Spanish Segunda Playoffs

This is from the post last year on the blog

The prize of getting in La Primera is massive for the clubs in Spain so you get some very cagey matches. There is not a massive amount of data here as this has only been going for 4 seasons. It follows a similar format as the English playoffs and there are 2 semi-finals and a final but each tie is 2 legs including the final. The first leg, of the final and semi final, is the one to concentrate on as in all 12 first leg matches no team has scored more than 1 goal. 9 of the 12 matches have been under 1.5 goals and there have been four 0-0s, five 1-0s (3 to the home team and 2 to the away) and three 1-1 draws. The home team has won just 3 of the 12 matches.

Last year the mould was completely broken as Zaragoza and Girona played out a ludicrous opening set of matches and I would expect them to revert back to type this year. The table below shows all the matches

YearRoundTeam 1Agg.Team 21st leg2nd leg
10/11SFCelta de Vigo1–1 (4–5 p)Granada1–00–1 (a.e.t.)
10/11SFValladolid2–3Elche1–01–3
10/11FinalGranada1–1 (a)Elche0–01–1
11/12SFHércules1–1 (a)Alcorcón1–10–0
11/12SFCórdoba0–3Valladolid0–00–3
11/12FinalAlcorcón1–2Valladolid0–11–1
12/13SFAlcorcón2–4Girona1–11–3
12/13SFLas Palmas2–3Almería1–11–2 (aet)
12/13FinalGirona0–4Almería0–10–3
13/14SFLas Palmas2-0Sporting Gijon1–01-0
13/14SFCordoba2-1Murcia0–02-1
13/14FinalCordoba1–1 (a)Las Palmas0–01–1
14/15SFValladolid1-1 (a)Las Palmas1-10-0
14/15SFZaragoza4-4 (h)Girona0-31-4
14/15FinalZaragoza3-3 (a)Las Palmas3-12-0

The updated stats are:

In all 18 first leg matches just twice has a team scored more than 1 goal. 9 of the 15 matches have been under 1.5 goals and there have been four 0-0s, five 1-0s (3 to the home team and 2 to the away) and three 1-1 draws. The home team has won just 4 of the 15 matches and only scored more than 1 goal once.

These matches are played on 8th and 9th June so will wait for more prices to come up and look for an under 2 goals double.

 

La Segunda Playoffs

After the madness of the final day of the season in the Spanish Segunda, where 90th minute goals decided promotion and relegation, we are left with the playoffs.  You can see how it all happened with the highlights on the Liga Adelante youtube page

 

 

 

The prize of getting in La Primera is massive for the clubs in Spain so you get some very cagey matches. There is not a massive amount of data here as this has only been going for 4 seasons. It follows a similar format as the English playoffs and there are 2 semi-finals and a final but each tie is 2 legs including the final. The first leg, of the final and semi final, is the one to concentrate on as in all 12 first leg matches no team has scored more than 1 goal. 9 of the 12 matches have been under 1.5 goals and there have been four 0-0s, five 1-0s (3 to the home team and 2 to the away) and three 1-1 draws. The home team has won just 3 of the 12 matches.

 

Looking at the odds around over 2.5 appeals but most of all the under 2 goals looks the pick of the bets.  Bet Victor offer 1.98 on both the first legs being under 2 goals and Pinnacle offer 1.99 and 1.97 so the double can be backed at 3.92 which looks decent value in that none of the previous 12 first leg matches have gone over 2 goals. If either game has 2 goals then that bit will be a push/void.

 

Double of under 2 goals in both first leg matches @ 3.92 with Bet Victor and Pinnacle

 

Full Results

YearRoundTeam 1Agg.Team 21st leg2nd leg
10/11SFCelta de Vigo1–1 (4–5 p)Granada1–00–1 (a.e.t.)
10/11SFValladolid2–3Elche1–01–3
10/11FinalGranada1–1 (a)Elche0–01–1
11/12SFHércules1–1 (a)Alcorcón1–10–0
11/12SFCórdoba0–3Valladolid0–00–3
11/12FinalAlcorcón1–2Valladolid0–11–1
12/13SFAlcorcón2–4Girona1–11–3
12/13SFLas Palmas2–3Almería1–11–2 (aet)
12/13FinalGirona0–4Almería0–10–3
13/14SFLas Palmas2-0Sporting Gijon1–01-0
13/14SFCordoba2-1Murcia0–02-1
13/14FinalCordoba1–1 (a)Las Palmas0–01–1

