A Quick Return to Spain: The New Boys in Town

Real Sociedad, Hércules, and Levante. Those are your 3 new La Liga members for the 2010-11 season. Now that La Segunda has drawn to a close (with Real Betis missing out on promotion thanks to head-to-head with Levante), we can welcome these new boys to town.

Real Sociedad – 2009-10 Segunda champions return to the Primera after a 3-year absence. They were dropped after the 2006-07 season when they finished 19th (35pts, 8W-11D-19L, 32GF 47GA). You might remember that as the year that Barça caved and lost the title on head-to-head to thems from the capital. They have twice won the La Liga and did it in successive years: 1980-81 and 1981-82 and have finished 2nd twice, most recently in 2002-03 when they were overtaken on matchday 37 by thems from the capital.

They’re from San Sebastián, known as Donostia in Basque, in the upper reaches of Spain. The city is small (fewer than 200,000 residents), but has a fantastic beach (Bahía de La Concha), a rich cultural heritage, and something that Pep no doubt loves to visit: the longest running jazz festival in Europe.

Hércules CF – Oh, you mighty warrior, you. Your last appearance in La Primera was in 1996-97, when you finished 21st (it was the last year with 22 teams), just 2 points behind 20th placed Sevilla. Those were wild times, man. Truly wild. Extramadura was in the Primera! And Compostela finished 11th! Oh wow. The memories. What? No, I don’t want to talk about where Barça ended up that year. Or who our leading scorer was. Or how fucking Hércules beat us twice that year. I don’t want to talk about it!

Just for that they’re destined for the bottom 3 next year…even they did score more goals than the Segunda champions this year and let in fewer. Wait. What the hell is wrong with La Segunda? I wish I knew, but let’s just put it this way: We will hopefully be able to be their Nessus, except without our death. Dammit, that analogy didn’t work all that hot. Okay, so how about this: We’ll be like Nessus, but instead of Hércules killing us, we’ll take his poison arrow and shove it up his [this is a family friendly site! -ed].

Hércules is based in Alicante, a city of some 350,000 people in the southern part of the Valencian Community. It apparently has some neat stuff or whatever. I don’t know cause I can’t stop thinking about how much I want to destroy Hércules.

Levante UD – Another Valencia club? Come on, now. They too have a bat on their symbol, but aren’t down with orange theme. They were last in La Primera waaayy back in 2007-08, when they finished dead last with just 26pts and the worst goals for (37) and goals against (75) record in the league. Blech. The highest they’ve finished in La Liga is 10th back in 1963-64 when there were only 16 teams in La Liga. But they won the Copa del Rey…in 1937…so that’s pretty awesome.

Their city is fairly famous, what with it being Valencia and all, so there’s not much to talk about there, really. Blah blah culture, oranges, bats, whatever. Let’s just get hyped to crush Hércules and send them back down to La Segunda…along with some periquitos, perhaps?

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. June 19, 2010

    In the “Baby Kxevin’s been quiet for a while” folder, aka “First with a real comment!”

    Some excellent matches today. I fear that once again, the African teams are not covering themselves in glory. As Jnice noted in an exceptional moment of keyboard Tourette’s, Ghana were pretty worthless today. And Cameroon, with discipline, would have won that match. Question now is will any African teams qualify for the knockout stages?

    –Ibrahimovic: I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Find me a list of forwards who had better seasons for their top-level clubs last season. It will be a short one. Now find me a list of forwards who, with a NEW club and having missed pre-season with an injury, had a better season than Ibrahimovic. It will be an even shorter one.

    The Catalan newspapers are stupid on their best days, and they rarely have good days. The “fans” are usually even more stupid, and rarely look at things with logic and forethought. People are looking at Ibrahimovic through the filter of his price tag, rather than what he did for the club.

    –Does anyone really think that Messi would have had the season he did, without defenses focussing on not letting the expensive import hurt them? (No,they come out to play him, rather than staying home in the box. Yes, Messi scored goals when Ibrahimovic wasn’t in the lineup. This doesn’t negate the quality of the assertion.)

    –No Ibrahimovic=no Liga title. (Just go down the list of matches in which he was key. Or even better, just look at the home El Clasic.)

    –No Ibrahimovic=not going as deep in Champions League. (No away goal at Stuttgart means they just park the bus in our house. Without his two goals against Arsenal, that’s a potentially very different tie. Last time I checked, he wasn’t the one who allowed 3 goals against Inter.)

    Those are three things that “everybody knows,” rather than poorly thought out, partisan bile, which is opinion, rather than knowledge. It’s easy to confuse the two. Let’s not forget that these are the same fans who, sitting in the stands, were calling for the insertion of Krkic during the home Clasic, rather than Ibrahimovic. Does anyone really think that Krkic would have scored the goal that Ibrahimovic did to win the match? Really?

