Ron to choose Blues?
Guillem Balague hails the Spanish national team and reckons Ronaldinho could join Chelsea on the cheap.
Last Updated: 24/11/07 6:52pm
The Spanish national team likes making things difficult for themselves but the latest results suggest we are finally going to stick to a style (passing game) and it has started to appear that we have something similar to a proud spirit.
We beat Denmark a month ago, then we had to beat Sweden and we did it with a 3-0 win. Sweden only had one shot on goal, whereas we had 19.
It was done in the way that Luis Aragones likes to play and also in the way that the Spanish media and the fans like to see. We did it by passing the ball, but also by being much more direct and much more dangerous than in the past.
We are getting to a stage where not only have we found a good style, but we also seem to be quite dangerous. Furthermore, by keeping the ball you can defend better, so we are able to stop teams attacking us.
The formation, interestingly enough, is a 4-1-4-1 with four little players behind David Villa. We have David Silva on the left, Andres Iniesta on the right, and Xavi and Cesc Fabregas in the middle.
Fabregas has finally become a national team regular after two good performances against Sweden and Denmark, even though he still hasn't scored for Spain or reached the level he has been playing for Arsenal. So there is still room for improvement there.
It will be interesting to see what happens when Fernando Torres comes back because the impression we have all got is that Aragones is going to stick with this formation. So it will be between Villa and Torres for that position up front.
There are people who think Torres moves better and makes more runs for the passing players behind him, while there are others who say Villa is a better finisher, so that is an interesting debate.
Spain went from being really bad two months ago and now people in Spain are saying we are favourites to win Euro 2008. I think everybody should calm down because it is still early days. We tend to be very good at this stage of the season and then it gets to June and our level drops because everybody has played far too many games.
Our weakness is at the back. Carles Puyol and Carlos Marchena are the preferred combination and I don't think that's the best centre-back partnership you can find.
Barca paper talk
It is quite clear that when there is an international break, the newspapers need to fill their pages with stories. And in the last two weeks we've had talk of Ronaldinho to Chelsea, Jose Mourinho to Barcelona and huge criticisms of Messi because he had a couple of bad games.
People should again calm down. Ronaldinho's level was very high two years ago and we are celebrating two years since his amazing two goals against Real Madrid in that 3-0 victory to Barcelona that everybody remembers.
His level at that time was so high that he'll never be able to reach that again and also you can see that physically he is not as good as he was because he's not training properly. When you have spent twelve months or more sleeping it reaches a point where your body cannot give you what you requiere for a top athlete. So perhaps the criticisms of him are fair enough.
Chelsea are the only team that seem to be interested in him now. Even Milan are not all that bothered, so I can see him at Chelsea next season. And they won't even have to pay much for him.
If he doesn't recover a decent level, Barcelona will need to get rid of him. And even if he wants to go he can use the FIFA ruling that will allow him to leave for around 16 million euros. Nobody expects Ronaldinho to stay at Barcelona next season, but... you never know, do you?
But to have a go at Messi doesn't make sense because he has only had two bad games. Messi has had a year with hardly any rest and has been playing at a very, very high level. In my eyes there is no doubt that he is the best player in the world.
I'm convinced that while Joan Laporta is still the chairman - and he's still got two years left - then Mourinho will not become Barcelona coach. If Frank Rijkaard leaves at the end of the season, and there is a very high possibility that they will let him go, then it will probably be Marco Van Basten who will replace him. I have heard Jose Mourinho is negotiating already with an English club for next season.
Villarreal are progressing at an amazing speed and a sign of a good team is the way they deal with their problems.
Giuseppe Rossi is going to be out for another five weeks and he is their best goalscorer, but there has been no panic. Diego Forlan, who was their best goalscorer last season, left in the summer, but there was no panic then either and they are very confident about what they can do.
They have also dealt with the Juan Roman Riquelme problem and he hasn't played for them for a year. They are about to close a deal for him to go to Boca Juniors because he did not want to hear about the possibility of going anywhere else, including Spurs or Newcastle.
