A gripping weekend ended in drama with Real Madrid faced a grilling by Valencia, Leo Messi standing up for Barca and an unlikely side setting the pace
Asensio did what Benzemá didn’t at an epic contest vs a reborn Valencia (2-2)
Sunday’s super-game exceeded expectations as Real Madrid and Valencia battled to the very end in a clash of wills that ultimately ended in a fair 2-2 draw. Riotous Marco Asensio once again provided plenty of amazing skills in a match that he was very close to winning single-handidly, after a great opener and a smart free-kick equalizer late in the game.
With Casemiro at the back and no natural sweeper in midfield, Zinedine Zidane played the kamikaze attack card and soon found reward with Asensio’s magnificent finish. However, Valencia took over the game in the midfield with an imperious Dani Parejo, an omnipresent Carlos Soler and with debutante Geoffrey Kondogbia doing what he knows best: becoming a ball-stealing machine and bullying opposite playmakers such as Isco Alarcón or Luka Modric with his imposing physical presence.
Youngsters Jose Gayà and Toni Lato (both played pretty well in the left) set up Soler’s one-touch finish to level the game when the first half was about to end. Then, after Real switched strategies and went full-ahead with their attack plan, a great play by Rodrigo in the box ended with a pass backwards that Kondogbia calmly placed in the back of the net.
Valencia’s muscle and sheer power fed-off a tight and disciplined game-plan was close to succeeding, but Asensio (who else?) scored the 2-2. Horrible night for both Karim Benzemá and Gareth Bale: the Welshman was booed by the fans when he left.
Messi and ten more make short work of Alavés (0-2)
Last week, Leo Messi at last found his most deadly nemesis to date: the woodwork. His three missiles chipped the post but didn’t find their way into the net. Against Alavés, though, Barça’s number 10 was a bit more accurate and managed to score twice to win his team three points that allow them to sit comfortably at the top of the standings going into the international break.
The little guy could’ve bagged a couple more if he hadn’t been denied a penalty by Fernando Pacheco’s fantastic save, or hit the post yet again when the match was already 0-2. Alavés caused plenty of trouble in the first-half, but Marc-André Ter Stegen was as cool as a winter gale to deny them their efforts. Also, Paulinho got in his first minutes as a Barcelona player, though he didn’t have much time to add anything worthy to a finished game.
Little Leganés lands the last laugh (0-1)
The club’s brilliant community manager enjoyed a great weekend teasing and showing-off after the team won at Cornellà-El Prat and sat on top of La Liga for the first time in their history. Martín Mantovani’s single strike in the 28th minute, after a sudden mess inside the keeper’s box, meant a precious advantage for the disciplined ‘Pepinero’ side, which they managed to capitalize on in the second half.
After a disappointing first period, RCD Espanyol bounced back in full-force in the second, launching a series of attacks on ‘Pichu’ Cuellar’s goal, but never quite found their feet when dealing the final blow. Leganés defended with heart and amassed their second clean-sheet in a row. Two wins, two goals scored. More than enough to climb to a place that last season they could have only dreamt of. They have now a fortnight to enjoy such an amazing feat.
Real Sociedad trounced a Villarreal which has reasons to worry (3-0)
Villarreal’s defeat last week against Levante was a wake-up call, but their horrendous game in Anoeta actually means a hard slap in the face for a Villarreal side that couldn’t have predicted a worst start of season. The club stands at the bottom of the league and deservedly so, as Real Sociedad destroyed the yellow submarine in a brilliant first-half display.
Willian José, Xabi Prieto (in his 500th official game!) and Juanmi Jiménez battered the Groguet team into submission, outpacing, outrunning and outsmarting them all over the pitch. The 3-0 felt, quite frankly, even a bit short if compared to the difference between both teams. Under Eusebio Sacristan, Real Sociedad seems a well-oiled machine.
Atlético beats Las Palmas to a pulp (1-5)
A Griezmann-less Atlético de Madrid had no problem spanking a weak Las Palmas who looks and smells awfully even after just two games. In the 5th minute, Ángel Correa and Yanick Carrasco had already scored twice. In the second half, after Jonathan Calleri narrowed the gap (1-2), Koke delivered the third and fourth blow. Thomas Partey scored the fifth and final strike in an impressive performance for Cholo Simeone’s side.