billsportsmaps.com

September 28, 2015

Italy: 2015-16 Serie A location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed. / Plus a map showing the locations of the 3 Emilia-Romagna-based clubs (and their venues), now in Serie A (Sassuolo, Bologna, Carpi)./ Plus a few words on, and illustrations for, the 3 promoted clubs (Carpi, Frosinone, Bologna).

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts,Italy — admin @ 7:51 pm

(Note: to see my latest map-and-post on Italian football, click on the following, category: Italy.)
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italy_serie-a_2015-16_map_clubs-2014-15-attendance_clubs-1st-div-seasons_titles_post_c_.gif
Italy: 2015-16 Serie A location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed



Links…
-Teams, etc…2015–16 Serie A (en.wikipedia.org).
-English-speaking coverage of Italian football…Forza Italian football.com.
-Here is the archive-page of Serie A-focused Guardian.com/football writer Paolo Bandini, {archive page, Paolo Bandini (theguardian.com/profile/paolobandini).}
-Table, fixtures, results, stats, etc…Serie A/summary (soccerway.com).


By Bill Turianski on 28 September 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.

    Italy: 2015-16 Serie A location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed

Template…
I am using the same template I have used with my recent maps of the 2015-16 1st divisions of England, Germany, and Spain. I still have France to do, and I plan on posting Ligue Un 2015-16 map-and-post on Saturday 10 October. Anyway, listed at the chart at the right-hand-side of the map page are the following 6 things…Average home attendance (league matches) the past 2 seasons, including 14/15 Percent-Capacity and Crowd-size change. League finish the last 2 seasons. Seasons-in-1st-division (and consecutive seasons noted). Italian titles (with last title listed). Coppa Italia titles (with last title listed). Major international titles (with last titles listed) [Anglo-Italian Cup? Sorry, never a major title.]
Features on map…
The map includes the listing of the 20 Regions of Italy (which is the first political division in Italy). The map also features the 6 largest cities in Italy (in order of largest-to-smaller, here are the most-current city population figures [as opposed to the (much-larger) metro-area-population-figures]…Rome/2.8 million, Milan/1.3 million, Naples/.98 million, Turin/.89 million, Palermo/.67 million, Genoa/.52 million). {Source: 2014 & 2015 figures at List of largest cities in the European Union by population within city limits (en.wikipedia.org).}
4 stadium-shares in the 2015-16 Serie A…
There are 4 stadium-shares in the 2015-16 Serie A (in Genoa, Milan, Rome, and Verona), and they are all noted on the map. The map also shows the two clubs in Emilia-Romagna who have been forced by the Italian football authorities to play in larger nearby stadiums. Those 2 clubs are third-year-top-flight club Sassuolo; and the white-and-red-clad Carpi, who are making their top flight debut in 2015-16. Both had been originally playing in very tiny 4-K-capacity stadiums.

Below, venue-locations and home-locations of Bologna, Sassuolo & Carpi…
sassuolo_carpi_bologna_2015-16-serie-a_locations_f_.gif
Image credit above – segment of Blank map of Italy by TUBS, at File:Italy provincial location map.svg.

For Sassuolo, playing about 15 miles (21 km) away, in the city of Reggio-Emilia, has worked out OK for the turtle-green-&-black-striped side. Sassuolo are not drawing bad at all for a club that pretty much sprang up out of nowhere three-or-four years ago. Sassuolo have been drawing between 12 to 13 K the past 2 seasons, and actually seem to be establishing themselves as a viable top tier club, with a 12th-place finish last season. And Sassuolo have started strong in 15/16, in 4th place after 6 matches.

Carpi are not playing in their stadium because it is pretty inadequate…
But it really remains to be seen if the back-to-back-promoted Carpi can weather such a venue-shift as well. Because there are other factors with respect to Carpi…namely, that many supporters did not want their Cinderella-club’s historic first-division debut season to be played down the road, at the five-times-larger stadium of hated local rivals, Modena. One of the larger supporter-groups of Carpi – a group named Guidati dal Lambrusco – have actually announced they will boycott home matches. {For more on that, see the following article. Here is Gentleman Ultra’s excellent August 2015 post, at Guardian.com/football, on Carpi’s Serie A debut season, Carpi: Serie A alternative club guide (by Richard Hall and Luca Hodges-Ramon at theguardian.com/football)}.}.

Below – Stadio Sandro Cabassi, home of Carpi FC when they play in the lower divisions; and Carpi’s home-venue for Serie A, Stadio Alberto Braglia in Modena
carpi_stadio-santa-cabassi_stadio-alberto-braglia_m_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Entrance to stadium, photo by Stefano Romagnoli at stadiumjourney.com. Rooftop-view of stadium, photo by Stefano Romagnoli at stadiumjourney.com. Interior photo of “stadium”, photo unattributed at footballtrip.com. Shot of Carpi squad with fans in background, photo from facebook.com/Carpi FC 1909. Larger photo of venue, photo by Antti’s Football Scarves blog (saturday3.com) via snipview.com. Modena stadium, photo unattributed at calcioland.forumfree.it [Serie B stadiums thread].

