It was a weekend of yin and yang in La Liga with stunning goals but awful injuries as the four Primera powerhouses took charge
Keylor Navas and cojones are enough for Real Madrid
A 1-3 scoreline could be confusing, but Real Madrid didn’t have an easy night in Pamplona at all. Osasuna proved to be formidable opposition even though they were stuck in last place in La Liga, unable to turn huge efforts in games into points to allow them to escape such a tight spot.
Cristiano Ronaldo delivered another pretty forgettable performance: even when he does score, as he did versus the ‘Rojillos’, his season is slowly sliding into mediocre territory. Sergio León, consistently one of Osasuna’s best men throughout this year, got the equalizer. However, Isco Alarcón pulled his team ahead and a couple of fantastic saves by Keylor Navas kept La Liga’s top dog afloat. Lucas Vazquez capped the game with the third goal in injury time. Our best wishes for Tano Bonnin, who suffered a tibia and fibula fracture that sent shivers through every fan’s spine.
Barcelona crushes Alavés but loses Aleix Vidal
A terrible, terrible tackle ended with right-back Aleix Vidal in the hospital with a broken ankle and a five-month estimated recovery period that seriously handicaps his team in this season’s final stretch. It was the worst news for Luis Enrique’s men in an evening where mighty Alavés lost some of its…might…after conceding half a dozen goals in a brilliant performance by Leo Messi and his teammates.
With a 0-2 lead going into half-time, Barça offed Mauricio Pellegrino’s men with a ten-minute punishment round that ultimately meant four more goals and poor Alaves raising the white flag (0-6). If we consider this game to be some sort of dress rehearsal to La Copa final, which will take place in May, then ‘El Glorioso’ has quite a lot of homework to do, especially in its defense.
El Calderon thriller ends with Atlético’s upper hand
One of the Top 5 games of the season, to date, ended with Cholo Simeone’s squad turning around what seemed a clear Celta win with ten minutes to go (3-2). It was a match full of suspense where most of its key plays were focused at the beginning and latter parts of the showdown. Fernando Torres, with an extraordinary strike (50% scissor-kick, 50% bicycle-kick, 200% amazing goal), leveled Gustavo Cabral’s opening header.
The game heated up in its final minutes: sneaky Wass cooked the assist and John ‘SuperGuidetti’ finished with quality to give Celta the advantage. However, Atlético de Madrid had two aces up its sleeve: first, Yannick Carrasco volleyed an impossible shot from outside the box, one of the best goals this season, to seize the 2-2; and then, in his team’s final rush, Griezmann put it into the net and sent El Calderón into a frenzy that wouldn’t calm down till the ref’s final whistle. Atlético refuses to give up its Champions League spot.
Sevilla’s simple set-up knocks down Las Palmas
Football is usually a complicated affair. Sometimes, though, it’s the simplest of details that makes the difference. In a tremendously balanced game, a single chess move gave the win to the away team. Las Palmas and Sevilla had battled fiercely for over an hour with some of the most talented players in La Liga: Vitolo Machín, Jesé Rodríguez, Jonathan Viera, Samir Nasri, Franco Vázquez… Both goalkeepers excelled in keeping a clean sheet throughout the first eighty minutes.
But then, a straightforward set-up worked wonders for Jorge Sampaoli’s side: a long ball by Sergio Rico, Vicente Iborra extended the play with his header and the ball ended up at Joaquín ‘Tucu’ Correa’s feet while on the run. One, two, three. The striker scored with class (0-1) and keeps Sevilla hot on Barça and Madrid’s heels.
The Battle-Royale against relegation keeps adding names
More and more teams keep underperforming and thus putting themselves in relegation danger, widening the pool of potential candidates, right now, to six sides. Osasuna’s defeat keeps them at rock bottom, right next to Granada, but still have a shot at redemption with sixteen games to go. Sporting de Gijon won a huge game against Leganés (0-2), in what was one of their last chances of grasping any remaining hope of staying in La Liga. The side effect? Now Leganés can almost feel the heat of La Segunda on its tail.
Aritz Aduriz’s late goal turned Deportivo into a heap of tears (2-1) after they had fought to scrape at least a point from their visit to Bilbao. Hovering over these five teams and with a slight edge (four points above relegation spots), Valencia CF didn’t exactly light the world on fire against Real Betis (0-0). A scandalous hand inside the box was missed by the ref, but it shouldn’t serve Los Ché as an excuse as Betis hit the woodwork twice and arguably deserved a better result.