Don't be deceived
Guillem Balague says that the opening weekend of La Liga was the weekend of wrong impressions.
Last Updated: 09/09/07 4:07pm
This first weekend of the season was the weekend of wrong impressions; on the one hand you had Real Madrid who looked a much better team than they probably are at this early stage in Bernd Schuster's reign.
I still think they need a strong central midfield player if they want to dominate games and play the way Schuster wants.
I feel the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Roysten Drenthe and Arjen Robben may have ups and downs in their first seasons in La Liga, but it was obviously a really good start against Atletico and they played some really nice football.
The other wrong impression came from Santander where it was clear that Barcelona have a lot of improvements to make following their goalless draw. It is a worry that they could be a copycat of last year.
But they are only one step from being a very good team, they just need to improve on two things. Firstly they need to work on the defensive work of the three forwards in Rijkaard's 4-3-3 formation, whoever they may be. And secondly they need to move the ball quicker. I feel that is round the corner.
On the other hand what was not a wrong impression was Villarreal who were impressive against the ten men, and then nine men, of Valencia. Villarreal will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
And more wrong impressions coming with Murcia, Almeria and Valladolid all winning. It obviously is a competitive Liga this season but apart from Murcia, I'm sure that Almeria and Valladolid will be fighting relegation.
Ones to watch
Keep an eye out for these players during the season: Andres Guardado from Deportivo - a Mexican left winger who is very skilful; Stephen Sunday, known as Sunny, who will offer cover for Daniel Albelda in Valencia's midfield. He was born in Nigeria but is a Spain under-21 international.
Espanyol's Lola, who is called Milan Smiljanic but prefers to be called Lola, a central midfield player and Serbia under-20 international; Giovani Dos Santos at Barcelona who keeps knocking on the door and wants a place in the line-up.
And Alvaro Negredo at Almeria - a typical, tall, English-like striker. Watch out for these young talents and I will mention a few more to look out for as the season progresses.
Guillem answers your email...
Guillem, I've been supporting Barcelona for years now, would you agree with me that a time for change has come to the club? Frank Rijkaard should fix the problem by selling on at least one or two of the players who suffer from 'galacticoism'. With Dos Santos coming up the ranks and the new stars added I believe it's time for Deco to move on, there is also Eto'o and Ronaldinho, two great players but if one leaves it would create money and I hope it will end the 'Galacticoism' problem facing the club and we might win something again. Foysol, East London.
Guillem Replies: I really thought, as many did, that this summer, that Barca should have got rid of one of the top players - either Ronaldinho or Samuel Eto'o. That almost happened, but now the player who is almost getting the blame for Barcelona not winning anything last season is Deco, who is out of the line-up at the moment. He has to move on and I think they have left the big revolution of selling either Eto'o or Ronaldinho until next season. That is why Ronaldinho is preparing himself for the big move and that is why his brother, Roberto de Assis Moreira, met Roman Abramovich recently. I agree with you Foysol, things should have changed in the summer and you can see already that there are still traces of what went wrong last season, but it has not happened. Barca still has the quality to win enough matches to win the league.
Hi Guillem, Which English players do you think would have good success in La Liga? Do you think Wayne Rooney will ever go to Spain to play football and will Ronaldinho ever leave Barca for Chelsea? Mark Brown.
Guillem Replies: Wayne Rooney to Spain? Never. He's the kind of player who will struggle outside of the Premier League. Not so much with his football, which would be wonderful to see in Spain, but personally I think he would struggle. And being at Manchester United, I don't think they would let him go that lightly so I don't think we will ever see him in La Liga. I know it's pretty early to say but I think this will be Ronaldinho's last season at Barcelona and Chelsea is definitely a possibility. But one that is closer to his heart is Milan. I think Frank Lampard would be great for a team like Real Madrid. Barcelona also need goals from midfield so I think he is a player who would do really well in Spain. Sol Campbell is wanted by Villarreal and that kind of centre back is not typical of Spain, but the problem is that Villarreal is an offensive team and they leave lots of gaps at the back and maybe Campbell hasn't got the pace for it, but he would be good in other facets. Shaun Wright-Phillips is different and would be good in la Liga and of course Steven Gerrard could play in any team. I once asked him if he would join my team, Espanyol. It was a bit of a joke and he said 'no' anyway. Of the players that don't automatically spring to mind, Wayne Bridge would do well in Spain as there are not that many good left backs in la Liga. And finally, a player who I would love to see in Spain, and who I think would be great, and who I also hope a big team will go for soon is Derby's Giles Barnes.