最“有安全感” 夫妻档,靠股权经营!

你认为最完美的夫妻档是靠什么经营? 靠感情经营吗? 那或者只是答对了一半,其实最“有安全感”的作法是靠股权来经营!

今天“企动人心”想与大家分享的企业故事,是美国企业 Stacy’s Pita Chips联合创始人Stacy Madison与Mark Andrus的创业旅程,他们从街边档发展至6500万美元年度业绩,10年后成功把公司以2亿5000万美元脱售给百事可乐。

小赠品变出大商机

Stacy与男友Mark皆是修读心理学,热爱社会工作。由于Stacy也喜欢烹饪,于是两个大学毕业生就这样于1996年在波士顿某街边,开设了一个卖皮塔(Pita)三文治的档口。

Stacy制作的三文治如档口名字“Stacy’s D’Lites”般美味,所以经常都吸引了长长的人龙排队。为了安抚等待的顾客,Stacy把原本切掉剩余的皮塔饼边,加入少许干酪和肉桂糖后,制成皮塔片(Pita Chip)。

越微小的东西,往往越是可以创造出庞大的商机!原是“赠品”的皮塔片,意外地大受顾客喜爱,从赠品变收费1美元的附属产品,再变成赚大钱的主打产品。

由于皮塔片供不应求,Stacy与Mark开始在朋友家厨房烘焙皮塔片,之后使用Pretzel Bakery烘焙设备……逐渐地已经没时间经营三文治档口。

1998年,仅皮塔片销售已达到1万9000美元;到了2001年,Stacy’s Pita Chips年度营业额已经过百万美元。

婚姻仅短暂维持约5年

谈回Stacy与Mark这对恋人,两人共同经营的公司各持50%股权,他们于1997年结婚,但婚姻仅短暂维持了约5年, 于 2002年正式离婚, 两人在这段婚姻中也未生育孩子。

尽管离异,但是这对过气夫妻依然保持十分融洽的生意伙伴兼股东关系。

Stacy说,与Mark拥有共同目标,婚姻刚开始时也很美好,但两人的相处,在后来变成大部份时间都在讨论公事,忙了一整天回到家,也没有精力去认真看待及解决夫妻间的事。

但是在公事上,两人是十分合拍的生意伙伴,即使离婚后合拍度未減。以致后来两人都认为应该把关系退回一步,当好朋友兼生意伙伴,好过当夫妻。

Stacy形容,与Mark曾拥有美好婚姻,但也拥有成功的离婚关系,两人共同资产就是公司,大家都把大部份心思与资源投放在里头,公司就好像两人的小孩,所以即使离婚,也没必要分家。

被百事可乐Frito-Lay相中

2005年,Stacy’s Pita Chips的皮塔片生意规模,扩大至设厂生产,厂房占地3万5000平方尺,员工超过300人。 同年11月,该公司被百事可乐旗下的Frito-Lay Inc看中,并展开收购!

Frito-Lay Inc是美国零食界龙头,薯片的年销售额7亿美元。

收购当时年度业绩达6500万美元的Stacy’s Pita Chips,对Frito-Lay Inc来说是如虎添翼,希望在总值900亿美元的巨大零食类市场中,再占更多席位。

对于为何会愿意出售自己一手创办的企业,Stacy说,由于当时自己已身为人母(离婚后,她通过精子银行产下一对孪生女儿),事业与家庭难以兼顾。

而且,加入Frito-Lay Inc,对Stacy’s Pita Chips的未来发展会有更大的潜能。有趣的是,Frito-Lay Inc的出价并不是最高的,但是Stacy认为,价值永远比金钱更重要。所以她选择了Frito-Lay Inc,认为它更适合Stacy’s Pita Chips。

