clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

La Liga: Match-day 4 Review; Real Betis Move to the Top, Barcelona and Real Madrid Drop Points

Nobody imagined the team in green and white will be at the top of the standings.
Nobody imagined the team in green and white will be at the top of the standings.

Real Sociedad 1 - 0 Granada CF
Granada weren't able to build on their win over Villarreal, as they were defeated at Anoeta. After a nervy beginning both teams had their fair share of scoring opportunities. The better ones, however, were all created by the hosts, but neither side managed to break the deadlock before the break. In the second half the Basques improved their game and forced Granada to pull back. Slowly itching closer to the goal, Sociedad finally put one in the 64th minute, when Daniel Estrada fired from near the right sideline and beat Roberto with a (unintentional) lob.

Osasuna 0 - 0 Sevilla FC
Just three days removed from the drubbing handed to them by Barcelona, Osasuna rebounded well and pushed Sevilla close to their breaking point. The hosts controlled large portions of the game as they managed to outplay their opponents with crisp passing. Osasuna fired over half a dozen shots toward Javi Varas, but the goalie was up for every challenge. Sevilla's firepower was limited to long range efforts that failed to threaten Andrés Fernández's goal.

Villarreal 2 - 0 RCD Mallorca
Villarreal finally recorded their first victory of this campaign with a confident performance against an uninspired Mallorca side. The Yellow Submarine was able to dominate the whole first half, and the better part of the second. For their efforts they had two goals to show for it. Giuseppe Rossi scored on a quick counter through the legs of Dudu Aouate (8') while Nilmar beat the keeper when he rounded him one-on-one (52'). The islanders pressed after falling two goals behind, but they saw one goal (correctly) disallowed for offside and another ball cleared of the line by Christian Zapata.

Rayo Vallecano 1 - 2 Levante UD
For the second consecutive game Levante managed to best a team from Madrid. Confidence was sky-high within the Valencia based side after upsetting Real Madrid, but Rayo made them work hard for the three points just as hard as the Madrid giant. The visitors enjoyed a brilliant start to the match as they lead by two before the half-hour mark; Valdo headed his side in the lead (10') while Sergio Ballesteros doubled the lead with a header of his own (29'). Rayo had a much better second half and in the 72nd minute pulled one back through Raul Tamudo. The striker stepped up to take the penalty, but had it saved by Gustavo Munua, however, the ball went straight back to Tamudo who fired it home. The hosts had two great chances to equalize, but were left frustrated by Munua.

Racing Santander 0 - 0 Real Madrid
Real Madrid was firing blank for the second straight game, this time, however, they were able to keep a clean sheet. Real enjoyed almost total domination, but chances were few and far in between. They fired 16 shots, only two of them on target, but both of them were comfortably handled by Toño. Sociedad, on the other hand, had to make do with counterattacks, but they managed to threaten Iker Casillas on a few occasions. The best scoring opportunity of the match came when Óscar Serrano fired a 20-yard drive that Casillas only just got his fingertips on to turn it around the post.

Málaga CF 1 - 0 Athletic Bilbao
After four games, Athletic Bilbao are still searching for their first victory. The ever improving Málaga, led by ex-Villarreal star Santi Cazorla, allowed the visitors the bulk of possession, but used their strong defense to start quick counterattacks. Málaga's best opportunities in the opening 45 minutes came via Eliseu and Julio Baptista, but the former shot wide while the latter struck the bar. After the break Athletic continued to gift free kicks in dangerous positions and they were finally punished for it when Cazorla fired an unstoppable shot into the top-left corner (62'). In the remainder of the match both teams exchanged scoring opportunities, but neither managed to add to the score.

