La Liga Round-up: Kepa’s A Keeper & Life’s Never Boring When Paco Jemez Is Around4 min read
After both Real Madrid and Barcelona hammered five second half goals past their respective opponents at the weekend, you’d expect all of the talk to be about Spain’s ‘big two.’
However, as always, there is a lot more to dissect than focusing on where the title is heading. (I’ll save you the trouble, it’s Barcelona’s to lose).
One of the biggest stories to emerge from Spain’s top flight actually occurred early on Monday morning.
Highly-rated goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, has renewed his contract with Athletic Club until 2025 and with a buyout clause of 80m euros.
Such news might well have normally disappeared under the radar, but Real Madrid had coveted him for a while now, and the expectation was that he would be putting pen to paper in January at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Zinedine Zidane’s insistence on not wanting new faces on board this month seems to have convinced his board not to invest, but it could well be a decision they come to regret.
The Paco Jemez Rollercoaster Continues
Las Palmas have hit the headlines too after a 2-1 comeback win over high-flying Valencia. New coach, Paco Jemez, has a reputation for playing free-flowing but, at times, ‘kamikaze’ football, and with varying degrees of success.
A 6-0 loss to Girona last week followed a 4-0 defeat to Valencia in the Copa del Rey less than a fortnight ago. Typically, Jemez would then rally his troops to pull off a stunning victory over one of the form sides in the division.
What’s more, they were good value for the win, having battled bravely throughout the 90 minutes. Los Che’s frustrations may come back to haunt them too. Gabriel Paulista, Ruben Vezo and Simone Zaza will all be missing for the visit of Real Madrid next week due to suspension.
Las Palmas, meanwhile, will hope this is a turning point in a season that seemed a hopeless lost cause at one stage.
The minnows of La Liga, Girona, continue to delight the neutrals, and they definitely have an Indian sign over Atletico Madrid after holding Los Rojiblancos for the second time this season.
Antoine Griezmann had given Atleti the lead at the Wanda Metropolitano, but Pablo Machin’s men dug in and eventually gained their reward through Portu. Don’t forget they’ve also beaten Real Madrid this season too. Magnificent.
A Segunda Screamer from Lugo’s Keeper
Away from the top flight, the story of the weekend comes from the Segunda (Second) Division game between Lugo and Sporting Gijon.
With Lugo winning 2-1 but under pressure from their visitors, goalkeeper, Juan Carlos, took matters into his own hands.
From well inside his own half, he sized up a clearance from Sporting and, noticing his opposite number way out of his goal, took aim and saw the ball loop in for a magnificent third.
What made the strike all the better is that this was no fluke. No wonder those in the stands held their heads in their hands in disbelief!
It’s often said that La Liga is boring and uncompetitive. Scratch the surface and treat that statement with the contempt it deserves.