So one of the largest Carpi supporter-groups is boycotting their own home games. This does not bode well for Carpi. Their stadium, as you can see further above, is the 4.1-capacity Stadio Sandro Cabassi. Look at the rust on the gates of the main entrance, and look at the black mold-scum festering at the tops of the granite walls. You call that inviting? I call it scary. Look at those tiny isolated-and-fenced-off bleacher-stands there behind the goals, then look at the slanted concrete moat (is this police-state-type concrete moat/riot-wall actually necessary?), and then look at the barbed-wire-topped riot-fence ringing the pitch. What is this, a convict-holding-pen or a football stadium? That faction who is boycotting Carpi’s home matches because they now have to play home matches at the hated Modena, well, they should not be casting stones at someone else’s house, so to speak. Because their club’s home ground is pretty dire. And besides, Carpi is averaging 10.6 K right now, whereas they could only average 4.1 K in their own stadium (see this/from 22 Sept. 2015). Hey boycotting Carpi fans, where do you think the extra 6 K each game of ticket-revenue goes to, which your club is now getting (at Modena)? It goes straight to your club, you boycotters. This is not rocket science. Carpi is literally profiting from their move to Modena. But meanwhile, a fan-group of Carpi boycotts their home matches – out of misplaced spite. Where is the logic in that? Hey fan-group…your boycott might mean ‘we hate Modena’ to you, but it also NOW means ‘we don’t want our club to earn more ticket-revenue’. Well, those boycotters will probably be able to watch Carpi at their home ground in 2016-17. Because it is starting to look like Carpi are going straight back down to Serie B. Carpi sit last on 2 points after 6 matches. And they sacked their manager on Sunday 28 September after the 6th game – a 5-1 shellacking by Roma.

Frosinone – also with a Serie A debut in 2015-16, and their ground, Stadio Matusa…
frosinone_stadio-matusa_m_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – aerial shot of stadium, photo unattributed at football-trip.com. File:Panorama Frosinone edit.jpg, photo by Moongateclimber at commons.wikimedia.org.
Roofed main stand, photos from stadiumjourney.com/stadiums/stadio-comunale [Frosinone]. Aerial image of stadium , screenshot of bird’s-eye satellite view at bing.com/maps.

Frosinone are from the city of Frosinone, which is located 75 km (47 mi) SE of Rome. Frosinone is connected to the capital by the A1 motorway (both are in the region of Lazio). The town serves somewhat as a bedroom community for commuters who work in Rome. The city of Frosinone has a population of around 46,000 {2014 estimate}. Frosinone Calcio wear all-yellow with royal blue trim. Frosinone Calcio, like Carpi FC 1909, are making their first division debut in 2015-16. Also like Carpi, Frosinone have a small ground. But Frosinone is a club that is about twice as big as Carpi as measured by gates – Carpi drew 3.0 K last year, while Frosinone drew 5.2 K. And Frosinone’s ground is not nearly as small or decrepit as Carpi’s ground. And Frosinone’s ground – the 9.6-K-capacity Stadio Matusa – passed muster by FIGC, and the club will be hosting their 2015-16 Serie A home matches there.

Frosinone’s stadium looks pretty nice (no running track!), and the worst I can see is a bit of rust at the welding joints on their nicely archaic cantilever roof (see it above), which covers part of the main stand on the west side of the stadium (there is minimal roof-coverage at the ground, because there is not much rain there in that part of south-central Italy).

The then-struggling Frosinone got their first point in Serie A in the 5th round on 23 Sept. 2015, with a 1-1 result against reigning champions Juventus in Turin. It was a last-minute 94th-minute goal (the goal was a dramatic header from a corner-kick, by actual Juve-supporter Leonardo Blanchard). Juventus might also be really struggling, but what a way for Frosinone to record their first point in the top flight. From reddit.com/r/soccer, thread: reddit.com/r/soccer/comments/blanchard_last_minute_goal_vs_juventus [23 Sept. 2015]/. From Guardian/football, Frosinone’s Leonardo Blanchard savours historic goal against Juventus (by Paolo Bandini on 24 Sept. 2015 at theguardian.com/football).

Then Frosinone beat fellow minnows Empoli 2-0 on Monday the 28th of September, to move out of the relegation zone. Go Frosinone! It is starting to look like a decent start for Frosinone, but, like Carpi, it will be an uphill battle for Frosinone to stay up.

Bologna are back in the top flight after winning the 2014-15 Serie B play-offs…
Bologna are one of the nine or ten biggest yo-yo clubs in Europe (“up there” with Hertha Berlin, FC Köln, FC Nürnberg, Sunderland, FC Kaiserslautern, RC Lens, Norwich City, Wolverhampton, and Sporting Gijón). Bologna has suffered two relegations in the last 10 years (in 2005-06 and in 2013-14), and otherwise have been perennial lower-table/relegation-battlers in the top tier (with 17th-place finishes in 2008-09 and in 2009-10, a 16th-place finish in 2010-11, and a 13th-place finish in 2012-13, one year before getting the drop in 2013-14 as 19th-place finisher). And wouldn’t you know it? After 6 games into the 2015-16 Serie A, Bologna is right back in a relegation-battle already, with 1 win and 5 losses, and sitting second-from-bottom in the table.

The Italian 2nd division play-off system – complicated but fair…
Last season, Bologna won the complicated-but-equitable Serie B play-offs. I say equitable because the Italian football authorities have sensibly figured out a way to have a play-off system which rewards final league placement…by giving the higher-placed club the tiebreaker in aggregate score. And 4th-place Bologna utilized that rule to beat Avellino 3-3 aggregate and then in the 2014-15 Serie B play-offs finals, Bologna beat Pescara 1-1 aggregate. Both times Bologna got the nod with a better 4th place finish than 8th-place Avellino and 7th-place Pescara. Hey England, this play-offs aggregate tiebreaker rule is a brilliant idea, which needs to be adopted in the Football League. Hats off to the Italian football authorities (FIGC) for the progressive tweak in the lower-divisions play-offs rules…a rule that benefits those promotion-candidates who finish higher. Which is only fair.

Bologna’s stadium has a stupid running track…
Bologna play at the 32-K-capacity Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, which (sigh) has a stupid running track. Oh Italy, when will you learn? Your stupid running-track-infested municipal stadiums are ruining your game. Get the memo, Italy. ALL football fans detest stadiums with running tracks. Italy, please, I beg of you. Build some new 1st-divison-worthy football stadiums without running tracks, already. If Bordeaux, France can do it, than I am pretty sure Bologna, Italy could too.

