Spanish La Liga, Week 8: Brilliant Real Madrid Destroy Malaga, Barcelona Held By Legendary Javi Varas Performance

Even in a week full of awesome matchups, it's still depressing to think that the LFP decided to run Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad back-to-back on Sunday morning. But hey, what better way to attract customers in Asia than running those two teams. Again.

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Barcelona Vs. Sevilla Live, 2011 La Liga: Full Time, Javi Varas Stunning, Rojiblancos Nick Draw

Barcelona were not on their best game, but they certainly did enough to win on most nights. However, Sevilla deserved their point, and they deserved it because their goalkeeper Javi Varas put in the performance of his life and perhaps the best performance you'll see by a goalkeeper anywhere in the world this season. His stoppage time save of a Lionel Messi penalty was just one of eight saves from the Rojiblancos keeper, and that doesn't even count his other claims of crosses or altered shots. It was a performance for the ages, and his team have walked away from Camp Nou with a 0-0 draw as a result of his brilliance.

The defense in front of him played well, but with an average keeper behind them, Barcelona probably would have score three or four. The Blaugranas had plenty of clear cut chances in the beginning 60 minutes of the game, but the draw looked highly likely until stoppage time. Then, things went a bit crazy.

Andres Iniesta went down in the box in the 91st minute, drawing a penalty. Federico Fazio was the man called for the foul and he did make contact, but Iniesta was on the way down before the contact was made. Before Lionel Messi had a chance to take the penalty kick, a fight broke out between Cesc Fabregas and Frederic Kanoute, in which the former said something particularly inflammatory and the latter threw a punch. Needless to say, Kanoute was sent off.

Varas brilliantly saved Messi's penalty, but that wasn't the end of the attacks. In the 96th minute, Julien Escuede took down Pedro just outside of the penalty area, resulting in a free kick. Escuede felt that Pedro dived and ran to the official to argue, along with Fernando Navarro. This, of course, constituted dissent. Both players were shown yellow cards, Navarro his second. Messi's ensuing free kick was blocked and the final whistle blew, giving Sevilla an improbable point.

For more on the Blaugranas, check out Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes. We'll have live coverage all of the action from Spain in our La Liga Week 8 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of footy, head over to SB Nation Soccer.

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Barcelona Vs. Sevilla Live, 2011 La Liga: Halftime, Rojiblancos Defending Brilliantly In Scoreless Draw

Well, this has not been as advertised. Sevilla have defended brilliantly and are doing well to get through 45 minutes level at the Camp Nou, but Barcelona and the Rojiblancos aren't exactly producing the most spectacular brand of football. The score is tied up at 0-0 at halftime, and that seems like a pretty just result. Barcelona have had 70 percent of the possession as per usual while Sevilla have failed to attack, but the visitors actually produced the best chance of the half when Jesus Navas forced a brilliant save out of Victor Valdes.

Lionel Messi has not been his brilliant self, while David Villa is doing a very good impersonation of a tree. Thiago Alcantara and Seydou Keita have not been poor, but Pep Guardiola's decision to start them ahead of Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez looks very suspect. The one serious bright spot has been Andres Iniesta, who has been absolutely stunning thus far. With some minor adjustments and a little bit of luck, Barcelona should be able to create a goal.

For more on the Blaugranas, check out Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes. We'll have live coverage all of the action from Spain in our La Liga Week 8 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of footy, head over to SB Nation Soccer.

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Malaga Vs. Real Madrid Live, 2011 La Liga: Full Time, Exciting First Half Dominance Leads To Boring Second Half

The first half of the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Malaga was a brilliant display by Los Merengues. Cristiano Ronaldo netted a hat trick after Gonzalo Higuain scored the opener. Ronaldo's third goal was on a fantastic backheel volley. It was all kinds of good fun, except for fans of Malaga and Real Madrid's rivals. Then, things got nice and boring.

The visitors didn't really give Malaga much trouble at all in the second half, as the home side came back into the game. They significantly out-shot Madrid in the second half, but some bad luck and the brilliance of Iker Casillas kept them off the scoresheet. Santi Cazorla actually had a brilliant game for Malaga, but nothing came of it.