被Frito-Lay Inc收购后,Stacy分红给公司里的每一个员工,因为她认为,成功从来不属于她一个人的功劳,而是用心制做、烘焙皮塔片的团队。

最成功的离婚夫妻档

夫妻档要做到好像Stacy与Mark般,连离婚也不把个人情绪带进公司,除了要赞扬两位当事人皆非常成熟、有量度以外,也非常关乎我们常说的—股权艺术。

许多夫妻档一旦离婚,连公司里的员工也成为被殃及的池鱼,然后公司里四分五裂,你争我斗!最后市场和顾客都慢慢都被竞争对手抢走了,连员工也不想留了,赔了婚姻又赔上生意。

无论是Stacy与Mark的“成功离婚案例”,又或者其他许多你争我斗的夫妻档,其实从理性的企业思维来说,最完美的夫妻档不是靠感情经营,而是靠完美的股权科学与艺术。

再完美的爱情都可能被小三打败,只有真真实实握在手中的股权才不会背叛你,还会永远保障你。

企业家们,股权的规划并不只是数字上的分配,如何做好股权的科学与艺术,是需要很多规划与行动。一家企业要做得好,要有的不只是战略、好的生意模式,更重要的是股东和团队。

企业要做得好,跑得远,大家一定要有一致的大方向,所以人(股东)是很重要。如果你想了解更多股权的规划,请马上报名就在本周五及周六(23 & 24/4/21)连续两天的《生意要做大,股权要规划6.0》线上研讨会。

这项研讨会获得热烈反应,名额已经非常有限,请马上报名,让我们与你分享股权科学、股东的五大艺术。

Stacy’s Pita Chips教会我们的事:

一、不要忘记倾听顾客的声音:Stacy的梦想是要开一家餐厅,后来开了一摊街边档卖皮塔三文治,这皆源自于她对食物的热爱。但是后来发现顾客更深爱她的皮塔片,这个意外发现也造就了后来她事业版图的转换跑道。而这个转换,更是把生意带上另一层次的重要决定。Stacy的故事让我们领悟到,在对待自己的产品时,不能过分盲目,一切应从客户的角度出发。

二、有人,才有企业:企业这个字,上面是“人”,下面是“止”,也就是说如果人不对,企业就会停止。曾经是社会工作者的Stacy,对员工也是以诚相待,尽管Frito-Lay Inc出价并不是最高,但是Stacy认为对留下来的员工来说会是更好的前景。被收购后,Stacy分红给公司里的每一个员工的举动,以行动证明员工是最重要的资产,也让人对这位女企业家有崇高的钦佩。

三、股权的艺术:与生意伙伴从恋人变夫妻再变前夫,当中两人关系的变化都没有影响企业的发展。由于两人是平股,若股东不和,公司就无法前进,因为没有任何一方是重大决策人。因此,Stacy与Mark把股东之间的股权艺术,做到了完美极致。

Economy Is Recovering, Is Now A Good Time To Start A Business? Here Is The Opportunity For You To Say YES!

With Malaysians adhering to SOPs and the vaccination programme rolling out in stages, it is no wonder Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) projected that the country’s economy will grow between 6% and 7.5% this year. We are now starting to see positive responses in the market as stores are reopening and consumers are now out and about doing the usual shopping and dining outside of home. Working adults are back in the office while students have returned to school with traffic back on the road like how it was during the pre-pandemic days.

This change in consumer behaviour is great news to small businesses as it is time to regain momentum and to continue plans that were previously set. For those inspired to start a new business after being at home for months, Bina Bersama 2021 is here to help! The Bina Bersama 2021 campaign was launched early this year and a number of tenants have already signed up for this opportunity. Businesses that have opened in our EcoWorld townships in Iskandar Malaysia, Klang Valley and Penang include restaurants, cafés, salons and beauty shops, education centres, eyewear shops and many more. Applications are still open for participation in the Bina Bersama 2021 campaign but with limited slots available. Let’s recap how Bina Bersama 2021 can help you kickstart your life as an entrepreneur.

Bina Bersama 2021, a collaboration campaign between EcoWorld and iMedia Asia to provide SMEs digital media advertising worth up to a total of RM1 MILLION*, helping and supporting these small businesses through iMedia’s brands and platforms. This partnership was formed with a goal to help local start-ups as the pandemic has hindered many who lacked funds and assistance to start or grow their businesses.

