recoveries, and second: that regional identities are magnified in times of economic crisis. Oh, and I also had a blast.
My week in Sevilla was a performance piece. I had elaborately designed to evade cultural superstition and sideways glances of nationalistic scorn so that I could see what being a ‘Sevillista’ or a ‘Betico’ really represented to the supporters and the neighborhoods that they represent. I wanted to become an insider, to really see what made these people tick. I stayed the bulk of my time in Nervion where there is no reason for tourists to visit the drab unornamented buildings and spent my time in the gap between tapa and racion. Not a tourist, but definitely not a local. My mission was to be a fly on the wall - I had a great time failing with that as my objective.
one. Real Sociedad end Barca’s unbeaten season.
We should have seen it coming. Anoeta has hardly been the happiest of places for Barca to visit in recent years, and on Saturday night that again proved the case. Familiar circumstances dominated the early exchanges, first Messi and then Pedro putting La Blaugrana 2-0 up. Game over? No. Just before half time Chory Castro pulled one back, then in the second half Pique saw red for two (silly but deserved) yellow cards. Castro soon added his second and then in stoppage time Imanol Agirretxe nicked it for La Real - who were very good. It’s the first time Barca have surrendered a 2-0 lead to lose since they lost 4-3 to Atletico in March 2009.
Southampton fans may well be deflated to see Nigel Adkins leaving his post as manager after a successful spell which saw two promotions but MP (it’s easier that way) may not be all that bad.
We’ve always liked him here at futbolgrande and in hindsight he may feel he should have taken the Sampdoria or Valencia jobs. Anyway, what his appointment in England does mean is that there’s an influx of good writing on him out there this morning. Check out these links:
Sid Lowe on the Guardian: MP must perform more miracles at Southampton
Samuel Marsden on Bleacher Report: What MP’s appointment means for Southampton and the EPL
David Cartlidge on Mirror Sport: Another Laudrup? The lowdown on MP
Raul Baena scored a late winner as Espanyol clinched a crucial three points against ten-man Mallorca in a relegation battle which had five goals and one red card.
OK, we admit it, we’ve been negligent. Week eighteen admittedly passed with us failing to register a look back on what had actually happened. To all eight of our readers, we are sorry.
BUT. We’re back with a round up from week nineteen - the half way mark in La Liga - and promise not to leave you hanging again. So here it is, the five main talking points from the weekend’s (Friday and Monday included) action…