What we learned last week­end

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

BARCELONA and Atletico Madrid both hit five ahead of their show­down to­mor­row, but con­tinue to trail league lead­ers Real Madrid.

Here, we look at five things we learned from the fourth round of La Liga this week­end:

James takes his chance to shine With­out the ill Cristiano Ronaldo and in­jured Gareth Bale, Real Madrid laboured for 45 min­utes at Es­panyol un­til James Ro­driguez fired home the opener just be­fore the break to pave the way to a 2-0 win.

Ro­driguez was start­ing for the first time this sea­son as the Colom­bian has slipped down the peck­ing or­der at the Bern­abeu since the ar­rival of Zine­dine Zi­dane in Jan­uary.

Re­sults have made Zi­dane’s case. Real recorded a club record 16th straight La Liga win in Barcelona on Septem­ber 18, but there is no doubt the top scorer at the 2014 World Cup pos­sesses the abil­ity to turn games on his own.

Do­ing so on a night the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons needed him to, with­out Ronaldo and Bale, can only fur­ther Ro­driguez’s case for more game time in an up­com­ing fran­tic cou­ple of weeks for Real.

Pressing Barca presents huge risk Le­ganes tried to make Barcelona’s firstever La Liga trip to the Bu­tar­que as un­com­fort­able as pos­si­ble by re­lent­lessly pressing the cham­pi­ons deep into their own half for the first 15 min­utes on the Septem­ber 17 clash.

The prob­lem for the Madrid min­nows was as soon as Barca re­signed them­selves to play­ing the ball long, the Le­ganes de­fence were left with just three de­fend­ers to cover the lethal strike force of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ney­mar (MSN).

All three South Amer­i­cans were on tar­get in a 5-1 thrash­ing that showed Barca’s abil­ity and will­ing­ness to play on the coun­ter­at­tack on the rare oc­ca­sions the op­po­si­tion leaves plenty of space for the MSN to ex­ploit.

Sevilla still can’t buy an away win Sevilla re­turned to La Liga ac­tion on the back of a very cred­itable draw away to Ju­ven­tus to be­gin their Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign.

Yet, de­spite their suc­cess in Europe, Sevilla re­main in­ca­pable of win­ning on the road in La Liga.

Jorge Sam­paoli’s men went 1-0 up through Lu­ciano Vi­etto at Eibar and played the whole sec­ond half against 10 men as the Basques’ goal­keeper Yoel Ro­driguez was dis­missed just be­fore the break.

How­ever, Pe­dro Leon gave the hosts a share of the spoils be­fore Eibar ended the game with nine men.

Sevilla have now gone 21 games and 16 months since they last won an away league match.

Atletico hit form in time for Barca While Barca’s front three hit four be­tween them at Le­ganes, Atletico Madrid’s front­men went one bet­ter as An­toine Griez­mann and Fer­nando Tor­res both scored twice and Kevin Gameiro lashed home his first goal from open play in an Atletico shirt in a 5-0 rout of Sport­ing Gjion.

Atletico’s lack of killer in­stinct al­most ended their ti­tle chal­lenge be­fore it be­gan with draws against Le­ganes and Alaves in their open­ing two games.

How­ever, they trail Barca by just one point and go into to­mor­row’s first block­buster clash of the sea­son away to the Cata­lans full of con­fi­dence af­ter three wins, 10 goals and three clean sheets in the past week.

Va­len­cia face rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle Va­len­cia’s worst start to the sea­son for 17 years con­tin­ued with a 2-1 de­feat at Ath­letic Bil­bao, leav­ing them rock bot­tom and the only side with­out a sin­gle point so far this sea­son.

Los Che’s mis­er­able run comes de­spite not yet hav­ing faced any of Spain’s four Cham­pi­ons League rep­re­sen­ta­tives and, with games against Atletico and Barca to come in Oc­to­ber, the Septem­ber 22 clash with Alaves is a must-win if Pako Ayestaran is to avoid be­com­ing the lat­est coach axed by Sin­ga­porean owner Peter Lim. –

Photo: AFP

Atletico Madrid’s for­ward Fer­nando Tor­res (cen­tre) looks to keep his side’s mo­men­tum go­ing to­mor­row in a big-ticket clash with FC Barcelona.

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