Atletico Madrid the big winners last weekend
It was undoubtedly Atletico Madrid’s weekend as all title rivals surprisingly dropped points over another action packed and drama filled La Liga weekend.
Messi & co. kicked us off with a lunch time clash against, what have become over recent years almost a bogey team, Celta Vigo, in one of the most open end-to-end games of the season so far. Juan Carlos Unzue, who at one time looked Ernesto Valverde’s closest rival for the Barca job, got the dream start when he visitors took the lead through ex-Liverpool striker Iago Aspas. The Spanish international hammered home following a wonder save from Ter Stegen. Messi notched his 13th of the season almost immediately with a drilled nut meg finish before half time. For the second time in a week Barca can count themselves unlucky at the hand of the officials with Luis Suarez goal incorrectly ruled out for offside as an end to end first half came to an end.
The Messi-Alba combination came to fruition again in this one as the marauding full back squared for Suarez to tap home to make it 2-1. Disaster was to follow for the league leaders as arguably La Liga’s best centre half, possibly Europe’s, Samuel Umtiti, pulled up with a hamstring injury as Iago Aspas raced down the line and is now out for 8 weeks and out of El Clasico. Worse was to follow as Aspas got to the end lie, kept his composure cutting back to Maxi Gomez to equalize. The enthralling encounter finished 2-2, opening up a potential avenue for title rivals to close the gap.
Sergio Ramos received a club record 24th red card, 19th in la Liga, as Read Madrid were held to a 0-0 away at Athletic Bilbao in a pretty scrappy affair. Los Blancos drew yet another blank in front of goal, despite having the better chances in the first half hitting the post and Ronaldo failing to hit the target from 8 yards out with a left footed volley. Worryingly, their return of 25 goals at this stage of the season is Madrid’s lowest since 2006/2007 season, To their credit the hosts looked a constant threat throughout with the pacey Inaki Williams causing havoc, but on the balance of 90 minutes played, a draw was the fair result.
More worrying for Real Madrid is now the trio of Sergio Ramos, Casemiro and Dani Carvajal are all suspended for the visit of Sevilla next weekend as Zinedine Zidane’s squad is stretched even further.
The biggest shock of the weekend came at the Coliseum Alfonso Perezz as 10 man Getafe stunned high flying Valencia, running out 1-0 winners despite playing for over an hour with 10 men. Thus, ending a 13 game unbeaten run, which was last seen in 2001-2002 when Rafa Benitez side won the league.
Valencia started brightly and were given a massive boost midway through the first half, when Mauro Arambarri received his second yellow for a reckless challenge but were unable to capitalize on the man advantage. Somewhat against the run of play, Markel Bergara’s long range effort was deflected past the helpless Neto. Getafe fought bravely to hold on for a valuable three points and in doing so, leave the visitors trailing Barcelona by 5 points.
Atletico Madrid were the big winners this weekend snatching a huge 2-1 win at home to Real Sociedad, with Antoine Griezmann the hero finishing bravely at the back post. The home side found themselves one nil down at the break following Willian Jose’s brilliantly taken penalty after star man Oyarzabal was brought to ground by Oblak. Atleti equalized through the hugely unlikely source of Felipe Luis right foot, after being tee’d up by the impressive Saul. Griezmann’s last winner ensured Cholo Simeone’s side stretched their unbeaten run to 18, equaling their best ever run in La Liga. This massive victory saw Atletico cut the gap between themselves and top spot to just 6 points as the title race really starts to heats up.