Tim Stannard rounds up a fesity weekend from Spain, after Cristiano made headlines for all the wrong reasons...
After a few quiet days last weekend, La Liga turned things up a notch with a huge hissy fit from Cristiano Ronaldo, a memorable night in Mestalla, Barça battering cannon fodder as only they can and Athletic still being disappointingly... disappointing. Here are some highlights and lowlights of the weekend just gone.
Ronaldo in wig-out in crazy Córdoba clash
For all the admiration of Cristiano Ronaldo’s goalscoring and penalty-winning exploits, there is also so much pleasure to be had at his general weirdness. This season we have been blessed by the forward being caught standing on his tippy-toes to look taller in photos, as well as that odd noise at the Ballon d’Or finale.
On Saturday, Ronaldo seemed quite keen to get himself sent off, succeeding on the second strike out at an opponent during a goalmouth scramble.
Apologies were made soon after, but Ronaldo could well be out for the next three games if a harsh penalty is issued. There seems to be a ‘Zlatan Happy, Zlatan Sad’ vibe going on with the Portuguese at the moment. This is either good or bad news for Gareth Bale depending on his willingness and ability to help carry the side on his back, Ronaldo-style.
The match itself was a classic example of the ‘bad games still won by champions’ as noted by Iker Casillas after the game. Commiserations are laid out at the feet of Córdoba, a team that battled like wee warriors for a least a point but had that snatched away by a late Bale penalty.
Cordoba 1-2 Real Madrid
Barça’s result needs huge pinch of salt
And this is exactly why everyone in Spain goes nuts when Barcelona or Real Madrid lose a game of football against a proper team. Although the Barça press are falling over themselves to praise Neymar and Messi, the Catalan club were playing Elche for heaven’s sake – a team at the wrong end of the table, struggling to pay its players and that have now leaked 15 goals without reply to Barça in three games in 2015.
Oh, and the home side were down to 10 men for much of the second half. Statistically, and by LLL’s arbitrary standards, Barcelona should have scored 37.
But, to give Barça egos a rub – Big Two supporters can be a weirdly fragile bunch – Gerard Piqué wasn’t horrendous, only one goal has been conceded in their last six La Liga games and it was fun to see Luis Suárez watching from the bench on his birthday as Pedro got a run-out; a footballer LLL has always had a soft spot for.
Elche 0-6 Barcelona
Antoine Griezmann in one-man rout of Rayo
The apparently-modest Frenchman felt that the 3-1 win over Rayo Vallecano in the Vicente Calderón was “not my best game, I could have done better”. The match-winner may want to watch the clash again from the comfort of his fancy, French chaise lounge as Griezmann was truly magnifique with two goals and a fairly good shout for two more. The Atlético man terrified and harassed the Rayo defence to keep the Rojiblancos ticking along nicely in La Liga, digging in in third place.
Atletico Madrid 3-1 Rayo Vallecano
Valencia come through Mestalla mayhem
Well, that was a huge amount of fun to end Sunday’s fare. Arguably the game of the weekend in La Liga delivered, as it normally does when these two sides meet, especially when there is a Champions League place up for grabs.
When Valencia get into their stride the Mestalla men are hugely admirable – fast, furious and physical, very much against the stereotype of the ponderous La Liga side.
The 3-1 victory may well be owed to keeper Diego Alves, who saved yet another penalty with Valencia 2-1 up and with a tendency to wobble. However, the spot-kick – the third awarded in the game – was missed by Carlos Bacca.
Speaking of penalties, an honourable mention must go to Alvaro Negredo who won the opener for Valencia with a tumble which made it look as if his spine had just been removed in somewhat violent fashion by the Predator.
Valencia 3-1 Sevilla
Real Sociedad force through Eibar win
La Real are still heaving away atop the toilet bowl of La Liga, and still suffering constipation. Saturday’s 1-0 win against Eibar owed itself to a flukey back header from Xabi Prieto via a mishit corner – unless it was all a cunning plan. Although the result was rather handy for David Moyes, Real Sociedad have failed to score more than once in their last seven league games, even though the Scot fielded a fairly attacking formation in Anoeta with three strikers. “We need to do more with the chances we create,” noted El Moyso.
Real Sociedad 1-0 Eibar
Villarreal survive trial by boredom
Shudder. That was awful. One of those games that goes on and on and on and on. In the end, Villarreal came out on top after a spill from Diego Mariño was pounced upon by Luciano Vietto for his ninth Primera strike of the season. But hell’s bells, anything involving Levante these days is a horror show to watch.
Villarreal 1-0 Levante
Athletic still stuck in a rut
There was a feeling of complete gloom as the Basque players trooped off after a 1-1 draw with Málaga. Athletic have now gone seven games without a win in La Liga, with four failures in a row at San Mamés. The one straw being grasped by Ernesto Valverde is that the team did not lose against a strongish side they are being forced to play three times in a row due to Copa del Rey duties.
Athletic Club 1-1 Malaga