Round 16 of La Liga proved to be very difficult for the home teams. Of the 10 fixtures played over the weekend, only Barcelona came away with a home win after thrashing Atlético Madrid 4-1.
I was particularly excited about that fixture since it was supposed to be Atleti’s huge test after the Madrid derby to prove they can compete with the big two. Alas, seems they still have a bit of a ways to go before they conquer that challenge. Maybe the second half of the season will provide them with a way to win.
Rayo Vallecano quite surprisingly managed to defeat Valencia 1-0 in the Mestalla, Valencia’s home. A penalty kick late in the second half gave Rayo the upper edge in the home debut of Valencia’s new manager Valverde. Ouch, that’s got to hurt!
Sevilla also had quite a disappointing weekend as they had looked to challenge 4th placed Málaga. However, after being the better team for the first half, all went wrong for Sevilla when Federíco Fazio was sent off with a straight red card for a “professional foul.”
Espanyol drew with Real Madrid off a corner kick (Madrid’s weakness this season) very late in the game. With Los Blancos failing to grab a much needed win, the league leader Barcelona pulled ahead of Madrid by 13 points and ahead of Atlético Madrid by 9 points. Now I know it’s only December, but this is La Liga and this is Barça we’re talking about. The chances of them slipping up enough for either Madrid team to catch and surpass them are slim to none. Is it too early to just hand them the trophy? Yes, but I’m not sure I see the trophy going anywhere else at the end of the season. Here are the full results from the weekend:
Getafe 1-1 Osasuna
Mallorca 0-1 Athletic Bilbao
Granada 0-0 Real Sociedad
Sevilla 0-2 Málaga
Real Zaragoza 0-1 Levante
Valencia 0-1 Rayo Vallecano
Real Madrid 2-2 Espanyol
Barcelona 4-1 Atlético Madrid
Deportivo La Coruña 0-0 Real Valladolid
Celta Vigo 0-1 Real Betis
The news broke earlier today that Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova’s cancer has relapsed and he will be undergoing surgery followed by chemotherapy. So he’ll be away from Barcelona for a while but his assistant Jordi Roura will stand in his place for a while. Tito has had an incredible start to the season with Barcelona so we send our thoughts and prayers towards him and the team during this difficult time.
Photos courtesy of LigaBBVA.com and the Guardian.