Real Madrid relied on Lady Luck to get past Valladolid as Valencia slipped into crisis mode with a Mestalla mess-up in another lively weekend in La Liga
Solari debuted home with a Vinicius ace in the sleeve
Real Madrid are so desperately in need of new icons after Cristiano Ronaldo left them that they will settle for just about anything.
It’s as easy as grabbing whichever player has some talent and adding all their power and might of the media into the mix. And that’s how we get to Vinicius Junior’s current status: a 19-year-old forced to carry all the hopes and dreams of the fans on his back.
Under Santiago Solari, Real are two-for-two after facing relatively manageable Melilla (third tier league) and Real Valladolid. The latter, however, did put up a fight at Santiago Bernabeu. In fact, the game was heading straight into the 0-0 zone, until Vinicius came onto the pitch, tried a few runs and suddenly attempted a shot from outside the box in the 82nd.
It was going incredibly off target, but rebounded in a defender and snuck into the goal to Valladolid’s desperation. A lucky play that unblocked Real’s chances of winning. Minutes later, Sergio Ramos scored from the penalty spot to tidy up the scoreline, even though Real’s captain had to listen to some booing aimed at him. Matters aren’t completely fixed at the White House.
Admit it, Valencia: you are in trouble
Handkerchiefs were waved in disgust and plenty of whistling was heard once the game was over. For ninety minutes, Mestalla’s stands cheered, clapped and yelled. A proper stadium supporting their team. But, unfortunately, that team wasn’t up to par. With only a handful of chances, a Stuani-less and Portu-less Girona were able to snatch the three points thanks to a lonely Pere Pons goal.
Hapless and confused, unable to explain why Bono (Girona’s keeper) delivered a performance for the ages with up to six extraordinary saves, powerless to avoid yet another stumble, Valencia are now in a fully-fledged crisis, even if their manager Marcelino insists on not facing the reality. No wins at Mestalla this season, only one victory in La Liga after eleven games played. 11 points out of 33 is simply unacceptable.
Alavés choked and were scared of heights
In a weekend were Atlético de Madrid and Sevilla couldn’t win, Deportiva Alavés had the amazing chance of climbing into second and keep themselves only one point away from the top of the standings. However, ‘Pitu’ Abelardo and his team ‘choked’ at the worst moment: when they had the game 0-1 in Ipurúa and the wind behind them.
Eibar ground out the second half in a 10 men vs 10 men game, leveling first thanks to Jordán and, when the game was about to finish, surprising the ‘Babazorros’ with a clutch Pape Diop goal to win the game, rain on Alaves’ parade and finally make their fans happy, as Mendilíbar’s men hadn’t savored a win at home since September.
Fortunately, Espanyol did not suffer stage fright on Monday night to beat Athletic Bilbao and move into second.
All fun and no defence in Betis v Celta (3-3)
Sunday’s finishing game was, hands down, the most fun of the weekend and one of the best of the season. The matchup between two teams who favor attacking began at top speed and never really lost momentum. Chances at both ends began piling up until Loren’s opener for Real Betis. Canales smashed the post minutes later, but that was it for the first half.
Then, madness ensued ended by Sergio Canales of Betis, with a spectacular long-range free kick, equalizing a fixture that also had plenty of fun after everything was said and done. Both managers played it back-and-forth in the press room and ‘Turco’ Mohamed stated that “a team with the quality that Betis has doesn’t need to hide the balls when they’re winning”.