It was quite a topsy-turvy week in Europe as heavy-weights from different leagues tasted defeat and Spain was no exception. While Barcelona won emphatically, Real Madrid managed to lose a man and the match against Levante, a team, which just escaped relegation last season. Villarreal succumbed to yet another defeat, away against recently promoted Granada. This will perhaps be one of the most notable matches for Granada. Valencia out-ran Sporting away at El MolinA?n, courtesy a lone goal by Roberto Soldado.

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Roberto Soldado - Former Real Madrid starlet, now a Valencia talisman

 

Real Betis continued the good show after a hard-fought win against Athletic Bilbao, at San Mames, a venue where even the bigger clubs in Spain dona��t fancy a win. It was a highly volatile match, which saw as many as eight yellow cards and two double-yellows, which eventually resulted in a couple of red cards. Both teams ended with 10-men a�� Fernando Amorebieta for Bilbao and Mario for Betis were sent off. Sevilla managed their second win of the season against Real Sociedad, who were riding high after a draw at the Camp Nou. It might look to be a fair result for the hosts, with Kanoute on the scoresheet, but Sociedad were almost up to the mark.

Atletico Madrid bought Radamel Falcao for 40 million euros and finally the former Porto marksman is justifying his hefty price-tag. A superb hattrick against Santander, at the Vicente Calderon got Atleti all three points and also their first win, after a not-so-good start to the season. Another recent signing a�� Turkish International, Arda Turan too proved instrumental with two assists. Young and promising Spanish forward Adrian too notched a goal with 12 minutes remaining.

Overall a satisfactory outing for Atletico Madrid, especially after the loss of Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero. Midfielder Diego Rivas too had a decent outing and also made an assist, however, he did miss a few chances as did Falcao and the rest. The offensive combination of Falcao, Turan, Reyes and Diego should be good enough to get back to the heights of the Europa League. In Adrian, Atletico has perhaps one of the better players of tomorrow. The squad seems good enough and it should be a matter of time for the team to gel and deliver results.

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Radamel Falcao - Justifying his price-tag?

 

Elsewhere, Real Zaragoza stunned Espanyol at home and Malaga managed their second victory in the league against Mallorca, after an opening day debacle. Yet another capricious match at the La Romareda, Zaragoza got the better of Espanyol at home. Luis Garcia, former Espanyol player, scored twice to take his team to victory. Despite the fact that Garcia spot-kick was fabulously saved by Espanyol custodian a�� Cristian Alvarez, when the match was in a deadlock, Garcia soon made amends and slotted home the winner in the 90th minute. Romaric, Vladimir Weiss, Hector Moreno and Javier Moreno received a yellow card each for the visitors and Javi Lopez received his second yellow in the 85th minute after the latter collided with Braulio inside the penalty box. Helder Postiga and Mateos were cautioned for the hosts.

Malaga has a very decent squad but the only goal in the match against Mallorca came from an unlikely source a�� Martin Demichelis. Mallorca custodian Dudu Aouate made some exceptional saves before a deflected ball off Pablo Caceres, headed by Demichelis, from a Cazorla cross, found the back of the net. Julio Baptista made a comeback to the starting line-up at the expense of Rondon. Former Real Madrid striker, Ruud Van Nistelrooy had a goal denied by the woodwork after he beat Aouate with a delicate chip. Had it not been for the acrobatic Aouate, Mallorca would have been further humiliated at their home.

Upset Of The Week

A match, which many thought was a mismatch on paper, eventually turned out to be quite the opposite on the pitch. Levante achieved a result which not many teams in Europe can achieve. 11 yellow cards and a red to Khedira might just give an impression of the extreme tension that existed on the pitch. Last season Real Madrid scored 8-0 against Levante.

Real Madrid started the match two points ahead of Barca and looked likely to maintain that. However, Levante had other ideas. Cristiano Ronaldo was missing from the starting line-up due to an injury and Kaka got a rare start. Benzemaa��s early goal was ruled out and Real hardly looked like the outfit which scored ten goals in the last two league matches. Sami Khedira received the second for a jostle with Sergio Ballesteros and Real were numerically depreciated.

