La Liga wrap: Lionel Messi breaks yet another goal-scoring record
La Liga wrap: Tom Wellman reflects on a busy weekend in Spain, as Barcelona star Lionel Messi set yet another record
Messi does the unthinkable
Celta Vigo was the only La Liga club Lionel Messi had failed to score against this season, but the Ballon d’Or winner broke yet another record in the 2-2 draw on Saturday. Messi becomes the first player in Spanish football history to achieve the astonishing feat of scoring in 19 consecutive matches in the process. In total, Messi has 42 La Liga strikes so far this season, and 56 in all competitions, with many more set to come in their nine remaining league games – and the latter rounds of the Champions League to come! However, the draw in Vigo, courtesy of a late Borja Oubina header, was a disappointing result for Barca but an excellent one for struggling Celta. Tito Vilanova missed the game, still recovering from cancer treatment, but will take charge in Paris for the Champions League last-eight first-leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night.
Madrid’s strikers low on confidence after Zaragoza draw
With the exception of Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid’s deputy attacking forces, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuaín, have shown irregular form over the course of the season. Jose Mourinho’s lack of faith in his misfiring strikers is beginning to show as he kept Benzema, who was booed in midweek by France supporters, on the bench during the 1-1 draw with Zaragoza. Despite Higuaín’s brace against Mallorca two weeks ago, his form since his return from injury has been patchy with just four goals in 10 La Liga games. In a sloppy encounter, Luka Modrić gifted Zaragoza possession which led to their opening goal inside six minutes. Ronaldo did level but the stubborn Zaragoza defence held solid to claim a surprise draw. It marked another disappointing day in a forgettable league campaign for Madrid.
Deportivo beat Mallorca in relegation six-pointer
Following their morale-boosting win over rivals Celta Vigo last matchday, Deportivo La Coruna made it two wins in a row following a vital victory against fellow strugglers Mallorca. Depor had looked dead and buried before their two wins and are now just four points from safety. Goals from Sílvio, Carlos Marchena and Riki cancelled out João Victor’s opener before Emilio Nsue grabbed a late consolation to make it 3-2. These two results have given Depor an almighty lift and thrown them back into contention to avoid the drop. On the otherhand, Mallorca find themselves right back in the mix again after a harrowing defeat which sees them slip a place to 19th as a result of Celta’s point with Barcelona. Despite all the financial difficulties this season, Deportivo have the momentum and optimism to believe they could perform a ‘great escape’.
Atletico miss chance to capitalise on Real’s slip-up
Atletico Madrid won every match at home until three weeks ago but couldn’t get back to winning ways against Valencia at the Vicente Calderon. Real Sociedad ended Atletico’s 100 per cent record at home by winning 1-0, and despite Real Madrid dropping points leaving second place up for grabs, Diego Simeone’s side couldn’t take advantage. Jonas gave Valencia the lead after five minutes, but within 60 seconds, Radamel Falcao responded by beating the offside trap to dispatch his 21st of the season. They remain just a single point behind Real while Valencia continues their push for Champions League football, two points adrift of Real Sociedad in fourth.
Resolute Getafe edge towards Europe
Getafe have hovered around mid-table for the majority of the season but they are beginning to put a promising run of results together to give them a huge chance of qualifying for Europe next year. The Madrid based team have managed to keep four consecutive clean sheets and the draw with Betis on Monday night extended their unbeaten streak to six games. In their past 11 games, Getafe have tasted defeat just twice – against Real Madrid and Barcelona – remaining unbeaten and tough to beat in every other game. Built on their stern defence, Getafe’s balance and organisation has been key to their run and made them a fearsome opposition at home. Their recent improvement away from home could be the change that secures a Europa League spot at the end of the season.