La Liga Week 2: Real Madrid Stumble But Lionel Messi Marches On

By | August 28, 2017
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THINGS JUST GOT REAL FOR ZIDANE

Real Madrid vs Valencia is a fixture that has always guaranteed goals and Los Che have become something of a thorn in Los Blancos side in recent times. Just as last season when Marcelo dug them out of a hole late on, Real needed the in-form Marco Asensio to help salvage a point from this game.

The youngster, surely one of the bargains of all time at €3.5m, had already fired the hosts into an early lead with a trademark strike, but Zinedine Zidane’s side were pegged back by Carlos Soler and Geoffrey Kondogbia. Marcelino’s side were compact, diligent and hard-working, and Real’s harsh treatment of the referee merely disguised their own shortcomings. Sans Sergio Ramos, they were a rudderless ship at times.

Asensio’s 83rd-minute second to tie the scores at least preserves their unbeaten start, but after just two games, the champions are already playing catch up.

350 UP FOR MESSI

Last week Messi could’ve had a hat-trick but instead hit the woodwork three times. This week against Alavés, he hit the bar again (and missed a penalty), but had already scored two by that point – his 350th and 351st La Liga goals.

Though it took until the second half for Barca to take the lead at Mendizorroza, in truth they were good value for the win throughout. The hosts were tight, compact and defensive but the Blaugrana just worked the ball into the channels and stretched the play at will. Pacheco had seven shots on target to save in the first 45 alone.

Aleix Vidal showed why Ernesto Valverde preferred him over new signing Nelson Semedo on the ground where he dislocated his ankle last season, and Andres Iniesta returned after injury to complement a great all-round team performance.

ATLETI DO THE HOKEY KOKE

This was over as a contest before some supporters had even taken their seats. Just five minutes in and Diego Simeone’s side were already two goals to the good thanks to Angel Correa with his second in two games, and Yannick Carrasco.

An unexpected opening day draw away at Girona had clearly irked Cholo, and with the Wanda Metropolitano, Atleti’s new home, still not ready for a couple of weeks, the long trip south represented a real banana skin and the potential to lose their second game in a week.

Aside from the early quickfire double, the Rojiblancos stroked the ball around masterfully with Saul Niguez and Koke at the hub of everything. The latter’s work- rate was rewarded with two stunning strikes, an overhead kick the best of the bunch. Thomas Partey rounded off the 5-1 scoreline later on, Jonathan Calleri’s strike for the hosts, nothing more than a consolation.

MY MY MY GIRONA ….

It might be their first season in the Spanish top flight but Girona are going to take some beating if their first two games are anything to go by.

Montilivi Stadium was bouncing again, this time for the visit of Malaga, who’ve not had the best summer in terms of transfers. Michel, their coach, has verbalised quite clearly that this will be a long hard season, especially with their top scorer Sandro not being replaced, and the performance at Girona only served to cement those words.

The hosts played with much more purpose throughout and were first to virtually every ball. That it took until the 28th-minute for Pedro Alcala to open the scoring – and what proved to be the winner – was a surprise. Malaga were second best in almost every department and that’s already a worry after just two games.

SEVILLA ‘GETA’ EARLY WAKE UP CALL

A lot is expected of Eduardo Berizzo’s side this season, rightly so with the captures of Nolito, Jesus Navas and record buy Muriel. The Andalusian’s new coach forged his own reputation at Celta Vigo where his teams played on the front foot at all times. That was sorely lacking at Getafe as it was against Espanyol on the opening weekend.

Gabriel Mercado, Sevilla’s right-back, was the best player on the pitch which says much. It was he who provided the assist for Ganso to score the winner on 83 but the away side were far from convincing against Jose Bordalas’ newly-promoted outfit.

HONOURABLE MENTION

Deportivo blew a great chance to take all three points at Levante, racing into a two-goal lead through Cartabia and Sidnei inside the first 31 minutes. Enis Bardhi gave the hosts hope and despite Jose Luis Morales’ sending off, the hosts always looked the more likely in the second half. It was only a matter of time before an equaliser arrived, and it came courtesy of an 84th-minute penalty from Ivi to salvage Levante a point.

Source: The Sportsman

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