Real Madrid and Barcelona carried on as they left off last season, but Atletico Madrid were given a shock by some daring debutantes in La Liga’s opening weekend
A new season of La Liga started with every piece of furniture in the house exactly in the same spot: Real Madrid sitting comfortably at the top, and Barça close in second but not-quite-there yet. The three newly-promoted teams all got points in their opening fixtures, which could be a taste of things to come in the fight for survival this year.
Depor pinned down by Real Madrid’s steamroller
It was obvious from the get-go that a Madrid on a consistent roll for many months would surely run over a Deportivo which has struggled in preseason. Even though Keylor Navas had to work hard in the early stages of the game, Gareth Bale and Casemiro soon put things back in their place in a matter of minutes.
The second-half brought yet another sending-off for Sergio Ramos, so dominant at his job as commander-in-chief of the defense that he actually thinks he is above the law. With a yellow under his belt, he slapped Fabian Schär in the face, didn’t get caught, but was later booked again. He’s La Liga’s historical record-man if we speak about expulsions. His red card didn’t prevent Madrid from scoring a third (Tony Kroos) and securing the top spot with ease (3-0).
23 red cards 🔴
526 Real Madrid games ⚽
Sergio Ramos is now the most sent-off player in La Liga history. https://t.co/lTj5uaUdxf
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 21, 2017
Messi slams the post thrice but Barça wins anyway
A tricky game for a Barcelona side which has dived head-first into a terrible state of depression since Neymar left. However, the Catalans are still a huge side, and will usually pull-off whatever plays they need in order to bag run-of-the-mill wins such as the one they got against Real Betis (2-0).
Sure, Los Verdiblancos have added very smartly to their roster this summer, but Quique Setién hasn’t been able to make the team gel yet. Against Barca, that means that you get destroyed in five minutes of fury and chaos: a Tosca own-goal first, and a Sergi Roberto finish two minutes later were too much to swallow.
The most interesting outcome of the game was Leo Messi’s problems when finishing his plays: we’ve grown used to the Argentinian striking mercilessly at the opposite team’s net, but this time his aim was a bit off and he could only manage three hits to the woodwork. Tough luck, Leo!
Girona overruns Atlético but that isn’t enough to keep them down
Former Levante and Espanyol striker Christian Stuani managed to almost knock out Atlético de Madrid in a brilliant first-half by his team, where his two goals made the disorientated Colchoneros stumble and look in all directions but the right one. Girona, in their first-ever fixture in La Primera, seemed to have been playing top-flight football for all their lives.
A harsh red for Antoine Griezmann for allegedly diving inside the box (and later swearing at the ref) made Atlético’s task even harder. But, again, this is no ordinary team: they have Cholo Simeone’s mindset burnt in their skulls. In a tremendous effort, first Ángel Correa with a beautiful strike and later José Gimenez with a header managed to level the game and scrape one point in a very bad evening play-wise (2-2).
A good weekend for Valencian fans in both sides of the aisle
On Friday, Valencia CF ran around and pressed as we remembered many years ago, seizing three points against Las Palmas (1-0) in a performance that painted a picture full of hope and confidence for their battered fans. Simone Zaza scored with a clinical finish in a game where Joao Cancelo cried like a baby once the ref whistled the end, as he was leaving imminently to join Inter Milan.
Three new signings (Gabriel Paulista, Jeison Murillo and Geoffrey Kondogbia) and maybe the arrival of the skillful Gonçalo Guedes will strengthen their squad even further with next weekend’s visit to the Santiago Bernabeu as the next stop on their way.
Levante UD and Villarreal faced-off on Monday with the same outcome (1-0) in a game where Los Granotas showcased an impressive form both physically and tactically, putting the effort in the midfield and securing the win with a penalty scored by Jose Morales in the 88th minute. It’s the first time in history that the Levantinista team has won the opening fixture of the season in Primera División.