Atletico leads in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona stumble
Atletico Madrid won early Sunday and then watched a humbling defeat for Barcelona, and yet another disappointing draw by Real Madrid, to lead the Spanish league for the first time this season.
Atletico dominated in a 2-0 win at Valencia, while Madrid drew 11 at home with Eibar for its fourth-consecutive draw, and Barcelona conceded three goals in 11 minutes in the first half in a 43 loss at Celta Vigo. The crucial fourth goal was an embarrassing mistake by goalkeeper MarcAndre ter Stegen.
The results left Diego Simeone’s team in the lead with 15 points from seven matches. Madrid also has 15 points, but an inferior goal difference.
Barcelona, still without the injured Lionel Messi, stayed on 13 points after its second league loss. It is one point behind third-placed Sevilla, which defeated Alaves 21 on Saturday.
“There is still a lot of league left and it’s all tight at the top,” Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said. “All teams are losing points. It says a lot about the level of this league.”
Pique scored twice and Neymar once as Barcelona came close to rallying from the three-goal deficit, but the goalkeeper’s mistake with the game at 3-2 dampened the team’s chances.
Instead of sending the ball into attack, the German goalkeeper tried to pass it to a defender, but Celta midfielder Pablo Hernandez timed his jump perfectly and the ball struck his head and hit the far post before crossing the line.
“We know Marc is very good with his feet, a lot of our plays begin with him,” Pique said. “Everybody makes mistakes, but we know him well and he won’t be affected by that.”
Barcelona’s Neymar, centre in action during the match against Celta Vigo Photo: AP