And thus, what could have been an incredibly stunning statement game is just another average Real Madrid win, as they walk away from Malaga with a 4-0 win and another three points. That keeps the pressure on Barcelona, who take on Sevilla on Saturday night immediately after this match.

For more on Los Merengues, check out Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid. We'll have live coverage of all of the action in Spain this week in our La Liga Week 8 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of footy, head over to SB Nation Soccer.

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Barcelona Vs. Sevilla Live, 2011 La Liga: Lineups

FC Barcelona and Sevilla are both unbeaten and in the top four of La Liga as they face off Saturday evening at Camp Nou. The Blaugranas have selected an interesting lineup, leaving out Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez. Carles Puyol was a late scratch, and his exclusion requires Eric Abidal to move inside and Adriano to play left back. Sevilla's lineup is interesting as well, as neither Frederic Kanoute or Ivan Rakitic has been picked, while Piotr Trachowski has been moved into an advanced role. Both Diego Perotti and Alvaro Negredo are injured. Here are the lineups.

FC Barcelona Starting Lineup (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Mascherano, Abidal, Adriano; Xavi, Thiago, Keita; Iniesta, Villa, Messi

Sevilla FC Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Javi Varas; Cáceres, Fazio, Escudé, Navarro; Medel, Campaña; Navas, Trochowski, Armenteros; Manu

For more on the Blaugranas, check out Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes. We'll have live coverage all of the action from Spain in our La Liga Week 8 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of footy, head over to SB Nation Soccer.

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Malaga Vs. Real Madrid Live, 2011 La Liga: Halftime, Los Merengues Obliterating Their Opposition

Well, this is embarrassing. Remember when this was supposed to be a competitive match? Malaga's millions were supposed to help cut into the top two's dominance, and this was supposed to be a great fixture. Instead, Real Madrid are beating Malaga worse than they've beat on anyone this season. Cristiano Ronaldo already has a hat trick, netting three goals in 14 minutes, and he just missed a fourth on a free kick by inches. Gonzalo Higuain has the other goal, while Angel di Maria has been brilliant down the right. It's all easy for Los Merengues, and they lead by a score of 4-0 at halftime.

The first 10 minutes were competitive, but when Higuain scored from a di Maria assist in the 11th minute, all of the air was sucked out of the stadium. Malaga lost their fight at that point, leading to the next three goals, all by Cristiano. The first was a tap-in off a brilliant di Maria cross, the second an unassisted 20 yard shot, and the third a cheeky aerial backheel volley, assisted by a Sergio Ramos header and some absolutely abysmal marking.

Malaga's defense has been in shambles and their midfield has been overrun. Santi Cazorla looks dangerous and hasn't stopped playing his heart out, but he's gotten little to no help from his teammates. Malaga have no chance of turning this into a positive result, but they could at least get themselves together and save face in the second half. 

For more on Los Merengues, check out Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid. We'll have live coverage of all of the action in Spain this week in our La Liga Week 8 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of footy, head over to SB Nation Soccer.

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Malaga Vs. Real Madrid Live, 2011 La Liga: Cristiano Ronaldo Completes Four-Minute Brace

Are Real Madrid playing a team financed by Qatari billionaires or are they playing the Little Sisters of the Poor? Malaga are in absolute shambles tonight, as Real Madrid have effortlessly gone up 3-0 at La Rosaleda. The home side looked like they had a bit of fight to them in the opening minutes before they conceded the opening goal, but they've folded up like a cheap lawn chair. Madrid are going to be able to walk their way to 4-0 or 5-0 by the looks of it.

Once again, the man most to blame for the goal was Argentinian international Martin Demichelis. Sadly for the once impressive defender, that can be said for about half of the goals conceded by either Malaga or Bayern Munich in the last two to three years that he's been in either team. Ronaldo was given acres of space at the top of the box and finished easily from 20 yards (yes, easily from 20 yards). It was his second in four minutes, and he's well on his way to an Ovechtrick.

