In another wild weekend in La Liga, we have new league leaders. Sevilla sit top after 13 rounds after another home win against Valladolid. Plus, Real Madrid went away to Eibar and got thoroughly thrashed 3-0, while Barcelona battled Atletico Madrid at the Wanda in the capital. Just another day in the boring, two-team league.
La Liga Weekend: Sevilla Go Top!
Sevilla Lead the League
After roughly a third of the La Liga campaign, it is Sevilla who have picked up the most points. The southern Spanish side have 26 points so far after another 1-0 home win against Real Valladolid. Pablo Machin’s side have really surprised teams with their three-man defence and expert partnership up front.
Wissam Ben Yedder and Andre Silva have been absolutely outstanding. The two strikers started the season deputizing for each other before injuries forced a change. But Sevilla do not care now, they are flying, with the pair combining for 14 La Liga goals already this season. Keep an eye on Sevilla, they’ve already beaten Real Madrid and lost at the Camp Nou, but still lead the league
Madrid Shocked by Eibar
In an absolute shock, Real Madrid went away to Estadio Ipurua and the mighty Eibar and lost by a score of 3-0. Eibar are the smallest club in the Spanish top flight; their stadium only holds 7,000 people; their pitch is six yards shorter on each end than the Bernabeu. But these mighty Basques showed Real Madrid how it’s really done.
It wasn’t just that Real Madrid got thoroughly outplayed by the smallest club in La Liga, they barely created any chances. They started the reign of Santi Solari as first-team coach with an absolute offensive dud. Apart from one free-kick from Gareth Bale, the front three of Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema and Bale were non-existent.
The midfield was not much better. With Casemiro out injured, the decision to replace him with Dani Ceballos left them wide open on the counter. It wasn’t Ceballos’ fault, he was probably the best player on the pitch for Madrid, but he was criminally out of position and with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric on his sides, he had no help.
Madrid seem to be lacking the athleticism to get by with a three-man midfield. Modric needs some time off, he has not been good all season and while Kroos has been better, he was never an athlete anyway. Ceballos gives some of what they need but only because he’s young; they need an Arturo Vidal/Paulinho type. Whether they will get one will remain to be seen.
Atletico Madrid v Barcelona
The big showdown of the La Liga Weekend was the league leaders Barcelona travelling to the Wanda Metropolitano to take on Atletico Madrid. Atleti sat second, one point behind Barcelona, looking to take the league lead after a slow start. And with Barca missing both Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic, they may have felt they could get the win.
The first half was a cagey, tactical affair. In absence of those players, Barca manager Ernesto Valverde went with a four-man midfield, with Arturo Vidal and Sergi Roberto alongside Sergio Busquets and Arthur Melo. It meant that Nelson Semedo came in at right-back and they played a 4-4-2 system, much like they did all of last season.
Countered by Atletico Madrid and their very similar 4-4-2, they both stifled each other whenever the other tried to attack. So, most of the game was a stalemate. Even in the second half, after Rafinha came on for Barca and Vitolo for Atleti, nothing seemed to change until, finally, the deadlock was broken, and it was Diego Costa’s big, meaty forehead that did it.
A beautiful ball swung to the back post by Antoine Griezmann was all Costa needed to give Atletico the 1-0 lead. It was his first goal since February and a massive one at that. Atleti thought they had the three points and the spot at the top of the table. But in the 89th minute, Barcelona’s favorite FIFA-playing Frenchman worked his magic.
After an outstanding run by Lionel Messi, he threaded a ball through to Ousmane Dembele. He did his thing, getting past Hernandez and burying his chance for the equalizer. He had only been on the pitch for less than ten minutes but his impact was massive. His performance, on top of another Man of the Match performance from Messi, meant Barca split the points with Atleti.