If you are planning to have a dedicated area for your business, office, or even factory, EcoWorld’s 13 strategic commercial properties located in Klang Valley, Iskandar Malaysia, and Penang are the perfect locations. These business parks are accessible from major highways and are conveniently located close to the city centres. Regardless of which EcoWorld commercial unit you choose, you will be eligible to participate in Bina Bersama 2021 and receive digital media advertisement coverage for your business that was granted from this campaign.

Digital media platforms in Malaysia such as Oh! Media, Newswav, Goody25, ITTIFY, Moretify, Beautiful Nara and many more are taking part in Bina Bersama 2021, with a total potential reach of 5.9 million users. For small businesses and entrepreneurs, this amount of reach and exposure is hard to come by and is definitely a one in a million opportunity!

Don’t let your potential business ideas and strategies go to waste. This is a great chance for you to realise your entrepreneurial dreams and to be part of Malaysia’s economic growth. No matter what industry your business is in, with the help of EcoWorld’s premium commercial locations and iMedia’s digital advertising platforms, you can have the perfect location for your workspace, build your own team, and increase brand awareness through the power of digital media.

What are you waiting for? Start your business today and register your interest now at www.ecoworld.my/binabersama 

*Terms and conditions apply

Avoid being sentimental in business

Malaysiakini - US banks deem Malaysia a 'high-risk money laundering'  destination
Pic: Malaysiakini

During the last 12 months, I have met many SMEs facing severe cashflow problems due to losses and reduced revenue. My first advice is always to regularise cashflow sufficiently to cover monthly operating expenses and bank payments.

Unlike any other recession, the current pandemic-induced recession has caused the most pain across many industries and livelihoods of individuals all over the world.

Like all recessions, businesses have to reset their priorities and strategies going forward.

During the last 12 months, I have met many SMEs facing severe cashflow problems due to losses and reduced revenue.

My first advice is always to regularise cashflow sufficiently to cover monthly operating expenses and bank payments.

Most times, for older companies, they have property assets – land or factory warehouse buildings charged against banking facilities.

For the smaller businesses, sometimes they have the house that they stay in being charged to the bank for bank facilities used by the company.

In the old days, every SME’s priority was to own a property when they started making money just because they knew the property would definitely have capital appreciation and they could secure additional banking facilities based on higher revaluation of the property later on.

Our local “kiasu” banking system will insist on collateral with every loan application besides tying up your arms and legs in additional protection via personal guarantees.

Looks like nothing has changed unless the loans are 80% guaranteed by Credit Guarantee Corp. Different banks have different risk appetite for SME loans.

As an SME operator, when do you decide whether you should buy a property?

That will depend on your spare positive cashflow and your intention or purpose of the investment.

If it is for own business use it is ok.

If you are a trading company and you buy houses and apartments for investment using company funds, then the stretch on your cashflow will come back to bite you later when your business is not doing well.

In such cases, it is better to dividend out the profits to shareholders and let the shareholders invest in their personal capacity.

SMEs must be disciplined in their financial management of the company.

If you cannot afford it, have a smaller office. No harm in staying humble.

Capex should only be on necessary investments that contribute towards revenue and the bottom line.

In that way, the core business will enjoy sustainable growth. Investment in non-core assets that do not contribute positively to revenue growth of the core business should be avoided.

All these problems will surface when SMEs face a recession.

So, what do you do in a very weak property market when your assets have to be sold at a much lower valuation? Sometimes the final selling price is not sufficient to cover all the multiple loans that you have charged to the banks.

Troubled SMEs have a few options available depending on individual company state of affairs.

Reach out to external equity. If your business is still viable but extremely short on cashflow, look for external investors. Be prepared to give up part of your shareholding. General rule of thumb – the major shareholder looks after financing of working capital. If the external investor takes a majority position, then let him finance the business and you can discharge your property from the bank.

If your business is still viable and the sale of property will provide you with additional cashflow and reduce the payment of bank interest, then do it. I am assuming you want to keep the company to yourself.

