Tim Stannard rounds up the big stories from the seventh round of La Liga action – including a goal you really should see...
And so La Liga whooshes into the desert for two weeks, like a palm tree on a pickup truck, while a whole bunch of friendlies and thrilling qualifiers take place around the world. But, on the return of La Primera, there will be so many questions that need an answer.
When will Leo Messi become the greatest of all time, ever? Will Cristiano Ronaldo keep up the giving vibe, and can Athletic get their you-know-what together? Here are some more ramblings from the weekend just gone...
Is Messi looking to become the greatest?
That certainly wasn't the impression after Little Leo fluffed a number of opportunities to knock in four past Rayo and become La Liga's all-time top goalscorer. Or was it just an off day to leave the Argentine needing just three against Eibar, and potentially even fewer against Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabéu where the baton from Zarra could be grabbed? In the Bernabéu. The home of Real Madrid. Hang on a second...
Ronaldo shows a brand new side
This is getting disconcerting. Perhaps stung by how much adulation and attention Messi gets for being a kitten-loving, world peace-seeking assist maker, Ronaldo is now looking to follow the same path of adulation. Hence the peculiar moment when the Real Madrid man laid off an easy ball to Karim Benzema to score Real Madrid’s fourth, giving up a fairly easy shooting opportunity that would have given him his hat-trick.
Or perhaps he knew that Real Madrid were so utterly dominant against an exasperated Athletic backline that another chance to score would surely come along, as it did a few minutes later for the Portuguese hitman to rack up his 22nd Primera hat-trick. A win-win situation for Cristiano Ronaldo. And Cristiano Ronaldo.
Valencia catching Atlético Madrid cold
In a result that surprised Valencia’s own players more than anyone else, Nuno’s men found themselves three goals up against Atlético with just 12 minutes gone, an effort which wrapped up the game nice and early with a 3-1 win.
The energy and verve with which Valencia are playing can be attributed to a cosmic coming together of dynamic players, a happy Mestalla, a coach everyone seems to like and having an awful lot of time off. “Without European football, Valencia will have do really badly not to finish fourth,” noted Diego Simeone, a manager who knows too well what it's like to have an overflowing footballing plate. And let’s face it, with Valencia’s recent history, a touch of tempting fate too.
Miranda is human after all
Call it the curse of the pundits. Just when LLL gets involved in a Twitter tattle over whether Miranda was in the top defenders category, or the top, top, top group based on the fact that he hardly ever seems to make mistakes, the Brazilian went and gone done two blunders in two minutes.
The first was robbing the ball out of the hands of Miguel Moya to head into his own goal, to be followed shortly after by the Atlético stopper being outmuscled and outfought by André Gómez. As LLL’s bad days tend to outnumber the good ones by a considerable margin, the blog is still happy to plop the centre-back in the top, top category despite his ‘mare in Mestalla.
Both Marca and AS followed the same theme on a game that LLL expected to be a fairly tight affair, rather than over in seconds. “Assisted suicide!” wrote the first; “Hari-kari!” opined the second. Simeone was not too downhearted over the defeat, though, declaring that after the opening 20 minutes Atlético battled hard enough to his satisfaction.
Athletic need to start all over again
Four points from seven games and just four goals scored is the rather sorry state of affairs at the current juncture of La Liga. The blog did not expect the Basque club to be at full pelt due to Champions League commitments and a small squad, but it was hoping for slightly better performances in La Liga.
Athletic have now scored just one goal in five La Primera games (against Rayo) and were always going to struggle in the Santiago Bernabeu with Aritz Aduriz injured. “We are going to get out of this situation,” promised Athletic boss Ernesto Valverde, “we have 15 days to re-arm.” Forgetting the first weeks of the campaign and starting all over again is the only way forward for Athletic.
Desperate Deportivo set for swift Segunda return
Four points from seven, and 19 goals conceded (four against Sevilla on Sunday) has plonked Deportivo at the bottom of the table and in a relegation fight already. That’s an enormous shame as the Galician outfit is always one that brightens up the place. Unfortunately it's also one that does not have the resources to compete in the top flight due to being completely destitute.
Still, Depor boss Víctor Fernández is trying to stay positive, reminding everyone that the team’s fight “will not be against Sevilla”. True, but it will be against Almería, Rayo Vallecano and Granada, three teams that Deportivo have failed to beat already this season.
Why Eibar was the place to be in La Primera
To be honest, LLL was expecting a bit of an ugly duckling game between Eibar and Levante. Packed with courage and commitment, of course, but certainly not of sizzling efforts and ding-dong scoring in a 3-3 draw. The best of the bunch was a volleyed screamer by Eibar’s Saúl Berjón, so good that it should be named in the Spaniard’s honour.
Are Málaga really the dirtiest club in La Liga?
Five red cards in seven games would suggest so, but over-enthusiasm and commitment is the coverage excuse LLL has for Malaga’s exuberant approach to football this season. Aside from a bit of uncouthness from Duda early doors, that is.