Gameweek 32 trod a more or less usual path as Barcelona and Real Madrid gathered all 3 points, followed by Valencia and Atletico Madrid. However, the league leaders – FC Barcelona – had anything but a walk in the park. Real Madrid on the other hand had a good outing against Real Betis ahead of their midweek clash with Dortmund. Atletico Madrid, a team which kept Real Madrid at the third position for 17 weeks in row, now find themselves there, 3 points behind Madrid. Simeone might be happy with his team’s performance, but the fact remains that Atletico, a team which gave the top two some fight is not losing its effervescence. Valencia mauled Malaga; the latter have been dismal at home and the only glorious period could have been their European exploits.
Barcelona went into the match with a host of their stars on the bench. Lionel Messi didn’t even make the squad keeping in mind the monumental midweek clash against Bayern Munich. Busquets, Xavi, Pedro, Alba, Sanchez started on the bench, and the team struggled to get the back of the net. A draw loomed large, till the 83rd minute and only then did Cesc Fabregas strike with his 11th goal of the season to get all three points and take a step forward towards the league title. Alexis Sanchez came on to replace Tello around the 77th minute to provide Cesc with a beautiful assist. Despite the criticism, these two players share 20 assists and 16 goals among them – not the greatest of stats, but not detestable either. Perhaps the management should think of giving these two young talents some more time to get used to the style of play at the Camp Nou.
David Villa started the match and missed a penalty, which was Barcelona’s first penalty miss of the 2012-13 season. Eric Abidal started
the game and played the entire 90 minutes. Keylor Navas, who started ahead of Gustavo Munua had a stunning outing and managed to frustrate Barcelona for the majority of the game. Alex Song perhaps played his best game in the Blaugrana colours and looked assured. The ex-Arsenal star now is looking to get into the groove for the Catalan giants, and might just do well if he pays heed to his old manager Arsene Wenger, who advised to stay at Barcelona for some more time. Andres Iniesta with his mobility and intelligent movement certainly looked to be the best player for Barcelona on the pitch. The good thing is that Adriano, who succumbed to an injury few days back looked composed at the back and might relieve Vilanova of his worries at the back.
Real Madrid had a relatively more comfortable outing against Betis. Jose Mourinho fielded a strong team with Casemiro as a surprise. Injury to Essien and suspension of Alonso forced Mourinho to start the Brazilian, who had a decent outing. Solid defensively and indomitable spirit defined the young midfielder and perhaps he has what it takes to make it to the senior team in future. “A dream has come true for me. Playing my first game with Real Madrid is fantastic. My ambition is to get into the first team. At the end of this season the club and my agent will need to decide if I’ll stay here next season,” said the former Sao Paolo player.
Ramos and Khedira were rested, keeping in mind the important mid-week match against Dortmund. Marcelo had to be substituted as early as the 15th minute, when the Brazilian fullback suffered a knock and is perhaps unavailable against Dortmund. Nacho had a decent outing as he covered for Marcelo on the left, as Varane replaced the Brazilian. However, it was Nacho who awarded Betis a penalty, which was converted by Molina. While Ozil scored a brace, Benzema assisted and scored one and Ronaldo assited one, Casillas, the Madrid talisman continued to be ignored by the Portuguese manager. A player, who was once hailed as the face of the club, has now been reduced to a mere substitute – such is life.
Valencia mauled Malaga and scored 5. While Soldado (2), Canales, Banega and Parejo scored for Valencia, former Real Madrid player, Julio Baptista scored the only goal for Malaga. After a relatively quiet start to the game, Valencia scored 4 in 6 minutes to seal the match. Last time these two teams met, Malaga inflicted a crushing 4-0 defeat to the Los Che, which fans can proudly say, has been avenged.
Real Sociedad’s quest for a Champions League spot met with a roadblock in the form of Osasuna, who lie just 2 spots over the relegation zone. The draw leaves Sociedad with 55 points from 32 games, 2 ahead of Valencia, who might just overtake them for the coveted 4th spot, by the time the season ends.
- Mallorca 1-1 Rayo Vallecano
- Granada 1-1 Valladolid
- Real Madrid 3-1 Betis
- Barcelona 1-0 Levante
- Valencia 5-1 Malaga
- Getafe 0-2 Espanyol
- Deportivo 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
- Osasuna 0-0 Real Sociedad
- Sevilla 0-1 Atletico Madrid
- Celta Vigo v Zaragoza – Yet to be played
- Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) – 43 goals
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 31 goals
- Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid) – 25 goals
- Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla) – 18 goals
- Roberto Soldado (Valencia) – 17 goals