It was business as usual at the top of the tree in La Liga but one side is living on the edge, and sending everyone to sleep in the process
In what has becoming a habit each weekend, the top three teams in LaLiga going into the weekend pulled off wins in relatively straightforward fixtures which might have made them stumble.
In Week 11 Simeone’s men were saved by Thomas Partey in a tricky evening in La Coruña, while the Blaugranas and Valencianistas boasted a collected, confident pace that eased them to victory even if neither were brilliant throughout their games. Real Madrid, meanwhile, preyed on weak Las Palmas to get back on track after double defeat to Girona and Tottenham.
Paco Alcacer’s big night home (2-1)
Signed as a promising, young striker with an outstanding ability to score with regularity, Paco Alcacer’s path at Barça last year was undeniably disappointing. He never got the opportunities to shine, obscured by the attacking trio of Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. This season, after the Brazilian fled the Camp Nou, Paco has had tremendous pressure on his shoulders: he is expected to score and deliver, even if he isn’t a regular starter.
Against a wounded Sevilla, LaLiga’s top dog battled in the rain in a balanced first half where Andrés Iniesta showed he still has his old bag of tricks. Meanwhile, Alcácer sneakily finished a great play to gain momentary advantage for his team.
Although Guido Pizarro leveled in the second half with a beautiful header, Paco’s first-touch finishing was absolutely on-point. Arguably his best skill was useful again minutes later to hand Barça the three points and confirm their record-breaking stat of 31 points out of the first 33. Utter madness.
Valencia kicks ass and takes names even in grey days (3-0)
Leganés had only allowed five goals in the first ten games… and went back home with three strikes in their negative chart. That’s just how amazingly reliable Valencia has become: when they deliver, they’re unstoppable; when they play poorly, they still manage to score and dominate with relative ease. Without the ‘burden’ and fatigue of playing European competitions mid-week, Marcelino’s lads are 100% focused on their target of landing one of the top four spots that will allow them to play next season’s Champions League.
The Cucumberer team (yep, we’ve talked about Leganes’ funny nickname before) proved their prowess and results to date are no coincidence. They managed to stop speeding Valencia in its tracks, and only a smart, sly free-kick by Dani Parejo tipped the scales in the local side’s favor. In the second half, open spaces and Rodrigo Moreno’s relentlessness made way to his ambitious header. A Santi Mina penalty tied-up the game nicely. The Bats are on a roll: seven LaLiga wins in a row.
No Thomas, no ‘Partey’ for Atlético against Deportivo (0-1)
Midfielder Thomas Partey saved the day with a 90th minute free-kick for a tired, lumpish Atlético when facing-off a motivated Deportivo La Coruña, which has improved their results and performance levels lately but still wasn’t enough to pick up points at home. Local goalkeeper Pantilimón wasn’t particularly inspired in that late key play of the game, although we must admit that overall the game was absolutely awful.
Atlético’s theoretical superiority was nowhere to be seen, and when added to Depor’s inability to generate danger in the opposite box, it is easy to understand why the outcome was such a stinker.
Real Madrid turns over a poor Las Palmas (3-0)
Although there are many reasons to believe that their ‘suckage’ is still not over yet, let’s remember a quote from days before: “…a team so used to winning will surely get a wake-up call soon”. Even on a night where Cristiano and Benzemà showed yet again their alarming decline in performance, a spectacular screamer by Marco Asensio and a couple more goals by Casemiro and Isco Alarcón were enough to easily polish-off a poor, spiraling-downwards Las Palmas. Pako Ayestarán keeps his ‘legend’ (?) ongoing: this was the 12th loss in a row for him, an all-time record that increases every week, unluckily for him.
The Calleja-effect keeps Villarreal winning and growing (2-0)
Since Fran Escribà’s sacking and Javi Calleja’s appointment as the new boss on the bench, Villarreal has become a much more reliable, regular side both in Europa League and LaLiga. Against a Malaga which desperately needed to pick up points in order to confirm progress after last week’s clutch win, the Yellow Submarine had enough with Nicola Sansone’s second-half brace to climb up to the fifth spot.