Atlético Madrid 4 - 0 Sporting Gijón
Ever since Radamel Falcao started his goalscoring spree, for the first time in a long while, Atlético is winning games in comfortable fashion. Los Rojiblancos controlled the game from start to finish and only Sporting's Ivan Cuéllar is to thank/blame that this wasn't a bigger blowout. The visitors' Alberto Ramos helped Atlético's cause when he opened the scoring by redirecting the ball past Cuéllar (28'). Alvaro Dominguez doubled the lead when he connected with a corner kick (68') and after that, in a matter of nine minutes, Falcao added two goals to his name. Firstly, the Colombian striker embarrassed Sporting's defense by getting past four men before scoring (72') and then he headed one in for the final score (81').

Valencia CF 2 - 2 FC Barcelona
The match, that was viewed as the match of the week, didn't disappoint. Guardiola continued with the 3-4-3 experiment, but against the inspired Valencia, but this time it backfired. Los Che were allowed to roam freely in Barca's defensive zone and just twelve minutes in, Eric Abidal needlessly intervened and scored an own goal. Two minutes later Barca launched a quick attack that saw Pedro beat Vicente Guaita to the short side for the equalizer. Further questions about Blaugrana's defense arose when Pablo Hernández put the hosts back in front. Valencia had further chances to increase the lead, but the score didn't change before halftime. After some tactical changes Barcelona started to get more chances and in the 77th minute leveled thought Cesc Fabregas.

RCD Espanyol 1 - 0 Getafe CF
Even though Espanyol controlled the match, they left it late and won it in dramatic fashion. The first half will be quickly forgotten as neither team threatened opposing shot-stoppers. However, in the second half Getafe's Miguel Moya found himself tested very often. The Spaniard made fabulous saves on shots from Joan Verdú and Thievy, but in added time he was unable to prevent Espanyol from scoring. Sergio Garcia headed the ball on goal, but after that attempt was stopped by Moya the ball fell to the unmarked Walter Pandiani, who powered it home for the dramatic winner (90+2').

Real Betis 4 - 3 Real Zaragoza
With the victory, the seemingly unstoppable Real Betis remain the only club with a perfect record. The match started off with a bang as just seven minute from kickoff Roque Santa Cruz fired the hosts in the lead. Five minutes later Salvador Lopez Sevilla successfully converted a penalty kick given for a foul. Zaragoza cut the lead in half when Efraín Juárez capitalized on a mistake by keeper Casto. After halftime Beñat (47') and Santa Cruz (49') combined to put the hosts comfortably in the lead. Betis looked like they will be able to comfortably bring the game to a close, but with Casto sent off and two quick goals from Juan Carlos (77', 79') the match was again interesting. However, the score would remain the same.

Recap
And then there was one. Real Betis, fresh from the Segunda División, is the only remaining team with a 100% record. The Sevilla-based club has won all four games by the narrowest of margins, but based on performance, they deserved to win all four of them. It has to be said they were helped out by the schedule as they played two matches against early relegation candidates, Granada and Real Zaragoza, as well as the struggling Athletic Bilbao and Mallorca. Nevertheless, Real Betis is here to stay and a finish on a spot that leads to European competitions is well within reach.

Apparently the "only two teams in Spain that matter" didn't get the memo that the winner of this Primera División campaign will be decided between them. Both, Real Madrid and Barcelona, dropped points away from home and while Pep was tactically outclassed by Unai Emery, Jose Mourinho doesn't have an answer for the bad form. Los Blancos were flying high after their perfect preseason and impressive start to this La Liga season, but their last three games (Dinamo Zagreb, Levante, Racing Santander) left much to be desired for.

It was an uncharacteristically low scoring week in La Liga as only 23 goals were scored, a further three down from the previous match day. After a busy weekend, referees took no time off as they awarded three penalty kicks, one of which was missed, and three red cards, all straight.

The busy schedule in the Primera División continues as teams return to action on Saturday, 24 September, with games also played on Sunday, the 25th, and Monday, the 26th.



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

 

Follow Barca Blaugranes on your preferred social network:

And subscribe to our podcast channel.

 

Follow me on: