FC Barcelona opened up a four-point lead at the top of the Liga Santander while Atletico Madrid breezed past Sevilla and Real Madrid again wasted chances in Matchday 6 in the Liga Santander.
Here are some of the things we learned this weekend.
Barca are able to grind wins out
It was by far from a vintage performance from FC Barcelona in Girona as Pablo Maffeo followed Leo Messi around the pitch in an attempt to mark him out of the game. However, after making changes to his starting 11, Ernesto Valverde was able to see his players grind out an ugly but ultimately comfortable win against a well-organized and hard-working rival.
Aleix Vidal may be criticized by fans, but he was able to do a job for the injured Dembele and Deulofeu, while Paulinho added muscle in midfield and allowed Sergio Busquets a rest. Barca were less fluid than on other occasions, but they had a dose of fortune and in the end wins breed confidence and calm and that is what Valverde is bringing to the club after a difficult summer.
New ground, same Atletico, only better
Two games and two wins for Atletico Madrid in their new Wanda Metropolitano stadium show that Diego Simeone’s side have adapted to their move across town with no problems at all.
In Saturday’s 2-0 win against Sevilla, Atletico limited Sevilla to just one decent shot on target, and that was after a deflection. Meanwhile they were able to control central midfield and defense and rely on the attacking sparks of Antoine Griezmann, Luciano Vietto and Yannick Carrasco.
Atletico were rock solid in defense and if they continue like this they are clear candidates for the title this season, especially after seeing Diego Costa sitting in the stands. The Spain international can’t play until January, but Atletico fans will be licking their lips at the thought of him forming a partnership with Griezmann, who looks back to his best after a slow start to the campaign.
Madrid shouldn’t worry about goal drought
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane commented on Friday that he was not worried with the problems his side are having in scoring goals. “I would be worried,” he commented, “if we were playing badly and not creating chances.”
Madrid wasted a hatfull of chances in their 2-1 win away to bottom of the table Alaves and in the end only won because their rivals hit the post on two occasions, but Zidane could take comfort that the chances fell thick and fast and were it not for Alaves keeper, Fernando Pacheco, they would have won by a bigger margin.
Dani Ceballos, hardly a prolific goalscorer, did the job for Madrid with more goals in one game than he netted all last season for Betis, but his performance shows that Madrid have enough options in front of goal and that if they continue to play well, the goals will come.
Ziganda still to get it right with Athletic Club
On another day Athletic Club Bilbao fans would have been pleased with a 3-3 draw away to Malaga, but after seeing how they surrendered a 3-1 lead in 8 minutes against a side that was down to 10, the result was more a cause for concern than celebration.
Ziganda has continually changed his starting 11 since replacing Ernesto Valverde as coach and the feeling is that he still doesn’t know what his best side (and especially his best midfield) is. The chopping and changing means the side has yet to gel and Athletic lack fluidity in creation and solidity in defense.
Playing in Europe doesn’t help fielding a settled side, but Ziganda needs to get it right soon.