After a weekend of pause, due to the Spanish SuperCup games, happening in Saudi Arabia, La Liga was back in business for another matchday. All eyes were on Barcelona and their new manager, Quique Setien.
The ‘Blaugrana’ had sacked Valverde in the past week, bringing in the former Betis coach. Setien ended his first match at the helm of Barcelona with 3 points, but the Catalan side saw their rivals Real Madrid also claim the win against Lopetegui’s Sevilla.
Look how is the current La Liga table:
Barcelona 1 x 0 Granada
Barcelona might have had a new man in charge in Quique Setien but the new boss would not have been over the moon with their display at home to Granada.
Ansu Fati had the games first real bite but his powerful low strike was batted away by Rui Silva and then Lionel Messi had two digs at goal that both narrowly missed Silva’s right post.
At the start of the second half, Setien had a heart in mouth situation when Yan Brice Eteki beat Marc Andre Ter Stegen from just outside the box only to see his shot cannon off the inside of the upright. This was the first match for the German keeper after his injury.
Barca, meanwhile, we’re struggling to create anything clear cut with Granada well-disciplined out of possession but the task of shutting Messi and co out became tougher on 69 when German Sanchez received a second caution.
Just seven minutes later, the man advantage was joined by a goal advantage as Messi stroked home to finish off a silky move and that was that.
Barcelona keeps the race tight with Real Madrid and Setien had a proper welcome.
Real Madrid 2 x 1 Sevilla
Real Madrid had the chance to go top of La Liga – at least temporarily until Barca beat Granada – when they welcomed Sevilla to the Bernabeu on Saturday. The match started in cagey fashion with little to get excited about but on the half-hour, things threatened to spark into life.
Sevilla had the ball in the net through Luuk de Jong’s header that found the top corner but VAR spotted an infringement in the build-up and the goal didn’t stand.
That was the only action of note in the opening 45 and neither side created a decent opening until 57. Luka Jovic classily flicked a backheel into Casemiro’s path and the Brazilian powered towards goal before a deft chip over the advancing Tomas Vaclik saw the ball nestle in the net.
After waiting so long for a first chance you might have expected Madrid to see things out after finally taking the lead but within seven minutes Sevilla equalized. De Jong worked his way into a shooting position and sent a low curling strike beyond Thibaut Courtois from 18 yards for 1-1.
Real were not about to give in though and the third goal in 12 minutes saw the hosts restore their lead. Casemiro was the scorer once again, this time nodding in from close range after being left unmarked in the middle of the goal. Sevilla failed to offer anything in response and it was job done for Real – albeit not convincingly.
Eibar 2 x 0 Atletico Madrid
Diego Simeone has his team, which has gone through a fair bit of change from last year, competing at the top of the league whilst their opponent, Eibar, came into the weekend knowing they could slip into the relegation places should results go against them.
Despite the divide between the pair, Pedro Leon had already threatened with a free-kick for Eibar before they took the lead on 10. It was another set-piece – this time a corner; Leon delivered, Sergi Enrich flicked it on at the near post and Esteban Burgos arrived at the other to poke in.
As the half time whistle went, the hosts were deserving of their goal advantage with Atletico’s best effort a 20-yard drive from Joao Felix, which Marko Dmitrovic was equal to.
In the second period, Atletico improved their all-round game but struggled to truly threaten Dmitrovic’s goal and with minutes left Eibar bagged a second goal. A corner was half-cleared to Edu Exposito who took a touch and caressed an 18-yard finish into the corner.
Mallorca 4 x 1 Valencia
Lowly Mallorcaentertained Valencia at Sunday lunchtime with their visitor’s strong favorites ahead of kick-off, however, just seven minutes in the home side went 1-0 up. Salva Sevilla whipped in a free-kick from a deep right position and a totally unmarked Antonio Raillo headed home.
Mallorca continued in the ascendancy and doubled their advantage on 22 through Ante Budimir as he diverted Daniel Rodriguez’s low shot past Manolo Reina. Then on 41, the Croatian forward netted again. This time Lago Junior and Sevilla exchanged sharp passes before Budimir collected from the latter and slammed home for 3-0.
