The thudding sound coming out of Spain on Monday is the Atlético Madrid players kicking themselves and then being kicked by Diego Simeone for allowing a lead to slip against Deportivo. As the front cover of Marca warned on Sunday, the Big Two are now ‘escaping’, with a three-point gap over the ever-reliable Celta Vigo in third. That whooping, champagne cork-popping sound coming out of Spain on Monday is the Eibar players still celebrating their weekend win over Rayo which lifted the Basque side into sixth with nearly half the total required to stay up this season, and only a quarter of the campaign gone. Not bad for a side that technically got relegated last season.
Real Madrid grab by-the-book win at Bernabéu
LLL predicted a fairly drama-less win for Real Madrid in Friday’s preview, and so it doth came to pass as the football gods decreed. The match was on the brink of being over after just four minutes following a gift from the Las Palmas defence to let Isco in. It was completely over after 14 minutes with a header from Cristiano Ronaldo, who then saluted just to add to his already-annoying goal celebration.
The victory put happy faces on the Madrid press pack, what with the team still undefeated this season and top of the table, although Tomas Roncero of AS made an astute point that Gareth Bale’s annual salary is pretty much Las Palmas’ entire budget. A couple of grumbles before moving on. It seemed a little bit mean that the Canary Islanders’ manager, Quique Setién, didn’t find room for a few minutes of farewell for 40-year-old Juan Carlos Valerón at the Bernabéu. The ex-Atletico and Deportivo midfielder is probably playing his final season, but was left on the bench here.
Meanwhile, the rumble of approval from AS that there were six youth team products at the end of the game for Madrid is stretching reality a little. Kiko Casilla, Lucas Vázquez and Casemiro are pretty much the products of Espanyol’s good work; Sao Paulo and Porto for the latter.
Real Madrid 3-1 Las Palmas
Barça post-match gatecrash causes Getafe grump
Sergi Roberto took most of the plaudits for his two assists in a very solid 2-0 win for Barcelona over Getafe in the Coliseum (which had just 10,000 in it), but the beard-stroking fraternity were purring over the performance of Sergio Busquets, who continues to go along relatively unnoticed for the Catalan club.
“The best midfielder in the world,” purred Luis Enrique. Even Getafe boss Fran Esribá joined in: “He’s extraordinary. One of my weaknesses. He does everything well.”
There has been quite the bit of criticism for Barça, though, after some post-match shenanigans. Five of their players – including Gerard Piqué, of course – burst into the press room wearing Halloween masks and interrupted the press conference of Getafe midfielder Víctor Rodríguez, who had to cut short his chat.
“We messed up,” was the comment from one masked villain during the invasion, and also the message in an official statement from the club on Sunday.
Getafe 0-2 Barcelona
Atlético Madrid fall off consistency wagon
After a first half of two teams playing diagonal balls into voids of nothingness, and a goal from Atlético Madrid that owed itself to a series of deflections but a fine, opportunistic whack from Tiago, the match against Deportivo looked set to cement itself into a traditional one- or two-goal win for the Rojiblancos – a victory that would have temporarily moved them to the top of the table.
But then Deportivo rallied in the second half and a slip-up from José Giménez, along with some busy work from Lucas Pérez, pulled the hosts back into the game for a share of the spoils.
Clearly the error had troubled Uruguayan stopper Giménez, with the footballer tweeting the next day that he was “clearing my head with a day with the family. You can only learn from your mistakes.” Poor fella. But that two-point loss is going to sting.
Deportivo La Coruna 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Nuno still under fire despite Valencia win
There is probably a private club somewhere where a group of haggard-looking men, including Quique Sánchez Flores, Ronald Koeman and Unai Emery, kick back in leather recliners and reminisce on the joys of managing Valencia. Current boss Nuno will no doubt be joining them soon, having suffered yet more calls for his head from the stands as Valencia struggled to beat a revitalised Levante in Mestalla before Paco Alcácer’s penalty on 64 minutes opened the floodgates in a 3-0 victory. “It hurts me personally, as no one wants to hear this,” said the suffering Portuguese coach after the game. Matters are so bad in Mestalla that even Dani Parejo was booed by fans after coming on for the final 20 minutes of the match.
Valencia 3-0 Levante
Villarreal hang on after late Sevilla surge
Another flat day for Sevilla in a 2-1 defeat to Villarreal – minds definitely turned towards Manchester City on Wednesday – but at least there was some joy in that the under-pressure Fernando Llorente popped up with a goal soon after coming onto the pitch and could have tied the game. The Yellow Submarine will also be feeling pretty peppy after a game they dominated in El Madrigal but could have let slip late on.
Villarreal 2-1 Sevilla
Celta win sensational Spanish shootout
This game is what La Liga could be like without foreign types like Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo cluttering up the path. There were 16 Spaniards in the starting line-ups for this clash, whch ended up being a straight shootout between two fine ham-eating gentlemen, Iago Aspas and Imanol Agirretxe, before a Chilean won the game for Celta in spectacular fashion with a last-minute screamer. The result continues a trend for both clubs – an amazing one for Celta Vigo, who sit in third just two points behind the Big Two leaders, but adds another defeat for a Real Sociedad side that feel more rewards have been deserved this season.
Real Sociedad 2-3 Celta Vigo
Granada carry on kicking themselves
If Granada could just hang on for the final 10 seconds of games, then the Andalusians would be well clear of the relegation zone. Two rounds ago, Granada were winning 3-2 away at Sporting before conceding a last-gasp goal that tied the game at 3-3. On Sunday, the visitors were holding a 1-0 lead at 10-man Espanyol before the Catalans scored with 13 seconds left on the clock. Goodbye four points, hello relegation zone. “It’s not a question of tactics, but personality,” complained Granada coach José Ramón Sandoval.
Espanyol 1-1 Granada
Athletic look to a more secure future up front
Aritz Aduriz can now look to retirement – whenever that may come – with a little less stress now, as Iñaki Williams could be the heir apparent to Athletic’s goalscoring needs for years to come. The 21-year-old bagged a brace to seal a very comprehensive 3-1 win over messed-up Betis in a rain-swept Seville. “We are counting on Williams to score goals and this time he did it,” noted Athletic coach Ernesto Valverde.
Real Betis 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.