Some of the most common criticisms of Spanish football are that it is uncompetitive and often boring. In one weekend alone, La Liga proved that such claims could not be further from the truth.
The highlight came on Sunday evening as Barcelona had the opportunity to top of the league but full to a stunning 4-3 defeat against their bogey team Celta de Vigo. Luis Enrique’s former team shocked the Catalan club, who fielded a side with a number of rotations, by going 3-0 up before half time with Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s second half error ensuring that even Gerard Pique’s man of the match display was not enough to win even a point for his side.
That came after Real Madrid had already slipped up themselves, this time at home as lowly SD Eibar scored their first ever goal at the Bernabeu and became the first Basque side in decades to take a point from los Blancos. It was one of their own youth products, Fran Rico, who gave Eibar an early lead, with Gareth Bale equalising and escaping the criticism which was directed towards the likes of Karim Benzema and the misfiring Cristiano Ronaldo, with a fourth consecutive draw raising fears over Zinedine Zidane’s future at the club.
One club who weren’t afraid to change their manager was Valencia, with Cesare Prandelli watching on as Atletico Madrid convincingly saw them off with a 2-0 victory despite Diego Alves making two remarkable penalty saves from Antoine Griezmann and Gabi. Alves now has the best record of any goalkeeper to play in Spain when it comes to penalty saves, but even his good performance couldn’t stop Kevin Gameiro adding a late second to seal victory after Griezmann atoned for his penalty miss with the opener.
Barcelona’s slip up allows Sevilla to retain third place just one point behind the two Madrid clubs, thanks to Wissam Ben Yeder’s last minute winner over Alaves in the south of Spain. It was one of a number of decisive late goals on matchday seven, but come the end of the season, Ben Yeder’s second goal of the game could be the most important.
Malaga produced the comeback of the weekend though, as they came from behind to beat Athletic Bilbao. Aritz Aduriz opened the scoring in the third minute with a promising start, but last week’s hero Mikel Balenziaga became a villain after a controversial off the ball incident with Roberto Rosales saw the latter booked. Athletic stood firm but two goals in the last ten minutes, firstly from Sandro Ramirez and then from Duda, gave Juande Ramos’ side victory.
Las Palmas also maintained their push for European football with a vital late equaliser in a draw with Osasuna, though attentions were distracted by the concerning departure of Martin Monreal, Osasuna’s manager, to hospital due to chest pains. His side threw away a 2-0 lead at half time in his absence as they remain without a win since their promotion.
Barcelona based outfit Espanyol were hoping to mount such a challenge this season but remain without a home win despite this weekend’s impressive result as they drew a blank against Villarreal in what is a promising result for Quique Sanchez Flores’ team as the Yellow Submarine looked tired from Europa League action.
That is much better than Granada though, who are without a win anywhere this season. A second half striker from Alexander Szymanowski saw Leganes continue the best ever start to the season from a newly promoted side in La Liga as they remain just three points behind last year’s champions Barcelona.
Deportivo picked up their first win since the opening day in A Coruna, with former Liverpool winger Ryan Babel scoring the 92nd minute with a superb strike which will live long in the memory of Depor fans as they defeated Sporting Gijon despite their second half equaliser.
Carlos Vela was the other matchwinner in La Liga on matchday seven as his strike for Real Sociedad up against Gus Poyet’s Real Betis in a hard fought contest with Betis once again playing in an evening fixture for the fourth game in a row.
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