Tim Stannard evaluates a Cristiano Ronaldo-less weekend for Real Madrid as they overcame David Moyes' Sociedad...
Premier League! Hope you enjoyed your bus-parking top-of-the-table antics! And while that was going on, La Liga was doing what La Liga does best – attacking furiously without worrying too much about what happens at the back. And the top three winning. Again. Here’s the shakedown...
Benzema steals boo-boy Bale’s thunder
Poor Gareth Bale somehow managed to drop down a few rungs in the Real Madrid pecking order with Cristiano Ronaldo absent. Saturday's match against Real Sociedad was supposed to be one for the Welshman to take the leadership bull by the horns, but instead it was K-Benz who was in a sprightly mood with a brace.
For Bale, snatching a chance from the boots of James Rodríguez and another missed effort elsewhere meant some rather mean sectors of the Bernabéu booing him. But the 25-year-old isn't the first megastar at Madrid to cop a bit of abuse from the home fans, and certainly not the last either. “It’s a lack of consistency that makes him a love-hate figure with the fans,” notes Roberto Palomar writing in Monday’s Marca.
Real Madrid 4-1 Real Sociedad
Yellow Submarine show sign of things to come
LLL is excited. And that is something unusual considering the only thing that really gets the blog going is when an opponent makes a move in Words with Friends. Cheaters, by the way. All of them.
But by the by: Sunday night’s clash against Barcelona and Villarreal was truly epic. At first it was Barça with all the chances and then the Yellow Submarine with all the goals.
Finally, Leo Messi earned the Catalan club their just desserts with some overall good play and all that malarky. Fortunately, these two sides will have two more clashes coming up in the next few weeks in the Copa del Rey.
Barcelona 3-2 Villarreal
Deportivo find new hope for survival
Celso Borges may only have had his papers cleared shortly before kick-off against Rayo, but the Costa Rican central midfielder looked as if he'd been at Deportivo for an eternity. But not in a bad way, as this can be a bit of a gloomy, soul-sucking club at times.
The new arrival from Swedish side AIK – more familiar to football folk as a member of Costa Rica's mighty World Cup squad – bagged a brace on his debut to stop a slide in La Liga of three games without a win. That’s the same number of league goals in one game as Luis Suárez since returning from his ban.
As for Rayo, defeat was a fourth in a row in Vallecas, which is supposed to be a stronghold but is instead a ground that has seen just two league wins in 12. Those fans atop the roofs where the fourth stand should be need to shout louder.
Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Deportivo
Atlético feel right at home in Eibar mud bath
If there's one top European team that would relish playing in the pouring rain and on a surface more akin to Rugby League pitches from the 1980s, it’s Atlético Madrid. That was what the Rojiblancos found in the Basque Country on Saturday but showed absolutely no after-effects from their Copa del Rey battle against Barcelona to go 3-0 up against Eibar within 25 minutes and wrap up the encounter nice and early.
Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic (twice) popped up with the strikes, moving the duo's combined tally to 21 league goals this season. Atleti now have a glorious week off before next Saturday’s derby against Real Madrid in the Vicente Calderón. LLL is already sleepless with excitement. And trapped wind.
Eibar 1-3 Atletico Madrid
Celta finally break Barcelona curse
At last! A win! But only just. When Celta were blowing chance after chance against Córdoba, it looked as though the run of 10 matches without victory since beating Barcelona in the Camp Nou was going to continue. However, an absolute beauty of a curled effort from Nolito with 20 minutes left gave them a desperately-needed win.
Lady luck was on the Galicians' side with a huge penalty call late on when Celta’s Carles Planas took out Fausto Rossi just inside the box. The referee called for the spot-kick; the assistant claimed a free-kick outside of the box. In the end, the man in the middle opted to go with the instincts of his linesman, the same man who made the wrong call for Atlético’s penalty in the midweek cup clash against Barcelona.
Celta Vigo 1-0 Cordoba
Good news, bad news for Athletic Bilbao
Good news first: Athletic won a match. And away from home, nonetheless. The bad news is that Aritz Aduriz scored both goals, meaning that the goal-getting contributions of the rest of the Basque squad continue to be a huge zero this season.
Levante 0-2 Athletic Club
Granada breath big sigh of relief
Sixteen rounds. That's how long they went without a win before Elche came along to assist with a 1-0 victory. Makes Celta look positively prolific in comparison, doesn't it?
Granada 1-0 Elche