Into its third week, the Spanish La Liga surely has been quite interesting. Before the beginning of this gameweek, Real Madrid had just a point. With the worst start to their campaign under Jose Mourinho, Madrid salvaged a lot of pride after an emphatic win against Barcelona, in the Spanish Super Cup in midweek. Barcelona on the other hand, might have had a good start to the Spanish league, but it’s quite understandable that the team is under a lot of pressure.
Atletico Madrid answered all those who thought that Spain is all about Barca and Real with a thorough humiliation of European Champions – Chelsea. Yet another Spanish team does it after Athletic Bilbao’s fine showing against an English opposition. There’s more to La Liga than what meets the eye.
Beleaguered Malaga made some last moment signings and picked up three points against Real Zaragoza. The only goal of the match was scored by Ignacio Camacho. The Spanish midfielder has been very reliable and consistent for Malaga this term. Zaragoza started off as the better team but they missed their chances – Romaric’s miss in the 17th minute is perhaps the worst of the lot. Malaga custodian Willy Caballero had a great outing and made some good saves – the most exceptional being the piledriver from Romaric. Another bright spot for Malaga is the decent understanding between Joaquin and Isco. Despite having a decent outing, Eliseu could have added to the visitor’s tally. The game also marked the return of Javier Saviola to Spain – one of the few players to have been on both Barcelona and Real Madrid’s roster.
Real Madrid picked up their first win in the league this season and Ronaldo opened his account with a brace and in the process also notched up is 150th goal for the Blancos. It’s unfortunate that the Portuguese, who is otherwise known for his supreme fitness, had to be withdrawn because of an injury. With Essien joining the team, Mourinho is now spoilt for choice. Modric got his league debut and had a decent outing till Ozil substituted him at the hour mark. Overall it’s a satisfactory week for Mourinho and his side, except of course the injury to Cristiano, who was undoubtedly the best player on the pitch. Levante had a fortuitous outing against Espanyol. Five goals unequally distributed saw the Valencian side notch up its first victory of the campaign. Looking all set to pick up their first win, Espanyol picked up two goals, of exceptional quality by Longo and Terjera, just before the half-hour mark. Juanlu and Christian Lell brought parity with goals in quick succession just before the hour mark. The game seemed to be evenly poised till Levante lost midfielder Iborra to a double yellow in the final quarter of the game. In the dying moments of the match, Michel’s low cross took a deflection off Espanyol defender Raul Rodriguez and left the goalkeeper off balance. Espanyol have now played three matches. Scored 4 and conceded 7. They lie at the bottom of the table with no points.
After two successive loses, Bielsa’s Bilbao returned to winning ways against Valladolid. An exceptional performance from Markel Susaeta went a long way to earn his team its first points of the campaign. In defense, Carlos Gurpegi showed a lot of character and even went close to be on the scoresheet, only to be denied by the post. Goals from Susaeta and Aduriz were enough but without an iota of doubt, Bielsa now has to re-think and innovate in order to cope with life after lynchpin Javi Martinez.
Sevilla and Vallecano ended in a stalemate with Ivan Rakitic and Alvaro Negredo, both guilty of not converting from the spot. It’s still early in the season, and gaffes like these might just cost them dearly during the business end of the league, nest summer. On the other hand, it’s an exceptional point for Vallecano after losing their goalkeeper to a red-card. Sevilla blew up their chances. Contributions from Jesus Navas and Emir Spahic stood out. A goalless draw served both them well – awarding Vallecano to hang on even with a man down and reprimanding Sevilla for throwing away their chances.
Barcelona played late into the weekend and started off well against Valencia. Fabregas stood out. With his terrible performance that is. The game started with Iniesta showcasing his award to the home crowd. Barcelona broke the deadlock in the 21st minute. An unlikely goal from an unlikely source – Adriano scored with a powerful long-range shot, which finally broke Diego Alves’ resolve. The Brazilian looked promising and had a point to prove after quite a disastrous performance against Real Madrid, midweek. Valencia missed Gago at the centre of the park. Alex Song made his league debut and Vilanova watched from the stands. Valencia showed a lot of promise and defended resolutely.
Player Of The Week
Markel Susaeta (Athletic Bilbao)
More often than not, it’s easy to label Ronaldo or Messi as the top player. They usually do well and even if one of them fails to shine, the other does. It’s also not very often that a third player overshadows them. However, Susaeta has just done that. Scoring. Hitting the post. Defending. Susaeta did everything and more. Despite Ronaldo leading Real to their first league win, and Leo providing impetus against Valencia, it is difficult to ignore Susaeta’s performance.
Flop Of The Week
Cesc Fabregas (FC Barcelona)
He failed to provide a punch, yet again!
Goal Of The Week
Samuele Longo (Espanyol)
On loan from Internazionale, Longo made his debut for Espanyol and scored a goal of the top quality. An impeccable volley with a lot of promise for the future.
1. Celta Vigo 2-0 Osasuna
2. Zaragoza 0-1 Malaga
3. Deportivo La Coruna 1-1 Getafe
4. Mallorca 1-0 Real Sociedad
5. Rayo Vallecano 0-0 Sevilla
6. Athletic Bilbao 2-0 Valladolid
7. Levante 3-2 Espanyol
8. Real Madrid 3-0 Granada
9. FC Barcelona 1-0 Valencia