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La Liga Vida: Sympathy for Lopetegui; Messi misses El Clasico; Athletic Club woes

Hey there. I don't believe I've introduced myself. My name is Andrew Maclean and I am the Content Manager here at Tribal Football.

The first article I wrote for Tribal was more than 5 years ago now. It was the first time I had spoken about my time playing professional football for Hamilton Academical to anyone other than my family and close friends. I was fortunate enough to receive the opportunity to continue Andrew Slevison's terrific work close to 18 months ago and I've been on a wild, enjoyable and humbling ride ever since.

This year I've attended the F.A Cup final and more than a dozen World Cup matches representing Tribal. Now I'm embarking on my next challenge: living in Spain. And while I'm here I'll be keeping you posted with a weekly update on all the action from La Liga!

Poor Lopetegui

Five matches without a win and the question is not if, but when Julen Lopetegui will be shown the door. But who is to blame?

There are a myriad of reasons. And we certainly can't bypass Lopetegui. President Florentino Perez's sixth choice to replace Zinedine Zidane has shown his domestic inexperience in recent weeks, namely the insistence on playing a high line and erratic team selection (Toni Kroos, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale were benched for the 2-1 loss to Levante on Saturday).

Even still, Lopetegui was seen as a manager with potential. A man who had revitalised the Spanish national team that blew through World Cup qualifying. And Real fans have voiced their support and sympathy for the former Rayo Vallecano goalkeeper.

According to a survey conducted by Spanish publication AS, 85 per cent of supporters square the blame solely on one man - Perez.

And their fury derives primarily from Perez not adequately replacing Cristiano Ronaldo, the man who scored a quarter of Real's goals last season.

Going with the quartet of Bale (injury prone), Benzema (inconsistent), Marco Asensio and Mariano Diaz (inexperienced), was hopeful at best. But after finishing 17 POINTS behind Barcelona in the league last season with Ronaldo in the side, hopeful was never going to cut it.

So whenever the axe inevitably falls, save a little sympathy for Lopetegui. He isn't all too blame for his “dream job" ending in tears.


While in England the usual suspects currently occupy the top-six, La Liga has quite literally been tipped upside down this season.

Two points separate the top five, who consist of in order: Barcelona, Espanyol, Alaves, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid. Real Vallodolid sit one point outside that pack in front of their namesake in Madrid. Then there are just five points separating eighth and Villarreal in sixteenth.

You can bet things will even themselves out and the big spenders will take up their usual positions. But just think that it is almost November and Vallodolid, who spent €2m this summer, are currently holding the last European spot ahead of the defending Champions League winners.

Not happy in Basque Country

Iker Muniain's reaction to being substituted against Eibar on Saturday pretty much sums up the state of Athletic Bilbao at the moment. A 1-1 draw to their Basque neighbours sees them sit one place above the relegation zone on goal difference.

Oh no Leo!

The most unfortunate - or fortunate depending on your allegiance - news of the weekend was Lionel Messi suffering an arm fracture in the win over Sevilla on Saturday. The first El Clasico of the season just won't be the same without Messi or Ronaldo.

In other highlights this weekend, we have a couple of title competing teams in Espanyol and Vallodolid (Can you believe it?) to kick off the round on Friday night. Valencia host fellow relegation battlers Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, and in the capital Atletico Madrid will be hoping to beat Real Sociedad at Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday night before Sunday's El Clasico in Catalonia.

“The league is lovely. It's fantastic," Los Rojiblancos boss Diego Simeone said over the weekend. Right you are Diego, right you are.

Andrew Maclean
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Andrew Maclean

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