Both Real Madrid and Barcelona had to rely on luck rather than judgement for their wins as the Clasico now looms on the horizon in La Liga
Fantast-Isco Real finally forces rowdy Sporting into submission
It seems the gas tank for Zinedine Zidane’s men is emptying quickly in the final stretch of the season, with both La Liga and the Champions League titles on the line. However, Real Madrid just won’t stop winning, even with uber-motivated teams in front of them: Sporting de Gijón played with courage and chased all three points, but ultimately fell under Real’s might (2-3).
Most of the responsibility relies on Isco Alarcón’s shoulders. The Malaga-born player is excelling lately, pulling the strings in the midfield and even finishing the plays, with his magnificent first goal to equalize Duje Cop’s early 1-0 or his late 90th minute strike to hand the win to his team.
Isco ought to be considered one of Madrid’s saving graces, as the team won’t enamor anyone with the football displayed, but has obviously mastered the ability to always win at any cost, sometimes because of sheer luck, most of the time because of the uncanny skill and quality of its players. Real arrives at El Clásico with a three-point advantage over Barça, a game in hand and with one match less now under its belt.
Messi allows Barça to ‘hang in there’ with El Clásico looming
What would FC Barcelona do without Messi? With Neymar Jr. in the sidelines after his three-game ban, the mighty Argentinean is right now the only boulder between Real Madrid and a smooth road towards the La Liga title. And once again the Barça number 10 delivered with a spectacular first-half, capped with two goals that helped his team seize a key win against a traditionally pushy Real Sociedad (3-2).
With El Clásico looming on the horizon, Messi pulled out the old bag of tricks against Eusebio Sacristan’s men: one amazing strike from outside the box, a lucky rebound two metres away from the goal line and a beautiful assist for Alcácer’s goal. Lionel seems to be the only one who knows what the football world expects from Barça.
Unfortunately, most of his team mates didn’t perform as well as he did: Luis Enrique gave André Gomes yet another chance of showing he’s capable of being a starter, and the young Portuguese threw it into the trash can again. Even though Real Sociedad had chances of equalizing in the second half, they were unable to capitalize on Barça’s weakness after their severe beating last Tuesday in Turin.
Tony Adams’ Granada gets spanked in legend’s debut in the bench
The Gunners legend talked earlier this week about ‘kicking the players up in the arse’ in order to obtain seven straight wins that would help Granada avoid relegation. Watching any stretch of last Sunday’s game against Celta, yes, there sure was plenty of ass-kicking, but Tony himself was on the receiving end (0-3).
Celta de Vigo completely obliterated the Los Cármenes side even with a team full of reserves, as Eduardo Berizzo wanted to rest some of his top players with the transcendental Europa League quarter-final second leg match next Thursday in mind.
Anyway, that didn’t mean the beating was any softer: Jozabed Sánchez, Chelo Díaz and Claudio Beauvue scored the goals and left ‘the Adams family’ mortally wounded, seven points deep in relegation spots.
Atlético keeps the steamroller going
In another example of efficiency and craft, Cholo Simeone’s Atleti crushed a hapless Osasuna in a by-the-numbers performance (3-0), with yet another goal by Filipe Luis (the left-back is on a roll lately, with three goals in the last month) and two strikes by Yannick Carrasco. The Vicente Calderon side also missed two penalty shots, but actually it didn’t matter: the coach wanted to rest key players such as Griezmann or Saúl, and his plan was executed without a hitch.
Leo Baptistao sends a skyrocketing Espanyol into Europe contender spots
A late 92nd minute screamer by Leo Baptistao sealed the deal for a RCD Espanyol (0-1) which is strongly contending for European spots in this season’s final stretch. His magnificent finish, chipping the ball over Leganes’ goalie, allows Quique Sanchez Flores’ men to dream with the sixth spot, which is only four points away with six games to go.