Published on January 23rd, 2017 | by Paco Polit0
La Liga: Boos at the Bernabeu & breakdown for Busquets
Rough treatment from Real Madrid fans and Eibar for Spain’s big two in another wild weekend of La Liga says Paco Polit
Madrid ends its two-loss streak but is booed by its fans
Zinedine Zidane’s face seamlessly combined the worries the Real Madrid manager felt after his team had lost two games in a row and the sheer disbelief when he heard the stands. His crowd was whistling – the Spanish version of booing – at his players when they had already scored the opener against Málaga.
After forty games straight without a single defeat, it only took a couple of bad results against Sevilla in La Liga and Celta in the cup to see just how demanding the Bernabeu fans can be. Ultimately, Real were able to snatch the three points (2-1) but the vibes aren’t flowing as they were a fortnight ago.
Ramos once again proved himself to be the leader this team needs every once in a while (he was offside when he scored the second one, though). Once again, Cristiano went missing although the stats say he did play the full game. Meanwhile, the bench switch isn’t working for Malaga: ‘Gato’ Romero hasn’t picked up a single point in his three games as the new coach.
Sevilla and Barça: the chase is *on*
Easily, the top two teams in La Liga today, at least if we speak about versatility and play style developed every weekend. Barça made short work of humble Eibar with some top-notch plays both in style and effectiveness (0-4), although it came with a high price: a disgraceful tackle by Escalante ended messing up Busquet’s ankle (he had to be subbed), in one of this season’s toughest challenges.
Messi directed the orchestra once again, and Denis, Luis Suárez and Neymar were the more inspired musicians. Don’t forget Ter Stegen: the goalie performed amazing saves. Sevilla’s game was far less comfortable: Sampaoli’s boys had to come back twice after conceding two early goals to a desperate Osasuna, who sit nowadays at the bottom of the standings.
However, Vicente Iborra’s commitment and Pablo Sarabia’s fine finish in injury time were more than convincing assets to turn the tide in Sevilla’s favour (3-4). The Pizjuán outfit is as relentless as ever, only one point behind Real Madrid and with half a season still to be played.
Amazing battle between Athletic Club and Atlético
One of the best games in 2017 was played, of course, in the new San Mamés. Athletic Club are historically regarded as an amazing host both in atmosphere and intensity when facing them. But they were facing fierce opposition: Cholo Simeone’s combative Atlético de Madrid, which has lost some of its momentum in the last month (and, consequently, seems to be ruled out in the fight to win La Liga) but is still a side to be feared.
All the ingredients were set, and the end result didn’t disappoint: a fun, vibrant match, with both teams giving 100% and then a little more (2-2). Don’t miss Antoine Griezmann’s late screamer: the Frenchman equalised and saved the day once again after providing the distraction needed for Gabi’s opener and scored another goal, this one ruled out by the ref, with a mesmerizing chip shot.
‘Miracleman’ Voro pulls Valencia from relegation zone
He’s done it. They say desperate times need desperate measures, and delegate-supreme, Voro, has revealed himself as the best fireman any side could want. He calls the shots now and has tampered with the starting XI, giving Valencia a fresh attitude branching off Carlos Soler’s eruption in the midfield.
The youngster played marvelously and scored his first official goal against Villarreal as a first team player (0-2), three days after becoming an official member of the squad and increasing his buyout clause (30 million euro). A tremendous blooper by Villarreal’s keeper Sergio Asenjo allowed Santi Mina to score the second. But, Valencia’s biggest news came at the back: after 32 straight games allowing goals, both official and friendly, the Mestalla men were able to keep a clean sheet at last. Talk about miracles happening.
Osasuna finally explodes against bad calls and points finger towards the refs
It is true that refs are not being kind to Osasuna this season, something clearly visible if you glanced quickly at Sunday’s game against Sevilla.
But we’re talking about something else entirely: the board released an official statement after the match announcing they will pledge an official complaint to the Referees Committee because they feel “seriously wronged” and want to “be able to compete fairly” with other teams that are fighting to avoid relegation. Not to rain on Osasuna’s parade, though: nine squalid points in nineteen games can be explained in many ways, but bad calls are not the main one.