The Spanish Weekend Review: Episode 7

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Getafe

Barcelona 2-1 Valencia

Malaga 1-4 Real Madrid

Levante 2-1 Real Sociedad

Deportivo La Coruna 0-0 Osasuna

Racing Santander 1-0 Almeria

Mallorca 0-1 Espanyol

Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Real Zaragoza

Sporting Gijon 2-0 Sevilla FC

Hercules 2-2 Villareal

Xavi masterminds Valencia defeat

Amidst all the speculation that Xavi would be benched, Pep Guardiola surprised most viewers by starting with his midfield maestro. Barcelona welcomed Valencia in the latter side’s first big match away from home. With a fabulous start to their season, the Los Che are serious title contenders. On the basis of their first half display, they certainly did justice to that tag with some gallant football and certainly seem on the right track to win the La Liga after a hiatus. Quite unsurprisingly, the visitors took the lead in the 37th minute. Full back Jeremy Mathieu charged into the area and cleverly pulled the ball back for the arriving Pablo, whose shot was palmed by Victor Valdes but ended up in the back of the net nevertheless. The entire Barcelona defense was in disarray as the first half ended with Valencia leading. Xavi then rescued Barcelona by creating both second-half goals. Compatriot Andres Iniesta – who may not be a prolific scorer, but scores whenever it is most imperative – duly obliged by scoring the first.

Apr 25, 2009 - Valencia, Spain - XAVI HERNANDEZ, LIONEL MESSI and ANDRES INIESTA during the the Spanish Liga match Valencia vs Barcelona which ended in a 2-2 draw Photo via NewscomAwesome threesome in Jubilation!!!

A fabulous one-two with Xavi caught the entire Valencia defense off-guard. Iniesta had done what he does best and Barcelona had gotten their equaliser. If the first half belonged to Los Che, the second half certainly belonged to Barcelona. Xavi Hernandez, yet again pulled his club from the doldrums. His immaculate cross was headed into the goal by talismanic defender Carles Puyol in the 62nd minute. Cesar was stranded and Barcelona had their winning goal.

Former Valencia striker David Villa had an off-game and although he was lively in the first half, he couldn’t find the back of the net. He was then substituted with Pedro making a comeback after having recovered from a hamstring injury. Xavi, already suffering from an Achilles tendon, further aggravated the injury. He had to be taken off in the final quarter of the match and was replaced by Javier Mascherano. He’s now doubtful for Barca’s Champions League match at home to FC Copenhagen on Wednesday.

Madrid Mauls Malaga

At home at La Rosaleda, Malaga were thrashed courtesy a blistering performance by the Galacticos to say the least. Malaga came in for some heavy punishment, as a brace from Ronaldo and Higuain propelled Madrid to the top of the Spanish League. After some heavy criticism, owing to an uncharacteristic lack of goals, Jose Mourinho’s men have now found the back of the net in the last two matches. Deportivo La Coruna, before the international break, and Malaga last weekend were at the receiving end of the goal-scoring renaissance. Higuain and Ronaldo both scored on either side of the half to ensure a comfortable victory for the Blancos. Ronaldo now has four goals in his last two matches and Gonzalo Higuain scored his seventh goal against Malaga in their last four meetings.

Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil (C) controls the ball past Levante's Sergio Ballesteros (R) as referee Carlos Delgado watches during their Spanish first division soccer match at the Ciudad de Valencia Stadium in Valencia, September 25, 2010. REUTERS/Heino Kalis (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)Ozil : Man of the Moment at Real

It could’ve been worse for hapless Malaga, as Sami Khedira saw his fabulous shot ricocheted off the post and so did Higuain. Higuain’s first goal came off a brilliant cross by Ronaldo which befuddled Malaga centre-back Welington, and the Argentinean did well to slot the ball home with his first touch. Just before the half-time whistle blew, Mesut Ozil did brilliantly to dribble past the Malaga defense and lay the ball for Ronaldo to get the visitor’s their second goal. Five minutes into the second half, Malaga’s Edu Ramos fouled Ozil inside the penalty box and Ronaldo scored from the spot with ease. Malaga managed to pull back a consolation goal after conceding three goals when former Rosenborg BK defender Kris Stadsgaard scored for the home side. Any pretensions of a comeback were soon laid to rest when, Higuain then finished the home side off with his second goal of the match. This victory will certainly boost Real Madrid’s confidence ahead of their clash with Italian Giants, AC Milan.

