GIJON, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 14: Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring a goal during the La Liga match between Sporting Gijon and Real Madrid at El Molinon Stadium on November 14, 2010 in Gijon, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

La Liga Sunday: Late Gonzalo Higuain Strike Downs Sporting Gijon

La Liga Sunday saw Sporting and Real Madrid lock horns in an electric match in El Molinon that was settled by Gonzalo Higuains late strike. Sevilla continued their ascent up the table with a late win at Zaragoza, courtesy of Jiri Jarosiks moment of madness, while there were also wins for Malaga in Manuel Pellegrinis first match in charge, Hercules and Valencia.

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Barca Blaugranes: Barcelona Stays On Track Ahead Of Clasico, Downs Villareal

After this weekend's victory over Villareal, Barcelona is now five points in front of the third place Yellow Submarine, but in Spain it only matters where Barça is relative to Real Madrid. Thanks to a late goal at Gijon from Gonzalo Higuain, Barcelona still trails José Mourinho's club, though the Clasico "approacheth."

SB Nation's new Barcelona blog, Barca Blaugranes, shared their thoughts on Saturday's match. Like the rest of us, the site is having a difficult time avoiding looks ahead to the season's first Real Madrid-Barcelona meeting:

In the end, Barcelona won 3-1, a fair result given Barcelona's good all round performance and one that made justice after the way Villareal equalized the match.

This result means that Barcelona are currently in first place in the league standings, at least until tomorrow's Gijon vs Real Madrid. If Real Madrid drop points at Gijon, Barcelona will take the first place for good. If not, it will probably have to wait until after the Classico.

For all the analysis and thought we want to give the match-up before Barcelona and Real Madrid meet, the questions seem quite simple: Does Barcelona now have answers for Mourinho's system that they didn't have in the spring? And does this Real Madrid team execute the system well enough to replicate Internazionale's success?

How about Yes and No?

Throughout the lead-up to the November 29th meeting, you can follow the Blaugrana at Barca Blaugranes, SB Nation's FC Barcelona community.

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La Liga Sunday: Late Gonzalo Higuain Strike Downs Sporting Gijon

Sporting Gijon 0 - 1 Real Madrid

Jose Mourinho may well have been hidden from view in the darkness of Sporting's VIP box, but his team were thrust into the limelight, riding out a barrage of abuse from the stands and a stream of fouls from Sporting's players to hold out for an invaluable win. They were promised a 'burning oven' of an atmosphere from Sporting coach Manolo Preciado, and they got it. El Molinón was in vociferous mood, letting Mourinho know in no small way, that his derogatory comments didn't get down too well in Asturias.

On the field it was a true battle of attrition. Sporting knew they couldn't match Real Madrid for skill. So the men in red and white, roared on by a partisan home crowd, got thoroughly stuck in Madrid's stars. It was brutal at times, with Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo the recipients of some overzealous challenges. Credit to Real Madrid though, they never lost their heads. Patience was the key, especially in a first half were chances were at a premium and defences were on top. Alberto Botia and Gregory were impeccable at the back, restricting Madrid to a Higuiain shot that struck the base of the post and fell into the grateful arms of Juan Pablo.

The second half followed a similar pattern, Gijon running and puffing. Real Madrid assured, confident, sure that their chance will come. Karim Benzema came on and looked dangerous probing in and around the box. The Frenchman looks a different player since Mourinho has started to nurture him. And he played a large role in Madrid's winner, as their patience was rewarded with Higuains winner eight minutes from time. Sergio Ramos swung in a cross from the right, Benzema peeling away at the back post to plant a header on goal. Juan Pablo got two hands to it, but the ball squirmed out of his reach and there was Gonzalo Higuain to tap into an empty net.

Seconds later Iker Casillas came to his sides rescue with a stunning one-handed stop from David Barral's header. Saint Iker is back in business. And so it was that Real Madrid held out for a win that maintains their one point lead over Barcelona. You can't help but think this is the sort of fixture Real Madrid would have drawn or lost in recent years. Mourinho has instilled a discipline in his defence and midfield, helped tremendously by the performances of Ricardo Carvalho and Sami Khedira, that allows their potent attack to do the rest. In this Real Madrid you can trust.

