It was a weekend of comebacks and upsets in the top leagues across Europe and Spain contributed to the excitement in their own special way. There were no surprises as far as the top two were concerned. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid were too good for their opponents. Barcelona continues their march and are knocking down records on their way. The latest being a mere 50 year old one. Real Madrid are determined to push Barcelona till the end and looked comfortable. The bottom teams were the ones serving up the surprises last weekend.
Results of Matchday 22
Almeria 3 – 2 Espanyol
Athletic Bilbao 3 – 0 Sporting Gijon
Getafe 4 – 1 Deportivo La Coruna
Osasuna 1 – 1 Mallorca
Zaragoza 1 – 1 Racing Santander
Villarreal 0 – 1 Levante
Barcelona 3 – 0 Atletico Madrid
Sevilla 0 – 0 Malaga
Real Madrid 4 – 1 Real Sociedad
Valencia 2 – 0 Hercules
Action on the field
It was a great day for FC Barcelona as they broke a 50 year old record of 15 continuous wins in La Liga. The previous record was held by the legendary Di Stefano’s Real Madrid. A great night for Lionel Messi in which he managed a hattrick to equal his goal tally with Ronaldo. Though it wasn’t complete dominance of the Blaguranas, they still managed to control the match and set a new La Liga record. With this victory against Atletico Madrid, they have collected all the 48 points that were mathematically available in the last 16 matches. It was then Real Madrid’s turn to turn on the style and they obliged with a brilliant performance against Real Sociedad. The gap which stood in 10 points on Saturday, was back to the 7 points the day after and the race continues. It was Kaka’s night as he bossed the midfield and seems to be back to his best with gliding runs. Ronaldo was back at the top along with Messi with a superb brace which also ended his recent goal drought. With Real Madrid keeping the pressure, Barca are forced to be in their best behaviors everytime they step on the field.
Back to his Best???
It was the teams fighting for relegation that caused the biggest upsets this week. In a fantastic match, Almeria defeated Espanyol 3-2. Almeria went 3 up in the first half and everything looked over for Espanyol. However, the visitors staged a remarkable second half and came close to getting something out of this game. Villarreal suffered a shocking 1-0 defeat at the hands of Levante. Both Espanyol and Villarreal are fighting for Champions League places. For both Almeria and Levante these three points are vital in their fight to avoid relegation. Athletic Bilbao pushed Espanyol out of the top four with a 3-0 victory over Sporting Gijon. Valencia is also in the mix with a strong performance against Hercules. They moved into fourth place with goals from Tino Costa and Aduriz. The challenge for Champions League places is an intense one and will go on till the end of the season.
Getafe won their match against Deportivo with deadly counter attacking football that fetched them 4 goals. Real Zaragoza and Racing played out a 1-1 draw which sees them in 12th and 16th positions respectively. Osasuna, Mallorca, Sevilla and Malaga all drew their matches and there wasn’t any significant movement in the midtable.
Player of the week: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
“All of the great teams in history have a player who is different and Messi is one of those – he makes the difference,” said Barça coach Josep Guardiola. It has been an amazing season so far for Messi, who has now caught up with Ronaldo in the Pichichi race.
Of all the attacking talent he possesses, it was his all-round contribution to the team that sets him apart. The standout image of the match against Atletico Madrid was not his hattrick, but his defensive effort to run almost 70 meters, beating Aguero and stealing the ball from a dangerous position.
“The thing that struck me most about Messi tonight was not the goals but his tackling back because it shows he’s got everything. Obviously, we are talking about the Di Stefano of the 21st century. It’s just crazy.” – Atletico Madrid coach Quique Sanchez Flores
Match of the week: Almeria 3-2 Espanyol
Almeria was coming back from a heavy defeat at the Copa Del Ray semi-final against Barca. They had conceded 16 goals to them this season so far in all competitions. But their priority lies in the league and they are desperate to avoid the relegation. They came up against a high flying Espanyol who are fighting with Valencia, Villarreal and Bilbao for a place in the Champions League for next season. Espanyol conceded 3 goals within the first 20 minutes with Silva, Uche and Bernardello scoring for Almeria. Espanyol were staring at defeat, early in the match. But then they managed to stage a comeback and almost achieved it in the end. Verdu and Alvaro pulled them close but Almeria held on to their lead to register an important win. This puts them within a touching distance of teams above the drop zone.
Team of the week:
Casillas, Capdevila, Abidal, Carvalho, Alves, Xisco , Kaka, Banega, Tino Costa, Ronaldo, Messi
Primera División Table:
|Position||Team||Matches Played||Goal Difference||Points|
Top Goal Scorer 2010 – 2011 | El Pichichi:
|Lionel Messi||FC Barcelona||24|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||24|
|David Villa||FC Barcelona||14|
|Fernando Llorente||Athletic Bilbao||13|