La Liga Lessons: Lionel Messi madness, non-rampant Real, Groundhog Day for Córdoba

Tim Stannard on another record-breaking weekend for Leo and other talking points from the Spanish top flight...

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Mmm. There are some familiar fault lines developing in La Liga already. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid are starting to form their own little gang at the top. Valencia are now starting to be annoyingly inconsistent in fourth, while the usual suspects such as Sevilla and Villarreal plod around below, with Málaga and Celta trying to mix things up a bit. Still, despite this downer there was still plenty to chew on after another fun few days in La Liga.

Spanish press let side down in Messi’s triumph

It wasn’t just Marca’s refusal to acknowledge the fact that Leo Messi had scored 253 goals in La Liga and not 252 as the paper claims, but the ridiculous spin that this particular organ and AS have been putting on the momentous achievement of the Barcelona man.

Rather than offering credit where credit is deserved, Cristiano Ronaldo also cropped up in the headlines of both papers in the subsequent days even though the Madrid man had no business being there. It was Ronaldo who was the one to feature on the front page of AS on Saturday having scored two against the mighty Eibar - more on that below. The Portuguese poacher pops up again on Monday to steal a bit of Messi’s limelight with the story that he too has been scoring lots of goals of late as well. A little bit pitiful really.
Barcelona 5-1 Sevilla

Real Madrid underwhelm against Eibar

The visitors are about 400 times bigger than their opposition on Saturday in the Basque Country. They can replace Luka Modric with Isco and barely notice. While the Madrid press might well blather on about the glory of the win on Saturday that saw another brace for Ronaldo, LLL will put its neck over the parapet and suggest that four goals is a pretty paltry amount considering the David against Goliath nature of the contest that was the main talking point of this ‘battle’. So there.
Eibar 0-4 Real Madrid

Atlético expand footballing palate

With much of the slog work done in the Champions League, Atlético should be able to stay on target Luke Skywalker-style in La Liga now. Fatigue had taken its toll a fortnight ago against Real Sociedad, but it was a zesty Atlético that took on Málaga to win 3-1. What’s more, the side even managed two goals from open play as well the traditional header from a corner routine which all opposition teams seem to find such a conundrum to defend.
Atletico Madrid 3-1 Malaga

Valencia in denial after another derby defeat

If the club’s directors are going to boycott the host VIP area in a protest over ticket prices, then it would be handy if the players did their part in the moral high ground stakes by winning. Unfortunately for Valencia’s big wigs, the footballers let the side down again with a third successive defeat in Levante’s ground in La Liga Loca. Sunday’s latest setback was a 2-1 reverse but Valencia are still somewhat in denial that they lost.

“Sometimes the best team doesn’t win,” complained Dani Parejo, who returned from injury to score the Mestalla men’s only effort. “We were superior in every second,” was the retort from Valencia boss Nuno, who is now planning to both walk the walk and talk the talk against Barcelona next week in the juiciest of clashes.
Levante 2-1 Valencia

Sevilla - big match bottlers extraordinaire

Just one point from 12 for Sevilla now, ever since the side had a chance to go top of the table during Clásico week. The Andalusians were pummeled in the Messi show on Saturday to have manager Unai Emery lamenting that “sometimes we don’t know how to handle the Euphoria.” The former Valencia boss might also want to take some of the blame himself in a record that sees the coach having faced Barcelona 14 times in charge of three clubs without a single win.
Barcelona 5-1 Sevilla

Athletic on the up as Espanyol enter doldrums

A Friday night clash between two teams waving at each other, merrily heading off in opposite directions. Athletic have completely moved on from the team’s early season snooze-fest to go five games unbeaten, with three wins. The last of that little tally was against a flat Espanyol. Although the win itself was unremarkable, Athletic fans will be hoping the club finally has another striker not called Ariz Aduriz.

Borja Viguera should have been that local hero having scored 25 goals in La Segunda last year for Alavés, before being brought to San Mamés. However, the transition did not quite go to plan for the former Real Sociedad player, with the strike against Espanyol being the first of the year in a proper league for the forward.

Athletic need many, many more from the 27-year-old to move back into the European places, where the side really should be. The dangers of being the new Giazka Toquero are still very high.

In contrast, matters are not going well at all for Espanyol with the team now without a win in five and never looking like getting anything in the Basque Country.

“I’m angry with myself and my players,” admitted grumpy boss Sergio González, a figure who is now leading the way in LLL’s sack race stakes as the next in La Primera to go.
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Espanyol

Córdoba’s tough start continues

Oh dear. It seems that the longer Córdoba’s run without a win continues, the worse the situation is going to get for the Andalusian club. At two goals up against Elche, the jitters hit the team with their opponents clawing back to make the clash 2-2. Not the first time that late goals have been thrown away. Hopefully for Córdoba it is one of the last.
Elche 2-2 Cordoba