Unai Emery

Any Spanish football match is followed by both managers and their press conferences. Often they are pretty boring affairs and they drive my son mad when he watches the round ups on a Sunday morning and has to sit through someone answering the same questions again and again. Ancelotti’s press conference after Bale’s debut was a complete waste of time as he sticks to basic Spanish and said nothing of even the slightest interest.

One of the press conferences that we ended up sitting through was that of Unai Emery and I liked the way he talked about the game and what he said. His rounded it off by saying it was a negative result but there were positives to take from it. I like Emery and thought he did well at Valencia and I also have read a bit about him on the internet. He has done very well in his managerial career and this season will be very interesting.

The information in this article is mainly taken from wikipedia and I am not claiming to be an Emery expert. Emery is just 41 and he got his first job at Lorca at the age of 32.  Lorca no longer exists as a club but he took over in November 2004 and at the end of the season the team went up from Segunda B to Segunda. In Segunda the team finished in 5th place, just missing out on promotion to Primera, finishing in 5th place.

Emery left at the end of the season and joined Almeria, who had finished one place below Lorca in 6th. Lorca went on to have a nightmare season being relegated and starting their slide to extinction. Almeria however, finished in 2nd place and were promoted to Primera.  So in Emery’s first 3 seasons he was promoted with Lorca, then nearly led them up to Primera and finally switched teams and won another promotion. Emery stayed with Almeria and they finished in 8th place in Primera in 2007/08.

In a similar fashion to when he left Lorca for a team that finished below them Valencia finished 2 places below Almeria and signed up Emery as their new manager. Koeman had been the manager of Valencia and the season had been a disaster ending it in 10th place. Emery was in charge of Valencia from May 2008 to May 2012 and in that time they finished 6th, 3rd, 3rd and 3rd.  After the third consecutive 3rd place finish he decided to leave. Was Emery bored of finishing 3rd and not being able to break the domination of Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain?

During the time Emery was in Valencia they were in dire financial trouble. Using the transfermarkt web site Valencia made a profit on their transfers in 3 of the 4 seasons Emery was in charge of £4m, £14m, £50m and then finally in his last season they made a loss of  just £1m. Players like Villa, Silva and Mata were sold but Valencia maintained their good form and a profit of £68m on transfers.

He had a short spell in Russia after leaving Valencia which did not go that well. He only lasted 6 months before being sacked but still won more matches than he lost. Russia is a completely different culture and having lived in both of the countries I can easily see why people might fail in Russia. Someone like Emery’s success must also be based on relationships with players and getting them to over perform and I would imagine the language barrier inhibits that greatly.

Emery finds himself at Sevilla now after taking over in January. In the close season he has seen Sevilla sell Navas, Negredo, Medel and Kongdogbia making a net profit of £50m on the transfers. He’s made a lot of signings and some of them look pretty interesting.  He has Marko Marin on loan from Chelsea and picked up Kevin Gameiro from PSG for £6.5m.

Sevilla find themselves with just 2 points from 4 games and 2nd from bottom but as the team in 7th has just 5 points this means very little, especially as they have played 2 of the best 3 teams in the league (Barcelona and Atletico) and also had a tough match against Malaga. The year that he took Almeria to Primera they lost their first 3 matches.

My hope is that the bookmakers underestimate Sevilla. They play Valencia next weekend and I think this is a game that will tell us a lot. Valencia are the clear favourites for the 4th place spot and I am not quite sure why. Djukic has taken over at Valencia and he had a nightmare end to last season with Valladolid. They finished in 14th place and won just 3 of their last 18 games. His managerial record does not look that special and I would not be surprised to see Sevilla finish about them. 11/1 on Sevilla to finish in the top 4 is far more appealing than a tight 3/1 on Valencia.

