-We begin this week’s La Liga roundup in–where else–Madrid, where defending champions Atlético defeated Real 2-1. Arda Turan came on for Gabi just after the hour and notched the winner 15 minutes later following a beautiful dummy by Raúl García. The victory marked Atlético’s third at the Santiago Bernabéu since May 2013, and the Colchoneros are unbeaten in three games against los Blancos this season. For the hosts, the loss sparked whistles for Iker Casillas and rumors of Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit. So, yeah. Atlético travel to Greece to battle Olympiacos in the Champions League on Tuesday, while Real stay in Spain and play Basel.
-Next, to Catalonia, where Barcelona kept its 100 per cent record intact with a 2-0 win over Athletic. Luis Enrique’s troops sputtered for over an hour before Neymar came on and scored twice in the final 11 minutes, with Lionel Messi assisting both goals (could he notch 25 assists this year?). Barça currently top the table and have yet to concede through three rounds. The Nou Camp will next play host to Barça-APOEL, while Athletic welcome Shakhtar to the Basque Country, with both group fixtures set for Wednesday evening.
-Are the reigning Europa League winners back on track? That’s certainly the hope in Andalusia, where Sevilla were barely threatened in a 2-0 win over Getafe. Carlos Bacca was in form for the Palanganas, as he took three shots, scored a penalty, and contributed some defensively, with a tackle and three clearances. Denis Suárez was also terrific, as he fired off four key passes and won three aerial duels in his 73 minutes of action. As for Getafe, this was one to forget; the Madrid-based side had only one shot on target, and it came from a sub. Sevilla will now look to kick-start its Europa League defense, beginning with Feyenoord on Thursday.
-Last season’s eighth-place finishers are off to a fine start in the 2014-15 Liga. Sunday proved a successful day at the Mestalla, as hosts Valencia beat Espanyol 3-1. After a quick goal from Pablo Piatti, Espanyol were able to hold on until the hour mark, when Dani Parejo (who had an outstanding day) slotted home Valencia’s second. Also, it’s been a nice run for Paco Alcácer; he scored against Macedonia in a Euro 2016 qualifier last week, and he bagged Valencia’s final goal in this one.
-Other results: Almería 1-1 Córdoba, Málaga 0-0 Levante (a note on Levante here), Celta Vigo 2-2 Real Sociedad (thanks to this), Rayo Vallecano 2-3 Elche, Granada 0-0 Villarreal, Eibar 0-1 Deportivo.
Messi, by my estimation, has been creating a million chances every game. When football’s greatest villain comes back, he might convert said chances into goals. Twenty five is in play.