La Liga Matchday 1 - Red cards all round on an emotional start to La Liga for Barcelona
La Liga got off to an emotional start after the horrific events in Barcelona in midweek. There were few surprises on the field as Barcelona and Real Madrid both picked up convincing wins, though both Sevilla and Atletico Madrid were held by Espanyol and Girona respectively.
Girona were joined by their fellow newly promoted teams Levante and Getafe in avoiding defeat, with all three securing impressive results against teams from last season’s top six. Here, The Boot Room identifies the key talking points of the weekend:
Game of the weekend – Girona 2-2 Atletico Madrid
Girona made their La Liga debut in style on home turf. The first half saw former Middlesbrough striker Christian Stuani become the first player to score twice against Atletico Madrid in one game since Diego Simeone took charge six years ago with two powerful headers past Jan Oblak.
Atletico did fight back in the second half, bizarrely spurred on after a red card to Antoine Griezmann after he was adjudged to have dived and proceeded to call the referee a “bottler” in not so polite terms. Angel Correa then scored with a rocket to start the comeback and it was defender Jose Gimenez who scored the all important equaliser with five minutes left with another header.
Moment of the weekend – Sergio Ramos’ record equaling red card
It was his 23rd career red card and his 18th in La Liga, equaling Pablo Alfaro and Xavi Aguado as the players with most red cards in La Liga’s history. In truth, Ramos was fortunate not to see red earlier after him and Fabian Schar squared up to each other, Ramos reacting to Schar’s headbutt with a slap, though somehow neither saw red.
Ramos did see red in the end though as a raised elbow in an aerial challenge with Borja Valleja saw him pick up a second yellow card in injury time. Real Madrid look likely to appeal that decision, but it will not take Ramos’ record away from him despite his claims that he is unfairly treated by Spanish referees.
Goal of the weekend – Casemiro (Real Madrid’s second goal against Deportivo A Coruna)
44 passes involving all 11 Real Madrid players on the pitch left Deportivo chasing shadows as Real Madrid swept past them from defence to attack before Marcelo provided an assist with a cross across the box into the path of holding midfielder Casemiro as he rifled home into the net.
You can view the Brazilian’s goal and the whole impressive team move here.
Controversy of the weekend – Getafe’s ghost goal against Athletic Bilbao
There were plenty to choose from, with Sevilla’s questionable goal, Lionel Messi potentially being offside in Barcelona’s opener, Sergio Ramos avoiding a red card for a slap to the face and even two players sent off for dissent but the worst of all was Getafe’s ghost goal.
Kepa did well to claw the ball back out of his net but replays showed that the ball was already well over the line, by at least a yard. That goal would have given the newly promoted minnows a crucial win against one of La Liga’s top sides, but they were instead forced to settle for a 0-0 draw.
Player of the week – Maximiliano Gomez (Celta Vigo)
The Uruguayan striker made his debut in sensational fashion in Galicia as he put two past a usually reliable Real Sociedad defence. His debut went according to plan in every respect other than La Real’s late comeback which gave them the win, but he did enough to impress Juan Carlos Unzue.
The challenge now will be to maintain that kind of finishing throughout the rest of the season after a superb start. With John Guidetti out injured, this kind of form could be crucial to Celta’s hopes of a top six finish.
Team of the week
Keylor Navas was on form to deny Florin Andone on three occasions, once from the penalty spot. Two of the back three were also on the scoresheet with impressive displays whilst Marcelo provided an assist. Casemiro and Oyarzabal bossed the midfield in their respective fixtures whilst Roberto and Messi were the stars for Barcelona. Up-front, braces for Gomez and Stuani earn them a place whilst Baptistao’s wonder goal also earns him a slot in the team.
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