Moyes set to move house as Real Madrid suffer Sevilla syndrome
These are strange days in La Liga. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored the same number of goals as Rayo’s Cardiff City reject Javi Guerra. Málaga fans are calling for the departure of a billionaire owner. Valencia managed not to stuff up. Neymar is all with being dependable. And David Moyes is pretty much fired after taking Real Sociedad nowhere in a year.
But the starting point for all this weirdness is in the Sánchez Pizjuán, and a game which would have had Unai Emery asking his charges why they couldn’t play like that every week...
Luck finally runs out for Real Madrid
It’s what happens when a Sevilla side that also beat Barcelona in the same stadium this season gets its act together
Keylor Navas may have been called many things in his life – a fine goalkeeper, for one – but the Real Madrid man has probably never been referred to as a “bath plug”. That was the word used by AS director Alfredo Relaño, in a vivid description of what happens to the former league leaders when the Costa Rican isn't about.
The problem is almost certainly a little deeper than that, as the defeat to Sevilla in the Sánchez Pizjuán was also an indication of what happens when Sergio Ramos is not leading the backline, Karim Benzema is out of action and Ronaldo once again goes MIA while filling in on striker’s duties (possibly mentally promoting his new film).
Actually, it’s more than all of that with sprinkles on top. It’s what happens when a Sevilla side that also beat Barcelona in the same stadium this season gets its act together, feels vaguely motivated and gets a couple of misfiring strikers in the form of Fernando Llorente and Ciro Immobile on the scoresheet for once.
“It was coming,” says the front cover of Monday’s Marca. To be fair the paper, along with its counterpart, was pointing out for some time that Madrid had been getting a little jammy in their unbeaten streak since the start of the season, and that one day that luck would run out. Madrid fans will hope that this doesn't happen again in two weeks' time for the Clásico, a match that could give Barça a six-point lead at the top of the table.
Sevilla 3-2 Real Madrid
Barça in no panic to clear Messi for Clásico
With another stupid-face international break on the horizon to ruin all the fun, the Clásico is set to dominate the Spanish press for two weeks. But the one story that may gain a little less traction is the fitness race of Leo Messi. Barcelona seemed to be getting on just fine without him. Indeed, the wee Argentine taking a month on the sidelines was probably just what the doctor ordered – literally as well, no doubt – as it gave the 28-year-old some time to chillax and handed more responsibility to Neymar.
The Brazilian has stood up to the challenge and now leads the Pichichi stakes with 11 goals. He bagged another brace in a tremendously solid display against a spirited Villarreal side, including a whopper of a second. Messi at least being on the bench at the Bernabéu would be a plus for Barça, of course. But if he was absent, the vibe from the Camp Nou is ‘no biggie’.
Barcelona 3-0 Villarreal
Last ditch Atlético overcome stoic Sporting
A tough fortnight was on the cards for Diego Simeone, with more questions over how his Atlético Madrid side weren’t scoring goals despite having such a fearsome-looking forward line. While those probes are set to continue, the Argentine coach earned a little breathing space after Antoine Griezmann popped up with a winner against Sporting Gijon three minutes into second-half stoppage time, to move the Rojiblancos a single point behind Real Madrid. “We won through perseverance,” noted El Cholo.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Sporting Gijon
Moyes on brink after another La Real rollover
The happiest man to leave the Estadio de Gran Canaria was Sergio Araújo. The Las Palmas striker had been lamenting midweek that he was so bad that he would be lucky to score five goals in La Primera this season, compared to the 25 he'd netted in La Segunda last year. But the wee Argentine got one step closer to that total with the second for Las Palmas in a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad.
The gloomiest man was almost certainly David Moyes, who is reportedly set to be fired on Monday after his return from a weekend spent in Manchester. Still speaking in English a year after his arrival in Spain, the vibe from the former Manchester United man on Friday was defiance, but with an awareness that his time could well be up. “I’m here for the season and I am here to do my job,” said the hopeful Scot, who continued with the lament that his team’s performances were not getting the results they deserved.
Las Palmas 2-0 Real Sociedad
Valencia have a “deserved, happy day” against Celta
Didn’t see that one coming. LLL’s session with some entrails (not its own this time, that took some explanation in the ER) and tea leaves, had a sprightly Celta Vigo further putting the boot into Valencia's midriff. So of course, Valencia scored five away from home for the first time in seven years, inspired by Dani Parejo, the footballer booed by some supporters in Mestalla last week. “It’s a happy day, a day like this is well deserved,” piped boss Nuno.
Celta Vigo 1-5 Valencia
Rayo find another super striker to save season
In terms of resources available times by the factor of football reality, Rayo should have been relegated some time ago. But the Madrid club prevails, and that’s largely because they've been able to track down a striker who can deliver over 15 goals a season. That path set by Diego Costa, Michu, Piti and Alberto Bueno is now being trodden by Javi Guerra. The 33-year-old's brace in the 2-1 win against Granada now puts the Spaniard on eight for the season from nine appearances, a Ronaldo-Messi rate of scoring that means Rayo are nestled nicely in mid-table on 13 points.
Rayo Vallecano 2-1 Granada
Mixed fortunes and futures for La Liga’s bottom feeders
Still no win for Levante’s new and remarkably youthful manager Rubi after two games, following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Deportivo. But there are huge signs that Levante can dig themselves out of trouble this season.
That's less the case for Granada, a team going through a horrible patch which continued with a 2-1 loss to a Rayo side down to 10 men after 20 minutes. “This may sound crazy, but the sending off worked against us,” noted glum Granada boss José Ramón Sandoval.
Málaga are in the doom and gloom category too after a 1-0 home defeat to Betis – a little harsh, to be fair – and had the crowd calling for the heads of the owner and board. Happy days.