This weekend’s LaLiga fixtures offered up several intriguing matches, and multiple clubs were aiming for the top of the table. Sevilla and manager Pablo Machín were in first place heading into Friday evening, only for Deportivo Alavés to completely flip the script on the division.
The Basque side visited Celta Vigo, and came away with a stunning 1-0 win that vaulted them to LaLiga’s summit. Tomás Pina netted the winner in the 58th minute, as manager Abelardo has earned positive results throughout the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
With an organised and disciplined approach to each game, Alavés have made it difficult for any opponent to gain points against them. Ibai Gómez has been a revelation up front, while Victor Laguardia and Ximo Navarro have been outstanding in defence. Goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco has been stellar at his position as well, second to only Jan Oblak with four LaLiga clean sheets thus far.
Fans were in a celebratory mood heading into Saturday, even though there seemed to be a very good chance that their place at the top of the table could change. But fate determined that it would have to wait.
Real Madrid were certainly favoured at home against Levante and could have been level on points with Alavés, but the visitors secured a remarkable 2-1 victory. It was Levante’s first win at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu since 2007.
Attention was turned to a later kick-off, as Atlético Madrid had an opportunity to move ahead of Alavés with three points at Villarreal. However, Villarreal defender Mario Gaspar’s goal in the second half earned a 1-1 draw, again amazingly keeping El Glorioso in first place.
Their impressive luck in terms of other results was bound to run out in Saturday’s final match, as Sevilla battled Barcelona. The title-holders dominated much of the contest, eventually seeing out a 4-2 win. Barcelona’s goals came from Philippe Coutinho, Lionel Messi (who would be subbed off in the first half with an injury), Luis Suárez and Ivan Rakitić.
So after a wild 24 hours, one that saw Alavés briefly on top of LaLiga, they conclude the weekend in second. They are just one point back of Barcelona, and will be eager to secure another win at home next weekend versus Villarreal.
Alavés came into the 2018-19 season with high expectations, even if many pundits did not share the same view. The club wanted to push for a place in the top half of the table, and have somehow found themselves in a title race. What a world.Published 21 Oct 2018, 03:08 IST