Alex Mott looks back at the weekend's fixtures in Spain, and picks his best starting XI.
Willy Caballero – Malaga
The Malaga goalkeeper was easily the best player on the pitch, despite letting in two goals as the Costa del Sol outfit lost to Real Madrid on Saturday. Newspaper AS claimed in their Sunday edition that ‘Willy stopped a rout’, whilst one of the goalscorers, Angel Di Maria told reporters after the game that the Boquerones shot-stopper ‘should be in the Argentina squad’.
Barcelona slipped up for the first time this season on Saturday evening as they drew 0-0 with Osasuna at El Sadar, thanks in large part to a solid defence effort from the Rojillos backline. Bertran in particular, was admirable in his reading of the game and discipline in tracking the deep runs of Adriano.
Carles Puyol – Barcelona
After 222 days on the sidelines with a knee injury, the Barcelona captain was back, and put in a confident performance against Osasuna. His usual bombast and commitment were in show, but his calm assurance showed the Blaugrana faithful just what they’d been missing so far this season at the back.
Hector Moreno – Espanyol
Atletico Madrid have been the in-form team in La Liga this season – winning their first eight games of the campaign. But against Espanyol on Saturday evening they were frustrated and despondent as they went down 1-0 at Cornelia-El Prat. The capital club failed to register a shot on target in the entire match, thanks in large part to a heroic performance from the Periquitos centre-back.
Marcelo – Real Madrid
Marcelo has become an integral part to Real Madrid’s attack since returning from injury earlier this month. And against Malaga on Saturday he showed again why he’s such a vital part of Carlo Ancelotti’s XI. Running from deep, crossing with accuracy and creating space for Cristiano Ronaldo have seen the Brazil international cement his place in the team ahead of Fabio Coentrao.
Ruben Pardo – Real Sociedad
They may have been second best for the majority of the match, but Real Sociedad ended their poor run of results at the weekend with a 2-1 win over Valencia at Mestalla. And a superb goal and performance by Ruben Pardo were the catalyst for a vital three points. The midfielder is now the key player for La Real with his mixture of combative destruction and an eye for goal.
Patrick Ebert – Real Valladolid
Sevilla looked to have claimed their first away win in over a year on Sunday as they went 2-0 up against Real Valladolid. But Patrick Ebert curled home a free kick late on to give the Pucela an unexpected 2-2 draw. It wasn’t only the German’s prowess from set pieces that was impressive though. The 26-year-old was vibrant all evening, showing pace and a real threat from wide areas.
Fidel – Elche
An away win at Real Betis is not to be sniffed at, and after some heart-breaking late losses this season, Elche produced one of the performances of the weekend to beat the Verdiblancos 2-1 on Sunday. There were a few stand-out players from the promoted side, but Fidel was arguably the best of them, coming off his wing well, and scoring the winning goal midway through the first half.
Pedro Leon – Getafe
Getafe are, for some, the surprise of the season so far. After a middling campaign last time out, the Azulones have started this term with a renewed vigour – winning five of their last six matches, to sit fifth in the table. And it’s the former Real Madrid forward who has been the spearhead for this change. The 26-year-old scored again at the weekend as Luis Garcia’s men won 2-0 away at Granada.
Carlos Bacca – Sevilla
Sevilla may be struggling to live up to expectations this season, but their new Colombian forward is having no such trouble in La Liga. The 27-year-old signed in the summer from Club Brugge has netted three already this term for the Rojiblancos, and scored once again at the weekend as his side drew 2-2 with Real Valladolid. His pace and movement in and around the box have caused real problems for Spanish defences at this early stage, and could be one of the real steals in the transfer market.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid
Another week, another goal for the Real Madrid forward. He wasn’t at his absolute best against Malaga, but yet again, he managed to find the back of the net. That’s eight in nine League matches now for the Portugal international.
image: © Jan S0L0