The Spanish top flight gets a bit of a bad rap in the soccer world for being very top heavy, which holds some merit. Every year for the past four or five seasons, the title race has come down to a battle of three teams; Atlético Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
However this past weekend easily featured the best match ups and most contested matches in the young 2016-17 season. The marquee match taking place on the Mediterranean at the Camp Nou between Atleti and Barça. Of course, any match with the words Madrid and Barcelona is always somewhat of a rivalry, even if both sides look at Real Madrid as their true bitter rivalry game. And as with any rivalry, it was a physical contest.
Leo Messi and Sergio Busquets both had to exit early with injuries, with Messi said to be out up to three weeks. The match ended in a 1-1 draw after Fernando Torres teamed up with Angel Correa with an assist that allowed Correa to net the equalizer.
As for the physicality, after the match, Atlético defender Filipe Luis posted on Instagram a picture of his bloodied bare foot, insinuating Barça forward Luis Suarez caused it by stomping on his foot during the match. The accusation holds some water, as Suarez was warned after visibly stomping on Luis' foot.
A lot of fans over look the middle tier teams like Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal, when in fact they are quite strong, they just don't have the budgets to compete year-in-and-year-out with Real and Barça. This is best exemplified with so many Spanish teams winning the Europa league championship the last few years.
Villarreal played Real Madrid hard back in the capital, taking an early lead after captain Sergio Ramos committed a penalty inside the box. But being the captain he is, he headed in the equalizer for his third goal of the season. With those three goals, he is the leading scorer for los blancos, coming on a team with world beaters such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
As it stands, Real Madrid are still the leaders by two points over Sevilla, who inched over Barcelona with a win of their own over the weekend. Atlético Madrid sit in fourth with nine points, so far having a stop and start beginning to their season.
So far so interesting on the Iberian Peninsula.
Photo: Flickr/Dan Farrimond