La Liga wrap: Lionel Messi closes in on Gerd Müller’s goal record
Lionel Messi is now just seven goals from equalling Gerd Müller's record goal tally for a calendar year. Tom Wellman reports
Messi edges closer to record as his double sinks Zaragoza
Now onto 78 strikes for 2012, Lionel Messi needs to eclipse 85 to break Gerd Müller’s record goal tally for a calendar year. His brace at the weekend also managed to fend off Real Zaragoza as as the Catalan side won 3-1 and kept their unbeaten record intact. Messi scored the opener before Zaragoza equalised through Paco Montanes, however, the Argentina international squared the ball to Alex Song to make it 2-1 then added another with a beautiful curling shot. There are five La Liga matches, plus two Champions League matches before the end of 2012 and Messi should reach the target with games to spare!
Real batter Bilbao in fifth successive victory
Following the narrow escape at Levante last week, Real Madrid stormed back against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, thumping the Basque club 5-1 at the Bernabeu. The victory means Madrid have won every game since drawing with Barcelona, and have caught up with their rivals’ goal difference. Although the deficit remains at eight points, Madrid are finally showing consistency after a troubled beginning. Goals from Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira, alongside a Jon Aurtenetxe own goal, gave Real their emphatic victory in four games. Bilbao are a shadow of the team they were last season and their misery could be compounded by an almost imminent exit from the Europa League this week.
Sevilla take bragging rights in one-sided derby
These encounters usually produce tight, tepid affairs but from Jose Antonio Reyes’ first-minute strike, the Seville derby was destined to be won by only one team. Adrián San Miguel’s poor clearance in the initial seconds gifted Reyes an opener and began some woeful defending from a poor RelalBetis side. By half-time, it was 4-0 to Sevilla as Federico Fazio and Reyes had completed braces and the Betis fans had all but been resigned to an embarrassing defeat to their fierce rivals. Ruben Castro grabbed a consolation in the second half but Ivan Rakitić consigned Betis to their first derby defeat in four years.
Mallorca end losing streak with Celta draw
Since a blistering start to the season, Mallorca have stumbled of late, recording six defeats in a row and slipping to 15th in La Liga. Much of the early season form was thanks to the goal scoring form of Israeli frontman Tomer Hemed and it was he who scored first against Celta Vigo at Balaídos. Arsenal loan star Park Chu-Young struck back as the game ended in a draw but at least Mallorca have seen the end of their miserable run of defeats, though a first win away from home would have been even better.
Malaga unable to recapture early season form
Champions League exploits aside, Malaga have performed admirably this season as they sit in fifth spot having conceded the joint lowest amount of goals this season. The southerners avoided defeat until an unlucky 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in October but have endured an indifferent spell over the past few weeks. A 0-0 draw with Espanyol raised a couple of eyebrows but their focus turned to the next game against Rayo Vallecano at home. Rayo pulled off a shock win, only Malaga’s second defeat of the season including European competition. As if in shock by their win over AC Milan, Malaga lost another home game to lowly Real Sociedad before drawing with second-bottom Osasuna this week. A run of easy, winnable games rarely comes about and having picked up just two points from 12, their hopes of earning a Champions League spot next season may be affected by this sticky spell.