Featured Matches
Previous
Germany
Argentina
ESPNDeportes 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Czech Republic
United States
6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
England
Norway
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Philadelphia Union
Toronto FC
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
New England Revolution
Sporting Kansas City
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Chivas USA
Seattle Sounders FC
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Russia
Azerbaijan
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Lithuania
United Arab Emirates
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Latvia
Armenia
5:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Denmark
Turkey
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Czech Republic
United States
6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Republic of Ireland
Oman
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Germany
Argentina
ESPNDeportes 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
England
Norway
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Morocco
Qatar
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Somozas
CD Varea
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Leioa
Sestao
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Izarra
Atlético Granadilla
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Puertollano
Teruel
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Barakaldo
Trival Valderas
6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Alcoyano
Pena Deportiva
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Cornella
Real Jaen CF
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Gimnastic de Tarragona
Atlético Baleares
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Gimnástica Torrelavega
Lealtad
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Huesca
Toledo
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Racing Ferrol
Atletico Astorga
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Aviles Industrial
Marino de Luanco
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Oviedo
Amorebieta
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Cartagena
UCAM Murcia
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Hercules
Eldense
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
La Hoya Lorca
Villanovense
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
San Roque de Lepe
Cádiz
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
UD Marbella
Linense
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Philadelphia Union
Toronto FC
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
New England Revolution
Sporting Kansas City
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Chivas USA
Seattle Sounders FC
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Gimnasia La Plata
Estudiantes La Plata
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Godoy Cruz de Mendoza
River Plate
12:15 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
EC Vitória
Sport
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Goiás
Fluminense FC
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Crucero del Norte
All Boys
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Ferro Carril Oeste
Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Argentinos Juniors
Aldosivi
9:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Douglas Haig
Instituto de Córdoba
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Santamarina
Independiente Rivadavia
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Colón de Santa Fe
Guarini A. Franco
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Patronato
Sarmiento de Junín
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
San Martín de San Juan
Nueva Chicago
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Atletico Paranaense
América RN
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Santa Rita
Cruzeiro
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 5
Game Details
Ceará
Botafogo
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Corinthians
Bragantino
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
Flamengo
Coritiba FBC
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Santos FC
Gremio
Postp
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 0
Game Details
Aguilas Doradas
Independiente Santa Fe
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Atlético Junior
Atlético Huila
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
León de Huánuco
UTC
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Limon
Santos
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Carmelita
Perez Zeledon
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Cartagines
Universidad De Costa Rica
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Pumas Generalena
Club Sport Uruguay
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next

Top 5: First XI costs in Premier League

Transfers 23 hours ago
Read

West Ham fan's fundraiser

The Toe Poke 11 hours ago
Read
Jan 17, 2011

The mid-term review

Now that almost every La Liga team have played their first 19 fixtures, that magic moment of the football season has finally arrived: ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the mid-term review.

Based on their performances so far, all 20 competitors can be classified in the following groups:

1. The Usual Suspects: Sporting de Gijon, Racing de Santander, Osasuna and Levante.

These four teams currently flirt, or in some cases blatantly make out with the relegation zone, which can't possibly surprise anyone. Serious budget constraints led them to sell some of their best assets in the off-season (i.e. Racing cashing in on Sergio Canales), during the season (i.e. Osasuna and Juanfran), or to refrain from hiring top talent (all of them, especially newly promoted Levante). They're now paying the price. Two interesting notes: these are La Liga's worst four away teams and against all odds, none of them have yet fired their manager.

2. The Unusual Suspects: Almeria, Zaragoza and Malaga.

Almeria and Zaragoza finished the previous season on a high note, after coaching changes and smart signings brought new life into their dressing rooms. Malaga, bought by a Qatari sheikh in the summer, hired almost an entirely new team and brought in the third Portuguese manager (jury still out in Jose Mourinho) to fail miserably in Spain, Senhor Jesualdo Ferreira.

All three teams expected a quiet season in mid-table, but are now engaged in a relegation battle. Two more interesting notes: these are La Liga's worst three defences and all three have already replaced their coaches.

3. Stable Condition: Deportivo de La Coruna.

Miguel Angel Lotina's squad started the season intending to fall into the 'Unusual Suspects' category. After eight matches, the Deportivistas had just four draws to their name, and only three goals scored. In a gutsy move, Lotina switched to a 5-3-2 formation and recovered his team's fighting spirit, boring fans and opposing teams to death in the process.

4. The Bipolars: Hercules, Real Sociedad, Getafe.

Assuming you fancy a bit of gambling here and there, these three clubs have 'Stay Away' written all over them. Hercules pulled off the upset of the season so far by beating Barcelona at the Camp Nou, but then, in the midst of deep financial trouble, put together an erratic collection of Royston Drenthe-esque performances, mixing surprising wins with embarrassing defeats.

The same can be said about Real Sociedad, who indeed over-performed in their much-awaited comeback to the Primera Division, but had a couple of shocking losing streaks that could be a sign of a concern for the second half of the season. Keep an eye on Xabier Prieto, a skilled winger who's now drawing comparisons with no other than the great Matt Le Tissier, based on his loyalty to the club that raised him and his uncanny ability to score from the penalty spot.

