Diego Simeone and his Atletico Madrid side continue to prove that solid defensive organisation and effective transitioning is just as, if not more effective than attacking flair in winning football matches. Simeone has beaten Mourinho, Ancelotti and now Zidane at the Bernabeu in his time as Atletico Madrid manager.
Barcelona hosted Atlético in a clash between two elite sides at the top of the Spanish first division. Although the outcome was inevitably influenced by the two red cards, some important changes from both managers were also key in what was an interesting match-up.
Real Madrid has long been a club varying between extremes. Following the firing of Rafael Benítez, La Madrid’s board appointed no less than Zinédine Zidane as their new head coach. The former playmaker and superstar of the 1990s and 2000s is set to revitalise a stumbling team of modern superstars.
Zidane’s first game as a head coach. Throughout the game traces of the strategy used under Carlo Ancelotti (while Zidane was the assistant) were visible while some problems which existed under Benitez still weren’t done away with. Ultimately, it looked as Real Madrid took a step in the right direction and it will be exciting to see how good they can become with more time under their new head galactico.
With just 8 goals conceded in 18 La Liga matches this season, Atletico Madrid have conceded the least goals of any team in the ‘big 5’ European leagues this season. They are at the top of the table however unlike their La Liga title rivals, Barcelona and Real Madrid, and the other single-figure conceding teams in Europe this season, PSG and Bayern, Atletico don’t compete to break transfer records every summer. They’ve spent a net £12million in transfers over the last four seasons.
Not only was it the Catalan derby as Espanyol made the short trip to the Camp Nou, but we saw the long-awaited debuts of Arda and later Aleix Vidal as Barcelona won 4-1. The Turkish midfielder, signed from Atlético Madrid in the Summer, fit into the right side of the midfield trio as he took on a similar role to Ivan Rakitic with some slight changes.
A crazy, crazy game. Just as it looked like Ronaldo had earned a penalty, Valencia launch a counterattack which results in a Kovacic red card and Real Madrid playing with ten men. Then Madrid take the lead off of a set piece – but Valencia immediately equalizes afterwards. The key to this match up was the defensive set-up from both teams.
Saturday held the first Clasico of the season, with two of the most dominant teams clash in what is the biggest match in domestic football.
Barcelona were hoping to put on a better performance than they did in last weekend’s narrow 0-1 win vs Athletic Club, their opening La Liga fixture of the season. Meanwhile, Malaga were coming to the Camp Nou off the back of a 0-0 home draw against Sevilla on the opening day of the season.
Barcelona winning the Copa Del Rey means they have secured the double and kept the possibility of completing the treble alive. Athletic Club came out to play with a game plan that was surprisingly bad.