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Betting on La Liga

There are few of Europe’s top divisions, if any, that exhibit the kind of polarities present in La Liga and this could become ever more apparent after a host of top players left the division this summer. Barcelona are odds on to retain the title, whereas Real Madrid are around about 5/4 with most bookmakers and online casinos.

There isn’t a huge deal of value to be made there, but if Neymar fit in to the new Barca side and can gel with Messi, we could see something of a rebirth of the greatest team in recent memory. Much will depend on whether Real Madrid can complete the signing of Gareth Bale, and if you think this will be the case, Real could be a fantastic bet at current odds. (more…)

THE NEXT ALONSO

French manager Philippe Montanier, who has seen enough of Asier Illarramendi during his time at Real Sociedad, has said that Illarramendi has what it takes to become the next Xabi Alonso of the Spanish squad. Real Madrid recently signed the Spain under 21 star for around £ 27 million, thus making him one of the expensive young players in the world right now. Montanier believes that he has the capability to go on and emulate the success of Alonso at both club and national level.

Alonso is regarded as one of the best midfielders in his position. His wide range of passing coupled with the ability to read the game extremely well have made him one of the top players at Real Madrid. However, he is coming to the twilight of his career and is widely expected to leave Real Madrid in the next few seasons. Montanier reckons that the club may have found a potential successor in the form of Illarramendi. Illarramendi has been compared with Barcelona’s defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets on several occasions.

Montanier, though, things that Illarramendi has different qualities to Busquets and that it would be an injustice to compare the two players. He says that Illarramendi has enough quality to not only win the ball back, but also start the attack as well.

“Xabi is a reference point for Basque players and I feel that he can help him [Illarramendi] to grow and develop, too. They can definitely play together. Xabi and Asier are both great players. He has the right character to be a success and he’ll be a big player for Spain, too. Comparing is always difficult. Asier has different qualities [to Busquets]; the same role, yes, but different qualities. Asier is more in the mould of Xavi,” said the 48-year-old French manager.

CRITICISM ISN’T FAIR

Spanish national team manager Vicente del Bosque has said that the criticism of his team is not fair. Spain have been receiving a lot of criticism in recent months for not being at the very best. A lot is expected of the team, which has won the last two European championships along with one World Cup title. The national team has experienced unprecedented success under the management of del Bosque, but they have been looking increasingly vulnerable in the last few months. They are not yet sure of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup due to poor results against the likes of France and Finland.

Del Bosque has responded to the criticism by saying that the problems faced by the team are short-term rather than long-term. The 62-year-old boss has changed the playing style of the team significantly following their first major win in 2008. There have been times when Spain have played without a central striker due to the plethora of attacking midfielders they have in the squad. However, this experiment has been a hit and miss. There have been calls for Spain to go back to the traditional way of playing with the striker, but the former Real Madrid boss dismissed the criticism by saying that he expects Spain to adjust quickly.

“We have indeed shown some uncertainty in the position of centre forward, but it is also true that the problems have not been very regular. Michu should be praised for what he has done in the Premiership. He has had an extraordinary campaign. The selection issues are a reflection of Spanish football at the moment. We have a huge wealth of options, but there may be a pocket of people who are not happy with our extraordinary football at the moment,” said del Bosque in a recent interview.

CASILLAS FACES CRITICISMS

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas has faced several issues with José Mourinho in the recent months, which has led to him being dropped from the first team. Mourinho has cited the poor form of the goalkeeper as the reason for his absence from the first team. Spanish national team manager Vicente del Bosque, though, has said that Casillas still remains crucial to the plans of the national team despite his omission at club level. He has said that he retains his complete faith in the 31-year-old, who has won all the major titles at national and club level.

Casillas is set to return to first-team action after spending more than two months on the sidelines due to injury. Del Bosque has confirmed that the goalkeeper will be back in the Spanish squad once he returns from injury. Spain recently managed a 1-0 win over France without Casillas in the squad. As a result of this impressive victory, they have moved out of their group table in the World Cup qualifying stages. Despite this, del Bosque has said that he is extremely cautious about the chances of the team in the upcoming World Cup

The victory means that Spain now enjoy a one-point advantage over France in the table.

