Week 2 of the 2014-15 La Liga season will serve up several enticing fixtures, including the matches between Villareal and Barcelona and Real Sociedad and Real Madrid on Sunday.
Just two matches were scheduled to be played on Friday, but fans were treated to plenty of excitement, goals and a bit of controversy as Getafe beat Almeria 1-0 and Valencia took advantage of an early red card to record an easy 3-0 win over Malaga.
Here's the full schedule for Week 2 of La Liga action:
|Friday, August 29||Getafe||1-0||Almeria|
|Friday, August 29||Valencia||3-0||Malaga|
|Saturday, August 30||Athletic Bilbao||3-0||Levante|
|Saturday, August 30||Cordoba||1-1||Celta Vigo|
|Saturday, August 30||Atletico Madrid||2-1||Eibar|
|Saturday, August 30||Espanyol||1-2||Sevilla|
|Sunday, August 31||Villareal||vs.||Barcelona|
|Sunday, August 31||Deportivo la Coruna||vs.||Rayo Vallecano|
|Sunday, August 31||Real Sociedad||vs.||Real Madrid|
|Sunday, August 31||Elche||vs.||Granada|
|David Zurutuza||Real Sociedad||2|
|Alberto Bueno||Ray Vallecano||2|
|Aritz Aduriz||Athletic Bilbao||1|
|Ander Iturraspe||Athletic Bilbao||1|
|Iker Muniain||Athletic Bilbao||1|
|Fabian Orellana||Celta Vigo||1|
|Mario Mandzukic||Atletico Madrid||1|
|Sergio Ramos||Real Madrid||1|
|Gareth Bale||Real Madrid||1|
|Inigo Martinez||Real Sociedad||1|
|Carlos Vela||Real Sociedad||1|
|Jose Rodriguez||Deportivo La Coruna||1|
|Isaac Cuenca||Deportivo La Coruna||1|
via ESPN FC
Alvaro Vazquez struck just before the half-hour mark to give Getafe the lead, and despite a late rally from the visitors, the Azulones held on to record their first win of the season.
Vazquez took advantage of some sloppy defending to poke home from close range between two players on the visiting side, and his goal would prove to be the difference in an otherwise drab encounter.
Pablo Sarabia, formerly of Real Madrid, played an excellent match directing the hosts' attack, and it was his pass that created the space needed for Vazquez to convert after 29 minutes.
As shared by OptaJose, Cosmin Contra knew his team was going to hold on to their slim lead the moment the ball crossed the line:
3 - All three Getafe's wins with Contra as manager come vs Andalusian teams and all of them ended 1-0 (Malaga, Sevilla and Almeria). Tight— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 29, 2014
Almeria are left with just one point out of their two opening fixtures, but they'll have a chance to rebound when they host Cordoba in Week 3.
Valencia took advantage of an early red card for Malaga's Sergi Darder, winning 3-0 to rise to the top of the La Liga standings.
Paco Alcacer opened the scoring in the first half, and Daniel Parejo added a second, converting his own rebound after missing a penalty, to give the hosts an insurmountable lead going into half-time.
Pablo Piatti also got on the board as the match threatened to run into a rout, but the hosts took their foot off the gas and simply played out the rest of the match.
Darder made an unnecessary challenge on Parejo in the 26th minute, coming in with a high foot and seemingly grazing the midfielder's hamstring. Malaga were furious with the decision, but the challenge did look awkward.
He became the third Malaga player to be sent off in just two matches, and while the visitors had dominated up until that point, Valencia quickly assumed control. As shared by Soccer Spain, it took the hosts no time at all to take advantage of the man advantage:
...and new Spanish international Paco Alcácer scores just a minute or so after Darder sent off! How things can change in a short time...— SOCCER-SPAIN (@LoveLaLiga) August 29, 2014
Young striker Alcacer timed his run perfectly and deviated a cross into the back of the net, before Weligton Oliveira handled the ball in his own box, gifting the hosts a penalty just before the end of the first half. Parejo saw his initial effort stopped by Carlos Kameni, but the rebound landed right at his feet.
Piatti finished a beautiful passing display from Valencia early in the second half, and as shared by OptaJose, that hardly came as a surprise:
17 - Parejo, Piatti and Alcacer have scored more than 50% of @valenciacf goals in La Liga since the start of 2014 (17 out of 32). Triangle— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 29, 2014
Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid will both play at home on Saturday, against Levante and Eibar respectively, and both clubs will be looking for three points in those fixtures.
Fans can't wait to see what Barcelona and Real Madrid can do on Monday, however, as the two giants of Spanish football once again look like they will battle it out for the title.
