La Liga Weekend: It’s All About the Dribbling
This weekend La Liga was all about dribbling of the highest quality. Players like Ferrán Torres, Vinicius Júnior and Ousmane Dembele were on full display. Even Gerard Pique got his dribbling boots out this weekend. So, let’s start with Barcelona and their grind-it-out game against Leganes.
La Liga Weekend: It’s All About the Dribbling
Dembele’s Dribbling Shines
Barcelona came into this game against Leganes needing to rest players because of fixture congestion. That meant the magic man Lionel Messi was on the bench, and someone was going to have to play up to his standard in his stead. That mantra fell to Ousmane Dembele who grabbed that job by the horns.
Dembele was flying right from the get-go, taking on the Leganes defence from the opening whistle. Once he got going, it infected the whole team and no one more so than Gerard Pique. The big centre-back got his dancing boots out and dribbled past four Leganes defenders before Dembele played a one-two with Jordi Alba and slotted home the finish.
But the game was not done and dusted; Leganes were here to play and play well. A lovely ball from Allan Nyom found Youssef En-Nesyri who played a lovely square ball that Martin Braithwaite slotted home. It was a great play from Leganes, who already beat Barcelona once this season.
However, the problem for Leganes was the men coming off the bench. Once Lionel Messi came into the game Barcelona went back on top. After Iván Cuéllar saved a world class shot from Messi, Luis Suarez followed up the rebound to give Barcelona the lead. From there they held on to take another three points and keep their lead atop the table.
Ferrán Torres Saves Valencia
The 18-year-old Spanish youth international has been one of the best prospects in Spain for some time now. This past week he has taken some real steps towards becoming one of the best players in Spain. The young winger was outstanding for midweek against Sporting Gijon in the cup; as Valencia came from behind to advance.
But this weekend against Celta Vigo he was even more vital. Fernan Torres came on with half an hour to go and the game completely changed. He started getting at the Celta backline, pushing them back and it paid dividends.
He scored a world-class volley with the outside of his foot to level the game. And then played a great through ball that sent Kevin Gameiro in behind, where he then crossed it to Rodrigo for the winner.
Torres provides something Valencia have really lacked with Goncalo Guedes out injured; pace. His pace and dribbling ability give Valencia a dimension they otherwise do not have. Or they won’t have until Gonçalo Guedes comes back from abdomen surgery in another month. Torres has provided crucial dribbling in these games for Valencia.
And that dribbling has provided Valencia with even more crucial points. The three points against Celta this weekend bring them up to eighth in the table, just three points off of a European place. It’s still so tight though, even after beating Celta, Valencia are only five points ahead of them, and Celta are in 17th!
Luka Modric Stars for Real Madrid
Real Madrid put together a very controlled performance at home against Sevilla on Saturday. The defending European Champions have come under pressure but have responded strongly with back to back clean sheets against Real Betis and now Sevilla. But Madridistas will be most excited that these two games have been mostly about Luka Modric
The 33-year-old Ballon D’Or winner had had a rough start to his 2018/2019 season. Since returning from his outstanding performance with Croatia at the World Cup, Modric has looked slow and fatigued in the Madrid midfield.
He was great against Betis last week but was even better against Sevilla on Saturday. He even got a goal in stoppage time for all of his hard work in that Madrid midfield.
In Santi Solari’s team, the midfield has been asked to do an incredible amount of work. So it is a testament to Modric for how well he has played these last few weeks. In this game, he had great play around him from Dani Ceballos and Casemiro in this game, but it has been hard to count on any of them this season.
But the man Madrid has been counting on for some time now has been Vinicius Júnior. The 18-year-old was the key man on Saturday, with Madrid trying to play him the ball as much as possible.
To his credit, he did quite well with the opportunity as he has done all season. He does an outstanding job of proactively creating with his feet. He, unlike anyone else in the Madrid team, is a comfortable and willing dribbler.
But it really says something about the Madrid team that they need an 18-year-old to be this involved. Players like Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, Isco and Lucas Vazquez have thrust this kid into the fire with their poor play this season. And in that necessity, Madrid has found their future superstar.