The Spanish Weekend Review: Episode 15

Match day 15 saw some surprising results in the middle of the table, while the top two places have been strengthened. It was a week of surprises and comebacks. Villarreal slipped up in its quest to catch the front two. Both Bilbao and Hercules staged an amazing comeback after going a goal down. At the top of the table, Real Madrid enjoyed a brief stay at first place but Barcelona was too good to slip up this week.

Results:

Getafe 1-0 Villarreal

Sevilla 1-3 Almeria

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Deportivo La Coruna

Bilbao 2-1 Espanyol

Hercules 4-1 Malaga

Mallorca 0-1 Racing Santander

Sporting Gijon 1-1 Levante

Zaragoza 1-3 Real Madrid

Barcelona 5-0 Real Sociedad

An unexpected slip-up

Villarreal were considered by many to give both Barcelona and Real Madrid a run for their money. Such was their attacking play that seems to be flawless and filled with creativity. But no one would have predicted a slip up against Getafe this week. Villarreal were without some of their regular starters most notably Rossi, who was serving a ban for his 5th yellow card of the season. Villarreal with all their possession and the numerical advantage in second half couldn’t find the back of the net.  Juan Albin scored the only goal of the match in the 89th minute to give Getafe an upset win at the Coliseum. Villarreal are still in third place but may have lost a small momentum in their chase.

Sergio back in among goals

After a series of poor results, Atletico came back to life with a brace from Sergio Aguero. Sergio gave Atletico a good start after winning a penalty within the first 5 minutes, but Forlan’s penalty was saved. Sergio put them ahead immediately with a good individual goal. Athletico continued to create chances but they failed to convert them. Sergio again scored in the 35th minute and the points were sealed. Thereafter, Sergio missed many chances to complete his hattrick. This was a vital win for Atletico, as it will boast the team’s confidence before it plays Bayer Leverkusen to stay in the Europa League.

Sergio Aguero Atletico Madrid 2009/10 Danny Murphy Fulham Atletico Madrid V Fulham (2-1) AET 12/05/10 in Hamburg UEFA Europa League Final Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Back among the goals

The biggest surprise

Almeria had been in the bottom of the league with only a solitary win to its name. They had conceded 10 goals in their last two matches. The last thing Sevilla expected was a 1-3 defeat at the hands of Almeria. Sevilla had been poor at home this season and this defeat was their 5th straight loss. Kanouté missed an early penalty kick and Sevilla continued to keep up the pressure. The first half ended with neither team able to break the deadlock. Almeria went ahead in the 48th minute with a neat header by Vargas. Piatti then doubled the score in the 81st minute, which was cancelled out by Kanouté’s strike two minutes later. Then Piatti again scored in the 90th minute to give Almeria its second victory of the season.

Derby nerves may be?

Espanyol travelled to Bilbao this week with an eye on next week’s derby against Barcelona. Espanyol have surprised everyone this season and find themselves in the champions’ league spot. It was all Espanyol early in the game as they pushed Bilbao on to the backfoot. The pressure paid in the end as Dani Osvaldo scored in the 33rd minute for Espanyol. The host seems to be disorganized and were not sharp enough in the first half. But they came back stronger in the second half and dominated the match. The goal came from a familiar sight this season as Llorente put his head through to equalize for the host. It was all over after David Lopez blasted a free kick to complete a remarkable comeback for the hosts.

Growing stronger

Real Madrid was visiting Zaragoza who finds themselves in the bottom of the league. But Zaragoza made the brightest of starts, coming close to Madrid’s goal and continuously attacking down the right flank through Lafita. Madrid got their composure back as Lass was having a great game in the middle of the park. The first goal came from a classic counter attack by Madrid as Marcelo found Ozil with lots of space and Madrid went ahead.  Ronaldo doubled the lead with a superbly taken freekick that left the goalkeeper Franco stunned in his spot. Real Madrid again scored immediately following the restart with a long pass from Alonso finding Di Maria, who scooped the ball past the keeper to make it three. Zaragoza pulled one back after Ricardo Carvalho brought down Nicolas Bertolo; the spot kick was converted by Gabi, beating Casillas in his 400th game for Madrid. But it did very little to affect the outcome as Madrid won it comfortably in the end.

It’s raining goals

Real Sociedad had a daunting task of stopping Barcelona. The Basques side made a good start as they forced Barcelona on the back foot initially. But once the midfield pairing of Xavi and Iniesta took control of the proceedings along with Javier Mascherano, who was handed a rare start, there was very little the visitors could do. Villa started the scoring as he tapped in a cross from Pedro. Iniesta then scored after some neat interchange play with Pedro inside the box. Sociedad found it increasingly difficult to get the ball as Barca went onto make more than 600 passes in this game. The start of the second half  immediately produced a typical Messi goal with some on-twos with Alves. Xavi was given rest at 67th minute, but not before making another astonishing 120 passes within 67 minutes. Messi’s second goal was a magical moment as he made a horizontal run in the box beating four defenders and finishing superbly. Bojan joined in the goal-scoring party later to complete a very comfortable win. Having scored 26 goals in their last 6 games without a reply, they look ready for next week’s derby against fourth place Espanyol.

Apr 06, 2010 - Barcelona, Spain - XAVI HERNANDEZ at the Champions League C1 - Quarter-Final match in which Barcelona beat Arsenal 4-1 at the Nou camp.

He could have completed 250 passes had he played for 90 mins.


Other results

Hercules came back to win 4-1 against Malaga. The away team made a bright start, scoring first through Miglierina in the 12th minute. The second half was a totally different affair with the home team producing a high tempo game with clinical finishing. David Trezeguet equalized in the 66th minute and thereafter Hercules went on to add three more goals from winger Drenthe, Abraham Paz Cruz and Kiko.

Mallorca hosted Racing Santander and the away team came out on top with a solitary goal in the 90th minute to break the home team’s hearts. Óscar Serrano was the scorer and gave Racing their first away win of the season.

The only drawn game was played between Sporting Gijon and Levante. It was a tight game with neither team committing much. Levante opened the scoring through Felipe Caicedo in the first half and Sebastián Eguren equalized for the host in the 80th minute to help his team share a point with the visitors.

Notes from the week

Barcelona made 938 passes in their game against Real Sociedad. This is the highest number of passes recorded since Opta Stats began in Spain.