    No …. really?

    –By the by, Villa was signed to add attacking depth. Again, in the “what everybody knows” camp is that we suffered because of a lack of width last season, which made us easier to defend. I know. That was Ibrahimovic’s fault too. So was athlete’s foot, and trench mouth, as well as the higher prices being quoted by whores on La Rambla.

    Adding Villa adds width, as he is very effective on the left wing, and versatility, as he and Ibrahimovic can swap positions, adding to the consternation we offer defenses, i.e. Who will kill you, Messi, Ibrahimovic or Villa?

    –The Catalan newspapers are saying we want Torres instead of Ibrahimovic, which proves their utter, day-and-night stupidity, as Torres will be a more expensive, less-versatile player. Delightful.

    –The play of Van der Wiel makes Alves’ recalcitrance rather poorly timed. From what I have seen so far, Van der Wiel is a bigger, faster Alves with better defensive skills. No, he isn’t one of the best right backs in the world yet. Yet. But anyone who is thinking “Hey, we could cash in on Alves now, sign this kid and groom a farm boy,” might not be exactly insane in that line of thinking.

    –Anelka was right, but you don’t say that to your coach, even a dimwitted non-coach such as Dumbenech. On the up side, that means that we won’t see his inept ass in the probably meaningless match against S. Africa. Not that it will help. At all.

    –When did Mike Tirico become such a stupid-ass homer? There IS no recourse for the United States, and he knows that. So why even utter the possibility during his pre-match comments? The ineptitude of that ref benefitted the U.S. even more than it hurt, since the U.S. really should have been playing with 10 men, as Ruud Gullit so accurately noted, and the Altidore dive that earned them the free kick that scored the non-goal heard round the world, would have received howls of derision from a more experienced ref.

    So they should all just quit whining.

    • June 19, 2010

      I obviously won’t argue with you on the Ibra points as I at least agree with the spirit of them if not some of the details (that’s for another day), but let’s focus on the World Cup quickly:

      The USA should have been down to 10? When? For a second yellow on Findley for faceballing? I don’t mind that card (it keeps Findley out of the Algeria match, after all), actually, it’s the absurdity of the final call that left me reeling. You decide a game with that kind of a call? That’s not okay in the Mogadishu Amateur League, much less the World Cup.

      What American fans seem to be forgetting is that the team spent 45 minutes being about as horrible as you can and not going down 5-0. They were awful in the first half. I’m usually the first person to lay the blame on Bob Bradley and this is not an exception, but it should be noted that he did a great job in the second half of switching the point of attack to what it should have been in the first place. Funny that taking off Torres and putting on Feilhaber is seen as the master stroke when that was a like-for-like substitution. It was pushing Dempsey further up to actually get Altidore some service that was effective rather than having speed matching speed (Findley with Altidore).

      As for your assertions about diving, well, if diving were a foul in the World Cup, Slovenia would be bronze medalists, having come in behind Portugal (obviously) and England (Stevie G, anyone?). Even Busi shakes his head in derision at those scoundrels. So to talk about any potential Altidore dive is to question the entirety of Slovenia’s game plan. It is what it is in this case (and to be honest I don’t remember Jozy diving in that instance, but I could be wrong). A draw was about what was deserved out of that performance (if not a loss), so I’m not too bummed in that regard, but to have a legit goal ruled out for illegitimate reasons is always painful and everyone will talk of being aggrieved. If the ref had called Altidore for a dive, then fine, we live with the draw as it was, but he didn’t so VILLARATO!!!!

      • June 19, 2010

        And no offense meant to the Mogadishu Amateur League, whose Aden Pirates are the best team I’ve seen this side of Les Corts.

      • ElShowDeJason
        June 19, 2010

        Should have been down to 10 when Dempsey elbowed a guy in the face like, 4 seconds after the kickoff…

    • Jnice
      June 19, 2010

      “As Jnice noted in an exceptional moment of keyboard Tourette’s, Ghana were pretty worthless today”

      😀 I couldn’t help it man. I’ve cooled down now, but the fact still remains- we wasted a glorious opportunity to get 6 points. I couldn’t believe what I was watching. Against Serbia, everyone worked for each other and acted like they wanted it. If we play as selfish and undisciplined as we did today against Germany, we have no chance.

  2. June 19, 2010

    Also, Citeh’s doctors are going to examine The Yaya over in S. Africa, which is the only thing still outstanding in the 30m+ transfer.

    • Luke
      June 19, 2010

      I still stand by the fact that if we get 30M for Yaya, that’s nuts. Crazy type of money there.

  3. Luke
    June 19, 2010

    Viva Hercules! Viva La Liga!

