"Football doesn't understand justice," said Celta coach Paco Herrera after his side's 1-0 defeat at the hands of not-as-soulless-as-maybe-I-thought Málaga. I don't know if that's true--I tend not to think of "football" as an entity that can understand or not understand things, but rather as a wrathful, demon-god intent on destroying the dreams of the faithful (you know, the usual). But I do know that football can be pretty silly sometimes, and, at others, have a well-developed sense of narrative tension. The first games of the 2012-2013 Liga season certainly showcased everything I just described.
Málaga 1-0 Celta Vigo
This game was over the moment 16 year-old Fabrice took the pitch. He came in thirteen minutes into the second half, taking out Seba Fernández (non-existant), and immediately took hold of the game: he latched onto the ball, running energetically at a Celta defense that was not expecting a youthful explosion. It was exactly what his beaten-down team needed, when, after a strong first 45, they were looking worse and worse as the second half wore on. Celta were growing, stretching the pitch, moving the ball well--like a team that never left Primera. And Málaga were looking like what they are--a soulless shell of the budding superteam of yesteryear.
Thanks to Fabrice, and his brilliant goal--a culmination of a fantastic counterattack--we get to put the Málaga-bashing on hold for at least a week.
Sevilla 2-1 Getafe
Jesús Navas remains the best part of Sevilla's game. There's really no doubt about it. The addition of attacking back/midfielder Cicinho (remember him?!) will only help him prove that as the year goes on. It's unclear, however, that Sevilla really deserved this win, as José Antonio Reyes (remember him?!) took a huge dive in the area to secure a penalty that would put Sevilla up by two. It was a horrendous call, and you can't fault Getafe for complaining endlessly, especially after Alexis rallied them back to 2-1. Tough match for Geta, good start for Sevilla.
In the inaugural 11 PM CET game, Mallorca came away with a toughly contested, but ultimately well-deserved win over Espanyol. Israeli striker Hemed netted twice to take the lead in the pichichi race (Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi and company haven't played yet, but HEY IT STILL COUNTS), and both of his goals were beauties. The first came after only two minutes; Espanyol equalized only four after that thanks to Wakaso. And it looked like the game would end in a stale mate, with neither side attacking completely, and both appearing content with a defensive, control-oriented game plan. It wouldn't be until the 85th minute that Hemed would find the net again, starting Mallorca out on the right track as they try to regain some of their past European "glory" ("participation").