Against all expectations, Real Madrid have stumbled again. With Barcelona winning at Osasuna, Real Madrid had to win their game against Getafe but instead, ended up giving a five point cushion to Barcelona at the top of the table. Usually in other top European leagues, this may not mean much, and that too after just two games into the new season; but in La Liga, five points is too much of a lead, with even some going as far as saying that the league is over. Welcome to La Liga!
After the disappointing start against Valencia and Barcelona, José Mourinho must have expected his side to set the ball rolling at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez against their poor cousins. Real Madrid started brightly with Gonzalo Higuain opening the scoring in the 27th minute with a little help from his Argentine teammate, Angel Di Maria. Earlier, Mesut Özil missed a sitter to put his team ahead while Ronaldo came close to opening his Liga account. Real Madrid dominated the first half and had lion’s share of the possession but lacked penetration to put the game beyond Getafe.
The second half started on a bright note for Luis Garcia’s men as they attacked with renewed vigor and got rewarded when Juan Valera scored a terrific header aided by poor defending from Sergio Ramos. Mourinho decided to go all out as Karim Benzem came on for Lass Diarra and made an immediate impact but Getafe held on and got their reward. An Alonso-esque ball to Colunga, who beat Raul Albiol and helped the ball to Barrada, who smashed it past Casillas, made the score 2-1 in favor of the hosts. Real Madrid then put all their attacking options on the pitch but failed to unlock a stubborn Getafe defense, who defended resolutely and got a much deserved victory. Fábio Coentrão, who was on bench, was sent off on charge of a verbal assault on the referee - which means that he will miss the next few games in La Liga.
Barcelona too had a tough outing against Osasuna, but as was the case with them so many times last season, the little magician named Lionel Messi rescued them of blushes once again. Osasuna were unlucky to lose 2-1 to the Catalan outfit which put Barcelona top of the table with six points from two matches.
Joseba Llorente put Osasuna ahead in the 17th minute as it was evident that Barcelona were struggling in the absence of Xavi to control things in the middle. Osasuna were excellent as the visitors looked to level the scoring to no avail and the home side ended the first half on top. The second half was turning out to be a similar story before Tito Vilanova threw Xavi into the mix and Barcelona managed to score two goals - thanks to Lionel Messi. Osasuna played their heart out but were unlucky to lose this way. Sometimes, football can be cruel.
In other matches, Valencia and Deportivo played out an entertaining 3-3 draw in which Roberto Soldado scored a brace. Agirretxe also scored a brace for Real Sociedad in their victory over Celta Vigo while Rayo Vallecano ended up being joint leaders with Barcelona at the top of the table but with a less goal difference thanks to their victory over Real Betis.
On Monday night, it was time for the big encounter between Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. With Fernando Llorente not featuring, it was always going to be a tough night for the Basque side. In addition to that, Iker Munian also started on the bench with the onus on Susaeta and Ander Herrera to do the work for them.
Bilbao may have dominated possession if you look at the stats but Atlético dominated the game having 23 shots on goal in which 14 were on target. Bilbao, shockingly, had no shot on target in the entire match. Falcao was at his very best as Tiago finished off the proceedings with a spectacular goal.
Player(s) of the week
Lionel Messi and Radamel Falcao
While it should not be surprise by now, Lionel Messi once again put down his foot and helped his team win against Osasuna in a match which could have easily gone the other way. The Argentine was the only spark in an otherwise dull Barcelona outfit which struggled to play their natural game against excellent defending and relentless attacking.
It was tough to ignore Radamel Falcao for the same honour as he demonstrated why exactly he is one of the finest strikers present. In game wholly dominated by Atletico, Falcao scored a brilliant hattrick, moving ahead of Messi and Ronaldo in the Pichichi race.
Flop of the week
While Raul Albiol would have been an excellent choice, Cesc Fàbregas’ contribution cannot be overlooked. The former Arsenal star had a shocker of a game and was clueless for the major part. It looked as if he was on a different page than his team mates and it was hardly surprising when he was the first player substituted. Fàbregas needs to buck up after a poor second half last season and he has not made any great impact thus far this season.
Goal of the week
Tiago’s brilliant strike against Athletic Bilbao
Real Sociedad 2 – 1 Celta Vigo
Espanyol 1 – 2 Real Zaragoza
Real Betis 1 – 2 Rayo Vallecano
Málaga 1 – 1 Mallorca
Osasuna 1 – 2 Barcelona
Granada CF 1 – 1 Sevilla
Getafe 2 – 1 Real Madrid
Valencia 3 – 3 Deportivo
Valladolid 2- 0 Levante
Atlético Madrid 4-0 Athletic Bilbao