Real Zaragoza 1 - 2 Sevilla

Real Zaragoza went from injury time joy to injury time agony in a week. If last weeks tie against Mallorca sent the Zaragoza faithful home with a spring in their step, this weeks action will have sent them home wondering why on earth their team insist on giving cheap goals away. Today's defeat against the ten men of Sevilla sees Real Zaragoza hit rock bottom of La Liga. Jose Aurelio Gays men surely have far too much quality to go down. They said the same three years ago when Diego Milito, Ricardo Oliveira and Sergio Garcia graced La Romareda. No prizes for guessing what happened that season.

Luis Fabiano struck the games opening goal, latching onto a superb through ball from Frederic Kanoute to fire past Toni Doblas on the half hour mark. It was a rare moment of quality in a match in which neither side managed to wrest control of the midfield, leaving the strikers starved of ammunition. Gay sent his side out with five at the back, a tactic that he will surely have to discard at home where they simply cannot afford not to win. You can understand his concern with Zaragoza leaking goals for fun early in the season, but their away form is hopeless at best. They desperately need to convert La Romareda into a fortress.

The match sprung into life after half-time. Zaragoza were visibly lifted by the presence of talented substitute Nicolas Bertolo and it was the Argentinian who dragged his team level with a thumping header from a Gabi corner. From then on both teams set about grabbing a winner, a point seemingly not good enough for either. Sevilla's task was made that little bit harder with the dismissal of Fernando Navarro, still it didn't stop them from piling forward. In the dying seconds of the match their bravery was rewarded, courtesy of the habitual moment of madness that Zaragoza treat us to on a weekly basis. Sevilla must have felt their Christmas had come a month early.

This time it was Jiri Jarosik who was to blame for an inexplicable backheel in his own half that set Alvaro Negredo through on goal. Like Fabiano he made no mistake when one-on-one with Doblas, sliding the ball past the keeper to strike the injury time winner. Jose Aurelio Gay held his head in his hands. He cannot be held to account for these isolated actions from his lacklustre players, but with his team alone at the foot of La Liga on seven points he'll be lucky to survive the week.

Valencia 2 - 0 Getafe

How Valencia needed this win having been in freefall for the last month. Goals from Tino Costa and David Navarro were enough to earn all three points in the Mestalla against a Getafe team that are in all kinds of trouble, having failed to win in their last six matches. Joaquin and Juan Mata were impressive for the home side, creating plenty of danger down the wings, while the defence reverted back to early season form with a comfortable shut-out, helped by the dip in form suffered by the Getafe attack. So Valencia jump back into the top four, with Getafe sitting in mid-table but only four points away from the relegation zone.

Malaga 1 - 0 Levante

Manuel Pellegrini made it a happy debut at Malaga, as his new team put their dreadful home run of five defeats from five behind them to earn a first win of the season at La Rosaleda. It wasn't pretty and Levante had their chances, but with the two goalkeepers the stand-out performers, Eliseus thumping 35 yard drive was enough to steal all three points. Pellegrini has stated he expects more from his team, but right now they need results.

Hercules 2 - 1 Real Sociedad

The formbook was turned on it's head in the Rico Perez as Hercules came from behind to snatch a win against Real Sociedad. The first half was dominated by Real, with young Frenchman Antoine Greizmann turning in an electric performance, topped off with the games opening goal. But Hercules hit back after half-time, David Trezeguet continuing his fine form with the leveller before cult hero Royston Drenthe sent the home crowd ballistic with a rocket of a free-kick that ended up settling the match.

Racing Santander 0 - 0 Espanyol

A scoreline that reflected what was mindnumbing game of football, with only the odd flash of ambition. And when they came it was more often than not from Racing. Unfortunately for Miguel Angel Portugal and his team, they found Cameroon keeper Carlos Kameni in inspired form, repelling all that flew towards him, including an Ariel Nahuelpan penalty after half an hour. Racing also felt they had a case for a last minute penalty, but to the fury of the Sardinero crowd the ref waved away their appeals and the match ended all square.

Mallorca 0 - 0 Deportivo La Coruña

A match completely lacking in ambition, characterised by Depors ultra-defensive 5-4-1 formation designed to hold out for away points. Depor coach Lotina may well have bemoaned his teams lack of creativity in the final third but this team is designed not to lose rather than search for the win. Mallorca also seemed content to hold back, and with the matches two strikers, Riki and Webo both demonstrating they have a long way to go to establish themselves as consistent goalscorers, a 0-0 draw was always on the cards.

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