Real Madrid hosted Malaga FC & managed to win 2 - 0 in relatively comfortable fashion. The home side was under the microscope to see if they could manage to lift their game which has been questioned in recent rounds. The starting XI included Carvajal ( in for Arbeloa ), Illaramendi ( in for Modric) & Morata ( in for injured Benzema ) with the latter exciting the local fans with much anticipation.
The man of the match was Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero who made more than a dozen amazing saves to keep the final score reasonable for his team. Total domination from Real Madrid with little work for Real Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez.
The first goal came in the 47th min when Di Maria crossed into the goalsquare & Cristiano Ronaldo missed the header but "put off" the Malaga keeper as it bounced & speed into the net. The second goal came from a penalty called on Gareth Bale ( came on for the last 15 mins ) which on replay was not a penalty, to which Cristiano Ronaldo converted in the 91st min.
Overall some improvement by Real Madrid which will face another mayor test mid week against Juventus in Champions League & then the trial by fire next Saturday against FC Barcelona away.
Valencia CF had their run of wins & improvement halted by visiting Real Sociedad which won 1 - 2. A game that serves to lift the confidence of Real Sociedad which is hoovering at the bottom of the ladder & a warning to Valencia CF that the team still needs to continue working hard to regain the level of the top placed Clubs if the Club is to reach their season objective of being a top contender in Liga.
The first goal came to Real Sociedad thanks to Griezmann in the 42nd min & the second in the 59th min via Ruben Pardo. Valencia managed a consolation goal late in extra-time from Pabon.
Unexpected & surprise setback for FC Barcelona against Osasuna in away territory, a pitch which has been difficult in past seasons. The final result a 0 - 0 draw which lets 2 points slip putting arch rival Real Madrid just 3 points behind on the ladder with the "clasico" ( Barça - Real Madrid ) next Saturday.
The news at the start was the return of Carles Puyol in the starting XI after months out with injury & Messi on the bench. The home team put up a "defensive wall" which was to be definite as a source of constant frustration for Barça & eventual neutralizing force. Osasuna put in their strategy given their resources & came out triumphant with a valuable & confident lifting point.
For Barcelona the dominance of play did not give rewards. They came close to scoring, very close, but failed on repeated occasions. Lionel Messi came on late in the game to "save the night" , & he nearly did, but also failed to convert as his team-mates before his presence.
The match gave the repeated picture of opponents figuring out the Barça weak points & opting for "ultra-defensive" set-ups which makes Barça followers call out for more variety & alternatives to the habitual Barça of ball control.
Shared points at Osasuna with the latter happy & Barça perhaps not so much as it sends a message of "optimism" to Real Madrid which they host next Saturday.
Atletico de Madrid visited RCD Espanyol & lost 1 - 0. The loss of the visitors let go a golden opportunity for Atletico Madrid to go top of the Spanish League ladder & with a 2 point advantage over FC Barcelona. In fact, things have turned out reverse, the Atletico loss lets Barça escape to lead the Liga ladder with a point advantage.
Espanyol made things difficult for Atletico not allowing the visitors to play. However, Atletico was not its usual self tonight playing without creativity & players more individual than in team mode. Perhaps Atletico Coach Simeone made the mistake of leaving Arda Turan - a creative midfielder - on the bench & the team suffered as seen when the Turk came on in the second half & lifted his team.
The winning goal came in the 53rd min when Espanyol forward Sergio Garcia fumbled a ball at goal which Atletico goalie Courtois pushed in for an own goal. Very unlucky for the visitors, an action that Atletico could not recover although they tried right up to the end of the match. Espanyol on the other hand celebrate a hard fought win & three very valuable points.
In conclusion, the big winner of tonight's Liga matches & final results is Real Madrid which gets closer on the Liga table to both Atletico de Madrid & FC Barcelona.