Barcelona and Real Get Out of Jail Whilst Atleti Stumble5 min read
Another exciting weekend’s football in La Liga, none more so than at the top of the table.
Barcelona squeeze past Rayo Vellecano
Barcelona can consider themselves extremely fortunate to still be at the summit after a smash-and-grab against Rayo Vallecano.
On their last five visits to Vallecas, the Catalans had won each game and with an aggregate score of 23-1! That complacency very obviously clouded their performance, despite taking the lead via Luis Suarez.
As with their defeat at Leganes earlier in the campaign, Barca took their foot off of the gas and allowed their opponents back in the game.
That’s not to say that Rayo weren’t worthy of their 2-1 second-half lead, because they’d outplayed their more illustrious opponents for long periods.
Ousmane Dembele looked to have earned the visitors a point on 87 with just about the only decent piece of work the Frenchman could muster all night. On this form, he looks a certainty to be sold in January or next summer.
As the clock wound down, a speculative Sergi Roberto cross deep into Rayo territory was slipped home by an unmarked Suarez to hand Barca an undeserved victory.
League titles are won thanks games like this, but too many more performances at this level and retaining La Liga will be nothing but a pipe dream for Ernesto Valverde’s men.
Real Madrid back to winning ways
Real Madrid managed to get themselves back on the winning trail, but it required a huge slice of luck late on against a sprightly Real Valladolid side, now owned by former Los Blancos hit man, Ronaldo Nazario.
The visitors had hit the crossbar twice and kept Madrid at arms-length for much of the game. A match in which Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema were a huge disappointment once again.
Step forward Vinicius.
Temporary coach, Santiago Solari, decided to give the young Brazilian his wings at the Santiago Bernabeu, and he was rewarded in the final 10 minutes.
His injection of pace and sharp movement outfoxed the away defence and though he’ll claim credit for the opener on 82, his shot was heading to the corner flag in truth, before taking the most wicked deflection.
Nevertheless, it was the purpose the youngster introduced into the home sides play which ultimately won Real the game.
A foul on Karim Benzema a few minutes later earned a penalty which Sergio Ramos coolly dispatched, and you could sense the burden collectively lifting from the Santiago Bernabeu.
Two more points dropped for Atletico Madrid
There’s more work to do just across town at neighbours Atletico Madrid.
The Rojiblancos were held to their third successive draw at Butarque by Leganes, and this one will have disappointed coach Diego Simeone the most.
Leganes had already claimed Barcelona’s scalp in 2018/19 but, with respect, haven’t been playing at a good level for much of the campaign.
Simeone has taken umbrage recently at criticism of his style, but he’ll do well to defend it again after the Rojiblancos were unable to see out the game once Antoine Griezmann’s stunning free-kick saw them take a second-half lead.
Rather than hammer home their advantage, they reverted to type and sat on their lead, inviting pressure from the hosts.
Sure enough, with eight minutes left, Guido Carrillo grabbed an equaliser for Leganes, leaving Atleti four points behind Barcelona – with the Catalans due at the Wanda Metropolitano in two matches time.
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