Gameweek 31 took another step towards the end of the season. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid marched on, despite the former succumbing to an early hiccup against relegation contenders Almeria. Real Madrid, however, came out unscathed from San Mames. Three goals against Athletic Bilbao is always an appreciable achievement, more so when two of them were scored by none other than that magician from Brazil – Kaka. Valencia bludgeoned a hapless Villarreal at home and Sevilla’s European dream took a beating when they could only gather a point at Iberostar Estadi, against Mallorca.
Results Of the Week
- Athletic Bilbao 0-3 Real Madrid
- FC Barcelona 3-1 Almeria
- Mallorca 2-2 Sevilla
- Racing 1-1 Levante
- Hercules 0-0 Espanyol
- Sporting de Gijon 1-0 Osasuna
- Malaga 0-0 Deportivo
- Atletico Madrid 3-0 Real Sociedad
- Valencia 5-0 Villarreal
- Zaragoza 2-1 Getafe
Return Of The Week
After aeons Kaka played the full 90 minutes of the game, and Madridistas can be pleased that the former World Player of The Year has returned to full fitness prior to a couple of key clashes against FC Barcelona. The Brazilian not only dazzled with his neat footwork, but also scored a brace, albeit both from the spot. In the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo Ozil and Alonso, Kaka kept the Bilbao defense busy. His link-up with the Argentine Higuain was decent; however, the latter couldn’t capitalize on the chances provided by Kaka. A display like the one against Bilbao, away at San Mames, will only give Madridistas the hope that they need against FC Barcelona.
Player Of The Week
Lionel Messi is a player, who cannot be kept out of equation for long. Not only did the diminutive Argentine break his goal-drought, but he also provided Barcelona the impetus to overcome lowly Almeria, who shocked Camp Nou by taking the lead. David Villa was fouled inside the penalty box, and the little man did not make any mistake in dispatching the ball from the slot. Few minutes later, a vicious corner kick was headed into the far post by Thiago Alcantara, thereby giving Barcelona the lead for the first time in the game. The combination of talent and hard-work makes a world class player; in the dying moments of the match, Leo showed as to why is he the best player on the planet. Not only did he chase Marcelo, but forced him to misjudge a header, and slalomed past the hapless defender to finally chip the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper, for his second goal – a goal of the highest quality, not because of the sheer panache, but also for the hard work involved.
Upset Of The Week
Despite the fact Valencia’s win over Villarreal cannot be categorized as an upset, the way the Los Che blew away a high flying Villarreal can be regarded as one. Villarreal entered this match after an impressive win in midweek, in Europa League, against Dutch Champions, FC Twente. Nilmar, who was in red-hot form, couldn’t recreate the magic and the visitors succumbed to a soaring Valencia. Real Madrid reject Soldado notched up a brace and could have easily scored his second hattrick in as many games had he taken his chances. Another former Madrid player, Juan Mata, made sure that his side never had to look back. A scintillating display and a couple of goals put him in a position to challenge Lionel Messi for TheHardTackle Player of The Week. However, the latter’s inspirational performance in bringing his side from a goal behind to two goals ahead, handed him the honour. Ever Banega controlled the midfield well and denied any space to the Villarreal players, and quite deservedly got himself on the scorecard too. Jérémy Mathieu and Pablo Hernandez too were exceptional; Mathieu not only provided defensive cover, but also contributed to attack. Hernandez, on the other hand, showed maturity in occupying any open space behind the Villarreal defense. Valencia’s inspired performance now leaves them six points adrift of Villarreal, with only seven more matches to go. A berth in next year’s Champions League is only a matter of time for the Los Che.
Europe Seems To Be A Distant Dream
Sevilla’s European dream suffered a jolt when they barely drew against Mallorca, away from home. A Negredo penalty and another one from winter signing Rakitic salvaged a point for the visitors. Sevilla started the match well with a lion’s share of the possession. However, they couldn’t translate this into anything fruitful, and the hosts gradually got back into the game. Akihiro Ienaga got the first goal for the hosts. However, it was nullified by Negredo, who made no mistake in dispatching from the spot. A stunning 30 yard low rocket from De Guzman took the hosts ahead, but Rakitic brought parity and salvaged a point. Sevilla are now eight points behind Villarreal, and only a miracle can secure them a place in the coveted UEFA Champions League.
Goal Of The Week
Lionel Messi’s second goal against Almeria and De Guzman’s 30-yard shot against Sevilla share the honour. Messi pressurised Marcelo and got the better of the defender and chipped the ball over a clueless Diego Alves. De Guzman ran unmarked and took on the Sevilla defense. The Canada-born attacking midfielder shot from almost 30 yards, low and powerful and just outside the reach of an out-stretched Javi Varas.
Lionel Messi’s second goal against Almeria
De Guzman’s goal against Sevilla
Team Of The Week
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Jeremy Mathieu (Valencia), Marius Stankevicius (Valencia), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Juan Mata (Valencia), Kaka (Real Madrid), Ever Banega (Valencia), Thiago Alcantara (FC Barcelona), Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Roberto Soldado (Valencia)
- Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) – 29
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 28
- David Villa (FC Barcelona) – 17
- Guiseppe Rossi (Villarreal) – 15
- Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao) – 15
Top Five Teams (After 31 matches)
- FC Barcelona – 84 points
- Real Madrid – 76 points
- Valencia – 60 points
- Villarreal – 54 points
- Sevilla – 46 points