Continuing managerial success is very tough and if Emery does so this season he deserves to be given one of the big jobs in club football.

Match Fixing, but not for money

As we come to the end of the season many people get suspicious of results and we had the curious incident of Levante and the quote from Barkero just a few weeks back. I was dubious if this ever existed and thought it would never happen in the top leagues until a few years ago.

On May 15th 2011 I was in El Molinon to watch Sporting Gijon play Racing Santander in a game that Sporting had to win to stay up. I remember when the team was announced that it was odd that Sastre was playing instead of Lora. Sastre’s contract was up and he was to leave the club and had not been playing much as Lora was first choice right back.

It didn’t really matter when the game started as Sporting were on fire. Wave after wave they attacked coming closest when Castro hit the post in the 22nd minute. In the 32nd minute Racing scored out of the blue to make it 1-0. I started to think it might not be Sporting’s day but De Las Cuevas equalised just before half time and then in the 51st minute Novo scored to make it 2-1 to Sporting.

Sporting were in the box seat and looking likely to stay up and that was when I started to think something was wrong. There was a lack of atmosphere in the stadium and a lack of action on the pitch. Sporting and Racing are rivals and when there was an anti-Santander chant  from the stands other clusters of Sporting fans would shout them back down and tell them not chant this. It started to make sense why they were saying this as it became clear Racing were doing them a favour. The ball never went into the Sporting box in the second half and I remember one particular piece of action where Ariel Nahuelpán was running for a ball and just slowed down so Botía could come across and take the ball from him. The main chorus ringing out from the stands was the catchy “Rafel Sastre es nuestro capitan” and it dawned on me that Preciado was able to play him as he knew the game was in the bag.

The game finished 2-1 and I went home feeling odd. I don’t want to over dramatise it but I never before realised this could happen in such a major league and I felt football had lost something. I felt sorry for Deportivo, who were relegated that day, as there was nothing they could have done. That one result made a mockery of the whole season as it didn’t really matter how you played in the season as long as you had your mates to play on the last day.

I spoke to my wife about it and the next day when she came home from work she told me she had brought it up and people had told her of course it was fixed. We all knew, they said, and the only surprise was that Santander scored. I chatted to another season ticket holder in the park whilst the kids were playing and was told the same. Everyone was in on it and it was just me who had to work it out.

This game was not fixed for money. There were no dodgy envelopes, well I don’t think so, but nothing in Spain would surprise me. Rather it was fixed by connections between the two clubs. Racing Santander were managed by Marcelino who played for both Sporting and Racing and had managed Sporting prior to managing Racing. Sporting were managed by Manuel Preciado who played and managed Racing before managing Sporting. There was also the mention of a match the year before in which Sporting had done Racing a favour and this was the favour in return. If there is suspicious betting activity on a lower league game in Eastern Europe then the wheels are in motion and everyone is trying to stamp it out but this kind of thing is allowed to continue.

In researching this article I was able to look up these old matches and dig out some articles about this. The previous year there was indeed a 2-0 win for Racing in May and the report is here showing domination by Racing.

Gamecast

I also had a chance to dig out the game I was at and you can view it here. Have a look and tell me that does not look odd. 34 shots to 5, 16 corners to 1 but the shots map shows it better than any of that. Click on the second half shots and look at that. Considering the possession is even at 50-50 and Racing went 2-1 down after 51 minutes it must seem a bit odd that they didn’t record a single shot.

I have no doubt this was fixed. Not one single doubt and whereas two years ago when I heard about match fixing I would think it never occurs now I am always suspicious. They took away my naivety that day and the best thing of all would be if this was exposed and out in the open. If not everyone is cheated.

Sleeping giants (defensively speaking)

Put Spanish giants into google and 8 of the first 10 posts refer to the football teams. One lists the translation and just one refers to the Gigantes, which are the amazing figures made for many of the festivals around Spain.

In the last 2 rounds of the Champions League Barca have needed a late goal to snatch a win against Celtic and then been beaten 2-1 at Parkhead. Real Madrid have taken just 1 point from a possible 6, albeit against a genuine Champions League contender. We’ve had 4 group games in the Champions League and 11 league matches so I thought it might be worth looking at their performance. I have chosen just to look at goals scored and goals conceded. They win so many matches in the league it is pointless looking at their performance there really.

