The Andalucian derby and the robbery at Mestalla were the major talking points in this weekend. Apart from the usual brilliance by Messi and the not so usual performances by Ronaldo and Falcao, this was a weekend which saw the matches go in the favor of the bigger teams in general.
Sevilla do a manita of their own over Betis
One of the most heated derbies in the Spain, Seville and Betis produced a goal fest. Seville are the equivalent of Real Madrid and Barcelona, the rich kids who have everything. Betis on the other hand is representative of Atletico and Espanyol, the perennial underdogs who want to challenge the normal order.
To understand the full intensity of the hatred, try reading this wonderful piece by Sid Lowe.
If one was into reading the signs, one had to wait only for 11 seconds for this wonderful goal by Reyes, depending on which side you are on. Reyes’ performance perhaps saved his Sevilla career and as well as won him the affection of Sevilla fans.
Although, Sevilla are the big brothers in the equation, it was and still is Betis who are sitting above them. Yet the performance of Betis was more worthy of relegation battlers than a upper half team. Worse still it was in a derby as passionate as this.
The robbery at Mestalla
Two men sent off, a penalty awarded (which proved decisive) and of course all of them extremely contentious. Just another day in La Liga. Of course, Espanyol coach Pochettino refused to give up so easily and is contemplating lodging an official complaint.
Even the volatile and pugnacious Soldado who scored the winning penalty, admitted that Espanyol players had every right to feel aggrieved. “I understand why Espanyol’s players reacted as they did.
Espanyol are still rooted to the bottom while Valencia moved closer to the European Champions League spots.
One man army Messi yet again proved why he is so revered by Barcelona devotees. When the opposition coach exclaims that had he had Messi in his team, it generates mixed feelings. On one hand it reinforces the aura of Messi, on the other is gives a feeling that Barcelona are overly dependent on Messi.
While Messi was undoubtedly single handedly responsible for his team’s victory this weekend, whether he alone is the one who creates magic is matter of another debate.
Levante back in UCL spots
Levante are making a mockery of the phrase “Lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice”. But then as far as Levante is concerned, lightning has struck the same place twice so much, that the place it would have struck must have the colour of burnt coal.
Levante finishing in the Europa League spots was a miracle. Yet again they find themselves in UCL spots. Whether or not they can sustain it, is different matter altogether. But Levante even being above the likes of Malaga, Sevilla and Valencia is miracle in itself.
Stuttering Malaga and Deportivo
Two clubs where identical situations are being played out. With wages going unpaid, the morale has sagged and the shoulders have drooped. The results have been clearly affected as Malaga at the start of the season would have won the game against Milan and Osasuna in all probability.
Deportivo are mired in a relegation dogfight and given their resources, this is going to be a very very long dogfight.
Malaga are the fairy tale in UCL this season and it will a shame if a gentleman like Pellegrini and a team as talented as this one fails in the later stages of the season.
Malaga scraped home a 0-0 draw at Osasuna’s intimidation Reyno de Navarra, which is not a bad result by itself. Deportivo on the other hand went down 2-0 and they may even go into administration. Another 2 great teams teetering on the brink which may not be a good news for La Liga lovers.
Benzema is back
“I will fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” Ali couldn’t have put it better. The whole night Benzema was buzzing around with Bilbao defense having no clue how to deal with. Dropping deep, going out wide, drifting to the centre, Benzema was everywhere.
This was a performance unseen for many days and which gave all the Madridistas a lot cheer about.
And of course, once again Ronaldo was unhappy and wanted to leave (This week he didn’t score or assist and thus the newspapers had to come up with something).
Player of the week
Jose Antonio Reyes (Sevilla)
Scored the fasted derby goal and the fifth fastest goal of La Liga history; Became the darling of Sevillistas once again and was given a standing ovation by his fans. Despite playing for teams like Real and Arsenal, Reyes career never really got going.
Perhaps this is his last chance of making it big in one of the “big” leagues. Whatever the future may hold, Reyes had certainly cemented his place in the history annals of Sevilla.
Flop of the week
Carlos Del Cerro (referee of Valencia vs Espanyol)
A ridiculous penalty near the end of time and two players sent off subsequently. More than that, the entire game was stopped continuously and the referee flourished cards on a whim. With 14 yellows and 2 reds along with 48 fouls given, it was one of the most inept performances seen in a long long time.
It is a miracle that 2 goals were scored, given that game would have hardly flowed, if there was a foul given every 2 min,
Goal of the week
Purely for the joy, the third goal of Real Madrid, and the first or second goal of Benzema (depending on which source you believe), it was a classic striker’s effort. Close control, dribbling and a nasty curling shot which flew past the keeper.
Deportivo 0-2 Levante
Celta Vigo 1-1 Mallorca
Getafe 2-1 Valladolid
Granada 0-1 Atlético Madrid
Sevilla FC 5-1 Real Betis
Osasuna 0-0 Málaga
Valencia 2-1 Espanyol
Barcelona 3-1 Real Zaragoza
Real Madrid 5-1 Athletic Bilbao