La Liga Lessons: Real Madrid's understudies shine, but it's not all bleak for Barcelona
It’s all over. At least until January, when two Copa del Rey Clásicos are due if the Big Two win their respective matches over the next two rounds. But until then, the 3-1 threw out plenty of morsels to work over.
Let’s not forget that there were a bunch of other games taking place, and there's another possible big sacking at a recent Champions League club...
Real Madrid’s supporting cast share the burden
For once, there weren’t more headlines about the genius thigh-pumping brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo and his uncanny knack of scoring (although he did bag a penalty). Instead it was Real Madrid's supporting cast who won the post-match plaudits.
Without a snarling double pivote that José Mourinho or Fabio Capello might have fielded back in the day (or Pepe in a harness), Carlo Ancelotti put the whole team on defensive duties and his players didn't let the coach down. Isco was a blur of activity all over the midfield, Marcelo was tireless and precise, and even Karim Benzema broke into a sweat to perhaps finally win over the Bernabéu crowd after five years of trying.
Sometimes Clásicos can be quiet, cagey affairs early doors, but Saturday's was a sizzler. Here’s to the other 19 this season.
Real Madrid 3-1 Barcelona
Barcelona shouldn’t go into panic mode
Oh dear. There is nothing like falling back on your bum with a bump when you've been gliding high. That has certainly been the reaction from the Barcelona press, who have spent an awful lot of time in wound-licking action, ruminating over the reasons for the loss against Barcelona.
Rather than putting the boot into the Camp Nou club, LLL is going to lean a little more on the positive side by suggesting that it was poor tactical choices (in hindsight, which is perfect) from Luis Enrique rather than anything fundamentally wrong with the team.
Gerard Piqué should have been on the bench with Jérémy Mathieu alongside Javier Mascherano, a combination which has worked fairly well so far. Ivan Rakitic should have been given the trust to lead the midfield alongside Andrés Iniesta, while Luis Suárez should have been held off until the end with a fully match fit and raring to go Pedro or Munir thrown into action instead.
Of course, Suárez could have bagged a hat-trick, inspired by a virtuoso performance from Leo Messi, with Xavi Hernández turning back the clock to boss an overly-attacking Real Madrid. But that’s the beauty of being able to second guess in sport.
Real Madrid 3-1 Barcelona
Sevilla still riding their luck in La Liga
Unai Emery was a lucky, crouching coach on Sunday. It looked like the Andalusian side were going to be losing out on the advantage of Barcelona dropping points, with Villarreal one goal up in the Sánchez Pizjuán going into the dying minutes of the match.
Until Denis snuck a shot into the bottom corner with two minutes to go and the referee awarded a soft penalty in injury time that Carlos Bacca converted.
LLL is still to be convinced by the side, but it is fun to see Sevilla up in second nonetheless, continuing to do the business in a wondrously consistent way.
Sevilla 2-1 Villarreal
Atlético Madrid back in business at the back
A solitary goal indirectly from a set-piece, a fair amount of physicality and a clean sheet thrown in for good measure. However, it is the latter that is the big story from Atleti's win at Getafe, with the shut-out their seventh in a row in La Liga and Champions League action. And while everything is alright at the back, Diego Simeone has time to work out the kinks that are blighting the attack up front.
Getafe 0-1 Atletico Madrid
Valencia celebrate buy-out in style
Vroom! Vroom! It's a-go for Valencia, who now have a proper owner. The very, very protracted Peter Lim takeover was finally signed off at the end of last week, and the merry Mestalla side saw off Elche 3-1.
Despite playing the usual kitchen-sink intensity football, the three goals from the home side were all headers from corners, in a very Atlético Madrid manner.
The club’s new owner was in the stands to see his players in action, with manager Nuno revealing that “he congratulated us after the game and seemed very nice”. With Valencia being Valencia, nothing can possibly go wrong now for the club.
Valencia 3-1 Elche
Celta Vigo might be the best club in Europe
Well, under a very loose interpretation of facts anyway. It turns out that Celta have now scored in 15 consecutive league rounds, a record shared by Champions League giants (and bottlers) Juventus.
The blog has already admitted its love for this most swashbuckling of sides in the past, but this stat only increases the crush. The latest goals for Celta came in Friday’s 3-0 victory over Levante that lifted the side into sixth place, with just the single defeat in nine games.
Celta Vigo 3-0 Levante
Time is up for Jagoba Arrasate
A poor start to the season continued for La Real with a draw at Córdoba, to leave the Basques just outside the relegation zone. And it also leaves the sacking of Jagoba Arrasate a formality, with former Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel being lined up to take over. That makes LLL sad. The former part, rather than the latter. The blog has nothing against the Bundesliga coach whom it has never met.
Cordoba 1-1 Real Sociedad
Athletic continue to climb the well of doom
A 1-0 win at Almería is not normally huge cause of cheer, but it is around Basque parts, with the win being Athletic’s first in 10 games.
“What calms things down in the world of football is results,” noted manager Ernesto Valverde. This one-match run of great results may not last too much longer, with next weekend’s visit of a very high-flying Sevilla.
Almeria 0-1 Athletic Club
Xisco scored but the world is still safe
Yes, it was that Xisco that scored Córdoba’s late equaliser against Real Sociedad. The free-scoring Xisco from Newcastle United. But do not fear, the end of the world is not near. The strike from the Spaniard was from a deflected cross that hit the post and then hit the forward without him knowing too much about it.
Cordoba 1-1 Real Sociedad
LLL is still omniscient and an all round genius
Espanyol 0-0 Deportivo. A short clip from Friday’s preview just to show the huge public service that the blog has performed over the decades: “... barring Espanyol vs Deportivo, which already looks awful.” Donations to the normal spot in the Caymen Islands, please.
Espanyol 0-0 Deportivo