“Iker will be in the next Spain squad once he has recovered from injury, as he’s an important player for the team and is our captain. It was an important win in France, but you can’t forget we still have three games left to play in the qualifying round and they won’t be easy at all,” said Vicente del Bosque. The winner of group will be able to qualify for the World Cup automatically, while the second placed team will have to go through a play-off match against a team from the same region.

SPAIN DOMINATE

Spain have been the dominant team in the world stage for the last few years now. The national team manager Vicente del Bosque has attributed the incredible strength in depth of the team as the main reasons for this dominance. Spain recently managed to extend the unbeaten run to 18 matches after the 3-1 win over Uruguay in a friendly match. Cesc Fabregas opened the scoring for Spain, but his goal was soon cancelled out by a goal from Cristian Rodrigues in the second half.       However, the striker Pedro Rodriguez managed to score two goals in the second half to hand Spain yet another victory.

As a result of this victory, confidence is once again extremely high within the Spanish team ahead of the 2013 confederations cup and the World Cup qualifying matches. Spain will be having key World Cup qualifying encounters against France next month. They will be looking to win this match after managing only a draw with the French in the reverse fixture. A number of high profile players are absent for this match against Uruguay. As a result, the manager called upon the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, who was making his debut for the national team. Yet, all the players performed extremely well in the run-up to the victory.

“They are all players who are going to increase the quality of our squad, and they have adapted to the group very easily, with no problems at all. They did what was asked of them, and they were showed the characteristics which made us call them up to the squad in the first place. Pedro is a dynamic player, who knows exactly what he needs to do on the pitch, and he’s got this incredible pace, which is vitally important in the modern game,” said Del Bosque.

DEL BOSQUE BACKS PEP

The former Barcelona manager Guardiola is a fine example of a great coach according to the Spanish national team manager Vicente del Bosque. Guardiola is currently on sabbatical after leaving his post as the Barcelona manager after four successful years in the summer. During this period, Guardiola revolutionised Barcelona by adopting the style of football that has endeared to many, while also being hugely successful in terms of trophies. During the four years, Guardiola managed to win an unprecedented 14 trophies including two Champions League titles as well. He managed to convert Barcelona into the strongest team in the world.

Vicente del Bosque has praised the methods and techniques adopted by Guardiola by saying that it is a fine example of how a coach should be and he is extremely happy that Guardiola is Spanish. Del Bosque has also praised the way Guardiola has developed relationships with other people that would help him get a top job when he returns from his sabbatical. The former Barcelona man has been linked with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, and Bayern Munich. Meanwhile, del Bosque questioned the attitude and the tactics of the Real Madrid manager José Mourinho, who has come under intense criticism this season after allowing Madrid to fall 16 points behind Barcelona.

“He (Guardiola) has what a coach should have, and is a fine example of a Spanish coach. He had a well developed sporting strategy, good relationships with everyone and was a pleasant guy. He has earned the right to decide where he goes next. Coaches have the duty to set an example, because what they do is more important than what they say. Of course, it’s difficult to be the coach of Madrid. Every decision you make is debated,” said Del Bosque in an interview given to the AS.

SPAIN FEAR BRAZIL

The Spanish national team manager Vicente del Bosque has said that he is extremely fearful of the Brazilian national team, who will certainly be one of the favourites the 2013 Confederations cup. Brazil will be part of this tournament as the hosts, while Spain will be travelling to the tournament as the current champions of the world. However, Spain still have a long way to go before they can equal the record of Brazil when it comes to world cups, as the South American team has managed to lift the famous trophy five times in their history.

However, they have never done it in front of their own fans and will be looking to do it this time around when the World Cup comes to Brazil. The 2013 Confederations cup will be a precursor to this World Cup and it will involve Brazil and Spain. The South American team recently changed its manager after opting for the former coach Luiz Felipe Scolari in favour of the sacked Mano Menezes. Scolari famously led Brazil to their last World Cup triumph back in 2002. Due to the incredibly talented squad – containing the likes of Neymar and Oscar – that he inherits, they will certainly be one of the teams to fear that this competition according to del Bosque.

