It was business as usual for the teams at the top of the table on match day 20. Barcelona and Real Madrid kept on their dog fight for the title with home wins. The fight for the Champion’s League places is as tight as ever with Villarreal, Valencia and Espanyol within touching distance of each other. It was an exciting weekend which included Benzema bailing out Real Madrid in a tight game, a great contest between Valencia and Malaga which was settled in the final minutes of the game and some encouraging results for Almeria, who moved out of the bottom of the table.
Weekend results – Day 20 – Jan 23:
Sporting 1-0 Atlético
Barcelona 3-0 Racing
Valencia 4-3 Málaga
Zaragoza 1-0 Deportivo
Sevilla 4-1 Levante
Getafe 1-3 Espanyol
Villarreal 2-1 Real Soc
Almería 3-2 Osasuna
R Madrid 1-0 Mallorca
The top four Primera División table:
Excitement all around
Barcelona played their game on Saturday and as expected registered a comfortable win to put pressure on Real Madrid, who had their match scheduled on Sunday night. Racing came to Camp Nou with a clear plan not to let Barca score. However, their plan was shattered in the second minute as Pedro scored with his chest from a delightful chipped assist by Messi ,who now has the most assists this season. Messi converted a penalty after Villa was brought down in the Racing penalty box. Iniesta scored his seventh goal of the season following a sweeping move involving Villa and Pedro. This is their 14th successive win in La Liga.
The gap between the top 2 stood at 7 points before Real Madrid recorded a hard fought win against Mallorca,to bring it down to 4. To their credit, Mallorca played really well to deny clear cut chances for Real and they themselves had chances to spring up a surprise. Nsue hit the post in first half but it was Benzema who finally managed to get on to the score sheet. It was his first goal in his last 15 league appearances for Real Madrid. Casillas made a number of crucial saves to keep Madrid ahead in the contest. Mourinho was happy with the result but also acknowledged the fact that the team was not convincing. “I cannot expect them(the fans) to be incredibly happy tonight,” said the Portuguese in his post match interview.
The fight for the third and fourth spots is very intense. Valencia recorded a 4-3 win over Malaga, who despite going down to nine men took the fight to Valencia. Aritz Aduriz’s late strike settled the match in favor of Valencia. Espanyol kept their hopes alive for a place in next season’s Champions League as they came from a goal down to beat Getafe 3-1. Luis Garcia, Callejon and Sergio Garcia scored for Espanyol after Miku’s goal put Getafe ahead early on. Villarreal came back to win against Real Sociedad which kept them in the third spot ahead of Valencia and Espanyol. Rossi scored a brace to pull them back from an own goal by their keeper Diego Lopez.
Sevilla continued their improved form with a 4-1 win over struggling Levante, which sees them climbing to the seventh spot in the table. Sevilla has had a horrible first round in which they found themselves in the relegation zone. However, they now seem to have woken up from their sleep and are on the right track. Luis Fabiano scored a hattrick; he also became only the fifth Sevilla player to reach 100 goals in official matches for the club.
Almeria continued their revival with an inspiring 3-2 victory over Osasuna to move off the foot of the table. This victory is following their impressive draw against Real Madrid last week and a win against Deportivo in the quarter-finals of Copa del Ray in midweek. Zaragoza snapped up a 1-0 win over Deportivo. Boutahar scored the only goal of the game for Zaragoza and helped his team to move out of the drop zone.
Player of the week: Santiago Cazorla González (Villarreal)
Carzola produced an absolutely high quality display in their match against Real Sociedad, in which he ran the midfield to produce chance after chance for the Yellow Submarine. It might be Rossi who gets all the limelight for his goals, but it was Carzola who was providing him with the ammunition. Villarreal produced more than 25 shots on goal with almost half of it on target. Along with Borja Valero, he forms one of the most creative midfield pairings in Spain, this season.
Match of the week: Valencia 4-3 Malaga
Valencia edged out Malaga in a thrilling game this weekend. A high scoring game which saw two red cards for Malaga resulted in 7 goals scored between the two sides. It was a spirited performance from Malaga, who under the new regime and under a new coach, has found new lease of life. Mata, Soldado, Banega and Aduriz scored for Valencia, while they were pushed till the end by Malaga through goals from Rondon(2) and Baptista. Demichelis and Rosário were red carded for the visitors.
Team of the week:
Casillas, Capdevila, Abidal, Nunes, Edson, Busquets, Cazorla, Iniesta, Mata, Pedro, Rossi, Luis Fabiano
Top Scorers this season:
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||22|