    Seriously though, in every FIFA game I have ever owned, Hercules always makes it to the first division after 1 year and proceeds to play very well. It’s weird.

  4. Jose
    June 19, 2010

    LEVANTE!! WOO!!!!

    Memories of FIFA 2005, where you had to play a few seasons in a crap team before you could coach a 5-star team like Barca… I picked Levante from la Segunda and took them to La Liga where within two seasons they were CHAMPIONS!

    Then I pulled a Mourinho and jumped ship for a grander club… BARCA.

    Oh, and why did I pick Levante? Their colors and uniforms look like Barca’s… if Barca got stingy and bought some cheaper paint.

  5. Lev
    June 19, 2010

    Kxev I still wish we had Eto’o instead, but fully agree that Ibra was an important player for us last season and that we will need him next season. Besides it is cool to have an Ibra Acadabra and a Villa Maravilla in the same team 🙂

    Jnice, chale (don’t know if i write it well, only know the pronouncation), you guys have to eliminate Germany!!! ¡Visca Ghana!

    As for selling Dani Alves to replace him by Van Der Wiel let’s not go overboard on that one. Stellar performances in the Mickey Mouse League (formerly known as Eredivisie) don’t mean that much nowadays. And defensive prowess for Holland is easy to prove when you have De Jong and Van Bommel in front of you protecting you from less talented teams that are not attacking anyway.

    Will Van der Wiel become a good player? He is well on his way. Good enough for Barça? I wouldn’t mind if we found out. Let’s sell Dani Alves now? No way!

    I still think we should get him. He also used to be a center back so his versatility could suit us, you know if Chiggy is not working out and all. I don’t see him at left back though, as somebody commented in a previous thread. He is right footed so how is he gonna cross from the left wing?

    • Jnice
      June 20, 2010

      “Jnice, chale (don’t know if i write it well, only know the pronouncation), you guys have to eliminate Germany!!! ¡Visca Ghana!”

      Hahaha yeah, you got it right.

      Chale, if we are going to advance, we have to work 10x harder than we did yesterday. We shall see. Thanks for cheering us on!

  6. ElShowDeJason
    June 19, 2010

    So… anyone think that the money bags containing Yaya’s transfer fee will land in Barcelona, and immediately get on a plane to London?
    And that Cesc’s transfer to Barca will be announced 3 milliseconds after Yaya’s?

    • Luke
      June 19, 2010

      I figured they were using it as a makeweight for a Mascherano transfer of some kind. Me thinks Cesc money is coming from a special secret pot that Laporta has under lock and key in the super duper sub basement of Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona summer home.

    • Jnice
      June 20, 2010

      Possibly, although I think that if we ever come to some kind of agreement, it will be after the World Cup.

  7. Eklavya
    June 20, 2010

    OMG, Real Betis are NOT promoted?! 😀 That’s awesome news! They always gave us problems…

    • Vj
      June 20, 2010

      I don’t know, the antics of the Betis President, Darth de Lopera, pretty much guarantee a fun La Liga with a whole lot of scandals, corruption etc..

  8. June 20, 2010

    el mundo is confident that ibra will go to milan and pep wants pirlo as yaya’s replacement.
    it is really getting scary when they give us the possible replacements for yaya. palacios??? pirlo?? way past his prime and is not even a dm.
    on the other hand, its quite interesting the number of ex inter players who join milan. seedorf, pirlo, ronaldo. and probably balotelli in the future.

    btw kxevin, if ibra didnt score the goal at stuttgart for example, messi couldve run havoc no matter what in camp nou. i never liked those kind of arguments, if he didnt score, or if he played..
    we would never know the outcome.

    • Bundy
      June 20, 2010

      We might as well keep Marquez as a second DM, they are stupid rumors.

      • Jim
        June 20, 2010

        I wouldn’t be averse to that actually. I think he is coming back to a decent game over the last few months and would be at least as good a long passer as Busi or Yaya. My worry would be the speed of foot needed in tight situations just in front of our defense.

        • Bundy
          June 20, 2010

          Same, I wouldn’t mind Marquez staying for that DM option. Its true his pace is lacking but he still can playmake and defend. Plus I think he had a decent second half of a season with Barca, its not like he wasn’t the only one who started off the season terribly.

          He isn’t a fussy player and he accepts his position in the team. For the price we pay for a new DM we might as well save that and keep Marquez, since if either way fails, we still have the money to replace Marquez half-way through the year.

    • Vj
      June 20, 2010

      Well how do you know that? The 1-1 scoreline meant that Stuttgart had to come out and attack, instead of playing defensively in case of a 1-0 scoreline.. you never know what would’ve happened then, just saying..