Getafe, with a limited squad to juggle between three tournaments, were able to put together impressive displays or no-shows with no rhyme or reason.

5. Plain Underachievers: Sevilla, Atletico de Madrid.

Sevillistas and Rojiblancos could be included in the previous category, as they indeed belong in any gambler's worst nightmares, until you look at the size of their budgets and compare them to that of the three humbler Bipolars. Then you see that their unpredictability highlights their failure to get consistent results out of two loaded squads, who were finalists in last season's Copa del Rey.

After several years of having to sell their best assets in the summer, Sevilla managed to start the season retaining most of their talent (Jesus Navas, Freddy Kanoute, Luis Fabiano, Alvaro Negredo). It didn't work. Not even new boss Gregorio Manzano could steer the ship on the correct course, as the team constantly gave points away with infantile defensive mistakes which infuriated their faithful fans. Sevilla's best chance to win silverware lies in the Copa del Rey, although the side have enough resources to mount a challenge for a Champions League spot in the second half of the season.

Back in August, Atletico looked like the hottest stock in Europe. Having just beaten Inter Milan in UEFA's European Super Cup, with Diego Forlan, voted best player at the World Cup, at his peak, and plenty of attacking options available (Jose Antonio Reyes, Sergio Aguero, Jose Manuel Jurado), the footballing world smiled on the Rojiblancos. However, they quickly returned back to their old, moody ways, among endless discussions about Forlan's level of commitment and the shakiness of their back four. In any case, they are close to the Champions League spots, and, just like Sevilla, better things should be expected from them.

6. The Pleasant Surprises: Villarreal, Mallorca, Espanyol.

Villarreal deservedly occupy third spot, not only because of their almost perfect home record, but also due to their competitiveness when facing top-class rivals. After an unsuccessful coaching experience with Ernest Valverde, the Amarillos went for a home-grown option, Juan Carlos Garrido, who has recovered Manuel Pellegrini's legacy, even making it a touch more dynamic. Excellent seasons so far for Nilmar, Rossi, Gonzalo Rodriguez and Cani mean that Villarreal should play Champions League football next year ... assuming they have enough fuel to keep this up.

Mallorca and Espanyol took different routes towards mid-season success. The former, in permanent financial trouble, underwent their usual rebuilding process in the summer, selling valuable players such as Aritz Aduriz, and letting coach Gregorio Manzano go as they couldn't pay him. The apparently cheaper Michael Laudrup has been able to keep the team in the right half of the table, with significant contributions from the hard-working Jonathan de Guzman, the usual consistency of Jose Nunes and the flair of Gonzalo 'Chori' Castro. Espanyol, on the other hand, kept their coach and their squad intact, and capitalised on the form of Pablo Osvaldo, Luis Garcia's resurrection and an inspired Jose Maria Callejon to defend their newish fortress, the Cornella stadium. However, both squads are short and should suffer as the season goes along.

7. As Good as Advertised: Real Madrid, Valencia, Athletic de Bilbao

Merengues, Ches and Leones have delivered what was generally expected from them. Up until Sunday night's draw against bottom-of-the-table Almeria, and leaving aside their stink-bomb at the Camp Nou, Real Madrid were putting together a brave title challenge, led by an tireless Cristiano Ronaldo breaking scoring records right, left and centre. Summer signings Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria have brought new inspiration to the side, while boss Jose Mourinho, aiming to break La Liga's Portuguese manager curse, never fails to entertain, both on and off the pitch.

Valencia, another team with huge financial challenges, proved that there's life after the two Davids (Silva and Villa). Coach Unai Emery is slowly but surely earning his stripes as a top-team manager, while strikers Roberto Soldado and Aritz Aduritz did enough to keep Los Ches in the fight for a Champions League spot.

Athletic's decent season can be explained by one name: Fernando Llorente. His dominant performances keep the Leones in the Europa League positions, and almost more importantly, four points ahead of Real Sociedad, despite having been defeated by their arch rivals in the Basque derby.

8. Simply Irresistible: Barcelona.

Even if your maths ain't that good, Barcelona's numbers will overwhelm you: 52 points, 17 wins and 61 goals scored in the first half of the season (all of them La Liga records); only 11 goals conceded (their killer advantage over Cruyff's sides); 14 consecutive La Liga wins (tying an old Real Madrid record); and 28 matches unbeaten in all competitions. The signing of David Villa, rather than stealing some of the spotlight from Lionel Messi, has uncovered the Argentinean's stunning passing skills. Meanwhile, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta keep their impressive creative routine intact, Pedro plays like a veteran and the rest of the team moves around the stars without missing a beat.

Even with half of the season left to be played, their dominance of the tournament can't be questioned. The fact that the country's second best team by far, Real Madrid, have lost to the Azulgrana five times in a row in this competition says it all. This La Liga title is for Barcelona to lose.


Don't forget, you can follow Eduardo Alvarez on Twitter at www.twitter.com/papamoskis

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.