A look back at the latest La Liga action
It feels like September’s international break is only just in the history books, but we are now in the midst of another round of Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Once again, 55 nations will be doing their very best to join a Europe-wide party next year, and although the upcoming raft of fixtures will create their own headlines, it is now time to take a look at the latest goings-on in La Liga.
With Lionel Messi finally back from injury, it seems as if Barcelona’s season is finally underway (even if it is now on pause for a week), while Real Madrid’s big summer signing has finally opened his scoring account, and with that in mind, here are the biggest stories coming out of Spain right now.
Granada fail to see the Hazard signs
It is fair to say that Granada have been the surprise act of this burgeoning La Liga season, and after already disposing of Barcelona, manager Diego Martínez would have been hopeful of masterminding another shock.
That’s because Granada made the trip to the Santiago Bernabéu on Saturday to face a Real Madrid side who were held to a Champions League drew at home to Club Brugge last Tuesday, and in addition to that, it was also an early top-of-the-table clash.
That performance against the Belgian outfit was one that caused quite a headache for Zinedine Zidane, and only thanks to an improved second-half performance did Los Blancos avoid serious embarrassment in front of their own fans.
Thankfully, there was to be no embarrassment for the side from the Spanish capital as they came out on top in a highly entertaining encounter, and it was one that also saw Eden Hazard score his first goal for the club.
With French international Karim Benzema opening the scoring after just two minutes, Hazard would finally open his Real Madrid account on the stroke of half-time, and when Luka Modrić made it 3-0 on the hour, it seemed like a case of job done.
However, Granada had over ideas, as a two-goal reply set up a grandstand finish to this encounter, and although there was still time for one more strike to hit the back of the net, it was one that came courtesy of the hosts.
Colombian star James Rodríguez eased any nerves that may have begun to show, and his injury-time finish made sure that Real Madrid stay top of the table after a 4-2 win. Next up for them is a trip to face Real Mallorca.
Messi back at Barça
There’s no doubting that Barcelona have an abundance of attacking talent at their disposal, and even when Ernesto Valverde has failed to be able to call upon Lionel Messi, you would think that they would still have enough to come out on top.
However, this has not necessarily been the case in these opening few weeks of the season, and that is why the return of the mercurial Argentine will prove to be such a boost for the Catalan outfit going forward.
His talents where on display in Barcelona’s Champions League win over Inter Milan last week, and they were also on show on Sunday as the current holders of the La Liga crown made light work of Sevilla at the Nou Camp.
Although Barcelona ended the game with only nine men on the pitch due to two late red cards for Ronald Araújo and Ousmane Dembélé, it did not matter all that much, and especially when you consider that they were already four goals to the good by this point.
Luis Suárez opened the scoring, and his goal was arguably the pick of the bunch, and although both Arturo Vidal and Dembélé also scored to put the hosts in complete control, there was still time for Messi to place himself on the scoresheet.
With 12 minutes remaining, Barcelona were awarded a free kick, and there was only one man who was going to take this. Step forward arguably the greatest player to grace the game, and it was a finish worthy of that accolade.
Barcelona were rampant throughout and made this Sevilla side look very ordinary, something that is no mean feat. Now it looks like Valverde’s men have finally clicked, and next up is a visit to Eibar after the international break.
Another bore draw for Atlético
There is no question that any side that operates under the stewardship of Diego Simeone is going to be difficult to break down, and that is certainly case with the latest edition of his Atlético Madrid side.
Being tough to break down is an attribute that is rather admirable, and if you can grind out a victory by a single goal, then it is arguably the kind of performance that will provide more pleasure for the purists of defensive football.
However, keeping clean sheets at one end is a positive, but a failure to score at the other is a negative that will outweigh it, and for the third time in four La Liga outings, Atlético Madrid played out an uninspiring 0-0 draw.
This spate of draws has seen the Red and White half of Madrid slip to third in the table, and the fact that they have only scored seven times this season will be of huge concern to their Argentine manager.
After travelling to face Real Valladolid on Sunday, it was an encounter that can only be described as frustrating for Atlético Madrid fans, and once again the lack of goals proved to be a millstone around the necks of their players.
The international break will allow for a period of reflection, and next up for them is the visit of Valencia – a side who will certainly test them defensively, and this is something that makes a return to scoring all the more important.
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Palabras: Josh Dixon
Imágenes: PA Images