Why are there running tracks in most 1st division municipal stadiums in Brazil or Italy or other quasi-Third-World nations?
Seriously…WHY? Is it stupid urban planners there, or is it the fear of goons running onto the field there? Either way, it is ruining their product.
I mean come on, Italy. It’s embarrassing. Serie A regularly features some of the highest-calibre and watchable pro football anywhere on the planet…but it is so often being played in dumps of stadiums with (or formerly-with) those stupid running tracks. Stadiums that should have seen the wrecking ball years ago. All over the Italian peninsula. Currently 35% of all 2015-16 Serie A matches are being played in lame-ass venues afflicted with the accursed running tracks. Such as in Rome (2 teams). And such as in Naples. And such as in Verona (2 teams). And such as in Empoli. And such as in Bologna (see photo in illustration below). And the filled-in running-track stadiums in Serie A are pretty lame too (Palermo, Fiorentina, Torino, Atalanta [Bergamo]). At least, besides Juventus’ recently-new stadium (Juventus Stadium, opened Sept. 2011), there is one other recent ray-of-hope on the stadia front in Italy – and that of course is the massive re-build going on the past 2-and-a-half years up in far north-east Italy at Stadio Friuli, in Udine, home of Udinese Calcio…from Stadium DB site, from 13 Sept. 2015, update on the re-build at: Stadio Friuli (stadiumdb.com).

Bologna FC, and their home, Stadio Renato Dall’Ara…
http://billsportsmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/bologna_stadio-renato-dall-ara_d_.gif
Photo credits above – Aerial view of Bologna, photo by Bamshad Houshyani at flickr.com via happytellus.com. View of stadium from curva, photo unattributed at tumblr.com/search/stadio (scroll down at the bottom of that post for plenty of photos of the renovation at Stadio Friuli).
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Thanks to all at the links below…
-Blank map of Italy by TUBS, at File:Italy provincial location map.svg.
-Attendances from E-F-S site, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm.
-2014-15 stadium capacities (for league matches) from 2014–15 Serie A (en.wikipedia.org); Serie A (it.wikipedia.org).

September 20, 2015

Iceland national team – starting line-up (Best XI) from match which clinched their qualification for the 2016 Euros in France. (Iceland starting squad from 6 September 2015, Iceland 0-0 Kazakhstan. Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavik, Iceland, att: 9,767.)

Filed under: Iceland — admin @ 10:01 am

By Bill Turianski on 20 September 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

    Iceland – the smallest-ever nation to qualify for The Euros (15 Euros tournaments/66 years/since 1960)

Links…
-Squad chart…
iceland_national-team_best-XI_6-sept-2015_2016-euros_qualifying.
-Team…Iceland national team.
-Country…Iceland (en.wikipedia.org).
-The UEFA Euros tournament in France in June 2016… UEFA Euro 2016 (en.wikipedia.org).
-Article from Jan.2016…Iceland fans flood to apply for EURO tickets (uefa.com/news).

    Semi-pro 1st division football in Iceland…

Below, a roof-top view of central Reykjavic, plus photos of the grounds of the 2 highest-drawing Icelandic clubs KR and FH
iceland_reykjavic_aerial-view_kv-vollur_hf_kaplakriki_h_.gif
Photo credits above –
Rooftop-view of central Reykjavic at twilight in the summer, photo by Roman Gerasymenko at reykjavik.com/10-great-reasons-to-visit-reykjavik-this-summer. KR-vollur (KR-stadium), aerial photo of main-stadium part of KV-vollur sports complex, photo unattributed at sammarinn.co. Shot of main stand, photo by unnamed photographer at panoramio.com/photos/large/24949648.jpg. FH’s stadium, exterior and interior photos by groundhopping.se/, at groundhopping.se/Hafnarfjorur.htm.

In Iceland, the seasons of the first division are played from May to October…
Owing to the harsh winters in Iceland, the seasons of the first division are played from May to early October. The 1st division in Iceland is called the Úrvalsdeild {2015 Úrvalsdeild}. It has existed since 1912, and it is a 12-team semi-pro league. (Up to 2014, the league was 10 teams, with the 2-team league-expansion occurring in the 2015 season). Usually about 70%-or-more of the Úrvalsdeild is comprised of Greater Reykjavik-based clubs (9 of 12 teams in 2015 come from the Capital District). League average attendance is usually in the .9-K-to-1.3-K-per-game range, with a few clubs each year (~3 to 6 clubs) able to crack the one-thousand-per-game range. The two biggest Icelandic clubs can draw above two-thousand-per-game in good seasons (like a couple times a decade). Those 2 clubs are: the most-titled-club, with 26 Icelandic titles, KR Reykjavik; and the 6-time-title-winners, HF (or Hafnarfjörður). But 2.1 K per game in a good year is about as big as football clubs in Iceland get. Current [2014] champions are Sjarnan, who also are located in Greater Reykjavic/Capital District. Sjarnan won their first title last season, this on the heels of the squad’s recent viral Internet fame – crazy choreographed goal celebrations, such as these wacky hijinks, Stjarnan Iceland: All funny celebrations so far (youtube.com video uploaded by hellyooh/ with 2.2 million views and counting). By the way, Sjarnan drew 979 per game last season…in a 1,000-capacity stadium. Which means they played to virtual-sellout-crowds at 97.9 percent-capacity.




At the fantastic blog called Groundhopping.se [Sweden], there are several posts and tons of photos of Iceland 1st division matches/clubs/stadiums, here…groundhopping.se/Iceland.

The best Icelanders play abroad…
All, or virtually all, of the best Icelandic footballers play abroad, of course. And most seem very partial to the colder-weather leagues. The lions’ share of the current Iceland starting squad play pro football in prominent or even elite Northern European pro leagues. They play pro football in either the Scandinavian countries (in Sweden [2 starters], in Denmark [1 starter], and in Norway [1 starter]). Or in England [3 starters/2 of which play on Welsh sides]. Or in the Netherlands [1 starter]. Or in Switzerland [1 starter]. Or in southern Russia [1 starter].

