New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANS) Matchday 23 of the 2022/23 LaLiga Santander season threw up a host of fascinating storylines, with several of the clubs near the top of the standings dropping points against those threatened by relegation.
Here’s a quick round-up:
Real Madrid have a new hero in Alvaro Rodriguez
There is fresh excitement at Real Madrid, who have a new hero to celebrate in the form of 18-year-old striker Alvaro Rodríguez. The academy graduate came off the bench in Los Blancos’ Madrid Derby on Saturday and headed in the equalising goal against Atleti to earn his side a 1-1 draw. That was his first goal for the senior team and proves he is one to watch, with Carlo Ancelotti already confirming he’ll have more game time this season.
Barca also fall at the Power Horse Stadium
By taking a point from the Madrid Derby, Real Madrid cut the gap to LaLiga Santander leaders FC Barcelona to seven points in Matchday 23. That’s because Barca became the latest team to fall to defeat at UD Almeria’s Power Horse Stadium, losing 1-0 to an El Bilal Toure goal. The Andalusian side have been so impressive there this season, taking 22 points from their 12 home fixtures, which is the third-best home record in the division.
Valencia CF remain in the drop zone, but have fresh hope
Fans of Valencia CF were able to savour victory once more on Saturday night, as Los Che defeated Real Sociedad 1-0. That ended a run of five consecutive defeats and gives them and new coach Ruben Baraja fresh hope and momentum, even if they remain inside the relegation zone for now.
Simeone has two more records to his name
By coaching the Madrid Derby, Diego Simeone reached two new milestones. He matched the 612 total matches that Luis Aragones had coached as Atletico de Madrid manager, while the Argentine also become the man to have coached the most LaLiga Santander games with the same club, as he has now surpassed Miguel Muñoz with 425 matches.
Cadiz CF are having fun at the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla
It was Carnaval week in the city of Cadiz and that festive feeling was felt at the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla on Saturday, as Cadiz CF defeated Rayo Vallecano 1-0 while wearing a special Carnaval shirt. This was their third home win in a row and their ninth home game in a row without a defeat, an unbeaten run that this stadium hadn’t seen since 1988.
Gabri Veiga, the new heir to Iago Aspas
RC Celta fans already knew that Gabri Veiga was incredible before this past weekend, but the 20-year-old confirmed it once more by scoring twice and assisting another in the Galician side’s 3-0 victory over Real Valladolid. He now has eight goals and three assists this season and, even if he plays a slightly deeper position than Iago Aspas, he is proving he can one day take over as the leader of the club.
There are no easy fixtures in LaLiga Santander
One general lesson learned from Matchday 23 is that there are no easy fixtures in LaLiga Santander. None of the teams that entered the round in the Champions League spots were able to win, while each of Valencia CF, UD Almería and Cadiz CF won their matches after finding themselves inside the relegation zone at kick-off. Even bottom-placed Elche CF gave Real Betis a really tough time in what was ultimately a narrow 3-2 loss for them.
Reinildo will miss the rest of the season
Atletico de Madrid suffered a major blow this past week as their centre-back Reinildo suffered an ACL injury after he fell awkwardly during the Madrid Derby. He underwent surgery on Sunday and now begins a lengthy recovery process, one which will sadly keep him out of action for most of 2023.
Real Madrid still thrive in the Champions League
Real Madrid returned to Champions League action this past week and they showed that they still possess the comeback spirit that led them to last year’s European Cup and to 14 in their history. Despite going 2-0 down early against a strong opponent such as Liverpool, Los Blancos stayed mentally strong and powered to a 5-2 victory over the Premier League side.
Spanish sides will visit Turkey, England, Italy and Belgium
The last 16 draws for two other UEFA competitions, the Europa League and the Conference League, took place on Friday, with four Spanish sides involved. In the Europa League, Sevilla FC will face Fenerbahce, Real Betis were paired with Manchester United and Real Sociedad will take on AS Roma. In the Conference League, Villarreal CF were drawn against Anderlecht in the round of 16.