The beginning of the weekend saw one of the biggest upsets as lowly Hercules slayed giants Barcelona on home turf 2-0 with two goals from the Paraguayan Nelson Valdez. The game saw the debut of new Barca man Javier Mascherano, who within twenty minutes of the match saw his first yellow card. He committed a second foul just minutes after on Drenthe, which deserved a 2nd yellow and an early trip to the baths but the referee was lenient with him on that occasion. The subsequent foul led to the goal on 27 minutes when Valdez scrambled the ball over the head of goalkeeper Victor Valdes. Barcelona continued to dominate possession but Hercules was well-organized and defended as a unit, closing down every Barcelona player as soon as they had the ball. At halftime the game saw Xavi and Pedro thrown in to replace Mascherano and Bojan but to no avail as just before the hour mark Valdez doubled Hercules’ lead with an absolute peach of a strike. Barcelona had a few chances to at least pull one back but the Hercules defence just wouldn’t budge and neither would goalkeeper Calatayud, who had an impressive night. On 89 minutes Trezeguet should have made it 3-0 but instead struck a tame shot that Valdes managed to scramble across to deny the goal.
Valencia’s opener at the Mestalla saw them beat Racing Santander by 1-0, with a strike from Maduro. The game saw Banega substituted with an ankle injury.
The third match up of the evening saw Real Madrid play host to Osasuna. The game saw Cristiano Ronaldo trying to do everything on his own than work with his teammates which led to majority of the shots he took being WAY off target or too tame to provoke Ricardo. Higuain had an off night, his finishing was below par, missing shots he would normally bury in his sleep. Benzema had a good game, running alot, coming deep into his half to get the ball and making some great passes to his teammates, he held the ball up well, worked well in tight spaces but if he doesn’t score people believes he had a bad game. Khedira was sloppy for the most part, giving away silly fouls and stray passes. Ozil looked good throughout the game, making key passes, took on his man when he should and held up the ball well in waiting for support. The biggest positive, for both match days is that the defence looks absolutely rock solid and even more so this week with the return of Pepe. The chances in the first half were few and far apart with the two best chances falling to Pipita. One on the 17th minute when Benzema crossed the ball in to the box and Higuain controlled but rushed his shot and hit wide of the goal and the second chance fell to Higuain once again on 36 minutes when Ozil latched on to a poor back pass down the left flank and crossed the ball into Higuain who should have hit his shot first time but took a touch, that narrowed his angle toward goal and he only managed to find the side netting. The second half saw Real Madrid up the tempo and made a breakthrough on 48 minutes when Cristiano saw his shot saved by Ricardo reacted wisely and poked the ball through to an on rushing Carvalho who slotted it past the keeper for the game winner. The half saw a few more good chances created by the hosts but they failed to capitalise and had to settle for a 1-0 win.
The final match of the evening saw Athletic Bilbao going down at home to Atletico Madrid after goals from World Cup Golden Boot winner Diego Forlan and second half substitute Tiago. The match was certainly full of entertainment and chances galore for both sides but saw Sergio Aguero stretchered off after a bad challenge from Gurpegui who was fortunate to only get a yellow card. On 88 minutes Llorente grabbed a goal to make it 2-1 with 2 minutes left in regulation plus stoppage time. In the few minutes left, the game saw Athletic create a few more chances with San Jose heading his chance wide of the mark and a last-minute ball falling to Iturraspe who scoffed his shot wide.
Sunday began with Getafe at home to Levante, Sporting Gijon playing hosts to Mallorca and Real Zaragoza at home against Malaga.
Getafe got their game off to a great start with 2 early goals coming on 5 minutes with Gavilan heading in a cross from Parejo and in the 11th minute as Gavilan was the provider for Adrian Colunga. Levante became a lot more brighter after the 2nd goal concede and manged to pull one back from a beautiful chip through Rafa Jorda just 2 minutes after Colunga had put the home team up two goals to the good. Levante came out stronger after the half but didn’t really create enough food chances to threaten Getafe much and may have committed too much because they succumbed to late strikes from Colunga on 90 minutes and one from Arizmendi on 92 minutes.
