La Liga: Matchday 5 Review; Barcelona and Real Madrid Dominate, Real Betis Remain On Top

How much better is Levante playing this season compared to the previous one?

Athletic Bilbao 1 - 1 Villarreal CF
Even in their fifth attempt Athletic Bilbao failed to register their first victory of the season. The Basques probably played their best football of the current campaign, but wastefulness and terrific goaltending from Diego Lopez left them frustrated. The only goal the hosts managed to score was when Igor Gabilondo redirected a low cross (43'). In one of Villarreal's rare attacks Nilmar managed to level the score with a tap in (53'). Athletic had several chances to win this game, but they couldn't convert their opportunities.

Sevilla FC 1 - 0 Valencia CF
Sevilla took advantage of an uncharacteristically toothless Valencia side. After having an earlier goal incorrectly disallowed for offside, Frederic Kanouté nevertheless managed to draw first blood when he fired a powerful shot past Vicente Guaita (18'). Sevilla continued to control the first half, but they couldn't find a way past the goalie. After the hosts were down to ten (56'), then nine (68') men, Valencia started creating great opportunities to turn the game around. But not even a penalty shot, Ever Banega struck the post, couldn't get Los Che off the mark and Sevilla held on to the lead.

Real Madrid 6 - 2 Rayo Vallecano
The out-of-form Real Madrid side faced off against their city "rivals". Rayo couldn't have hoped for a better start as just 14 second in Michu opened the scoring for the guests. However, the visitors found themselves pinned back by Real and were forced to concede the lead when Cristiano Ronaldo (39') and Gonzalo Higuaín (45+1') scored in quick succession. Ronaldo scored his second goal when he successfully converted a penalty kick (51'), but Rayo wouldn't give up and just four minutes later Michu put his side within one. Los Blancos, however, didn't panic and goals from Raphael Varane, Karim Benzema and yet another one from Ronaldo secured the comfortable victory.

FC Barcelona 5 - 0 Atlético Madrid
Atlético came into this match hoping to take advantage of Barcelona's "bad" stretch, but Pep's side would have none of that. The hosts controlled the game from start to finish and were able to best goalie Thibaut Courtois early and often. Nine minutes in, Xavi brilliantly set up David Villa who fired Blaugrana in the lead. Six minutes later an unlucky bounce of João Miranda resulted in a own goal. Lionel Messi (26', 78', 90') then took matters into his hands and matched Ronaldo's hat-trick to top the goalscoring charts. Despite the good run the visitors were going into this match, they had only one clear-cut scoring chance, but Tiago's shot hit the crossbar.

RCD Mallorca 2 - 1 Real Sociedad
Mallorca secured their second win of the season, and for now, the job of manager Michael Laudrup, as they came from behind to defeat Real Sociedad. In the fairly evenly matched game, the visitors drew first blood when Imanol Agirretxe fired a low shot past Dudu Aouate (15'). It took the hosts only five minutes to tie it up as Víctor Casadesús was alone in the center of the penalty area and was left with an easy finish. Shortly after the break Gonzalo Castro fired the islanders in front with a 20-yard strike. Afterward Mallorca pulled back to defend the lead and allowed the visitors to control the ball, and while chances were aplenty the score would remain the same.

Levante UD 3 - 1 RCD Espanyol
Levante continued their early season surge to the top of the table with their third consecutive victory. Rubén Suárez Estrada successfully took two penalty kicks (14', 58'), the first one for a clumsy tackle by Juanlu and the second for when Jordi Amat pulled down the Suárez. After some hard pressure Héctor Moreno pulled one back for Espanyol with a redirection (73'). But just three minutes later the comfortable two goal advantage was reestablished Jose Barkero with a brilliant shot from the edge of the box. All hope for an unlikely comeback disappeared when Walter Pandiani was dismissed for a headbutt, which left his side with only nine men.

Granada CF 1 - 1 Osasuna
A poor match at Estadio Los Cármenes ended in a fitting one-all draw. Chances were few and far between, but as the visitors held a very slight upper hand in the first half they managed to score the opening goal through Raúl García (29'). Injuries forced Granada to make two substitutions which all but completely destroyed their rhythm. However, despite the problems Fran Rico equalized with a strong volley (64'). Osasuna were in the end left frustrated as they had a perfectly legitimate goal disallowed for offside in added time.

