Here’s your week 13 La Liga round-up, with only the slightest dollop of bias and sass. Beginning, as usual, with the best of the bunch.
1. Atletico Madrid 2-0 Deportivo – but with a nasty incident
Atleti had an early kick-off at 9 a.m. Madrid time, but sadly, the hooligans were up early too. A nasty fight between the Frente Atlético ultras and the Deportivo Riazor Blues ultras before the match resulted in the death of a Deportivo supporter after he was beaten and then thrown in the river. It was a disgusting, senseless, and completely wasteful attack, and it absolutely cast a pall on the match.
The match went ahead as scheduled, although the referee had wanted to postpone it (apparently no one answered the phone in the Spanish Football Association office… What? It’s Sunday… The day for hangovers!). The referee was tense and emotional, passing out yellow cards like candy and telling off Diego Simeone for being Diego Simeone.
Atletico were also off form, very probably due to the earlier incident, and while Depor offered some defensive resistance, even an off Atleti were the better side, and the youngster Saul scored the first goal shortly before half-time. This was followed by an early second-half goal from Arda Turan, which was slightly deflected by Depor’s Modibo Diakite, but went in nonetheless.
Depor did next to nothing to create chances and Moya largely had a snoozer of a job all game.
Interestingly, Alessio Cerci was brought on for Mario Mandzukic in the last 15 minutes of the match to great applause. The Atletico crowd’s support came in the wake of reports this week linking Cerci will a possible move away from the club in January.
It was both frustrating, saddening and shameful that violence from hooligans overshadowed what should have been a pleasant victory, that ultras once again have a bad name thanks to the hooligans among them, and worst of all, that a man lost his life today.
2. Madrid 2-1 Malaga – and for once, we’re not talking about Ronaldo
Real Madrid enjoyed a win on Saturday, courtesy of goals from Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale (if you insist, Ronaldo assisted both goals).
The bigger news, though, is that Real Madrid achieved their 16th straight victory, a club record. Right! What else happened in La Liga this weekend?
3. Real Sociedad 3-0 Elche – Moyes enjoys his first win
David Moyes celebrated his first win as manager of Real Sociedad on Friday, thanks to a hat trick from Carlos Vela, who surely must be given a truckload of cash and worshipped as a god. Vela IS Sociedad these days, so let’s hope Moyes’ fledgling Spanish includes words like ‘gracias’ and ‘te amo’.
This win should calm the ulcer forming in Moyes’ middle, as the win moves La Real up from 16th to 12th place in the table.
4. Barcelona 1-0 Valencia – after a painful extra time goal
Barcelona were certainly looking for their 5th consecutive win on Sunday in Valencia – and they found it courtesy of a Sergio Busquets goal in the final minute of injury time, at enormous cost to a valiant Valencia.
Valencia were impressive throughout the match, playing tight in the first-half, while Barcelona created little, with the squad missing both Rakitic and Iniesta, and Messi having a rare off-night. Los Che kept up the pace in the second-half, but let it down in the end and Barca was waiting and ready for a bite (tee-hee).
It certainly wasn’t Barcelona’s most impressive display, but that final goal, assisted by a gorgeous Neymar header, allowed Barca to remain in 2nd place, still just two points behind Real Madrid.
Valencia, sadly, fell out of the top four – a situation that quickly needs remedying.
5. Sevilla 5-1 Granada – Sevilla were on the right side of five goals this time
An impressive goal count went Sevilla’s way, as a 5-1 victory at home on Sunday saw them move past Valencia into 4th place in the table.
Sevilla manager Unai Emery can only have been thrilled with such a victory after four games without a win in all competitions. The opening goal from Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca came amid heavy protest from the Granada squad to rule it out, as they believed it has been touched too many times, and Prieto Iglesias handed out a few yellow cards to the noisiest dissenters.
Granada was determined to equalise before the break—which they did, thanks to a Youssef El Arabi penalty. But after that, things fell apart entirely for the visitors, who conceded four goals in the final 25 minutes from Ever Banega, a 2nd goal from Bacca, Stephane Mbia, and Kevin Gameiro. Ouch.
Sevilla will have felt vindicated after a 5-1 defeat from Barcelona last weekend, followed by a Europa loss on Thursday to Feyenoord.