If your business is not viable and you are not able to get an external investor, sell your property, clear all bank loans and suppliers debt and close the company. No point using good money to chase after bad money. You will dig a bigger hole than what it is now.

During a crisis, it is critical to think with less emotion and stop being sentimental. Pay attention to the numbers and the cashflow required. Don’t forget this year is going to be another tough year. The pandemic will not go away this year or the next.

It is difficult to see your business which you built over the last twenty years face a difficult crossroads at this moment. But if your business has been facing difficulties pre-pandemic, then you have ignored the earlier stress signals. No excuse and no way you can blame the pandemic for the difficult situation that you are in now. The pandemic merely accelerated the declining performance of your company.

What I notice to be quite common among matured SME owners is the sentimental attachment they have for the business that they have grown accustomed to. While the external conditions and the industry have changed, they continue to operate in the same manner that they have been doing for the past twenty years. With disruptions coming in thick and fast, they simply do not stand a chance in this current market dynamics at play. What they don’t understand they ignore.

For the young entrepreneurs, you will travel the same journey as what the old entrepreneurs have gone through. You will experience rapid growth in the early years and have some good profitable years. Then you start feeling confident to purchase your own property. The you start having bigger dreams of investing into more properties, thinking that you can make more money from such investments.

Do be careful with your cashflow planning especially when paying more for interest on higher debt. Just remember the monthly principal instalments will reduce your cashflow needed for your core business. Rental revenue is never steady nor sufficient in an over supplied property market. Only invest when you have spare cash not needed by your core business.

It is not foolish to run your business on an asset light strategy until you have accumulated sufficient profit reserves. Focus on the core business and do it well. Never count the chickens before they are hatched. You might be disappointed if your dreams remain just a dream.

Learn from the mistakes made by old entrepreneurs like me. And trust me, we old geezers have made many many mistakes not because we are not wise. We are just sentimental, that’s all.

*Views expressed here are the writer’s own.

Lorry Flips Over on Sg. Besi Highway!

As reported by: Adammyrehab
Incident Date: 1:11 PM, Monday, 19 April 2021
Location: Sungai Besi Highway, Kuala Lumpur

Earlier this afternoon, a trailer was seen flipped over along the Sungai Besi highway.

As seen in the video below, the truck was flipped over its side along an exit, causing the entire exit to be obstructed. Cars were seen being redirected towards a different road by policemen that arrived on scene.

It is suspected that the lorry flipped because the driver was speeding and lost control when attempting to make a turn towards the exit.

At this time it is unknown if the driver sustained any injuries, or what the lorry was carrying when it flipped.

Drivers may want to avoid the highway in case the road is still closed off, which may cause congestion later in evening.

We’d like to remind everyone to be safe on the roads and to drive at safe speeds, better safe than sorry!


See anything interesting? Send us video clips or images of it and get paid up to RM500! Visit www.lokalwav.com to find out more.

Enjoy Xploria’s 4 Unique Scapes & Fun Activities!

Wondering what to do on weekends? Situated in Gamuda Gardens, Xploria is home to various attractions under X-scape, Playscape, Waterscape and Senscape, which comprise numerous fun-filled adventures for your whole family to explore. So start planning a visit to Xploria, Gamuda Gardens and its 50-acre pet friendly central park that is open everyday throughout the year!

1. X-scape

Calling all nature lovers! Escape to this lush green forest trail to relax your mind, body, and soul. Experience horse riding, nature walk, and enjoy the peaceful and serene nature sanctuary at Gardens Hill. A highly recommended spot for families to bond with each other and reconnect with nature.

Thrill seekers should definitely check out the Luge simulator in Experium, Gamuda Gardens Experience Gallery, where you can get that adrenaline rush while being indoors.

Children can also explore the environment through a series of well-curated outdoor learning programs at GPark’s Nature School, such as the Rainforest Scientist, Science of the soil, Aquatic Ecology and more. What a perfect eco-education platform for children to learn more about flora and fauna while having fun!

