U.S. Markets closed

Barcelona's grip on La Liga loosens after second-straight draw

Celta Vigo celebrates one of its two goals Saturday against Barcelona at Camp Nou. (Getty)

For the first two months of the 2017-18 season, La Liga followed a fairly consistent narrative. On 20 fields around Spain, there was no one dominant team. But Atletico Madrid couldn’t score, Real Madrid couldn’t prevent opponents from scoring, and Barcelona was doing just enough of both of those to sneak into a significant lead atop the table.

The Catalan giants led the two Madrid sides by a full 10 points after 12 matches, and appeared to be running away with the title. But they hadn’t been overwhelmingly impressive. They had ridden a bit of luck at the back. There were still questions.

In games 13 and 14, we’re now seeing why there were.

In games 13 and 14, luck reversed itself. Or at least leveled up. In 13, a blatant refereeing error denied Barcelona a clear goal in a 1-1 draw at Valencia. A week later, another errant decision, this time an incorrect offside flag, again hurt the league leaders in a 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo.


But the story that the officiating will obscure is that Barcelona still looks slightly vulnerable. That vulnerability is now being reflected in results.

Valencia deserved its point at the Mestalla, and Celta did at Camp Nou as well. It flew out of the gates, was the better side through 20 minutes, and went ahead in the 20th.


The next 20 minutes, though, were all about Lionel Messi. He was otherworldly. Perhaps the greatest compliment to him is that his brilliance continues to amaze, despite having become the baseline expectation.

He equalized two minutes after Iago Aspas’ opener, and came close to both scoring and creating a second later in the half.


Messi and Paulinho both had opportunities to make it 2-1. Suarez had the ball in the back of the net, but was denied by the flag.

In the second half, both Paulinho and Gerard Pique rounded Celta keeper Ruben Blanco, but couldn’t finish. Suarez, however, did in the 62nd minute after Messi and Jordi Alba combined beautifully down the left:


But Celta was fearless. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen kept the visitors out with multiple world-class saves. But he could only keep them out so often.

He could do nothing with 20 minutes remaining when Aspas beat Samuel Umtiti on the right wing, and the French defender pulled up with a hamstring injury. Aspas was away, and his cut-back presented Maxi Gomez with time and space in the box to fire Celta’s second:


Messi missed an awkward header in the 85th minute that could have capped off a wild early afternoon in style. At times over the final 20 minutes, Celta seemed intent on grabbing a winner. That made for excellent entertainment, and Barcelona very easily could have dropped all three points.

Instead, the league-leaders dropped two. Valencia could pull to within two points of them Sunday at Getafe. The two Madrid rivals could creep back to within six later on Saturday. And the first Clasico of the campaign looms two days before Christmas.

Barcelona still has a significant leg up in La Liga. But its grip on favorite status has loosened a bit. Two consecutive hiccups have left the door ajar.

– – – – – – –

Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.

  • Don’t cheat yourself with the 4% rule
    Business
    MarketWatch

    Don’t cheat yourself with the 4% rule

    If you’re planning for retirement, you’re probably thinking about how much you’ll need, how long the money will last, and how much you can safely take out each year. You recognize that in retirement there will be a balancing act between spending on current needs while also preserving enough for your later years. Instead, all-too-often, retirees use simplified rules of thumb to determine how much to take out each year.

  • Marijuana investors may lose 90% of their money in Canada, so consider the really big prize elsewhere
    News
    MarketWatch

    Marijuana investors may lose 90% of their money in Canada, so consider the really big prize elsewhere

    Marijuana presents a tremendous opportunity for investors over the next few years. Naïve investors are excited. The reality is that professionals will pick their pockets, and many naïve investors who are excited now will end up losing 90% of their investment.

  • Why Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Stock Closed 11% Lower on Friday
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Why Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Stock Closed 11% Lower on Friday

    Analyst Pierre Ferragu from financial firm New Street Research set his price target for AMD at $18 per share, arguing that the stock has been priced for a level of success that simply isn't realistic. "AMD's stock price reflects a scenario we don't believe possible," Ferragu wrote. In particular, Ferragu sees larger rival Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) getting its manufacturing act together as we speak.

  • Business
    Benzinga

    Morgan Stanley's Recipe For Strong Q4 Guidance From Tesla

    Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) is set to report third-quarter earnings data in early November after a whirlwind of a quarter that included a chain of events that began Aug. 7 with CEO Elon Musk’s “funding secured” tweet and ended with a Securities and Exchange

  • Suze Orman has a killer question for your retirement
    Business
    MarketWatch

    Suze Orman has a killer question for your retirement

    Suze Orman is one of those singular personalities in the financial business who seems to be right on the pulse of everyone she meets. She’s written books, starred in her own television show and made innumerable appearances in person. Like Oprah

  • Business
    Investopedia

    Market Sell-Off 80% Over, Will Be Reversed by Stock Repurchases: JPMorgan

    Last week, global markets were hit with a widespread shock that weighed on nearly all asset classes, encompassing even the cryptocurrency space, once viewed as a type of "safe haven" bet unrelated to the broader market. In a note to clients on Thursday, JPMorgan equity strategist Dubravko Lakos-Bujas and team forecasted for U.S. equities to make a comeback as fundamentals come back into play, highlighting stock buybacks as a key driver of the nine-year-bull market, as reported by CNBC.

