Spanish La Liga witnessed yet another round of matches, immediately after the weekend fixtures. The schedule is unforgiving and many sides have started feeling the depth of their squad being tested to its limit. Spain was expecting that this could be the week that could have seen the title race liven up, as Valencia hosted Barcelona at the Mestalla. Barca however came out with an important away victory, taking a huge step towards the title. The gap however, stays at 7 points, after Real Madrid thrashed Malaga 7-0. With little or no chance for the rest of the teams to catch the front runners, it was the fight for European competition places and the relegation.
Results of the mid-week
- Espanyol 1-2 Mallorca
- Sevilla 3-0 Sporting Gijon
- Getafe 1-1 Atletico Madrid
- Osasuna 0-0 Deportivo La Coruna
- Real Sociedad 1-1 Levante
- Villarreal 1-0 Hercules
- Zaragoza 2-1 Athletic Bilbao
- Valencia 0-1 Barcelona
- Almeria 1-1 Racing Santander
- Real Madrid 7-0 Malaga
Villarreal had an amazing game against Hercules, with another beautiful passing game. Though the scoreline indicates a solitary goal, the number of chances they created was the proof of their dominance. They are now within a touching distance of Valencia in the race for the third spot. Both Espanyol and Bilbao missed an opportunity to close the gap with Valencia and Villarreal, by losing their respective matches. Sevilla are slowly but surely finishing this campaign on a stronger note. They are now a real attacking force to come in terms with.
Daniel Aranzubia was again there for Deportivo, this time denying Osasuna all the three points. The Deportivo short stopper had another amazing game, keeping Osasuna at bay. Both Osasuna and Deportivo are at one and two points respectively above the drop zone. Atletico Madrid’s season has really slipped off after a promising start, as they drew with Getafe. There is a real scramble at the bottom half of the table, with 10 teams within touching distance, fighting for relegation. The final match saw Real Madrid hammering Malaga at home. Ronaldo scored a hatrick to equal Messi in the Pichichi race. Benzema and Di Maria were also on the score sheet.
Game of the week
Valencia 0-1 Barcelona
This was billed to be the game of the week even before it started. Barcelona travelled to Mestala and came out on top against a strong Valencia side. This was the ground where they have struggled recently and have not managed a win for three years now. This was Pep’s first win at the Mestalla, which saw them move 10 points clear at the top, before Real Madrid played the following day.
Both sides came out looking completely different with Valencia employing Mata as a ‘false 9’ in the mould of Messi. Pep had his own surprise, employing a three man defense which neutralized Valencia’s frontline. Messi seems to have forgotten his finishing, as he missed some sitters. Valencia had a goal ruled out as offside in the first half. Valencia’s midfield duo of Banega and Tino Costa managed to match Xavi and Iniesta, but couldn’t create clear chances until Soldado came on in the second half. Busquets, who was playing as the central defender, had a wonderful game. Mascherano may not have had many games under his name, but he was constantly breaking up play in the midfield and showed that he is definitely the best tackler in the side. Adriano was enjoying time and space in the field unlike anyone else on the pitch and finally he managed to provide an assist for Messi, which sealed the match. If not for the great work of Guaita, Messi could have had a hattrick against the Los Che.
Player of the week
Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal)
Barcelona may be grabbing all the attention for playing a flowing possession based passing game; but Villarreal are not far behind. And a diminutive Italian, named Giuseppe Rossi, is scoring goals for fun. Neither is he powerful nor is he tall, but he has all the skills and deadly pace needed to leave any defense trailing. His movement off the ball is one of the best that there is. With Cazorla and Valero operating from midfield, his movement gives them the option to open up defenses.
After their off color performance during the weekend, the whole team looked sharp against Hercules. They carved out chance after chance and it was not surprising to see Rossi finishing one of them. Sadly, he could have had a lot more goals in this game, but he managed to miss quite a few. Goals apart, his combination play with his fellow striker Nilmar and his midfield trio of Cazorla, Valero and Cani, is a joy to watch.
Goal of the week
Asier Del Horno (Levante) Vs Athletic Bilbao
Levante had recently been a rejuvenated team, which has managed to somehow turn around a season that was heading towards relegation. They were playing away at Sociedad, a tough place to travel. Sociedad had dominated the match and were leading through Zurutuza’s goal. With 12 minutes to go, Asier Del Horno produced a real howitzer, that brought them level, earning them a valuable point, in their quest for survival. The Basque defender struck the ball from about 35 yards with real power, that gave the Sociedad keeper no chance whatsoever.
Upset of the week
Real Zaragoza 2-1 Athletic Bilbao
Bilbao are in the race for the UCL spot and were having a decent run, though they lost against Barca and Valencia in their last two games. Against the 15th placed Zaragoza, Bilbao were expected to get all three points to keep the pressure on Villarreal and Valencia. However, they let that opportunity go by after letting the opponent’s comeback, yet again. Llorente was again the scorer for Bilbao, with a good strike in the 18th minute, giving them the lead. Zaragoza didn’t sit back. They came back strongly in the second half with goals from Jarosik and Uche to take all three points. Bilbao managed to squander their advantage, in their last two games, with Valencia staging a comeback against them last week.
Team of the week
Daniel Aranzubia, Adriano, R.Costa, Busquets, Gaspar, Mascherano, Cazorla, Banega, Ronaldo, Rossi, Benzema
Primera División table
- Barcelona – 71 points
- Real Madrid – 64 points
- Valencia – 51 points
- Villarreal – 50 points
- Espanyol – 40 points
- Athletic Bilbao – 38 points
Race for the Pichichi
- Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) – 27
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 27
- David Villa (FC Barcelona) – 17
- Fernando Llorente (Athletic Club) – 15
- Pedro (FC Barcelona) – 13
- Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal) – 13