      I don’t know why everybody wants to get on Ibra’s back all of a sudden.. before he came here it was all about his attitude, that he wasn’t going to get along with the rest of the group and what happened? Ibra became the model player in the eyes of Pep (off the pitch I mean) the dude didn’t even complain when he got benched in the last games, handled it like a thorough professional..

      And its not that he did Diddly Squat on the pitch either – 21 goals with 9 assists (including *that* one against Mallorca at home) and a lot of awesome plays.. Important goals against EE and those in the CL meant that Ibra played a lot bigger part in us achieving what we did than people give him credit for..

      So people, pop some Hector pills, stop worrying and imagine the awesomeness that the Villa-Ibra-Messi front line will be..

      • Jim
        June 20, 2010

        In a sense we’ve exhausted this discussion but since it has come up again . . . . We’re going to find out pretty quickly at the start of next season whether Ibra will hack it or not.

        My own feelings will be known to devotees of these discussions; Ibra began well but as the season went on he looked more and more out of place and we played better without him. Why? Don’t know as the guy was trying hard but that’s the way I saw it. It’s also the way Pep saw it and how bad would it have to be before you bench your own top signing, knowing that it not only dents Ibra’s confidence but also your own reputation for buying sensibly?

        However, there is still a part of me that worries about selling him just in case I’m wrong and he does turn out to be a star in our system. That’s why I’m happy to give him a couple of months to see if he can work with Messi and Villa but if he can’t let’s not have any excuses about Messi not passing or Ibra taking two or three defenders with him. Messi had a great season because Messi was great and if i were a defender and had to leave either Messi or Ibra unmarked I know which choice I would make.

    • Kxevin
      June 20, 2010

      But that just shows how monstrously stupid EMD is, referenced in my post above. Yes. You can see how Pirlo would be a perfect replacement for The Yaya. After all, he’s an expensive, static version of Xavi who is pretty much a one-trick pony these days. On, and he’s 31 years old! Mmmmm, hmmm. Makes sense to me.

      Galliani has an austerity program in place at Milan. That is real. To sign Ibrahimovic, he would have to shred that notion, as Ibrahimovic will not leave the best team in the world AND take a pay cut to do so. And then there’s the not-so-small matter of his 50m+ transfer fee.

      Clearly, EMD and Sport have their “Get Ibrahimovic gone” campaigns going full force, but at least offer up viable options. Let’s look at who actually has the money to sign (and pay) Ibrahimovic:

      Chelsea: But they already have Drogba, who is more in keeping with the Prem style.

      Citeh: No Champions League football, so not a viable destination.

      The end.

      Ibrahimovic returning to Serie A would be a step backward, as well. Anybody who wonders about Ibrahimovic in our side, should re-watch some of those matches that GolTV is rebroadcasting now, have a drink, and relax while imagining what a fit, fully-integrated Ibrahimovic will mean to our side this season.

      Yes, it is well known that we detest loud-mouthed agents. Mino Raiola, notice, has said absolutely nothing since his “Pep is crazy” tirade. He understands, via comments of Laporta through Joan Oliver, that he can easily talk his player out of town.

      As for Ibrahimovic “wanting to leave” Barca, as the Catalan dailies suggest, what player would, in his right mind, want to leave Barca? I would wager that even The Yaya, in his heart of hearts, is sorry to have had his bluff called. I’m sure he was thinking that Guardiola would come to him and say “You’re so valuable, you just let me know when you want to play, and we will make it so.”

      Didn’t work out that way, now he’ll be watching CL footy on TV, noshing on popcorn with Kolo.

      • Jim
        June 20, 2010

        I agree with your assessment of the situation, Kxevin. Can’t see a viable destination for him. I’m always amazed when a top player wants away from Barca ( not that I think Ibra does) . How can you not see that anywhere else just starts a slippery slope ?

        Mind you, having said that, Eto’o popped into mind. He left us and put a second CL medal beside the first 🙂

  9. Eklavya
    June 20, 2010

    Wow wow wow, on Téléfoot just now there was this huuuge debate with Domenech, Ribery, Lizarazu and the reporter involving all their defeats and the Anelka issue and all the pressure put on the players by the media etc etc. A translation coming up…

    • Helge
      June 20, 2010

      So, will you post (or link to) the translated debate?
      Did they all sit next to each other, Ribéry, Domenech and Lizarazu? I wouldn’t have expected Domenech to talk to the media anymore (with the exception of the 2 remaining press conferences in South Africa). Unbelievable 🙂

      • Eklavya
        June 20, 2010

        I will translate and post a link or the whole thing in a comment.
        I’ll take some time…

        Yeah there sat next to each other. This Lizarazu guy is very good…there was also the editor of L’Equipe. The guy who put all this on the front page.

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