The weekend is over and Real Madrid survived the test of the slayers, while Valencia was once again disappointing managing only a draw against a supposedly weaker team. Sevilla again sold themselves out and Deportivo found their first win this season inflicting a heavy defeat on Espanyol. Wonderful weekend indeed if your team was on the side of a positive result.
Valencia were visited by Real Zaragoza in a match that we all thought Valencia should have won easily. However, that wasn’t the case and Zaragoza managed a draw in a match that they probably should have won. Things started out great for the away team when in the 2nd minute Lanzaro scored to put his team up 1-0. After taking the lead you would think the visitors would sit back and defend but they pressed on and created some great chances and should have doubled or tripled their lead by the half. Lanzaro’s horoscope might have told him he would have scored two goals today but it didn’t tell him he would have scored for both teams. In the 42nd minute a lovely dinked ball over the top trying to find Vicente instead found the head of Lanzaro who tried to clear and headed it over his on rushing goalkeeper and into his own net to pull Valencia level. Just minutes into the second half and Zaragoza found themselves down to 10 men after Ander was shown a straight red card for a soft challenge on Mata, that probably only deserved a warning at least and a yellow card at most. Although, the card put Zaragoza’s position under question the visitors rallied on regardless and put Valencia’s defence to the sword but weren’t able to finish their opportunities.
The giants of Alicante, Hércules were looking for yet another head to add to their collection when they received a visit from the glamour boys, Real Madrid. I predicted this game would have been a doozie and both teams duly delivered. Great game it was and within three minutes the hosts found themselves up a goal, the first time this season that Madrid found themselves trailing. David Cortes sent in a brilliant cross for Trezeguet and the French man found himself as free as bird in the area and punished Casillas’ net with a beautiful header into the far corner. At that point Madrid were beginning to look sloppy in the midfield and there wasn’t much cohesion between the players. However, they [Real Madrid] began to settle and knocked the ball around but couldn’t break down a stiff Hércules defence. Despite having most of the possession in the first half the visitors weren’t creating a multitude of opportunities; it was the home team that had some wonderful chances and had it not been for San Iker, Real Madrid could have been down by two or three goals at the half. Who could count Mourinho’s men out with the form they are in? Nobody! Real Madrid came out in the second half putting Hércules under some severe pressure with a myriad of attacks and it would eventually pay off in the 53rd minute. Cristiano took a vicious strike at goal from just outside the area that Calatayud reacted to poorly and parried it directly into the path of Di María who blasted it into the roof of the net to equalize for the visitors. Mourinho stated earlier this week that he would risk everything to win a match and he did just that in the 76th minute when he made a bold change, taking off a defender in Pepe for striker Benzema and it did pay off for the Portuguese coach. After only 7 minutes into the match a great one-two between Marcelo and Benzema saw the latter take a strike on goal that was initially saved by Calatayud but fell in the path of who else but Mr. October, Cristiano Ronaldo who tapped in the rebound to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the match. Immediately after taking the lead, Mourinho made two brilliant changes to balance out the team bringing in Arbeloa for Higuaín and Albiol in for Özil (who had a surprisingly quiet game by his standards). In the 86th minute Ronaldo earned himself a brace and again Benzema was the supplier delivering a lovely cut back to the Portugues captain to punish the net from just about the penalty spot to give the visitors a 3-1 victory. Back in August, Real Madrid played Hércules in the Alicante Cup winning by the same margin and it was Benzema who scored two of those goals and this time around he turned provider for Ronaldo. A great comeback from Real Madrid, the true mark of champions and just a wonderful, entertaining game. Wonderful form the whites have been in this season and they just keep getting better. Hércules indeed pushed them to the limit and really tested them but couldn’t add the ultimate head to their collection of big teams.
Sevilla took the trip to Catalonia for their match up against Barcelona. Going into this match Sevilla hadn’t won at the Camp Nou in six years their last good result coming in 2004. And, if that hadn’t been bad enough for the visitors, well their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde split personality would come out in this match and as such, were ran over by their hosts. The visitors got things off to a horrible start and after some intense pressure by the home side which saw a lovely little play on the left of the box by Pedro, Messi finally broke through and hit the back of the net on 4 minutes. Sevilla continued to struggle to get any form of possession muchless carve out chances and in the 24th minute Barcelona’s continued pressure paved the way for another goal through the hit man Villa who scored a magnificent goal. Messi came bursting down the middle and found Villa out wide on the right who cut inside the box and hit a lovely left footed curler to find the top corner. Sevilla had a couple chances through Fabiano and Capel but the former saw his effort go just wide of Valdés’ upright while Capel hit his volley directly into the gut of Valdés who had no trouble. For the second consecutive week Barcelona had some luck with the opposition having a player sent off as just before the half Konko saw a second yellow for a foul on Pedro. Sevilla went in at the half down two goals and down a man and it would be a huge problem for Manzano to solve and a mountain for his men to climb and indeed it proved to be as Barcelona came out and continued to run amok on Sevilla scoring three more goals. It wouldn’t take the home team long to continue their scoring in this game and in the 53rd minute the irrefutable diver, Dani Alves found the back of the net following a horrific mistake by Romaric who was attempting to head the ball back to his keeper and instead knocked it toward Alves who made no mistake about the finish. Messi scored his 2nd of the night and Barcelona’s 4th when he came racing through the middle and hit a low drive from the edge of the box to pick out the bottom corner. In the 90th minute Villa would add the cherry on top with his brace, a similar effort to that of Messi’s second from the edge of the box to find the bottom corner. Another Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performance from Sevilla.
