The opening weekend of La Liga really couldn't have gone any better for Barcelona. The leaders' 2-1 win at Getafe wasn't straightforward, but it left them with a five-point lead at the top of the table. It also put the setting on Barça's own Super Sunday, in which Sevilla and Atlético Madrid cancelled each other out in the day's headline clash before Real Madrid's listless display saw Real Sociedad win at the Bernabéu for the first time in 15 years.
In a season that has been wracked with surprises and inconsistency so far, the title holders' run of five successive La Liga wins feels as if it could be a decisive step to retaining their crown, which they are clear favourites to do at 1.16. The European champions' humbling was an unexpected bonus, cutting them ten points adrift of top spot (they are now all the way out at 14.00), which Ernesto Valverde and company couldn't have seen coming.

Atlético undone by stalemates

The draw in Andalucia was, on the other hand, more in line with what they might have hoped for at the start of the day. Atlético's modus operandi hasn't really changed, but their difficulties in edging tight matches looks like stymying their title bid, priced at 13.50. Sunday's stalemate at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuan was their eighth already in just 18 games.
Even in a season that looks highly unlikely to require 100 points - or anywhere near - from its champions, this looks like leaving them short. When Antoine Griezmann, having scored Atleti's first-half equaliser in some style, wasted a one-on-one with Tomás Vaclik in the last ten minutes, it felt like the sort of decisive moment that needed to be made the most of by a potential title winner.

Surprisingly coherent Sevilla

Still, it would hardly have been deserved. If there was one major take-home from the game, it was that this Sevilla side are way better than anyone could have reasonably expected at this point in the season. This was supposed to be a transitional campaign for Pablo Machín's team as they continue to build post-Monchi, bringing in a coach with a different tactical outlook to recent incumbents and bedding in a sporting director in Joaquín Caparrós with little pedigree in the role, even if he does share great history with the club.
Yet they looked like the real deal here - particularly in the first half, when they gave La Liga's best defence perhaps the stiffest working-over that it has had all season. Sevilla are a side with real personality, from their three-man backline to strike pairing Wissam Ben Yedderand André Silva. Ben Yedder, one of the best natural finishers anywhere in Europe, scored the opener and though Silva hasn't scored since November, he was a width of a post away from doing so against Atleti, having beaten Jan Oblak with a rocket of a shot.

Biggest threat to Barcelona?


Sevilla's price for the title is 42.00, and you could argue that they're doing well to be that short after finishing last season in such a fractious state. They've only lost once in La Liga since September, though, and that was at Camp Nou. With their goalscoring power - and with the still-acclimatising Quincy Promes ready to contribute in the season's second half - they could even be the biggest threat to Barcelona.

0 nhận xét Blogger 0 Facebook

Post a comment

 
Top