What a way to celebrate Raúl’s 500th appearance in Spanish first division. In addition to achieving such a milestone, Raúl also scored his 212th career goal in the 16th minute courtesy of a Gonzalo Higuaín pass into the box and the Madrid starlet took advantage of the jewel. Juande Ramos’ system of simplification seems to have worked and Real Madrid are on a tear. The reigning champs have not lost a game since their game at the Nou Camp and seem to be regaining the swagger they had last year. Although Mallorca should not have been a litmus test of any sort. They instead showed every reason why they are in second place if futility Madrid did what they had to do-pummel. Their performance was quite important, it was the best team performance so far this year and all of a sudden the Merengue fans are believing. Their 3-0 win on the island put Madrid was their first on the road in close to two months and it put them in second place; only by one goal in the goal difference category over a ten-man Sevilla side that won 3-1 against upstarts Deportivo at The Riazor. Enzo Maresca’s sending off in the first half seemed to have energized the Nervionenes. Add to that Frederic Kanouté’s entrance in the second half and he seemed to give Sevilla the edge that they needed. The Mali international was the make of the match as he assisted on all three second-half goals that helped them stay in the fight for the league title.
Even though they might have their spirits high, the reality is that they are still 12 points behind Barca. For a while it was thought that the lead would be cut to nine, but history trumped necessity this time around. Xavi made his 300th appearance for the blaugrana and scored the equalizer against complicated Osasuna side. Although the game started out in what was going to be a clinic on style and a graceful football. Lionel Messi gave people reason as to why he should be the FIFA Player of the Year with a brilliant performance. The Argentine international scored the game-winner in the 85th minute after being denied by both the Osasuna goalkeeper Roberto and the right post early in the match. They also made history by becoming the team with the most points in the league ever since they changed to the 20-team format. They surpassed the point total that was established by the Barcelona side that earned 46 points back in 2005-06.
Málaga continued to make their surprising run towards European Cup spots as they went into the Manuel Ruíz de Lopera and beat a relegation-compromised Betis side. Their 2-1 win put them two points away from the final UEFA Cup/Intertoto places. They further compromised Atletico Madrid who do not seem to find their way this season. After being one of the hottest teams in Spain, they have all of a sudden fallen on a funk both in league and Cup play. They are falling behind the pace as far as Champions League positions are concerned. After the day is done. They in hand helped Athletic Bilbao who are suddenly one of the hotter teams in La Liga right now. Their 3-2 win at the Vicente Calderón put them in 11th place with 23 points- 17 away from the “magic number” that teams strive for in order to stave off relegation.
Two other teams that are going through tough times are Villarreal and Valencia and they gave football fans one of the most exciting games so far this season. The Submarine emerged from a 2-0 deficit during injury time with a goal by Fuentes, then equalized in the second half with a goal by Llorente. This was the beginning of a scoring blitz that would continue with Edu who gave Valencia the lead six minutes later. But Medina Cantalejo has a way of becoming a protagonist in every game he referees. A non-existent penalty was easily cashed in by Italian international Giuseppe Rossi from 12 steps away as Villarreal would steal a point on the road in the Valencian derby.
Status Quo Down Below- Yeah, Right!
With the exception of Almería, the bottom looks pretty much the same. Hugo Sánchez’ side seems to be the that is currently getting out of the clear on this one right now. Their performance at the Olimpic Montjuic is just another nail in the Espanyol coffin, for about 94 minutes. If there was a game that could have been put in the fantanstic finish category it was the Espanyol-Almería match. Almería jumped out to a 2-0 lead thank to an Kalu Uche brace, but Román Martínez opened the scoring for the Pericos, but a dramatic free kick by Nicolás Pareja that broke the heart of Almería. Although Espanyol is still in the relegation zone, they get a point closer to Recreativo who are currently with 17 points.
SEV: Luis Fabiano (50′), Renato (78′), Diego Capel (90’+3′)
VAL: Baraja (1′), David Villa (10′), Edu (78′)
VIL: Fuentes (45’+1′), Llorente (76′), Rossi (83’pk)
NUM: Barkero (7′), Díaz (80′ og)
MAD: Robben (2´), Raúl (16´), Sergio Ramos (67′)
ATM: Antonio López (15´), Forlán (90’+2′)
ATB: Koikili (45´+1′), Domínguez (50’og), Llorente (66′)
BET: Apoño (37´)
MAL: Emana(18´), Eliseu (90’+2′)
SPO: Carmelo (18´), David Barral (35´)
VLL: García Calvo (88′)
RAC: Johnathan Pereira (32´)
REC: Camuñas (42´)
ESP: Martínez (62′)
ALM: Kalu Uche (3′, 54′)
OSA: Flaño (63´), Pandiani (73´)
BAR: Eto´o (45´), Xavi (80´), Messi (85´)