La Liga Review: Madrid derby ends Goalless as Barca slip up again

La Liga Review: Madrid derby ends Goalless as Barca slip up again
Alex Wrigley
Alex Wrigley
September 30, 2018
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Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.

After the relative non-event that was last season’s title race with Barcelona running away with the Spanish top flight crown, things already look a great deal more interesting this time around. Having both lost in midweek, Barcelona and Real Madrid were both held to draws on Saturday to leave Julen Lopetegui and Ernesto Valverde with plenty of food for thought heading into the European action.

The struggles of the ‘big two’ are certainly giving hope to the rest of the league and it was a better weekend for the best of the rest with Sevilla and Valencia both claiming maximum points on the road. However not for the first time this season, the issue of general safety at some of La Liga’s smaller grounds became a major issue, with several Sevilla fans suffering injuries whilst celebrating their side’s 2nd goal at Eibar due to the collapse of part of the visiting section.

Read more – Barcelona & Real Madrid beaten on Match Day 6

Keepers on Top in Madrid derby Stalemate

The Madrid derby was the standout fixture this weekend in La Liga. Both Real and Atleti are hoping to get much closer to Barcelona this season but neither side could muster up a goal at the Bernabeu on Saturday, although some excellent goalkeeping was largely responsible for that.

Atletico Madrid had the better of the first half. As was the case in Seville three days early, Real’s defence looked vulnerable with Atleti getting in behind on several occasions in the opening period. Both Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa had good chances but were expertly denied by Thibaut Courtois who showed just why Real invested in his services this summer. Los Blancos got a much firmer grip on the game after the break though, largely controlling the play but on the occasions when they did manage to test Jan Oblak, the Slovenian shot-stopper was more than equal to it.

It was certainly a game when the two goalkeepers left with more credit than perhaps anyone else on the pitch, perhaps excluding José Giménez, who is developing into one of the best central defenders in world football. Atleti looked increasingly content with a point as the game headed towards its conclusion and the result extended their unbeaten league run at the Bernabeu to 6 matches, easily their best run in the long history of the Madrid derby.

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Barca rotation fails again as Bilbao take a point from Camp Nou

What promised to be a pretty decisive day in terms of grabbing the early momentum in the Spanish title race, ended with no change at the top as Barcelona again slipped up. Their draw with Athletic Bilbao extended their winless run to three league matches, their longest such streak in almost two years. It could have been worse too with Athletic ahead for much of the match thanks to an early strike from visiting right-back De Marcos.

Yet again, the game highlighted Barcelona’s problems when they try to rotate. This time Leo Messi and Sergio Busquets were rested with a midweek trip to Wembley in mind. However yet again Valverde was forced to bring his rested players on far earlier than he might have liked. With Barca 1-0 down, Messi came on to help inspire a comeback of sorts. The Argentine rattled the post and set up Munir for the leveller but the Catalans dropped points again and the fact they remain top of La Liga, wasn’t enough to stem the boos at Camp Nou after another disappointing result.

They were better than they were in midweek at Leganes, but Valverde has some serious thinking to do. Even some of his first-choice players haven’t really been delivering with Gerard Pique a liability at times at the back while Luis Suarez is again making another slow start to the season. Tough trips to Tottenham and Valencia await over the next 7 days and Barca could desperately do with a morale-boosting victory in at least one of those games.

Read more – Spurs vs Barcelona Preview and Predictions

Sevilla Win overshadowed by Stand Collapse

In a season when La Liga is looking to boost its global appeal, it’s somewhat ironic that even something as basic as ensuring domestic stadiums are fit for purpose seems beyond them. While everyone loves the fairytale rises of small clubs like Huesca and Eibar, safety issues have been a constant source for concern this term. Already Rayo Vallecano have seen their stadium shut after a young boy fell down a hole at the Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas and there was an even more serious incident this Saturday at Eibar.

The collapse of a barrier in the away section left celebrating Sevilla fans hurtling towards the ground as their players celebrated their second goal just a few metres in front of them. More than a dozen supporters were injured, with 10 needing hospital treatment although thankfully none of the injuries were serious. Nonetheless it was a troubling event which led to the game being suspended for six minutes with the kind of scenes that you just don’t expect to see at a match in a league which is aiming to present itself as the strongest in world football.

On the pitch, the game ended with a 3-1 Sevilla win as Pablo Machin’s side’s impressive form continued. They’ve now won 4 straight games in all competitions, scoring a magnificent 17 goals in the process. Right now they certainly look the side that is best equipped to challenge the monopoly the ‘big three’ have had on La Liga in recent years. Valencia won their first match of the season too on Saturday by seeing off Real Sociedad 1-0 but they already have a fair bit of ground to make up. It was a bitterly disappointing weekend for Villarreal though, beaten 1-0 at home by new boys Real Valladolid. The Yellow Submarine are clearly still a work in progress and haven’t settled as quickly as Sevilla have following on from a busy summer of transfer deals.

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