The first week of La Liga (round 1 was postponed due to strike) only confirmed what everyone already knew: the league will be a two-horse race between Barcelona and Real Madrid, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if both clubs surpass the 100-point mark this season. All hopes that the gap could be closing were completely squashed this weekend; Real Madrid won 6-0 at Zaragoza and Barcelona responded with a 5-0 home win over Villarreal, one of the best teams in the league. At this point, it’s pretty much clear that competition is as good as dead in La Liga; the future of the league is in serious danger if the revenue isn’t shared more equally soon. That said, other than the title race, the league promises to be tight and competitive (in the fight for European spots and to avoid relegation). In fact, Barcelona and Real Madrid were the only teams to win by more than one goal this weekend.
The league kicked off on Saturday with Real Sociedad getting a surprise win at Sporting Gijon, in a very entertainment match. Agirretxe was the hero, as he scored both Sociedad goals from two very well executed headers.
Also on Saturday, Hector Cuper returned to the Mestalla, where he was so successful in the beginning of the decade, as Racing Santander’s manager and the match was a cracker, one of the best games of football so far this season. Valencia scored two goals in the final five minutes to overturn a 1-3 deficit and beating Racing 4-3. This game had it all, it was a fantastic contest of attacking football, with Valencia’s Roberto Soldado getting a hat trick and scoring an own goal! Elsewhere, in a battle of newly promoted sides, Betis won 1-0 at Granada with Ruben Castro scoring in the final minutes of a fairly dull and uneventful game.
On Sunday morning, Atlético, still without Radamel Falcao, dominated Osasuna at home, but was unable to score. 0-0 was the final score, in a game that proved just how desperately Atlético need a striker (Falcao). In the afternoon, Athletic Bilbao was also unable to beat newly-promoted Rayo Vallecano. Known for their very physical style, Bilbao showed a more technical and passing-based approach in their first match under Marcelo Bielsa but their finishing let them down and they couldn’t get better than a 1-1 draw at the San Mamés. Mallorca beat Espanyol 1-0 with a goal from De Guzmán, a player who’s likely to join Villarreal before the close of the market, and Getafe and Levante tied 1-1, in a game, where Getafe’s new manager Luis Garcia faced his former team, with whom he had made true miracles in the past few seasons.
Later in the day, Real Madrid easily dismantled Zaragoza at the La Romareda 6-0, with Cristiano Ronaldo picking up from where he had let off last season and scoring a hat-trick of tap-ins. Marcelo, Xabi Alonso and Kaka got the remaining goals in a game, where Real Madrid dominated from start to end. Finally, Sevilla beat high-spending Malaga 2-1, with Negredo scoring both goals for Sevilla and Santi Cazorla getting one back for Malaga with a magnificent free kick. Malaga showed that they still need time to gel as a team, despite all their big signings. When they do, though, they will be a fearsome team.
On Monday, Barcelona annihilated Villarreal with a vintage performance. Pep Guardiola tried a 3-4-3 system (due to the current defensive crisis at the club) and even left Xavi and Villa on the bench, but Barcelona still put in a dominant performance. Thiago Alcantara, Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez and Lionel Messi (2) scored for the world’s best team, who looks to be even better this season.
Goal of the Week
Barcelona and Real Madrid scored some pretty good goals, but this award belongs to Santi Cazorla’s fantastic free kick goal against Sevilla. Sevilla’s goalkeeper simply had no chance to stop it.
Honorable mentions to Xabi Alonso and Thiago Alcantara’s goals, both great shots from outside the penalty area.
Assist of the Week
The three assists in the Barcelona game were easily the best of the weekend, but number 1 must go to Iniesta’s superb assist to Messi’s first goal. A great build-up play from Barcelona ended with Iniesta making a fabulous through pass offering Messi a somewhat easy goal.
Honorable mentions must go to Thiago’s assist to Alexis Sanchez, Messi’s assist to Cesc Fabregas and Mezut Ozil’s assist to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Player of the Week
The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrés Iniesta, Thiago Alcantara and Lionel Messi were fantastic, but the one who deserves this award the most is Valencia’s Roberto Soldado, who scored an excellent hat trick and inspired Valencia to a very difficult 4-3 win over Racing, despite his own goal. It was a great start to the season to the La Fabrica (Real Madrid’s academy) product.
Controversy of the Week
Santi Cazorla’s goal at Sevilla came from a non-existant free kick and Sevilla rightly felt aggrieved. At Camp Nou, with the score at 1-0 for Barcelona, Villarreal were denied a golden one-on-one scoring chance as the referee whistled for a foul from Javier Mascherano, giving Villarreal a free kick. These are the two highlights of a weekend otherwise devoid of big referee blunders.
Moment of the Week
This award goes to Cesc’s first league goal at Camp Nou. This is a moment Barcelona supporters and football supporters in general have been waiting for years. As a 14-year-old, Cesc said his dream was to score a goal at Camp Nou. 10 years later, his dream came true. A pretty special moment for the club and the player.
Team of the Week
Dani, Marcelo, Javier Mascherano, Spahic, Caceres; Xabi Alonso, Thiago Alcantara, Mezut Ozil; Cristano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Roberto Soldado
- Sporting Gijón 1-2 Real Sociedad
- Valência 4-3 Racing Santander
- Granada 0-1 Betis
- At. Madrid 0-0 Osasuna
- Maiorca 1-0 Espanhol
- Getafe 1-1 LevanteA
- Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Rayo Vallecano
- Zaragoça 0-6 Real Madrid
- Sevilla 2-1 Málaga
- FC Barcelona 5-0 Villarreal CF