The recently concluded gameweek saw something which the world hasn’t seen in a long time. FC Barcelona travelled to Madrid. They played against Rayo Vallecano. Pedro Rodriguez scored a fine hattrick – but Barcelona had less possession than a team which is vying for position in the bottom of the table. Rayo Vallecano 54%-46% FC Barcelona.
Barcelona and Real Madrid score 4 each
The biggest teams in Spain had a relatively comfortable weekend. However, while Barcelona lost the possession battle against relegation threatened Rayo, Real Madrid succumbed to an early goal by Lafita.
After 317 matches, since May 2008, Barca saw less of the ball than their opposition. The co-incidence is that, in May 2008, when Barcelona had lower ball possession than their opposition, before the match against Rayo, Real Madrid won by a margin of 4-1 (against Barcelona). This weekend too they won by the same margin (but against Getafe this time).
In the match against Vallecano, all eyes were expectedly on Lionel Messi, who scored a sparkling hattrick midweek against Ajax. However, it was Pedro who stunned fans with a fine hattrick. It is not a secret that the new coach prefers Alexis Sanchez to Pedro and Tello, but his generous rotation policy offers reasonable playing time to the others and this gameweek Pedro rode his luck and proved to Martino that he can be a crucial asset in the later stages of the season.
However, despite Messi and Pedro’s hattricks in consecutive matches, it was another player who proved his mettle – Victor Valdes, the man who faces caustic criticism for a few mistakes here and there. The custodian, who has made up his mind to leave the club at the end of the season, saved, not one, but TWO penalties against Rayo. THREE penalties stopped in TWO consecutive matches, in the wake of Iker’s predicament, Valdes is strengthening his claim for a starting berth for Spain in Brazil, next year – and quite rightly do. Valdes deserves to replace the morally beleaguered Madrid custodian, who has not been able to find either his form or his confidence, ever since Jose Mourinho relegated him to the position of the 4th placed goalkeeper of Madrid.
Cesc Fabregas while scoring the fourth for Barcelona and assisting Pedro’s 2nd goal is well set to prove his worth to the team in days to come.
Real Madrid conceded against Getafe, at home as early as the 5th minute. But the capital club, who were without their star signing Gareth Bale, due to a pre-match warm-up injury, brought parity through a very unlikely source – Pepe. Since then, there was no looking back. Ronaldo, Ozil and Co. decimated Getafe. With Lionel Messi not registering himself on the scoresheet, Ronaldo grabbed the opportunity with both hands and notched up a brace – one from the penalty spot and the other, an audacious backheel in the dying moments of the match.
The Pichichi race is once again between the two superstars. With the departure of Falcao, Negredo and Soldado, there isn’t really anyone who can atleast think of giving these two a contest. As of now, Lionel Messi 6-4 Ronaldo.
Valencia get the better of Sevilla. Atletico win away against Valladolid
While Valencia lost Soldado and replaced him with Helder Postiga, Atletico got a better deal to replace Radamel Falcao with David Villa for a meagre sum. After a flying start to their Champions League campaign by beating Zenit St Petersburg, Atletico put up a thoroughly professional display against Valladolid and picked up 3 valuable points on the road, and are at the top of the table, along with Barcelona. The coach and the team is ecstatic at the contract extension of Turkish midfielder Arda Turan, till 2017, and can hope to build a solid core to beat the odds in Champions League, if not the domestic league.
Valencia brushed aside a beleaguered Sevilla to win their second game of the season. Los Che are now 10th in the league table and Sevilla, 20th. It may be a bit premature, but Sevilla is perhaps going the Villarreal way – with 2 draws and 3 losses in 5 matches. Victor Ruiz and Jonas (2) got the goals for Valencia, while Kevin Gameiro scored Sevilla’s only goal, minutes into the second half. The midweek’s 3-0 home loss against Swansea in Europa League was a wake-up call for Valencia and they had intent against Sevilla. Ironically, Sevilla is now managed by former Valencia boss Unai Emery, who finds himself in hot water.
The opening goal of the match wasn’t particularly in keeping with the spirit of football – Sevilla-midfielder Stephane Mbia succumbed to an injury, but this did not stop Valencia from playing on, and Fede’s crosswas received by Jonas only to slot under goalkeeper Antonio Beto.
La Liga Matchday 5 Results
Osasuna 2-1 Elche
Real Sociedad 0-0 Malaga
Almeria 2-2 Levante
Rayo 0-4 Barcelona
Valladolid 0-2 Atletico
Betis 0-0 Granada
Celta Vigo 0-0 Villarreal
Real Madrid 4-1 Getafe
Valencia 3-1 Sevilla
Race To Pichichi
- Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 6 goals
- Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid) – 5 goals
- Pedro (Barcelona) – 5 goals
- Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 4 goals
- Isco (Real Madrid) – 4 goals