2. Playscape

If you love sports, make sure you pay a visit to Playscape! It is made up of two areas, the Adventure Playland and Paws Playland.

Aside from slides and swings, Adventure Playland is also equipped with a zipline and rock climbing elements that will definitely excite the kids. Paws Playland on the other hand is a dedicated space for your pet to roam free and a perfect spot for agility training.

There is also a huge field dedicated for football, bubble sports and any activities for your children to run around freely to release their overflowing energy! 

3. Waterscape

The hot weather these days makes it a great reason to have splashing fun! Enjoy the thrilling slides, pools, and water guns at the wonderful 12,700 square feet Big Bucket Splash water park! 

Families can also spend some quality time on the Donut Boat Ride that cruises along the scenic lake at Gamuda Gardens.

You can also play the latest watersports – Stand Up Paddle – here. It combines the principles of surfing and sailing where surfers can stand directly on the board, paddle and surfing. It’s really easy to learn!

4. Senscape

After all the fun activities and adventures, you and your family can hang out at Senscape’s Waterfront Village, dine at Freshii café, or chill by the balcony with scenic waterfall view while enjoying authentic Vietnamese coffee and food from Jane’s Nem Hanoi Authentic Spring Roll.

And if you are keen on working out in the gym or playing indoor sports such as badminton, head over to the Gardens Wellness area for all of these facilities and more. Upon entering, you will be greeted by an Olympic-length swimming pool and kids fun wading pool!

Since the activities have different opening hours, rates and some require advanced booking, it’s advisable to make a reservation first before heading over. Click here for more details or visit the information counter at Xploria from Friday to Sunday, 10am – 6pm.

Located about 20 minutes from Petaling Jaya, Gamuda Gardens is a multiple award-winning 810-acre integrated township with semi-detached homes, serviced apartments, and more. Its 50-acre lush Central Park is home to five beautiful lakes, two waterfalls and fountains, making it a perfect blend of nature and convenient living. It’s easily accessible via 3 main highways – the North South Highway, LATAR Expressway, and the Guthrie Corridor Expressway. 

Illaria Hillside Homes is a development in Gamuda Gardens consisting of two-storey link homes with three to four bedrooms, starting from RM1,650/month!*. Phase 1 of Illaria Hillside Homes was sold out within 2 hours on the day of its public preview. Phase 2 on the other hand is selling fast. Click HERE for more information on the beautiful Illaria Hillside Homes.

*Terms and Conditions Apply

Don’t Let Your Bad Posture Become A Habit!

Poor posture among children and teenagers is a common problem which should be treated early. The long-term habit of poor posture can also lead to Kyphosis – the scientific term for hunchback. Kyphosis causes a whole host of other issues related to the backbone, lungs, heart, digestive system and general health.

Once the spine has developed severe Kyphosis, it can take years of chiropractic treatment to straighten it, or even surgery. That is also why fixing poor posture – be it for children or adults – is so important. A convenient and affordable way to treat poor posture is by wearing a posture corrector.

Do posture correctors really work?

Yes, if it is used correctly and with consistent frequency for at least 21 days. They can put your spine in the correct position and remind your body of the correct posture. The right posture corrector should ‘train’ your body to stay in the right posture by prompting it to straighten whenever you start to slouch. The best posture corrector for this is the RUDDYTM Posture Corrector.

Benefits of the RUDDYTM Posture Corrector

1. Corrects posture naturally by building muscle memory

By wearing it 2 hours a day for 21 consecutive days, you will see a significant improvement posture. After 90 days you will develop enough muscle memory to keep your back straight without the posture corrector.

2. Super easy to wear for both children and adults

Both adults and children can sling it on, then adjust the straps for an optimal posture. The straps are long enough to accommodate a chest size of 28 to 48 inches.

3. Smart Posture Reminder built into the back

The panel on the back automatically senses when your back is bent more than 25 degrees and activates the vibration alarm. This trains your body to adopt correct posture naturally.

