Atletico Madrid beat visiting Osasuna 3-1 to remain even with Barcelona FC, atop Spanish Football’s La Liga table, with 25 points. Real Madrid beat hosts Mallorca 5-0 to remain in fourth place, behind Malaga and the two tied on top.
Barcelona, with a Lionel Messi brace, beat hosts Rayo Vallecano 5-0 in a runaway yesterday that had both the typical Barca luck of the current season and passages worthy of the old best-team-on-the-planet (http://bit.ly/VxpWxX). The Catalans are on top and consistently seem to find a way to win, but with good fortune smiling so long on them will irony then catch up in the guise of some poor performances just as the likes of Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, and Dani Alves return to action?
Atletico, with Radamel Falcao scoring his 10th goal of the season controlled the game, but was still put to a physical test by Osasuna. The rough game was not put to rest until half way through the second half when Falcao scored the third and conclusive goal–a left footed volley from close in. This Madrid team has been playing at a high level for some time now and it will be good to see them measure themselves against the Madrid and Barcelona crowds in coming weeks.
Real Madrid, kept pace with their archrivals winning their match by the same score as the Catalans and with Ronaldo scoring his brace to reach eleven for the season. This was a motivated if not inspired Real, scoring two goals that seemed more at home at the Camp Nou than at the Bernabeu. They had moments when they played fantastic passing football that found the open man at the right time and place for an easy goal.
This was not the real Real, though, since it took a rare moment when all three offensive players connected for the two pretty goals. Meanwhile Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Maria Callejon took advantage of defensive miscues and Ronaldo made up for a short through pass by stretching to poke the ball in as the Mallorca goalie advanced. You get the feeling that had Kaka been in for the off-form Angel Di Maria, and had Marcelo been healthy on the wing, the score line would have been less a task.
Malaga (now at 18 points) drew 0-0 away with relegation zone dwellers Espanyol Barcelona, squandering a chance to open some space ahead of Real Madrid (at 17 points) and Real Betis (at 16 points). The Andalusians will have a harder time hosting motivated Rayo Vallecano next, as these visitors are historically tough opponents, need the points, and are coming off that embarrassing defeat to Barca.
Going into the 10th week Atletico play away at always tough Valencia, Barca host relatively less tough Celta Vigo, and Real Madrid host surprising Zaragoza. This might be a weekend for some upsets but the Catalans seem too lucky to mess up, and Real cannot afford a home letdown, so look for Atletico to have the toughest test.