All eyes yesterday were on Mallorca, where a threadbare Barcelona were in major need of a result. However, it was in Getafe that the big name came unstuck. A Real Madrid team which, as Carlo Ancelotti later complained, seemed to still be on holiday, lost unexpectedly and gave renewed hope to the chasing pack. Enes Ünal ruthlessly punished an Éder Militão slip, and that proved the difference between the sides at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez. Getafe protected themselves well at the back, disrupted Madrid’s attacking rhythm with fouls and, when called into action, goalkeeper David Soria twice kept out dangerous efforts. Madrid also had an opportunity that rebounded off the bar. Three scoring chances for the visitors, all told: not a whole lot when the opposition has let you have the ball. Los Blancos were without Vinícius Júnior - and Marco Asensio, Rodrygo Goes and Eden Hazard did plenty to further the Brazilian's reputation.
Atlético end slide with a typically Simeone-esque display
Later in the day, Atlético Madrid returned to winning ways against Rayo Vallecano, who seemed to take to the field in a daze. I guess that was down to covid, which had badly hit their preparations, and also the Diego Simeone effect. After those four defeats leading up to the 10th anniversary of his appointment, Atleti needed a performance like this, playing the age-old Simeone way: running through walls for each other and fighting tooth and nail for every ball. Two goals by Ángel Correa, who is enjoying his best season for the club, served to halt Atleti’s slump, but they’re still well adrift of the top. As things stand, the only side that can seriously entertain ambitions of catching Madrid is Sevilla, who are eight points behind with two games in hand. Their visit to Cádiz tonight is all the more crucial now.
Luuk de Jong and Ter Stegen the heroes for Barcelona
But as I was saying, the focus had been on Barcelona, who went to Mallorca down to the bare bones and returned with a victory. The Blaugrana were excellent in the first half at Son Moix, pinning the hosts back and reaping the benefits of an effective centre-forward performance by Luuk de Jong. The Dutchman hit the woodwork twice before scoring with a commanding header, albeit aided by goalkeeper Manolo Reina’s foray into no man’s land. The second half was rather more uncomfortable for Barça, but they dug in and - just - managed to see it out, thanks to a last-gasp Marc-André ter Stegen save that reminded us what a good keeper he is. A game that Xavi Hernández didn’t want to play yielded three points for Barça, and they deserve a lot of credit for winning under such circumstances.