La Liga

Revista de La Liga: The ‘show’ at the Metropolitano finishes all square whilst there’s a nine-goal thriller at Betis

Metropolitano, Madrid – “It was a good dinner for everyone because there was a great show” proclaimed Ernesto Valverde as he sat in the post-match press conference. “I said that we were going to adapt and we did adapt. I have a positive feeling from the game”. Barcelona and their opponents, Atletico Madrid, showed that big matches could live up to the billing. Despite players having to travel long distances and playing in highly pressurised matches whilst on international duty, Saturday evening in the Spanish capital showed that two heavyweights can go head-to-head, play attractive football and exhibit quality whilst trying to win the match. The ninety minutes at the Metropolitano were a delight rather than a disappointment.

It was the player who had travelled the furthest and played in the most pressurised of matches this past week that got the game off to a lively start – Leo Messi surged through the Atletico defence before narrowly placing his shot wide into the side netting of Oblak’s goal. It was the first of many chances for the Argentine – in the second-half, he hit one free-kick against the post and another straight at Oblak with the last kick of the game. However, there was an acceptance that Messi was slightly below par given his international exploits but Valverde was happy enough with his contribution, “It’s true that Leo had some wear and tear but he gave us a lot of effort and it was clear when he got the ball, something good could happen for us.”

Atletico quickly regained their composure and Antoine Griezmann forced ter Stegen into two quick reflex saves within the opening ten minutes. The tempo was set, the Spanish flags were being waved, and the quality was high. The home crowd urged their team on and the deadlock was broken in the 20th minute when Saul curled the ball into the bottom-right corner from just outside the box. Barcelona’s resolve was broken and for the first time this season they were up against it – trying to take a lead away from Atletico is never easy.

The Blaugrana did respond brightly though and almost found an equaliser through Luis Suarez five minutes from half-time, but Stefan Savic – who had a noteworthy performance at the heart of Atletico’s defence – stepped in to make a crucial block and prevent his goalbound effort from hitting the back of the net. After the break, the Barcelona pressure did not relent with Messi striking a free-kick against the post before firing wide a left-footed attempt.

The search for the equaliser continued – the Atletico defence stood strong, the crowd cheered them on. However, Barcelona did manage to find the goal they were looking for in the 82nd minute as substitute Sergi Roberto whipped a fine cross to the far post which Luis Suarez headed powerfully into the net. The Metropolitano fell silent – there were no away fans present due to ‘logistical problems’ – but the home crowd realised it was now a case of preventing the Catalans from clinching the win.

The last ten minutes saw chances for both sides but the game didn’t see another goal and the deserved score-line of one apiece was confirmed. The amount of possession and the number of chances tilted the way of Barcelona but both sides had put in a good display. Arguably the biggest match of the weekend in Europe had lived up to the hype and fans were treated to an evening of high quality, entertaining football.

Los Otros Puntos

  • The home crowd at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez couldn’t believe what they were seeing – eighty minutes on the clock and their side were still drawing against city rivals Real Madrid. Getafe have started the season in decent fashion but even so, this was not in the script. However, the fairy tale ending was too much to ask for as Los Azulones conceded with five minutes left – just like against Barcelona, they couldn’t hold on. Real Madrid – who started the day in fifth position – had taken the lead towards the end of the first-half; an errant Getafe free-kick was intercepted by Benzema who exchanged passes with Ronaldo in his own half before racing through on goal and burying a shot into the net past Guita for his first La Liga goal of the season. Benzema and Ronaldo were starting up-front together for the first time since the Champions League Final in Cardiff and linked up well. Getafe equalised in the 56th minute capitalising on a mix-up in Real Madrid’s defence – Faycal Fajr found himself in acres of space on the right wing and his low cross intended for Molina seemed to ricochet off Marcos Llorente and Nacho before nestling in the back of the net. Zidane shuffled his pack by bringing on Isco and Theo Hernandez and shortly after, Ronaldo should have scored Real’s second – a scuffed shot from a couple of yards out went wide rather than into the gaping goal in front of him. A goal from Theo was ruled offside before Ronaldo lashed in a volley from close range following an inch-perfect pass from Isco to take the points away from Getafe.
  • Well that was fun. Four goals scored in 75 minutes and then five scored in the final 10. Real Betis scored their three in a five minute spell after going 4–0 down to Valencia – a further demonstration that Quique Setien is instilling his hectic style of football at Betis. Valencia looked dynamic and comfortable for much of the game and it appeared that it was to be another straightforward victory for Marcelino’s men when they scored four without reply – Guedes’ long-range shot was the pick of the bunch. However, when the clock turned to the eightieth minute the home side decided to start playing and, before they knew it, Los Beticos had got three goals back. They couldn’t could they – surely not … then again it is a Quique Setien side after all. However, a further two Valencian goals, from Zaza and Pereira, took the game away from Betis and sent Valencia up to second place.
  • Sevilla’s barren run in Bilbao continued when they were defeated by a goal to nil against Athletic Bilbao. Mikel Vesga’s second-half goal – a lofty shot over goalkeeper Sergio Rico – gave Athletic the victory whilst sending the Andalucians back south with no points for the ninth consecutive season.
  • It was the Bakambu show at Montilivi – his two well-taken goals gave Villarreal a 2–1 win against Girona who had plenty of chances of their own to draw the match in the latter stages.
  • The couple of thousand Eibar supporters and the handful of travelling Deportivo fans at the Ipurua somehow managed to stay awake – the scoreless draw will not live long in the memory.

Los Resultados 

Espanyol 0–0 Levante

Athletic Bilbao 2–1 Sevilla

Getafe 1–2 Real Madrid

Alaves 0–2 Real Sociedad

Atletico Madrid 1–1 Barcelona

Eibar 0–0 Deportivo

Girona 1–2 Villarreal

Malaga 0–2 Leganes

Real Betis 3–6 Valencia

Las Palmas – Celta Vigo to be played on Monday

El Jugador de la Semana: Cedric Bakambu (Villarreal)

La Clasificacion

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