“Brazil, beyond their Coach, is a world power, and because of the players they have and their history, they are the team to beat. What happened in South Africa left a bad taste and after our successes at World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 this is a challenge for us. We will prepare to compete with the prestige of champions. We will go with our main players, as for us the Confederations Cup is a very important tournament,” said Vicente del Bosque after the group stage draw.

SPAIN RUE INJURIES

The Spanish national team manager Vicente del Bosque has said that the significant number of injuries for the team was the reason for the disappointing 1-1 draw with France. Spain have a tremendously good record when it comes to the qualifying matches for the last few years, but they lost the string of wins following this draw. A number of high profile players like David Silva and Alvaro Arbeloa were missing for Spain. After the match, Vicente del Bosque said that he was happy with the result. The Spanish national team is undoubtedly one of the best in the world right now and they are currently the favourite to lift the second consecutive World Cup.

One had to two years in order to witness the Spanish national team dropping points in the qualifying rounds for a major tournament. David Silva had to be substituted in the match after just 13 min. This was the first major blow for Spain, while Vicente del Bosque had to deal with the injury to the Real Madrid defender as well. Oliver Giroud scored the late equaliser for France after Spain had taken the lead through a goal from Sergio Ramos winning the match.

“The injuries were an immediate misfortune because it prevented us from managing the changes. In the first half we had control of the game and perhaps we lacked a bit of penetration with the missed penalty by Cesc and the other chance that Pedro had. The home and away games against France have always been dangerous for us. What will happen with the rest of the games I don’t know,” said the Spanish manager. Spain will be playing against Panama in a friendly match before the World Cup qualifying matches resume with matches against the likes of Finland and France.

DEL BOSQUE RELIEVED

The Spanish national team manager Vicente del Bosque has said that he is extremely relieved following the narrow 1-0 win over Georgia in the first World Cup qualifying match for the current champions. Spain were coming into the match on the back of a good run of form that has seen them lift the Euro 2012 title. However, they needed a lot of effort to get past a poor Georgia team, who were not expected to get anything from this match. Still, a combination of good home support and organised defending meant that Spain were unable to find the back of the net until late in the match.

It was the pass from Cesc Fabregas that helped Spain finally break the deadlock and win the match narrowly. Speaking after the match, the national team manager Vicente del Bosque has said that the performance is certainly not important. However, he is extremely relieved to have got the three points from the opening match. Spain will be playing against Belarus and France in the next round of qualifying matches that will begin in October. Spain will be hoping to have the Barcelona striker David Villa in the best shape for these matches.

“I knew it would be difficult. Of course there will be many people saying now that we should have made changes earlier, that the system should have been changed. But my obligation is not to upset the team. Spain is obliged to win respecting its own style. It took a lot out of us. It was very difficult. They were very organised at the back, worked very hard and almost achieved their objective,” Del Bosque said after the match. The result now means that Spain are close to going for more than a without a defeat in a competitive fixture.

SPAIN BACK TO THEIR BEST

The Spanish national team manager Vicente del Bosque praised the performance of these players following their 2-1 win over Puerto Rico. The Spanish national team was playing in this friendly match ahead of the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Spain in the group containing the likes of France and Finland, which means that they need to be at their best in order to have any chance of qualification to the World Cup. The 2-1 win over Puerto Rico was extremely essential for the team according to the manager Vicente del Bosque, who made some crucial changes in some areas of the pitch.

One of the major changes of the arrival of the new Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla into the first-team. He immediately repaid the faith of the manager by scoring in the match, while the other goal was scored by the former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas. Spain were clearly the better team in the match, but Puerto Rico managed to score one goal that kept the match in the balance. Their goal in the 65th minute meant that they were always with a chance of getting a draw out of the current European and world champions.

“We’re not making excuses. At no time did we underestimate the opponent because we never underestimate anyone. We know our world and European titles afford us some prestige but we played with passion. We played the whole game in their half, they didn’t cause us any problems in defence apart from when they scored their goal. We just lacked a little finesse and good fortune and hit the post twice,” said the Spanish national team manager after the match. Spain will be kicking off their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with a match against Belarus on September 11.