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La Liga: Matchday 7 Review; Levante Win Again, Barcelona and Real Madrid Enjoy Comfortable Victories

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Nobody can stop Levante
Nobody can stop Levante

Getafe CF 0 - 0 Villarreal CF
Neither Getafe nor Villarreal improved their disappointing starts to this La Liga campaign. The Madrid side enjoyed a better start to the match, but the Yellow Submarine slowly gained control. Marcos Senna and Cristian Zapata had the best opportunities for the visitors before the break, but goalkeeper Jordi Codina was up to the task. The visitors continued to threaten after halftime, but they were limited with perimeter shots. Giuseppe Rossi, as well as Mubarak Wakaso and Hernan Perez tried their luck from long range, but the tiebreaking goal never came.

RCD Mallorca 1 - 1 Valencia CF
Mallorca saved the best for last as they snatched a last minute draw against Valencia. The islanders didn't have a very good first game with Joaqin Caparros at the helm as they allowed Los Che to dominate the match almost the whole 90 minutes. But even though they outplayed their opponents, Valencia struggled to create good scoring chances. Nonetheless they were able to take the lead when Dani Parejo sent in a corned kick that was met by Adil Rami who steered the ball to the bottom corner (38'). Mallorca struggled to respond, and even allowed Valencia to threaten on quick counters, but the hosts got their chance of the match in added time. Mehmet Topal handled the ball in the penalty area and Tomer Hemed calmly dispatched the penalty shot to the back of the net (90+3').

Real Madrid 4 - 1 Real Betis
Real Madrid sent Real Betis to their third straight defeat. The Sevilla based side played well in the first half as they completely shut down the hosts with good defense, but offensively they had little to show for. In the second half Real Madrid played more aggressively and Gonzalo Higuaín quickly put his side in front (46'). The resurgent Kaká doubled the lead with a well placed shot (59'). Jorge Molina pulled Betis within one with a shot that deflected of Marcelo (69'), but the very next minute Higuaín restored the two goal advantage with a narrow angle shot. The Argentinian striker completed the hat trick with a delicate chip over Casto (73').

FC Barcelona 3 - 0 Racing Santander
Barcelona responded to Real Madrid's bid to move to the top with a comfortable victory against the struggling Racing Santander. The visitors found themselves down by one just eleven minutes in following wonderful interplay between Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi, with the latter putting the ball in the net. Barça doubled the lead when Xavi headed (!) home Pedro's perfect cross (27'). The hosts pressed hard to add to the lead, but wastefulness in front of the goal left them with just the two goal advantage going into halftime. After the break Blaugrana slowed down the pace, but they still created good chances, with Messi scoring the only goal of the half when he fired home a rebound (68').

Granada CF 0 - 0 Atlético Madrid
A strong display from the promoted Granada prolonged Atlético Madrid's search for their first away win of the season. Both teams will feel they could have left Estadio Los Cármenes with the three points as each side had numerous chances to open the scoring. Granada had three great opportunities early on, but Daniel Benítez and Inigo Lopez just missed the net while Ikechukwu Uche struck the post. Los Rojiblacos responded well and created good chances of their own, but José Antonio Reyes and Radamel Falcao weren't having their best days. Both sides continued to threaten after the break, but neither managed to change the score.

Rayo Vallecano 0 - 1 RCD Espanyol
Espanyol recorded their first victory away from home with a solid performance against Rayo Vallecano. The Blanquiblaus were the better side throughout, but in the first half they were denied by goalkeeper Dani Gimenez while referee Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva waved away a couple strong penalty claims. Espanyol keeper Cristian Alvarez had to be on his toes early on because he had to make a strong save on Piti's free kick, but was a mere spectator for the remainder of the game. The deadlock was finally broken when Romaric scored his first ever goal for Espanyol from inside the penalty area (56'). The visitors should have increased the lead later on, but Dani made a few strong saves.

Real Zaragoza 2 - 0 Real Sociedad
An entertaining match between two teams in need of good results was decided by Real Zaragoza's newest arrival, Hélder Postiga. The Portuguese striker opened the scoring with an amazing overhead kick (11'). Zaragoza pressed to increase the lead, But they were constantly stopped by the Basques defense. Real Sociedad threatened to level toward the end of the half, but keeper Roberto was able to save their attempts. After the break the hosts attacked immediately and it was again Postiga who scored, this time with a simple chip over Claudio Bravo (48'). Both sides had good chances to add to the score, but neither managed to do so.

