Football

Published on September 22nd, 2017 | by Paco Polit

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La Liga: Real Madrid continue Bernabeu slump as Messi marvels

The season in Spain still refuses to go to plan after a midweek round of matches further rattles Real Madrid but boosts Barcelona

Real forget how to win at home 

In a game for the ages, Real Betis walked away unscathed with three points safely pocketed from a stadium formerly regarded as impenetrable. The Verdiblanco side trusted their football style, sheer determination and a huge performance by keeper Antonio Adan to surprise Madrid with a late 94th minute goal by former Barça player Antonio Sanabria.

However, that stunning ending was only the capping of a tremendous match, where Real Madrid had the chance of reaching a record milestone: after drawing with Pelé’s Santos for most games scoring in a row (73), Zinedine Zidane’s men only needed to score once to surpass them and make history. However, Adán (a Real player back in the days of Jose Mourinho’s cold war with Iker Casillas) wasn’t just ready to yield. His performance was truly spectacular. Both keepers were, actually.

Only five weeks into the competition, Real have yet to win at home and are already seven points behind Barca at the top of the table.

Four in a row: Messi is just ridiculous 

Leo Messi’s stats last Tuesday are unsettling. The guy is on fire, scoring four and leading a Dembelé-less Barça to another win, the fifth this season against an Eibar that couldn’t do much more. The Armero side ran, tried hard and never lost their faith, but currently the little guy manages to make tricky tasks such as demolishing a team on his own a total cakewalk. It’s gotten to the point it’s almost unfair.

Barça’s leader has amassed nine goals in a mere five games. With Messi in such a riotous state of mind, things look good for Ernesto Valverde’s side this season.

If you relax and don’t compete, hungry Zaza will eat you alive 

After 48 hours of rumors and apparently tense looks between coach Marcelino García Toral and striker Simone Zaza (the player didn’t like not being a started last week against Levante), the manager gave the Italian ‘bomber’ the opportunity to redeem himself. And he did, in spades, with a magnificent ‘hat-trick’ and overall electric performance on the pitch.

A hapless Malaga arrived in Valencia with many doubts and zero points in their wallet… and left with even more things to worry about, zero points in their wallet and five goals conceded. Míchel González seems as lost as a child in a dark neighborhood, and Málaga’s boss Sheik Al-Thani isn’t particularly pleased with the way he is handling the situation. Another loss might bring the second sacking of the season in La Liga.

Valencia remains in the Champions League spots (9 points). It has taken the Mestalla side over eighty games and two lackluster seasons to stand again in a place that they should never have left in the first place.

Sevilla clings on to second spot and Levante trounces Real Sociedad

Other games in this unusual weekday schedule helped to clear things up even further regarding teams that will fight for exciting aims this season and others that seemed doomed beyond salvation.

Sevilla’s home win against Las Palmas (1-0) harms the Canary Islands team’s chances of a comfortable spot in the top half. Vitolo Machín’s return to the Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium was met with fierce hate and unspeakable chants: ‘Vitolo die’ – war cries that should make everyone think twice, especially in a fanbase that actually saw one of their players, Antonio Puerta, pass ten-years-ago after collapsing on the pitch.

The last game on Thursday pitted a solid Levante against the trendiest team of the league, Eusebio Sacristán’s Real Sociedad. And the Granota side had no mercy: their blunt 3-0 was a slap in the face for the Basque team and a serious warning for everyone else. Defender Chema Rodríguez scored what may be possibly the best goal to date this season with a spectacular volley. Later, Jose Morales from the penalty spot and another clinical free-kick by Enis Bardhi (best newcomer of the season, hands-down) closed the game. Levante climbs to fifth and has yet to lose a game.

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About the Author

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Paco Polit is a Valencia-based journalist with over ten years experience reporting La Liga, covering both Valencia CF and Levante’s news, signings, ups and downs. Madrid and Barcelona are huge, indeed, but the Spanish La Liga is much, much more: regarded as the top football competition in the world, he enjoys explaining why to every reader from abroad.



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