By Lewis Irons

Trouble in paradise as Messi and Villa exchange words

Arguments and sabotage overshadowed the weekend’s action in La Liga, where Barcelona struggled, Valencia were stunned, Falcao rescued Atletico again and Real Madrid were plunged into blackout at Rayo Vallecano, as their fixture was postponed until Monday night.

Spartak Moscow proved to be a difficult test midweek for Barcelona, and it appeared as though Granada would hold the Catalans and earn themselves a point with a sturdy performance, but it wasn’t to be. A late wonder goal from Xavi looked to be enough
to seal all three points, and all doubt was diminished when a bit of magic from Messi forced an error from Borja Gomez as he turned the ball into his own net. However, the evening had a sour aftertaste when Messi and David Villa were pictured in the midst of a heated debate after the Argentine failed to play in his teammate when the scoreline was all square. Tito Vilanova later insisted that too much had been made of the onscreen spat.

Despite this overhyped, over-discussed moment, it has been a positive week for Barca, battling back from 2-1 down to beat the Russian side in the Champions League and squeezing past Granada were both minor talking points in a week in which Messi looks set to renew his already new contract, keeping him in Catalonia beyond the age of 30. Young starlet Cristian Tello looks in line to sign a new deal for the Spanish giants too.

Elsewhere, Mallorca continued their fine start to the season with a win over Valencia who, like Real Madrid, are having a terrible time in La Liga. A half-volley from Victor Casadesus gave Mallorca an early lead, and Los Che a nightmare start. It was almost a case of deja vu in the second half when another half-volley, this time from Arizmendi, doubled Los Bermellones’ lead, almost the exact same duration into the second half, as the opener came in the first.

It was a familiar sight for Atletico Madrid fans when Colombian forward… Wait, does he need an introduction? It was that man again, Radamel Falcao who gave his team another three points when he tucked away the winner from the penalty spot, bagging his fifth goal in just four league appearances this season. Godin and Bueno were on the scoresheet either side of Falcao’s spot kick. Godin gave Madrid the lead just after the half hour mark and Bueno struck back to give Atletico a brief moment of panic, but the hosts clung on to their one goal advantage and took three points from the match, which finished 2-1.

In what could have been one of the standout fixtures of the weekend, Bilbao and Malaga played out a dull, goalless draw at San Mames, in which both goalkeepers were scarcely tested, and the best chance came in the 81st minute when Iraola fed a fantastic through ball to Susaeta, whose ambitious dink was caught with ease by Willy Caballero.

Other results in La Liga saw Real Zaragoza prove to be the most entertaining side of the weekend, as they put three past Osasuna in a match that ended 3-1. Levante saw off Real Sociedad by two goals to one, as did Celta Vigo against Getafe.

Real Betis moved up to third spot after they extended Espanyol’s poor start with a clinical 1-0 victory.

Ronaldo not a happy bunny at the lack of Sunday night action for Madrid

A first half tap in from Karim Benzema and a penalty converted by Cristiano Ronaldo was enough for Real Madrid to see off Rayo Vallecano on Monday night, a day after was originally scheduled, after their fixture was postponed due to ‘sabotage’. It was reported that a group of unhappy Rayo fans expressed their disappointment at the fact that even season ticket holders were asked to fork out an extra €25 for the Real fixture, and took matters into their own hands by cutting the electric supply to the floodlights, meaning the fixture could no longer go ahead. Other fans, (who didn’t cut cables) are expected to not show up to the game, so there will be a surprisingly empty Estadio Teresa Rivero tonight, in attempts to thwart future ticket inflation. If such protests and reactions from fans continue, things will only get darker in the Spanish top flight.