One starter is playing in Brittany, and that is Iceland’s most prolific current scoring-threat, Kolbeinn Sigþórsson. Sigthórsson plays Striker for storied French club FC Nantes (and he formerly played for two Dutch clubs, Ajax and AZ Alkmaar). Sigthórsson, who is 25, has scored 17 goals in just 31 internationals – which is a very good goals-to-games ratio, indeed.

To round out the prominent squad members circa 2015 (ie, non-starters who have gotten some playing time recently), there are 2 young strikers (25 or 26 years-old), and there is one Ancient Mariner, all three of whom get the odd start, or come off the bench, for Iceland. One of the youngsters plays pro football in Greece, and the other youngster plays pro football in China (huh?). And speaking of the ersatz Chinese Super League, the all-time highest-scoring Iceland international, the 37-year-old Eiður Guðjohnsen, is currently playing in China for Shijiazhuang Ever Bright. Gudjohnsen has scored 25 goals in 80 appearances for Iceland. The well-traveled power-Forward’s CV includes 2 Premier League title-medals with Chelsea, 1 La Liga title-win and a UEFA Champions League title-win with Barcelona, and stops in Iceland, Netherlands, Greece, Monaco, Belgium, and the English second division (Bolton, last season). So, who can blame Gudjohnsen for cashing in at the China league, before hanging up his boots? (The Chinese Super League, where they throw crazy-cash at aging top-class football stars past their prime, for the supposed prestige.) Circa the mid-to-late-2000s, Eidur Gudjohnsen was for a long time the most prominent representative of Icelandic football and was for a long time the talismanic-striker for Iceland. Now, at the age of 37, he is still on the squad, and is still coming off the bench, and is still leading-by-example in the dressing room. And, well, that is just great to see.

In case you are wondering, currently (mid-September 2015), there are 2 players on the Iceland national team squad who play in the Iceland 1st division, though one is a 40-year-old back-up ‘keeper and the other a defensive sub (both play for the largest sports club in Iceland, Breidablik [Breiðablik UBK], who are based in the Reykjavik suburb of Kópavogur. {Note, a map of Iceland can be found in the squad-chart near the foot of this post.}

Iceland national team…
First of all, it is not as if Icelandic football suddenly came out nowhere. Because the Iceland national team was good enough, a couple years back, to make it as far as the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualification Second Round (play-offs) – where, in November 2013, Iceland fell at the last hurdle to Croatia, 0-2 aggregate. Now, two years later on, Iceland, with a population of around just 329,000 {2015 estimate}, has become the smallest-ever nation to qualify for one of the biggest football tournaments in the world, The Euros. This side from the tiny and far-northern Nordic island-nation of Iceland all but cemented their qualification by recently beating the Netherlands national team, in Amsterdam, North Holland. That happened on 3 September 2015, before 50,275 at Ajax’ Amsterdam Arena (capacity 53 K). Iceland, who had only a 38% possession rate versus the Dutch that game, won 0-1 on a 51st minute penalty kick by Gylfi Sigurðsson. By the way, three thousand Iceland supporters made the 1,250 mile air journey from Reykjavik to Amsterdam to attend that match in the Dutch capital. That meant that exactly 1 percent of the entire population of the nation of Iceland was there to cheer on their beloved team, whom they call Strákarnir okkar (Our boys).

After 8 of the 10 games for the qualifying Group A, the top scorer in the group is Iceland attacking-Midfielder/Winger Gylfi Sigurðsson (who plays professionally for Premier League club Swansea City AFC). Sigurdsson has notched 5 goals in 8 matches.

Iceland national team coach(es)…
Iceland has a dual-coach set-up.

The elder of the two joint-head-coaches is the 67-year-old Swede Lars Lagerbäck, who led Sweden to 2 FIFA World Cups (2002 & 2006) and 2 UEFA Euros (2004 & 2008) – then resigned after Sweden failed in the 2010 WC qualification. Lagerbäck then signed on as Iceland national team coach in 2011. At the same time in 2011, the Iceland football association (KSI) also appointed now-46-year-old Iceland-native Heimir Hallgrímsson as assistant coach of Iceland. Then in 2014, the two signed new contracts and became joint-managers (Lagerbäck plans to retire following the 2016 Euros).

Captain of Iceland squad…
Aron Gunnarsson, CMF/DM (who plays for Welsh club Cardiff City of the English second division). Aron Gunnarsson. Cardiff City Defensive-Midfielder Aron Gunnarsson is captain of the Iceland squad and is one of two Iceland starters born in the tiny northern Iceland port-town of Akureyri, which is located 246 km (153 mi) NE of capital-city Reykjavic {note: Akureyri’s location on the map is shown in the squad-chart illustration further below}. The other Akureyri-born Iceland starter is FC Basel Winger Birkir Bjarnaon. Both have scored twice in the 2016 Euros qualifiers, and both started in the historic match of Iceland v Kazakhstan, in Reykjavik, on 6 Sept. 2015. That match ended 0-0, before a sell-out-crowd of 9.7 K at the national team home ground, Laugardalsvöllur. That one point Iceland got from that draw clinched qualification for them, and they now are going to France next summer.

Akureyri, pop. 18,900: the second city of Iceland…
icelands-second-city_akureyri_b_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Mike Powell at Akureyri – Iceland’s Second City (iceland.for91days.com).

