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La Liga Review: Goals Galore as Betis stun Barça & Madrid giants close gap
Alex Wrigley
Alex Wrigley
November 12, 2018
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Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.

What is already turning into an extraordinary season in La Liga took another unexpected twist this weekend as Real Betis went to Camp Nou, scored four goals and inflicted on Barcelona their first home league defeat in over two years. The game not only underlined what a good side Betis are capable of becoming but also opened up the title race again particularly with the Madrid clubs both winning.

It was far from a routine weekend for the sides from the capital either though with both conceding twice but still winning as Atletico Madrid closed to within a point of the Catalans. Real Madrid are suddenly very much back in the shake-up too with Santiago Solari taking a giant leap towards getting a permanent contract at the Bernabeu with his side’s win at Celta Vigo.

Read more – Serie A review: Juve keep cool as Higuain Blows Top

Brilliant Betis claim victory at Camp Nou

It has been a curious kind of season for Real Betis fans. They have already won a Seville derby and claimed victories at the San Siro and Camp Nou, two of the great cathedrals of European football. Yet they remain in the bottom half of La Liga and there was even talk that Quique Setien was starting to come under some pressure heading into his side’s stunning 4-3 victory at Barcelona on Sunday afternoon.

It was a performance that any future visiting side to Barcelona would be wise to watch through from start to finish. Betis expertly veered between different approaches, at times resorting to merely keeping the ball but also committing many bodies forward when the time was right with a series of blistering counter attacks catching Barcelona cold. While their third goal was the direct result of a rare error from Marc-Andre ter Stegen, there was little else fortunate about the victory and Setien can rightly claim to have executed his game-plan perfectly against a side that had beaten his team 5-0 in Seville in the most recent meeting.

It’s not quite back to the drawing board for Barcelona but the result marked their first home league defeat since early September 2016 and the first time they’ve conceded four at home in 15 years. More than that it showcased that there is still a vulnerability to this side that can be exploited by a team willing to take one or two calculated gambles. Even the return from injury of Leo Messi failed to save Ernesto Valverde’s side although the Argentine did score twice on his comeback and they do still head into the international break in top spot.

Read more – Seville clubs looking like strong Europa League contenders

Solari set for Real Madrid job after win in Vigo

Santiago Solari is expected to be announced as the permanent Real Madrid boss early this week after he again steered Los Blancos to victory on Sunday evening. The game was billed as the toughest challenge of his short reign against a Celta Vigo side that had only previously suffered one home defeat in 2018. While a Full-Time score of 4-2 perhaps exaggerated their dominance, Real never surrendered their advantage after Karim Benzema’s 23rd minute goal.

Yet another Panenka penalty from Sergio Ramos and a fine strike from Dani Ceballos sealed the win late on and while they still don’t fully convince, 4 wins from 4 under Solari is clear evidence that they are over their blip. The poor form of the likes of Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio remain causes for concern but slowly the confidence seems to be returning to Real Madrid and for the first time in months they put in a performance and got a result more befitting of European champions.

The international break gives them a fortnight to regroup and it now seems certain that Santiago Solari will still be in charge when they head to Eibar on 24th November. They are back up to 6th as a result of the weekend’s results and are just 4 points behind leaders Barcelona with the title race still refusing to take on any clear shape.

Read more – The small clubs challenging the usual pecking order in La Liga

Godin strikes late as Atleti claim dramatic Win

Before either Barcelona or Real Madrid had taken to the field this weekend, Atleti had already been involved in a goal-fest of their own. At home against a struggling Athletic Bilbao side who they almost always beat, it was seen as a low risk fixture especially following on from an impressive Champions League win over Dortmund. Inaki Williams had other ideas though as the speedy Athletic striker netted twice to give the Basques a 2-1 lead, one which they held heading into the final ten minutes.

However as they invariably do, Atletico Madrid still managed to find a way to grind out the right result. Young Spanish international Rodri headed in the equaliser before emergency centre-forward Diego Godin scored something of a poacher’s goal in the 91st minute as another Atleti set-piece caused problems and after a VAR review they celebrated having grabbed all the points. The Uruguayan has now bagged two goals in his last two league games but Diego Costa’s 9-month drought goes on with the former Chelsea man unceremoniously hauled off at Half-Time. The result still leaves as many questions as answers as far as Atletico Madrid are concerned although Diego Simeone may point to the absence of several key defenders while once again they proved their character and willingness to fight to the very final kick.

There are big problems for Athletic Bilbao though despite another promising showing against top opposition. The Basque giants haven’t won since the opening day of the season and are only outside the drop-zone on goal difference. Eduardo Berizzo will start to come under real pressure if that winless streak doesn’t end soon and rumours of a fall-out with talented midfielder Iker Muniain won’t help his cause.

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