Despite how it looked like in the opening rounds of the season, LaLiga has slowly taken its shape, or in other words, the standings finally look like we had expected them to before the season took off. That is not to say there were no surprising results in the last couple of rounds that reorganized the standings and round eight was no exception.
Real Madrid cement themselves as number one with a win over Granada
Despite the slow start of the season, which saw Real Madrid draw with Valladolid (1:1) and Villarreal (2:2), the Los Blancos still managed to climb their way to the top of LaLiga where they reside with a 5-3-0 record, meaning they will enter round nine as the only yet undefeated Spanish team. That being said, Zidane’s side did not have an easy time against Granada on Saturday, who made sure to push the 13-time UCL champions to their limits.
The match between Real Madrid and recently promoted Granada took off with an early goal from Benzema who made it 1:0 before the opening two minutes of the fixture were up, following a superb assist from Gareth Bale. By keeping up the pressure, Real Madrid found their way to their second goal in the stoppage time, when Eden Hazard took full advantage of Granada’s mistake in defence and scored his first LaLiga goal of the season. Barely 15 minutes into the second half Modric produced a screamer, getting his team a three-goal lead, which seemed to have put the three points out of reach for Granada. Nonetheless, Areola’s mistake in 69th minute gifted Granada a penalty, which was easily converted by Machis, reducing the gap of the fixture to two goals and giving the visiting side the needed morale boost to keep on pushing. Once 77th-minute rolled around, Granada used their corner kick to its full potential and scored their second goal of the game after a great pass from Diaz, which found Durate alone in the penalty box. Filled with the hope they can produce an upset result Granada kept on pushing but to no avail. Instead, it was James Rodriguez who scored Real Madrid’s fourth goal in the stoppage time, which sealed the deal and won Real Madrid their fifth LaLiga game of the season.
Barcelona keeping up the pace with Real Madrid
The reigning LaLiga champions, just like Real Madrid failed to impress in their opening fixtures of LaLiga with a defeat against Athletic Bilbao (0:1) in round one, followed by a draw against Osasuna (2:2) in round three and a painful 0:2 defeat against Granada in round five. That being said, the Blaugrana found their rhythm since then and won all four fixtures that followed across all competitions. Following a close and exciting UCL fixture against Inter on Wednesday (2:1), Barcelona entered round eight of LaLiga determined to redeem themselves in front of their own fans against Sevilla and Valverde’s men did not fail to do just that. That being said the Sunday’s match could easily be described as a night of missed opportunities from Sevilla and clinical finishing from Barcelona.
The first goal of the night came in the 27th minute when Suarez produced an acrobatic overhead kick to surprise Sevilla goalkeeper, who had no answer for the shot that landed in his net. Barely five minutes later Arthur found Vidal alone inside Sevilla’s penalty box, who beat the offside call, took the chance, and made it 2:0 before the first halftime came to an end. However, Dembele decided he will make his way on the scoresheet with a goal of his own three minutes later, getting Barcelona a three-goal lead, which more or less sealed the deal for Sevilla who had an almost impossible task ahead of them. At the start of the second half, Sevilla had an excellent opportunity to score a goal, yet they hit the post. Messi answered with an incredible free-kick goal in 78th minute, which added the final nail in the coffin of Sevilla, who had to settle with a humiliating 0:4 defeat against Barcelona. The incredible display from Barcelona, however, was overshadowed by two yellow cards awarded to Pique and Busquec as well as two red cards that were shown to Araujo and Dembele in the dying moments of the match, meaning they will both miss the next fixture.
Atletico Madrid running out of steam
Atletico Madrid had an excellent start of the season, but as it seems Simeone’s side have run out of steam fairly early into the 2019/20 campaign. Their perfect 3-0-0 record three rounds into 2019/20 season ended with a painful 0:2 defeat against Real Sociedad in round four, which started an avalanche of poor results, including an underwhelming stalemate (0:0) against Celta Vigo and most recently a 0:0 draw against Valladolid on Sunday at Estadio José Zorrilla.
The key moment of the first half and the whole game was a missed penalty from Ramirez, who failed to take the home side into a lead. All in all, the teams were fairly equally matched throughout the whole fixture, both with some incredible chances, however, on two occasions the post was in the way of the goal. Despite a few dangerous attacks that amounted to nothing, the match at Estadio José Zorrilla was nothing more than a stalemate.
Barcelona and Real Madrid claimed three points, which means Real Madrid cemented themselves as the league leaders, whereas it was Barcelona who managed to pass by Atl. Madrid who have now dropped down to third place. As it stands now, Real Madrid are first with 18 points, Barcelona second with 16, Atl. Madrid third with 15 and Granada closely behind with 14.
At the bottom of the table are Mallorca, Espanyol and Leganes – the only team in La Liga without a victory this season.
Seeing how tight the top of the table looks, it may seem like we will be in for a very competitive LaLiga season, however, as it has become rather obvious, most teams have run out of steam fairly early, whereas it’s Real Madrid and Barcelona, who seemingly found their rhythm at the right time.
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