Getafe, Espanyol, Celta Vigo…these were not supposed to be the chasing pack behind Barcelona and Real Madrid at the top. But everyone else has gone missing
In a surprising turn of events, the standings after Match Day 4 don’t show the usual suspects hogging the top-four spots in La Liga. Sure, Barça are sporting a flawless four-out-of-four record and Real Madrid are only trailing by two points. The rest of the top favourites, however, aren’t where they should be.
Take Atlético, for example.
You have to go down all the way to eighth place to find Diego Simeone’s team…and things could be much, much worse had newcomer Borja Garcés not scored an injury-time equalizer last weekend. With five points and plenty of room for improvement, Los Colchoneros seemingly didn’t properly digest their European Super Cup win over Real Madrid, as they haven’t been themselves lately.
Celta ran circles around Cholo’s team two weeks ago, and things didn’t seem to improve after LaLiga returned after the international break. Against Eibar, Atleti were unable to take advantage of playing at home; in fact, quite the opposite happened. Some of Simeone’s decision-making was received with suspicion and a slight rumbling in the stands.
His subs worked, though: allowing Garcés to debut was proven to be the correct choice minutes later, when the teenager finished a cross inside the box to save a point in the process (1-1).
Matters seem more worrisome 350 kilometers east. In Valencia case, you have to plunge deep into the 17th place to find them. The Bats were hoping that after the chance of training together during the international break, their game against Betis would bring things back to normal. Oh, they couldn’t have been more wrong…
The fact is, Real Betis deserved to win. Especially after the excellent first half by Los Béticos. Scrambling due to Kondogbia’s ankle injury, Valencia’s midfield splashed around like a fish out of water, unable to fight back and totally dominating. Marcelino García required all of his expertise to reorganize the team during half-time and seek a better outcome in the second-half. Valencia did improve and even deserved a goal after Dani Parejo smashed a volley against the post, but it wasn’t enough (0-0).
After four games and a huge investment in players this summer, the Valencian side has yet to win a single game. At least, Gonçalo Guedes was able to make his debut and tease the fans with exciting things to come. However, the current state of affairs paint a bleak picture: only three points and a huge game coming up next Wednesday in their Champions League home debut against Serie A champions Juventus FC.
If the Mestalla crowd is becoming impatient, the Sánchez Pizjuán fans have had enough. Chants of ‘Pepe Castro, dimisión’ asking the current Sevilla president to resign could be heard after their game against Getafe (0-2) was over.
Quique Bordalás and his players delivered an absolute masterclass away from home, preventing Sevilla from playing comfortably and delivering two huge blows on the counter-attack thanks to Ángel’s pinpoint accuracy.
With four points in the bag, Sevilla stand in 11th place, absolutely appalling after the money they invested in transfers this summer. Their predicament is almost identical to Villarreal’s, although things seem a bit brighter for the Yellow Submarine: they were the only ones to secure a win this weekend, with a single Carlos Bacca goal that was enough to knock off Leganés (0-1). One point out of the first nine was terrible for the yellow side, but the clutch victory at Butarque has seemingly helped to calm everybody down over there.
Nobody believes this current wobbly beginning will prevent any of these four teams from climbing up the rankings and becoming powerhouses at some point. However, all will face the implacable harshness of playing European competitions mid-week, something which will wear them down. And, who knows, it might open a tiny window where an unexpected underdog (Getafe? Celta? Espanyol?) could squeeze in.