  • Why PBF Energy Inc and Other Refining Stocks Are Getting Clobbered Today
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Why PBF Energy Inc and Other Refining Stocks Are Getting Clobbered Today

    Shares of PBF Energy Inc (NYSE: PBF) tumbled as much as 10.9% on Friday, joining a sectorwide sell-off that also saw refiners Valero Energy (NYSE: VLO), Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX), Marathon Petroleum (NYSE: MPC), and HollyFontier (NYSE: HFC) take it on the chin by sinking more than 5% at one point in the day. A trio of factors seems to be driving these declines.

  • This tiny biotech spun a quick $2 billion from $12 million
    News
    MarketWatch

    This tiny biotech spun a quick $2 billion from $12 million

    More than a year ago, the biotech Endocyte Inc. was backed into a corner. The West Lafayette, Ind.-based company (ECYT) announced a “strategic restructuring,” that dreaded corporate-speak, including about a 40% cut to its workforce, leaving it with just 47 employees. The company was also making major changes to its clinical trials, not the best sign as those power a biopharmaceutical company’s entire business.

  • Looks like when millennials have some money, they get an ...
    AXP
    CNBC Videos

    Looks like when millennials have some money, they get an ...

    CNBC's 'Squawk on the Street' team discusses markets ahead of the market open.

  • 3 Energy Stocks You Can Buy and Hold for the Next Decade
    Business
    Motley Fool

    3 Energy Stocks You Can Buy and Hold for the Next Decade

    North America needs to build $23 billion of new natural gas-related infrastructure annually through 2035, according to a recent report. Three of the best positioned to capture this growth are Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMI), Williams Companies (NYSE: WMB), and TransCanada (NYSE: TRP), making them great stocks to buy and hold in the coming decade. Kinder Morgan is already the largest natural gas pipeline company in North America, operating roughly 70,000 miles of pipeline.

  • Procter & Gamble Finally Has Some Good News for Investors
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Procter & Gamble Finally Has Some Good News for Investors

    It has taken some time, but Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) shareholders are finally seeing improving results out of the consumer products titan. P&G paired that positive revenue news with an uptick in profitability, too. P&G's expansion rate sped up significantly, with help from strong sales volumes and steady pricing.

  • Should Congress cut entitlement programs to combat rising deficit?
    Politics
    Fox Business Videos

    Should Congress cut entitlement programs to combat rising deficit?

    Maya MacGuineas, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and Wall Street Journal editorial page deputy editor James Freeman discuss America’s deficit problem and how President Trump asked members of his Cabinet to cut their departments’ budgets by 5 percent.

  • Hate Taxes? 37 States Make Social Security Tax Free
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Hate Taxes? 37 States Make Social Security Tax Free

    Over the course of your career, you'll probably have tens of thousands of dollars in Social Security payroll taxes withheld from your paychecks. Workers are confident that by paying those taxes up front, they'll be able to collect Social Security benefits

  • 3 Great Stocks Under $10
    Business
    Motley Fool

    3 Great Stocks Under $10

    Among the stocks you can currently purchase for less than $10 per share are Sirius XM Holdings (NASDAQ: SIRI), Annaly Capital Management (NYSE: NLY), and Infosys (NYSE: INFY), and below, we'll take a look at how long they're likely to remain this cheap for would-be investors. Sirius XM was a pioneer in the satellite radio industry, and it's been an investor favorite for years.

  • Here are all of the Sears and Kmarts left in the U.S.
    Finance
    Yahoo Finance

    Here are all of the Sears and Kmarts left in the U.S.

    The inevitable has happened to the once-storied Sears. On October 15, Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after being crippled from years of losses, market share loss to Amazon (AMZN), Macy’s (M) and others, and mounting debt. Sears (SHLD

  • Wall Street Hates These 3 Energy Stocks. Should You Buy Them?
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Wall Street Hates These 3 Energy Stocks. Should You Buy Them?

    A company's stock price is a battleground for competing ideas at any given moment. Some of the companies that Wall Street hates the most can be found on The Wall Street Journal's short interest highlights list. Wall Street's typical thinking on stocks tends to be short-term in nature, though, and every once in a while, there are companies on this list that those with a long-term mind-set should consider.

