FFT's Spanish expert Tim Stannard on another goal-laden weekend in Spain's top flight...
Bale loves the easy life in La Liga
It’s not just the flying start in terms of goals and assists that'll be making the Welshman a chirpy young so-and-so, but the fact he will never find his footballing life so easy. Sides like Saturday’s visitors to the Bernabéu, Valladolid, simply aren’t physically or economically able to compete against the mighty Madrid, who can field a €100 million player when another is on the sidelines.
The former Tottenham man scored his first Primera hat-trick - a perfect one with his left foot, right foot and head - and he barely had to break a sweat to score it. “He was a bit like Lineker,” recalled AS editor Alfredo Relano, “standing where he needed to be, to put away a deflection and the pass of a team-mate.”
Martino is facing his first big test
Most of the time, being Barça boss is not too hard a gig. Aside from dealing with complaining media that the team isn't beating cannon-fodder opposition from time to time, it's a fairly cushy affair. Tata Martino, however, is now finding out that it's not all roses 100% of the time. The midweek defeat to Ajax brought complaints of a team coasting, with the Argentine coach responding that he would be happy to continue losing one game in every 20 for the foreseeable future.
But the Barça boss now has to handle life with two defeats in 21 after Sunday's loss to Athletic Bilbao at San Mamés, a problematic ground for the Catalan club over the past few years which proved to be so again. After some careful consideration, LLL would opine that Barça were not as bad as critics will say, but not as good as Tata thinks.
The same song for Diego Simeone
As LLL rambled last Friday, Atlético’s squad is starting to come into its own - and so was the case in their brilliantly efficient 2-0 away at Elche. Although the familiar faces of Koke and Diego Costa were on the scoresheet, the chances were created by substitutes, Raúl García and Adrían, who were both singled out for praise by Diego Simeone.
Despite another fine result which means the Rojiblancos have conceded just the single goal in four league games, the spiel remained the same from the Atleti boss. “It’s a great time for the fans, but our reality is the next match,” said the Argentine genius, one of the few figures in football to claim his team doesn’t want the attention it deserves.
Sociedad could repeat Champions League feat
Three wins from four in La Liga – the defeat coming at Real Madrid’s hands and therefore excusable – have put La Real back in contention not just for Europa League football next year, but even a swift return to the Champions League. Saturday’s victory at Espanyol sees the Basque side pulling to within five points of fourth, an easy enough gap to close with the team soon returning to a less demanding schedule when their Champions League campaign comes to a close.
Sevilla's in-form forward is the business
Replacing the goals of Alvaro Negredo clearly wasn’t easy business for Sevilla, but Unai Emery’s claim that his side has the next star of La Liga in its ranks, striker Carlos Bacca, is looking a good call. The Colombian popped up with a goal and an assist in the narrow 2-1 away win at Granada to put the forward on seven league goals for the season and secure a third win in a row for the formerly crisis-ravaged club.
Reality doesn’t bite all the time for Valencia
Home to an Osasuna side down to 10 men? Not even Valencia could mess that clash up in Mestalla, with a hat-trick from Jonas giving Valencia a comfy 3-0 win. It's only a precursor to a couple of hammerings in their next two league encounters, though, against Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid.
Málaga’s late one prolongs Schuster’s agony
Ever-gloom monster Bernd Schuster wasn't able to take any positives from Málaga’s point at Villarreal, grabbed with seconds left after Weligton headed home an equaliser from Bruno’s opener. The grumpy German claimed that the injury-time effort merely prolonged his eventual firing, predicting after the draw in El Madrigal that “the day will come. If it’s not today, it will be tomorrow or during the course of next year. It doesn’t worry me.”
García became Getafe’s prime Primera coach
Getafe’s 1-0 victory against Levante in a game manager Luis García admitted was quite, quite terrible, saw the Coliseum king with 32 top-flight wins in charge of the team - a fine club record, no less. Admittedly, nobody else has hung around the suburbs of Madrid long enough to make that target harder to break, with the likes of Schuster and Michael Laudrup leaving as soon as possible.
Indeed, the current incumbent has the look of a bored Roman centurion dutifully guarding some godforsaken outpost in England before a move to a cushy gig elsewhere. Keeping Getafe in European contention with a scrappy victory after last weekend's 7-0 hammering by Atlético can only help that move come closer.
Celta Vigo can win the hard way after all
Part of Celta’s problem this season is that they've been undone when all their pretty play fails to get a result. However, the Galician team’s fortunes changed a little on Saturday with a 3-1 win over struggling Almería, some scrappy goals handing Celta their much-needed first league win at home this season. “At last we can dine quietly tonight in Vigo,” said a happy Luis Enrique, from his local tapas haunt.
Betis are blowing all of their chances
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. A week after being tonked by Sevilla in the city derby, Betis really, really, really needed a win against fellow strugglers Rayo Vallecano. And the green-and-white brigade were not too far from getting that desperately needed victory until a defending cluster you-know-what allowed Rayo to pull the scores back to 2-2 in injury time. “We did not close the game down well,” admitted poor Pepe Mel, who promised that his side were not down-and-out despite being without a league victory in eight.