Hurrah for Zaza
Was this really the same Simone Zaza that couldn’t hit a barn door when at West Ham? Michel’s Malaga side really felt the Valencia attacker’s wrath as he went on the rampage with an eight-minute second-half hat-trick that helped his side to a 5-0 home win.
Looking every inch an Italian international centre-forward, the Andalusians couldn’t live with his movement, power and accuracy.
From a supporter perspective, Marcelino has finally got Los Che playing how they expect and though they’ll not want another false dawn, all the signs point to Valencia slowly clawing themselves back to where they belong.
Malaga, on the other hand, are rock bottom without a point and with only one goal to their name in five matches. A sad demise for a team that were challenging in the latter stages of the Champions League just five years ago.
Nine La Liga goals scored in five games. That’s the total that Lionel Messi already has after his four-goal haul against Eibar on Tuesday night. Lest we forget that he has also hit the post on six occasions!
Eibar could’ve taken the lead at the Camp Nou but Sergi Enrich fluffed his lines in a one on one with Marc-Andre ter Stegen. A fortuitous penalty decision which gave Messi his first was always going to open the floodgates and in this form, Messi is unstoppable.
Credit has to go to Paulinho, again, and a special mention too for Nelson Semedo, who seems to have got the right-back spot at Barcelona all sewn up.
But the night belonged to Messi. Four goals, hunger, desire… what more can you ask for from your star player.
Atleti building up a head of steam
The disappointment that Diego Simeone will feel that his front men still aren’t firing on all cylinders, will at least be tempered by a hard-earned three points at San Mames.
Athletic Club are always a handful on their own patch and Wednesday night’s bruising encounter was no different. It took the visitors until the 55th minute to make the breakthrough, Angel Correa on target again, and carving out a starting place for himself alongside Antoine Griezmann.
The Frenchman set up Yannick Carrasco for what would turn out to be the winner, despite Raul Garcia’s 91st-minute consolation.
As a unit, Simeone’s side were at their brilliant best, denying Athletic time and space, to the frustration of the home support. If all of the strikers can get their act together, Atleti can start to make in-roads into Barça’s lead before the Catalans arrive at the Wanda Metropolitano in three weeks time.
Real turn a drama into a crisis
A 94th-minute winner at the Bernabeu could well have been in the script in this one – but no one predicted that Real Betis would’ve scored it. Six points dropped in their first five games has turned the drama at Real Madrid into a full-blown crisis.
Already seven points behind Barcelona and playing with a lack of confidence that belies their successes over the last year and a half, Zinedine Zidane has to find a way of pulling them out of the abyss.
Perhaps no one should’ve been surprised. As Las Palmas manager last year, Quique Setien managed a 3-3 draw in Madrid (after leading 3-1) and a 2-2 in the Canary Islands.
His team were good value for their win too. Some of their football, including for the winning goal, included pass and movement that Real themselves would’ve been proud of.
The mark of true champions is how they respond to adversity. Time for Los Blancos to step up.
Berizzo’s Sevilla up to second
Whilst the focus has been on Real’s collapse and Barca’s rebirth, Sevilla have come up on the rails quietly and now sit in second position.
Eduardo Berizzo’s side remain unbeaten and they look well placed in the upper echelons. Quick transitional play using both flanks and with pace up front, they’ve been a handful for every team they’ve faced this season. A steely grit underpins their excellent ball manipulation.
Las Palmas battled gamely at the Sanchez Pizjuan but a late Jesus Navas winner has given the Andalusians the confidence to head to Atletico in week six, and continue the run.