El Centrocampista

MESSI, RONALDO AND RAÚL GARCÍA – The Osasuna hitman proves his weight in goals

By Richard Thorburn

While the emergence of Levante in La Liga this season may have come as a surprise to all but the most fanatical follower of Los Granotes, the fight for this season’s Pichichi Trophy has already fallen to type.

With Ronaldo and Messi predictably leading the race on ten goals apiece and with Higuain, Falcao and Saldado making up the top five, it would appear that the cream has risen to the top early on.

And although the goals of these iconic talismans may ultimately decide which direction the La Liga trophy ends up, it is perhaps the goals of others whom are of greater note to teams who are reliant upon their marksmen to stay in the division.

While another hat-trick from the genius that is Messi may well be stunning to watch, when Barcelona are already three nil up his goals, although worthy, are not as essential in the same way that a late winner for a side for whom three points is critical.

With the majority of ‘six point’ games being relatively cagey affairs due to the importance for both teams, that one moment of inspiration is often the difference between winning and losing.

Last season only four points separated ninth and 18th place in the La Liga table, it is little surprise that goals are of upmost importance.

They are the difference between dining at Spain’s top table for another season or being forced to eat the scraps in the Segunda division.

Last season Osasuna flirted with the trap door with regular frequency but eventually avoided relegation with a magnificent run of four wins from their last six games.

In three of those games the points were secured by a single solidarity goal with Alvaro Cejudo proving to be the hero last May.

Along with their inability to win an away game until March, Osasuna lacked a regular goal scorer last season with Kike Sola finishing as top goal scorer with a mere seven goals.

This year however things are slightly different with Los Rojillos reacquainting themselves with a familiar face in midfielder Raul Garcia.

The 25-year-old is back in Pamplona after his big money move to Athletic Madrid proved less than successful and has marked his arrival back at the Reyno de Navarra stadium with a bang.

Four goals in seven games thus far has seen the former Spanish under 21 international rise up the goal scoring charts and currently sits pretty in joint seventh place.

A product of the Osasuna youth academy, Garcia’s return should help, at the very minimum, to inspire his boyhood club to yet another season of survival in the top flight.

The more optimistic Osasuna faithful may well be hoping that his reunion coincides with an upturn in fortunes similar to the one that they, and Raul Garcia, enjoyed in 2006 when they reached the UEFA Champions League spots.

Garcia may have played second fiddle to Tiago Mendes at Athletic Madrid, but here is emerging as the star man.

Any Osasuna fans, who may have been disappointed with him moving to the bright lights of Madrid, have been quickly appeased.

More goals and performances like the ones so far this season and they will soon be digging out the posters, cups, and other memorabilia fronting the face of their re born hero.

It is clear though that Garcia’s feet are planted firmly on the ground.

Speaking about his goal scoring start to the season, he said:

“This is an anecdotal topic. It is not until the end of the season that you can asses individual and team achievements. Hopefully I can keep scoring goals but it does not worry me”.

Wise words indeed but while it is clear that Garcia is taking it on a game by game basis; fans of all La Liga clubs will be casting an eye over to Pampalona to chart his progress.

A player, for whom so much was once expected, now has his chance to prove his critics wrong. He might not have been able to fulfil potential at Athletic Madrid, but maybe the home comforts of Osasuna will see him grow into the great player that we all know he can be.

Osasuna may have pulled off a master stoke in bringing Garcia back; a move that should prove beneficial for both player and club.

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