Seven. The number of points that differentiates Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Mathematically, there are 54 points to play for but going by Jose Mourinho’s second season record and Bella Guttman’s three-year rule, La Liga 2011-12 looks all set to be heading towards the Santiago Bernabeu. Another two points dropped away from home, at the El Madrigal, leaves Guardiola’s men in doldrums.
Barcelona travelled to El Madrigal to take on a struggling Villarreal. In their last encounter, the Catalans demonstrated a football masterclass. However, that wasn’t to be this time around. A lacklustre first half followed by some intent in the second wasn’t good enough. Diego Lopez put up a fascinating show to deny Barcelona any chance whatsoever.
Real Madrid whirled past Zaragoza at home. Mourinho’s men showed intent, especially Ozil, who was criticised a few days back for disappearing in big games. Although Angel Lafita opened the scoring as early as the 11th minute, goals from the potent Madrid offense was expected and they did not disappoint. More than the victory, what might have boosted the Blanco-spirit is the revival of Kaka. A goal and an assist is perhaps the best way to get some confidence back. Ronaldo and Ozil were the other players on the scoresheet. Real Madrid now has 70 goals in 20 matches at an astonishing rate of more than 3 goals per match.
Valencia stumbled yet again. After sharing points with Osasuna, the Los Che had to do the same with Santander, away from home. Adrian opened the scoring for the hosts as early as the 2nd minute and Racing went into the break with leading by a goal to nil. Three goals in the second half eventually resulted in a stalemate – yet another insipid display from Emery’s men. Although this still keeps them 9 points adrift of Barcelona at third, they have managed to widen the gap between them and forth placed Levante, who lost to Getafe, at home.
Athletic Bilbao salvaged some pride after the hammering against Real Madrid in the last match. A Fernando Llorente hattick helped them to acquire all three points. Michu and Alejandro Arribas scored for Rayo. Real Sociedad thrashed Gijon in a high scoring match. A Zurutuza-brace and goals from Elustondo, Aranburu and Griezmann, earned them the manita. De las Ceuvas scored the consolation goal for Gijon. It’s getting from bad to worse for Sevilla who lost to Malaga. To add insult to injury, Reyes had to be substituted because of an injury – the return of Sevilla’s prodigal son is anything but propitious. After a courageous display against Barcelona, Rondon put up yet another astounding performance and was rightfully chosen as the Man of The Match.
Elsewhere, Granada notched up a surprising victory against Pepe Mel’s Real Betis. Both teams committed loads of errors but two goals in the first half from Odion Ighalo and Carlos Martins found only one as an answer from Jonathan in the last quarter of the match.
Trivia: Any team which wins the first Clasico of the season has never lost the league. Any team which begins their campaign against Malaga never wins the La Liga – FC Barcelona’s fate is in doldrums.
Blunder Of The Week
Espanyol 1-0 Mallorca
See it to believe it.
Cleanest Goal Of The Week
Welington v Sevilla
Perhaps a regulation goal, which one can score in training session. No resistance whatsoever!
Assist Of The Week
Ricardo Carvalho v Zaragoza
This doesn’t get any better. An amazing pass from the Real Madrid defender. Whether he intended to do it or not – your guess is as good as ours.
Goal Of The Week
Fernando Llorente Against Rayo
Power, precision, control. Llorente’s second of the three goals had all three!
Team Of The Week
Manager: Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid)
Playing XI (4-4-2): Diego Lopez (Villarreal); Carlos Martinez (Real Sociedad), Raul Rodriguez (Espanyol), Hector Moreno (Espanyol), Daniel Estrada (Real Sociedad); Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid), Kaka (Real Madrid), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Gonzalo Castro (Mallorca); Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Rondon (Malaga)
La Liga Standing (Top 5)
Legends: GS – Goals Scored; GC – Goals Conceded; GD – Goal Difference
Race To Pichichi (Top 5)
|1||Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||24||9|
|2||Lionel Messi||FC Barcelona||22||2|
|3||Radamel Falcao||Atletico Madrid||14||5|
|4||Gonzalo Higuain||Real Madrid||14||0|
Rayo 2-3 Athletic
Espanyol 1-0 Mallorca
Real Madrid 3-1 R Zaragoza
Villarreal 0-0 Barcelona
Betis 1-2 Granada
Levante 1-2 Getafe
R Sociedad 5-1 Sporting
Racing 2-2 Valencia
Málaga 2-1 Sevilla