Wins for both Barcelona and Real Madrid but tough times for Messi and Ronaldo as the Valencia revival continues in La Liga
A manhandled Messi couldn’t get rid of sticky Maffeo
The Catalan derby between Girona and Barcelona, leaving aside the political connotations of the event, had the spotlight placed upon a Leo Messi who had scored nine goals in the first five games. Girona manager Pablo Machín came up with a classic albeit quite effective answer to the number 10’s scoring streak: placing defender Pablo Maffeo on top of the Argentinean with the sole mission of annulling him.
Maffeo succeeded most of the time, although his team wasn’t able to keep Luis Suarez away from scoring the third goal in a quite bizarre match where Girona was unluckily sunk by two own goals (0-3).
A frustrated Cristiano was overshadowed by Dani Caballos’ doublet
Cristiano Ronaldo is having a rough time keeping up pace with his team mates after missing the first four games of the season. He started for Real at Mendizorroza but his lack of accuracy and the woodwork prevented him from scoring in Madrid’s win against a struggling Alavés (1-2). Once the ref ended the game, the Portuguese superstar left the pitch with a pretty angry expression on his face.
Zinedine Zidane rotated some of his players in the starting XI and gave Dani Ceballos a shot in the line-up. The former Betis player didn’t disappoint: his two goals, both of them good shows of most of his qualities, were fundamental for Madrid’s narrow victory on Basque turf. Picking up points in these kind of stadiums is the only way to shorten the seven-point difference that Barça holds on them.
Getafe spanks Villarreal and pushes Escribá out of the window
Two weeks ago, Villarreal’s boss Fernando Roig was mad at his own fans booing and tweeting in social media that his manager should be sacked. That passionate defense of his coach seemed genuine, but has been proven also convenient to sack him without hesitation when his team came crashing down at Getafe.
The Azulón team trounced the Yellow Submarine (4-0) in a riveting performance, with goals by Ángel Rodríguez, Jorge Molina and Markel Bergara. Villarreal were so poor and defenceless that, only 24 hours later, manager Fran Escribá was dismissed on the spot. Youth team coach and former player Javi Calleja has been handed the reins temporarily.
Valencia comes out on top in the weekend’s best game
Oh Valencia, we had missed you! Marcelino García Toral’s men have proven several times already that they have finally decided to leave behind their two years of missteps and lamentable decisions of their board and be a tough team to face this season.
Their visit to tricky Anoeta was one of their biggest tests to date, but they had a secret weapon inside their ranks: youngster Gonçalo Guedes, a beast of a midfielder that completely dominated the game. After missing the first two matches of the season (he was still in PSG’s ranks), his impact has been immediate and mind-blowing. With two assists and a spectacular game overall, Guedes lead Valencia’s statement against Real Sociedad (2-3). Valencia have climbed slowly to the top-four spots, which they hadn’t touched for almost two years.
Last-minute effort by Málaga and crushing Colchonero machinery with Costa watching
Málaga were ten minutes away from adding their sixth defeat in a row when, suddenly, football magic provided them with a last-minute, desperation-fueled draw (3-3) that saved Míchel González’s spot at the bench at least for one more week.
Speaking about magic, Atleti’s new Wanda Metropolitano stadium is quickly becoming a talisman venue for the Colchoneros. With striker Diego Costa watching from the executive box (he will join the team on the pitch from Chelsea on January, once the FIFA transfer ban has ended), Simeone’s lads trampled over a disappointing Sevilla (2-0) with goals by Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann. The manager rivaled the atmosphere to that “of a Roman Coliseum”, and his comparison is pretty much spot on.