When La Liga is about to go into its hottest period, all the big guns fired in order to keep their club staying apace. Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Costa on Saturday, Lionel Messi on Sunday, all scored for their clubs as Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona completed their weekly tasks. The table remains unchanged but the signal launched from their aces is clear: when the clubs need them, they are in.
If just one goal has been enough for both Ronaldo and Costa, Messi did better, scoring a hat-trick against Osasuna and so adding another record to his career: having reached the impressive figure of 371 goals, the Argentinean has become the highest scorer at Barcelona, surpassing Paulino Alcantara (369) an early hero of the Catalan club between 1912 and 1927.
While the final score of 7-0 may suggest that it has been an effortless task, before the game part of the press warned Barcelona. “Vencer y Convencer”, winning and convincing, was underlined by Mundo Deportivo as the principal aim. No doubt that Barça would have won at home against a relegation-threatened team, but they were asked to do it in the right way. Blaugrana needed to deliver a strong message to their supporters and above all else to their rivals.
Eventually, how they trounced Osasuna was convincing enough: Andres Iniesta and Messi were superb the whole evening and with them the rest of team. While the victory against Manchester City gave some positive feedback, now Barça have showed that the erratic spell might be considered over.
Messi seems to have improved by far his form and his contribution may be the added value in this final part of the season. However, there is still a feeling of uncertainty at Camp Nou, with Gerardo Martino’s future still a risk and the upcoming weeks will determine his destiny.
Real Madrid played first at La Rosaleda in Malaga where they won 1-0. The aforementioned Ronaldo scored in the first half with a clinical finish but the injury to Benzema could be a worry for Ancelotti in view of next weekend’s El Clasico. The Frenchman picked a knock in a silly way when he collided with his teammate Ronaldo in an attacking action. Eventually the striker was unable to continue and was taken off shortly after the incident.
Real Madrid will face Schalke 04 on Tuesday but with an outstanding 6-1’s away win in the first leg it is clear that they will have in mind only one match : next Sunday’s El Clásico against Barcelona. That game could mean a lot for both sides. Real have an advantage of four points and a victory will definitely put their rival adrift while a draw will keep the situation unchanged.
Obviously, Barça need three points to keep alive their hopes while Atletico Madrid also could benefit from the result of the big clash. Three points behind Real, Los Colchoneros won at home 1-0 against Espanyol last Saturday, four days after demolishing Milan 4-1 in the second leg of the Champions League.
Next weekend they will face Betis Sevilla away just few hours before El Clásico but their coach Diego Simeone doesn’t want to discuss their possibilities to win La Liga.
“Only when we will be in the last five matches of the tournament I would talk about our title’s chances. Of course, provided that we will be in the same of position we are now, ” declared Simeone after the match against Espanyol.