La Liga wrap: Barcelona can’t keep pace with Real Madrid
Tom Wellman looks back at the weekend's action in La Liga
Barca unable to keep pace with Real after Getafe draw
After beating PSG in midweek, Barcelona went from sublime to ordinary as they were lacklustre against lowly Getafe. Luis Suarez continues to misfire as Barca were held to a goalless draw, halting their run of 8 consecutive wins. Not even Lionel Messi was able to inspire an insipid Barcelona to the win, as they have to make do without Neymar, who is injured until the New Year. Luis Enrique’s methods are coming under more scrutiny following his decision to change the team once again, losing the fluency built up in previous games as Javier Mascherano sat the game out on the bench. With Man City coming in February, Barca’s stars could be on the end of a scare if they continue to play this way.
Ronaldo double sends Madrid off to Morocco in high spirits
A 19th consecutive win keeps Real Madrid top of La Liga and four points ahead of Barcelona as Gareth Bale and Ronaldo starred at Almeria. The current European Champions, playing on Friday night as they head off to Morocco for the World Club Championships, were too strong for Almeria, and won 4-1 in southern Spain. Isco netted the opener, and although Almeria pegged them back, Bale and Ronaldo (2) again showed that Madrid’s awesome goalscoring power cannot be beaten. Carlo Ancelotti’s men now face Cruz Azul in northern Africa before a potential meeting with Argentinian side San Lorenzo and a chance of more silverware before Christmas.
Atletico lose first home game of 2014 to Villarreal
Atletico Madrid’s title hopes suffered a huge blow as Villarreal shocked the Vicente Calderon with an 85th minute winner. Luciano Vietto’s late strike earned the visitors a 1-0 win, the first time opposition has come away from Atleti with three points in 27 La Liga games. It was a remarkable smash and grab win for the Yellow Submarine, who had to sustain serious pressure late on from Atleti. However, it was all far too similar from the reigning champions, who have failed to show a real cutting edge all season. They piled forwards searching for a winner and inevitably left gaps at the back, perfect for Vietto to capitalise. It appears that the only La Liga side capable of scoring goals at will are Real Madrid at the moment.
Basque derby ends all square
David Moyes has never fared too well in derbies with Everton and Manchester United, but managed a respectable draw against Bilbao in his first Sociedad encounter. Carlos Vela was again Sociedad’s goalscorer, poaching a goal within just three minutes as Moyes’ men made the perfect start. Moyes had asked fans to start supporting his new side at home games, and he would have been suitably impressed by the raucous Anoeta stadium for the big derby. Bilbao grew into the game however and levelled through Oscar de Marcos, but a late red card for Aymeric Laporte gave Sociedad a real chance of victory. The last 10 minutes were frantic and scrappy but Sociedad couldn’t find a way through the 10-man Bilbao defence. Still, a marked improvement from last week’s 4-0 drubbing at Villarreal.