La Liga

Published on December 24th, 2017 | by Paco Polit

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La Liga: Madrid’s malaise and Sevilla’s low blow

Real Madrid gave up on the league title race while other challengers also fell away, and Sevilla made enemies across Spain with managerial sacking

It’s lights out for Madrid in LaLiga after El Clásico (0-3)

Many would actually be amazed, after watching the end result, to know that both teams went scoreless into the locker room at half-time. Barça used their tactical expertise and buckets of patience to hold onto their positioning in the first twenty minutes, where Madrid were superior, and then slowly grow and evolve from that point on.

Paulinho had an amazing chance, denied by a feline Keylor Navas, and soon Benzemà answered with a header that smashed the woodwork. The first half wasn’t particularly benign on both Cristiano nor Messi: the Portuguese missed a comical chance to score, kicking at thin air while the ball trickled under his legs, while Barça’s number 10 trotted around without much to do. Only twice did he manage to break out from Madrid’s strong midfield marking, and both times the away team was inches away from scoring the opener.

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The second half, though… It was a bloodbath. Nasty and inevitable, Barcelona sped up their game and Sergio Busquets’ commanding presence made things much easier. His extraordinary ball handling opened the gap, Rakitic made the quick run, Kovacic was distracted marking Messi and Suarez finished brilliantly after Roberto’s assist. A magnificent goal that sent Real spiraling on to the mat.

Minutes later, Carvajal decided to practice his goalkeeping skills under the ref’s nose, so his hands inside the box meant Real would play with ten men for over half-an-hour. Messi scored from the penalty spot and the rest of the game was a placid boat trip in a still lake for them. Meanwhile, Zidane blinked a few times on the bench and decided to leave Isco Alarcón cozily watching the match by his side. Valverde will never face a weaker, more clueless opposition coach in a game of this caliber.

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In fact, Leo tested his skills further by dribbling Marcelo in the 93rd minute, losing his boot in the process and even then being able to assist Aleix Vidal with the third. He’s the best indeed, even if The Best trophy-holder was on the opposite team wandering around the pitch. The difference has grown to a humungous 14-point lead, more than enough to predict that Real won’t be able to win this edition.

Valencia tried everything but fell short against Villarreal (0-1)

The game finished and the stands rose on their feet, cheering and clapping in recognition of the incredible effort made by their players: Valencia tried absolutely everything against Villarreal and should have won, but the Yellow Submarine displayed an impressive effectiveness and scored pretty much in their only chance of the game, after an unstoppable Carlos Bacca strike.

One of football’s biggest lies making the rounds is that Valencia fans are too demanding, perpetually whingeing and moaning even if their team delivers. That couldn’t be further from the truth: when players show guts and attitude, they always have their backs even if they don’t manage to win.

Sevilla’s low blow on Berizzo goes down as 2017’s worst point

There’s class and there’s disgracefulness. And Sevilla’s decision to sack Eduardo ‘Toto’ Berizzo after their defeat against Real Sociedad (3-1) falls into the latter category. They can argue all they want about Sevilla’s lack of ambition, poor performance and whatsoever… but the fact is that they have sacked a manager who recently faced cancer, suffered a chemotherapy process over the past few weeks and never bailed out of making his team as competitive as possible.

Again, those same facts place Sevilla currently on LaLiga’s  5th spot, and both in the Last 16 rounds of the Champions League and the Spanish Copa del Rey. Football Law is merciless, but still, there are matters much more important than winning or losing. If anybody would like to know the definition of class act, just look straight in the opposite direction of Sevilla’s board.

PS. Merry Christmas y’all!

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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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