The shocking result from this past weekend’s La Liga fixtures was Barcelona losing on the Camp Nou to newly promoted Hércules by a score of 2-0, with Paraguayan international Nelson Valdez scoring both goals. It was certainly an unexpected result, as Sid Lowe writes in the the Guardian:
Barcelona are the league champions; Herculés are making their first appearance in the first division since 1997 – in fact, they’ve spent just two of the last 26 years in the top flight. Hell, they’ve spent half of the last decade in the regionalised, four group, eighty-team Second Division B. And Barcelona had not been beaten by a newly promoted side for a decade.
Barcelona had won 17 out of 18 at home last season, drawing the other. They had not lost a league game at home for 16 months – and that didn’t really count, what with it being a who-cares-we’ve-already-won-the-title defeat against Osasuna. You have to go back to February 2009 for their last ‘real’ defeat at home – and that was a miracle. Since Pep Guardiola made his managerial debut in La Liga they have not once been beaten by two goals in the league. And Valdez, the goalscorer who doesn’t score, was making his La Liga debut. 2-0? To Herculés? With Valdez getting them both? On Catalonia’s official holiday, too? No chance.
Except that the ‘diada’ marks the bloodiest of Catalan defeats. Except that Herculés have a bit of a habit of this. The last time they were in the first division, back in 1996-97, they beat Barcelona twice. 3-2 at Camp Nou and 2-1 at the Rico Pérez – the game that effectively cost Bobby Robson’s side the title, handing it to Fabio Capello’s Madrid. Thirteen years later, history might just have repeated itself. Last night’s saw the two-point advantage over José Mourinho’s Madrid disappear; Barça now trail by a point.
Click thru to read Lowe’s whole essay–starting with an account of Valdez’s journey from Paraguay to Werder Bremen to Borussia Dortmund and now to Hércules.
Here is video of Valdez’s two goals–the first off a scrambling attack on Barca’s goal following a Herculés free kick in the 26th minute, and the 2nd a clinical finish off a rolling cross from the right side in the 59th minute (note how Valdez pulls up his run at the top of the box and hangs in that unmarked space):
Though this more complete highlights reel seems to show that it was Barcelona that dominated play and created many more chances–numerous near misses by the likes of Villa, Pedro, and Pique (coming up from defense for an aerial attack):
Things get even more interesting for Pep Guardiola’s side this coming week: they’ll get no rest, as they’ll be back on the Camp Nou tomorrow, hosting Panathinaikos in the first set of Champions League fixtures; and then they travel to Madrid next weekend, to play the top team in Spain.
No, not the overyhyped and overpaid collection of stars at the Bernabeu (who at least managed to finally score a goal this past weekend, at home against Osasuna), but rather the guys crosstown at Atletico Madrid. Led by Uruguayan star Diego Forlan, Atletico Madrid sits atop the table with two wins after two games (Valencia being the only other side with six points). Forlan has picked up where he left off in South Africa, scoring 3 goals in the first two matches. Atletico Madrid sits atop the table (Valencia being the only other side with six points).