Well, Madrid were supposed to have a tough matchAi?? against Pamplona based Osasuna. In fact, the team known as the most ai???Englishai??i?? Spanish team can probably be credited for Madrid running away with this league because they beat Barcelona 3-2. Mourinho, however, did not read the script and his team dispatched Osasuna with ease.
Jose Mendilibar (Osasunaai??i??s coach) who, like his team, is known to be a pragmatist as far as football is concerned seems to have opted for too idealistic an approach against Los Blancos. Osasuna were too adventurous and anybody who has watched Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuain and Benzema will tell you that unless the opponent is named ai???Barcelonaai???, they should sit deep and look to defend in a structured manner rather than attempt to press the ball.
That said, Madridai??i??s midfield werenai??i??t as impressive as expected but they arenai??i??t really famous for their midfield like their illustrious Catalan rivals, right? The Capital sideai??i??s forwards however were simply put, amazing. Karim Benzema opened the scoring early with a beautiful Van Basten like strike. Cristiano Ronaldo, never one to be over shadowed, added a 35 yard screamer and then spoilt it with an odd celebration that encapsulated everything about the player, namely his genius while playing and his dark side which can be called arrogance.
Higuain did his best Messi impersonation by scoring a delightful goal by lobbing it over the keeper and effectively ended the match. Final score? 1-5. The Catalans will know that theyai??i??re on the verge of losing this yearai??i??s league to their bitter rivals unless either Athletic Bilbao or Valencia can beat them.
Unai Emery Flopping And Will Probably Not Last The Season At This Rate
Emeryai??i??s Valencia drew in the derby against minnows Levante and the young coach will be under tremendous pressure as his team hasnai??i??t won in their last 5 matches (in all competitions). Like the other young coach who took over at Chelsea in the beginning of the season, Emery has never really gotten the support of the clubai??i??s fans. Ofcourse, it didnai??i??t help that he criticised the fans about the support shown and the only reason he held onto his post was that until recently the results were there for everybody to see.
However, Valencia has had a drastic drop in form over the last 5 matches in all competitions. In La Liga, Jonasai??i?? strike against Levante was not enough to get the win and now Valencia have Malaga breathing down their necks for that very important 3rd place in the league. The good news is that Malaga lost to Real Betis as well so atleast until next week, Emery will have some breathing space.
Nouveau-riche Side, Malaga Have Been On A Great Winning Streak Till They Met Real Betis
The fight for a European spot is heating up and Malaga with their Qatari sponsors will be hoping to get that automatic Champions League Qualification by beating Valencia to 3rd. However, losing to Real Betis 0-2 was not part of the plan and Manuel Pellegrini will look to regain their form.
Real Betis have been a thorn in most big teams side this season. La Liga has been extremely interesting this season, to say the least. All the teams that were expected to be fighting for relegation have maintained mid-table spots while teams like Real Sociedad are fighting to avoid relegation.
Real Betis, have caused problems for Real Madrid and Barcelona(even in Camp Nou), so Malaga cannot say they werenai??i??t warned. Betis scored goals through Dorado and Ruben Castro to take all three points and are now 15th in the table. Malaga will rue missed chances and moreover the chance to overtake Valencia, although they remain 4th in the table. Their Qatari based owners will consider the season a huge success if Malaga can earn a Champions League spot this season.
Pep Guardiola Gets One Over His Mentor, Marcelo Bielsa ButAi?? It Definitely Was Not Easy
It is safe to say, that Spainai??i??s and indeed, Europeai??i??s one of the most exciting side is Marcelo Bielsaai??i??s Athletic Bilbao, something that even Pep Guardiola admitted before the match.Ai?? The match itself was all about Bielsa and Pep exchanging compliments and 90 minutes of adrenaline.
Bielsaai??i??s Bilbao can run forever it seems, they can press and harass opponents for the whole 90 minutes despite playing in Europa League just 48 hours prior. ai???El Locoai??? chose to rest some of his big guns (Iker Munian and Llorente) and so did Pep Guardiola (Xavi and Cesc Fabregas) but that definitely did not take anything away from what was definitely the match of the weekend.
Lionel Messi made the difference again by assisting Iniestaai??i??s goal and then converting a penalty to earn Barcelona a 2-0 victory to maintain the 6 point difference at the top of the table. Bilbao, however, seem to be focussing more on the Europa League (currently 11th in the league) and seem to be favourites to win the tournament after thrashing Raulai??i??s Schalke in Germany. If Bielsa can get his team to win Europa League, that will confirm an automatic spot for next yearai??i??s Champions League. Beware! Teams around Europe should start worrying cause the Basque side will only get better and more consistent. Manchester United and Ferguson learnt their lesson early.
The fight for relegation was directly impacted by the match between Sporting Gijon and Zaragoza, with Zaragoza coming away with a slim 1-2 victory. The visitors who had been average all season have recently found some semblance of form and although still 18th with 28 points, that is only 4 points behind 17th placed Villarreal. Zaragoza,Racing Santander and Sporting Gijon are the teams occupying the relegation spots and chances are things will stay that way since Villarreal have found new defensive strength under their new coach and managed a draw against Espanyol at home.