Lionel Messi scored five goals in a single game last week, becoming the first player in the Champions League ever to do so. Most were impressed; some were not. Against Bayer Leverkusen, they said: So what? It is a familiar argument -- and one that Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in particular have been forced to confront time and time again. Between them, they have racked up astonishing goal scoring figures, breaking records at every turn -- Messi has scored 50 goals already this season, Ronaldo 40 -- but the nagging doubt lingers. Yeah, they say, but against who?
There were four minutes to go against Sevilla on Sunday evening and Athletic Bilbao were on course for their first victory at the Sánchez Pizjuán in 18 years when the coach Marcelo Bielsa made his final substitution.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a superb hat-trick as Real Madrid thrashed Osasuna 7-1 to increase their lead at the top of the Spanish La Liga to three points following Barcelona's surprise 2-2 draw at Athletic Bilbao.
It was the night of the Academy Awards and the red carpet was rolled out, ready. Everyone was waiting, there was little over an hour to go and the excitement built. "That was the performance of his life. I'm sure they'll give him an Oscar tonight."
David Villa gave Barcelona a 1-0 lead against Athletic Bilbao last weekend, but he shouldn't have. Or so they said. Xavi Hernández spread a diagonal pass to the right where Dani Alves was dashing in, he laid it back on the volley and Villa finished. Alves, though, was miles offside. Definitive "proof" came in the Madrid-based sports newspaper AS the following morning -- a photographic reproduction of the move, showing Alves a long way ahead of the last defender.
MADRID -- The phone lines opened at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. At the same time, ATMs all over Spain were activated. Tickets were on sale for Atlético Madrid's Copa del Rey match against Universidad de Las Palmas at the Vicente Calderón -- the ground where the fans are proud of their loyalty and where season-ticket sales actually increased in the summer in which Atlético was relegated. When the lines closed that evening, 12 long hours later, 24 tickets had been sold.
When Vicente del Bosque decided to leave Fernando Llorente out of Spain's starting XI for their visit to Hampden Park to face Scotland on Oct. 12, no one could quite believe it. The national team coach appeared to have taken leave of his senses. If anyone had to play, it was Llorente -- the man of the moment, the country's most in-form striker, and the hero just four days earlier with two of his side's three goals. He was the blonde, blue-eyed boy fast becoming the subject of a tug of war between two titans: Real Madrid and Barcelona.