Tim Stannard assesses the fallout from another weekend in Spain, as Barca's defeat makes things tasty indeed at the top...
How about them apples, Premier League!
Five teams at the top of the table, with only two points separating them. Proper teams as well, not like Southampton. Sorry Southampton. True, the predictable Real Madrid are now topping the tree after yet another stupidly comfortable win over Granada, and Barcelona's defeat to Celta Vigo, but there are plenty of other teams in La Liga who could be making this a vintage year in Spain. Or least until mid-November when everyone else falls off and Madrid lead by 15 points.
Not enough love shown for Celta
So, LLL hates anyone or anything that starts a sentence with the word ‘so’. But on this occasion the blog would like to say, 'er, so Celta Vigo were playing in the Barcelona defeat on Saturday?'
Apparently not because, as normal whenever one of the Big Two stumbles, the narrative surrounds the failings of either side rather than praising the opposition.
A proudly plump LLL has been doing that to Celta Vigo all season, a tremendously dynamic outfit that could have popped in a few more in the Camp Nou had there not been an overdose of selfishness from the front three during one or two counter-attacks.
Then again, the Galicians could have been considerably leakier at the back had Sergio Alvarez not had an absolute blinder in goal dealing with Barça’s nine shots on target.
So often teams go to the Bernabéu and Camp Nou and leave with the terms 'plucky' and 'proud' ringing in their ears, but with a defeat in the bag. Celta changed all that on Saturday.
Barcelona 0-1 Celta Vigo
Are Barcelona showing their true colours?
The blog is not sure where to stand on this one. Balancing on the fence perhaps, although evidence towards the notion that not all is right in the Catalan camp is certainly building.
It has been seven years since Barça lost back-to-back games in La Liga, even during those end-of-season moments when everyone has given up because the title has been won or lost.
Losing at home in La Liga is hardly a rare occurrence either, especially to a more modest outfit like Celta Vigo. But then again, Barça had nine shots on target, suffering at the firm, unyielding hands of the opposition goalkeeper, and were no worse than one of the supposedly early-season matches against teams like Eibar or Rayo. 'Tis a conundrum...
Barcelona 0-1 Celta Vigo
If Florentino wants to make a little money, then getting €100 million for Gareth Bale might not be a bad idea. It's not that the Welshman has done particularly badly, it’s just that the footballer is now a little surplus to requirements, although that could change should something happen to Cristiano Ronaldo involving a kitten and a misplaced roller skate.
The winger was not missed in the Clásico, nor against Liverpool. Bale certainly wasn’t missed on Saturday in a 4-0 victory at Granada, which was over in just 90 seconds after yet another strike from Ronaldo – his 17th in 10 games this season. Indeed, Carlo Ancelotti has the player available again for the return fixture on Tuesday, but mused on Monday that he may not need the fragile footballer from the start. Or ever.
Granada 0-4 Real Madrid
Sevilla gag at a chance of glory
And before everyone complains that LLL is being rather mean to the Europa League champions who are clearly not big-game bottlers, it was Unai Emery himself who felt that Sevilla choked when the big moment came. A loss for Barcelona on Saturday would have seen the Andalusians go top of the table with a win against Athletic. But Sevilla lost. Gah.
“The motivation was so high that the pressure saw us mess up some chances,” explained the elbow-pad clad one. “The setting, the opponents and the occasion got on top of us."
A shame really, as the defeat left Real Madrid at the top of the table and it doesn’t look like Ancelotti’s side are going to give that spot up anytime soon.
Athletic Club 1-0 Sevilla
Valencia keep up Atlético impression
Three goals for the Mestalla men against Villarreal in enemy territory in El Madrigal, and all three coming from aerial balls into the box. Valencia’s seventh win in 10 sees Nuno’s natty outfit as one of a group of five that could end up at the top of the table this weekend.
Villarreal 1-3 Valencia
Griezmann is finally beginning to deliver
One of the footballers who had yet to really get going this season was Antoine Griezmann. And by Merciful Zeus, Atlético are going to be good if the Frenchman can keep up his performance in the 4-2 win against Córdoba which saw the thrusting forward pick up a brace.
Atletico Madrid 4-2 Cordoba
Málaga continue to make moves
A side that completely confused LLL in pre-season has turned out to be another thrilling surprise package of the season in the Celta Vigo mould. The victory over Real Sociedad was the side’s fourth in a row. Could a return to European competition be in the offing for Javi Gracia’s feisty footballers?
Real Sociedad 0-1 Malaga
Could Real Sociedad’s bad day be a good one for David Moyes?
That is the strange situation in San Sebastian at the moment, with Moyes reportedly one of the coaches in line to take over from poor Jagoba Arrasate, sacked after the home defeat to Málaga.
Although a vaguely awake LLL was aware that La Real were struggling this season, it was still a surprise to see a team with such talent stuck in the relegation zone with just a single victory in 10.
Real Sociedad 0-1 Malaga
Getafe are still Getafe
And there they go again. Whenever Getafe find themselves in trouble, the side always seems to find an extra gear or two to steam out of trouble. Before their mini streak began, the Coliseum club had lost four from five and were looking very flaky. But then the side woke up to pick up seven points from the last three games, built largely on the emerging figure of Yoda. Score again he did against Deportivo. Joke to carry on, it will.
Deportivo La Coruna 1-2 Getafe