LaLiga Thoughts, Matchday 11: Girona on a roll, Eibar pelted and an offside hat trick

Friday

  • Turns out it’s really hard to ring up 25 percent possession and win a football match. Getafe learned this the hard way at Real Betis, who came back from a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2. Barça reject Cristian Tello was brilliant in the second half, assisting goals for Tonny Sanabria (his seventh in seven games!) and Ryad Boudebouz.

Saturday

  • Valencia won yet again. I know, you’re shocked. The 3-0 result was a tad unfortunate for Leganés — whose gleaming defensive record has taken a hit the last two weeks — but this Valencia side is different from the luck dragons that nearly finished third in 2014/15. No, Marcelino’s men lead the league in goals, haven’t dropped points in nearly two months and showed they can control games with the ball as well as on the counter.
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Cumulative heat map, Valencia-Leganés, 11/4/2017.

  • Again, Atlético Madrid played poorly. Again, they failed to maximize their talent and struggled to string passes together. And again, they stole three points from Deportivo La Coruña after Thomas Partey — their LEADING SCORER — curled in from 20+ yards in stoppage time. Diego Simeone’s men are still unbeaten; we’ll see if they remain that way after the Madrid Derby in a fortnight.
  • Alavés finally got some luck to go their way in a 1-0 win over an insipid 10-man Espanyol. I just love a game that sees a first-minute goal and nothing else — especially a first-minute goal this bonkers. Thank you, Christian Santos.
  • What stood out to me about Barcelona‘s 2-1 home win over Sevilla — well, other than apparent winger Paco Alcácer doing the damn thing and scoring a brace — was Ernesto Valverde’s substitutions. Paulinho replaced Andrés Iniesta on the hour, moments before Alcácer scored his second to fire Barça into the lead. Valverde then took off Paco and replaced him with a more natural wide player in Gerard Deulofeu. And he threw on Javier Mascherano for stoppage time, thus ending the game with Paulino, Masche and Sergio Busquets in midfield. No one can complain, though, as Barça won for the 10th time in 11 and maintained a four-point edge at the top.

Sunday

  • More like Gi-roll-na, am I right? (Please don’t hate me.) That’s three straight wins for the new boys after they beat Levante 2-1 away. Girona are 10th and four points off a European place!
  • Yeah, so, this is really rough viewing for Athletic Club fans. A 10-minute, three-goal Celta Vigo rampage did in the visitors in a showdown between under-fire rookie managers, and my guess is Athletic’s Cuco Ziganda isn’t long for his job — tends to happen when your team is a shambles and can’t defend crosses. Meanwhile, my boy Iago Aspas (I am convinced we have the exact same star tattoo) bagged a brace and Pione Sisto an assist — the Danish winger leads LaLiga with seven helpers.

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  • Pablo Fornals showed former team Málaga what they’re missing and showed former manager Fran Escribá why he should never have been played as a wide man. The 21-year-old pulled the strings behind strikers Carlos Bacca and Cédric Bakambu throughout Villarreal‘s 2-0 home win, but it was substitute Nicola Sansone who got the goals in the 68th and 76th minute (Fornals assisted the latter with a sick threaded pass). Bakambu recorded a hat trick of offside goals; he later compared it to being put in the friend zone. Amazing.
  • Real Sociedad cruised to a win over Eibar. And I have to say, I think Adnan Januzaj has been one of the most overlooked summer transfers into LaLiga. He scored the goal his recent performances deserved — albeit through trundling the ball over the line — and he’s added pace, vision and consistency to Eusebio’s front three. (Also, Mikel Oyarzabal scored and set up another in this game. One of LaLiga’s best wingers at 20 years old. Outrageous.)
  • Well, that’s the Real Madrid “crisis” over, then. The champions strolled to a 3-0 win over Las Palmas (who played ok for a little while at the Bernabéu but will soon be looking for their third manager of the season). Marco Asensio scored perhaps the goal of the weekend with a vicious rising volley that I’m sure you’ve seen 12,000 times.

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