These are exciting times at the top of La Liga, writes a loved-up Tim Stannard...
If this keeps up then the world is in for a truly vintage version of La Liga. The best in 290 years that the blog has been running perhaps, although the 1804 version was a hoot. The weekend’s results have set up a situation where five teams could move top of the table next week. And two of those (Celta Vigo and Real Madrid) will be facing off, while Barcelona host the mighty Eibar. Even Atlético, who are yet to be firing on all cylinders, have a chance to take first place in a corker against Valencia.
But that’s all gazing into the future. Here’s news of the stuff that's just happened...
Mixed messages from homecoming kings of La Liga
For once there was unity between the two forces of La Liga in the Shire and Mordor. Both of their precious teams had come through fairly tepid-looking home games at the weekend by comfortable scorelines, but the chattering classes in both Barcelona and Madrid were grumbling at victories not being comprehensive enough.
LLL was expecting the Catalan clan to be up in the clouds with glee after Neymar whacked in four to beat Rayo Vallecano 5-2 and make it 17 goals scored in the Madrid side’s last three visits to Camp Nou. However, it was those two conceded and losing the second-half possession stats which worked against Barça on the Sunday morning scorecard.
“A match which displayed the biggest virtues and largest deficiencies of the team,” hummed Fernando Polo in Mundo Deportivo, a paper that both basked in the glory of the Brazilian answering a 'Neyday' call, but bemoaned fragility under pressure from Rayo, who took the lead after 15 minutes. Over in Sport, Joan Batlle says that toasting the victory with a bottle of cava would be telling an enormous “whooper”.
Barcelona 5-2 Rayo Vallecano
The players to come under the cosh in the Catalan press were Gerard Piqué, Sergi Busquets and an Ivan Rakitic who has definitely not found his mojo for the club this season. And nor has Gareth Bale in Capital City, who was subbed at half-time by Rafa Benítez after it was noticed that the footballer was looking a little tired in the 3-0 win over Levante.
That was another match where the result looked comfortable for Madrid, but could have been a lot trickier had Keylor Navas not pulled off a stonking save with the score at 1-0. However, LLL feels that some Primera pundits are going to have to get over the fact that this year’s La Liga is going to be a little more even, either because the Big Two aren't so scary anymore or everyone else is stepping up their games.
Real Madrid 3-0 Levante
Moyes under pressure after classic Atlético outing
That was the most Atlético Madrid of results. Two-nil. Early goal – Antoine Griezmann, of course – then squat on the lead until finishing it off much later on. However, the Rojiblancos lived a little bit dangerously in San Sebastian against a stubborn Real Sociedad side that could easily have grabbed a draw after Jonathas was upended late in the Atlético box. Instead, the referee waved play on and the visitors scored the second.
“I don’t know if it would have been given in England but it was a penalty in Spain,” said David Moyes, whose team have just the one win from eight. “I don’t think my job is in danger,” said the Scotsman. “We are playing well – you can’t keep changing coach all the time and expect any problems to be fixed.”
Real Sociedad 0-2 Atletico Madrid
Sevilla still slumbering through the season
Before laying into Sevilla, a few words of praise for Eibar, a team that is holding its ground firmly in the top six after a 1-1 draw against the current Champions League-playing chumps. Sevilla only turned up in this Basque Country encounter sometime in the second half – enough to get a point, but not enough to avoid the slings and arrows of insults from the press. “Disappointment after disappointment,” sighed the match report in AS, with Marca remarking that Unai Emery’s men were “still in a state of hibernation”.
Eibar 1-1 Sevilla
Getafe take inspiration from love-struck supporters
After Getafe launched their app to help fans find love in the stands – with Getafe crowds, that’s like getting pandas to mate – the players may have been inspired by the tingling, love-searching vibes from the supporters as they pounded (no pun intended) Las Palmas 4-0. Incidentally, the Canary Islanders could be on the brink of having a Córdoba-type season, which was a bit of a disaster last year. “Sometimes it’s good to have a nightmare to wake up,” said Las Palmas coach Paco Herrera, trying to look on the bright side.
Getafe 4-0 Las Palmas