Sporting Shoots Sevilla

Sporting de Gijon achieved their second win of the season, against Sevilla at the El Molinon. The visitors were completely outplayed by Gijon and it took Argentine striker Gaston Sangoy only 6 minutes to give the home side the lead. A beautiful move in the early moments of the match saw Spanish midfielder, Miguel de las Cuevas shooting in from the end of the box, but he was denied a goal by a brilliant one-handed save from the Sevilla custodian, Andres Palop.

Palop’s heroics notwithstanding, in the very next minute a delightful cross from Alberto Rivera found the Argentinean Sangoy, who managed to get ahead of his marker and score his team’s first goal with a header into the top corner. In the 18th minute of the match, a controversial desicion saw Sevilla’s appeal for penalty turned down when Ivan Hernandez’s challenge brought down Luis Fabiano inside the penalty box. Juan Pablo Colinas, the Gijon shot-stopper, did extremely well on the half-hour mark to stop Luis Fabiano. The ball rebounded and fell to Alfaro who wasted a glorious chance to bring his team on level terms.

Colinas produced yet another fine piece of goalkeeping just before half-time to deny Alfaro, who shot toward the bottom corner. The first half ended with the home side leading by a goal. Six minutes into the second half and Sporting went even further ahead courtesy Diego Castro. A low cross from Carmello on the left flank found Diego Castro a bit ahead of the ball. The Spanish midfielder turned visciously and unleashed the ball towards the far post. Sangoy was about to get his second goal of the match when his shot beat Palop and was heading goal-ward, only to be headed away by Alexis Delgado. In the dying moments of the match, Nacho Novo had a goal disallowed. To further add to his anguish, he was also booked for celebrating. If it weren’t for Sevilla’s custodian Palop, the margin of Sporting’s victory may have been higher.

Atletico Wins Derby

Atletico Madrid made little work of picking up all three points when they welcomed local rivals Getafe. In an evenly contested match, the Rojiblancos took the lead in the 38th minute. Simao Sabrosa’s brilliant free kick went in after being deflected off the back of the Getafe keeper Codina. Without Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero, Atletico Madrid didn’t look as sharp as they normally do. The defending Europa League Champions had won just one of their last six matches and this win will go a long way in boosting their morale for a tough week ahead in which they face Villareal and Rosenborg. Quique Sanchez Flores’ men were trounced by Getafe last season and the giant killers’ looked to repeat that performance.

Aug. 18, 2010 - Huelva, ANDALUCIA, ESPA A - HUELVA 18/08/2010.- Atletico Madrid's Portuguese midfielder Simao Sabrosa (R) fights for the ball with Sporting Gijon's Varela, during their Colombino trophy soccer match at Nuevo Colombino stadium in Huelva, Andalusia, southern Spain, 18 August 2010.Simao saves Atleti!!

Before Simao gave the home side the lead, former Arsenal striker, Jose Antonio Reyes went close to getting a goal for Atletico. Much to the relief of Codina and Getafe, the ball did not go in. At the other end, Getafe too were denied their chances by promising young keeper David de Gea. It took the home side a second goal in the 73rd minute to ensure all three points. Atletico couldn’t have provided a more fitting farewell to Juan Carlos Arteche, the late Spanish and Atletico Madrid centre-back.

Villareal Fails to Tame Hercules

The last match of the seventh week saw a stubborn Hercules once again refuse to respect the odds. A win would have ensured Villareal grab top spot in the league standings, but that was not to be. In fact, it was mighty Hercules that looked like grabbing all 3 points for the most part and Villareal had to come from behind twice to earn one point.

Nilmar went close to scoring in the 19th minute, but was denied by the post. Nelson Valdez punished Villareal, by scoring the home side’s first goal in the 26th minute. It was Royston Drenthe’s free kick that was fired low by the former Borrusia Dortmund striker. Guiseppe Rossi, in an attempt to conjure up an equaliser, shot from 25 yards and only managed to smash it against the post. Valdez’s strike was cancelled by Capdevilla who, a minute later, picked up Angel’s pass and slotted home from six yards.

Former Juventus marksman, David Trezeguet, gave Hercules the lead yet again in the 40th minute but Borja Valero scored for the visitors in the 63rd minute to earn them a point. The match was a volatile one, and tempers frayed with both sides losing personnel. Hercules lost David Trezeguet just after the Frenchman scored his club’s second goal and The Yellow Submarines lost Mateo Musacchio and Borja Valero late into the second half.