For more on Los Merengues, check out Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid. We'll have live coverage of all of the action in Spain this week in our La Liga Week 8 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of footy, head over to SB Nation Soccer.

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Malaga Vs. Real Madrid Live, 2011 La Liga: Cristiano Ronaldo Goal Doubles Madrid Lead

Malaga's defense is in shambles again, and Real Madrid are looking like they're going to coast to an easy victory. If Malaga want to contend for a European place in La Liga, they're seriously going to sort themselves out. Cristiano Ronaldo was the man who scored the goal, and it was Angel di Maria providing yet another brilliant assist. This is on the verge of being downright embarrassing, and Manuel Pellegrini has some serious coaching to do to get his team back in the game at all. At this point, a point seems out of reach.

The goal came in the 24th minute, and the marking on Ronaldo was shambolic. Di Maria provided the assist from the right wing again, this time with a looping, out-swinging cross. His ball fell right between two Malaga defenders into the path of Ronaldo, and he calmly finished off an easy goal after completely losing Martin Demichelis. It was his first goal in three games, an eternity for the Portuguese star.

For more on Los Merengues, check out Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid. We'll have live coverage of all of the action in Spain this week in our La Liga Week 8 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of footy, head over to SB Nation Soccer.

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Malaga Vs. Real Madrid Live, 2011 La Liga: Gonzalo Higuain Goal Has Los Merengues Ahead

They've been playing for just 11 minutes, but Real Madrid have already shown their difference in quality over Malaga. Gonzalo Higuain has also shown why he was selected to start over Karim Benzema, scoring Madrid's opening goal. He's scored three hat tricks for club and country in his last four starts, and with the way Malaga's defense has played in the early going of this game, he might be well on his way to a fourth.

Angel di Maria provided a brilliant assist, but Kaka was important in the creation of the goal despite never touching the ball. Di Maria looked like he might be trying to find Kaka when he played a through ball into the box from the right side of midfield, but the Brazilian international was offside at the time. The experienced Kaka recognized his position and the position of his teammates and left the ball for Gonzalo Higuain, who rounded Ruben before placing the ball into the back of the net.

For more on Los Merengues, check out Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid. We'll have live coverage of all of the action in Spain this week in our La Liga Week 8 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of footy, head over to SB Nation Soccer.

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Malaga Vs. Real Madrid Live, 2011 La Liga: Lineups

Malaga suffered an embarrassing defeat to high-flying Levante last week, so they'll obviously want to reverse their fortunes and get back on track towards a European place this week. Unfortunately for them, this is the week that they welcome Real Madrid to La Rosaleda. Jose Mourinho's boys have won their last five in all competitions and have a fit team. Los Merengues are expected to continue that run, but Malaga have made some seriously huge signings and can score from nothing. Here are the lineups.

Malaga lineup (4-2-3-1): Ruben; Eliseu, Mathijsen, Demichelis, Gamez; Toulalan, Apoño; Isco, Cazorla, Joaquin; Rondon

Real Madrid lineup (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Marcelo, Pepe, Ramos, Arbeloa; Alonso, Khedira; Ronaldo, Kaka, Di Maria; Higuain

The big selections for Mourinho have been up top and in the hole. Gonzalo Higuain and Kaka start, while Karim Benzema and Mesut Özil have been left on the bench. Up top for Malaga, Jose Solomon Rondon has been preferred to Ruud van Nistelrooy.

For more on Los Merengues, check out Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid. We'll have live coverage of this match and all of the other La Liga action, including Barcelona-Sevilla, in our La Liga Week 8 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of footy, head over to SB Nation Soccer.

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Barcelona Vs. Sevilla, 2011 Spanish La Liga Week 8 Matchup: No Alexi? No Cesc? No Problem

Sevilla travels to the Camp Nou to face Barcelona on Saturday, where both teams will put their undefeated records on the line

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Malaga Vs. Real Madrid, 2011 Spanish La Liga Week 8 Matchup: Manuel Pellegrini Welcomes His Old Team

Real Madrid travel to La Rosaleda to take on Malaga in what promises to be a wide-open and exciting La Liga encounter

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