FOOTBALL – Roughly two-thirds of the way through the La Liga 2023/23 season and only 11 games remaining, means every match now must count for the leaderboard table.
The weekend saw some fantastic goals, and although there were over 40 yellow cards, surprisingly, there were no red ones!
El Clasico was last night (Sunday) as Barcelona hosted Real Madrid at Camp Nou. Before the game, Barça were already 9 points ahead of their 2nd place rivals. Therefore, Real Madrid really needed a win to slow down the gap.
And the game did not disappoint. It was action from the kick-off. Immediately, the Madrid side showed their strength within the first minute of the match. Benzema reached the ball on the far side of the box and aimed for the goal. But Ter Stegen held it firm.
Two minutes later, and there was a chance for Lewandowski, but Courtois got to it. A few minutes after that, and it was another chance for Barça, but Roberto´s volley inched over the bar.
Then, just nine minutes in, Real Madrid went one up! But it was an own goal as the ball deflected off Araujo and into the box behind Ter Stegen. As the first half continued, Courtois continued to make saves to deny Barcelona. But just on the half time mark, Roberto equalised.
Barcelona came out strong in the second half and again had many chances, but Courtois was playing a blinder. Then, in the 79th minute, Benzema nearly scored. However, Ter Stergen held it firm.
Two minutes later, Asensio scored for Barcelona. Var was consulted, and it took a full 3 minutes for the “no goal” decision to come back.
At the 90-minute mark, although Barcelona had the upper hand, it was still 1-1. Five minutes of stoppage time was added. Two minutes in, and Kessie who was hovering on the far side of the box, scored.
It ended 2-1 for Barcelona with 3 points to put them a whopping 12 points ahead of Real Madrid.
Getafe v Sevilla
Both Getafe and Sevilla were middle of the table, therefore both were looking for that win. With not much between the two teams, Getafe showed they had the edge and managed to put 2 goals past the Seville side, and gain the 3 points which nudged them one point ahead of Sevilla.
Osasuna v Villarreal
Not having won during their last two outings, Osasuna didn´t prove to be much of a problem for Villarreal. Despite having the home advantage, Osasuna failed to score. Villarreal netted 3 goals and bagged the 3 points putting them into 6th position.
Real Sociedad and Real Betis
Real Sociedad and Real Betis were both at home against Elche and Mallorca respectively, and both won their games with relative ease. Real Sociedad are in 4th place, 3 points ahead of Real Betis who are in 5th position on 45 points.
Atletico won all three points with 3 goals against Valencia who failed to score. Atletico remain in 3rd position with 51 points.
La Liga table
With 11 games remaining it is tight at both ends of the table. At the top, no-one can afford to slip up as they compete for the spots. Only 10 points separate 3rd position from 6th. The top two, Barcelona (68) Real Madrid (56) have a wider margin. However, Atletico, Real Sociedad, Real Betis, and Villarreal are looking towards European football next season. The top 4 will qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage, with 5th place going to the Europa League group stage, and 6th position will enter the Europa Conference League qualifiers.
At the bottom of the table, Elche has only won 1 of their last games out of 5, and are sitting on 13 points. Valencia (18th) and Almeria (19th), who managed a last-minute equaliser against Cadiz are both on 26 points. There are a further 5 clubs with under 30 points who need every match to count to keep them from sliding down the table towards relegation.
Cadiz and Sevilla
Cadiz and Sevilla are neck and neck on points, and will play on Saturday at the Nuevo Mirandilla stadium in Cadiz. Both teams have only won 1 of their last 5 matches, and both are sitting on 28 points. However, Sevilla has a slight edge due to goal difference.
Elche v Barcelona
Also on Saturday, bottom of the table, Elche face top of the table Barcelona.
Villarreal are playing at home against Real Sociedad on Sunday, however, even if they win, they will remain in 6th place. But, if Real Sociedad win, it will put them within touching distance of Atletico Madrid.
Also on Sunday, however, Real Betis will play against Atletico Madrid. Therefore, we could see a bit of a shuffle in the La Liga table between the 4th and 5th positions.