Real Zaragoza was defeated 5-3 on home turf by Malaga with Quincy have a brilliant day providing two assists and scoring a goal. He looked a real pain for the Zaragoza defence for much of the match. Goalkeeper Leo Franco had a torrid game and is probably at fault for four of the goals scored by Malaga. Within in one minute Fernando beat Franco after he suspected a Malaga player of handling the ball he kept holding his hand up beckoning for the ref to give the call. Poor attempt of clearing the ball by Diogo saw Eliseu latch on to the ball and crossed it into the box for Juanmi who put it past a standing Franco. On 28 minutes it got even worse for Leo Franco who came for a cross and didn’t get there in time which allowed Fernando to score his 2nd and Malaga’s 3rd goal of the afternoon. On 29 minutes, an impressive run from Quincy deep into his own half down the right flank saw him beat two defenders and drew Franco into no man’s land before cutting the ball back for Juanmi to put it into a gaping net. Quincy then got himself on to the score sheet after latching on to a through pass and beating Franco with a delicate finish to make it 5-o for Malaga. Zaragoza pulles a goal back just before the break through Edmilson. After the break Zaragoza came out somewhat better and pulled two more goals back through Marco Perez and Ander. They looked for the comeback but Malaga proved tough enough to prevent them from doing so.
A lackluster Mallorca was beaten 2-0 by a Sporting Gijon side looking to get their campaign back on track, with goals coming from Botia and Diego Castro.
Villarreal hammered Espanyol 4-o in their first home match of the season. Espanyol started out very brightly but couldn’t put their chances away and the hosts made them pay for their inefficiency. The first chance of the night fell to Borja Valero but his cool finish went wide of Kameni’s net. Osvaldo had the second chance of the game with a great run down the wing and cutting in beatin three defenders but saw his curling effort saved by Diego Lopez. Osvaldo had another great chance just minutes later but again Diego Lopez came to the rescue for the hosts. Luis Garcia had a great chance on 11 minutes but saw his effort saved by the goal keeper, the rebound chance was followed up by a hit from Verdu who saw his shot saved by a desperate block from Musacchio and Osvaldo followed up on that rebound but Marchena threw himself in front of the ball to put it out for a corner. That chance had the defence in 6’s an 7’s. Osvaldo was booked on 17 minutes for attempting to punch the ball over an on rushing Diego Lopez. Villarreal’s second chance of the game was buried on 23 minutes after a cut back from Borja Valero for Rossi to volley into the net. Villarreal’s 2nd goal came on 31 minutes with Borja Valero scoring a cracker from the edge of the area after latching on to a loose ball, it was only Villarreal’s third chance on the evening. Quite efficient on their part. The game started to get a bit testy with too many unnecessary fouls especially by the Espanyol players, who were beginning to get frustrated. Duscher had another chance for Espanyol on 41 minutes but saw his shot blocked by Marchena. Rossi added Villarreal’s third from the spot after Kameni brought down Musacchio in the penalty area on 53 minutes. Villarreal’s fourth came on 77 minutes after a nice play by second half substitute Jefferson Montero who beat his man and kept the ball just in at the byline to cut it back to Nilmar who slotted it into the net past Kameni. Montero was absolutely impressive after coming on and had Chica sent off for a violent lunge on him in an attempt to slow the kid down.
The Sevilla- Deportivo game ended in a scoreless with both teams looking lively and creating good chances to win the game but a fair result in the end. Particularly impressive in the game were Negredo but he had a touch of misfortune and was fouled a lot. Jose Carlos came on to show that another Sevilla youth product is on his way. Jesus Navas and Perotti as usual had a good outing creating numerous chances and taunting the opponents’ fullbacks with their speed and dribbling. Konko had an exceptional night popping up all over the field and twice had his shots saved by the cross bar. Deportivo’s goalkeeper Manu was hard to beat and when he was beaten saw his white skinny friends save him. Urretavizcaya had a great game also with his running, passing and dribbling. Andres Guadardo too had a great outing and almost stole three points for Deportivo in the dying seconds of the match but Palop was quick to deny him. Lopo had a great game for Deportivo in defence, he cut out many passes and won some key headers to deny Sevilla any chance of scoring.
The final game on match day two saw Almeria equalise late at home against Real Sociedad after they dominated the for much of the second half, creating numerous chances but were met by Sociedad’s staunch defence. Raul Tamudo got the scoring off to a start with his strike on 8 minutes but little Pablo Piatti equalised in the 21st minute after running on to a through ball from Vargas down the left where he took one touch to settle and then slots pass the keeper. In the 33rd minute Sutil then gave the visitors the lead after Zurutuza stole the ball and passed it off to Sutil who hit it low into the bottom corner. The half saw two more great chances for either side but both goalkeepers came up with the save. At the second half Almeria came out lively and dominated the 2nd half creating many chances in an attempt to equalise. They had to wait until the 90th minute when second half substitute Ulloa came to the rescue after he took down a long ball into the box on his chest, shimmy away from his defender and drilled it into the bottom corner.
It was a good weekend with 30 goals scored and we saw some good games including a huge upset with Hercules stunning Barcelona at home. We saw the usual suspects coming out on top with the exception of Barcelona and Sevilla. Hercules’ spectacular win goes to show that in La Liga ANY team can win and it doesn’t matter how many top players a team has they too are capable of being defeated.