Five things we learned from 8-week in La Liga

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MADRID: Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona smashed 17 goals, whilst Sevilla re­main in the ti­tle hunt thanks to a lon­gawaited win on the road.

Here, AFP sports looks at five things we learned from week eight in La Liga.

NEW-LOOK AT­TACK­ING ATLETICO SPARKLE

Atletico fell three points short of the ti­tle last sea­son de­spite man­ag­ing to score four goals or more just once in the en­tire sea­son. After a 7-1 hum­bling of Granada, Diego Sime­one’s men have now hit four or more three times in eight games.

Most im­pres­sively of all, Atletico’s de­fen­sive so­lid­ity hasn’t been for­got­ten. Isaac Cuenca’s stun­ning shock opener for Granada was only the third time Atletico have con­ceded this sea­son.

A reliance on An­toine Griez­mann for goals was for­got­ten as the French­man didn’t even find the net as Yan­nick Carrasco con­tin­ued his bril­liant start to the cam­paign with a first ca­reer hat-trick.

Ni­co­las Gai­tan’s first two Atletico goals off the bench also un­der­lined Los Ro­ji­blan­cos new found depth and va­ri­ety of at­tack­ing tal­ent.

SEVILLA END AWAY HOODOO

Next up for Atletico is a trip to the al­ways in­ti­mat­ing Sanchez Pizjuan to face Sevilla. Jorge Sam­paoli’s men could even leapfrog Atletico after fi­nally end­ing their woes on the road with a first away league win for 23 games and 17 months at Le­ganes to re­main third, just a point be­hind the Madrid duo. Sam­paoli’s reign has so far pro­duced far bet­ter re­sults than per­for­mances, but with a marked im­prove­ment on their trav­els a first top-four fin­ish in seven years should be the least of the Europa League hold­ers am­bi­tions.

MESSI HITS THE GROUND RUN­NING

Three min­utes and three touches were all Lionel Messi needed to net on his re­turn after over three weeks out with a groin prob­lem. Barcelona’s strug­gles post in­ter­na­tional breaks have be­come known as the “FIFA virus”, but, even be­fore Messi made his re­turn, the cham­pi­ons were well on their way to vic­tory over De­portivo la Coruna with a 3-0 half-time lead.

In the long run Messi’s in­jury may even ben­e­fit Barca’s long-term am­bi­tions. Nearly a month out and one less transat­lantic trip to bail out Ar­gentina’s

strug­gling World Cup qual­i­fy­ing bid after a third con­sec­u­tive sum­mer rep­re­sent­ing his coun­try can only held save Messi’s legs for the busi­ness end of the cam­paign in the new year.

FREE-SCOR­ING TOP SIX TIGHT AT THE TOP

Ahead of his re­turn to Barcelona later this week in the Cham­pi­ons League, Man City boss Pep Guardi­ola was quick to shoot down the of­ten touted sug­ges­tion that Eng­land’s Premier League is more de­mand­ing week in, week out than La Liga or the Bun­desliga.

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