Levante might have lost influential Caicedo, but in Ivory Coast striker Kone, they seem to have an able replacement, who slotted home the winner for the hosts. Despite the fact that Ronaldo appeared in the second half, perhaps it was too little too late for the Copa Del Rey champions. Real Madrid are not three points behind league leaders Valencia and one behind arch-rivals Barcelona!

Controversy of the Week

Real Madrid played an exceptionally volatile match against Levante. Such was the intensity that even Jose Mourinho said,

I don’t want to detract merit from Levante, who always do very well when they are allowed to play their game at their stadium. I congratulate them for being clever. They know how to waste time and how to not give the ball back. They know this because it’s also part of football. Our players don’t feel comfortable in this sort of habitat and Levante know it.

The tensions boiled over as Di Maria made an awful tackle on Juanlu in the first half and Pepe made recurring fouls on Xabi Torres in the second. The latter pushed Torres without making any contact on the ball and also snapped his ankle without any reason. Surprisingly, none of them got appropriate warning.

Player of the Week

Three goals and two assists, alongwith innumerable impactful moments. If these dona��t win Leo Messi the honour then nothing would. A truly world-class performance against Osasuna, where Messi not only scored but created almost equal scoring opportunities for his teammates, takes him to the top of the Pichichi chart, along with Soldado.

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Lionel Messi: Not surprising

 

Radamel Falcao too needs a mention after his stunning hattrick for Atletico Madrid. Two goals of exceptional quality and an intelligent spot-kick, earned the former Porto striker his first hattrick in Atletico colours.

Goal Of The Week

Arouna Kone’s winner against Real Madrid wins the Goal of the Week category. The Ivorian earned the hosts a win and this might just go a long way in boosting their confidence that they are good enough for the Spanish top tier. Although Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi and Radamel Falcao scored a lot of goals, but none can be as important and impactful as that of Kone’s.

Assist Of The Week

Arda Turana��s intelligent and pin-point assist to Adrian was met immaculately by the young Spaniard who slotted home the ball with ease. Although Leo Messia��s assist to Cesc Fabregas was a competitor, but the fact that Adrian and Turan are playing in a team for the first time and their spick and span understanding wins them this award hands down.

Impact Performance Of The Week

Not many player can do what Arouna Kone did. He snatched victory from the jaws of an extremely ruthless Real Madrid and delivered an early blow to Jose Mourinhoa��s team. In a volatile match at Levantea��s home, the striker, on-loan from Sevilla slotted home the ball in the 68th minute, which eventually earned them all three points. Not many team in Spain did that last season and this season too, not many team will be able to do that, including the mighty Catalans!

Team Of The Week

Casto (Real Betis); Javier Venta (Levante), Sergio Ballesteros (Levante), Guilherme Siqueira (Granada), Cata Diaz (Getafe); Xavi (FC Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (FC Barcelona), Arda Turan (Atletico Madrid); Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid), Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Luis Garcia (Real Zaragoza)

Race To Pichichi (Top 5)

  1. Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) a�� 5 goals
  2. Roberto Soldado (Valencia) a�� 5 goals
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) a�� 4 goals
  4. Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid) a�� 3 goals
  5. Cesc Fabregas (FC Barcelona) a�� 3 goals

League Table (Top 5)

  1. Valencia a�� 3 games, 3 wins, 0 draw, 0 loss, 9 points
  2. Real Betis a�� 3 games, 3 wins, 0 draw, 0 loss, 9 points
  3. FC Barcelona a�� 3 games, 2 wins, 1 draw, 0 loss, 7 points
  4. Sevilla a�� 3 games, 2 wins, 1 draw, 0 loss, 7 points
  5. Real Madrid a�� 3 games, 2 wins, 0 draw, 1 loss, 6 points

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