Football

La Liga review: Mind the gap Messi

Messi celebrates his winner for Barca. (©GettyImages)
Messi celebrates his winner for Barca. (©GettyImages).

With 24 games gone and ten points still the gap from Real Madrid, is it time for Pep Guardiola to conjure up some serious changes to his club?

Barcelona understood the importance of keeping their composure against Atletico Madrid, with Dani Alves setting the tone for the match in the 36th minute, with his goal delivered from Cesc Fabregas. However, 5th place Atletico’s Radamel Falcao returned the favour just after half-time.

Lionel Messi exhibited his world class talent when he closed the match - a stunning free-kick to carry Barcelona to a 2-1 victory. How much more can Messi carry his team?

Real Madrid snuck past Rayo Vallecano with a 1-0 win. Cristiano Ronaldo put the ball in the back of the net the only way he knows how, with creativity and flare.

A back heel behind Joel Vasquez for his 29th goal of the season proved the difference, whilst Iker Casillas displayed poise with brilliant saves recording a clean sheet.

Racing Santander shared the spoils in a 1-1 with Sporting de Gijon. Barrall opened the scoring with a goal for Gijon, but Stuani’s timely penalty kick tied the match.

Real Betis found the back of the net twice against Getafe; unfortunately, the defender Dorado’s own goal tied the match at 1-1.

Bottom of the league Zaragoza didn’t help their cause with an embarrassing 5-1 defeat against Malaga. Ironically, it was 1-1 at half-time. Malaga was relentless in the second-half, pouring on 4 more goals to exploit the weak defence of Zaragoza.

Levante pushed forward in the table after Ruben Suarez scored a crucial goal in the 89th minute, devastating Espanyol’s chances of moving into the top 4 with a 2-1 win.

Elsewhere, there was an extremely competitive and captivating match in El Madrigal Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. Marcos Senna opened the scoring for Villarreal early in the first half, and it took a little over 50 minutes until there were three goals in 7 minutes.

Fernando Llorente scored for Bilbao, and his strike was followed-up by his team-mate Susaeta just 4 minutes after. Brazilian Nilmar put one past the keeper for the Yellow Submarine moments later, earning a point for the hosts.

Jesus Navas and Gary Medel’s performances were the key for Los Rojiblancos against Valencia in a 2-1 win at the Mestalla.

Osasuna claimed a 2-1 victory at home over Granada. Granada continue to struggle away from home, making that their 9th away defeat out of 12. All three goals were in the first-half by Nekounam and Lekic for the hosts, and Mikel Rico for the visitors.

 

Striker Agirretxe was the only scorer against Mallorca for Real Sociedad, giving his side 3 points this week against a side struggling to score with just 23 strikes this season (6 less than Ronaldo).

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