Another exhilarating round in Spanish La Liga came to a close and produced some really unexpected results. FC Barcelona’s awe-inspiring away form came to a halt, after Gijon displayed some gritty defending. In fact, the hosts were so impressive at stunting the Barcelona attack, that many would have felt that Gijon dropped two points and Barcelona earned one. Real Madrid took advantage of Barcelona aberrant slip and, with a win against Espanyol, narrowed the margin to 5 points. Atletico Madrid’s woeful form continued and they succumbed to their 11th loss of the season against Valencia. Racing Santander unsettled Sevilla and Hercules got the better of Zaragoza. Villarreal’s unusual slip against Deportivo gave the Los Che an opportunity to capture a coveted Champions League spot and Unai Emery’s men didn’t disappoint.
Results of the weekend
- Atletico de Madrid – Valencia, 1 – 2
- Sporting de Gijon – Barcelona, 1 – 1
- Racing – Sevilla, 3 – 2
- Malaga – Getafe, 2 – 2
- Levante – Almeria, 1 – 0
- Real Sociedad – Osasuna, 1 – 0
- Hercules – Zaragoza, 2 – 1
- Deportivo – Villarreal, 1 – 0
- Espanyol – Real Madrid, 0 – 1
- Mallorca – Athletic Bilbao*
Game of the week
Racing 3 – 2 Sevilla
Against all odds, Racing Santander managed to beat Sevilla, with a stunning goal by Manuel Arana in injury time. Sevilla were looking to narrow down the gap between them and Villarreal, but lost out and have now fallen 14 points behind them. Their Champions League aspirations look unrealistic as of now. Racing drew first blood, when a Pinillos’ corner was converted by Christian Fernandez, in the 12th minute. Sevilla were handed a lifeline when they earned a penalty in the 17th minute, which Alvaro Negredo failed to convert. And then it just got worse for them, when recently signed Ivan Rakitic scored an own goal and Racing secured a 2-0 lead. Sevilla did make things normal as Racing were reduced to 10 men and then Fazio headed the ball into the net to make it 2-1, thus giving Sevilla some hopes of revival. The second half was an equally contested affair and then on 83rd minute, Fabiano made no mistake in dispatching a penalty and the visitors looked to settle for a draw. But Racing certainly had other ideas, as Arana scored a long ranger in injury time to give the hosts a much needed victory and also took them away from the relegation zone.
Player of the week
Pichu Cuéllar (Sporting Gijon)
The Sporting custodian had a busy evening, as he withstood a barrage of Barcelona attacks and ensured that Sporting were on top of the match for the most part of it. However, an uncharacteristic error from the shot-stopper led him to concede a goal to the Blaugrana, as David Villa scored with an audacious chip to make the score 1-1. Nonetheless, Pichu Cuellar still was a class act for the most part and this performance makes him our Player of the week.
Goal of the week
Francisco Farinos (Hercules)
Francisco Farinos scored a stunning long-ranger in the 80th minute, which kick started the comback for Hercules, against Zaragoza. Hercules, who were playing at home, was trailing Zaragoza after Braulio put the ball into the net just after just 3 minutes. The hosts got increasingly desperate for a goal.It was then that Farinos produced a shot from 35 metres, which will be up there with the Villarreal midfielder Cani’s wonderful lofted shot from the half way line, as a contender of the goal of the season.
Upset of the week
Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 Villarreal
Deportivo La Coruna caused a major upset by toppling Villarreal. Deportivo are fighting relegation and are desperate for points. Valencia won their game and with Bilbao scheduled to play on Monday, the pressure was on Villarreal, not to choke. Coming into this match, Deportivo’s coach Miguel Ángel Lotina, was walking a tight rope, as pressure was growing on him to deliver. Failure would surely mean an exit for the gaffer. With such pressure, the performance of Deportivo was commendable and the three points were well earned. Rossi’s absence did hurt Villarreal, as they were toothless in their attack and their passing lacked fluidity. With this result, Valencia moved into third place and Deportivo climbed to 14th place.
Another unexpected result that might count as an upset was FC Barcelona’s unlikely draw against Sporting Gijon at El Molinon. This deadlock reduced the difference between Madrid and FC Barcelona to 5 points, at the top of the league. It was a spirited performance by Gijon in which they were disciplined and counter attacked with purpose. Pep’s men came back strongly in the second half with a much improved performance. However, had it not been for the brilliantly lobbed goal by Villa, they would have come away with their first away loss of the season. Barca’s record after an international break isn’t very impressive and they have consistently lost points looked dull. This didn’t change.
Team of the week
Matchweek 23 was one of the most interesting weeks in Spanish La Liga by far. For once, in Barcelona match, the more brilliant of individual skill came from the opposing team, as Barral left the Catalan defence for dead. In the same match Cueller turned from a hero to villain for letting Villa steal 1 point for his team with his delicate lob. More than Marcelo’s thunderbolt, it was Mourinho who wanted to win desperately to close the gap between them and FC Barcelona. His reaction bears testimony to this. Old warhorse Trezeguet showed once again that he is still a class act and Farinos scored a blinder.
Pichu Cuéllar (Sporting Gijon), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Alberto Lopo (Deportivo), Pepe (Real Madrid), Joaquin (Valencia), Farinos (Hercules), Reyes (Atletico), Arana (Racing Santander), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), David Barral (Sporting Gijon), David Trezeguet (Hercules)
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||15|
|Fernando Llorente||Athletic Bilbao||13|