Spain roundup: Big Three win, Getafe & Valladolid climb to safety

Leave a comment

Real Madrid may be in real trouble despite the thumping they unleashed on Rayo Vallecano this weekend, as Barcelona and Atletico Madrid show no signs of weakening ahead of a run-in to the end of a thrilling La Liga season.

Meanwhile, the weekend saw a shakeup in the relegation zone, as Getafe has at least temporarily escaped the terrors of the Bottom Three thanks to a surprising road win at Valencia.

After Barca’s heart-pounding win over Real Madrid last weekend officially made La Liga a three-horse race, Real lost its second straight with a Tuesday loss at Seville, while wins from Barca and Atletico propelled them into better paths to the title.

So this weekend provided a big question for Real supporters, and their club responded with a resounding, “Yes, we’re still here,” pounding away at Vallecano to the tune of 5-0. It took just 15 minutes for the Bernabeu to see a goal, as Cristiano Ronaldo scored before Daniel Carvajal and Alvaro Morata contribued a goal and Gareth Bale picked up a brace.

But a 77th minute penalty conversion from Lionel Messi sealed three points for Barca in its derby date at Espanyol, and Atletico overcame a sixth minute tally from Iker Muniain to see a 2-1 win at Bilbao behind goals from Diego Costa and Koke (above).

And so Real has to resort to hope, as it could win the rest of its matches and still be monitoring matches outside their participation right up until the final week’s Atletico/Barca power fixture.

Before you think we only care for the big name squads, how about a hand for Getafe and Valladolid? The other Madrid club fell behind 1-0 early before Lafita, Ciprian Marica and Pedro Leon scored to lift Getafe out of the relegation zone. They are now one point free of a three-way tie for the final two drop zone tickets.

And Valladolid is now surviving via goal differential in that three-way tie after a sixth minute Manucho goal paced them by Almeria in a massive relegation battle. The home team pushed Almeria down into the drop, as Valladolid picked up eight of its 30 points in March including the March 8 upset of Barca.

Elsewhere

  • Celta Vigo 1-0 Sevilla FC — The hosts waited until the 87th minute to break through on a Nolito penalty.
  • Villarreal 1-1 Elche — Jonathan canceled out a penalty from Damian Suarez, but Villarreal failed to take advantage of stumbles from Sociedad and Sevilla.
  • Osasuna 1-1 Real Sociedad— A disappointing draw leaves Sociedad muddled with two clubs in a race for fifth, while Osasuna is now the third team in a three-team tie for two relegation spots. Not the good kind of third.
  • Granada vs. Levante — Monday
  • Real Betis vs. Malaga– Monday

 

Standings

 

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Atlético Madrid 31 24 4 3 69 22 47 13-3-0 11-1-3 76
Barcelona 31 24 3 4 89 25 64 14-0-1 10-3-3 75
Real Madrid 31 23 4 4 86 32 54 13-0-2 10-4-2 73
Athletic 31 16 8 7 53 34 19 11-3-2 5-5-5 56
Sevilla 31 14 8 9 55 46 9 8-3-4 6-5-5 50
Real Sociedad 31 14 8 9 54 44 10 10-3-2 4-5-7 50
Villarreal 31 14 7 10 51 37 14 7-6-3 7-1-7 49
Espanyol 31 11 7 13 34 36 -2 7-3-6 4-4-7 40
Valencia 31 11 7 13 44 45 -1 8-3-5 3-4-8 40
Levante 30 9 10 11 27 38 -11 5-5-5 4-5-6 37
Celta Vigo 31 10 6 15 34 44 -10 4-6-6 6-0-9 36
Granada 30 10 4 16 28 40 -12 6-1-8 4-3-8 34
Rayo Vallecano 31 10 3 18 34 68 -34 6-0-9 4-3-9 33
Málaga 30 8 8 14 29 38 -9 5-2-8 3-6-6 32
Elche 31 7 11 13 25 42 -17 5-6-5 2-5-8 32
Getafe 31 8 7 16 29 48 -19 4-6-6 4-1-10 31
Valladolid 31 6 12 13 32 50 -18 5-7-3 1-5-10 30
Almería 31 8 6 17 33 58 -25 5-5-5 3-1-12 30
Osasuna 31 8 6 17 26 52 -26 5-3-7 3-3-10 30
Betis 30 5 7 18 26 59 -33 4-3-8 1-4-10 22

Report: Toronto to send Giovinco to Tigres for Valencia, cash

Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Leave a comment

An Mexican site reports that Tigres UANL is ready to send Enner Valencia and cash to Toronto FC to land Sebastian Giovinco.

Normally that’s seem a bit wild for TFC to send their perennial MLS MVP candidate packing, but the club has been hesitant to meet Giovinco’s terms on a new contract.

[ MORE: PL Manager Power Rankings ]

And Valencia is nearly three years younger and a bit bigger than Giovinco.

Valencia scored in bunches for Tigres after arriving from West Ham, scoring nine goals with an assist in 16 Apertura matches including three multi-goal games. He then saw his numbers dip to two goals and three assists in 11 Clausura appearances.

