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Dublin: 17 °C Tuesday 23 July, 2019
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Vamos: Sign of the apocalypse as Barca draw

Real Sociedad shocked the European champions, while Cristiano Ronaldo starred in a Real Madrid victory.

Messi was left frustrated as Barca experienced a rare draw at the weekend.
Messi was left frustrated as Barca experienced a rare draw at the weekend.

IT STARTED AS they all do. Barcelona rolled up to San Sebastian on Saturday evening and quickly took a 2-0 lead against Real Sociedad.

Messi, Villa and Iniesta started on the bench, but who cares? This year they have Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabreags to deputise. They have Thiago to step in. The perfect team of last year was evolving into the perfect squad. The script was being followed to the letter.

Then something happened. Not quite an earthquake but a faint tremor spread across the European champions. Agirretxe nodded home a header in the 59th minute to give Sociedad hope. Then, an inexplicable back pass from David Villa led to a goal from Antoine Griezmann via a handball deflection from Sergio Busquets and further help from the crossbar.

It was comical, and it was most definitely not Barca. Messi immediately came on but they stuttered their way through the last half an hour and registered a draw.

The look of shock across Carles Puyol’s face said it all. This is a team that deals squarely in victory. You shouldn’t read too much into an early season result, but it’s safe to say Barca have peaked and are now past it. Either that or it was a mere blip on the road to total domination (the far more likely explanation).

Real went into their home match against Getafe buoyed by the Barca result. They were not spectacular but they were value for their 4-2 win. Cristiano Ronaldo had a productive night, slamming home a penalty and providing a gorgeous assist for Karim Benzema.

The performance of Fabio Coentrao was the major plus point for Los Blancos. The Portuguese player is both a direct and subtle influence at the heart of their midfield, and with the silky Nuri Sahin still to come back, Real’s midfield is in fine fettle.  Good enough to even draw with the San Sebastian Barca.

Saturday night also saw the main challengers to the big two square off. Atletico Madrid visited the Mestalla with Rodmel Falcao spearheading their attack. But the Colombian was outshone by the red hot Roberto Soldado who headed home the Valencia winner early in the second half.

Atletico can take heart from the performance, if not the result. Valencia were extremely cautious, especially after taking the lead, and with Falcao settling alongside the likes of Turan and Adrian, Atletico will be a match for anyone – bar the top two of course.

The other top four contenders were involved in the game of the week as Villarreal and Sevilla drew 2-2. Alvaro Negredo continued his flying form with the opener, before a Giuseppe Rossi penalty and a rasping Marco Ruben volley gave the yellow submarine the lead. Alexis levelled the game with five minutes to go with a powerful header.

Look below the top two in Spain and there is lots to find.

We end with the miss of the season. Yes, it is only two games old, but no one will come close to poor Jorge Molina of Real Betis missing a point-blank header from three yards. He then fluffed the rebound. Betis still won mind.

Here is your league table. Ordinarily it wouldn’t be worth a look this early. But there it is, Barca in fourth.

Table courtesy of ESPN.

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About the author:

Paul Ring

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