Barcelona opened a seven-point lead over second place Atletico Madrid in Spanish Football’s La Liga, while Real Madrid dropped to nine points behind with 14 games to go.
In a weekend of contrasts, Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal in their away match to Rayo Vallecano on a ricochet shot from close in, assisted by an off-sides Alvaro Morata. In the play previous to the goal, Jose Gimenez used his arms to stop and then drop a Vallecano striker in the Atleti box, a clear penalty. No VAR ensued.
At the Camp Nou, visiting Real Valladolid witnessed Lionel Messi have a rightfully called penalty saved and then his beauty of a shot go in on the non-existent penalty called in favor of a diving Gerard Pique who minutes earlier had managed to handle the ball in his box. The first play was reviewed, the latter two were not.
In Real Madrid’s home game against Girona, Casemiro was brought down in the visitor’s box in an identical manner to the play with Pique, but no penalty was awarded. Similarly, Sergio Ramos’ hand ball in the box did result in a penalty against Madrid and his second yellow saw him off the pitch.
In their wrap-up shows, Qatari owned BeIn Sports, the game’s cable provider in Alexandria, VA, discussed the plays at the Bernabeu and Camp Nou with a guest—a Spanish international referee—who proceeded to state that both Madrid penalties (for and against) should have been awarded, while both of Pique’s miscues should have been penalized with cards, resulting in his dismissal. Of course, the Qatari paid commentators, and promoters of Barcelona, unanimously argued against the referee’s perspective on Barcelona’s match and agreed on his take viz Real Madrid’s game.
At week’s end Sevilla, with 37 points despite its 0-3 loss to lowly Villarreal, remained eight behind Real, and held on to fourth place, while Getafe at 36 and Alaves at 35, completing the clubs within European competition zones. Rayo Vallecano, Villarreal, and Huesca, occupied, in descending order, the last three spots on the table.
The scorer’s table was led by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi with 22 goals and 10 assists, followed by teammate Luis Suarez with 15 and 5, Girona’s Cristhian Stuani with 13 goals, and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann and Eibar’s Charles following with 12 goals apiece.