La Liga, Week 30: Real Madrid And Barcelona Win

Cristiano Ronaldo lit up Osasuna in a 5-1 win while Barcelona easily dispatched of Athletic Bilbao.

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Barcelona Vs. Athletic Bilbao, 2012 La Liga: Final Score 2-0 Barcelona

Athletic Bilbao put in a strong performance against Barcelona, but they couldn't repeat their Europa League heroics at the Camp Nou. Barcelona were on the front foot throughout, and it came as little surprise when their pressure finally told through Andres Iniesta just before the first half. The midfielder raced onto an intelligent pass forward from Lionel Messi and absolutely blasted a shot past Gorka Iraizoz at the near post to make it 1-0.

Athletic were trying hard to find a way back into the match, but they shipped a second just after the break when Javi Martinez (apparently) fouled Cristian Tello in the box. Martinez protested the decision vociferously and received a booking for his troubles, and Lionel Messi swept home the spot kick to make it 2-0. From there, the visitors had no hope whatsoever (the closest they came to scoring was when Gerard Pique cleared off the line from Iker Munaian), and Barcelona managed to close out the win without too much difficulty. With Real Madrid cruising past Osasuna earlier in the day, Barca needed an emphatic win to keep pace with the league leaders. They got it here.

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Osasuna Vs. Real Madrid, 2012 La Liga: Los Blancos Coast To 5-1 Win

Real Madrid might still drop a couple more points to make El Clasico a bigger deal than it already is, but they will keep their large gap on FC Barcelona for another week. They looked fantastic on Saturday against an Osasuna team that doesn't usually get pummeled at home, even by top opposition. Karim Benzema scored a stunner in the opening minutes and that seemed to effectively end the match as Real Madrid went on to win 5-1.

That opener from Benzema was struck on the volley, aided by a Cristiano Ronaldo cross. It was a ridiculous finish, hit into the roof of the net at the near post from the narrow angle in the 7th minute. Osasuna didn't seem to have much of a chance after that one went in. Ronaldo scored a stunner of his own in the 37th minute and Gonzalo Higuain made it 3-0 just before halftime with a chipped goal.

Juan Fransisco Martinez hauled one back for Osasuna just after halftime, but it didn't get his team anywhere. Ronaldo scored a second in the 70th minute with a free kick, then set up Higuain's second in the 77th minute. In addition to his two goals and two assists, Ronaldo was in position to tap in Higuain's chipped goal, but allowed it to go into the net. He was literally everywhere in a stellar performance.

For more on Los Merengues, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid.

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La Liga Week 30: Zaragoza Is On A Winning Streak? Yes, Really.

We're almost at the end of our season-long quest to find the worst three teams in Spain, and we've had our first abrupt change in direction. For the last, oh, thirty weeks I've been adamant that Real Zaragoza is the worst team in Spain. And I mean adamant. Positive. Seguro. But today...they're on a winning streak? Hard to believe, I know, but they defeated Sporting Gijón 1-2 (away!) on a last-second goal from Lafita to extend their winning streak to three games. Three games!

A Helder Postiga blast put Zaragoza in front at the 37th minute mark, but Sporting quickly equalized through Eguren, only minutes after play resumed from halftime. The rest of the game was de infarto, as we say in Spain--heart-attack inducing. Up and down, the two sides battled all night until Lafita's last-gasp blast (ha!) put the visitors in front for good.

At the same time, Granada got an incredibly valuable three points from Racing in Santander, as the andaluz side looks to remain in Primera another year. Ironically, this game was incredibly boring until the last five minutes, when suddenly both teams decided to attack. Then, in the 89th minute, Siqueira converted a penalty to put Granada in front to stay.

This game should allow the Andaluz side to (at least) fight all the way to the end of the season for their chance to stay in Primera. Which is good. But it also means that Racing, a traditionally solid Primera side, might very well plummet into the abyss (so to speak).

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