Athletic Bilbao got their first win of the league season Saturday with a 3-0 victory over Levante.
The club earned an important play-off win over Napoli to get a spot in the Champions League group stage, but they kicked off league play with a loss to Malaga. Manager Ernesto Valverde explained the importance of the match against Levante, via Heath Chesters of Inside Spanish Football:
We have to position ourselves better in La Liga, we have zero points and we need a win. It will be difficult for us to beat Levante, who also come here in need of points. We’re obliged to win because of our result last week. Our next away game is at the Camp Nou, so there’s urgency to get points.
With goals by Aritz Aduriz, Ander Iturraspe and Iker Muniain, the squad was able to control the match and earn an important win.
Also coming off a disappointing performance in the first match was Atletico Madrid. The defending champions could only manage a draw against Rayo Vallecano, which meant a better performance was needed in Week 2.
The squad was able to get this thanks to early goals by Miranda and Mario Mandzukic to go up 2-0 in the first 25 minutes. Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC describes the impressive second goal, which ended up being the difference:
2-0 Atletico. Another set-piece. Gabi with the delivery and Mandzukic with easy enough header from 10 yards.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 30, 2014
OptaJose also provides a note about the new signing:
8 - No other player has scored more headed goals than Mario Mandzukic in the Europe’s top five leagues since the 2013/14 season. Hammer.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 30, 2014
Abraham Minero got onto the scoresheet for Eibar, but they were unable to get a second score to equalise. Atletico Madrid were then able to hold on for the important three points.
Also in action on Saturday were Cordoba and Celta Vigo, who ended up with a 1-1 draw with Federico Cartabia and Fabian Orellana each scoring for their teams in the second half.
A predictably tough road trip to Camp El Madrigal saw Barcelona engage in a defensive battle against Villarreal to start off Sunday's fixtures. In the end, Barca managed to emerge with three points, courtesy of Sandro Ramirez's clutch winner in the 82nd minute.
As ESPN Stats & Info pointed out, history was against Villarreal holding court on their home pitch:
Barcelona tops Villareal, 1-0. Barcelona hasn't lost on the road to Villarreal since 2007— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 31, 2014
WhoScored.com noted that Barcelona had a number of opportunities to break the scoreless tie before superstar Lionel Messi found Ramirez on a nice cross for the decisive goal:
Sandro Ramírez: Scored with Barcelona’s 19th shot of the game against Villarreal— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) August 31, 2014
Barca manager Luis Enrqiue was pleased with the grit his club showed, per the team's official Twitter account:
Offensive fireworks were the storyline for the clash between Real Sociedad and Real Madrid. After the latter's Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale pounced for two goals in the first 11 minutes, the hosting Royals bounced back with a whopping four unanswered goals for a 4-2 victory.
2-0 down. 4-2 up. Real Sociedad > Real Madrid pic.twitter.com/KLNq3dBhbN— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) August 31, 2014
OptaJose provided further context for the surprising result:
1 - Real Sociedad are the first team to score four league goals at home against Real Madrid with Carlo Ancelotti as coach. Surprise.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 31, 2014
David Zurutuza led the way for Real Sociedad with two goals (41', 65'), with the first serving as the tying tally and the last being the eventual game-winner.
La Liga newcomers Deportivo La Coruna were in danger of suffering two straight losses, yet found a way to get the equaliser in a 2-2 draw versus Rayo Vallecano. Isaac Cuenca scored on a penalty in extra time to give the hosts a much-needed point.
Deportivo's official website outlined Cuenca's production and activity in Sunday's match:
Isaac Cuenca: Pass ratio: 81% Shots: 4 On target: 2 Goals: 1 Fouls: 4— RCDLC.com (@rcdlccom) August 31, 2014
Vallecans star forward Alberto Bueno scored both goals for his team, yet it wasn't enough to ensure victory.
In the final fixture of the Week 2, Elche and Granada engaged in a hard-fought battle that saw the latter's Fran Rico score in the 81st minute. Thankfully for Elche, that was answered by defender David Lomban in extra time to salvage the point.
One glaring, early trend that stands out from the beginning of the 2014-15 La Liga season is parity. Barcelona, always a league powerhouse, is the only team that has a perfect record through just two matches. That suggests the depth of competition is improving, and the newly promoted teams are establishing themselves in swift fashion.
Week 3 ought to have more at stake than is custom at this juncture of the year. Barcelona will try to start the season with three wins in taking on Athletic, while Real Madrid faces a massive showdown with Atletico Madrid. Those matches will garner the most attention, but just about all other clubs are worth monitoring to see which ones distinguish themselves in the coming matchdays.