4. Breathable and lightweight

It is so slim that it can be worn discreetly under the clothes. The nylon straps are also soft, porous, and elastic as well as offer ventilation.

5. Long-lasting with built-in rechargeable battery

It can last 15 days and needs only 1 hour to charge via a USB cable, which is included in the package

6. Reduces muscle soreness

Hours of slouching and having your neck stick out can cause shoulder and neck pain. RUDDYTM can help to reduce the strain on these muscles.

7. Indirectly improves self-confidence 

An upright posture automatically makes you look more confident and attractive, which inevitably improves self-esteem.

April 2021 Promotion

More children and adults can now benefit from RUDDYTM. There are 3 package promotions while stocks last. Package A offers a 50% discount, making 1 set of RUDDYTM only RM60. Package 2 offers 2 sets for only RM110. The best is Package C – the best seller. It comes with free delivery and 3 sets of RUDDYTM at a crazy low price of RM156.Delivery is available at a very affordable cost for all areas of Malaysia, including rural or remote areas in Sabah and Sarawak. Check out the RUDDYTM Posture Corrector website.

LaLiga: Official Statement related to the Superleague

Dear all,

UEFA, the English Football Association and the Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and LaLiga, and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and Lega Serie A have learned that a few English, Spanish and Italian clubs may be planning to announce their creation of a closed, so-called Super League.

If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we – UEFA, the English FA, RFEF, FIGC, the Premier League, LaLiga, Lega Serie A, but also FIFA and all our member associations – will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.

We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way.

As previously announced by FIFA and the six Federations, the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.

We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.

Please find attached the press release.

Best Regards,

Tagged : / /

LaLiga Season 2020-21: just two points cover Atlético, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona

Real Madrid’s victory in El Clásico and Atlético Madrid’s draw mean it’s so tight at the top of the standings, with just eight rounds to go to determine who’ll be champion. Sevilla FC, fourth ranked, also joined the race for the title 

The 2020/21 LaLiga Santander title race is red hot. There are just eight matchdays remaining until the end of the season and the fight to take the title is so tightly contested. Atlético Madrid (67 points), Real Madrid (66) and FC Barcelona (65) lead the way at the summit and there are just two points between first and third. Sevilla FC are also making a case to join the race with their tally of 61 points. Teams are battling to their limits every matchday and anything can happen from here to the end of the season. The fanbases and the players are feeling the tension and passion of these final matches in what has been a spectacular LaLiga Santander campaign.  

The results of the most recent matchday, with Real Madrid winning El Clásico 2-1 and with Atlético drawing 1-1 with Real Betis, are the latest example of how open and exciting this season has been.  

The situation, with so many candidates for the title so late in the season, is practically unparalleled when looking at the last few Spanish football seasons. However, it’s also unique when comparing this Spanish season with the other major leagues across Europe. In England’s Premier League, Manchester City have been in control for some time and are 11 points ahead of Manchester United, who are themselves seven above third-placed Leicester City. In the Bundesliga in Germany, Bayern Munich are on their way to a ninth title in a row as they hold a five-point advantage over RB Leipzig. In Italy’s Serie A, meanwhile, Inter are on the verge of knocking off Juventus after their nine consecutive titles as they have 11 points more than second-placed AC Milan and 12 more than the Old Lady. Only in Ligue 1 in France is the title race tighter, although Lille do have a three-point lead over PSG with just six rounds remaining. No other top league, therefore, can boast the excitement and competitiveness that there has been in LaLiga Santander this term.  

There are still many blockbuster matches to take place in Spain’s top flight over the final eight matchdays, fixtures that will have fans around the world glued to their screens to see who will become champion of Spain. Athletic vs Atlético, Atlético vs Real Sociedad, Athletic vs Real Madrid, Real Madrid vs Villarreal CF, Valencia CF vs FC Barcelona and Villarreal CF vs FC Barcelona are all still to come, in addition to what will be an epic Super Matchday 35. That weekend, the top four will face off among each other, with FC Barcelona vs Atlético and Real Madrid vs Sevilla FC.  

