Barcelona play a brand of football that is entertaining with beautiful goals and wonderful movements. Real Madrid against Valencia demonstrated another way to play football, without holding onto the ball for very long. It is not often that a team scores half a dozen goals, against a potentially brilliant Valencia side, with just 37% possession. Higuain scored a well-deserved hat trick. Kaka provided 2 assists and ended up with a brace himself. Karim Benzema will be slightly disappointed with only one goal but he had a crucial role to play in almost all the goals. It was a masterclass from Mourinho’s men, which unfortunately manifests the difference between the Top 2 and rest of the league. Valencia, for some reason, never showed up in the first half. The 3 goals they scored were consolations, as Madrid cooled off to avoid any injuries and were just content to stay on the pitch.
The Catalans on the other hand had a comparatively quite show. Guardiola rested key figures and gave the likes of Jeffren, Milito, Thiago and Afellay a rare start. Jeffren did not disappoint and assisted David Villa, who eventually broke his goal-drought. Thiago and Afellay were quite okay but the star of the match was certainly an Argentine – not Leo Messi, but Javier Mascherano. Partnering fellow Argentine, Gabi Milito, Masche gave out one of his finest performances in the Blaugrana colours. Masche was ably supported by Victor Valdes, who played his 400th match for the club. The second half saw the arrival of the Holy Trinity – Xavi, Iniesta and Messi. Barcelona’s game became more fluid and more chances were created. In the dying moments of the match, Leo Messi latched onto a brilliant pass from Dani Alves and slotted home to get Barcelona second goal of the night and also his 50th of the season. Yes, 50 goals, with at least 7 more matches to be played. Sky is no longer the limit for the diminutive Argentine!
Finally Levante, the side with the 3rd best record in the second half of the season after Barcelona and Real Madrid, got beaten by Atletico Madrid. Atletico won 4-1 at the Vicente Calderon and earned 3 valuable points in their quest for Europa League. Malaga have finally come out of relegation zone and will need couple more wins to assure themselves of first division football next season.
Villarreal had a great chance to close the gap on Valencia but they crashed to a 2-3 defeat against Sevilla and with this defeat, their Champions League ambitions look unreal. Mallorca outplayed Getafe 2-0 and Sporting Gijon beat Espanyol 1-0.
Valencia 3-6 Real Madrid
FC Barcelona 2-0 Osasuna
Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Real Sociedad
Mallorca 2-0 Getafe
Sporting de Gijon 1-0 Espanyol
Hercules 1-0 Deportivo
Racing Santander 1-2 Malaga
Atletico Madrid 4-1 Levante
Sevilla 3-2 Villarreal
*Zaragoza – Almeria
Surprise Of The Week
Valencia 3-6 Real Madrid
A week of few upsets in La Liga threw up a result which surprised everyone and defied all pundits. Valencia, the 3rd placed team in La Liga got thrashed by a 2nd placed Madrid 6 goals to 3. Perhaps they were still reeling from the after effects of giving Real Madrid the guard of honour or ‘el pasillo’ or they took the Real Madrid ‘reserves’ a bit too lightly.
More than anything else the match highlighted the gulf of quality between Madrid and the rest of the teams as they called upon the likes of Kaka, Benzema, Higuain, Lass, Canales and Garay as their ‘reserves’.
Mestalla has always been a difficult venue for all teams irrespective of who they are. Yet, the Los Che faithful saw their team manhandled by a ‘second string’ Madrid team. A combination of poor defending by Valencia and some spectacular play by Madrid led to this score line. Real after cruising to a 6-1 lead took their eyes off the ball and Valencia nicked 2 back. However, 6 goals were always going to be a case too much too far for Valencia.
Three goals from Higuain and 2 assists was the highlight of the match who had an extremely productive outing.
Post-match, the Valencia players apologized to their fans and a full blown inquisition took place to examine the cause of such humiliation.
Goal Of The Weekend
The goal of the week was scored was scored by the former Arsenal and Real Madrid man Julio Baptista. “The Beast” has been in fine form for Malaga and his return has coincided with the revival of fortunes for Malaga.
From the left he controlled the ball beautifully with his foot and his back towards the goal. He then brushed off one defender while turning and finally smacked the ball home from 30 yards out into the top right corner of the opposition’s net.
A screamer which announced that ‘The Beast’ is back.
Other competitors for this honour were Giuseppe Rossi of Villarreal and Ivan Rakitic of Sevilla.
Team Of The Week
Caballero (Malaga), Weligton (Malaga), Mascherano (FC Barcelona), Nunes (Real Mallorca), Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Baptista (Malaga), Kaka (Real Madrid), Messi (FC Barcelona), Negredo (Sevilla), Higuain (Real Madrid), Benzema (Real Madrid)
La Liga Standing
FC Barcelona – 88 points
Real Madrid – 80 points
Valencia – 63 points
Villarreal – 57 points
Athletic Bilbao – 51 points
Race To Pichichi
Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) – 31 goals
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 29 goals
David Villa (FC Barcelona) – 18 goals
Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal) – 17 goals
Kun Aguero (Atletico Madrid) – 16 goals