March 8, 2014
Atletico's win, coupled with Barcelona FC's away loss to Valladolid earlier today places coach Diego Simeone's Madrid side in second place ahead of Barca. Meanwhile Real Madrid, with a game in hand and in first place, has a chance to go up by four points if it can win at home against Levante tomorrow.
The game at Estado Balaidos was decided in less than two minutes as David Villa made his return to the starting line-up a reason for double celebration. He jumped on a botched defensive pass ricochet and streaked into the box for a breakaway score and less than a minute later was on the receiving end of a perfect cross that saw the striker stroke the ball into the lower left of Yoel Rodriguez Oterino's goal from just inside the box: two minutes, two goals and game settled.
Vicente del Bosque, trying Diego Costa out as a Spanish National Team striker, now has to think clearly about his choices as Alvaro Negredo, Roberto Soldado, and now David Villa seem to be making noises in support of their tickets to Brazil's 2014 World Cup.
Earlier in the morning a strangely lackadaisical and misfiring Barcelona, featuring Neymar and Lionel Messi, and having their fair number of scoring chances, lost 0-1 to hosts Real Valladolid, at Jose Zorrilla Stadium. The only goal, product of Valladolid's quick reaction to the ball in recuperating three blocked shots in Barca's box, saw Fausto Rossi score from close range (http://bit.ly/MX1Q1K).
The play was emblematic of the game as Barcelona was missing basic passes, seemed unable to routinely put plays together, and was often backpedaling despite having their better defenders on the pitch. Simply a collective day off for the Catalans, and it cost them dearly. Valladolid, in fairness, was playing well above their relegation-threatened status and deserved the win if only through their sheer determination and hard work.
Tomorrow, Real Madrid coach, Carlo Ancelotti, has a great chance to cushion his side's position in anticipation of the Clasico later this month. Look for him to put a no-nonsense side on the pitch.