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La Liga Week 19 Review

Sporting Gijón 2 - 0 Hércules CF
Sporting managed to climb out of the relegation zone for the first time in five weeks. The home fans had a reason to cheer 30 seconds in the game when David Barral headed a cross just inside the post. Nacho Casas made it two with a 25 yard strike that sailed past Calatayud (30'). Not many other chances to talk about in this game. Hércules really didn't have any chance as they were completely outplayed, maybe they were still recovering from their stunning win over Atlético Madrid in the previous week.

Villarreal CD 4 - 2 Osasuna
Villarreal secured their ninth home victory of the season (out of ten) with a good display against the away challenged Osasuna. Marco Rubén started the high scoring match-up with a simple header (22'). The visitors tied it through a well executed corner kick; the ball went to the near post where Krisztian Vadocz scored with a header of his own (47'). Osasuna's Ricardo had a good day between the sticks but he was absolutely embarrassed when Cani beat him with a brilliant shot from midfield (50'). Joan Capdevila continued the trend of scoring goals using your head; he was virtually standing on the goal-line while he nodded the ball in (65'). Javier Calleja gave the visitors hope of a late equalizer with a nice volley (71'), but it wasn't meant to be. Gonzalo Rodríguez scored the last goal of the game with, you probably guessed it, a header (84').

Getafe CF 0 - 4 Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad delivered one of their best efforts of the season in the Madrid metropolitan area. Despite the fact that they enjoyed much less possession than Gatefe did, they left the hosts with no chance of winning the game. Xabi Prieto opened the floodgates when he successfully executed a spot kick that was awarded when Miguel Torres handled the ball (9'). Antoine Griezmann put them ahead by two with a nice volley from the far side. Getafe then woke up a created a couple of chances but most of the attempts went well wide of Claudio Bravo's goal. In the final minutes, when Geta sent everybody forward, Mikel Aranburu scored twice, both of the goals coming on quick counters (87', 90').

Real Zaragoza 1 - 0 Levante UD
The battle between two relegation candidates turned out to be a tight affair. The two teams enjoyed an even amount of possession and were very evenly matched in almost all offensive categories. The only difference in the game was the goal scored by Gabi in the final minute of the first half. He charged toward the goal from midfield, went past a couple of defenders and fired a powerful shot that Manuel almost saved. Both clubs exchanged scoring chances in the second half but neither managed to change the scoreline.

Athletic Bilbao 2 - 1 Racing Santander
A quick start by Athletic left Racing playing catchup for the rest of the game but they ran out of time. Javi Martínez opened the game when he headed the hosts in the lead after a free kick taken by Carlos Gurpegi (7'). Only three minutes later Muniaín put Racing further back when he shot the ball past Toño, after Gaizka Toquero did almost all the work. The host pulled back after the early lead and allowed Racing to take control of the game, but it took them over an hour to get one past Gorka Iraizoz. Ivan Bolado scored with a header (74') and even though the visitors deserved at least a point for their performance they couldn't find the equalizer.

Sevilla FC 1 - 2 RCD Espanyol
Espanyol earned a hard fought victory at the packed Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán behind a masterful performance by José Maria Callejón. Sevilla had a good game despite what the score would suggest and had the better chances but consistent failure to take them cost them the victory. Against the run of the play Callejón scored his first, a chip over the goalkeeper (41'). The Spaniard scored again when he converted a beautiful pass from Luis Garcia (78'). Álvaro Negredo scored for Sevilla with a stunning volley (90+2') but it proved to only be a consolation goal.

Valencia CF 2 - 0 Deportivo La Coruña
The host dominated possession but the well organized Depor defense made Valencia work very hard for the win. Not many good scoring chances were created in the first half, by either team, as most of the shots when wide of the net or were weak attempts that were easily stopped by the goalies. In the first part of the second half the story was the same but in the 77th minute Jérémy Mathieu put Valencia in the lead with a thundering strike from a tight angle past Aranzubia. Deportivo then committed every available man to the attack but with nobody defending the home side capitalized on the last opportunity of the game; Pablo Hernández scored on a quick counterattack (90+3').

