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La Review: Dynamic duo back in business as La Liga returns to real life (but who did best?)


Levante 1-1 Sevilla

Real Betis 1-0 Real Sociedad

Atletico Madrid 1-2 Barcelona

Sporting Gijon 0-1 Valencia

Espanyol 0-6 Real Madrid

Malaga 0-0 Eibar

Celta Vigo 3-3 Las Palmas

Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Getafe

Granada 1-3 Villarreal

Normal service resumed, then. The first two rounds of La Liga had everyone in Spain all frazzled and freaked out by Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo failing to find the back of the net. Heck, the situation looked so out of whack that even Roberto Soldado was starting to look a proper Pichichi potential. Yes, it was that bad. But both headline-hogging demagogues leapt out of their footballing foxholes to change the sporting agenda on Saturday. Ronaldo’s five-goal efforts were more spectacular in the 6-0 win over Espanyol, but Messi’s winner in the Vicente Calderón was probably more critical to the cause of winning titles, which is what Barcelona are about these days. Indeed, the goal now sees Barcelona top the table after three rounds, and the only team with a 100% record. Everyone else fell by the wayside, with Celta Vigo and Eibar only managing draws. Let’s not speak about Getafe at the bottom. Yet...

Messi shows superhuman strength

LLL’s experience with fatherhood was a disaster for the first 18 months, with the blog even more of a useless shambles than ever before. Messi became a dad for a second time on Thursday, had a transatlantic flight after international duty, and still managed to have enough juice in the can to turn Barça’s fortunes in a game against Atlético Madrid that was heading towards a 1-1 draw despite Diego Simeone’s claims that the visitors were superior from beginning to end. Little Leo deserves a huge three-day long nap – interrupted every 45 minutes by crying.

Ronaldo releases anger with Espanyol goal plucking

LLL wrote on Friday that the Madrid man was going to implode so violently that the Portuguese pouter would become a universe-destroying emotional wormhole if he didn’t score at Espanyol. Although there was a release of tension that could be felt across the dimensions, it was of a positive kind as Ronaldo bagged five goals against the cannon-fodder of Espanyol to end a streak of seven games without a goal.

In doing so, Rocket Ronny became the top La Liga scorer in Real Madrid history. The next milestone is becoming top scorer for the club in all competitions, before the player can head off to PSG next summer for a two-year staring contest with King Zlatan. When Rafa Benítez was appointed, the Spaniard knew that he would need a fast start to stave off critics claiming that he was a defensive dullard about to turn his team more like Deportivo. Fortunately, the fixture list has conspired to help Rafa cast away these aspersions with 11 goals in the past two games, and none conceded in three.

Fernando Torres: back in business!

Maybe not, but at least it’s fun to write. The goal from El Niño was a throwback to the glory days: quick to a through ball and lethal in a one-on-one with the keeper.

Self-doubting Celta miss chance to stay top

That one’s going to smart for a while. A simple victory against visiting Las Palmas would have kept Celta at the top of the table for another week. Indeed, that was very much on the cards with the Canary Islanders down to 10 men after 11 minutes and keeper Javi Varas sent off.

It was even more so after 49 minutes with Celta 3-1 up. But in a match AS rightly described as epic, Las Palmas launched a revival to pull back to 3-3 and leave Celta with a lot to ponder. “We could have ended up losing that one,” said Celta boss Eduardo Berizzo, who blamed nerves and insecurity for the setback.

Sevilla stuck in relegation zone

While Valencia were able to grab a jammy stoppage-time winner in their trip to Sporting, there was no such luck for Sevilla, a team that is going through a dip at the start of the season and finds itself in the relegation zone after three games. Injuries have hit the backline, and some of the newbies have yet to get going including Fernando Llorente, whose adaption to the stylings of Sevilla is going to take a while. “We won these types of games last year,” lamented Unai Emery.

Athletic reinforcements arrive just in time

Ever the effective super-sub at Atlético Madrid – but never a first team superstar – Raúl García looks like he will be finding proper kennelling at Athletic Bilbao, a club where all the goalscoring demands have been on the firm but ageing shoulders of Aritz Aduriz. The Pamplona-born forward made his debut for Athletic on Sunday against Getafe in a 3-1 win and scored a goal showing that the player was going to fit in just fine with the club’s main football philosophy by heading home from a cross.

Granada play dangerous game against Villarreal

A Barca-style attempt to draw Villarreal in by passing the ball out of defence cost Granada dear after some abject dithering invited the Yellow Submarine to pounce twice in a 3-1 win. “I lost the three points, I’m responsible,” ‘fessed José Ramón Sandoval. “The idea was to draw them in by bringing the ball out of defence.” This helped a bright start to the season continue for Villarreal, with seven points from nine.

Joaquín pounces on slow-starting Real Sociedad

There could be some interesting times to come for David Moyes at Real Sociedad, with the Basque outfit failing to find the back of the net for three games now. The latest was at Betis, which saw Joaquín crowing his debut back in Andalusia with a delightful assist for Ruben Castro in a 1-0 win. “I am concerned with the lack of goals,” admitted La Real’s Scottish boss.

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