  • Marijuana stocks to watch: Aurora Cannabis investments may be more valuable than its pot
    News
    MarketWatch

    Marijuana stocks to watch: Aurora Cannabis investments may be more valuable than its pot

    Aurora Cannabis Inc. is a major pot producer, but if its bets on other cannabis companies continue to pay off, it may be able to stop actually growing weed on its own. Aurora (ACBFF)(CA:ACB) said recently its investments were worth more than C$700 million ($540 million) as of Sept. 21, bolstered in part by demand for pot stocks ahead of full legalization of marijuana in Canada on Wednesday. As the entire sector has benefited, so has Aurora’s portfolio, boosting the company’s fiscal fourth-quarter profit to C$79.9 million, after a loss of $20.8 million the year earlier.

  • Now is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ chance to invest in US pot companies, investor says
    Finance
    Yahoo Finance

    Now is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ chance to invest in US pot companies, investor says

    With some Canadian pot stocks posting triple-digit return rates this year, many retail investors have looked north to pour cash into cannabis. U.S. cannabis companies are worth a lot more than their current valuations suggest since federal illegality has put undue pressure on the industry, said David Wenger, a New York attorney and senior editor of the Cannabis Law Digest.

  • Frustrated GM investors ask what more CEO Barra can do
    Business
    Reuters

    Frustrated GM investors ask what more CEO Barra can do

    General Motors Co (GM.N) Chief Executive Mary Barra has transformed the No. 1 U.S. automaker in her almost five years in charge, but that is still not enough to satisfy investors. Ahead of third-quarter results due on Oct. 31, GM shares are trading about 6 percent below the $33 per share price at which they launched in 2010 in a post-bankruptcy initial public offering. The Detroit carmaker's stock is down 22 percent since Barra took over in January 2014.

  • Colorado’s Marijuana Market Just Hit This Huge Milestone
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Colorado’s Marijuana Market Just Hit This Huge Milestone

    Marijuana has been legally available in Colorado for recreational use since 2014, and consumers' appetite for marijuana products continues to grow due to the launch of new products, including concentrates and edibles. As a result, Colorado's annual marijuana sales surpassed $1 billion in August -- the earliest it has ever achieved that milestone. There's been some debate over how much money would move from the black market to regulated markets following legalization, but Colorado's experience suggests it's substantial.

  • Why Valero Energy, eBay, and New Age Beverages Slumped Today
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Why Valero Energy, eBay, and New Age Beverages Slumped Today

    Some major market benchmarks managed to hang onto their gains, but the Nasdaq Composite, and Russell 2000 indexes posted losses of 0.5% to 1.25%, and the S&P 500 was virtually flat. Valero Energy (NYSE: VLO), eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), and New Age Beverages (NASDAQ: NBEV) were among the worst performers on the day. Valero Energy dropped 10% after the refinery company announced that it would buy back all outstanding units of its related MLP, Valero Energy Partners (NYSE: VLP).

  • America’s Biggest Employer Isn’t Hiring Seasonal Employees This Year. Here’s the Reason Why
    Business
    Money

    America’s Biggest Employer Isn’t Hiring Seasonal Employees This Year. Here’s the Reason Why

    For the third year, Walmart won’t be hiring tens of thousands of seasonal employees to provide extra support during the holidays. Instead, Walmart is forgoing the long-standing practice in favor of giving it’s full- and part-time employees more hours and opportunities to earn extra cash. The idea, Walmart says, is to fulfill the wishes of many of its employees.

  • Finance
    Investopedia

    12 Stocks May Plunge as Investors 'Harvest' Tax Losses

    The fourth quarter began with a big stock market selloff, and many investors may be taking a close look at once-loved stocks in their portfolios that have disappointed with significant price declines this year. "Tax loss selling becomes a possible source

  • Marijuana stocks to watch: Canopy Growth is the cannabis business’s $4 billion gorilla
    News
    MarketWatch

    Marijuana stocks to watch: Canopy Growth is the cannabis business’s $4 billion gorilla

    The following article is part of a package of stories that MarketWatch is publishing to mark the start of full legalization of cannabis for adult use in Canada on Wednesday. Smith Falls, Ontario–based Canopy Growth Corp. made headlines and drove cannabis stocks to new heights over the summer when it announced that Corona brewer Constellation Brands Inc. was going to invest an additional $4 billion in the company. Billed by both companies as a strategic partnership, the additional $4 billion investment adds to the 9.9% stake that Constellation bought in October of last year and sets the company up to either be bought outright by Constellation — via warrants that could increase its stake to more than 50% — or continue to work with the beverage company to create a range of consumer-focused cannabis products that may one day appear in markets in dozens of countries.

  • This Marijuana Investment Firm's 11 Top Cannabis Picks for Explosive Growth
    Business
    Motley Fool

    This Marijuana Investment Firm's 11 Top Cannabis Picks for Explosive Growth

    The marijuana industry has become a hotbed of investment activity, and players of all sizes are looking to get into the action. On top of all the interest from ordinary investors, cannabis companies have seen demand rise from sophisticated institutional investors that have experience with deploying larger amounts of investment capital in search of high-growth opportunities. One of the most interesting marijuana investment specialists that investors can follow is Canopy Rivers (NASDAQOTH: CNPOF).