Barca and Madrid Impress, but the Bottom of the Table Gets Tighter: La Liga Review for Jan 9-11
The top of the table stays the same with impressive and important wins by Real Madrid and Barca (over an in-form Athletico side no less), but the bottom flipped with a win from Cordoba – leaving 9 teams within 3 points of the drop zone.
Let’s take a look at the week’s action:
Levante (0) – Deportivo La Coruña (0)
Both teams had poor finishing performances, but move further from the drop zone with a scoreless draw. Deportivo, the more attacking side, were highlighted by Jose Toche, whose shot just before the break was the key moment in an otherwise stale game. Levante failed to gain any momentum as the game progressed, with most of their chances coming from set pieces. Neither team seemed to have any interest in getting caught on the break and were thus content to just stand by a scoreless draw.
Real Madrid (3) – Espanyol (0)
Madrid returns to winning form after loses last weekend (to break a 22-game winning streak) and mid-week (to Athletico in the Copa), despite going down a man shortly after halftime. In the 12th minute, a swift Ronaldo cut-back set up a nice finish from James Rodriguez to open the scoring. A 25th minute free kick from Gareth Bale hit the post and bounced in to continue the good run of play. Just after halftime, a hard foul by Coentrao warranted a straight red, but the 10-man Madrid squad was still able to add a third goal on a Arbeloa pass to sub Nacho Fernandez who sealed the win.
Malaga (1) – Villarreal (1)
It took 30 minutes for the game to see any serious threat, but once it came it was intense. Scoring opened with a cheeky Jonathan Dos Santos volly from a deep cross, giving Villarreal the lead just before halftime. Malaga equalized in the 60th minute with a classic goof. Villarreal goalkeeper Asenjo punted the ball to mid-field but it was immediately sent back up field to Nordin Amrabat who chipped a shot past the startled keeper. The final 30 minutes showed few chances from either team – both teams seemingly happy with the Draw. Villarreal extended their unbeaten stretch to 13, and remain one point above Malaga in 6th place.
Celta Vigo (1) – Valencia (1)
In the 27th minute, Nicolas Otamendi took down Vigo’s Charles in the box but Fabian Orellana was denied by Diego Alves for his 14th penalty save in La Liga action. Just before half time, Rodrigo Moreno gave Valencia the lead with a cut in from the right side and a low shot at goal that rolled under Sergio Alvarez. Orellana redeemed himself in the second half to grab an equalizer for Celta Vigo and insure their first points in seven league games.
Eibar (2) – Getafe (1)
Eiber held the advantage most of the game and got their second win of 2015 to move closer to safety. Manu del Moral finished a chipped free-kick after 30 minutes and Ander Capa was able to get a second early in the 2nd half for the home side. Getafe substitute Diego Castro’s bullet strike with 10 minutes remaining made it tense, but Eiber hung on and remain 8th in the table with 26 points.
Almeria (0) – Sevilla FC (2)
Vicente Iborra opened up the scoring in the 58th minute for Sevilla with a strike from about 20 yards out into the bottom left of goal. Five minutes later, Coke gave the visitors a two-goal advantage with a hard shot from 12-yards. Generally, chances were few and far between and Almeria never really showed any fight, leaving them just two points off the bottom three while Sevilla moved into fourth place.
Athletic Bilbao (1) – Elche (2)
Victor Rodriguez opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a right footed shot off a pass from Jonathas. Jonathas was involved again in the second half, setting up Faycal Fajr in the 53rd minute for a strike into the bottom-left of goal. The 73rd minute featured a beautiful strike from Bilbao’s Mikel San Jose, but it was not enough as Elche got the upset to move off of the floor of the table.
Granada (1) – Real Sociedad (1)
David Moyes’ Real Sociedad side gets the draw following last week’s win over Barcelona. Carlos Vela opened the scoring for Sociedad in the 35th minute with a penalty goal after Sergio Canales was dropped in the box. Granada answered with a penalty goal of their own in the 79th minute when Nyom was brought down by Pardo. Fran Rico scored right down the middle, and although the advantage switched to Granada, they were unable to get all three points.
Barcelona (3) – Athletico Madrid (1)
Athletico seemed the worse side for almost the entire game after the huge win midweek against Real Madrid. Neymar started the scoring for the home team with a goal on a thigh pass (or mis-handle) from Suarez following a beautiful Messi pass into the box. Suarez got his own goal 10 minutes before the half on a long run from Messi who passed into Luis’ path for a blasted shot into goal. In the second half, Messi brought Gamez down in the box, giving Mario Mandzukic a penalty goal, but Messi closed out the game with a close-range finish to put the game away. Barcelona’s win lets them keep pace with Madrid and showed solidarity in a week where Messi’s loyalty was questioned and the team as a whole was in disarray.
Rayo Vallecano (0) – Cordoba (1)
Cordoba failed to win in their first 13 games, but have now won three of the last five and escaped the relegation zone. The lone goal was scored on a Florin Andone cross that drifted into the Rayo box when a mis-hit by Abdoulaye Ba sent the ball spiraling into the goal. Rayo finishes the week in 11th place, only 4 points above the relegation drop.
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