Boca will have to pay all of his 10million euro annual wages. If that doesn't happen then he will still be there until his contract runs out - that's what Villarreal are saying at the moment.
But the way they are dealing with those things and the way the squad is growing, suggests they have a really good chance of winning the league. The fact that they are saying that themselves suggests they have the mentality to do so.Do you agree with Guillem? Let us know what you think by using the feedback form below and continue to email him your questions here
Guillem answers your questions...
Hola Guillem, que pasa? What are your thoughts on Seville challenging for the Champions League this season? Do you think that the previous two UEFA campaigns and the fact that now they appear to playing with no fear will serve them well? Muchas Gracias. Mark Evans, Warrington/Seville
GUILLEM REPLIES: Seville have not started the season properly and the things that have happened to them with Daniel Alves wanting to leave and Juande Ramos leaving suggests that they will not be able to challenge for the Champions League.
They are on a learning curve and I hope they make it into the top four this season. I think they will do that, despite the impact the African Nations Cup will have on them. But they are not ready for the Champions League yet by a long way - and that comes from having spoken to Juande Ramos about it.
Manuel Jimenez is a little bit of an experiment. He's not there for the long run unless things go really well and next season they are planning to bring in Marcelino, who is at Racing now. He's one of these young coaches that seem to be on the way to the top.
They've got a balanced squad, although it is not the best in Europe. But if you compare them to five years ago then they are really progressing and they are doing it in the in the right way. Everybody at the club - the chairman, the director of football and the coach - knows their role.
I am really surprised with the way Raul Tamudo has been glorified in the last few weeks. I am just so baffled with the way Tamudo, who has been battling with relegation in Spain with lowly Espanyol has been compared with Raul Gonzalez, the phenomenal player both internationally and with Real Madrid, playing elite football for 13 years and counting. Such players, like Raul Gonzalez, should be shown more respect and not be downgraded because of a few weeks of brilliance from Tamudo. I still wonder why Aragones has continued to ignore Raul in the national team. What do you think? Kevin, Nigeria.
GUILLEM REPLIES: There are some people who will take any opportunity to have a go at Raul, who is simply the best player in the history of Spain. The way he is looking after himself and the way he is playing at the moment suggests he has still got good football in his boots.
Why is he not in the national team then? It's because he represented the old guard. When you are a veteran in any team, you think you have certain rights and that unbalances things inside the dressing room. When he scored his last goal 18 months ago in the World Cup he went to hug Santiago Canizares and Michel Salgado, suggesting 'we are in this together old boys'. That broke the atmosphere in the changing room a little bit.
Now they are not there, different people are more influential - the likes of Iniesta, Xavi and even Fabregas. That's good for the national team because everybody seems involved and nobody feels that the national team belongs to Raul.
But having said that you don't appreciate what Tamudo has done. He has scored more than 100 goals for Espanyol and that is an amazing stat for a team that doesn't score as many goals as Real Madrid or have as many good players.
Tamudo was instrumental in Spain qualifying for the European Championships with his goal and assist against Denmark - a match that had to be won.
Hi Guillem, Is it possible you could tell me what English clubs are rumoured to be after Mallorca's Argentinean winger Gutierrez and if he is likely to move to the Premier League? Paddy Daly, Liverpool fan, New Zealand.
GUILLEM REPLIES: He is actually known as Jonas and he has got an offer from Portsmouth. The manager decided not to include him for the last match against Real Madrid before the international break because he didn't seem mentally prepared for the game. He was discussing his future in England and Portsmouth are favourites to take him.
It would be a great move for him and I honestly think Rafa Benitez kept an eye on him. But from what I have heard, Liverpool may not be doing any movement in January or, better said, the decision is to wait few weeks before players get sold (Carson, Crouch) or bought.
Interesting situation at Liverpool by the way, where the owners stop a manager buying or selling when the team clearly needs a couple of reinforcements that were already identified and apparently were not going to cost a penny.