La Liga Lessons: Sneaky Sevilla, Saint Bravo and a double dose of dismissals

Tim Stannard discusses the big talking points from Spain, including the first two sackings of the season...

And boom goes the dynamite. After eight rounds of cracks appearing in managerial contracts, the pressure was finally too much with not one but two sackings in La Primera. 

Córdoba came in first, jettisoning their manager Albert Ferrer late on Monday afternoon, shortly followed by Levante, who disposed of José Luis Mendilibar.

However, impressive wins against modest opponents for Barcelona and Real Madrid continue to make the real headlines in Spain with the Clásico now hiding just around the corner. Here’s what else we learned... 

Claudio Bravo is next in line for sainthood

If San Iker Casillas was once deserving of moving up to a higher spiritual plane, then Barcelona’s keeper is next in line. The former Real Sociedad man is currently fulfilling the role once played by Víctor 'Remember him?' Váldes. Bravo has now gone 720 minutes unbeaten in La Liga, and while the opponents in that run have not been all that sturdy, the Chilean has had to pull out some nifty moves to prevent the crustification of his clean sheet. 
 
Two of those were against Eibar, in a match where Barça were under the cosh a little in the first half, before doing the usual and getting the Neymar-Messi double act in gear to pick up another three points. 
 

Bravo has kept eight clean sheets in as many La Liga matches

Consistent Sevilla sneak into second

Second! Look at that! LLL is not quite sure how Sevilla have managed that – something linked with the accumulation of points over a series of games, perhaps – but a 2-0 victory at Elche plonked the Andalusian side into the slot behind leaders Barcelona. Unai Emery’s side are building this head of steam on the back of something that had previously been a huge issue for the club: winning away from home.
 
This season Sevilla have won three of four matches on their travels. A year ago the club had only just broken its record in La Liga of one victory in 29 games. Maybe after achieving this feat, as well as consistently taking Valencia into third – and winning the Europa League – Emery will finally be taken seriously as a top manager. 

Real needed stronger sparring partner than Levante

A side probably going down, caught up in a match-fixing scandal and who sacked their coach on Monday is hardly the best warm-up that Real Madrid needed to flex their muscles ahead of a visit to Anfield. But that’s what Carlo Ancelotti’s side faced on a Saturday in a ridiculously easy 5-0 win that merely showed what everyone knew already – that Madrid’s attack is very good against flimsy opposition. 
 
Indeed, unless someone shows some more backbone this season, then an excited Marca’s prediction that Los Blancos could score 142 goals in La Liga this season might well come true. 
 
What Madrid really needed, though, was to take a few blows to the chin to get the team up to the pace required to take on a dynamic side from the Premier League. Instead, it got the footballing equivalent of whacking a particularly pacifistic scarecrow for 90 minutes. 

Atlético Madrid still going back to basics

A parachutist from the Spanish air force dropping into the ground before the game was a godsend for the headline writers covering Atlético Madrid's victory over Espanyol on Sunday morning.
 
The two-goal victory over the Catalan visitors, which owed itself to headers again, saw headlines of Air Force all over the place. Atlético are still struggling to make things click on the ground but at least have one of the most potent aerial games in the business. 
 

Atletico celebrate Tiago Mendes' opener

Valencia come a cropper against Deportivo

On Friday, LLL reported a warning from the Valencia camp on what would happen to team spirit once the wins dried up. That moment has come a little sooner than the blog expected, with Valencia suffering the shock of the round with a 3-0 loss to the formerly hopeless Deportivo. 
 
Coach Nuno was not disheartened, though, putting the result down to “a bad day” and vowed: “A team that wants to be the Champions League places does not lose two in a row.” Bearing in mind Valencia’s next match is at home to Elche, after a full week to lick its Mestalla wounds, the club’s Portuguese boss is probably right. 

Rayo keep on living the dream

They are just a cute, itty, bitty hamster with a sweet face and wee body you want to squeeze until the eyes fly out. Not that you ever would. Who? Rayo Vallecano of course, the little club that could, can and will be able to do so forever apparently. The Madrid side had a worryingly sluggish start to the season, and once again LLL dared to question their ability to fight financial reality and stay up in La Primera. But once again the club is doing so, having won three of its last four matches to move into ninth, after a late victory at Granada. 

There are signs of life for Athletic Bilbao

Although drawing 1-1 against a Celta Vigo side that only had one shot on target is hardly reason to pop Basque champagne corks, the performance in San Mamés was considerably better than others this season. “Possible the most complete 90 minutes of the year,” was the opinion of Ernesto Valverde. 
 

A point for Athletic, an improvement on recent results

Ferrer pays for 42 years of failure at Córdoba

The 2-1 home defeat to Málaga saw Marca come out with the harshest of statistics, that Córdoba had not won in La Primera in 42 years and five months. Had the team been in that league for every season and perhaps drawn every single match, then it would have been a shameful stain indeed. But instead, the run ran from the end of Córdoba's previous spell in the top flight, plus the current one which now totals eight games.