If Valencia thought a quick start in the second half was important to get back in the game then that plan went out of the window when Daniel Parejo saw red on 51 after collecting a second yellow.
The match plateaued somewhat but on 79 Rodriguez lashed a superb fourth into the bottom corner of Reina’s net from 20 yards after Budimir cushioned Aleix Febas’s pass back to him.
Three minutes later, the away side did grab a consolation through Ferran Torres but it was an extremely poor day at the office for Valencia.
Real Betis 3 x 0 Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad find themselves in the race for European soccer next season having had a decent first half of the year but, after a slow start, their hosts Real Betis have turned a corner and the fixture was a tough one to call ahead of time.
In-play though, it was a one-sided affair with Betis dominating. On 27, Borja Iglesias rose highest to head in from a corner and then, on 44, Joaquin rolled in a second after Emerson burst into the Sociedad box and squared.
The away side failed to register a shot on target throughout the 90 minutes and with the last bit of action, their hosts made it 3-0. Andres Guardado left his marker in a spin and fed Sergio Canales who clinically finished.
Villarreal 1 x 2 Espanyol
Last time out Espanyol earned a hard-fought draw with Barcelona and things didn’t get much easier with a trip to take on Villarreal but they got off to a super start with a goal after just five minutes.
Naldo flicked on a corner and David Lopez came alive amongst a static defense to score at the back stick. The score stayed at 0-1 until shortly after the break when Espanyol made it 0-2; Jonathan Calleri delivered a cross that was bending away from goal and Raul de Tomas peeled off the back of Raul Albiol to head home.
On 62, Javi Lopez saw red – a second yellow – after his arm blocked a rare Villarreal effort on goal and Santi Cazorla halved the deficit from the resultant spot-kick.
The hosts pushed for a leveler with their extra man proving useful but Espanyol stood firm with their woodwork providing a helping hand.
Leganes 0 x 3 Getafe
The weekend’s action got underway as relegation candidates Leganes welcomed Getafe in the South Madrid derby. Things could hardly have gone worse for the hosts though as Getafe put the strugglers to the sword early on.
First, Leandro Cabrera headed home from a corner on 12 and then, nine minutes later, Allan Nyom doubled the advantage with a towering header from Marc Cucurella’s left-wing cross.
By 33 the match was as good as over, Jorge Molina raced into the home box, beat Jonathan Silva with ease and squared to Jaime Mata for a tap in to make it 0-3. Leganes tightened up after the break – although Ivan Cuellar almost gifted Mata a second goal.
The damage was done and the hosts never looked like getting back in the match.
Levante 0 x 1 Alaves
Saturday’s early game pitted mid-table pair Levante and Alaves against one another in a game that proved a tight encounter. The first hour offered absolutely nothing in terms of goalmouth action but on 64 a long ball out of defense was flicked on by Lucas Perez to strike partner Joselu.
He scampered clear of the Levante defense and cut across to Aleix Vidal who took a touch before beating Aitor Fernandez for 0-1.
Levante struggled to deal with Alaves’ direct approach but Fernandez kept it to just the solitary goal and when the home side had a chance of their own – and it was a golden one – it was wastefully headed wide by the unmarked Sergio Leon.
Athletic Bilbao 1 x 1 Celta Vigo
An away match at Athletic Bilbao is hardly what Celta would have asked for after five league games without a win. The hosts were the team probing but found Ruben Blanco in inspired form and on 56 Celta gave themselves an opportunity to sneak a win.
Rafinha found the net from 20 yards but on 76 the home side was awarded a spot-kick. Fran Beltran was adjudged to have handled and Raul Garcia converted.
Osasuna 0 x 0 Real Valladolid
Osasuna came into this home tie with Real Valladolid having taken just two points from the last nine available on home turf but they were the side asking questions early on with Chimy Avila stinging the palms of Jordi Masip in the Valladolid goal.
In the other box, Enes Unal chested an effort towards goal but Sergio Herrera reacted sharply to tip the ball away.
Shortly after, the visitors were inches from going in front. Sergio Guardiola lifted the ball over Herrera but his lofted attempt struck the top of the bar. Avila did his best to grab a winner for Osasuna but it never looked like coming.