This situation, with so much equality, is a sign of the constant evolution that has been taking place in LaLiga Santander over the past few years, where competitiveness has become one of the identifying traits of the competition. The distance between all of the teams isn’t as large as it used to be, as there aren’t massive thrashings or league champions who manage to reach 100 points. Instead, every team is capable of beating every other team at any point of the season. This is the result of the more equal distribution of prize money and clubs’ financial stability, two initiatives that LaLiga has been behind for several years now through the league’s economic control initiatives and the centralised sale of audiovisual rights. The CIES Football Observatory recently published a study that had LaLiga Santander as the most competitive of Europe’s top five leagues and this is clear to see. Thanks to this, fans will be able to really enjoy the final eight rounds of action.  

Excitement in the race for Europe and the relegation battle  

The competitiveness of LaLiga Santander isn’t just at the very top of the standings, but it’s something that is present throughout the table. For example, in the contest to make it into the last two European qualification spots, Real Sociedad (47 points), Real Betis (47) and Villarreal CF (46) are so evenly matched, with just one point from fifth to seventh.  

Equally, when it comes to the tussle at the bottom as teams aim to stay outside the last three positions to avoid relegation to LaLiga SmartBank, it looks like there are going to be six teams in this fight. They are Getafe CF (30 points), SD Huesca (27), Real Valladolid (27), Elche CF (26), Deportivo Alavés (24) and SD Eibar (23), with just seven points between 15th and 20th.  

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The European semi-finals have a Spanish presence for the 16th year in a row

Real Madrid and Villarreal CF have qualified for the Champions League and Europa League semi-finals respectively. 

The business end of the European football season has arrived, with fans looking forward to the Champions League and Europa League semi-finals. These fixtures will take place in the final week of April and first week of May and they’ll feature Spanish clubs once again given that Real Madrid have made the Champions League’s final four and Villarreal CF have done so in the Europa League.  

This means that there will be at least one LaLiga Santander club in a European semi-final for the 16th season in a row. Not since 2004/05 has there been no Spanish representative in either the Champions League or Europa League – or, previously, the UEFA Cup – semis.  

Since then, the number of Spanish sides taking part in UEFA competition this late in the season has been three teams in 2005/06, three in 2006/07, one in 2007/08, one in 2008/09, two in 2009/10, three in 2010/11, five in 2011/12, two in 2012/13, four in 2013/14, three in 2014/15, four in 2015/16, three in 2016/17, two in 2017/18, two in 2018/19, one in 2019/20 and now two in 2020/21. 

This level of consistency is unmatched when looking at clubs from other nations. The Bundesliga has no semi-final representative in either competition this very season, for example. Then, the last time there was no club from Serie A or from Ligue 1 in either the Champions League semi-finals or Europa League semi-finals was 2018/19. The last time it happened for the Premier League was 2014/15. In other words, the other four major European leagues have been on the outside looking in at the semi-finals of both UEFA’s main competitions much more recently than when it last happened for LaLiga Santander back in 2004/05.   

There has been variety too, as there are 10 different Spanish clubs who have played a UEFA semi-final since that 2004/05 season, namely Real Madrid, Villarreal CF, FC Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Sevilla FC, Valencia CF, RC Celta Vigo, Athletic Club, RCD Espanyol and CA Osasuna. 

It’s not just that Spanish clubs have frequently reached the final four, as they’ve often gone on to turn their runs into silverware. LaLiga Santander was recently crowned as the world’s strongest league for the 2011 to 2020 decade by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS), based on the fact that, over those 10 years, the Champions League was won by a LaLiga Santander side on six occasions and the Europa League was also won by a team from Spain six times. 

This year, Real Madrid will be aiming to achieve further success in the Champions League. Already they have lifted a record 13 European Cups, four of them in the past decade, and they will meet Chelsea in the semi-finals after overcoming another English opponent in the form of Liverpool in the quarter-finals. With Zinedine Zidane having won the Champions League once as a player, once as an assistant coach and three times as head coach, he certainly knows what it takes, as do his players.  

