Five Things We Learned From La Liga – Atletico Madrid moved into their new 68 000 Wanda Metropoliano stadium to much fan fare, but maintained the steel of old to edge past Malaga 1-0.
Barca maintained their 100 percent record at Getafe, but at some cost as record-signing Ousmane Dembele looks set to miss the rest of the year.
While, Real Madrid shrugged off a host of absences to make sure they lost no more ground on the leaders with a 3-1 win at Real Sociedad.
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Here is a look at Five Things We Learned From La Liga weekend.
NEW HOME, SAME OLD ATLETICO
“The memory will live with me for the rest of my life,” claimed Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone at the sight of a packed Wanda welcoming their side for the first time before kick-off.
Simeone had called on the fans to make their new home a “pressure cooker” to ensure the special atmosphere at the departed Vicente Calderon isn’t lost.
The atmosphere was in danger of fizzling out after a nervy first 45 minutes with precious few chances.
But Simeone’s spectacularly successful reign has been littered with important 1-0 triumphs and so it was fitting that Antoine Griezmann’s solitary strike ensured Atletico’s moving in party wasn’t spoiled.
The fireworks were literally saved for afterwards in an unusual show of bravado from a club now sure of itself among the European elite.
ALAVES SUFFER SECOND SEASON SLUMP
No points and no goals means Luis Zubeldia no longer has a job after just four games in charge at Alaves.
The Argentine had huge shoes to fill in compatriot Mauricio Pellegrino, who led the Basques to ninth and the Copa del Rey final in their first season back in the top flight for a decade before leaving for Southampton.
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With a number of key players also leaving or returning to their parent clubs from loan deals, Zubeldia was faced with remolding an entire squad and hasn’t been afforded any sort of patience to get things back on track after defeats to Leganes, Barcelona, Celta Vigo and Villarreal.
MAYORAL MADRID’S MISSING NINE
Madrid travelled to San Sebastian short of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in attack and seven points adrift of Barcelona.
Real boss Zinedine Zidane had lamented the club’s failure to replace Alvaro Morata in the transfer market in recent weeks, but 20-year-old Borja Mayoral proved Madrid’s surprise hero at Anoeta to show he can supplement Real’s No 9 options.
Mayoral scored his first Real goal and forced the error that provoked Kevin Rodrigues to fire into his own net for Madrid’s second before Gareth Bale secured a vital three points.
THE NEW ‘BBC’
Villarreal inflicted the final wound for Zubeldia’s Alaves with a clinical display as Cedric Bakambu scored twice.
Carlos Bacca also found the net with the impressive Samu Castillejo playing a supporting role.
Indeed, Villarreal’s front three was so good Bakambu nicknamed them “the new BBC” given Real Madrid’s inability to get Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale on the field at the same time in recent months.
BARCA’S BENCH BOOST
Barcelona’s perceived lack of strength in depth cost them the La Liga last season and made Real Madrid heavy favourites to retain the title.
However, it was Barca’s bench that saved the day after falling behind at Getafe.
Denis Suarez and Paulinho came on in the second-half to score and give coach Ernesto Valverde a timely boost with 105 million euro man Dembele out for up to four months with a hamstring injury.
Five Things We Learned From La Liga