Giovinco, meanwhile, has six goals and six assists in 15 matches between MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League.

It would be a significant risk for TFC, though the idea of pairing up Enner Valencia and Jozy Altidore is a physical nightmare for MLS defenses.

Whoops! Unai Emery puts up Arsenal message on web site

Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal’s next manager is very close to being officially Unai Emery.

That is unless, the Gunners’ brass has its mind changed by his sloppy web savvy.

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

Emery — or his people, or hackers — mistakenly put up a graphic featuring the Spanish coach, the Arsenal logo, and the phrase “Proud to be a part of the Arsenal family” before taking it down in short order.

Emery is expected to take over for Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium this summer. Something tells us we’ll have an announcement on Wednesday or even later tonight…

State TV: Ghana president orders arrest of FIFA executive

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday ordered police to arrest football federation head Kwesi Nyantakyi, a member of the powerful FIFA Council, over allegations of fraud.

Akufo-Addo’s order was announced by the state-run Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

Abu Jinapor, deputy chief of staff at the president’s office, said the order for Nyantakyi to be arrested and investigated related to an undercover documentary that purports to show the football official asking businessmen for money in return for access to the president and other senior government officials.

“It was a clear case of defrauding by false pretense,” Jinapor said, adding that Akufo-Addo’s order came after he watched excerpts from the documentary, which has not yet been broadcast.

Nyantakyi is president of the Ghana Football Association, a vice president of the Confederation of African Football, and has been a member of the ruling FIFA Council since 2016. He was the FIFA official chosen to oversee the football competition at the 2012 London Olympics.

Ghanaian media reported that Nyantakyi was not in Ghana at the time of the president’s order but was returning home.

Nyantakyi has been accused of improper behavior before when a British media investigation just before the 2014 World Cup claimed he had been willing to allow the Ghana national team to play in games that could be fixed by others. He denied the allegation.

Premier League managerial power rankings

AP Photo/Jon Super
Leave a comment

There’s a new sheriff at West Ham United, and it’s no small-time boss.

Former Premier League champion manager Manuel Pellegrini is taking over the London side, which had us wondering how high he’d move up the acclaim ladder upon hiring (as of post time).

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

With the 20th spot still open — will it be Fulham or Aston Villa — the Arsenal and Everton jobs vacant for now, and both Neil Warnock and Nuno Espirito Santo yet to manage their clubs in the top flight, we rank the power status of the 15 other active Premier League bosses.

15. Javi Gracia, Watford — Manager don’t usually last long at Vicarage Road, and Gracia doesn’t have a record for sticking around clubs for too long himself.

14. Mark Hughes, Southampton — Saints stayed in the Premier League, and Hughes deserves credit for pushing the buttons on a talented squad.

13. Claude Puel, Leicester City — A disappointing finish to his season keeps Leicester outside the Europa League, and so he has a bit more to prove after an impressive reclamation job at the King Power Stadium.

12. David Wagner, Huddersfield Town — Keeping Town in the Premier League was impressive, but we’re not sure how much we learned about the long-term prognosis of Jurgen Klopp‘s best pal.

11. Chris Hughton, Brighton and Hove Albion — He’d led several clubs to Premier League promotion, and coaxed fine seasons out of what appeared to be a subpar defense at season’s open.

10. Eddie Howe, Bournemouth — One of the brightest young managerial minds, can he take the next step on the South Coast?

9. Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace — What he did upon inheriting and then overseeing one of the worst starts in Premier League history was nothing short of brilliant. Clearly he hasn’t stopped learning unlike many other PL “retreads.”

8. Manuel Pellegrini, West Ham — What will a few years outside the Premier League, if anything, have done to the one-time Man City leader. Don’t forget: The season City won the PL season, he coaxed 20-plus goal campaigns in all competitions from Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Alvaro Negredo, and Yaya Toure.

7. Antonio Conte, Chelsea — Tactically and experience-wise, he’s so much higher on the list. Regardless of the mess at Chelsea, better was needed this season.

6. Sean Dyche, Burnley — Guiding tiny Burnley to the Europa League is as impressive a feat as any outside of what Guardiola did this year and Claudio Ranieri did at Leicester City.

— BONUS — 6b. Unai Emery, if hired at Arsenal —

5. Rafa Benitez, Newcastle United — Considering his resume, it shouldn’t be as surprising that he kept United up despite his owner refusing to green-light a real answer at center forward. Worked career years out of Mo Diame and Jonjo Shelvey.

4. Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool — The Champions League final says something, especially in a year he sold Philippe Coutinho, but his team still lacks the consistency of the three men in front of him.

3. Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham Hotspur — Spurs have smartly spent and kept their stars around, but their financial outlay arguably should not have them consistently finishing ahead of Liverpool and Arsenal.

2. Jose Mourinho, Manchester United — Still a defensive marvel, still a genius, still somewhat hilarious… but we all know who No. 1 is…

  1. Pep Guardiola, Manchester City