The following article has a whole bunch of great photos and a good write-up. From the Iceland For 91 Days blog, from 17 Oct. 2013, by Mike Powell, Akureyri – Iceland’s Second City.
Akureyri is only a few miles from the Arctic Circle (about 100 km or 60 mi S of the Arctic Circle). Akureyri is further north than Fairbanks, Alaska, and it has a population of only around 18.9 K. Yet this small and stunningly beautiful fishing village is actually the fourth largest municipality in Iceland, and second-largest urban area in the country. Akureyi has an ice-free port, year-round, thanks to the unusual geothermic conditions there in Iceland. Iceland sits atop the constantly-and-incrementally widening Mid-Atlantic Ridge – thus geothermic activities such as heat vents, geysers, lava floes, and volcanoes are common there. From the Wikipedia page linked to in the sentence above, “Although the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is mostly an underwater feature, portions of it have enough elevation to extend above sea level. The section of the ridge that includes the island of Iceland is also known as the Reykjanes Ridge. The ridge has an average spreading rate of about 2.5 cm per year.” At the following link, you can see two photos of geologic features that the Ridge has produced in Iceland, as well as a map of Iceland which shows the Ridge there and the active volconos (the red triangles), en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-Atlantic_Ridge#Notable_features.

In fact, Icelanders by-and-large do not have to pay much at all for energy and for heat in their home residences, thanks to geothermal power plants in Iceland. From the Wikipedia page Geothermal power in Iceland,…”Five major geothermal power plants exist in Iceland, which produce approximately 26.2% (2010) of the nation’s energy. In addition, geothermal heating meets the heating and hot water requirements of approximately 87% of all buildings in Iceland. Apart from geothermal energy, 73.8% of the nation’s electricity is generated by hydro power.”. That and much more (such as the facts that Iceland is…”where people buy the most books; where life expectancy for men is the highest in the world, and not far behind for women; [and] it’s the only country in NATO with no armed forces (they were banned 700 years ago)”)…all that is touched upon in the following long but excellent article from TheGuardian.com, from May 2008, written by John Carlin, No wonder Iceland has the happiest people on earth (theguardian.com/world).

    Iceland national team – starting line-up (Best XI) from match which clinched their qualification for the 2016 Euros…

Note: you can click on the image below to place it in a separate page (for easier viewing).

(Iceland starting squad from 6 September 2015, Iceland 0-0 Kazakhstan. Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavik, Iceland, attendance: 9,767.)
iceland_national-team_best-XI_6-sept-2015_2016-euros_qualifying_lagerback-and-hallgrimsson_v_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Coaches’ photo, by Laurie Dieffembacq at gettyimages.com.
Iceland-on-globe map, by Ninrouter at File:Iceland (orthographic projection).svg.
Iceland topographic blank map, by NordNordWest/ derivative work: Виктор В, at File:Iceland relief map.jpg (commons.wikimedia.org). [Segment of] Iceland map (for the Arctic Circle dotted-line), by Burmesedays at File:Iceland Regions map.png (commons.wikimedia.org).
Squad -
GK,

Hannes Þór Halldórsson (NEC [Netherlands]), photo by Getty Images via visir.is.
Defenders,
RB, Birkir Már Sævarsson (Hammarby [Sweden]), photo by ggfoto.nu. CB, Kári Árnason (Malmö FF), photo by Jean Catuffe at gettyimages.com. CB, Ragnar Sigurðsson (FK Krasnodar [Russia]), photo by Eurofootball via gettyimages.ca. LB, Ari Freyr Skúlason (OB [Denmark]), photo by Lars Ronbog at gettyimages.com.
Midfielders/Wingers,
RW, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Charlton Athletic [England, 2nd division]), photo unattributed at twitter.com/dfarmer0602. CMF, Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City [Welsh club playing in England, 2nd division]), photo by Huw Evans photo agency via bbc.com/sport. AMF, Gylfi Sigurðsson (Swansea City [Welsh club playing in England's Premier League ), photo by /photos/Gylfi+Sigurdsson/Swansea+City+v+Manchester+City+Premier+League/ACMKzg5lozM">zimbio.com. LW, Birkir Bjarnason (FC Basel [Switzerland]), photo by Simon Hofmann at gettyimages.de.
Forwards,
CF, Kolbeinn Sigþórsson (FC Nantes [France]), photo by Jean-Sebastien Evrard at gettyimages.com. CF, Jón Daði Böðvarsson (Viking [Norway]), photo by NTP Scanpix via dagbladet.no.
Other player-options on 2015 Iceland national team,
CF, Eiður Guðjohnsen (Shijiazhuang Ever Bright [China]), photo from zhibocang.com/news.
CF, Viðar Örn Kjartansson (Jiangsu Guoxin-Sainty [China]), photo [image] from a screenshot of a video at youtube.com [uploaded by Василий Мантулин].
CF, Alfreð Finnbogason (Olympiacos [Greece]), photo by Olympiakos FC via Twitter feed of Alfred Finbogason, twitter.com/@a_finnbogason [tweet for 9 Aug. 2015].
-Squad celebrating after beating the Czechs in Reykjavic in June 2015, photo by Getty Images via uefa.com at Iceland down Czech Republic to top Group A 9article from 12 June 2015].
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Thanks to all at the links below…
-UEFA Euro 2016.
-Úrvalsdeild
-Iceland (en.wikipedia.org).
-Photos of Reykjavic stadia, groundhopping.se. Groundhopping.se is on the blogroll here.
-Attendances, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm.

September 7, 2015

Spain: 2015-16 La Liga location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed./ Plus, the 3 clubs promoted to La Liga for 2015-16 (Betis, Sporting Gijón, and Las Palmas)./ Plus an update on Eibar (relegated as 18th-place-finisher in 2014-15, but re-instated into La Liga for 2015-16 following Elche’s expulsion for tax delinquency).

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts,Spain — admin @ 8:45 pm

Note: to see my latest map-&-post of Spanish football, click on the following, category: Spain.
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spain_la-liga_2015-16_map_clubs-2014-15-attendance_clubs-1st-div-seasons_titles_post_h_.gif
Spain: 2015-16 La Liga location-map, with: 14/15 attendance data, seasons-in-1st-division-by-club & major titles listed




Links…
-Teams, etc…2015–16 La Liga (en.wikipedia.org).
-Fixtures, results, table, stats…Primera División (soccerway.com/national/spain/primera-division).
-Here is a great blog which I have had on my blogroll here since 2007…Spanish Football & Sports blog (spanishfootballsports.blogspot.com).
-Football Espana site…football-espana.net.