Looking at goals scored below we see that in the Champions League Real Madrid have scored the same as at this stage last year. Both have scored 8 goals but last year Barca were already on 13 at this stage. In the league Barca have wracked up a crazy 36 goals already and they were on 34 at the same stage last season. Madrid had scored 43 at this stage last season and now are on a paltry 27!

Goals scored by Real Madrid and Barcelona this year compared to last season.

Now let’s look at goals conceded and there are some bigger differences. Last season in the Champions League Madrid’s defence was tighter than a gnats you know what and they had not leaked a goal after 4 games although Lyon, Ajax and Dinamo Zagreb were their opponents last year and I don’t think the Champions League has ever seen a tougher group than they are in now. Barcelona probably have a slightly tougher group than last time but still letting in 5 goals in 4 games against Celtic (2 matches),  Spartak Moscow and Benfica is not great. IN the group only Spartak Moscow have conceded more goals than them.

If we look at the keague then Madrid are in exactly the same place as they were last season letting in 8 goals in 11 games. The Barcelona difference is significant here as they have let in 14 goals in 11 games compared to just 6 goals last season. They surely can’t continue like this as you can’t always outscore the opponents. They have conceded 2 or more goals in 4 of their last 6 matches. Figures like that become hard to shift and when the confidence goes at the back things will get more nervy. Osasuna are bottom of the league and have conceded just one goal more than Barca!

Goals conceded (correctly spelt unlike the title) by Real Madrid and Barcelona for last season compared to this.

In terms of betting is there anyway we can profit from this? Possibly lay Barcelona at various points in a match and look to trade out if they let in a goal? Back over 2.5 or 3.5 goals etc as if they are conceding as well as scoring then this becomes far more likely. 8 of the 11 matches have featured 4 or more goals.

Xavi – The real Ballon D’or?

When Messi won the Ballon D’or for the third time last week he dedicated it to Xavi and in my opinion rightly so. When I came to Spain 6 years ago I thought Xavi was overated and slowed down all the Barcelona attacks. I couldn’t have been more wrong and much as I dislike Barça I love to see him play.

His achievements over the past few years have been staggering. Puyol and Iniesta have done the same but Xavi is always there and has not had the injuries of the other two and maintained his consistency. Reak Madrid won the league in the 2007-08 season but once that ended this is what he has achieved in the past 3 years:

European Champions (Spain) 08

Spanish League 08/09

Spanish Cup 08/09

Champions League 08/09

FIFA Club World Cup 09

Spanish League 09/10

World Cup (Spain) 10

Spanish League 10/11

Champions League 10/11

FIFA World Club Cup 11

He is rarely injured and for all the hype about Leo Messi he was poor in the world cup. He did have an incompetent manager but Xavi did the same job for Spain as he does for his club and led them to the title. His consistency has to be applauded and it’s a shame he probably just missed out on the last chance he had of getting the recognition he deserves. He turns 32 this month and the demands of the modern game mean he might have 2 or 3 more seasons left. People may argue he can play on like Giggs has but Giggs has been used sparingly by Ferguson and Xavi needs to be in the centre of the pitch controlling all the action.

I wrote an article for the Betting School last month and came across some interesting stats as I was looking at how teams perform when certain players play. The information I found persuaded me to write this post as last seasonXavi started in 15 Barcelona home matches and they won every single one. He missed 4 games and they won 1 of those but also drew with Real Mallorca and Deportivo, who were relegated and also lost to Hercules who also went down. So 45 points from a possible 45 when he started and 5 from a possible 12 when he didn’t.

His record was not so good oustanding when Barça were away from home but I think those home stats show his true worth. I think the achievements Xavi has made with Spain and Barcelona make him the real star of the last few years. It’s a shame he gets on his high horse about the way Barça play but when he’s gone they will miss the true conductor and I believe in the next couple of years will need to find a new style as without Xavi the tiki-taka will not be the same.