How the (elongated) weekend went in Spain, with Tim Stannard...
That was a peculiar round - stretched over three days with two matches jammed on the end on Monday night. Indeed, Eibar’s 5-2 victory over Almería was by far the standout result of the long weekend, although of course hat-tricks from Leo Messi (a mighty purty one) and Cristiano Ronaldo (a cheaty, lucky one) stole the limelight and then buried it in on the beach of a South Pacific atoll, never to be seen again.
Valencia continued to disappoint, Villarreal continued to please, and Real Sociedad showed that David Moyes has the quite the job on his hands this season if he is going to take La Real into the faraway top seven.
Cristiano dive is a touch too much
This is now becoming an issue. LLL admires Cristiano Ronaldo and all that, but the endless irritating features about the player are beginning to get a little less tolerable as the blog grows older and grumpier.
Ronaldo has always been quite happy to take a tumble in the box, but the outrageous flop against Celta Vigo – on top of pre-match line-up pictures which showed Ronaldo standing on his tippy-toes – were a bridge too far for the blog. Ronaldo has scored the most hat-tricks in La Liga history, an admirable feat in theory. But not if it involves tumbling to the turf like an enormous dill.
Messi flatters Barça’s Catalan derby
OK, 5-1 looks like a fairly comfortable win for Barça, but it was far from it in the first half. Espanyol could have gone two or three up early on, as the home side started like the Keystone Cops, particularly low on testosterone and drive.
Having been shoved off the ball, Sergi Busquets sat on the turf for a good four minutes before getting up and trotting towards the long-departed Sergio García who scored the Perico opener. “As soon as we concede, the doubts begin,” warned Luis Enrique after the match.
Of course, Barcelona has Leo Messi, a footballing Atlas carrying the club on his back with an inspired hat-trick after realising that none of the eejits around him were going to doing anything constructive. Again.
Atlético maintain rhythm method in La Liga
Click. Clunk. Click. Clunk. Ding! Atlético are displaying a wonderful pendulum of perfection: the same rhythm that won the Rojiblancos the title last year. The win at Elche was the second successive 2-0, the perfect scoreline for the club. Nothing too fancy in terms of the attack, but nothing given up at the back, either, with Atlético picking up their seventh clean in sheet in 14. Which is about half the total of the amount of games, or something like that.
Sevilla continue upward movement
Just as it looked like Sevilla’s pancake was going to end up wrecklessly tossed on to the carpet of doom, the Andalusian side snatched the somersaulting breakfast out of thin air. Sevilla have followed a rather limp 5-1 defeat to Barcelona in the Camp Nou with two league victories – last week’s over Granada and a tight, sneaky one at Rayo with a winner from Carlos Bacca, who seems to be fully awake again.
Carlos Kameni continues Mexican stand-off
In a continuation of three Mexican imports not exactly setting the world to rights in La Liga – or even getting on the pitch – Memo Ochoa is never going to oust Carlos Kameni in Málaga's goal at this rate. The Cameroonian was quite immense against Deportivo, pulling all manner of saves out of the bag to keep the home side at bay. “A brave, historic victory,” claimed overstimulated Málaga coach Javi Gracia.
La Liga round 14
Yellow Submarine at full speed ahead
A brace from Moi (hello in Finnish, phonetically) Gómez was half of Villarreal’s tally in a 4-0 victory against Real Sociedad that was stuffed to the brim with lovely touches and flourishes. The victory was Villarreal’s third in a row in La Primera, to ease out of a mini bad patch and keep the Yellow Submarine sailing towards a return to the Europa League, and all the delights that entails.
Valencia’s slump continues
This is getting irritating now. Valencia were LLL’s high hopes for turning La Liga into a four-way fun-fest. But that all looks a little doomed now with the Mestalla men now without a league win in four, having blown a 1-0 lead minutes from the end against Granada. The one bright moment from a disappointing away day was Alvaro Negredo’s first goal for the club. But like a tiny biscuit being used as a cushion, these were small crumbs of comfort.
David Moyes fails first big test
“It could have been a lot worse” was the accurate post-match pondering of the Real Sociedad coach after a 4-0 hammering. Villarreal looked positively rampant in El Madrigal against a sluggish, out-of-sorts San Sebastian side that looked far from the secure outfit who had picked up three clean sheets in a row since the arrival of their Scottish boss.
Eibar grab Performance of the Week prize
In a match tucked away on Monday evening, Eibar stuffed five (five!) past Almería to put the team into a majestic ninth place with 19 points, close to half of what the teeny-tiny Basque side will need this season to stay up. “I’m not looking at the league table,” claimed coach Gaizka Garitano, “it can be deceiving. We have a lot to improve on.”