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Published on September 19th, 2017 | by Paco Polit

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La Liga review: A dark day for Dembele but bright skies for Bale

The weekend saw Barcelona watch $150 million go down the drain with Dembele’s injury but better news for Gareth Bale, as Atletico moved into a new home 

Paulinho demands respect in a dark day for Dembelé

It has become a habit for Barça: struggling after the first international break followed by the Champions League debut is now common amongst the Blaugranas and many other big sides. In Barcelona’s case, their showdown against Juventus was always going to take a toll. Leo Messi was the perfect example: a beast when playing against the Italians, a cute kitten when visiting the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez.

Actually, the whole away team was tepid in the first half, overran by a Getafe side who pulled ahead with a spectacular volley by Japanese player Gaku Shibasaki.

Ousmane Dembelé had already been forced out of the game earlier due to a muscle injury that, hours later, would provide bad news for his side: the attacker will be out for somewhere between three and four months. But, in the midst of the battle, Barça had many other things to worry at that point. Turning around the game was the top priority; thankfully, Denis Suarez came to the rescue and leveled the score fifteen minutes into the second half.

This summer, Paulinho became quite the running gag. His €40 million signing from the Chinese league provided plenty of laughs. But the Brazilian took matters into his own hands and finished the comeback in style, with a play that combined speed, power and that unstoppable quality that box-to-box midfielders know how to exploit. He scored a great goal and managed to keep Barça at the top of the league one more week.

Battle of the Real’s gave Bale a chance for redemption

The past few months have been rough on Gareth Bale, combining disappointing performances with a string of injuries that haven’t allowed him to enjoy consistency on the pitch. It was only a matter of time, however, until we saw him shine in a game which developed into open defenses, tactical chaos and plenty of space to run freely (1-3).

Against Real Sociedad on Sunday, the Welshman found himself right at home. His amazing run left defender Kevin Rodrigues far behind and his clinical finish closed off a tricky game for Los Blancos. Bale’s goal is the sixth one he has scored against the Anoeta side.

Levante and Valencia duke it out with no punch up front

The Valencian derby was exciting both in the stands and on the pitch, but ultimately both teams clearly showed that their main trouble this season might be attack-related. The managers, Juan Ramón López Muñíz and Marcelino García Toral, have known each other for years, and that scouting work paid-off for the away coach, who opted for a previously unseen attacking couple (Santi Mina and Rodrigo Moreno) and soon saw how the Spanish-Brazilian striker heading into the back of the net from a great cross by Manchester United’s prospect Andreas Pereira.

It didn’t take Levante long to get back in the fray. Again with a sneaky cross, the ball got to Enis Bardhi, who juggled the ball with his chest and quickly drop-kicked it into Neto Murara’s goal. A great piece of skill by the Macedonian striker, one of La Liga’s most exciting and relatively unknown additions this season.

It is true that Valencia had more opportunities to score in the second half, and that overall they enjoyed some huge chances throughout the game but the draw was quite fair for two sides that, four games into the competitions, have yet to lose a game.

A new home for Atleti and the first manager gets sacked in Vitoria

Sevilla keeps on quietly picking points (they won 0-1 vs Girona) and has already climbed into second spot, while Malaga provides the opposite feeling: Michel’s men added yet another loss to their stats this weekend. Their defeat came at the hands of Atlético de Madrid thanks to a lonely Antoine Griezmann goal (1-0), in the first game ever played in the snazzy and fabulous new Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

The Colchonero fans will have to get used to their new turf, quite different to the old-school Vicente Calderón where they played the last fifty years. More bells and whistles, less vintage hardcore scent: change will need to be accepted gradually but inevitably.

At least, their manager Cholo Simeone threatens to be there for a long, long time. Alaves’ Luis Zubeldia has already packed and gone home after his sacking on Sunday evening. His stats weren’t very impressive, indeed: their loss against Villarreal (0-3) was the fourth one in a row, with zero points to date and very poor performance overall.

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About the Author

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Paco Polit is a Valencia-based journalist with over ten years experience reporting La Liga, covering both Valencia CF and Levante's news, signings, ups and downs. Madrid and Barcelona are huge, indeed, but the Spanish La Liga is much, much more: regarded as the top football competition in the world, he enjoys explaining why to every reader from abroad.



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