La Liga

Published on January 30th, 2018 | by Paco Polit


La Liga: Barca’s helping hand and Valencia pay the penalty

Barcelona receive a helping hand from the referee against Alaves as Valencia pay the penalty against Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo 

Alavés suffer robbery in the Nou Camp (2-1)

We’re not talking about one or two poor decisions by the ref. We’re talking about a full battery of appalling calls that tore apart an excellent performance by humble Alavés, who had played beautifully for 70 minutes in such daunting settings and were 0-1 up at that point.

Then, in a matter minutes: Suarez’s strike was slightly touched by Gerard Pìqué with his hand, so the equalizer should have been disallowed; Suarez himself kicked an Alavés defender in the proverbial nuts, and didn’t get sent off; the free-kick awarded to Leo Messi (which ended in a beautiful goal) shouldn’t have been called, as Paco Alcacer was in an offside position before being fouled; and, finally, a Samuel Umtiti hand inside the box the ref didn’t see.

When all was said and done, three or four key plays that benefitted Barça thoroughly, allowed them to win the game and left Alavés bereft of hope and in a delicate position in the standings.

A huge prize for a Real who didn’t excel at anything (1-4)

Don’t let the score trick you: actually, the game between Valencia and Real Madrid was a tight one. A very tight one. So tight that it boils down to a couple of penalties and Valencia’s physical downfall late in the second half in to explain the final outcome. Also, Martín Montoya didn’t have a good performance, with too many mistakes that penalized his side.

Cristiano scored twice from the penalty spot in the first-half (the second one, called on Benzema, was controversial to say the least) but Valencia never stopped believing. After the break, the second half saw full Valencia dominance, with a Dani Parejo masterclass in the middle and Geoffrey Kondogbia pocketing all the Madrid midfielders.

Santi Mina headed into the back of the net for 1-2 and Mestalla roared with excitement…until the team, coming off a 120 minute game and penalty shoot-out against Alavés, ran out of gas. Real took advantage to close the game with Marcelo and Toni Kroos cappers.

Atlético steamrolled over a weak Las Palmas (3-0)

One week later, the same principles apply to both the Colchoneros and the Canary Islanders: Atleti proficiently demolished the opposition with clinical precision and accuracy while Las Palmas were finished off by their own inability to defend as a proper team. With rumblings of a possible Yannick Carrasco exit, Atleti’s strikers waited patiently throughout the first period to jump at their chances to score later on: Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres finished masterfully to give their team a comfortable lead. Thomas Partey rounded-off the score. Las Palmas’ struggle, since the arrival of Paco Jemez, hasn’t been any less demanding; they’re still bottom of the league, with only Malaga in a worse position.

Leganés completes their best week ever (3-2)

In another rousing performance, little Leganés capped with a win one of their best weeks since they’ve played in LaLiga, with their historic knock-out of Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey and three points won against Espanyol that skyrocketed Ander Garitano’s squad into 11th place with 28 points. It was, however, quite a strange fixture if we pay attention to the scoreboard: Espanyol defender Mario Hermoso scored three times (!), though unfortunately for him two of them were in his own goal.

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About the Author


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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