Herculean effort undoes Barcelona at the Nou Camp
Three weeks ago I said that this season’s La Liga will be an ‘exhibition league’, with Real Madrid and Barcelona dropping very few points over the next nine months.
Already I — and a few others — are starting to look a wee bit silly. Don’t you just love football, eh?
There is no doubt that Hercules’ terrific 2-0 victory away at Barcelona was a huge surprise, especially after Pep Guardiola’s side avoided defeat at the Nou Camp last season when they won a second successive title. In fact, Hercules, who were promoted from the Segunda Division in May, could have won the game by three goals; David Trezeguet failed to hit the target late in the second half.
Along with Trezeguet, Royston Drenthe also made his Hercules debut and he set up the first of Nelson Valdez’s goals. Many journalists and Real fans here in the Spanish capital were surprised to hear Drenthe — in the build up to the match — describe Barcelona as “the world’s best team.” Based on style, it is a fair point, but the winger is still a Real Madrid player! He’s just on loan to Hercules, although now it is very hard to imagine him ever returning to the Santiago Bernabeu. It seems Drenthe was expressing his frustration at not being considered a part of Jose Mourinho’s plans, despite getting a good chance to impress Real’s new coach in pre season.
Real Madrid are now a point ahead of Barcelona in La Liga, following a laboured 1-0 win over Osasuna.
Jose Antonio Camcho’s side did not just park the autos at the Bernabeu; they drove two down from Pamplona. Yes, Real Madrid were not at their best by any means but Osasuna were dreadful. Iker Casillas could have read a book during the match — Madrid’s rivals failed to get one shot on target.
Given Barca’s defeat over the weekend and the two points Madrid dropped away at Real Mallorca on the opening day of the season, the start of the season has been both exciting and unpredictable.
Atletico Madrid top La Liga after scoring six goals in two matches — I went to see their first game against Sporting Gijon and they ripped them apart. Atleti did really well to keep hold of Diego Forlan in the summer. The former Manchester United striker, who was strongly linked with a return to the Premier League after scoring five goals and winning the Golden Boot at the 2010 World Cup, has already netted three times in Spain’s top division.
Valencia have also made a 100% start, securing victories against Racing Santander and Malaga.
Maybe Barcelona and Real Madrid will surge ahead in the next few weeks. Or maybe we will see a tighter finish than last season, when second-placed Madrid finished 25 points in front of Valencia. One thing is for sure though: I won’t be making any more big predictions!