MADRID, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) — The 23rd round of games saw the top-four clubs all win in Spain on an especially good weekend for Atletico Madrid. Here are some things we learned over the past two days in La Liga.
1 Atletico still clear favorites
Last week was not a good one for Atletico Madrid, who were missing key players for their 2-2 draw against Celta last Monday and then had to watch as Real Madrid beat Getafe to move to within five points of the top of the table (all be it with two more games played).
Many viewed Atletico’s visit to Granada as another moment when Diego Simeone’s side could drop points. Although they didn’t produce one of their best performances, Atletico did just enough to win with Mario Hermoso and Yannick Carrasco back after suffering COVID-19.
Simeone’s celebrations after Angel Correa scored the decisive goal showed how important the win was. Although Atletico’s lead remains at five points after Real Madrid beat Granada, it feels like Atletico has avoided a possible crisis.
2 Koeman’s rotations work well
Barcelona also had a tough week with a Copa del Rey semifinal defeat in Sevilla ahead of this week’s Champions League tie at home to Paris Saint Germain.
Ronald Koeman made sweeping changes to his side that beat Alaves 5-1 with Francisco Trincao and Rique Puig both starting, and he has good reason to be pleased with the result and the performance as Trincao scored twice, and Puig was busy in midfield.
After early season ostracism, Puig has worked his way into Koeman’s plans and offers more creative options, while Trincao has begun to show in recent games why Barca signed him. With the injury list unlikely to be reduced in the coming weeks, that is good news for the coach.
3 Bono vital at Sevilla
Although Munir El Haddadi scored the only goal of Sevilla’s 1-0 win at home to Huesca on Saturday, the real hero of the game was goalkeeper Yassine Bounou ‘Bono.’ The 29-year-old Moroccan keeper arrived as a substitute to Tomas Vaclik, but got his chance after Vaclik was injured. His form has kept the Czech out of the side ever since.
He made a string of saves in the Sevilla’s 2-0 Copa del Rey win over Barca in midweek and did the same against a Huesca side that continues to impress despite being bottom of the table.
Sevilla has not conceded a goal in their last seven matches, and Bono’s pace and reflexes have been vital to that run, which has lifted them to fourth in La Liga and on the verge of cup glory.
4 Starting to feel like the end play for Bordalas at Getafe
It’s been a bad week for Getafe and their coach Jose ‘Pepe’ Bordalas after away defeats to Sevilla and Real Madrid and Sunday’s 1-0 home defeat to Real Sociedad. Not only have Getafe slipped worryingly close to the relegation zone, but Bordalas was sent off against Sevilla and Real Sociedad, first for arguing with Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui after a dreadful foul from Djene and against Real Sociedad for another unpleasant touchline incident.
Bordalas’ teams have a reputation of playing at the limit of the rules and the coach for being ultra-competitive, but after seeing Bordalas sent off again while Cucho Hernandez was lucky to stay on after a horrible challenge on Asier Illaramendi, the feeling is the coach has turned into a caricature of himself and his time at Getafe is running out. Enditem