By Rik Sharma
MADRID (Reuters) – Here are the main talking points from the weekend’s action in La Liga:
Real Madrid earned a scrappy 2-1 win at Alaves on Saturday with a performance they didn’t seem capable of last season.
It was cold, wet and fierce at Mendizorroza, with Alaves’ industrial style and a baying crowd offering Zinedine Zidane’s side a test of their title mettle.
However, the visitors came away with three points thanks to Dani Carvajal’s goal, scored four minutes after Lucas Perez cancelled out Sergio Ramos’s opener.
It showed Madrid have spirit, belief and willing to battle, which they showed none of in the previous campaign.
“We know that in stadiums like this, teams always give everything against Real Madrid, and we coped very well with the kicks, the rain and the cold,” said Madrid’s Brazilian defender Marcelo.
“That was crucial because these are the games that win you league titles.”
GRIEZMANNSTRUGGLES ON ATLETICORETURN
Barcelona earned a crucial 1-0 win at Atletico Madrid on Sunday to return to the top of La Liga but it was not a happy homecoming for Antoine Griezmann.
The French striker, who played for Atletico between 2014 and 2019, joined the champions in July for 120 million euros ($132.26 million) in a controversial switch from the Spanish capital.
Griezmann was whistled and jeered relentlessly by Atletico fans, who held up banners criticising him, including one reading: “You wanted to make a name (for yourself) but forgot to be a man.”
The striker, who has scored only five goals in 18 appearances in all competitions for the Catalans, missed his side’s best chance with the game poised at 0-0, volleying high over the bar from Luis Suarez’s cross.
Eventually Lionel Messi, expected to win his sixth Ballon d’Or later on Monday, saved the day, with Griezmann giving him a relieved hug at the end.
Bottom of the table minnows Leganes lost again, 1-0 at Sevilla, but have shown plenty of fight since Javier Aguirre took over.
The veteran Mexican coach replaced Mauricio Pellegrino in November, earning them a 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad in his first match.
That was followed up by narrow defeats by Barcelona and now Sevilla, both games which his side could have won.
Leganes are eight points from safety but don’t be surprised if they cut down that gap in the coming weeks, with key clashes against Celta Vigo and Espanyol, 18th and 19th respectively, in December.
(Editing by Christian Radnedge)