October 7, 2009

Sevilla stun Madrid; Atleti wins…finally

The Vicente Calderon filled against last Saturday night as Atletico de Madrid once again looked for their first victory of the season. After Jurado put the Rojoblancos up a goal early on the second minute, a reckless play by third string keeper David De Gea led to an ominous penalty. While still within the first half an hour of the match, the body language of supporters was clear, it was going to be another long night in Madrid; however a poorly taken shot combined with a correct guess from the Spanish keeper pushed the equalizer away. Antonio Lopez would double the home sides advantage from a set piece and even though a Tomas Ujfalusi foul would lead to another penalty, this time converted, Atleti was able to hold on for their first victory of the season.

Elsewhere, Valencia earned a very costly victory with David Villa leaving the game with what appeared to be a muscle tear. Coming amidst bankruptcy problems and David Silva transfer rumors, this was not the news Los Ches needed with league leaders Barcelona up next in two weeks. Said Catalonian club edged out Almeria this past Saturday (via a brilliant goal from Pedrito), the three points enough to establish themselves alone at the top of the table. The only team that remains perfect in league play to this point (and still undefeated in all competitions).

The big story of the weekend, as well as one of the best games of the season thus far, was played in the Andalucian capital of Sevilla Sunday night. The local side was hosting the newly assembled Blancos from Real Madrid with the game being labeled the first real test for the “New Galacticos.” Sevilla had been perfect since an opening weekend loss to Valencia in both the Champions League and Spain while Real was traveling with out their new star, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was nursing an injured ankle suffered this past Wednesday. Excuses were not made after the match, the Chilean manager acknowledging that the home side outplayed his boys, deserving all three of the points they earned. Spreading the Madrid defense wide, dominating the wings all while consistently threading dangerous balls into the area, Sevilla picked apart Real Madrid. The Sevillian wingers made boys out of Ramos and Marcelo. The backline stood flatfooted, statues watching the Sevillian goals unfold in front of them. Madrid was tested and failed while Sevilla made a very loud statement throughout Spain and Europe: there are more than two teams in the Iberian country that can compete on the highest level.

Consequently, this game was not just a victory for the Rojoblancos from Sevilla but for the rest of the Spanish league. While critics will be quick to dismiss La Liga as boring, a two horse race, but, as the game Sunday night reemphasized, there are other quality clubs capable of hoisting hardware throughout the continent in Spain. Yes, it may take a valiant effort to dethrone treble winning Barcelona but if the Sevilla that came to play Sunday night at the Sanchez Pizjuan stays consistent then trophies are not out of the question. Trite as it may be to say, it is true: on any given day, anyone can be defeat.

As for the rest of the league, Villarreal still remains winless. Less than two years removed from their exceptional second place league finish, the yellow submarine find themselves in the red on only three points through six fixtures after a nil-nil home draw against Espanyol. Deportivo continued their impressive start to the 09-10 campaign with an away victory that leaves them fourth in the table on twelve points. Mallorca was cooled off while Xerez recorded their first ever goal in the top flight in a 1-1 draw.

As for the prediction standings thus far….

Standings Through Six Rounds
EPM (.517): 31- 29 (7)
FFT (.500): 30 - 30
LLTO (.468): 22 – 25 (2)

*LLTO does not to pick some games which is why their total number of predictions is lower…the final number (in parenthesis) indicates the number of games with the exact score picked correctly to serve as a tie breaker.