One more week, LaLiga Overtime is back, ELXIIDEAL‘s weekly article that analyzes the most important moments of each match day of LaLiga EA Sports. The fifth round has left the breakout of some players and a mesmerizing debut amongst other aspects.
LaLiga Overtime – Match Day #5:
A wall in Vallecas:
LaLiga Overtime number 5 starts off with the first game of the matchday. Rayo Vallecano returned to their temple after the humiliating defeat against Atlético de Madrid by 0-7. The team from the southeast of Madrid hosted Alavés and, with the goals of Isi Palazón and Jorge De Frutos, Francisco’s team managed to come out on top. The star of the match was Álvaro García, who drew the penalty for the first goal and dished out the assist for the second, but I would like to highlight Florian Lejeune.
The French centre-back, who was playing against one of his former teams, displayed a superb performance in the back line of Rayo Vallecano. Four clearances, two blocked shots and an interception are the defensive statistics of the commander Rayo Vallecano’s defense, who kept a clean sheet for the third time in five games this season.
The 32-year-old defender is in his second season at Vallecas and, in addition to his defensive ability, Lejeune is an essential part of Rayo’s build-up play. Against Alavés, Florian stood out with a 76% passing success rate (37 out of 49) and six completed long distance passes.
What I am trying to emphasize is Lejeune’s ability to find advantages for his teammates, thanks to his ball control and good abilities. Florian, positioned on the left side of the pitch, has mastered the pass to the wing, where on numerous occasions, he found Álvaro García to overcome one, or even two lines of pressure from the ‘Babazorros’. The wall in Vallecas is much more than just a wall. It is an essential link for Francisco’s machinery to work perfectly.
A wonderkid comes true:
In life, there are situations that make us mature and turn us into full-fledged adults. The beginning of a working life, a serious partner, traumas or a simple mindset change are enough to make us mature as people. In sports, in this case football, these changes occur as a result of great performances that grant increasing responsibilities.
A clear example of this is Javi Guerra. This season, the 20-year-old footballer has settled in Valencia‘s first team and is taking major steps. He took the most recent one this weekend against one of the most fearsome opponents of the competition, Atlético de Madrid, so it was mandatory to comment on his performance in this week’s LaLiga Overtime.
Rubén Baraja‘s Valencia played an excellent match, in which Javi Guerra was the absolute protagonist. A stellar performance in which he showed dominance of all facets of the midfield. To round off his magnificent match, Valencia’s number ‘8’ scored an tremendous goal from the edge of the box to set a 3-0 result on the scoreboard in a magical afternoon at Mestalla.
Javi Guerra’s display is the result of a promising start to the season, in which he showed unusual maturity and experience for his age. The match against Atlético de Madrid will put more eyes on him and increase the demands from his coach, a wall he will have to overcome. But after what he showed on Saturday, Javi Guerra has had, as they would say in Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse, the canonical event in his career that makes him go from a wonderkid to a reality.
João’s happiness at Barça:
An athlete’s performance is determined by multiple factors that ease or toughen a competitor’s path towards reaching his maximum potential. Sometimes, one of these factors is the environment in which the player finds himself. The athlete needs to be at ease in his workplace in order to bring out his skills.
João Félix is a player who has always found himself in disadvantageous surroundings. Ever since he joined Atlético de Madrid in the summer of 2019 (with the exception of niche moments), the Portuguese forward has seen his performance hindered by Diego Pablo Simeone’s system. João, who also showed signs of misconduct, never found himself at ease with the Argentinian, as there was tremendous and irreversible animosity between the two of them.
As a result, in the month of July, the former Benfica player decided to go all-in and confess to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano his unconditional love for FC Barcelona. “It has been my dream since I was a child. If it happens, it will be a dream come true for me” is what João Félix stated in a risky move as there was a chance that Barça could not afford his transfer.
Finally, on the last day of the summer transfer market, Atlético de Madrid and Barcelona reached an agreement for the season-long loan of the Portuguese attacker. “I hope it will be a great season”, is what João said in his introduction while also repeating that he was fulfilling a dream. His signing has created enthusiasm among Culé fans, but also uncertainty due to his poor performance in the last few seasons.
And so, after a few minutes coming off the bench against Osasuna, João Félix was in the starting lineup against Betis, which resulted in a goal, a mesmerizing technical resource in Lewandowski’s goal and a standing ovation from Montjuic, who chanted the name of their new idol. An unforgettable debut for the Portuguese in which he looked happy, involved and brought out his innate talent, something worth mentioning in the fifth iteration of LaLiga Overtime. Time will tell, but it seems like João has found a place to finally be happy.
Fran García, a redemption story:
Sometimes, players are prematurely questioned for their performances causing them to be insecure. In this week’s LaLiga Overtime, we are going to analyze a case in particular. Fran García arrived at Real Madrid this summer from Rayo Vallecano and has been forced to adapt in record pace. After Mendy‘s injury, the full-back from La Mancha was the only natural player for the position, which has made it easier for him to become a starter.
His first four matches were not what Fran had dreamed of. The player lacked confidence, was very nervous in defensive tasks and could not show his biggest strength, offensive play. The serious mistake he made in Getafe’s first goal during the fourth matchday is clear proof of this, as it could have ended in a disgrace for the ‘Merengue’ side.
Come the fifth match of the competition, Fran García was once again part of Carlo Ancelotti’s starting lineup. Great news for Fran as he still had the trust of his coach after being subbed off at halftime against Getafe. But not everything were good news for the defender, as against Real Sociedad, he was faced by the worst possible matchup, Takefusa Kubo.
The ultimate test for Fran García who, during the first half, was completely overcome by the hurricane that is Kubo. The Japanese winger, the best player of the match, dribbled past Fran García at will and proved why he is one of the best players in his position in all of European football. But the former Rayo full-back managed to vindicate himself.
After halftime, Fran García received more coverage from his teammates that allowed him to neutralize the Japanese player as much as possible. This gave wings to the left-back, who demonstrated his ability as an offensive full-back. Two runs up the flank with crosses, one on the ground and an aerial one, to Valverde and Joselu certified the comeback and subsequent victory for Real Madrid, who have not dropped a single point this season.
A second half filled with hope for Fran García, who managed to silence the critics and was awarded the MVP of the match. Redemption in capital letters for the Spanish full-back, who hopes to extend his stay as the owner of Real Madrid’s starting left-back spot.
Translated by Nuño Alonso.
Main image: Edit by Pablo Benítez.