Villarreal CF, meanwhile, will be looking to reach their first ever European final as they take on Arsenal in the Europa League semis. They have reached four continental semi-finals before, one in the Champions League and three in the UEFA Cup or Europa League, but they’ve fallen at this hurdle each time. Now, though, they have a three-time Europa League winning coach in Unai Emery and he is hoping to make history with the Yellow Submarine, which would mean knocking out his former club as he was Arsenal boss between 2018 and 2019. That promises to be an enthralling tie as well.  

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Eight top-flight fixtures on one Super Sunday!

Just eight rounds of the LaLiga Santander season remain and it could hardly be tighter at the top of the table, with Atlético Madrid on 67 points, Real Madrid on 66, FC Barcelona on 65 and Sevilla FC on 61. The drama will continue this weekend, with Matchday 33 having been brought forward and with eight fixtures taking place on a very intense Sunday April 18th. Not all LaLiga Santander teams will play this weekend, due to Saturday night’s Copa del Rey final between Athletic Club and FC Barcelona, but Spanish football fans are in for a treat on this action-packed Sunday.  

There are four different time slots of matches on Sunday and, in the first at 14:00 CEST, CA Osasuna will take on Elche CF at the same time as Real Sociedad meet Sevilla FC. While CA Osasuna have moved towards mid-table safety, Elche CF have slipped back into the relegation zone and need every point they can muster. Then, in Real Sociedad vs Sevilla FC, this is a battle between the team currently fifth and the team currently fourth. If La Real have any hope of making the Andalusian side sweat over their Champions League status then they need to collect all three points.  

At 16:15 CEST there are two more matches and they have immense implications for the title race and the relegation battle. Leaders Atlético Madrid will welcome bottom-placed SD Eibar to the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, where they have drawn twice and lost once from three visits. Atleti have been struggling with injuries of late and have just one victory from their past four league matches, so need a positive result against the Basque side.  

Just one point above SD Eibar are Deportivo Alavés, who this weekend’s host 16th placed SD Huesca, a team only three points away. It really is tight at the bottom and that makes this a crucial six-pointer, one that Deportivo Alavés will hope their new coach Javi Calleja can win.  

Both matches in Sunday’s 18:30 CEST time slot take place in Andalusia, as Real Betis host Valencia CF for a fixture that has been a lot of fun in recent years. Not only have there been last-minute winners and great goals, but there have been 27 total goals over their past nine meetings for an average of three per game.  

Meanwhile, Cádiz CF take on RC Celta Vigo at home and will be looking for revenge for the 4-0 thrashing they suffered when they visited Galicia earlier in the season. Now, it’s Celta Vigo’s turn to make the trip to the other side of the country and they do so after finishing on the losing side in a 4-3 Monday night thriller against Sevilla FC.  

The last two of the eight Sunday fixtures are being held at 21:00 CEST and Getafe CF vs Real Madrid really stands out given its importance in the title race. Real Madrid are in great form as they’ve won their past four in LaLiga Santander, including last weekend’s ElClásico. Now they make the short trip to Getafe CF, but they’ll do so with some fatigue after their midweek trip to Anfield and they’ll do so with several players out due to suspension and injury. It won’t be easy against the Azulones, who have already taken points off Atlético Madrid and off FC Barcelona at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez in 2020/21.  

Also at 21:00 CEST, there is a derby match in the Valencian Community between Levante UD and Villarreal CF. This should be a very interesting watch between two teams who know each other well and two teams who play attacking football. Villarreal CF got the better of their regional neighbours earlier this season in LaLiga Santander, but Levante UD gained revenge by knocking the Yellow Submarine out of the Copa del Rey. It’ll be fascinating to see who wins the battle this time around.  

The other two fixtures of Matchday 33 are Athletic Club vs Real Valladolid and FC Barcelona vs Granada CF, but these will take place later in the season due to the two home teams’ participation in the Copa del Rey final. With eight fixtures in the same day, though, there will still be more than enough drama and excitement in Spain’s top division this weekend.  

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