Matchday 13 in La Liga provided an enthralling mixture of Goal-fests and surprises. Lionel Messi scored a brace as Barcelona maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a dominant display at Levante. Real Madrid stumbled yet again, with their third defeat of the season. This leaves them a good eleven points behind league leaders Barcelona which already seems an insurmountable task, even with 25 rounds still to go. Elsewhere, Atletico thrashed Sevilla in a 4-0 victory at the Vicente Calderon while Malaga, too, thumped Valencia with a similar scoreline at home. Espanyol’s dreadful start to the season continued further as they slipped to a 0-2 home defeat the hands of Getafe.
Andres Iniesta Masterclass at Estadio Ciudad de Valencia
Andres Iniesta put in a delightful Man of the Match performance against Levante, providing three assists and a scoring one with a thunderous long range effort as the Blaugrana ran riot. With Real Madrid slipping up prior to their game, Barcelona took the opportunity with open hands, opening an 11 point lead over their eternal rivals.
The first half was decidedly a more balanced affair, with Jose Barkero for Levante and Xavi for Barcelona, both testing opposition goalkeepers. The score remained 0-0 at the break with Barcelona dominating possession and Levante choosing to play on the counter. The Second half, however, turned out to be an entirely different story. Barely a couple of minutes after restart, Iniesta grabbed his first assist as he put Messi clear with a precise pass, who lifted the ball over Gustavo Munua. Minutes later the duo combined again as Messi scored his 82nd goal of the calendar year 2012-13, now just 3 short of Gerd Muller’s record of 85 goals for Bayern Munich and Germany.
More was to follow as Iniesta scored a stunning dipping from the edge of the area and provided his third assist for the night threading the ball to Fabregas who rounded off the keeper to score Blaugrana’s fourth. There was still time for Levante to earn and miss a penalty, with Victor Valdes making a smart double save.
Real Madrid disappoint at Estadio Benito Villamarín
Real Madrid slumped to a disappointing third defeat of the season as Real Betis managed to hang on to secure a famous victory. The prospects of retaining the La Liga title look bleaker than ever for Madrid, having fallen 11 points behind league leaders Barcelona and 8 points behind local rivals Atletico Madrid. Real Betis’s Spanish midfielder Beñat scored the only goal of the game, early in the first half, as Betis picked up three very crucial points.
The game began with Real Madrid dominating the proceedings. In the 17th minute a scuffed clearance from Di Maria fell to Betis’s No 10 Beñat, who easily brushed aside Sami Khedira and blasted his shot perfectly into the bottom right corner of the net. Iker Casillas never had a chance. Betis continued to threaten with Madrid fashioning chances too. There was controversy as well with Real Madrid being denied by the officials either side of the half. In both instances Benzema was wrongly ruled offside, first after he turned in Xabi Alonso’s free kick and secondly when he scored after latching onto a Luka Modric pass. Betis Goalkeeper Adrian was in fine form making several crucial saves throughout the course of the game, as Mesut Ozil’s form continued its downward spiral. His proficiency in midfield is clearly something that Madrid have been missing.
To be fair to them, a club like Real Madrid should not be complaining about ‘Calendar’ issues. Their performance was not fitting of champions and Jose Mourinho would need to sort the problems out, very quickly at that. The task of retaining La Liga has just become that much tougher.
Atletico and Malaga Run Riot
Atletico Madrid hammered Sevilla by 4 goals to nil, with the usual suspects in Radamel Falcao and Arda Turan running riot through Sevilla’s ranks, who eventually finished with nine men on the pitch. Midfielder Koke was magnificent for Atletico throughout as well. Sevilla had come into the game on the back of a morale boosting victory in the Seville Derby, having hammered Real Betis 5-1.
On the back of such victory, better was to be expected of Sevilla, but the hopes quickly faded when Sevilla defender Federico Fazio got sent off for committing a professional foul on Koke in the box. Radamel Falcao blasted in the penalty to score his 14th goal of the season. Two goals just before the break sealed the result, when Sevilla’s Spahic turned the ball into his own net and Koke scored a brilliant goal minutes later. Miranda added a fourth in injury time. They are just 3 points behind Barcelona and 8 above third placed Real Madrid.
Malaga thumped Valencia by 4 goals to nil as they secured their first victory in La Liga in five games, with a performance dispelling the doubts that their bubble had burst in Spain after putting in grueling shifts in the UEFA Champions League. Portillo scored the first goal for the hosts early on in the 8th minute, with a flurry of goals late on. Javier Saviola curled in a beautiful finish as Roque Santa Cruz and Isco completed the rout.
Valencia’s shaky start to the season continued. They are going to find it very difficult from here to qualifying for Champions League next season.
Rayo Vallecano scored two late goals against in form Mallorca at home to secure three vital points. An uninspiring match throughout, it burst into life in the final minutes when Leo Baptistao scored an amazing goal. Second goal followed in injury time.
Real Sociedad were held to a goalless draw at home against bottom dwellers Osasuna. Athletic Bilbao’s uncertain start to the season continued as they drew at home 1-1 to Deportivo La Coruna, who climbed a place above the relegation zone.
Real Valladoid striker Manucho secured three points for his team with a spectacular left footed effort against Granada, who find themselves in the relegation zone. Getafe heaped more misery on Espanyol at home, running out 0-2 winners away from home.
Granada, Osasuna and Espanyol remain bottom three, in that order, at the end of Matchday 13.
- Real Madrid have already dropped thirteen points this season. They dropped only fourteen in the entire campaign last season.
- Barcelona created a new Spanish record of scoring four or more goals in four consecutive away games.
- Atletico Madrid made it 10 out 10 straight wins at Vicente Calderon.
Goal of The Week
There were several wonderful goals on La Liga’s Matchday 13, but none as important as Beñat’s goal against Real Madrid, which eventually proved to be the winner. It was a brilliant finish as well.