Hamish Colley sums up this week’s La Liga action
It was a return to winning ways in La Liga for Barcelona as they recorded a comfortable 4-0 win over Osasuna that will likely be remembered for Lionel Messi’s emotional tribute to the late, great Diego Maradona. The Argentine number 10 paid tribute to another former Barcelona and Argentina number 10 following his 73rd-minute strike by removing his shirt and unveiling a vintage Newell’s Old Boys Diego Maradona jersey in what will be remembered as one of the most touching tributes to the great man.
The win for Barcelona took them up to 7th in La Liga, only 3 points behind Real Madrid who suffered another embarrassing loss, this time at the hands of Alaves. The Basque club stunned Los Blancos with a 2-1 at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano with Eden Hazard suffering a further injury setback just 28 minutes in. Madrid conceded their 5th penalty in just 3 games early on as Nacho handled the ball in his own area and Lucas Perez made no mistake in sending Alaves into an early lead. It went from bad to worse for Madrid as academy graduate Joselu bit the hand that used to feed him and put Alaves 2-0 up following Thibaut Courtois’ distribution error. Casemiro was an unlikely goalscorer for Madrid as they pulled a goal back in the 86th minute but it was to no avail as Madrid again slipped up in their pursuit of leaders Real Sociedad.
Sociedad failed to extend their lead at the top of La Liga with an even 1-1 draw against fellow title contenders Villarreal. Both teams netted first-half penalties that consolidates the sides in the top 4 but opened up the door for a surging Atletico Madrid. Atleti recorded their 5th consecutive win with a 1-0 victory over asset-stripped Valencia that leaves them just a point behind leaders Sociedad with 2 games in hand. It wasn’t pretty by Simeone’s men, but it very rarely is as Toni Lato’s own goal meant Atleti remain undefeated in La Liga and on course to concede just 8 goals over the 38 game season. Atletico Madrid are also in a unique position this season for not having trailed for a single minute in their league campaign so far.
Elsewhere in La Liga, minnows Eibar continue to punch above their weight with a 2-0 victory away at Real Betis thanks to a clinical 5-minute spell just after half time that extended Betis’ poor run and condemned the league’s worst defence to a potential relegation battle. A late flurry from Celta Vigo took them off the foot of the table with a 3-1 victory over a fatigued Granada side following a tough Europa League battle with Cypriot side Omonoia Nicosia and many Granada players returning from Covid-19 enforced breaks.
In the middle of the pack, Getafe and Athletic Club played out a 1-1 draw with either side failing to show they have the quality to break into the European places.
Meanwhile, at the bottom, Levante and Valladolid drew 1-1 with both teams settling for a vital point that could come in handy in their continued battle to remain in the top flight. Elche and Cadiz battled to yet another 1-1 draw, with Cadiz continuing their dream first season back in La Liga, finding themselves just a point behind Sevilla in the automatic Europa League qualification places.
Sevilla ground out a hard-fought 1-0 victory over winless Huesca who find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table and staring relegation back to the Segunda in the face. Youssef En-Nesyri’s late strike keeps Sevilla in touch with the top 4 with the Andalusian side chasing consecutive top 4 finishes for the first time since 2010.
Written by Hamish Colley (@HamishColley)