Sky Sports' Spanish football expert Guillem Balague looks forward to this week's live La Liga games.
If you've got a question for Guillem, send it to email@example.com.
Under Joaquin Caparros, Mallorca have changed their way of playing. They have a more solid defence but that means they shoot at goal less and lack creativity. They will struggle until the end of the season. Real Madrid's latest story is why Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be upset. He is not celebrating goals and when he does he seems to be sending messages to his critics. It all stems from the Clasico and the fact that he missed two goal-scoring opportunities and people whistled at him. It was also interesting that Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema played together against Granada, but when Angel Di Maria returns he will be preferred to one of the two strikers.
I've heard that Unai Emery is wanted by the Everton fans if and when David Moyes goes. If you're an Everton supporter, let me know if that's the case. Emery continues to do the best with what he's got at Valencia. He's been meeting the targets that he is set, such as finishing third in La Liga, all with a club that is in financial difficulty. It is very good news that they've got a new 75,000-seater stadium. As I showed you in Goles y Goles y Goles over Christmas, it is very impressive. It will be great to see Valencia draw from that and improve their finances. They still owe about 150million euros but they are on the right path, both on and off the pitch.
Malaga made things very difficult for Real Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie. They attacked them well and took advantage of Real's weaknesses at set-pieces. However, sometimes you wish Malaga had more to them than what we've seen. They are still soft at the back and in terms of creation. Santi Cazorla is defending too much and not showing sparkling form, while they need a striker to convert the opportunities. Isco, like Cazorla, is being played in different positions up front and I think they need to find more quality to get where they want to be, even though Jeremy Toulalan has been great in the defensive midfield position. Still, they are definitely better than last season.
Espanyol played fantastically in the Barcelona derby. They were intense and played with a high tempo. Barcelona believed they had the game won after Cesc Fabregas opened the scoring; they rested on their laurels and Espanyol took advantage of that very cleverly by putting three players in midfield, working hard to receive the ball and then releasing it to the three up front. Let's see how Barcelona come back from that. The problems are not at home, where they have yet to concede a goal yet, but away; they have drawn four games and won two matches only 1-0. It seems like they drop a level when they go away and something is definitely missing.
Guillem answers your questions...
Got a question for Guillem? Then send it in here or use the feedback form below, and then look out for his answer next week.
MARTINEZ TO MANCHESTER?
Hi Guillem, I'm a Man Utd fan and was wondering about the possibility of us signing Javi Martinez from Bilbao. I believe he would aid our ball retention in midfield. Do you think this deal or one for someone more creative like Nicolas Gaitan could be possible in January? Thanks, Jack Spain (Man United fan)
GUILLEM SAYS: Manchester City have shown more interest but at the moment it is only interest. We are talking about a player who is 25million euros+ and Athletic Bilbao don't need to sell. The return of Paul Scholes suggests to me that Manchester United have lost strength in the transfer market and may not be able to spend this kind of money on a player. They may look for a striker but not for a central midfielder who may be a risk. At the moment, Javi Martinez to United is a no.
Hi Guillem. Why is it that Barcelona are not able to adjust strikers into their team formation successfully? Samuel Eto'o, Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and now David Villa seem to have been discarded by the Barca manager. Can you give any insight on that? Thanks, Raheel Ali (Juventus fan)
GUILLEM SAYS: Pep Guardiola has decided that everything has to go through Lionel Messi. That means the strikers have to change their way of playing to please Messi. It is not a personal thing, it's just as three-time winner of the Ballon d'Or suggests, we're talking about perhaps the best player in history. Messi has won titles for Barcelona and it is automatic that he will play as either the false striker, wide or as a midfielder and that everybody else has to work around him. When Villa arrived, he was told: 'Don't expect to be the top goalscorer. Your job is to help Messi become even better'. He accepted this at first but now it is harder to accept because he has always been a goalscorer. Perhaps he wants to finish his career as a goalscorer somewhere else? We will see when he recovers from his injury.
