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Real Madrid's Isco gives virtuoso display in his beloved Málaga


This weekend's chief LaLiga intrigue came at the Camp Nou, where, in the wake of their Champions League disaster in Rome - and the criticism and introspection that it had sparked - Barcelona went into Saturday's clash with Valencia under a bit of pressure. Who knows what would have happened had they lost again. Many had been reminded of the late-season collapse suffered by Carlos Queiroz's Real Madrid, who were chasing the treble and ended up empty-handed, losing their last five league games in the process. Much like this Barça, that Real scarcely used the options available to them on the bench and, come spring time, they were exhausted and bereft of spirit. By beating Valencia, thanks in no small part to Marc-André ter Stegen, the Catalans warded off a crisis that could have become a sizeable one.

Barcelona still on for first unbeaten campaign since 1930s

So Ernesto Valverde can breathe easier. The Champions League may have slipped through his fingers, but the prestige of the LaLiga title will soon shine through once more. And, lest we forget, Barça remain in contention to go through the entire league season unbeaten, something which has only been done twice before - and long ago, at that: Athletic Bilbao did it in 1930, before Real repeated the feat two years later. In those days, however, Spain's league was a 10-team affair. It wasn't the same achievement. And it hasn't happened again since. The potential for Barça to register an undefeated LaLiga campaign stands to bring an added edge to the Clásico, which falls just after Real's European Cup semi-final with Bayern Munich. There'll be no guard of honour, but we can still expect plenty of spice, then.

Isco celebrates after scoring against his former club at La Rosaleda.
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Isco celebrates after scoring against his former club at La Rosaleda.Aitor AlcaldeGetty Images

The Kid scores on Children's Day, Isco dazzles in Málaga

Atlético Madrid got the job done, finding the net three times on what was Children's Day in Spain; and, indeed, one was scored by the Kid: Fernando Torres. Given half an hour by Diego Simeone, he looked good. As for Real Madrid, they ripped another date off the calendar in Málaga, where the man of the match was Isco. Born just outside the city, he was a riproaring success at La Rosaleda before joining Madrid, and is still greatly loved by the locals. He was clearly right at home. He netted a lovely free-kick and set up Casemiro for the second, in a beautifully worked Real move which brought a particularly fine piece of play by Karim Benzema. Málaga then grabbed a late consolation with a goal right on the final whistle. They're doomed to relegation to Segunda, and it's a shame. They've had a wonderful few years.