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Five talking points from the weekend in La Liga

Five talking points from the weekend in La Liga
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Eibar v FC Barcelona - Ipurua Municipal Stadium, Eibar, Spain - October 19, 2019 Barcelona's Lionel Messi in action. REUTERS/Vincent West -
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Vincent West(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – Barcelona went top of La Liga for the first time this season with a 3-0 win at Eibar while Real Madrid suffered a shock 1-0 loss at minnows Real Mallorca to fall off the summit.

Here are five talking points from the weekend in Spain.

BARCA’S FRONTTHREEFINALLYHIT A GROOVE

Lionel Messi’s injury problems had prevented Barca’s attacking trio of the Argentine, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann from hitting the ground running this season but they finally produced a display worthy of their collective talent.

All three forwards got on the scoresheet for the first time this season to sink Eibar and each player participated in the second and third goals, scored by Messi and Suarez respectively.

But it was the performance of Griezmann, who has been criticised for his slow adaptation to the team since switching from Atletico Madrid, that was the most impressive.

The Frenchman worked hard all game and dictated Barca’s play from deep, at times operating as a playmaker and as an incisive wide forward at others.

ATLETICOWINLESSSTREAKDENTINGTITLEBID

When Barcelona and Real Madrid made difficult starts to the campaign the time looked ripe for another title challenge from Atletico Madrid but Diego Simeone’s side are now in a rut of their own and their lack of ambition could be to blame.

Despite a strong start against Valencia which saw Diego Costa score from the penalty spot, they seemed intent on seeing out a 1-0 win and were eventually punished by Dani Parejo’s late free kick.

After winning their first three games, Atletico only have one victory in their last six games, scoring three goals in the process.

ZIDANE’S PLAN B FALLINGSHORT

Real Madrid spent big in the close season to assemble a stronger squad but their limp defeat by Real Mallorca suggests their second-string players might not be good enough.

Coach Zinedine Zidane was missing key players such as Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos but chose to rotate his squad and his gamble backfired as Luka Jovic, Vinicius Jr. and Alvaro Odriozola — who was sent off — badly underperformed.

Zidane appeared to point the blame at his periphery players.

“Every time they play they must prove they have the level to play for Madrid. Today they didn’t,” he said.

DE JONGEASESBURDEN OF PRICETAG

Sevilla’s Luuk de Jong was in danger of becoming a laughing stock after the 15-million-euro ($16.74 million) signing from PSV Eindhoven had failed to score in his first seven matches despite firing 20 shots at goal.

The Dutchman, the joint-top scorer in the Eredivisie last season, finally delivered when his team needed him the most, however, coming off the bench and netting the only goal in a 1-0 win at home to Levante.

“It meant to so much to him,” said team mate Lucas Ocampos.

GRANADAPERFECTART OF GRINDINGOUTWINS

Promoted Granada continued to turn heads by moving up to third in the La Liga standings after beating Osasuna 1-0 on Friday and a pattern is beginning to emerge for their opponents: you’re in trouble if you concede first.

Diego Gonzalez’s side, who beat champions Barcelona 2-0 last month, have scored the first goal in five games this season and have gone on to win every single time.

($1 = 0.8960 euros)

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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