Barça's siege at the summit lasted just three hours
Full-time was almost up in Vitoria when Theo and Aleix Vidal went in at full throttle for a 50-50 ball. The Barça player came out the worst in the challenge, dislocating his ankle, which had become trapped under his rival. The game had barely got underway in Pamplona when Isco and Tano collided and it instantly became clear that the latter’s shin bone had snapped in two. Two very harrowing sights. Later, towards the end, we saw Danilo helped off the pitch. His injury doesn’t seem too serious. Aleix and Tano both face lengthy spell out of action.
Football can produce such pain-inducing moments. Those horrifying images dampened a promising weekend in which we watched with interest to see if Barça could nudge Madrid off the top of the table, even if it was just provisionally. They did just that, but their lead lasted just three hours. Alavés fielded just a quarter of the players who faced Celta the other night and proved easy pickings for Barça, whose technical supremacy ensured they dominated from start to finish; and scored six goals in the process. Seeing as Madrid still have two games in hand, the three points gained in Vitoria put Barça top, but all eyes were worriedly on poor Aleix. It was such terribly bad luck to have suffered an injury like that just when he was starting to make his mark.
Disjointed but efficient
Madrid had it much harder in Pamplona. Osasuna played well, and particularly their front two - Sergio León and Jaime Romero. They provoked the first great performance from Keylor Navas since his return from injury. Madrid, who started with an attacking 3-5-2, never really gelled during the game. Modric still isn’t 100%. But their effectiveness up front and Osasuna’s weakness at the back allowed them to win the game 1-3. While not playing their best football, they have the integrity which characterizes leaders. But just as I switched the television off I was left thinking about the sorry look of anguish on the faces of Madrid’s players as they reflected on Tano as they made their way back to the dressing room. Football can sometimes produce pain and yesterday we saw its ugly, crude extreme side.