By Rik Sharma
BARCELONA (Reuters) – Real Madrid beat Sevilla 1-0 on Sunday to move joint top of La Liga, while champions Barcelona stumbled to shock 2-0 defeat at Granada on Saturday. Here are the five key talking points from the weekend.
Madrid’s defensive solidity
Real Madrid bounced back from the crushing 3-0 Champions League defeat by Paris St. Germain with a much more assured performance against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.
Although their opponents’ trip to Baku in the Europa League on Thursday ensured Sevilla weren’t at their freshest, Madrid played with grit and intensity.
For the first time since August 2016 they kept a La Liga opponent firmly at bay, not allowing a single shot on target during the match.
“We played for 90 minutes at a great level at a complicated stadium,” said coach Zinedine Zidane. “This is the game that has satisfied me the most since I returned (in March).
“We had difficult moments but the solidarity we showed in those moments stands out.”
Barca’s away day trauma
Barcelona haven’t travelled well since April last season and their away day trauma shows no signs of abating.
The Catalans have drawn three and lost five of their last eight competitive games away from Camp Nou, including the 4-0 capitulation against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final and the Copa del Rey final defeat by Valencia.
In Granada, they failed to create many chances and meekly fell to defeat, despite captain Lionel Messi making his first league appearance after a calf injury.
“I’m worried because away from home we’re not getting good results,” said coach Ernesto Valverde.
“No wins from four away games this season is a clear symptom we’re not in a very good situation.”
Valencia protests rage on
Despite their Champions League win over Chelsea in midweek, Valencia fans are still furious with owner Peter Lim for sacking coach Marcelino Garcia Toral.
The coach was dismissed on Sept. 11 despite winning the Spanish cup and helping Los Che to a second consecutive fourth place league finish.
Players and supporters were furious with the decision and fans showed that with banners demanding Lim leave as they filled the street in front of the Mestalla on Sunday.
The team, now led by Albert Celades, stumbled to a 1-1 draw with bottom of the table Leganes and sit 12th.
Fortress San Mames
At home, no side has got the better of Athletic Bilbao since October 2018.
They beat Alaves 2-0 on Sunday to move joint top of La Liga on 11 points from five matches, going unbeaten for the 17th league match in a row at home.
Raul Garcia’s penalty and Iker Muniain’s second half strike from close range handed the Basque side a comfortable victory at the fortress that is the San Mames.
Atletico blowing best chance in years
With neither Real Madrid or Barcelona near their best, this seemed like a fine chance for 2014 champions Atletico Madrid to capitalise.
Three wins from three games implied Diego Simeone’s side was on the right track but defeat at Real Sociedad and a 0-0 draw with Celta Vigo on Saturday show Atletico are a flawed side too.
Atletico are one of four sides on 10 points, with many teams bunched together in the top half as no side has emerged as a consistent force.
(Reporting by Rik Sharma; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)