UD Almería 1 - 1 Real Madrid
Almería managed to shock an uninspired Madrid squad and held them to a draw. Real was caught underestimating the rock-bottom hosts and they paid the price by dropping two very important points. Almería sent out a defensive formation and through most of the first half they limited Real to shots from outside of the box. Diego Alves was up to the task on the shots that were directed towards the net; he ended the game with an amazing nine saves. Almería took the unexpected lead when Pablo Piatti dribbled his way into the box and after a collision the ball ran to José Ulloa who fired the shot just inside the post (60'). The visitors sent everybody forward after that and the constant pressure was rewarded when the surprise substitute Esteban Granero scored from the right side on a quick counter (77'). Cristiano Ronaldo almost earned Madrid the three points in the final minute of injury time when he hit the crossbar from a free kick from just outside of the box.

FC Barcelona 4 - 1 Málaga CF
Barca broke a couple more records with their comfortable win over the much improved Málaga squad. Andrés Iniesta started the scoring early on when he unleashed an unstoppable shot from the edge (8'). David Villa doubled the lead with a simple finish after he was sent in all alone by Messi. Barcelona continued to have control for the rest of the half and Pedro managed to score the last goal of the half, when he tucked home the rebound. Blaugrana started the second half slowly and they were punished for it when Duda scored from a perfectly executed free kick from 20 yards out. Villa responded quickly and scored from a tight angle (74') to resume normal service.

Atlético Madrid 3 - 0 RCD Mallorca
Atlético returned to their wining ways after a shocking defeat in the previous match-day. Los Rijoblancos took the lead when Juan Valera headed home his first of the season (13'). Mallorca seemed to have a legitimate penalty claim in the 30th minute but nothing was given. A minute later Diego Forlan scored the second for host on a counterattack. Mallorca was given an opportunity to fight back when Antonio López received a straight red card for a tackle in the box (66'), but Pierre Webo had his attempt saved by a diving David De Gea and that seemed to suck the life out of the visitors team. The last goal of the game was scored by José Antonio Reyes on yet another counter.

Recap
The season has reached its midpoint and FC Barcelona have been crowned winter champions. Their lead has doubled this week (four points), because of Real Madrid's extremely surprising draw at the bottom Almería team. Teams at the bottom of the table are hoping for a better half, all of them are still very close and none of them is out of contention for a spot outside of the relegation zone.

Only one of the 31 goals scored this weekend came from a penalty kick, although two were awarded. Players continue to play good football, mostly without reckless and dangerous tackles. Only three players were sent off, two of them straight reds, both in the same game.

First games of the second part of the schedule will be played on January 22, 23 and 24.

 



GP W D L +/- Pts
1 same FC Barcelona 19 17 1 1 50
52
2 same Real Madrid 19 15 3
1 30
48
3 same Villarreal CF 19 12 3 4
18
39
4 same Valencia CF
19 11
4 4 2
37
5 same RCD Espanyol 19 11
1 7
0
34
6 same

Atlético Madrid

19 9
3 7
8
30
7 up Athletic Bilbao 19 9
2
8
-2
29
8 down Getafe CF 19 8
3
8
-1
27
9 down RCD Mallorca
19 8
3
8
-1 27
10 same Sevilla FC
19 8
2 9
-5 26
11 up Real Sociedad 19 8
1
10
-2 25
12 down Hércules CF
19 7
1
11
-6 22
13 same Deportivo La Coruña 19 5 6
8
-11 21
14 same Racing Santander 19 5 5
9
-11 20
15 same Osasuna 19 4 6
9
-8 18
16 same Málaga CF 19 5
2
12 -17 17
17 up Sporting Gijón 19 3
7
9
-10 16
18 up Real Zaragoza 19 3
7
9
-15 16
19 down Levante UD
19 4
3
12
-11 15
20 down UD Almería 19 2 8
9 -15 14