Sporting Gijón 0 - 0 Racing Santander
Sporting Gijón were searching for their first victory of the season at Molinón, but they had to settle for their first point of the campaign. The hosts dominated for almost the whole match, but their attackers struggled to get shots on target. Off the 16 shots the hosts fired, only one found the target, and that was easily handled by Toño. Sporting almost saw their first point disappear when, against the run of play, Manuel Arana's deflected shot nearly beat Juan Pablo Colinas.

Real Zaragoza 0 - 0 Málaga CF
In what was supposed to be the easiest match of the season for Málaga thus far, the Andalusians failed to deliver. In fact, Zaragoza at times looked more dangerous than their high-spending opponents and when it was all said and done, splitting the points was just. In a frantic start to the match teams exchanged good scoring opportunities, but Malaga's Wilfredo Caballero and Zaragoza's Roberto Gago were up to the task. After the early excitement the play slowed down and neither side created much. However, the hosts did have Helder Postiga's called off by a marginal offside call shortly after the hour mark while Sebastián Fernández almost scored the dramatic winner for the visitors, but his header was brilliantly stopped by Roberto.

Getafe CF 1 - 0 Real Betis
After a string of four consecutive victories, Real Betis finally found their match in Madrid. It wasn't the mighty Real Madrid or the powerful Atlético Madrid, but the other capital club, Getafe. The hosts were determined to record their first victory of the season and the early pressure paid dividends when Diego Castro scored (31'). Getafe looked to increase the lead before the break, but Inaki Goitia made a couple strong saves. Betis looked to overturn things after halftime, but they were left frustrated by a strong performance from goalkeeper Miguel Moya. Moya made several brilliant stops, but none was better that the stoppage time save on Miku who fired from close range.

Recap
The standing might not show it yet, but things went exactly the way it was "scripted" before the start of the 2011/12 season. Barcelona and Real Madrid dominated their opponents while Valencia, Atlético Madrid, Villarreal and Málaga dropped precious points.

Leaders Real Betis finally didn't win a match and now no team remains with a perfect record. However, the Sevilla-based side still top the table, but the gap has been reduced to a single point. Joining Betis as the early season surprise is Valencia's "other" club, Levante. Levante's results went somewhat unnoticed, but the team deserves a lot of praise. After five games they are one of only three teams that haven't been defeated (Barcelona and Sevilla are the other two) and they currently occupy third place.

Sporting Gijón has managed to earn their first point of the season, but just like Athletic Bilbao and Racing Santander, they are still searching for their first victory. After last season's good run to end the season, which saw them finish in 10th place, expectations were that the club should end the year well above the relegation zone. However, right now Sporing is nowhere near the form that would earn them one more year in the Primira División.

With Barcelona and Real Madrid returning to their high scoring standards the goal scored increased from 23 in last matchday to 26 in this one. The referees continue to be in a very giving mood as they showed a season high seven red cards, four of them for a second yellow card offense. In addition to the red cards they awarded five penalty kicks, tied for the season high, only one of which was missed.

 



GP W D L +/- Pts
1 same Real Betis 5
4
0
1 3
12
2 up FC Barcelona 5
3
2
0
18
11
3 up Levante UD 5
3
2
0
4
11
4 up Sevilla FC 5
3
2
0
3
11
5 up Real Madrid 5
3
1
1
11
10
6 down Málaga CF
5
3
1
1
5
10
7 down Valencia CF
5
3
1
1
2
10
8 same Atlético Madrid 5
2
1
2
2
7
9 same Real Sociedad 5
2
1
2
0
7
10 same RCD Espanyol 5
2
0
3
-2
6
11 up RCD Mallorca 5
2
0
3
-2
6
12 same Osasuna 5
1
3
1
-7 6
13 down Rayo Vallecano
5
1
2
2
-4
5
14 down Villarreal CF
5
1
2
2
-4
5
15 down Real Zaragoza
5
1
2
2
-6
5
16 up Getafe CF 5
1
1
3
-3 4
17 down Granada 5
1
1
3
-5 4
18 down Racing Santander
5
0
3
2
-5 3
19 down Athletic Bilbao 5
0
2
3
-3 2
20 same Sporting Gijón
5
0
1
4
-7 1

 

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