Málaga, Valencia Win Easily, Begin Race For Third Place

Málaga and Valencia won easily against Real Betis and Valladolid, respectively, shoring up both team's candidacies for the top-4. But with Valencia's rocky start, will Málaga keep their momentum long enough to make a legitimate push for third?

Valencia 2-0 Real Zaragoza

Valencia hasn't had an easy game in a while; that changed today when they hosted perennial cellar dwellars Zaragoza. Pellegrino's Valencia has been under a tremendous amount of pressure, for, oh an essentially infinite amount of time at this point--fans of los ché are hard to please, and expect their team to be perennial championship contenders. But with the amount of money being thrown around by the two leviathans of la Liga, it's looking more and more like Valencia are going to be relegated to a battle for third--sparing any major catastrophe...like the one Madrid might be having right now.

Feghouli got the goals flowing in this one early, when, on 12 minutes, he blasted in a second chance opportunity off a corner. He would be ejected later in the game--a very questionable second yellow--but the first goal was more than enough for Valencia. Viera knocked in the second on 59 minutes, but the game was pretty much over by then. It's not that Valencia played great--it seemed more that Zaragoza just can't score, even when they should--but that they played well enough to win.

Málaga 4-0 Real Betis

Is this Málaga side for real? That's the question that has been on my lips for the last few weeks. It doesn't seem real: the team was gutted this off season, losing their best player (Santi Cazorla) and their coach (Manuel Pellegrini) to financial issues. But they're still a strong group, with real players who are payed real money.

Plus, they're young, they want to win...and there's just not a great reason to count them out.

They dominated Betis today, despite getting some help from the referees on the second goal--Javier Saviola sneaked in behind the defense...but was clearly offsides when the ball was played through. Still, it was pretty, and this kind of beauty has to count for something.

The game ended in the 11th minute, however, when keeper Casto smashed into Eliseu in the area, getting a penalty and a red card for his services. Joaquín (one of those good players who stuck around) calmly smashed it in, and Málaga dominated from then on.

It'll be interesting to see how they perform when they're really under the gun.

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