By Bill Turianski on 7 September 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

On the map page…
The map page features the same template as my recent Germany and England top flight map-&-posts. Cities listed on the map comprise the 5 largest cities (metro-areas) in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao…all Spanish cities with a metro-area population over .9 million) {source: List of metropolitan areas in Spain (en.wikipedia.org).

    The 3 clubs Promoted from the 2014-15 La Segunda to La Liga for 2015-16:
    Betis, Sporting Gijón, and Las Palmas/
    (+ 18th-place Eibar, who were re-instated following Elche’s expulsion from La Liga for tax delinquency)

2014-15 Segunda División champions…
Betis. Real Betis Balompié S.A.D., est. 1907.
Seville, Andalusia, Spain.
Ground: Estadio Benito Villamarín. Capacity 52,500 seated (capacity lowered from actual-seated-capacity of 56,500). Opened 1929; last renovated 1997-2000.
Seasons that Betis have spent in La Liga [the Spanish 1st division]: 50 seasons [counting 2015-16]. Previous spell in Spanish 1st division: a 3-season spell, from 2010-11 to 2013-14.
Major titles: 1 Spanish title (1934-35). (Zero Copa del Rey titles.)
Estadio Benito Villamarín…
betis_estadio-benito-villamarin_d_.gif
Photo credits above -
Exterior shot: by Gregory Zeier at File:Stade Manuel Ruiz de Lopera Séville.JPG (commons.wikimedia.org).
Aerial shot, unattributed at skyscrapercity.com/thread-[SEVILLA - Estadio Benito Villamarín (56,500) ].

Squad info, etc…-2015-16 season preview: Betis.
The bright-green-&-white clad Betis have had three spells in the second division in the last 15 years {en.wikipedia.org/Real_Betis/team statistics}. Betis are probably one of the 5 or 6 biggest yo-yo clubs in all of Europe (“up there” with Hertha Berlin, FC Köln, FC Nürnberg, Sunderland, FC Kaiserslautern, RC Lens, Norwich City, Wolverhampton, Sporting Gijón, and Bologna). Betis is a club which can draw between 34-and-37 K in decent seasons (such as in 2011-12 and 2012-13), and can actually draw as high as 30 K when they are stuck in the 2nd division (like they did in 2014-15, en route to the Segunda División title).

When Betis are in the top flight, it seems that they are constantly battling for their first division life. It just seems that way, though, because Betis can actually pull off a great season now and then, such as in 2012-13 when they finished 7th and then qualified for the 13/14 UEFA Europa League; and especially such as in 2004-05, when they finished 4th and then qualified for the 05/06 UEFA Champions League Group Stage (that made Betis the first Andalusian team to play in the rarefied air of the Champions League Group Stage).

The biggest impediment to Betis’ success in the last two decades has been their felonious and monstrously corrupt former owner Manuel Ruiz de Lopera – who entered the scene in 1992, helped get Betis’ much-too-large stadium re-built in 2000, grandiosely got the stadium named after him…then in 2006 was sentenced to a two-and-a-half year prison term for embezzlement of over €30 million. At the Betis fansite BlogBetis.com, at their article The History of Betis, it is recounted how…{excerpt}…”In 2006 he [Manuel Ruiz de Lopera] was found guilty of ‘financial irregularities’ by Spain’s Inland Revenue between 1996 and 1997. From his tenure at Betis, he is alleged to have taken €36 million from the club – roughly half the amount of debt he left the club in. He basically contracted out Betis’ employees and services to his own personal companies and properties, for a vastly inflated fee.”

Although Betis can and do outdraw local rivals Sevilla in some seasons (such as in 2011-12 & 2012-13), they still suffer from a deficit of attention due to the presence of FC Sevilla there in the capital of Andalusia. So you might say that the second biggest problem Betis has had in the modern era is that the club suffers from the ‘Sheffield syndrome’, which is my term for a city which would probably be better off if just one medium-large club, as opposed to two medium-large clubs, existed there. Maybe I am wrong and Seville is a city big enough and football-focused enough to swing two quasi-contender-top-tier clubs, but I think that Spanish football would be a more competitive affair in the present-day Real/Barca duopoly if only one title-contender had ever emerged from Seville (which is Spain’s fourth-biggest city, with a metro-population of around 1.2 million/ see this, List of metropolitan areas in Spain). Like it is with respect to Spain’s 3rd-largest city, Valencia, a city which does have 2 top-flight clubs, but of the two, only Valencia CF is big enough to compete for trophies, while Levante is simply happy to avoid the drop on the few occasions in which they have been in La Liga.


2014-15 Segunda División runner-up…
Sporting Gijón. Real Sporting de Gijón, S.A.D., est. 1907.
Gijón, Asturias, Spain.
Ground: El Molinón. Capacity: 30,000. Opened 1908; last renovated 1997 and 2008.
Seasons that Gijón have spent in La Liga [the Spanish 1st division]: 41 seasons [counting 2015-16]. Previous spell in Spanish 1st division: a 4-season spell, from 2007-08 to 2011-12.
Major titles: none.
El Molinón…
sporting-gijon_el-molinon_d_.gif
Photo credits above –
Aerial shot: unattributed at ea1fft.es.tl/SPORTING-DE-GIJON.
Interior shot: by Sporting Gijón at realsporting.com.

