Real Madrid won their match against Valladolid 4-0. Bale scored 3 routine goals and made the other with a Beckham like lobbed pass to Benzema. That put Real Madrid at 37 points for the season, three behind Atletico Madrid and Barcelona (who both are on 40 points) after Barcelona lost their tough away match 1-0.
Real Madrid started the match playing at a much higher level than Valladolid and dominated the game from the start of the match till the final minute.
There were suggestions that Real Madrid might have tough match as Real Madrid had played a tough game mid week against Galatasaray. Tough game because Real Madrid played for 70 minutes with ten men, not a tough game because the quality of the opposition that showed up that night.
Gareth Bale continued to show, for the second match in a row, why Real Madrid payed 85 million pounds for him (and why it cost Barcelona 50 million to sign Neymar) as he scored his first hat trick for Real Madrid. The hat trick goals themselves were nothing special but the build up play was and it was all Gareth Bale’s.
He has not even reached 100 percent fitness yet but still was able to outrun everyone on the field even in the 90th minute of the game in which he scored his third goal. His strength and directness is something everyone should worry about.
Whatever happens this season with Gareth Bale. Season 2014-2015 is going to feel the force of nature that is Gareth Bale. The only thing that is not so world class about Gareth Bale, for now, is his shooting. His finish is not as sharp as it has been in the past. Though some might say that his goal against Juventus and Galatasaray show that he still has what it takes to be a top striker.
While Gareth Bale is experiencing a rise in form, Neymar is feeling ‘the dip’ especially since the departure of Messi (till 2014). Barcelona were relying on Neymar to step up when Messi was ruled out for the rest of the year but he has failed so far to carry this MESSIless Barcelona. Obviously he can spring back up to life at any given moment but so far, he has not delivered and neither have Barcelona.
Barcelona have now lost 2 matches in a row. One in the Champions League and one in the league. They have not scored from open play in both of them. I think whether these two defeats hurt Barcelona in terms of title chances is another thing but to see Barcelona so feeble when going forward is quite another. Barcelona were exposed. Badly.
Someone at Barcelona HQ should start to work and plan about Barcelona side’s true ability without Messi or post Messi. It’s not like Messi is going to play (or play at this level) forever. For all anyone knows, he might not play for Barcelona next season either as Manchester City is saving up money for a big move.
Whatever the case. This weekend finally put back some life in La liga. Otherwise, I was getting disinterested in La Liga to see Barcelona win every match with relative ease and Real Madrid just trying everything to reduce the gap to no avail. Now Atletico Madrid are also in the mix to win La Liga and perhaps a part of me wants someone, excluding Barcelona and Real Madrid, else to win the League title this season.
(Photos by Laura and Mark Puig)