Real Madrid and Barca hold fast at the top with some gear-grinding games, whilst Sevilla continues a sorry slide in 2017
Flattering result for a dull Madrid against Alavés
The 3-0 ultimately may trick people into thinking that Real had an easy evening against Mauricio Pellegrino’s side, but the game was actually quite tight for most of the match. Karim Benzemá got the early goal (he was in offside position, though) and, from that point onwards things became muddy for the local team.
Deportivo Alavés has apparently mastered the ability to bother any team and become an irksome side to face. They defended well, played strongly and missed several chances of grabbing the equalizer, especially a huge one by Edgar Mendez. But, alas, they weren’t accurate enough. And that small problem becomes gigantic in such a scenario as the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Isco Alarcón and right-back Nacho Fernandez settled the final score and allow Madrid to stay ahead one more week.
Barça suffered (at least for a while)
Luis Enrique’s FC Barcelona faced a theoretically easy encounter against one of the top candidates to get relegated in a few weeks time, even with the absences of power players such as Leo Messi or Gerard Piqué (he was resting at home after a hectic week). And Granada showed a large number of tiny details that may ultimately condemn them to play in Segunda División next year: tactically all over the place, no punch whatsoever in their midfield and a wobbly defence.
With all these ingredients, it was a matter of time before Barça’s attackers feasted upon such a long list of weaknesses. Surprisingly though, Granada soon pulled level after Luis Suarez’s late opener in the first half. Jeremie Boga’s nice finish put the Culé team in a tight spot after Real’s win the day before. But Paco Alcacer (yes, he did score) rained on Granda’s parade and, minutes later, Ivan Rakitic and Neymar Junior polished off the hosts (1-4) guided by an impressive Luis Suarez, heart and soul of the team given Leo Messi’s absence from the call sheet.
Sevilla FC continues tumbling down for another week
In a week that saw the Sports Director Monchi finally announced his departure at the end of the season, Sevilla FC added yet another boulder to its rocky 2017 by stumbling at home against a combative Sporting de Gijón (0-0), in a very disappointing performance by Jorge Sampaoli’s men.
Only in the final stretch did they manage to generate some sense of danger in the box, but goalkeeper Iván Cuellar excelled and remained committed to keep a clean sheet. With this draw, Sevilla stumbles yet again and has allowed Atlético de Madrid to steal the third spot from under its nose. A dark depression is starting to get the best of the Sanchez Pizjuán side.
Valencia’s miracle-man can’t stop the side from getting into trouble
It seems Voro González, Valencia CF’s delegate-made-manager earlier this season, can’t catch a break. When it seemed as if the Mestalla crowd, thanks to Diego Alves keeping a clean sheet with another penalty save, would enjoy an easy win at home against Deportivo de la Coruña (3-0) with no hiccups to bother the fans, along came Cancelo with some anger issues to heat up the ‘aficionados’ who gathered this Sunday in the stadium.
After outmaneuvering his defender and slotting it in the back of the net with his left foot, Cancelo (who had been booed once he came into the pitch substituting Jose Luis Gayà) decided it was payback time and rose his index finger to his mouth, asking the fans to shut up.
Obviously, the stands roared with outrage after the rude gesture, and chants of ‘Cancelo vete ya’ (Cancelo, get out!) resonated in the player’s ears once the game finished. Since that point, the Portuguese winger has already apologized up to four times, but an economic fine is almost a given and it’s unlikely that angry fans, fed up after a disappointing season, will quickly forgive such a disrespectful action.
Malaga are unable to bounce back from their free-fall
Like a boulder falling from the sky, Malaga CF keeps up one of the worst records in the league over the last couple of months. Gato Romero’s short-lived stint on the bench left the team with too many defeats piling up, and Michel González’s arrival hasn’t improved their prospects much in the short-term.
Atlético de Madrid, which is slowly getting back into shape again, knocked-out the La Rosaleda side like clockwork, with two goals by Koke Resurrección and Filipe Luis in similar stretches of the game both in the first and the second half. Easy-peasy.