Saturday, March 25, 2017

Barca cut gap as Madrid kick up a storm – La Liga Round-Up Week 21

Gill Clark in Editorial, La Liga 7 Feb 2017

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Messi on target as Barca cut gap to just one point

Another weekend in La Liga, another row, but this time it wasn’t the referees, goal line technology or red cards, it was something else entirely,  it was well, the weather.

Deportivo delayed

It all started on Friday night with Deportivo, who saw their clash against Real Betis called off after heavy rains and winds damaged part of the roof at the Estadio Riazor. The game was postponed amid safety fears and it was not the only match to be hit.

Madrid face fixture pile-up after postponement

The chaos continued on Saturday as Real Madrid’s game at Celta Viga, scheduled for Sunday, was also called off. Or was it? Confusion reigned for hours with Zinedine Zidane’s men desperate to get the game on even though the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos was declared unsafe. Madrid – knowing Celta may well rest most of the team ahead of their midweek Copa del Rey clash – pushed for the game to be played in a different city, a different venue, a different country (seriously) and when they didn’t get their own way they threw a strop and told the press they wanted to play in a European Super League anyway.

Alaves, scheduled to play Celta in midweek in the Copa del Rey, were on Madrid’s side feeling the extra rest would give their opponents an advantage and if they lose in midweek expect the complaints to resurface.

Ultimately the leaders end the weekend still top, but with two games in hand, and a packed fixture list. One of those, the game at Valencia postponed due to their Club World Cup commitments, will be played on February 22 at 18.45. As for the Celta game? That will prove trickier to re-schedule, Madrid are still in two competitions while Celta are in three and it may well not happen until May. Stay tuned.

Barcelona cut gap to just a point

Barcelona took full advantage of Madrid’s weekend off with a 3-0 stroll past Athletic Bilbao to cut the gap at the top to just a single point. However, it was not as easy as it sounds, Marc-Andre ter Stegen had to push Raul Garcia’s shot onto the post in the third minute before Inaki Williams headed wide when it seemed easier to score. Barca made them pay, Paco Alcacer finally opening his Liga account for his new club, six months after arriving, before Lionel Messi and Aleix Vidal sealed the win. To top a good day for Barca, they became the first club in Europe’s top five leagues to hit 100 goals for the season, while Lionel Messi now tops the scoring charts along with Luis Suarez on 16 goals, both men are now 5/4 to finish the season as La Liga’s top scorer.

Torres too good for Leganes

Fernando Torres was back in the goals and Atletico Madrid back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Leganes. The former Chelsea man tapped home the first after Antoine Griezmann’s penalty had been saved – his third penalty miss of the season and he’s now missed five of the seven penalties he’s taken for Atleti. Don’t be surprised if someone else takes the next one. No matter, Torres was on hand to make the points safe, he’s now scored 100 Liga goals for Atletico, but these were his first since September a run of 11 games without a goal.

Nasri the villain as Sevilla slip up again

Sevilla may have beaten Madrid just three weeks ago but that memory is fading fast with Jorge Sampaoli’s side dropping points again.  In a tight encounter, Samir Nasri had the best opportunity to claim the three points from the penalty spot. However, the Frenchman saw his kick saved by Sergio Asenjo who also saved magnificently from Vicente Iborra so Sevilla remain third, three points behind Madrid, having played two games more and with title hopes fading.

Garcia lights up Eibar’s win over Valencia

Dani Garcia thumped in a contender for goal of the season as Eibar thrashed Valencia 4-0. The midfielder smashed home a spectacular volley from the edge of the box to end Valencia’s mini-revival under Voro.  The visitors were awful in truth and lie 19th, although they are six points off the drop zone. There was more embarrassment after the match too, club ambassador Mario Kempes sacked for having the temerity to point out how awful they’d been.

Piatti inspires Espanyol again

It was the Pablo Piatti show once again for Espanyol. The in-form attacker scored a wonderful winner to make it three wins in a row. The 27-year-old now has seven goals and seven assists for his club this season – that’s almost half their 29 goals.

Granada off the bottom

Valencia may be bad but Sporting are worse, the strugglers slipped to a 4-2 defeat to Alaves on Sunday and remain five points short of safety while below them Osasuna lost 3-2 to Real Sociedad. However, bottom side Granada picked up a 1-0 win over Las Palmas courtesy of a fine strike by Manchester United loanee Andreas Pereira. Jese, a late substitute for the visitors, could and should have equalised but missed a sitter ensuring Granada move above Osasuna and level on points with Sporting.

All La Liga Results, Week 20:

Deportivo P-P Real Betis
Malaga 0-1 Espanyol
Barcelona 3-0 Athletic Bilbao
Atletico Madrid 2-0 Leganes
Valencia 0-4 Eibar
Sevilla 0-0 Villarreal
Sporting Gijon 2-4 Alaves
Real Sociedad 3-2 Osasuna
Celta Vigo P-P Real Madrid
Granada 1-0 Las Palmas

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gill Clark


Gill is a freelance football writer who has spent many years working for Goal, writing and editing news, previews, match reports, ratings, live blogs and just about anything else she can get her hands on.

She now contributes to a variety of online publications, including Soccernews, predominantly covering the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A.

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