After a two-week break, Spanish football resumed service. But frankly, it was hardly exciting stuff. Nothing changed over the weekend. FC Barcelona drew first with relegation battling Celta, Real Madrid, expected to cut their bitterest opponents’ lead at the top to 11, drew to another relegation battler Zaragoza; Atletico and Valencia produced a draw too.
Making the week more ordinary was Leo Messi’s goal-scoring exploits. Messi’s goal every week is hardly news now and considering that it was a goal in his 19th consecutive game and against every opponent in the league table, its getting a bit boring keeping stock of Messi’s incredible achievements. And, oh yes! Ronaldo scored too.
Barcelona were playing Celta away and Nacho Insa gave the home team the lead courtesy a cross from Fabian Orellana in the 38th minute. The joy was shortlived as Tello, thanks to an assist by Messi, equalized before the break.
In the second half, Tello returned the favor and the best player in the world coolly slotted the ball home, becoming the only player in football history to score against all teams in a league in consecutive games. He now has 30 goals in his last 19 league appearances. (Still, this feels ordinary because its Messi, sigh!) Celta did not give up and with Barca losing concentration in the final few minutes, Oubina made it 2-2 in the 88th minute and the match ended with the same scoreline with both teams having nearly the same shots on goal.
With Barcelona drawing, Real Madrid had the chance to make things a little tougher on the Blaugrana. Rodri scored early in the 6th minute for Zaragoza but Ronaldo provided another goal in an otherwise dull half making it 1-1 at the interval.
Zaragoza and Real Madrid did improve slightly in the second half but the goal keepers pulled off decent saves to put their teams in the match. The biggest talking point before the match was the exclusion of Iker Casillas from the squad itself, and with Diego Lopez pulling off some brilliant saves at the end from Helder Postiga, he was singled out for praise by his boss.
Jose Mourinho seemed to be clear without mentioning names at the end when he said, “He(Lopez) stopped balls that were going in and if he plays like this is very hard for him to not be in the team.” It was undoubtedly a message to Casillas and as Real Madrid’s season continues it would be very interesting to see what path both captain and coach would follow in resolving their unending dispute.
With Real Madrid drawing, Atletico had the glorious chance to move ahead of their derby rivals, Real Madrid again. But they failed to inspire and would probably be happy with a point from the game against Valencia. Ernesto Valverde’s quest for the fourth spot in the table looks on course with as they are still in reach of Malaga and Sociedad.
Jonas gave Valencia the lead in their very first attack before Radamel Falcao equalized nearly a minute later, finally ending his 3 game dry-spell in front of goal. The rest of the match was scrappy and neither team will be happy with their performance in the 90 minutes.
Malaga in the hunt for a Champions League spot, even though their non-participation in next year’s European competition is nearly confirmed, won against Rayo Vallecano and moved within a point to Real Sociedad. Weligton, Baptista and Pedro Morales scored for the Andalucians.
Real Sociedad, another possible contenders for the final Champions League spot drew at Cornella El-Prat against Espanyol, managing to hold onto their fourth spot in the table for the time being. Espanyol were leading at the break but an own-goal by Javi Lopez ensured the game ended in a draw.
In the clash of the mid-table teams, Levante beat Sevilla 1-0. Ruben Garcia gave Levante the lead in the 40th minute. Sevilla pushed hard for an equalizer in the second half and did give quite a few scares to Levante but could not beat their goal keeper.
In what was possibly the most entertaining game of the week, Deportivo beat Mallorca in the clash of bottom two, thus recording their first back-back victories of the season and moving to just four points of safety. Mallorca scored first but Deportivo responded brilliantly to score three goals before Emilio Nsue scored in the final few minutes to make it 2-3. Deportivo held onto their lead thus making the relegation battle an interesting one at the business end of the season.
Rayo Vallecano 1 – 3 Malaga
Celta Vigo 2 – 2 Barcelona
Real Zaragoza 1 – 1 Real Madrid
Levante 1 – 0 Sevilla
Valladolid 1 – 3 Osasuna
Mallorca 2 – 3 Deportivo
Espanyol 2 – 2 Real Sociedad
Atletico Madrid 1 – 1 Valencia