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Barcelona top the table but there were more significant results in La Liga this weekend
- Updated: 3 September, 2012
There was a familiar feel to results from the Spanish top flight this weekend as Barcelona and Real Madrid both recorded home victories – albeit in less than convincing fashion it has to be said. Valencia provided some stubborn resistance at the Camp Nou – unlike their trip to the Catalan capital last season when they were thumped 5-1, and Tito Vilanova’s side had Brazilian Adriano to thank as his 25 yard thunderbolt separated the two teams.
In the Spanish capital meanwhile, reigning champions Real Madrid completed a fairly routine three goal victory over Granada – a result which gave Jose Mourinho his first league victory of the season after watching his side first draw against Valencia, then suffer a shock loss at Getafe last week. The triumph comes on the heels of their Spanish Supercup triumph against Barcelona on Wednesday night, and Mourinho must now be hoping his side have finally given their season a kick start after a somewhat underwhelming beginning.
While most of the media attention focuses on Spain’s big two however, there were also some other significant results at the weekend – most notably in Aragon where Manuel Pellegrini’s Malaga continue their impressive early season form by beating Real Zaragoza on Saturday night. The 1-0 triumph gave Malaga a welcome, if brief, stay at the top of the table ahead of Sunday’s games and came just four days after they had secured their spot in the lucrative group stages of the Uefa Champions League. It has been a memorable week for Malaga andhas brought some much-needed relief to a club that have been on the verge of financial implosion for much of the summer – forcing them to sell a number of their prized assets.
If the victory was important then, the inclusion of the likes of Isco, Eliseu and Jeremy Toulalan in Pellegrini’s starting line-up was even more significant, conveying as it did the huge achievement of reaching Friday’s transfer deadline without seeing anymore of their big names head through the exit. Isco in particular has been in eye catching form in recent weeks and put in another impressive display at La Romareda. The former Valencia midfielder seems more than capable of filling the void left by Santi Cazorla and fans will now be desperately hoping the club can address their problems before the next transfer window opens in January.
Far from imploding, Malaga seem to be developing a backs-against-the-wall attitude in the face of adversity, and the deadline day addition of Javier Saviola, Roque Santa Cruz, Manuel Iturra and Oguchi Onyewu will add some much-needed experience to a squad that was previously stretched to its limits. There is still a huge amount of uncertainty surrounding the club of course, nevertheless, as fans open their newspapers this morning they will be buoyed by the sight of Malaga sitting level second behind Barcelona and three points above defending champions Real Madrid.
Slightly less unexpected as Malaga’s start has been that of Joaquin Caparros’ Mallorca who occupy second place after beating Real Sociedad 1-0 in Palma on Saturday night. The Islanders narrowly missed out on European football last season, however, they have been busy over the summer and the acquisition of players such as Javi Marquez from Espanyol and, maybe more significantly, Giovani Dos Santos from Tottenham could make them a side to watch over the next few months.
While Malaga and Mallorca both have the potential to maintain a serious challenge for European places this season, it is highly unlikely the remaining side to hold seven points will enjoy such a lofty placing come May. Rayo Vallecano, who owe their place in the Spanish top flight to Raul Tamudo’s stoppage time winner against Granada on the final day of last season, were more than fortunate to come away with a point from their game against Sevilla at Vallecas this weekend.
The visitors managed to miss two penalties after dominated the game and Michel’s frustrations were also surely exacerbated by the fact that Rayo played the final 20 minutes a man light after goalkeeper Ruben Martinez was sent off for hauling down Ivan Rakitic in the penalty area. The Croatian international then managed to blast the subsequent spot kick wide to leave the home side with an unlikely point – much to Michel’s disgust.
Finally, special mention must also go to Athletic this weekend. The Basques picked up their first points of the season by beating Real Valladolid 2-0 at San Mames, although Marcelo Bielsa refused to get carried away after the game, saying: “This will be valuable if it is a starting point. For now it just represents an interruption of the sequence of two defeats.”
After Athletic’s shocking start to the new campaign, it is somewhat understandable that Bielsa is being cautious, however, a win can do wonders for confidence – just look at Malaga.Follow @icentrocampista