Help me out, Guillem! Is Lionel Messi a midfielder or a striker? What role does he play for Barca on the pitch? Thanks, Abel Johnson (Barcelona fan)
GUILLEM SAYS: When you think about Barcelona, you cannot think about formations or fixed positions; you have to think about the space used by the players. That means that sometimes, in the same game, Sergio Busquets is a centre-back, a centre-midfielder and sometimes a little wider. People move to positions depending on the attacking move being played by the opposition; with Messi it's the same. Sometimes he goes deep, sometimes he's a forward waiting for the ball. However, I do know that players prefer that he waits closer to goal because when he drops too deep it can get confusing and damage the fluidity of the game.
You can also watch two bonus offerings of La Liga football this weekend via our online service. Sevilla host Espanyol at 5.15pm on Saturday, while Atletico Madrid welcome Villarreal to the Vicente Calderon at 11am on Sunday. Click here for more details.
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Joe Krishnan (Chelsea fan) says...
Hi Guillem. What are your thoughts on Espanyol's loan signing of Inter's Philippe Coutinho? Personally, after watching him both for Inter & Brazil U20's, I think this a transfer coup for Pottechino, but do you think that he's putting himself in the shop window either for a bigger La Liga team or the Barclays PL?
Posted 12:27 30th January 2012
Daniel Emmanuel (Chelsea fan) says...
Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the worlds greatest player, but for the fact that he is in the same era as Lionel Messi. How would you feel if you are playing at the top of your level and still get criticised, whilst the guy playing for your fiercest rivals can do no wrong? I think Ronaldo is finally succumbing to the pressure. His high standards don't seem to be high enough for some critics.
Posted 15:02 25th January 2012
Shane Farrington (Manchester United fan) says...
Hi Guillem, The two names which crop up the most when talk turns to a replacement for Sir Alex Ferguson when he finally decides to retire as Manchester United manager are Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. Sir Alex recently suggested he would like to remain in the role for a further three seasons, but I I was wondering who you think would be better suited, and more likely to take on the challenge? Thanks once again.
Posted 20:54 15th January 2012
Jord Iyano (Valencia fan) says...
hi guillem, i believe that the argument many people have with the ronaldo messi situation is people say ronaldo doesn't perform in big games but nobody argues the fact that messi is much less effective than ronaldo in international games and also the fact ronaldo was unbelieveable in the premier league. I think ronaldo' record since his move to madrid speaks for itself, i think ronaldo is the better induvidual but messi the better team player but what i want to know is, in your opinion if barca didn't dominate the game last season and real did instead and won the champions league and la liga, do you think the world player of the year would of had a different outcome? i honestly think that if real win the 2 competitions this year and ronaldo and messi score equally, i think the only way to seperate them is on the honours they won with their clubs. both great players and in my opinion the 2 best since ronaldo nazario was at barca.
Posted 10:09 14th January 2012
Tom Weston (Portsmouth fan) says...
Hi Guillem, although it seems very fashionable to get on Ronaldo's back at the moment, would you agree that Benzema is currently the better player? Ronaldo has obviously achieved more in the game but if you look at the stats for this season Ronaldo has scored 9 more goals than Benzema, of which 8 or more have been penalties, he's been very wasteful with free kicks, so if you give set pieces to Benzema he would have scored far more than Ronaldo. And also Benzema has more assists. This is all having started much fewer games than Ronaldo. It's also worth noting he's scored 2 against Barca!
Posted 17:34 12th January 2012
Hamza Shahid (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...
Hi Guillem, love your blogs, just wanted to know why barca aren't ahead of madrid in la liga. I mean when they play head to head, barcelona win almost all the time with beautiful football but when i saw them play in the catalan derby the didn't have so many opportunities to score. Thanks!
Posted 14:10 12th January 2012
Diarmaid Maher (Leeds United fan) says...
Guillem, I love reading your blog, it's always inciteful. In your opinion, is Lionel Messi the best player of all time? Or does he have to win a World Cup to be recognised as the best of all time?
Posted 23:56 11th January 2012
Ruben Cadeau (Chelsea fan) says...
With Real Madrid currently 5 points clear of FC Barcelona do you think that they can handle the pressure and win the La Liga Title for the first time since the 07/08 Season and can Real Madrid have enough experience and passion to win the Uefa Champions League for the first time since the 01/02 Season
Posted 15:21 11th January 2012
Matt Crimmins (Parma fan) says...
