Matchday 7 in the La Liga lived up to its billing as the most eagerly awaited weekend so far. There were no usual goals galore as the two giants from Catalonia and Madrid faced each other for the first league Clasico of the season at Camp Nou. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both scored braces, hogging all the more limelight than they usually do as Barcelona maintained their 8-point gap over Real Madrid. Atletico Madrid maintained their impressive start by defeating Malaga in another top-draw clash featuring the 2nd and 3rd placed teams in the Liga, while Celta de Vigo and Levante managed to take scalps off Valencia and Sevilla respectively
For all the hype, excitement and sheer quality of players that surrounds this fixture, El Clasico quite simply outdid itself this time. And the usual hype was all the more backed up by the political backdrop for this fixture, as the Catalans continue their protest for independence, and the match became a sort of focal point of the protest. The chants for independence were echoed at 17m 14s, to mark the capture of Cataluña by Spain in 1714. On the match front, the two stalwarts took the centre stage once more and produced two goals apiece.
Real Madrid drew first blood as the first goal came from a very Barcelona-esque move, with Ozil and Khedira combining on the right, with the former passing the the ball to Benzema. The Frenchman fed Ronaldo who finished with aplomb at the near post, only for Lionel Messi to equalize 8 minutes later. Pedro’s cross could not be cleared by Pepe, who overcommitted himself while Khedira stood watching as Messi poked the ball in. In between, Benzema missed a great opportunity to put Real 2-0 ahead. Both teams came out all guns blazing in the second half, but Barcelona took the lead in the 61st minute when Messi curled in a quite exquisite free kick over the wall, and frankly Iker Casillas could have done nothing about it. Not to be outdone, Ronaldo equalized from a beautiful through ball by Ozil, slotting past Valdes. That was not all however, as shouts for penalties continued at both ends, while accusations of theatrics followed later. Montoya tried his luck from distance towards the end and Pedro should have done better, but the match ended 2-2, and Barcelona maintained their 8-point lead over Real Madrid.
Atletico Madrid continued their brilliant start to the season, by defeating 3rd place Malaga in the second highlight fixture for the weekend, besides the El Clasico. Both teams came into the game on the back of unbeaten runs in La Liga, Atletico winning all six and Malaga drawing two and winning four. Atletico took the lead from a thumping header by Falcao, who scored his 8th goal of the season and now sits joint top with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Roque Santa Cruz, on loan from Manchester City, equalized with a header of his own from Nacho Monreal’s cross past a hapless Thibaut Courtois. In the second half Atletico continued to fashion chances, with Falcao and Arda Turan creating all sorts of problems and Falcao coming close on a couple of occasions, as Malaga gradually slipped out of the game. Although they managed to hold Atletico, they were denied a valuable away point by one of their own. In the 90th minute, Weligton was unfortunate to put the ball into his own net as a strong shot from Miranda hit him and went past the helpless Willy Caballero. This was Malaga’s first defeat of the season.
Celta De Vigo and Levante claim scalps
Sevilla succumbed to a surprise loss at the hands of new boys Celta De Vigo who claimed three valuable points with goals apiece from Iago Aspas and De Lucas in the second half. Valencia continued their unconvincing start to the season with their third league defeat at the hands of local rivals Levante at Estadio Ciudad de Valencia with the goal coming from a quite stunning volley in the 22nd minute from Nigerian Obafemi Martins as he raced after a long clearance from the Levante goalkeeper to thunder the ball past Guaita.
Real Betis continued a solid start to the season to grab a top four spot before the international break. They ran out 2-0 winners at home against Real Sociedad, courtesy goals from defender Paulao and Ruben Castro. Although they had their goalkeeper Adri to thank for making several top-notch saves.
Athletic de Bilbao eased out a narrow 1-0 victory over Osasuna who were outplayed for most of the game, with the goalkeeper Andrés Fernández claiming limelight with a string of brilliant saves. The only goal of the game early in the 12th minute from Zubeldia, as Athletic looked to put off a shaky start to the season.
Although Espanyol managed a draw away at Valladoid, their horrible start to the season means they along with Osasuna and Espanyol remain the bottom three.