Does Barcelona's Clasico defeat show worrying signs for the short term?
The Madridista massif proved that any more match-ups between these two feuding foes are likely to be very competitive indeed, something that was far from guaranteed before the ball was first booted about in the Camp Nou on Saturday night.
The biggest loser was pretty much everyone else in La Liga, whose efforts were largely overlooked. But not by La Liga Loca! Here’s a rummage through the weekend, including why it might be time for Getafe to make a final, very special visit...
Barça face big question after defeat
That’s why we keep on coming back to El Clasico. No matter what’s happening in the wider universe in terms of the league table and title race, each match has its own tiny mini series of drama playing out.
The narrative of the result will depend on which side you sit on. Those of a Catalan persuasion will look at fatigue from South American adventures in the CONMEBOL qualifiers for the distinctly quiet MSN forward line, and a general feeling of ‘meh’ shoulder-shruggery other than Gerard Piqué, whose head nearly shot straight off its neck in excitement after he scored the opener.
Those hailing from Mordor will argue first of all that the 2-1 should have been 3-1 thanks to some iffy refereeing, but that the result proves the underlying engine and gearbox of the team is all good. It’s just that the wrong driver was in charge, after the pointless sacking of Carlo Ancelotti last summer.
The league title race is all but over. So the big question now is whether those who suggest that this was a limp one-off for Barcelona are correct and that normal service will resume in the Champions League this week, or whether the dreaded worry over a drop in form that Piqué pondered is on the cards, just as matters are about to get fairly serious.
Atletico fire warning shot ahead of Camp Nou encounter
They have cut the deficit behind Barcelona to six points, and have the chance to give the Catalan club another dose of Capital City medicine on Tuesday
The third goal for Atlético Madrid in the 5-1 home win over Betis summed up what makes the Rojiblancos make you want to salute them like an army marching past Kim Jong-un, as well as give them an enormous hug and some manly back slaps.
It pretty much consisted of Juanfran steaming in on the blindside and barging the ball into the back of the net, irrespective of what was in his way.
It summed up Atlético’s response to defeat against Sporting before the international break, and having to play with their three prime centre-backs all out through injury. Instead, the backline was marshalled by Luis Hernández, the French U21 player making just his fifth appearance, and Nacho Monsalve making his debut.
The pair weren’t even responsible for the goal conceded in the clash, with Jan Oblak making a rare mini-fumble to allow Rubén Castro to poach.
“Atlético keep believing,” ran the headline in AS. Indeed, they have cut the deficit behind Barcelona to six points, and have the chance to give the Catalan club another dose of Capital City medicine in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Las Palmas showing fighting spirit lost by spiralling Valencia
One member of the squad, Rubén Vezo, decided to give the media the bird ahead of Sunday’s training
Pat on the back time for La Liga Loca! It happens about only twice a decade and only when it spells the word ‘yacht’ correctly. The blog doubted that shifting Gary Neville from the hot seat in Mestalla would make any difference, and so it came to pass in Las Palmas with a 2-1 defeat for the visitors despite a giveaway gift goal just minutes in that not even Valencia could pass on.
Diego Alves continued to star for the Mestalla men in a loss that came about from an own goal and some comedy defending. Perhaps to show the rather bad blood in the Valencia dressing room these days, one member of the squad, Rubén Vezo, decided to give the media the bird ahead of Sunday’s training before apologising later in the day.
“Valencia, the fans and the whole squad need to be more united than ever,” said the Portuguese defender, after being poked repeatedly by the club’s press department.
Spirit and general chirpiness is not a problem for Las Palmas, though, a team who were seemingly doomed but now happily in mid-table on 36 points, after five wins from their last six games.
Back-to-basics Villarreal cement top-four finish after followers flounder
Even Roberto Soldado got in on the action with the winning goal against Eibar
LLL salutes Villarreal this weekend, the only one of the three clubs in the Europa League that remembered the concept of winning in La Liga as well. Heck, even Roberto Soldado got in on the action with the winning goal against Eibar, though Bruno Soriano quite rightly won the Yellow Submarine plaudits with appearance No.364 in a 2-1 win, beating the record for Villarreal set by Marcos Senna.
The win gives Villarreal a huge eight-point lead over fifth-placed Celta Vigo who drew 1-1 with Deportivo in the Galician derby. Athletic lie in sixth after a missed penalty from Aritz Aduriz probably cost the San Mamés side three points in a 1-1 draw against Granada, while Sevilla contrived to go one better than their Basque rivals by losing 2-1 at home to Real Sociedad – ending a stunning run of 17 straight home victories in all competitions.
The Champions League play-off spot is now Villarreal’s to lose.
Sorry Getafe edge closer to Segunda
Rayo Vallecano prevailed in the Madrid derby battle at the bottom. Now winless in 11, it may be time for Coliseum club Getafe to go to doggy heaven and La Segunda after a decade in the top flight, even if manager Fran Escribá plans to see out the rest of the season. “If I didn’t still have the desire then I wouldn’t carry on,” he grumbled.