Villarreal made a trip up to the Asturias to visit Sporting Gijón a team that was recovering from a heavy 3-0 defeat from Getafe the previous week and recovered they did and it would have been a wonderful recovery had it not been for a late penalty call in favor of the yellow submarines. Sporting got the scoring off to a start in the game following a handball by Gonzalo in the penalty box which the referee awarded and Castro stepped up to put it pass Diego López coolly. Villarreal were awarded a late penalty after Eguren was literally hugging Marchena in the box which resulted in the latter going down. Rossi stepped up and made no mistake about his finish rasping his effort to the right of the goalie who dived to his left.
I thought the Racing vs Osasuna match would be an interesting one and indeed it turned out to be with the home team taking all three points in their biggest margin of victory, 4-1. Both teams were coming off opposite results last weekend, the home team being the victims of an embarrassing 6-1 result at the hands of Real Madrid while the visitors had managed an excellent 3-0 victory over Malaga. Kennedy Bakirciolgu got Racing off to a flyer with a beautiful free kick from the left of the box on 27 minutes. Rosenberg got Racing’s second with a hit from about 25 yards that found it’s way into the back of the net. Osasuna were awarded a penalty following Torrejón punching the ball into the air before kicking it clear, however, the referee was onto to it and gave the visitors the chance to claw themselves back into the game which Nekounam stepped up and finished. Rosenberg got his brace on 61 minutes following a corner that was nodded on to find the Swedish man alone on the back post to tap in. In the 85th minute Racing had a corner which saw Torrejón redeem himself for that earlier handball by heading it home for his team’s fourth.
Malaga’s poor home form continued as they slumped to yet another defeat courtesy of Real Sociedad. Sociedad ran out 2-1 winners with goals coming from the young talented French man Griezmann and Llorente while Juanmi got the consolation goal for the hosts.
Deportivo managed their first win of the season and how better to do it but on home turf, by a fairly big scoreline and conceding no goals! Zaragoza now remains the ONLY team in Spain to not pick up a victory. Once again I find myself being completely wrong about a Deportivo match! Espanyol seemed to have been finding some balance or cure for their poor road travels and as such I assumed that with the current state of things at Deportivo there was no way they could grab a win, a draw maybe but not a win. However, the home team proved me wrong– funny old sport this game of ours. Adrián got the home team off to a good start in the 28th minute and the score would stay that way until the 76th minute when Lopo got on to the end of a cross from Colotto to make it 2-0. Three minutes before time, Colotto would find himself on the score sheet with a volley that found it’s way into the bottom corner of the net to give Deportivo a 3-0 victory on the night which should be a HUGE confidence booster for the team.
Atlético were held to a frustrating draw with Almería. Agüero got Atlético off the mark in the 33rd minute but his effort was cancelled out by another Argentine, Piatti in the 45th minute. Athletic Bilbao were 3-0 winners over Getafe– Iraola put Bilbao up a goal in the 6th minute which was doubled by San José in the 12th minute from the penalty spot and Gabilondo, the man that seems to get on the score sheet late in a game a lot this season, once again found the back of the net late on, in the 83rd minute to make it three. On Monday night Mallorca came out 2-1 victors against Levante the goals coming from Stuani in the first half for the visitors followed by Pereira’s equalizer midway into the second half and Webó scored the game winner in the 85th minute to secure all three points for the Islanders.
The top of the table is starting to be take it’s shape. Real Madrid remain top on 23 points, Barcelona follows in 2nd with 22 points, Villarreal fell to 3rd after their slip up in Gijón with 20 points while Valencia remains 4th with 17 points and Espanyol continues in 5th despite their loss. Despite the win this weekend for Deportivo they remain in the drop zone in 19th place while Zaragoza remains rock bottom and with their loss this weekend Malaga fell to 18th. The bottom half of the table is congested and 12th to 19th place is separated by only 3 points while 6th to 19th is separated by 7 points.