As we enter the final week of the January transfer window, clubs around Europe will undoubtedly be looking to La Liga in the hope of finding a winter bargain to bolster their squads for the six months that lie ahead. Here's five out-of-favour players who could do with a change of scenery from Spain's top flight and make a difference elsewhere.
It was somewhat surprising that Denis Cheryshev was given the nod to continue at Real Madrid this season despite enjoying a largely successful loan spell at Villarreal in 2014-15. As suspected with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and
By Edward Stratmann. It was never going to be easy for Celta Vigo to replace the towering Joaquin Larrivey, who jetted off to the riches of the UAE Pro League to play for Baniyas. For any incumbent, matching the Argentine hitman's 11 La Liga goals last season was always going to be a tall order. But in John Guidetti, the Galician outfit appear to have found the perfect replacement.
While Celta's enigmatic manager, Eduardo Berizzo, a Marcelo Bielsa disciple, has preferred to use the Swedish international off the bench this season, 16 times he's come on as a substitute, 2016 has seen him already hand Guidetti three starts. And the man who scored his debut goal for the club against Barcelona in Celta's astonishing 4-1 win back in August, when coming off the bench, certainly hasn't let his manager down.
Guidetti's repaid Berizzo's faith in the best possible way, for in those three starts the former Manchester City prospect has scored a remarkable five goals to take his season
On July 30th, 1966, the English national football team made history, winning a monumental match against West Germany to win their first FIFA World Cup title. The game was a nail-biter in the truest sense of the term: the German squad took the lead just 12 minutes in, with a goal from playmaker Helmut Haller. England fired back six minutes later, with a goal from Geoff Hurst. Just like that, one of the closest, most exciting, and all-around greatest World Cup finals was underway.
The excitement, of course, continued throughout. England's Martin Peters gave the Three Lions the lead at 78 minutes, and it looked as if the goal might give football's birth country their first ever World Cup win. But when West Germany's Wolfgang Weber equalized 11 minutes later, in what might have otherwise been the final moments of the match, the game kicked into legendary status as it barreled into extra time.
Those extra 30 minutes would make Geoff Hurst one of English soccer's foremost
In 1992, Aston Villa earned the distinction of being one of the founding Premier League clubs. That first season, they finished second in the league, trailing 10 points behind Manchester United. It was a promising start to a new era for the Lions and promised good things to come for a team that had, up to that point, won seven top-flight English football titles.
Fast-forward nearly 25 years and Aston Villa still only have seven top-flight English football titles, having never gotten any closer to ruling the Premier League than they did in that rookie season. However, unlike many of their fellow teams from that founding Premier League class, the Claret and Blue have managed to avoid relegation completely. There have been some close calls, of course: in 1994, the Lions finished 18th-only dodging relegation because the Premier League was a 22-team division at the time. Last season, they ended up at 17th-just three points above the red zone. In fact, in each of
Atletico Madrid have already completed two signings this month, bringing in midfielders Matias Kranevitter from River Plate and Augusto Fernandez from Celta Vigo to augment a squad which is already top of La Liga and challenging on three fronts this season.
While the former was already a done deal from the summer and simply had to wait to January to be completed, Augusto's capture was a direct response to the injury suffered by veteran Portuguese midfielder Tiago, out with a broken leg until March.
It seemed unlikely that Diego Simeone's side would venture out further into the transfer market this winter, but an impending FIFA-sanctioned transfer ban could force them to make their move now to set up next season's squad as well. As such, despite the overall strength of the squad and quality
Louis van Gaal needed a win this past weekend to protect his job, and luckily for the once-revered Dutchman, he got one. Manchester United topped Liverpool 1-0 on Sunday, beating the Reds at Anfield and winning thanks to a 78-minute goal from Wayne Rooney.
In many ways, the victory was a confirmation that the Red Devils are still a strong soccer squad. It was a reminder that Van Gaal, even if most United fans seem to have turned against him, can still beat world-class managers like Jurgen Klopp in a head-to-head battle. It was also a reminder that Rooney, who has taken a lot of heat this season is still worthy of a leadership position-both as Manchester United's team captain and as the club's center forward.
Will the win keep Manchester United officials from mulling over the possibility of hiring a new coach? Probably not. A win is a win, but the Red Devils still only won by one point and are still earning plenty of criticisms for a "boring" style of play. Liverpool are also
It was the ultimate game of two halves. While the first period of Chelsea and Everton's Premier League clash on Saturday was largely devoid of entertainment, the second 45 minutes were among the most enjoyable of the English season so far. 0-0 at the interval, the game finished 3-3, a result that did not really suit either manager.
Roberto Martinez was highly critical of the officials in his post-match press conference, with the Everton boss fuming at the decision to allow Chelsea's stoppage-time equaliser despite goalscorer John Terry being in an offside position when he provided the decisive touch. Guus Hiddink, who sympathised with his counterpart's complaint, focused on praising the character of his players, but he nevertheless must have been disappointed that his side were only able to pick up a point at Stamford Bridge for the second time in four days.
On December 10th, Celtic FC fans caused an uproar in the media when they set off flares in the middle of a UEFA Europa League match in Turkey, against Fenerbahce. The Celts ultimately drew that match 1-1, sealing their fate as the bottom finisher in Group A and exiting the 2015/16 Europa League without a victory. But while that ending was a disappointment for the exuberant fans who were present at the match, the aftermath of the game is still putting Celtic in a tough spot.
UEFA Ban on the Way?
A mixture of on-field misconduct and unruly fans has resulted in Celtic facing seven infractions with UEFA since 2011. In the past, those infractions have merely led to fines-some of them quite hefty-but never to a more serious form of discipline.
Now, however, soccer pundits are speculating that the Celts could face a UEFA lockout if they can't present a better-behaved front-both in the stands and on the pitch.
French Ligue 1 reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain look set to retain their trophy at the end of this season, having already opened up an enormous 21-point lead over nearest rivals Monaco, remaining unbeaten in domestic league action and having both the best offensive and defensive records in the league.
It won't be a huge surprise to anyone that they have dominated the current campaign, given the drop-off in spending from Monaco, the departure of Marcelo Bielsa from Marseille and the injuries and inconsistencies of Lyon, but the lack of competition this year has still created a chasm beyond vast.
While PSG's real competition on the pitch comes in Europe in the form of the Champions League, they have another challenge to consider: revamping the attacking third of the team in summer.
When Jurgen Klopp took over as manager at Liverpool FC, it felt like a godsend for Reds fans. Liverpool came so close to winning the Premier League in 2014, under the management of Brendan Rodgers. But things had turned sour for the football club during the 2014/15 season, with the loss of star forward Luis Suarez, the lack of a strong offensive line, and inconsistent play across the board dropping the team to a sixth place Premier League finish.
Following the added departures of Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard and a sloppy start to the 2015/16 season, Rodgers was sent packing, and Jurgen Klopp was brought in to turn things around. Finally, here was some good news. Klopp may have just experienced his worst season at Borussia Dortmund in 2014/15-followed by an understandable resignation and sabbatical-but he is still one of the best soccer coaches in the world. Fans in the Liverpool home jersey 2015/16 felt certain that he would save the day.