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Wednesday August 29 2018
What we learned from La Liga Week 2

Real Valladolid's pitch, VAR in action and plenty of entertainment besides - La Liga is now in full swing, as Daryl Hammond explains.

Huesca can hang

We probably cannot read too much into the first two weeks of the La Liga season. Even so the table makes delightful viewing for fans of recently-promoted Huesca. Currently nestled in a Europa League position, they are yet to lose despite playing their two opening fixtures away from home.

Alex Gallar scored two exceptional goals in their 2-1 victory at Eibar, but their most recent result is more telling of their quality and their mentality. Two goals down at the San Mamés, they battle back for a draw against Athletic Club, with Ezequiel Avila putting his contender for goal of the season in early with a spinning half volley to level.

Bale or Isco? Why not both?

The debate that saw Madridistas bicker online for years and nearly saw two world class talents leave the club. Gareth Bale and Isco are not similar types of players, but during Zinedine Zidane’s reign at the club it seemed to be one or the other in the starting line-up.

With Cristiano Ronaldo gone, it gave the chance for Julen Lopetegui to play them both against Girona. While Bale has looked every bit the €100m Madrid paid for him in Ronaldo’s absence, Isco has stuttered this season. But one glorious incisive move in which Isco controlled Keylor Navas’ throw and slid in Bale to score changed the complexion of his performance.

Given that Luka Modric was rested to make it work, how often we see those two is questionable, but when we do it could be a fun watch this season.

Real Valladolid’s ground staff are overpaid

To compare Valladolid’s Jose Zorrilla pitch to that of a Sunday League football is a disservice to the groundsman at my local park.

The comical picture of Jordi Alba lifting a square segment of turf is but one of the many examples of how unplayable the pitch was in a game laden with trips and bobbles.

As it turns out, laying down a playing surface for the season two days before the first home game is not the best idea.

One can question whether it was a deliberate ploy to knock Barcelona off their stride and until Ousmane Dembele fired in just before the hour mark it had worked.

VAR already up to par

It was almost the fairy-tale ending. After frustrating Barcelona for much of the match and toiling away for 90 minutes a decent chance presented itself. And they took it – a powered header past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen in the second minute of stoppage time. The crowd goes wild, Keko’s shirt is whipped off in the emotion.

Then comes the review that at a key moment in time unequivocally makes the correct call. As VAR makes baby steps in the league it is a small win for advocates of the technology (and consequently Barcelona).

Guedes a great buy

Better to have loved than lost, right? It seemed many Valencia fans felt that way about Goncalo Guedes. On loan from Paris Saint-Germain, they thought his days dazzling in white and black were numbered.

No way would PSG sell after the season he had, certainly not at anything they could afford. But just this week the clubs came to an agreement for a reported €40m with add-ons, potentially a bargain for the 21-year-old. Judging by their start to the season, they really need him.

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