Friday, April 20, 2018

Celta Vigo 2-2 Real Madrid: Bale scores twice but Real lose more ground on Barcelona

Benjamin Darvill in Editorial, La Liga 7 Jan 2018

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What a game it turned out to be as Sunday in La Liga was brought to a close in gripping fashion. Two sides that have very similar philosophies with their preference to attacking football took one another on, and they did not disappoint as Celta Vigo and Real Madrid drew 2-2.

Celta Vigo started the better of the two sides as they had a number of chances early on, but they saw these opportunities go begging. Daniel Wass was able to latch onto a perfectly weighted pass to chip Keylor Navas, but his goal was cancelled out by Gareth Bale ,who scored twice in quick succession.

Aspas was given another chance in the second-half, but he saw the penalty he won saved by Navas. Maxi Gomez was able to power a header into the back of the net late on, and that is how the scoreline stayed as the two sides were forced to share the points.

The draw means that Real are now a massive 16 points short of Barcelona at the top, while Celta are just seven clear of the relegation zone. While the draw was a fair result, it has not helped either team.

Aspas misses a glorious chance before Wass makes Real pay

What a moment it could have been for Iago Aspas as he almost gave his side the perfect start within the opening 12 minutes. Hugo Mallo swung in a delicious cross that evaded Real Madrid’s defenders as it bent towards Aspas who’s strike was fierce and true. However, instead of nestling in the back of the net, it cannoned off the post.

Through the replays, some might question whether Aspas should have done better as he was largely unchallenged as he went to hit the ball. Indeed, it would have been just rewards for Celta who started the game very well as they looked to take the game to Real Madrid and utilise their ability in front of goal, which has seen them score 30 goals before the match had started.

However, Madrid could not escape twice, and they were made to pay and in some style. It was a moment of magic from Celta as they exploited Marcelo’s penchant to attack by counter-attacking Real’s left-hand side. The ball was quickly played out to Aspas, and his weight of pass allowed Wass to pick the ball up in space, and with Keylor Navas advancing, the midfielder delicately chipped the ball over the goalkeeper to open the scoring. It was a display of outrageous skill and composure, with Celta deservedly ahead.

Bale at the double

Gareth Bale has been a much-maligned figure during his time at Real Madrid despite scoring vital goals in the Champions League and Copa del Rey. His injuries have curtailed so much of his time in Spain, with some sections of the fans turning on him as he has spent more time in the treatment room than he has the pitch.

However, his return to the side has come in conjunction with a return to form for Real, who have found scoring difficult this season. His double was enough to put the away side in front at the end of the half-time, and it displayed the class of the player.

The Welshman’s first saw a Bale make a run perfectly as he beat the offside trap to latch onto Toni Kroos’s ball and poke home around the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner to level the scores. His next goal once again saw the forward beat the offside trap as Isco’s lofted-pass was played into the path of the former most expensive player in the world, and he stabbed a delicious finish into the back of the net.

It has been so long since Bale has been able to do what he does best that many have forgotten how good he can be, but the two chances he had, he took. Both goals were displays of just how clinical he can be, and with Karim Benzema misfiring massively, could Bale fill that role up-front?

Can Bale and Ronaldo play together?

From this game, all that mattered to Real Madrid was the three points. The gap between themselves and Barcelona has been growing with each passing game, and before the match, it stood at a massive 17 points. Of course, Real had two games in hand, but they could ill afford to see the gap stay the same.

Real’s struggles across the pitch have been well documented this season, and their normally so incisive attack has been poor to say the least, netting just 30 times in 17 games. In fact, Real, with all of their millions and superbly gifted players had scored the same amount of goals as their opponents, who were sitting in 14th before the game began.

Benzema’s struggles have been well-documented this season, while Ronaldo has also been very poor. Bale’s return to the starting XI saw the Welshman score twice, but the two rarely linked up in the game. Ronaldo was very quiet throughout the match as he barely touched the ball, and his first real effort was a tame shot the was straight at the goalkeeper, while neither of Bale’s goals were assisted by the Portuguese player.

Is Ronaldo feeling the troubles of age? Or can the two just not play together? These are questions Madrid must look to answer.

Keylor Navas plays the villain and the hero in the space of two minutes

It was a moment of madness from Keylor Navas as he rushed off his line to close the angles on Iago Aspas, but the forward knocked the ball around the goalkeeper before being hauled down unceremoniously, which gave Aspas the chance to punish Navas and score his second goal.

However, Navas was not to be made a fool twice as he dived to his right and got a strong hand to the ball to send it away from the goal and danger. Questions will be raised over Navas’ starting position, as he was clearly a number of yards off the line before Aspas had struck the penalty, but it did not matter as Navas saved his own blushes to keep the score at 2-1.

A frantic end to the game

Maxi Gomez was able to make amends for Aspas’ miss as he was given the freedom of the Real penalty area as he waltzed into the middle of the goal to power a header into the back of the net. Daniel Wass was the architect as his pinpoint cross was perfectly placed onto the head of Gomez, but questions must be asked of Real’s defence with the centre-backs nowhere to be seen.

Aspas then went down under Marcelo’s challenge in the box with the home fans screaming for a penalty, but the referee waved away the calls. Real then had two chances to win the game, but they were unable to take either. Ronaldo was guilty of choosing the wrong option as he smashed the ball towards the near post instead of towards the massive expanse at the far post. Marco Asensio then had a glorious chance to win the game right at the death, but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper.

In the end, the point was fair for both sides, but it leaves Real a massive 16 points short of Barcelona with just one game in hand.

Celta Vigo: Blanco 7  – Mallo 7, Roncaglia 7, Cabral 7, Castro 7 – Wass 7.5 (Sanchez 5), Radoja 7 (Lobotka 6), Hernandez 7 – Aspas 8, Gomez 7.5, Sisto 7 (Mor 6).

Unused subs: Alvarez, Fontas, Gomez, Mendez.

Real Madrid: Navas 7.5 – Hakimi 6, Varane 6, Nacho 6, Marcelo 5 – Modric 6 (Vazquez 6), Casemiro 6, Kroos 6.5 – Isco 6 (Kovacic 6) – Ronaldo 5, Bale 7 (Asensio 5).

Unused subs: Casilla, Vallejo, Hernandez, Mayoral.

Referee: Santiago Jaime Latre

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Benjamin Darvill


Ben is an English and creative writing graduate that is now working his way up in the world of sports journalism. Having been writing for the last four years, Ben has written for a number of websites specialising in sport, with football a particular passion. He is a long-suffering England fan and eternal optimist when it comes to the Three Lions.

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