Crisis? What crisis? Zinedine Zidane’s side answered their critics in the most emphatic way on Saturday against a seriously under-par Sevilla side.
Despite a decimated defence which only had one recognised starter in it – Marcelo – Real were a goal to the good before the game had even settled down, Nacho scoring their fastest goal of the season after two minutes and 10 seconds.
The Andalusians then had a period of 20 minutes where they completely dominated but couldn’t finish, and it came back to haunt them in spectacular fashion.
A wonderful break by Marco Asensio teed up Cristiano Ronaldo to score his first on the day that he offered his fifth Ballon d’Or to the Santiago Bernabeu. By the half hour, Real were three up, Ronaldo grabbing a penalty after Jesus Navas was harshly adjudged to have deliberately handballed in the area.
Two more sweeping moves before half-time saw Toni Kroos and Achraf Hakimi (with his first for the club) make it five. What a way to make a statement as they head out to play the Club World Cup!
Thanks to Dani Parejo’s 81st minute penalty, Valencia’s bubble hasn’t burst – yet.
But for long periods they were under the cosh against Celta Vigo, who showed once again, a week on from their excellent result against Barcelona, that they’re able to play any set of tactical systems with equal aplomb.
Simone Zaza hit the post in the second minute of the game but wouldn’t be denied his 10th of the season, and it eventually arrived before the half hour, a header from Parejo’s delightful assist.
Any thoughts of steamrollering the opposition were swiftly dismissed when Iago Aspas scored his ninth of the campaign a minute after half time.
It was then that the Galicians went into overdrive and if anyone was going to score again, it would be the visitors.
That was until Hugo Mallo’s intervention, handing Valencia a lifeline from the spot.
Once dispatched, it was a lead Los Che were never going to give up and they saw out the final 10 minutes with relative ease.
On the weekend when everyone was talking about Cristiano Ronaldo, wouldn’t you just know that Lionel Messi would turn up to spoil the party.
His 83rd minute goal didn’t just seal Barca’s 2-0 win over Villarreal, keeping them five points clear at the top of La Liga in the process, it also happened to be his 300th league win and, more importantly, his 525th goal for the Catalans, equalling Gerd Muller’s record of most goals with one club in the top European leagues.
In truth, Barca really had to battle for the victory at a difficult ground. Their task was made easier when Raba was red carded for a vicious tackle on Sergio Busquets, but they’ve still got Marc-Andre ter Stegen to thank for keeping them in it.
Luis Suarez had already strayed offside on a number of occasions before a neat give and go with Paco Alcacer saw the Uruguayan open the scoring and get the monkey off of his back.
Constant pressure from the away side thereafter got its reward when Messi put the game beyond doubt.