It has been an unusual week at the Bernabeu as Real Madrid – a team so accustomed to bringing in elite players – saw two crucial components of their squad depart. They then squandered a two-goal lead against a team in dire straits, conceding four goals from set-pieces or crosses. Without midfield pacemaker Xabi Alonso, Real’s back four were attacked relentlessly as Toni Kross and Luka Modric endured a night to forget in the Basque Country. The loss of major attacking threat Angel di Maria saw Carlo Ancelotti’s men take their foot off the gas at 2-0 up and no one else could properly run at Sociedad and create chances for Karim Benzema. Newbies James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale (to an extent) could not recreate the form Di Maria showed last season, and Madrid look severely wounded whenever Cristiano Ronaldo is unavailable.
There have been better weeks too for Real Sociedad, despite the thrilling 4-2 win against the Champions League winners. Boss Jagoba Arrasate has been under increasing pressure having lost to Eibar last weekend, and then spectacularly dumped out of the Europa League by Russian side Kuban Krasnodar. The 3-0 defeat on Thursday left the club in dire straits, and the early two-goal lead accumulated by Madrid appeared to signal the end for Arrasate. However, his players, and a superb series of substitutions by the man in question at 2-2, may have secured the job for another week or so following the historic win.
Last weekend, Barcelona handed debuts to Rafinha and Munir El Haddadi, as the latter scored during the 3-0 win over Elche. Eight days later, and it was a similar story away to Villarreal, as 19-year-old Sandro Ramirez scored the winning goal to maintain Barcelona’s time at the top of La Liga. Despite spending over €167m this summer, the youngsters have proven themselves, with manager Luis Enrique willing to try out the latest stars from La Masia. There was another boost for Barca as Neymar made his return from injury, but if the youngsters continue to perform and grab the crucial goals then you’d hope Enrique would be big enough to give them their chances in the first-team.
Five months after that historic draw at the Nou Camp on the final day of last season’s La Liga campaign, Atletico Madrid were presented with their trophy ahead of the home game with Eibar. The league hadn’t wanted to hand either team the trophy during last season’s deciding game, and instead waited to present the title in front of a packed Vicente Calderon stadium. The champions then made hard work of defending their trophy against the newly promoted side as Eibar competed fiercely with Atleti. The hosts took a two-goal lead early on, with Mario Mandzukic, scoring his first La Liga goal minutes after Miranda had headed los Rojiblancos ahead. Eibar struck back through Minero Fernandez, who curled a beautiful shot past Miguel Angel Moya. Striker Angel could have stolen a point for Eibar with a one-on-one chance at the end, but couldn’t find the back of the net. An uneasy night for Atletico, who will need to find more quality to retain their title this season.
MORE: Man United latest news
MORE: Arsenal latest news
MORE: Chelsea latest news
MORE: Liverpool latest news