Squad info, etc…-2015-16 season preview: Sporting Gijon.
Gijón wear Atletico-Madrid-style colors (red-and-white striped jerseys and bright-royal-blue pants). As alluded to in the section above, Sporting Gijón are probably one of the 9 or 10 biggest yo-yo clubs in Europe…while not as high-drawing as Betis, Gijón can draw 21 K in the top tier and around 17-19 K in the second division. They, like Betis, have won 3 promotions in the era of the 2000s. Gijón’s best finish was in 1978-79, when they were runner-up, finishing 4 points behind Real Madrid. Situated in the north of Spain on the Bay of Biscay, about equidistant from Bilbao on the east and La Coruna on the west, Gijón is in the Autonomous Community of Asturias. The metropolitan area of Oviedo–Gijón–Avilés is the 7th-largest metro-area in Spain, with about 840,000 population {2007 estimate}. (Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, is about 8 miles south of Gijón).

Sporting Gijón boasts a fine stadium, the venerable 30-K-capacity El Molinón. This is a proper Spanish-style stadium with seats right up against the pitch, and with the corners filled in, yet with four distinct and staggered-sized stands, some of which are at a viewer-friendly high-pitched-angle. (It sort of looks like a smaller St James’ Park [Newcastle], without all the erector-set-cantilver bracing.) As it says in the stadium’s Wikipedia page, “El Molinón is the oldest professional football field in Spain. It has been in use since at least 1908, and is located on the site of an old watermill, hence the stadium’s name, the Asturian word for “big mill”…”


2014-15 Segunda División play-offs finals winner…
Las Palmas. Unión Deportiva Las Palmas S.A.D., est. 1949.
Las Palmas, Gran Canaria Island, Canary Islands, Spain.
Ground: Estadio Gran Canaria. Capacity: 32,150. Opened: 2003.
Seasons that Las Palmas have spent in La Liga [the Spanish 1st division]: 32 seasons [counting 2015-16]. Previous spell in Spanish 1st division: a 2-season spell, from 2000-2002.
Major titles: none.
Estadio Gran Canaria…
las-palmas_estadio-gran-canaria_e_.gif
Photo credit above – by: Quique Curbello at laprovincia.es/deportes/2014/11/07/luz-verde-iniciar-obras-graderio.

Squad info, etc…-2015-16 season preview: Las Palmas.
There are two clubs from the Canary Islands which have had top flight experience: the dark-blue clad Tenerife (from the Island of Tenerife) and the royal blue-and-yellow clad Las Palmas (from the Island of Gran Canaria). It is hard to say which of the two are a bigger club, because their crowd sizes vary so much from season-to-season, depending on how well the clubs are doing (the clubs draw within a wide ~9-K-to-19-K-range in 2nd division; although Tenerife were stuck in the 3rd division for a season recently, and last season Tenerife only drew 9.6 K). Tenerife have spent 13 seasons in La Liga (last in 2009-10, when they drew 18.0 K); Las Palmas now will have spent 32 seasons in La Liga (previously in 2001-02, when they drew 16.4 K). I would have to give the nod to Las Palmas as being the biggest club from the Canary Islands. I think Las Palmas will be drawing around 20 K in 2015-16 – as long as they can remain outside the relegation-zone, or at least be showing a solid chance of avoiding the drop (which might be too big an ask).

The biggest obstacle that Canary Islands-based clubs face is the sheer isolation of the Canaries from mainland Spain. Las Palmas, Gran Canaria is 1,750 km (1,090 mi) from Madrid ! You can imagine how hard it would be for Canary Islands-based clubs to lure good Spanish mainlanders to play for them…for all intents and purposes, the Canary Islands in this respect could be seen as Spain’s tropical Siberia. An example of what this means vis-a-vis rosters for Canary-Islands-based-teams is that in their successful 14/15 promotion-campaign, no less than 90% of the Las Palmas squad were Canary-Islands-born. Anyway, after a wrenching Segunda División 13/14 play-offs finals loss (to Córdoba), Las Palmas shrugged off that set-back and made the play-offs again in 2014-15, as 4th place finishers. Then in the Segunda División 14/15 play-offs, Las Palmas defeated Valladolid in the semis, and then defeated Zaragoza in the finals, thanks to a dramatic and acrobatic 86th-minute goal by then-Boca Juniors loanee Sergio Araujo. That match was played at Estadio Gran Canaria, with 28 K in attendance. Araujo (age 23) has now signed with Las Palmas.

Las Palmas were last in La Liga 13 seasons ago, during a 2-season top flight spell that ended in 2002. Back then, Las Palmas were drawing between 16.4-and-17.2 K as a top flight club. They have a new stadium now. Talk about bad timing, though…Las Palmas were relegated down to the 2nd division the year before the 32,000-capacity Estadio Gran Canaria was opened (in 2003). Talk about bad planning, too, because the folks who run these things out there in the Canary Islands did not get the memo that says that ALL football fans detest stadiums with stupid, useless, and atmosphere-destroying running tracks. So, another decent stadium in the Latin lands ruined by an idiotic running track (sigh). In the photo above, just look at that soul-destroying and yawning +60-foot gap between the stands behind the goal there [in the foreground], and the pitch. Sheesh, you’d need binoculars from the first row.


And finally…
Re-instated (as 18th-place finishers), into La Liga for 2015-16, following Elche’s expulsion for violating 1st division financial criteria…
SD Eibar. Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, S.A.D., est. 1940.
Eibar, Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Spain.
Ground: Ipurua. Capacity: 6,237 for La Liga matches (as of Sept. 2015). Opened: 1947; last renovation – currently ongoing (2014-2015-onward to ~2018).
Seasons that Eibar have spent in La Liga [the Spanish 1st division]: 2 seasons [counting 2015-16].

[Note, Eibar is pronounced "A-bar".]

