Tim Stannard reflects on a weekend of Spanish action which saw Real Madrid and Barcelona take the outright lead...
From the highs of a Luis Suárez hat-trick and a one-man show from Keylor Navas to the lows of the entire concept of the goalless draw between Las Palmas and Villarreal, the latest round of La Liga was a fairly fun affair. The Big Two moved to the top of the table on their own, but showed that there are still weak spots for the rest of the chasing gang to exploit. Here’s what else grabbed La Liga Loca’s eye.
Keylor Navas was good. But Celta were even better
As a wise AS gently points out in its match report, Real Madrid may not quite have the balance of a perfectly poised seal on a beach ball quite yet, but it does have the points and record to keep the side at the top of the table. Marca are a little less subtle and yell “Number One and Leader!” from the front page, although the steady head of Santiago Segurola notes inside the pages that “Madrid still give off worrying signals.”
The Celta Vigo game was a heck of a test for Rafa the Gaffer, and it was one that was only just passed with a 3-1 win thanks to a truly epic performance from Keylor Navas. The first half was a more than decent one from Madrid with the side taking a 2-0 lead that made sure Celta were constantly “against the tide,” as Eduardo Berizzo put it, but for much of the game Madrid’s Costa Rican keeper was busier than a Barcelona club lawyer.
This is despite Celta being down a man for the last half an hour. As is often the case, Real Madrid and Navas dominate the headlines, but a lot of the plaudits must again go to Celta Vigo. While some media may say that Madrid are still not quite right, that narrative takes a little bit away from a Galician side that is still one of the best in La Primera this season.
Barcelona still Las Palmas-leaky at the back
Well, the refrain of ‘Boring, boring, Barca!’ that LLL would sometimes mutter during more mean-spirited moments is no more. This is a Barcelona side that is wonderfully generous at the back, seemingly delighting in giving opposition sides head starts, but mesmeric up front.
While it is true they have three of the greatest forwards in the game, the drip, drip of sloppy goals being conceded is a bit of a worry. The 12 conceded so far this season is only nine less than Barcelona let in over the entirety of last year’s campaign. The defensive record is worse than of Real Sociedad, Sporting and Málaga, three teams that are towards the wrong end of the table. To put it bluntly, Barca has a world class attack, but a Las Palmas-level back four. And that cannot go well over a whole season.