Hey Guillem, quick question, David Silva has stormed the Premiership and has been the most consistent attacking force behind Man Cities dominance this season. I know he played well at Valencia but nothing to match this level. There has been speculation that Real or Barca want to bring him back to La Liga, no doubt it would cost a lot of money but do you think Silva would want to come home, would he want to play for Real or Barca?
Posted 11:00 11th January 2012
Allen Byabato kaijage (Real Madrid fan) says...
I real Madrid for life, but i think Barcelona still a favorite to win everything because of the system they have employed. The success of Barcelona is due to pep, he has shown that, he can command each and everything.
Posted 09:47 11th January 2012
Paddy Gillen (Everton fan) says...
Guillem, there is no truth in Everton fans wanting Unai Emery if and hopefully when Moyes goes. But, despite what Moyes has achieved here, most fans want him and especially the board out. It is getting stale at Goodison and we need a change if not in the manager, than in the tactics he employs, it is too negative.
Posted 09:21 11th January 2012
Liam Mcgibbon (Manchester United fan) says...
Guillem i saw the match against malaga and ronaldo wasnt happy ,i have a feeling that he has not recovered over the el classico and that he gets judge himself huge over it ,i really think that if he plays well against barca we will see him happy,do u think that this is a major deal to ronaldo if he doesnt play well against barca it effects him in other matches ,or if he plays well against barca and wins the game for them he wont stop scoring and we see more of him on the ball?
Posted 00:37 11th January 2012
Bishant Rai (Liverpool fan) says...
Hi Guillem, it is so great to read your article about la liga. Thank you for all the information you provide us about Spanish league, and keep up the good work. I was wondering if Barca are after any player during this transfer window. Even though the club officials have come out and mentioned that there will be no new signings in winter, how about a loan deal for a striker taking into account that David Villa is out for the rest of the season. Also, the rumours about Neymar joining either Barca or real is never ending and even though he signed a new contract a month ago the rumours are emerging again after the club world cup and also the Fifa gala 2011. Personally, I would like him to join Barca but I wonder if real will stay quite as they would do everything possible to sign him as he is considered the next best thing after Messi. I would like to know where he is most likely to end and if Barca need to sign anyone in this transfer window. Thank you. Kind regards.
Posted 00:19 11th January 2012
David Fullam (Liverpool fan) says...
Hi guillem How highly do you rate pochettino. Do you think he could become the next real madrid manager. I have also heard rumours that joachim low the germany manager could take over real madrid if mourinho leaves is there any truth in it. Thanks David
Posted 21:10 10th January 2012
Dan Joseph (Manchester United fan) says...
Guillem! I cannot believe that you have made such an assumption about Man Utd lost of strength in the transfer market because they resigned Scholes, you are better than this. To me it is clear that Fergie has a target for midfield but is certain that player will only be sold in the summer. In the meantime Scholes is a temporary solution to provide experience and some "know-how" rather than anything else. I honestly believe Man Utd will make a big signing this summer, but with that in mind we have 3 attacking midfielders who are potentially fantastic. These are Ravel Morrison, Pogba and Cleverly. I can see his reason for not spending big because for example, why buy Modric for £50m when perhaps in 2-3 years time Cleverly could be a much better player. Also whats this about us may wanting to buy a striker? uhhh we have 7 strikers, 2 of them may be rubbish and 1 injury prone and slightly rubbish but a striker is the last thing on Utd's wish list. *Finally a question for you. If you had an El Classico tomorrow and you are Real Madrid's manager, what one player would you pick from Barcelona's team to increase your chances of winning? In my mind there is only one winner and its not Messi.
Posted 20:55 10th January 2012
Mohd Syazwan (Chelsea fan) says...
Hi Guillem ! i want to ask you. Is that another spanish player in La Liga that is on par in terms of abilities with Juan Mata because i hope AVB can produce another magical signing from iberian except players from Barca because i think it is harder to persuade them to sell. So far, i know such names like Anders and Javi Martinez from Bilbao, Santi Cazorla .
Posted 19:23 10th January 2012
Andy Graham (Real Madrid fan) says...
who is neymar going to madrid or barca
Posted 15:09 10th January 2012
Lee Pritchard (Manchester United fan) says...
Hi Guillem, was just wondering do Barcelona have any interest in Nemanja Vidic?? i know he is injured but he is a world class defender and i heard that they were after him last a few years ago.
Posted 14:01 10th January 2012
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