Viva La Liga: The 2010 Spanish League Preview

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Personal History

I’ve been a loyal English Premier League supporter for almost 14 years now, but the Spanish La Liga is also close to my heart, like my proverbial football mistress, if I may say so myself.

Granted, I only ever closely follow two of its top teams, Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona. However, do not ask me who I support between those two because that will need a separate article altogether.

For brevity’s sake, let me just state that I am completely neutral when it comes to La Liga. I shan’t cry nor obsess over a club’s result, but I do enjoy following and watching the league. I watch Real Madrid for the love of Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso, and Alvaro Arbeloa. As for Barcelona, the likes of Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Gerard Pique, and Lionel Messi, are truly a joy to watch. Lest you say I’m a fickle-minded, bandwagoning fangirl, I have been looking out for those clubs since Real was still ruled by Raul, Guti, Fernando Morientes and Zinedine Zidane, Casillas wasn’t even old enough to drive and Luis Figo and Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) were still donning Barcelona jerseys. I have loads of fond memories of my university-induced insomnia years, either drafting design plates/skimming stacks of readings or just plain zoning out in front of the telly and watching live La Liga matches, wondering why the heck the pictures from Spain look gray and dreary compared to the Premier League when it is England that is notorious for dreary weather. Oh, and occasionally screaming “Faster!” to the players every once and a while. Ah, the good old zombie days.

The thing with La Liga is that I do not follow ALL of its matches, mainly only those that have certain importance to me, say the “Unmissable” matches such as:
*The El Clasico– Real Madrid CF vs Barcelona
*The Madrid Derby– Real Madrid CF vs Atletico Madrid
*The Catalan Derby– Barcelona vs Espanyol

This is because some of the other matches coincide with the broadcast of the English Premier League, and since I can only rely on the worldwide web to watch the La Liga matches (I will never understand why ESPNStar Sports chose to terminate live broadcast of the La Liga matches), most of the time I catch up by downloading the La Liga Show and various La Liga Match Highlights.

League Structure

The structure of the Primera Division is similar to that of the Premier League, in such that the league has 20 teams that play each other twice (Home and Away) and after 38 matches, the Top 2 automatically qualifies for the UEFA Champions League, the 3rd and 4th placers enter the final CL qualifying round, and the Bottom 3 are relegated to the Segunda Division. Numerous clubs though have A teams and B teams, the ‘B’ teams being the equivalent of Reserve reams in England, with the exception that they don’t have their own Reserves League so they play in the lower tiers of the Spanish La Liga. There is a rule that the A team and B team of a club cannot play in the same division, so if the A team of the club is relegated, the B team of the club is automatically relegated also, except in instances when the B team is already 2 leagues down from their A team.

Pace and Flow

While the Premier League is fast, aggressive and physical, the La Liga is slow, methodical, and more cerebral in some aspects. Both are very entertaining to watch although it does take quite a while to get used to the seemingly endless passing-backpassing-passing style of Spanish play if the go-go-wham-bam style of the Premier League has already been ingrained in you.

Press and Coverage

I once thought that there’s nothing more brutal, ruthless and fickle than the British media when it comes to covering their local football—boy, was I wrong. As I delved into the World of Spanish Football Media, I found out just how obsessive their press is. And when I say obsessive, I mean it with a capital O. Understandably, the top papers cover Real Madrid and Barcelona most, with Real Madrid ruling over Marca and AS and Sport being the pro-Barcelona one. Absolutely nothing and no one is spared from their scrutiny, so much so that they even write and discuss super menial details such as what the players watched on the telly and what they had for breakfast. Seriously.

Terms and Vocabulary

Below are some of the basic terms used in Spanish Football to help you feel more involved in the match:

portero: goalkeeper

defensa: defender

centrocampista: midfielder

delantero: forward

arbitro: referee

entrenador: manager

falta: foul

penalti: penalty

saque de esquina: corner

saque de banda: throw in

saque de puerta: goal kick

tarjeta (amarilla, roja): card (yellow, red)

fuera de juego: offside

un crack: a superstar

tiki taka: good, one touch football

el pichichi: the top goalscorer

el Zamora: best goalkeeper

la cantera: the youth system

Personal Blog Coverage

Since I will also be busy covering the Premier League and I have minimal access to live coverage of matches, I will mostly feature interesting bits and pieces from the clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona. I cannot promise in-depth match-per-match analyses but I will try my best to provide all the relevant news, stats, and most important, video highlights of their matches, whether they be from the Primera Liga, the Copa del Rey, or the Champions League.

Season Predictions

Primera Liga Champions- FC Barcelona

Liga El Pichichi- Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Buena Suerte to all Clubs!

 

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