Tim Stannard picks up the pieces in La Liga after a second home defeat of the season for Barcelona...
Real Madrid time spin! Cristiano Ronaldo is scoring again and the pre-Madrid derby four-point lead at the top of the table has been restored. All is right with the world again in Mordor.
What’s more, Barça are now teetering on the brink of a renewed mini-crisis – LLL doesn’t make up the rules on these things – after a home defeat to Málaga and nasty looking trip to Manchester City on the very immediate horizon. But anyways, here’s a bunch of other stuff that happened this weekend, including David Moyes being involved in an exciting game...
Madrid ‘mini-crisis’ officially over
That’s the verdict from Marca, a paper back in a more positive vibe after victories on the road against Schalke and Elche for last season's La Liga runners-up.
“The strike of a leader! Mini-crisis over!” was the jubilant proclamation from Monday’s edition reacting to Sunday’s 2-0 win, the paper informing fans that it was now safe to come out of their crisis shelters and face the world again. Real's four-point lead over Barça undoes the damage of their recent derby loss.
Elche 0-2 Real Madrid
Selfless Barcelona keep La Liga looking lively
The last time Barcelona lost before the weekend’s mess-up against Málaga, Jordi Alba was the one who stuck the ball in the back of his own net early doors to leave his team-mates spending the rest of the game desperately trying to claw back the deficit against Real Sociedad.
This time Dani Alves was on hand to play a lovely through-ball to Juanmi after seven minutes to give Málaga a lead they hung onto for the rest of the match, and Barça a second home defeat in the Camp Nou this season. Leo Messi did his part in keeping La Liga interesting too by not having a single shot on target in the whole match. His team-mates also chipped in by only managing one on goal in the second half.
Heck, even Luis Enrique threw some coal onto the fires by disagreeing with Messi that something positive had changed since the loss at Real Sociedad. His observation that his players could not seem to find a goalscoring solution on another occasion gives weight to the manager’s stance. Tuesday’s clash against Manchester City now looks even more tantalising. And even more unpredictable.
Barcelona 0-1 Malaga
Atlético bounce back to their best
The Rojiblancos were all over Almería from the off on Saturday, with a couple of chances created in what felt like the opening seconds of the match. An early penalty set things up nicely for the home side, still smarting from last week’s loss at Celta Vigo, but Antoine Griezmann continued to defy any criticism that could be aimed at his skunk-like hair art with his fourth brace of the season to move the champions within just three points of Barça in second.
Atletico Madrid 3-0 Almeria
Valencia doing better than you might think
When Diego Simeone was doing his traditional pooh-poohing of his team’s title chances by committing to the idea that the real battle for Atlético was with Valencia and Sevilla, LLL had a bit of a snort. But after looking at the league table, the blog saw that Simeone was right. A dogged Valencia are just three points away from the champions – and with a superior head-to-head record – after five wins from six.
Saturday’s was the most dogged of all, with Valencia leaving it late to snatch a 2-1 win at Córdoba with what appears to be a hugely scuffed shot from Pablo Piatti looping into the back of the net. “There are no wins without some kind of suffering for us,” was the weary observation from Valencia boss Nuno.
Cordoba 1-2 Valencia
Sevilla continue chaotic ways
“It’s difficult to explain. We lacked maturity,” lamented Unai Emery after seeing his team lose 4-3 in a mad game against Real Sociedad. The loss was a fifth straight one on the road for Sevilla, and the fourth in La Liga, which is not ideal for a side supposedly chasing a Champions League spot. This particular defeat will have Unai crouching in contemplation for days, seeing as Sevilla were 3-2 up with just eight minutes to go before an own goal and then an unmarked header from a corner gave La Real a crucial win.
Real Sociedad 4-3 Sevilla
Celta prevail against dithering Deportivo
Yes, if you want hyperbole and hubris then the Clásico is the big beast in La Liga. But the regional types from around Spain are more than a match when the locals get together. Especially the Galicia derby, where all the talk ahead of the game was that the prize at stake concerned who would be boss of the region.
That award has gone to Celta Vigo with a 2-0 away win, although the home side didn’t really help themselves with an Oriol Riera strike hitting the crossbar from about five yards at 1-0 down. Lopo got himself sent off for a late hack on Celta striker Charles, and a dithering defence pretty much passed the ball into the back of their own net for the second goal.
Deportivo 0-2 Celta Vigo
Getafe wriggle out of trouble once again
And that’s why the huddled masses have been squeezing into Getafe’s Coliseum week after week for the last decade that they have been in La Primera.
Because they know that when needs must for Getafe, and the relegation zone threatens like a cartoon cowboy hanging over a pit of snapping crocodiles, the team always pops up with a victory to remove its footballing booty from the path of some menacing gnashers just in time. That happened on Friday when Espanyol came a-calling and lost 2-1 in the beautiful Madrid suburbs (a less glamorous Croydon).
Getafe 2-1 Espanyol