Guillem Balague
Spanish Football Expert & Columnist

A kick up the Barce - Balague


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Sevilla have lost the first two games since the restart and it seems that a little bit of relaxation has crept into the side.

They lack a little bit of intensity, but the two defeats - especially the one against Mallorca - may act as a wake-up call. That's more or less what midfielder Christian Poulsen told us.

As for Villarreal, the main news from them is that Juan Roman Riquelme is probably going to be missing. He hasn't been in the squad, he hasn't been training and it's his way of saying 'sell me, I want to go home'; maybe to Boca Juniors, maybe to Bayern Munich who are interested.

But the main problem is that there is no longer any chemistry between Riquelme and the coach and Riquelme and the other players. Who, by the way, have accused him of not being committed enough.


I've heard that Ronaldinho is thinking about going to Milan and that Deco is looking for a team in England.

There is a feeling among the hardest Barca critics that that might work in their favour - if they get ‚é¼100m for both they may be able to rebuild the side.

Not that it's needed but some people do think that. I just think they need a kick up the a*** and they need to get their act together. They are playing with too much efficiency at the moment, as if they can win against anybody they want, when they want.

That was clear in the first half of the derby against Espanyol and Espanyol made them pay. What they need is a better attitude, they need Samuel Eto'o back - he will return in a couple of weeks - and they need Ronaldinho at his best.

That's what Eto'o said when he gave an exclusive interview and his first anywhere since getting injured, to Revista de la Liga. In that he says he understands the criticism of Ronaldinho and that he wants the best Ronaldinho, the number one, and anything else is not good enough for Barcelona.

Keep an eye out for that interview because you'll see some of it on Saturday and all of it in next week's Revista!


What an extraordinary week it's been for Real Madrid!

They decided after the defeat at Deportivo that the future is now. They've told Ronaldo to look for another team, so he could be signing for Milan soon if Real Madrid let him go for free; they told David Beckham he won't play for them again.

After that they gave Gonzalo Higuain his debut at the Bernabeu and it seemed to work because the players were at least running around more than they usually do. Then Capello gets caught giving the finger to his own fans and is punished by the club.

Then the chairman gets caught mouthing off about Beckham, Guti, his own fans etc etc etc - and now Ramon Calderon is fighting for survival. In the case of Beckham as it stands at the moment, Real Madrid would like to hear him say 'OK I'm off, you don't need to pay me any more', then they will let him go.

Then they will have to negotiate because I don't think Beckham has any intention of leaving just now: he still has to sell his house and prepare for the move to the States.

He may be in the States by April if Real Madrid have reached an agreement in which Madrid pay him some money as a pay-off. It's a really sad end to the relationship that has helped both names grow in stature around the world.


Hi Guillem, I'm really enjoying La Liga this year. I have been paying close attention to Real Zaragoza this season after the signings they have made like Aimar, D'Allesandro etc. They seemed to have a well-balanced squad, but do you feel they have the infrastructure to keep hold of players like D'Allesandro, who is on loan, and start to challenge with the likes of Barca, Real Madrid and Valencia year after year? James, Bristol
Generally speaking James I wouldn't think Zaragoza have the financial power to stay as they are. They have players that, if bigger teams come in, will go. It's happened in the past, with Fernando Morientes who ended up at Real Madrid for instance and if Barcelona came in for Diego Milito as has been suggested, he will go - and I know Ewerthon has been looking to go to England. The coach, Victor Fernandez, has a pretty good bunch of players playing very good football and as you say James, it is a balanced side and a balanced squad. But the football lacks a little balance, they're just too offensive. But the Zaragoza fans should enjoy it while it lasts!

Hi Guillem, I'm a die-hard fan of Real Madrid from Liberia, West Africa. My name is Thomas Torkolon. My question is, do you think the axeing of the Galacticos out of the Real first team will help solve the problem of the team winning trophies in Europe again? And secondly, is it right to let Ronaldo leave at this point in time, in such a style like this after he has contributed immensely to the team during their successful days? Thomas, Liberia
I think we saw the death of the Galactico era when they lost to Barcelona last season with those two Ronaldinho goals. It was clear then that there was no turning back for them and the funeral of the Galacticos came this week. The problem is Real Madrid want to move on to the next Real Madrid, but they don't know what that looks like. They want to get there now and it's a little bit confusing because they just don't know what they want to become. As for Ronaldo Thomas, he's had enough. The club has not behaved well towards him and he's confused about his situation. He was asked to lose weight and work harder and he's done that, but it is not enough for Capello. It's time to divorce and look for another challenge and Milan have been negotiating for him. They are willing to pay the rest of his contract, which is a year-and-a-half, but they don't want to pay anything for him. Even so, it is time for him to move on.