La Liga Race: Sloppy FC Barcelona makes way for Real Madrid
Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are arch rivals in European football and La Liga in particular! This week the two sides were on show for mid week fixtures.
The Los Blancos travelled to Basque country to face Athletic Club and this was termed by many as the first stern test for Rafa Benitez and his star studded lineup. The hosts came into the limelight courtesy a brilliant display during the Spanish super cup where they defeated the mighty Barcelona side to lift the title. The match started with the hosts starting positively and came close to scoring but Frenchman Varane denied them. A lucky break for Real Madrid came in the 19th minute when San Jose made a terrible mistake at the back as he gifted possession to Karim Benzema who made not mistake in tucking a low finish beyond the goal keeper. The hosts were not able to equalize before the referee blew the whistle for half time.
In the second half the Athletic Club came out with the vigor and determination to score and be competitive and after numerous shots fired at goal they managed to equalize via beautiful header from Sabin Merino. Keylor Navas’s dream of a record 5th clean sheet was shattered through that goal. Cristiano Ronaldo tried to score but he missed a couple of great opportunities to increase his goal tally but it was safe to say that the night was the not the one the leading marksman in La Liga would have hoped for. The game was now wide open again and Athletic Cub was looking dangerous more than ever. This triggered the Madrid forward line as Isco dribbled down the right and a neat cross to Benzema who made the score sheet back in favor of the ten time European champions. Their opponents were not willing to give in just yet as they kept on creating chances and in the dying moments came very close to scoring but a brilliant one handed save form Navas tipped the ball over the bar. This was the last real threat from the home side as Real Madrid bagged an important victory away from home.
Meanwhile Barcelona met a vibrant Celta Vigo side away from home with a clear motive of securing all three points thus maintaining their unbeaten run in La Liga this season. The match began with the Catalan side holding possession and moving forward. A couple of shots at goal by Messi and Suarez were saved the Celta Keeper but as time passed Celta grew in confidence and creating chances. To everyone’s surprise Celta took the lead in 26th minute courtesy a neat strike from a former Barcelona player Nolito but the hosts did not sit back after taking the lead. In a matter of minutes Celta Vigo doubled the lead as Nolito supplied a clever pass to former Liverpool player Aspas who made no mistake and lobbed the ball over the oncoming Barca keeper Ter Stegen. The Barca team was static during the rest of half and hardly creating any chances. The score line stood at 2-0 at the end of first half.
FC Barcelona began the second half on a high note. The league toppers took a few shots at goal through Neymar and Messi as they came close to scoring but it was all in vain. Just when it looked that the FC Barcelona team was trying to assert their authority a counter attack by Celta lead to another well constructed goal which left the visitors in complete disarray as this goal was another evidence of a lack luster evening for Barca back four. Barca did manage to get a goal back through Neymar with a help of Messi but this was a little too late. Celta showed no signs of slowing down and got another goal in the bank which came from John Guidetti. The strange evening ended with Celta Vigo going away with all three points against reigning champions FC Barcelona. Before this match the Catalan side had only lost one of their previous 25 La Liga matches.
These important results meant that Real Madrid are now top of the pile in La Liga followed by Celta Vigo and Barcelona slip down to number 5 in the table. The teams will be out there again this weekend so interesting times ahead as the La Liga plot thickens.