Yeeeeoooowwww! The most talked about swelling in football is no longer restricted to North West England. Ok, nobody died, but there was a distinct air of 'where were you when Tomáš Ujfaluši came in?' across Spain last weekend. La Liga? the irrepressible Tim Hill.
The Spanish have it right when it comes down to what kind of tackle should be on the front pages of their daily papers. The English have red-tops shouting about how Wayne Rooney cries after having sex with a voluptuous Bolton lass, whilst offering subtle hints about the size of ‘linus’. On the other hand, the Spanish do a sterling job at scaring the population with full-blown, non-censored, ‘table, ladders and chair match’ pictures of Tomáš Ujfaluši’s tackle on pint-sized magician (no, not Paul Daniels), Lionel Messi.
Marca cried ‘spine-chilling’, David Villa exclaimed ‘brutal!’ All in all, everyone was distraught and perturbed. And rightly so, Messi’s ankle was as swollen as Wayne Rooney’s part after a smutty night with Jennifer Thompson, with just about the same amount of tears involved.
Atlético, after being top after two games, after being self-proclaimed ‘the real alternative’ by sporting director Jesús García Pitarch, who apparently got that line off Charles Kennedy, met a frightful and thoroughly-delicious Barcelona side.
Atlético, the team who were the last ‘proper’ winners against Barcelona, have been a thorn in Pep Guardiola’s side for the recent seasons after gathering prestigious results against the Champions. For all the vim and vigour shown in the two games and the win against Inter in the European Super Cup, they could not replicate such performances on Sunday night.
Guardiola’s team, unabashed following their loss against Hercules, dominated the match at the Vicente Calderón, displaying the delightful on-the-ball skills we know them for, and it was only for David de Gea’s performance in the Atlético goal that prevented it being more. The game finished 2-1 to Barcelona after the aforementioned Messi nipped through the rojiblancos’ defence and with the style and panache he only possessed, calmly poked the ball with the outside of his boot past the keeper. Raul Garcia equalised in the first-half through a non-descript goal from a corner which saw Victor Valdes fly out his goal as if he was saving his prized razor, missing everyone and the ball, looking a right fool. The final goal was from Gerard Pique, showing the technique and poise usually seen in centre-forwards, smashing it into the net, after a delicate chest-down from a corner.
Meanwhile, perennial rivals Real Madrid went to the ‘other’ Basque club, Real Sociedad, looking to play some entertaining football after a dismal second week display against Osasuna. They played better football, but lacked the defensive steel that was witnessed in the previous two weeks. The ‘Royal Society of Football’ put on a stately show, consistently putting Iker Casillas’ goal under pressure. Cristiano Ronaldo, never one to pass instead of shoot, had proverbial shooting Diarrhoea. Again. Let’s just say, if one had toilet trouble that had the consistency of Cristiano Ronaldo’s attacking play, one should head straight to A&E because of its severity, bypassing any thoughts of heading to one’s GP first.
It was left for Angel di Maria to break the deadlock, cutting in from his left side, slipping through two challenges, then with his weaker right-foot, curl and chip goalkeeper Claudio Bravo simultaneously. Raul Tamudo equalised after some haphazard Real Madrid defending before the anterior Cristiano Ronaldo got his foot behind one of his many second-half shots, this time from a free kick, smacking Pepe in the back and luckily lopping in behind Bravo. As Wayne Gretzky said ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don't take’ – this writer’s addendum, ‘within reason, Cristiano’.
Looking at other teams, for Villarreal, the impressive Nilmar scored a brace. The first was a dainty chip over the Levante keeper before he added a second after a superb ball from the ever-so-slightly more impressive Giuseppe Rossi, who seems to be more comfortable this season with the El Submarino Amarillo.
Felipe Caicedo, the large-shouldered Ecuadorian on-loan from Manchester City, scored a not-so-deserved consolation late on.
In ‘the weekend of European derbies™’ (in before Sky Sports get their hands on it), at La Rosaleda, Malaga, held one of their own. Seville and Malaga may be separated by 209km’s of the A-92, but the rivalry is fierce in Andalusia. The injury-ravaged visitors won 2-1, not after being scared by the huge figure of Rondon, who acrobatically smashed home after Palop saved from a header off a corner. Sevilla fought their way back after a mazy run from Diego Perotti, who produced a cross for Alejandro Alfaro to simply head home, he really couldn’t miss. It was only left for the one of the defenders of the World Cup, Martín Cáceres to score on the brink of half-time. The only Sheikh-owned Spanish club were pretty poor in all honesty and didn’t create many more chances throughout the ninety minutes.
Moving up the Costa Blanca, Valencia managed to continue to live without relapsing at the thought of David Villa leaving, with Juan Mata and Pablo Henandez scoring two notable goals against the team that causes Barcelona fans horrible yellow and black tinged nightmares, Hercules. Valencia are not ceasing to compete and are surprisingly not hunched up in the foetal position, throwing miniature shaped David Silva spaghetti pieces up over themselves as they continue on without the two stars of their team. Peculiarly, Valencia lead La Liga after the third round of matches.
Betis 2 – Vallodolid 1
Racing Santander 2 – Real Zaragoza 0
Levante 1 – Villarreal 2
Hercules 1 – Valencia 2
Atlético Madrid 1 – Barcelona 2
Malaga 1 – Sevilla 2
Deportivo La Coruna 2 – Getafe 2
Espanyol 1- Almeria 0
Mallorca 2 – Osasuna 0
Sporting Gijon 2 – Athletic Bilbao 2
Real Sociedad 1 – Real Madrid 2
1. Diego Forlan, Atlético Madrid - 3
2. Fenando Llorente, Athletic Bilbao – 3
3. Nilmar, Villarreal - 3
4. Javier Arizmendi, Getafe - 2
5. Fernando, Malaga - 2
Tim writes regularly for IBWM but if you would like to read more from him, please visit his very fine blog.