Madrid: Following are talking points from the weekend in Spanish football.
Fotune favours Vinicius
Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr. is not only blessed with pace and an unorthodox dribbling style but also seems to have been endowed with a generous helping of good luck after the Brazilian’s deflection resulted in the winner against Sevilla.
Vinicius barely made contact with teammate Ferland Mendy’s cross but the touch was crucial as Sevilla goalkeeper Bono missed the ball, which then bounced off his leg and into the net.
Vinicius has now had a hand in four goals with the aid of deflections, including his first strike for the club against Real Valladolid in 2018. He scored similarly fortuitous goals against Barcelona and Osasuna last season, and on all four occasions Madrid went on to win.
Lemar finally proving his worth
Thomas Lemar became Atletico Madrid’s record signing in 2018 when joining from AS Monaco for 60 million euros ($72.75 million) but he seemed like a forgotten man until little more than a week ago.
He has staged a remarkable revival lately, with standout performances in last week’s 1-0 win over Valencia and Saturday’s 2-0 win over Real Valladolid, in which he opened the scoring with his first goal since April 2019.
“Lemar has been working hard for so long to show how good he is, but he couldn’t get consistency. I hope this performance gives him consistency, confidence and composure,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone, whose side are top of La Liga.
Lemar added: “Simeone has always defended me. He knows my quality and wants to get the best out of me. Today was a great day for both of us.”
How low can Barcelona go?
Barcelona’s 2-1 defeat by Cadiz left them 12 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid and they are now closer to the relegation zone (three points) than they are to the top four (six points).
Barca have taken 14 points from their opening 10 games - no team has won La Liga with such a record since three points were awarded for a win. It is their worst start to a campaign since the 1987/88 season.
“Twelve points is a lot to make up but we have to keep going. But if we don’t improve our attitude we’ll have no chance,” said coach Ronald Koeman.
Newspaper Marca says Barca have already fallen too far off the pace to claim a spot in next season’s Champions League. They might even end up in the Conference League, which was created to give lower-ranking sides the chance to play European football, it added.
Huesca throw away lead
Basement club Huesca must have thought they were finally going to get their first win since returning to the top flight when Shinji Okazaki put them 3-1 up against Granada in the 82nd minute.
It was not to be, however, as they conceded two headed goals in the space of two minutes to draw 3-3. Huesca have eight draws and four losses after 12 matches.
“This draw hurts far more than a defeat but this setback won’t ruin me and I won’t let it ruin the players. Football will pay us back soon enough,” said coach Michel.
Granada 3 Huesca 3
Osasuna 0 Real Betis 2
Villarreal 0 Elche 0
Deportivo Alaves 0 Real Sociedad 0