Madrid sides in bore draw and Barcelona get first away win

Joao Felix during the Madrid Clasico (0-0)
Joao Felix trying to get past Carvajal, during the goalless draw of this weekend. Credits: EPA

The La Liga fixture list promised an exciting weekend with the Madrid derby set to take center stage. However, it was, in fact, a pretty dull affair with both teams being extra defensive.

Whilst the result didn’t materialize, plenty of others stepped up to the plate to ensure we were not disappointed.

Real remain top despite Madrid derby snooze fest

Real made the short trip to the Wanda Metropolitano to take on city rivals Atletico Saturday evening but, unlike their pre-season 7-3 goal-fest, the game ended in a goalless draw.

In the first half, Joao Felix and Toni Kroos both had two efforts on goal. Whilst Felix failed to trouble Thibaut Courtois in the Real goal, Kroos forced Jan Oblak into a couple of low saves to keep things level.

In the second half, the match remained tight with Real perhaps edging it. The introduction of Luka Modric livened the game up and his switch of play brought about the best chance. Oblak produced a fine stop to keep Karim Benzema’s glancing header out.

The derby was hardly one that will live long in the memory but Zinedine Zidane will be happy to remain on top of the pile.

Meanwhile, Atletico will head to Moscow tomorrow for Champions League matchday. Real Madrid also plays this Tuesday, in a home clash against Club Brugge.

10-man Barca win at Getafe

Barcelona netted either side of half time to overcome a Getafe side who were made to pay the price for some questionable goalkeeping.

It was the home side who had the best opportunity but Marc-Andre Ter Stegen denied Angel when the forward should have perhaps done better.

Surprisingly, it was Ter Stegen who provided the assist for Luis Suarez to open the scoring on 41. Suarez chased the long clearance downfield and a hesitant David Soria came rushing off his line making it easy for the Uruguayan forward to lift the ball into the net.

Getafe was far from out of the match but just four minutes after the restart they had a mountain to climb. Soria fumbled Carles Perez’s long-range strike and Junior Firpo pounced to prod home for 2-0.

With a two-goal lead, Barca was in control but a rash and unnecessary challenge from Clement Lenglet saw him collect his second yellow card and left his team to see out the remaining eight minutes with 10 men.

On matchday 7, Barcelona finally gets an away win, after two losses and 1 draw. Next, they will host Internazionale in Camp Nou, on Wednesday, in what promises to be the headliner of this week Champions League group matches.

Granada continue grand start

Granada overcame a stubborn Leganes resistance to maintain their terrific start to the La Liga campaign at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes. After a win against Barcelona last weekend and a draw midweek against Valladolid, they made it 4 wins in 7 matches.

Neither side crafted a clear-cut opening in the early stages, but the hosts have gifted the lead on 28 when Roberto Soldado got the better of Leganes center-back Kenneth Omeruo.

After a long ball, Jose Diaz was left with a routine finish when Soldado squared. Juan Soriano had vacated his net in a misjudged attempt to claim in the earlier phase.

The visitors were hardly relentless in their attempt to find an equalizer, but Rui Silva produced a double stop to keep his side in front. The home side then survived a penalty shout for handball but, ultimately, the one goal proved enough.

They are now 3rd, tied in points with Atletico Madrid.

Bilbao unbeaten streak was broken by Valencia

Athletic Bilbao hosted Valencia looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the season. It seemed like the odds were in their favor since Valencia hasn’t found their form after the dismissal of Marcelino Toral.

Still, Athletic found themselves behind on 27 when Denis Cheryshev applied the final touch to a slick passing move.

Bilbao pushed for a leveler but Inaki Williams was denied on three occasions. First Jasper Cillensen was alert to prevent an effort in at his near post, then he blocked well with his body and Williams only managed to hit the post with his follow up.

Finally, Cillensen made it a hat-trick of saves tipping Williams’ low drive around his post.

Athletic drop to 7th and Valencia climb to 9th. The latter will face Ajax next Wednesday, for Champions League and they will hope to get back to back wins, after their victory over Chelsea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI7Y3jH46kA

Villarreal hit five to batter Betis

Real Betis probably traveled home from their Friday night match with Villarreal feeling somewhat sorry for themselves. Their fairly evenly contested affair ended in a crushing defeat.

The two sides were coming from opposite midweek fortunes. Villarreal fought bravely over Barcelona but lost, Real Betis had snatched a home win over Levante.

The first half offered little insight into who would emerge victoriously. A powerfully placed header by Karl Toko Ekambi from a Santi Cazorla corner gave the hosts a 38th-minute lead.

Straight after the break Betis pulled level with a deflected effort from Brazilian fullback Emerson. For a short, while it looked like the visitors would flip the game in their favor but for two good saves from Sergio Asenjo and then the clinical offense of Villarreal would kill the match.

Cazorla netted from the spot on 68 following a foul by Zouhair Feddal. Eight minutes later Ekambi bagged his second of the evening, coolly sliding the ball beyond Joel Robles after Gerard Moreno had played him in.

It wasn’t until injury time that Villarreal rubbed salt into the Betis wounds though. First, on 92 Moreno cut in on to his left foot and beat Robles nestling the ball into Robles’ right-hand corner and two minutes later Samuel Chukwueze did exactly the same to wrap up a convincing win.

The Yellow Submarine climb to 8th place and Real Betis drop to 15th. A shocking start of the season, for a team that was tipped for greatness after impressive Summer signings.

Sevilla beat Sociedad in five-goal thriller

The final game of the weekend saw Sevilla host Real Sociedad in a match that pitted two of the early season form sides against one another. Lopetegui’s Sevilla was until recently top of the table, but have crumbled lately, with 2 consecutive defeats.

