After the mid-week action last week, La Liga was back in full swing starting at noon on Saturday in a top four clash between Atletico Madrid and Sevilla (writes Matthias Suuck).
Despite having 61% possession at Atletico’s new home, Sevilla were unable to carve out any real scoring opportunities and did not even get a shot on target during the match. Atleti, on the other hand, were as ruthless as ever. Carrasco pounced on a Sevilla error after the restart and Antoine Griezmann finished off the match in the 70th minute.
Sevilla looked uncharacteristically lethargic in their build up and, despite a few isolated opportunities, never really seemed to get going in the match, which played directly into Atletico’s hands. After four straight wins, this was Sevilla’s first loss and they certainly deserved it.
Though not in blistering form yet, and with a squad that’s in a bit of transition, Atleti look like serious title contenders this season, especially with Diego Costa rejoining them in January.
Diego Costa watched on as Atletico Madrid beat Sevilla to maintain an unbeaten start to the season.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) 23 September 2017
Real Madrid were looking to correct their rather unimpressive early-season form when travelling away to lowly Alaves. As expected, Real were the dominant side in the 2-1 victory, but once again did not look great in front of goal. Madrid relied far too heavily on long shots and, with a little more luck, Alaves could have stolen a point.
Los Blancos have to pick up their performances if they want to catch Barcelona or even Atletico for the La Liga title this season. Another bad result could leave them hopeless in terms of winning the league.
Top-of-the-table FC Barcelona looked very comfortable in their 3-0 win over Girona. The hosts were far too generous, as two Girona own goals helped Barca secure the three points. Girona tried to man mark Messi, but all this did was open up spaces for his teammates, as the Argentinian’s intelligent movement kept pulling Girona out of their defensive shape.
The club that everyone thought would be in trouble following Neymar’s departure has now extended their 100% record in La Liga this season.
Malaga versus Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad versus Valencia were by far the most exciting matches to watch this past weekend. Down 1-3, Malaga were able to roar back and salvage a point against Bilbao thanks to two goals in the final 10 minutes. In the other match, despite being down to ten men following Kondogbia’s second booking in the 80th minute, West Ham flop Simone Zaza gave Valencia a dramatic 85th minute winner.
Along with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, Valencia remain the only unbeaten team in La Liga this season. It’s great to see Valencia returning to old form following some abysmal seasons, but the next few weeks will show just how good they really are as they take on Athletic Bilbao, Real Betis and Sevilla.
The surprise team of this young season has been Real Betis. Quique Setien’s side dominated Levante in an impressive 4-0 win on Monday night. Controlling possession and never really allowing Levante many chances, Betis are looking a good bet to challenge for Europe this season.
An impressive last 10 days for @RealBetis_en…
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) September 25, 2017
Other results saw Celta Vigo defeat Eibar 4-0 and Espanyol extend Deportivo La Coruña’s misery in an entertaining 4-1 victory. Eibar and La Coruña are already in a relegation fight.
This weekend’s matches also produced some managerial casualties. Fran was sacked on Monday following Villareal’s 0-4 loss to Getafe, with the Yellow Submarine continuing their horrid start to the season.
Manolo Marquez of Las Palmas also departed the scene on Tuesday. His side’s 0-2 loss to Leganes and poor overall form pushed him to resign from his managerial post.