Two wins from two matches from the front runners of La Liga but in very different ways – from Plan A to Plan B for Barcelona and Madrid
Is Madrid’s Plan B better than ‘A’?
With Barça’s still applying pressure and on a tricky away game, Real Madrid proved to everyone that players with less weight than the usual starting XI’s are more than capable of offering stellar performances (2-4). In an absolutely insane first half, James Rodriguez and two strikes by Álvaro Morata quickly put a three-goal lead on the scoreboard in just over fifteen minutes, guided by Marcos Asensio’s magic touch.
However, Madrid are also very consistent on their inability to close down their borders and put games into stasis. And rowdy Leganés, with nothing to lose, charged forward with impressive conviction. Diego Rico sneaked past the left wing and put a ball into the box, and Gabriel Pires took advantage of the easy finish. Then, three minutes later, Luciano Neves’ timely touch surprised a poorly-positioned Keylor Navas. Suddenly, it was a one-goal game. Things promised to get interesting in the second half…
…although they didn’t. Thanks, again, to that usual sliver of luck that Madrid seems to have mastered throughout the years: defender Martín Mantovani smacked the ball inside the penalty area with box hands in a bizarre move, ending with the ball in the back of the net. Not a very fancy end for a game that, nonetheless, provides Real with the three points necessary to stay on top one more round.
Barça crushes Sevilla in a wonderful first half
In the showdown between a current La Liga contender and a former candidate who has been losing steam for two straight months, FC Barcelona spanked Sevilla FC in an amazing first half of world-class football (3-0). Guided by The Three Amigos (Neymar Junior, Luis Suarez and Leo Messi), Barça trounced the opposition with quick, high-pressing, unstoppable plays, which resulted in Jorge Sampaoli’s men being metaphorically tossed around the pitch.
Messi previewed the beating to come with a spectacular strike that hit the crossbar. Suarez wouldn’t miss a few minutes later, and his scissor-kick opener reminded everyone of why he is considered one of the most lethal strikers inside the box. With Neymar running circles around his defenders, it was Messi-time: first, with a clinical finish after being assisted by Suarez, and then volleying a deflected ball that almost pierced the net. The second half, though, brought no further excitement for football lovers.
Wonderkid Carlos Soler steers Valencia’s comeback
At this point, the alert Cricketsoccer reader should know about my unconditional love for Valencia CF’s midfielder Carlos Soler. The kid is a hoot to watch, playing as a top-flight veteran at only 20-years-of-age and fifteen games under his belt. On Thursday, he produced one of the most beautiful goals of the season after chipping the ball over Celta de Vigo’s goalie in a play that brought down the house in Mestalla (3-2).
Such an amazing goal capped one of the most fun games this season at the Valencian venue, which began with an erratic first half in both sides, proving that a match can be both jerky and thrilling at the same time.
Filipe Luis turns goals into golden points for Atlético
The Brazilian left-back is on a scoring streak and claimed his second prize in four days after obtaining the single goal in Atlético de Madrid’s win over Real Sociedad (1-0). Although rumors regarding Theo Hernandez’s future pointing to Real Madrid are insistent, Filipe Luis (who plays in his same position) seems to be keen about showing everyone that fans can rest easy that the left-back will be properly covered should the Atlético-owned Deportivo Alavés player ultimately make a move to Real this summer. Atlético’s tight victory, when added to Sevilla’s defeat in Camp Nou, allows Cholo Simeone’s men to widen the gap in the third spot.
Osasuna clings to life with a dramatic late win
Let’s face it: at this point, Osasuna has a 99% chance of getting relegated at the end of this season. With a measly 11 points from 29 games, the Rojillo side is having plenty of time to accept its fate. However, that doesn’t mean the fighting spirit will go away. Once again having Sergio Leon as their beacon of hope, Osasuna took on Alavés on an away game with traces of final stand (0-1).
A late strike by Alex Berenguer helped his team to seize just their second win this season, narrowing down the gap between themselves and relegation-saved teams to thirteen points with eight games to go. It seems an impossible task, but Osasuna wants to go down fighting till the end.