BARCELONA 4 VALLADOLLID 1
Barcelona began their quest for an 8th consecutive Liga win without talismanic forward Leo Messi. In a match I expected Barcelona to totally dominate, Valladollid drew first blood through Javi Guerra, converting a Patrick Ebert corner to silence the Camp Nou. The lead however was short lived as Barcelona drew level with a brilliant finish from Alexis Sanchez four minutes later. The impressive Neymar turned provider for Xavi who made it 2-1 after the break. On the 63rd minute Barce added a 3rd through the rejuvenated Alexis. Neymar finally got his name on the scoresheet to cap a brilliant display and make it 4-1. Neymar was definitely in tip top form and his display proved Barce can click even without Messi. But then it was against a lacklustre Valladollid. Barcelona have 24 pts from 8 games while Valladollid's woeful season continues.
LEVANTE 2 REAL MADRID 3
Madrid traveled to the Ciutat De Valencia without the injured Gareth Bale and coming off the back of a 4-0 win against Copenhagen. The match will be remembered as one the great comebacks in Madrid history and definitely reignited Madrid's fading title hopes. Ancellotti handed starts to Diego Lopez, Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao, Alvaro Arbeloa and Isco who were all dropped midweek. The first half was a tightly fought contest with both sides getting chances and Levante looking very dangerous on the attack. The hosts took the lead after the break through Baba who guided a header past Lopez following a brilliant cross from Xumetra. Madrid responded well and equalised on the 61st minute through Sergio Ramos, who nodded in from close range courtesy of a Di Maria corner. Madrid piled on the pressure but were shocked four minutes from time through a close range finish from Nabil El Zhar to hand Levante a 2-1 lead. Madrid stepped up however and promising youngster Alvaro Morata showed quick feet to equalise for the whites. In dramatic fashion, Ronaldo handed Madrid all three points stoppage time, firing a shot that took a wicked deflection and past Keylor Navas. Relief for Madrid who dearly needed the 3 points and misery for Levante who were so close to a point. Ancellotti however still has issues with his squad and should not consider this a victory. Madrid are in 3rd with 19 pts.
ATLETICO MADRID 2 CELTA DE VIGO 1
Diego Simeone's men continued their impressive start to La Liga with another win at home to Celta. Coming off the back of two difficult away trips to Real Madrid and Porto respectively which they both won, I expected Atleti to struggle. However Simeone's men showed character and dominated Celta in what was a routine victory, a fact not suggested by the scoreline. Diego Costa handed Atleti the lead on 42 minutes, bundling in from close range. The Brazilian who may soon represent Spain doubled his and Atleti's tally on 60 minutes to make it 2-0. It was Costa's tenth league goal and counting. Former Barce starlet Nolito handed Celta a consolatory goal with 20 minutes remaining. Atleti are showing that they are in for a fight and ready to challenge Madrid and Barce for the La Liga and put to shame those pundits who label the league 'a two horse race'. Atletico are joint top with 24 pts.
IN OTHER GAMES
Villarreal continued their brillaint start to La Liga with a comfortable 3-0 victory against Granada while Bernd Schuster's Malaga fell to a shocking 1-0 home loss to a resurgent Osasuna at La Rosaleda. Real Sociedad continued their dismal start to the season, losing 1-0 away to Rayo Vallecano. This is a sharp contrast to Sociedad of last season under Phillipe Montanier who were simply brillaint. New manager Jagbo Arrasate needs to fix things fast. Elche continued their spirited fight for survival with a 2-1 win at home to RCD Espanyol. Sevilla continued their good form with a 2-1 win over Almeria at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Kevin Gameiro and Ivan Rakitic got the goals for Sevilla while Rodri responded for Almeria. Getafe earned a battling 3-1 win against Real Betis at the Estadio Coliseum. Pedro Leon scored twice in the space of six minutes while Adrian Colunga grabbed a third five minutes later. Rafa Gomez scored an own goal to give the scoreline a bit of respect. In the last game of the weekend, Valencia locked horns with Athletico Bilbao which ended 1-1, Ever Banega converted a 43rd minute penalty to silence the home crowd. But they found their voices on the 75th mark when Mikel Rico scored the equaliser to send the game to a stalemate..
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