Levante UD 3 - 0 Málaga CF
Opportunistic Levante managed to win their fifth consecutive match, a team record. Málaga controlled the ball, but struggled to create clear-cut chances against the well organized Levante defense. The hosts, however, were able to pounce on almost every opportunity that presented itself. Jose Barkero broke the deadlock when he fired a shot that took a deflection off Malaga's Enzo Maresca on it's way to the goal and caught Wilfredo Caballero wrong-footed (14'). Moments later Caballero was harshly dismissed for handling the ball outside the penalty area, even though it was difficult to tell if the ball was really outside of the area.

After another Barkero shot the rebound came to Juanlu who smashed the ball past Ruben (30'). Any doubts about the winner were squashed when Arouna Koné capitalized on a huge mistake by Ruben and increased Levante's lead (41'). Málaga manager Manuel Pellegrini resorted to damage limitation in the second half and neither team had anything to show for after the second 45 minutes.

Sevilla FC 2 - 1 Sporting Gijón
Sevilla extended their impressive unbeaten run to seven games with a victory over the bottom Sporting Gijón. Both sides had opportunities in the opening exchanges, but it were the hosts who were able to draw first blood when Manu Del Moral fired a stunning shot to the top right corner (15'). Sevilla's Javi Varas was brilliant in this match as he made a handful of terrific saves to keep his side in front. Martín Cáceres gave the hosts some breathing room when he slotted home a rebound from close range (57'). Sporting quickly pulled one back through David Barral who fired a shot past Varas and inside the far post (64'). The visitors pushed for the equalizer, but Varas was simply outstanding in net and was able to secure the three points for the hosts.

Athletic Bilbao 3 - 1 Osasuna
Athletic Bilbao displayed a strong performance against Osasuna and won their second consecutive match. Neither team created much in the opening 30 minutes, but then the Basques started a goalscoring flurry. Iker Muniaín (30'), Igor Gabilondo (38') and Javi Martínez (45') fired Athletic to a commanding lead. The hosts continued to attack in the second half, but even with the man advantage they couldn't add to the lead. Osasuna, however, notched a consolidation goal when Javad Nekounam successfully took a penalty kick awarded for a handball by Martínez.

Recap
What more can there be said about Levante? It is still early in the season, but this team, with a budget 21 times smaller than Barcelona's, is outplaying every team in their path. Only Getafe and Racing Santander were able to take points away from Levante, both games ended in a draw, while the likes of Rayo Vallecano, Espanyol, Real Betis, Málaga and even Real Madrid all lost to them. And they are doing it with a starting eleven with the average age just a smidgen bellow 32, the oldest ever in La Liga's history.

After serious struggles to begin the season things appear to be trending up for Athletic Bilbao. Marcelo Bielsa's men are unbeaten in four games and have three straight victories (including the win in the UEFA Champions League). The Basques also received a huge boost as their playmaker Ander Herrera returned to the pitch not that he recovered from a torn meniscus. Athletic's complete opposite seems to be Real Betis who after four consecutive wins to start the season have lost their next three.

23 goals were scored this week, two less than on the previous matchday. Two goals came from penalty shots as all penalty shots were successfully taken. Three players were sent off, only one for a straight red, and even that one was highly dubious.

La Liga returns on October 22 and October 23.



GP W D L +/- Pts
1 same FC Barcelona 7
5
2
0
22
17
2 same Levante UD 7
5
2
0
8
17
3 same Real Madrid 7
5
1
1
18
16
4 up Sevilla FC 7
4
3
0
4
15
5 same Valencia CF 7
4
2
1
3
14
6 down Málaga CF
7
4
1
2
3
13
7 same Real Betis
7
4
0
3
-1
12
8 same Atlético Madrid 7
2
3
2
2
9
9 up Real Zaragoza 7
2
3
2
-4
9
10 up RCD Espanyol 7
3
0
4
-5
9
11 up Athletic Bilbao 7
2
2
3
0
8
12 down RCD Mallorca
7
2
2
3
-2 8
13 down Real Sociedad
7
2
1
4
-3
7
14 down Villarreal CF
7
1
4
2
-4
7
15 down Osasuna 7
1
4
2
-9
7
16 down Rayo Vallecano
7
1
3
3
-5 6
17 same Getafe CF
7
1
2
4
-4 5
18 up Granada CF
7
1
2
4
-6 4
19 down Racing Santander 7
0
4
3
-8 4
20 same Sporting Gijón
7
0
1
6
-9 1