With just this evening’s Malaga vs. Las Palmas game outstanding to complete Matchday 3 of the 2017/18 La Liga competition, a look back at four key talking points generated over the week-end.
Madrid draw at home again
Facing an early Saturday kick-off after an international break, Real boss Zinedine Zidane utilized his side’s strength in depth that played such a huge part in delivering a La Liga and Champions League double last season.
Despite the continued absence of Cristiano Ronaldo through suspension, Gareth Bale, Isco and Luka Modric were just three of those left out of Zidane’s starting line-up for the visit of Levante.
However, one key difference between Madrid’s squad this season and last is the lack of back-up to Karim Benzema since Alvaro Morata’s £70 million ($91 million, 78 million euros) switch to Chelsea.
Morata was never properly replaced in the transfer window, and after Benzema limped off injured in the first half, Real lacked firepower as they toiled in the search for a winner with Bale forced to deputise as an auxiliary striker.
La Real are joint top
Zidane’s men travel to San Sebastian next Sunday to face early pace setters Real Sociedad.
La Real joined Barca at the top of the table as the only sides with three wins from three by scoring twice early and late to beat Deportivo la Coruna 4-2 on Sunday with former Real Madrid player Aisier Illarramendi bagging a brace.
Without the injured Benzema and suspended Ronaldo and Marcelo, another slip-up would leave Madrid with serious ground to make up just four games into the campaign.
Messi keeps Barça on track
Lionel Messi conjured a hattrick as Espanyol were swept aside by the Blaugrana at the Camp Nou.
However, even after Luis Suarez completed the rout in stoppage time from debutant Ousmane Dembele’s cross, cries for under-fire Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign rang around the Camp Nou.
Outside the stadium supporters queued before and after the game to sign a vote of no confidence motion in Bartomeu.
Having lost Neymar and the confidence of the fanbase, only the sight of Messi and captain Andres Iniesta signing new contracts as promised by Bartomeu will ease calls for his head.
Sevilla come to life
Spain’s fourth Champions League representatives were overshadowed by Real’s struggles, Barca’s brilliance and Atletico’s intense 0-0 draw at Valencia on Saturday.
However, another new-look Sevilla are only two points off the top after a 3-0 dismantling of Eibar that could have been far more.
As almost every year, there has been a huge turnover in playing personnel at the Sanchez Pizjuan and another change of coach with Eduardo Berizzo charged with recreating his success and style of football from three years at Celta Vigo.
The early signs are promising as Berizzo seems to have rejuvenated Paulo Henrique Ganso and Manchester City rejects Jesus Navas and Nolito.
However, the challenge of Liverpool and Anfield on a big European night on Wednesday will test the limits of what Berizzo’s Sevilla are capable of