Sociedad, on the other end, was nearly unstoppable and if they had won this evening, they would be top of the table.

Real Sociedad got off to a flying start on just four minutes when Adnan Januzaj sliced the home defense apart with one pass and Mikel Oyarzabal finished the first time. Sevilla didn’t take too long to respond though. On the 18, Nolito met the pass of Ever Banega to half-volley into the corner of the net.

The sides remained level through to half time but within two minutes of reappearing from the tunnel, the hosts took the lead for the first time. Lucas Ocampos tricked his way past two defenders before unleashing a lethal drive-in at the near post.

Both sides had chances to add to the score but neither took them and then with 10 minutes remaining Sevilla seemed to set themselves up for an easy finish. One sub, Alejandro Pozo, whipped in a low cross that Miguel Moya failed to hold and another sub, Franco Vazquez poked in.

That comfortable close to the game soon evaporated when Sociedad pulled a goal back on 87 through Portu, who hit a smart finish across Tomas Vaclik. Despite a few chewed fingernails, Sevilla saw the final moments through.

With the wasted occasion and their second defeat of the season, Real Sociedad drops to 5th place. Meanwhile, Lopetegui’s Sevilla holds to 6th. The Andalusians are back in action this Thursday, hosting APOEL from Cyprus, for Europa League group stages.

Struggling Espanyol pay the penalty in defeat to Valladolid

Espanyol’s poor start to the season continued with a home defeat at the hands of Real Valladolid. The hosts were inches from taking an early lead when Jonathan Calleri saw his side-footed effort come back off the post but their luck went from bad to worse on 25.

Victor Sanchez was adjudged to have handled whilst challenging for a header in his own box and Michel stepped up to roll the penalty home to give Valladolid the lead.

In the second half, Calleri went close to restoring parity in the game but Jordi Masip was down smartly to save. Then the hill Espanyol was climbing became a mountain on 65.

Fernando Calero, who was the deepest Espanyol player, was caught in possession by Sergi Guardiola and, as Guardiola raced towards goal, Calero hauled him to the ground. The score remained 0-1 but the home side was down to 10 men.

As the referee was counting down the seconds to full time there was still time for one more piece of the action/ Oscar Plano slammed a textbook volley across Diego Lopez and into the corner of the net for 0-2.

The Catalan side is now in 18th and they are a shadow of what they were last season. Meanwhile, Real Valladolid climbs to 10th.

Five games without a win for Celta

Celta Vigo traveled to take on Eibar with the aim of getting back to winning ways after three draws and a defeat in their previous four games. Eibar was confident after a hard-fought win over Sevilla midweek.

There was nothing between the sides in the first period but within minutes of the restart, Eibar took the lead. Pablo de Blasis poked the ball through the lines and Edu Exposito deftly lifted the ball beyond Ruben Blanco who could only look over his shoulder to see the ball drop into his net.

On the hour mark Eibar doubled their advantage. Joseph Aidoo inexplicably tried to walk the ball out of defense and lost possession. Takashi Inui played it square to Fabian Orellana and he showed a cool head to steady himself before finishing past Blanco.

In stoppage time Celta Vigo had a chance to pull a goal back when Iago Aspas was tripped by Sergio Alvarez in the area. Aspas stepped up to take the resultant spot-kick but his ‘Panenka’ was weak, to say the least.

Marko Dmitrovic easily saved to ensure Eibar got a clean sheet as well as all three points (2-0).

Eibar is now 11th and Celta is 17th.

Late goals see Alaves past lowly Mallorca

Alaves hosted La Liga strugglers Mallorca on Sunday evening. The home side looked like they could be in for frustrating 90 minutes but two second-half goals saw them emerge victoriously.

Mallorca went close to taking the initiative when Ante Budimir saw his 20-yard strike cannon off the post following a neat one-two with Aleix Febas.

The away side was standing resolute but on 76 Alaves were handed a golden chance to get their noses in front. After consulting VAR, Lago Junior was deemed to have fouled Tomas Pina – an award that looked soft.

Lucas Perez sent Manolo Reina the wrong way to make it 1-0. 10 minutes later Joselu made the points safe converting from close range after Oliver Burke provided an inviting cross.

Alaves runs from the danger zone of La Liga table and is now 14th, while Mallorca drops to 19th.

Levante and Osasuna share the points

Levante and Osasuna came into their game with the same points and same goal difference. So, a draw was the most obvious outcome. Fans might have changed their thoughts when Levante scored inside five minutes.

Jorge Miramon crossed from the right and Hernani arrived unmarked at the back post to sweep home. Hernani, signed to Porto this Summer, scored for the second match in a row.

Osasuna rallied but were denied by a combination of the woodwork and smart keeping from Aitor Fernandez. Eventually, though the visitors found their way through.

Ruben Garcia was the man who beat Fernandez after controlling, albeit somewhat luckily, a lofted pass. With half an hour still on the clock, it was all to play for.

On 72 the match shifted further in favor of the away team. Levante goal scorer Hernani, who was already on a yellow card, went from hero to villain.

He was chasing back and got his timing all wrong as he attempted to halt the breaking run of Chimy Avila. Thankfully for Hernani, his side stood firm and saw the game out.

Osasuna looks like an interesting side to watch though. Besides being 13th, they have only lost once – to leaders Real Madrid – and they have 5 draws in 7 matches.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHSiu1GqswM

La Liga schedule returns next weekend, with Real Madrid hosting Granada in an interesting match between leaders and the sensation team. Barcelona hosts Sevilla in what seems like a must-watch affair too.

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