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Monday October 24 2016
What we learned from La Liga Week 9

After a weekend of 32 goals and plenty of drama in the Spanish top flight, Euan McTear takes a look at five of the main talking points.

1. Sevilla must be considered title contenders

Heading into this weekend, Atletico Madrid had yet to lose a match, but that all changed at the Sanchez Pizjuan. Although Real Madrid would later climb to the top of the pile, Sevilla’s win made them temporary La Liga leaders, highlighting their impressive start to the Jorge Sampaoli era. Few believed the Argentine’s impact would be this significant this early and that he would instil defensive pragmatism, especially after their 6-4 opening-day win. Sevilla have since averaged just one goal conceded per game and, assuming they don’t burn out, are definitely in the title conversation.      

2. Injuries could ruin Barcelona’s November

Barcelona may have escaped Mestalla with a narrow 3-2 win, but they suffered yet another serious injury blow against Valencia, with Andres Iniesta now ruled out for six to eight weeks with a partial ligament tear. As well as Iniesta, Luis Enrique will also not be able to count on Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Rafinha Alcantara and Arda Turan for the near future. As such, the Catalan side could have a tough November ahead. A home match against Granada next weekend shouldn’t prove too problematic, but that is followed by a trip to Manchester City, a trip to Sevilla and a home match against Malaga.

3. Sanchez Flores lives to fight another day

At half-time of Espanyol’s Saturday lunchtime hosting of Eibar, Quique Sanchez Flores’ future was in major doubt. The Catalan team entered the weekend with just seven points from eight matches and were far too close to the relegation zone for the fans’ liking and surely that of new Chinese owner Chen Yansheng. Trailing Eibar 3-0 at the break certainly didn’t help, but a spirited second-half comeback bought the former Atletico Madrid and Watford Coach more time. Next up for them is a trip to fellow strugglers Real Betis, which could be vital. 

4. Ronaldo is struggling, but his supporting cast keep Madrid on track

Even though Cristiano Ronaldo has had his worst-ever goalscoring start to a Real Madrid season, Los Blancos are top of the table. The capital team have evolved enough to cope with an out-of-form Ronaldo, something that they had rarely been able to do in the past. Even though the Portuguese has scored just two goals in six matches, his lowest season-starting tally since his 2009 move to the Santiago Bernabeu, the likes of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Alvaro Morata have been able to come up with the necessary goals. Not needing to rely on their No 7 is new and refreshing for Madrid.

5. Celta are as unpredictable as Depor are predictable

Just like a box of chocolates, you never quite know what you’re going to get with Celta Vigo. After defeating Barcelona 4-3, they went out and lost 5-0 to Villarreal last weekend. On Sunday, they played in the Galician derby against rivals Deportivo La Coruna and put together a clinical second-half performance to triumph 4-1. There were still some shaky moments for the Vigo team, however, and they were helped by a dubious penalty call to go 2-1 up. The win will have thrilled the home fans, but it will have done little to convince the Balaidos regulars that Celta can be relied upon. Deportivo, meanwhile, are very much in a relegation battle and are still struggling to score goals. Sunday’s match summed their season up in microcosm as they failed to create chances, while leaking goals at the back. 

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