MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 02: Cristiano Ronaldo (L) of Real Madrid celebrates his first goal with Jose Maria Callejon during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Granada at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 2, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

La Liga, Week 3: Real Madrid Walk Over Granada

Real Madrid are heading into the international break with a win. Can Barcelona do the same against Valencia?

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Barcelona Vs. Valencia: Blaugrana Eek Out Tough Win

It's rare to see Barcelona lose--or even drop points in--back-to-back games, so it was without a huge amount of shock that they ground out a workmanlike, tough win in the Nou Camp Sunday afternoon against Valencia. This wasn't a classic Liga game for Barcelona, however, who traditionally run over their opponents with their suffocating possession and high defensive press. Rather, this was a tough, physical game, not without flash from both sides, but without a whole lot of luck: both teams hit shots that barely scooted wide on various occasions, and Roberto Soldado in particular worried the Barcelona back line.

The first half started with a lot of back and forth: Barcelona threatening through their imposing midfield trio, while Valencia worked mainly through Soldado and Andrés Guardado, who had to leave the pitch in the second half. 23 minutes into the half, and it was time for Barcelona: Adriano aimed high and inside, and blasted a shot from the corner of the box into the upper corner of the goal, far from a leaping Diego Alves. It was a good-looking goal, but again, not a Barcelona-y goal: there wasn't a huge amount of buildup, and it was mainly pretty because of the pinpoint accuracy and power combination.

Things would stay more or less that way throughout the game--a high tension affair dominated by physicality in the midfield and quick passing. Alex Song debuted as a starter for the blaugrana, and played a good, strong game: he looks like he'll fit in nicely, though Tito Vilanova has a large number of players at his position.

The game's main moment of controversy came in the 60th minute, when Victor Ruiz scored for Valencia; it was a close, bang-bang play that could easily have gone the other way, but on replay he did appear to be offsides. It was a free kick from outside the area, and Ruiz took off a microsecond too soon. It's a tough break for Valencia, but not an unfair one.

Barcelona will go into their next matches pleased--they ground out a tough win against a strong opponent. Arguably the second-toughest match they'll have all season.


Real Madrid Vs. Granada, 2012 La Liga: Final Score, Merengues Coast To 3-0 Win

Real Madrid eased to an almost embarrassingly simple victory on Sunday night, with Granada providing hardly any opposition. Los Blancos prevented their opponents from getting a shot on target and casually kept 70 percent possession for a 3-0 win.

The opener was a gift, handed to Cristiano Ronaldo by Granada goalkeeper Toño. Jose Maria Callejon, starting in place of Angel Di Maria, slipped a through ball to Ronaldo, who took a low shot from a narrow angle. It should have been saved easily, but Toño let the ball between his legs. Ronaldo refused to celebrate and looked embarrassed that he scored.

Madrid's other two goals came in the second half, and their three stellar substitutes had a part in both of them. Di Maria came on at the half and set up Ronaldo's second, in the 53rd minute. Toño saved Ronaldo's first attempt after Di Maria's through ball, but the Granada keeper was helpless on Ronaldo's rebound attempt. Gonzalo Higuain, who entered the game for Karim Benzema, turned in a cross by Mesut Özil, who came in for Luka Modric, to extend Madrid's lead to three goals in the 76th minute.

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