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Vamos: Barca slip in the rain while it’s seven up for Real

Paul Ring had to get up extra early yesterday morning so that he could bring you this La Liga round-up, but he’s not looking for sympathy. We hope.

Andres Iniesta goes over Oscar De Marcos's leg in the Bilbao rain last night.
Andres Iniesta goes over Oscar De Marcos's leg in the Bilbao rain last night.
Image: Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/AP/Press Association Images

IT WAS TORRENTIAL in Bilbao last night, and Barcelona didn’t like it.

This was always likely to be a difficult game for the champions. Marcelo Bielsa is one of the few coaches in world football that can say he taught Pep Guardiola a few things while Fernando Llorente remains one of the few strikers that can trouble the Catalans.

Whatever about game plans or specific players however, the rain was literally the main stumbling block for Barca. Early in the second half, deep puddles were cropping up all over the pitch and both sets of players were sliding around farcically.

Bilbao took the lead through a neat Ander Herrera finish but Cesc Fabregas levelled four minutes later with an excellent header.

Bilbao re-took the lead with ten minutes to go after Gerard Pique quite comically turned the ball into his own net. Lionel Messi scored his first away goal of the season and his first in Bilbao to level the game in stoppage time. Barca left soaked to the skin and thankful for the draw.

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored another hat-trick. It has been a familiar sight for Real Madrid ever since they broke the world transfer record to prise him away from Manchester United.

In any other era, he would be the greatest player in the planet. He matches Lionel Messi in their crazy stats game. Far from buckling under the pressure of a world record fee, Ronaldo has embraced it. Eighty million pounds is a ridiculous fee to pay for any player but from his debut, Ronaldo has reduced it to a bargain. He looks like a man who believes he is worth it and perhaps thinks he is worth more.

He was presented with the golden boot before Real’s 7-1 humiliation of Osasuna and set about ensuring another one with the hat-trick. The game kicked off at midday yesterday to accommodate the Asian TV audience. While games in Spain do kick off at unusual times on occasion, they never do this early. A sign of the ever-changing times.

The result sees Real stretch their lead on top of La Liga to three points. It was also their tenth consecutive win and not many could argue with Mourinho’s assertion that “We deserve these ten wins. I do not remember a game we won that we didn’t deserve to. We are moving from good to very good.”

Should they make the leap to great, then Barca may be dethroned.

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The Levante fairytale continues to unravel. A 2-0 loss at home to Valencia saw them slide down to fourth and that will in all likelihood, be the trend for the rest of the season. Still their aim was to stay up and they are miles ahead of schedule for that.

Real Zaragoza needed an injury time strike from Helder Postiga to salvage a draw with Sporting Gijon while Malaga played out a bore goalless draw away to Real Betis. They just might dip back into the market come January.

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Paul Ring

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