Squad info, etc…-2015-16 season preview: Eibar (football-espana.net).
Basque Country side SD Eibar were shock-promotion-winners in 2014 (when they drew 3.0 K in the 2nd division in their tiny, then-5.2-K-capacity stadium). Eibar became the smallest-ever club to play in La Liga. They started the 2014-15 La Liga season very strong (and were in 7th place in early December 2014), but they then went through a horrible run that saw them winless in 7 and then into the relegation places by March 2015. They rallied, but it wasn’t enough. But if Eibar played in England, Germany, Italy, or France (or most any other place in Europe), they would have automatically stayed up last season – because all those leagues sensibly use Goal Difference as the first tie-breaker for league table placement, and Eibar had a better goal difference than the other two clubs they were even on points with. But Spain uses the ant-democratic Head-to-Head as first tiebreaker. How elitist. Spain is saying that when teams are dead-locked on points total at the end of the season, the league as a whole is secondary – the issue of settling who finishes above whom is only an issue between the two clubs who are tied. Or the three clubs who are tied. Etc. (Try following that at home.)

Which is what happened on the final day of the 2014-15 La Liga season, when Deportivo La Coruña, Granada, and Eibar were all deadlocked at 35 points…and one of those three had to end up in 18th place, and thus be relegated. And the Head-to-Head records were: Deportivo with 7 pts, Granada with 6 pts, Eibar with 2 pts. So Eibar were relegated back to La Segunda on 15 May 2015.

Then three weeks later, on 5 June 2015, Eibar got a reprieve. Another La Liga club – Elche, of Valencia province – ended up running afoul of financial rules (tax delinquency), so the 13th-place-finishing Elche were relegated instead. In the Spanish top flight, tax debt is not necessarily a punishable offense, but the failure of a club to provide a re-payment-plan with a time-table, well, that is a punishable offense, and tax-delinquent Elche was punished with automatic relegation to the 2nd division. {See this article, by Tim Stoddard at FourFourTwo.com for more on that, Did Elche get their just deserts with demotion?.}

This made room for the highest-placed relegated club, and that was SD Eibar, the plucky little club from the small town of Eibar in the looming foothills of the Pyrenees (population 28,000). So Eibar remains in the top flight, and just in time for SD Eibar to start off their 75th Anniversary season in grand style…Celtic, the Scottish giants, accepted an invitation to play a friendly at Ipurua in July of 2015 {see third article linked to in the next paragraph, and see Eibar’s Scottsh connection in the last photo and caption in the illustration further below}. Then in late August, Eibar went out and started the 2015-16 La Liga season by beating Granada away (by a 1-3 score), and then they beat Basque giants Athletic [Bilbao] 2-0, at Ipurua, in front of 5,500.

Here are a couple nice, illustrated articles on Eibar’s little gem of a stadium, Ipurua (current capacity 6,237 seated), plus a recent article on Eibar’s Scottish connection…
-From Footballallnews.com, 2014-2015 La Liga Stadium Tour: Eibar – Ipurua
-From The Basque Pass.com, from 29 June 2015, by Euan McTear, THE LONG READ: Breaking Down Eibar’s Stadium Expansion.
-From The Herald (Scotland), from 17 July 2015, also by Eaun McTear, Bagpipes in the Basque: Why Celtic are playing Eibar this weekend (heraldscotland.com/sport).

Eibar’s expansion plan for Ipurua…
Construction scheduled from 2014-to-2018/ adding about 4,800 more seats to make Ipurua a 9-K-capacity ground…
By January 2018, SD Eibar plan to meet new Segunda Division minimum stadium seated-capacity requirements of 9,000-seated. If Eibar are still in the 1st division at that point (2018-19), the club hopes that the Spanish football authorities will allow them a waiver for the 1st division minimum stadium seated-capacity of 15,000-seated. As it is, there is scant room for further expansion of the ground because of how narrow the mountain-valley is, in which the town of Eibar is situated in. Large public housing occupies the land immediately behind the North Stand, and a highway is right up against the South Stand. Behind the West Stand (a goal stand) is the team’s training pitch, and behind the East Stand (another goal stand), there is more large public housing. {See aerial/bird’s-eye satellite view of Ipurua from Bing.com satellite-view, here (zoom using + sign at top-right, for bird’s-eye-effect); or see it in the illustration below.} There really is nowhere to forther expand Ipurua, unless public housing is torn down, or unless Eibar tears up their practice pitch. That is why I think Eibar will get the minimum-capacity waiver if it ever comes to that juncture. Besides, a 15-K-stadium for a town of only 28,000 is just plain crazy.

Ipurua…
eibar_ipurua_2014-15-north-stand-expansion_p.gif"
Photo credits above –
Ipurua exterior shot (NE corner of the stadium, near old North Stand entrance) & interior shot (SW view towards the hills, SW of town): unattributed at footballallnews.com [stadium tour of Ipurua].
Aerial shot: bing.com/maps
Half-way built new North Stand: shot by Chris Murphy / CNN at ‘Miracle’ club Eibar a blueprint for soccer’s future? (cnn.com).
2015 Ipurua stadium expansion, photo: unattributed at estadiosdeespana.com/posts/eibar-ipurua.
Photo from Ipurua East Stand of the Eskozia la Brava fan group, shot by Ramón Beitia at blogseitb.com/eibar; eitb.eus/es/blogs.
Photo of Eskozia La Brava mural outside wall of East Stand, by Gorka Aranzabal at panoramio.com.
___
Thanks to all at the links below…
-Blank map of Spain, by NordNordWest, at File:Spain location map.svg (en.wikipedia.org).
-Blank map of Spain incl. Canary Islands [segment], by HansenBCN, at File:EspañaLoc.svg.
-Blank map of Spain incl. Canary Islands, by Miguillen, at File:España-Canarias-loc.svg.
-Attendances from E-F-S site, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm.
-2014-15 stadium capacities (for league matches) from 2014-15 La Liga (en.wikipedia.org).
-Titles and seasons-in-1st-division data from La Liga (en.wikipedia.org).
-Thanks to the contributors at 2015–16 La Liga (en.wikipedia.org).
-Thanks to Football-Espana.net, for the nice team previews; Football-Espana.net can be found at the blogroll here.
-Thanks to Euan McTear at The Basque Pass.com for the 2 excellent articles; The Basque Pass.com can be found at the blogroll here.

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