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We’ve got a crush and it never goes out. His name? Joan Verdu.
The talented creative midfielder has an explosive amount of technique and Espanyol may have been close to suicide when they realised he wasn’t going to renew his contract this summer, instead heading south to sign for Real Betis.
He’s picked up the No. 10 shirt at the Benito Villamarin and it’s unfair to suggest he’s a replacement for any of their departed midfielders (Beñat, we’re talking about you). He’s too different.
Pepe Mel’s men have been pressing high on their tour of England, winning the ball in the opposition’s half and allowing Verdu to dictate and play when they gain possession.
The La Masia product, who is now 30, seems perfect to play this role in Mel’s system. Good on the ball, his intricate passing and busy nature should make him Betis’ stand out performer in La Liga and the Europa League this season.
Jornada 24: Espanyol vs. Real Betis; Cornella-El Prat
To coin an old cliché, football is a very funny game.
Another illustration of this took place at Cornella-El Prat on Sunday night as an Espanyol team, inflated with the confidence that not so long ago resided in Real Betis, took on Los Verdiblancos from Seville.
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.
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…
Following on from Part One last week, here is the second - and final - part looking at each club’s most recognisable achiever in the first half of 2012/13…
one. Pellegrino pushed from Mestalla bench. It has been a bad week for people called Mauricio; first Pochettino and now Pellegrino. Of those with MP initials only Manuel Pellegrini remains in a job. Journalists, sub-editors and bloggers can at least breathe a sigh of relief.Valencia decided enough was enough this weekend following a 5-2 defeat at home to Real Sociedad. Couple that with no league wins away from home and President Llorente felt it was time to wield the axe on the man who only replaced Unai Emery in the summer.
one. Beñat y brilliant Betis beat Los Blancos. Jose Mourinho is surely sick of the sight of Seville. Having already fallen to Sevilla earlier in the season it was Betis’ turn on Saturday tonight. Their main man Benat scored the only goal in the first half as they put last weekend’s derby defeat behind them. Most worryingly perhaps was how pedestrian Madrid were in chasing the game. That and also the fact Cristiano Ronaldo now has scored just one in six.
one. Unlikely sources seal Seville derby. Sevilla’s need was perhaps greater; out of the traps like you would not believe- goal scorers which you might not believe too. Reyes and Fazio, a forward and a centre half who have struggled to regularly start this season had helped themselves to two goals each by half time. Ruben Castro pegged one back after Ruben Perez had seen red for Pepe Mel’s side, but Ivan Rakitic ensured a four goal margin would be recorded in the history books.
The La Liga weekend is once again upon us mere mortals, and there are some tasty treats to look forward to. It’s been branded the fiercest derby in Spain because of the competitive balance it presents; it’s Sevilla v Real Betis tomorrow night. Before that Barca and Real Madrid host Zaragoza and Athletic Club while two out of form sides- Celta Vigo and Mallorca- meet in Galicia. Here is our treble:
one. Anything you can do, we will equal. Barcelona moved first. They moved emphatically. Away at Rayo Vallecano they predictably ran riot. Their 5-0 win included two more assists for the league’s top provider Cesc Fabregas. It also included two more goals for Pichichi front runner Leo Messi. Real Madrid moved the following night at Mallorca- a game that a month ago would have looked like a tricky one. It wasn’t. Two for Ronaldo and two for Higuain were added to by Jose Callejon as a dominant trend from recent seasons reappeared.
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