Sergio Ramos saves Real Madrid, No Neymar, no party for Barcelona

Sergio Ramos saves Real Madrid, No Neymar, no party for Barcelona

Five thoughts from the weekend as Real Madrid just about returned to the top of the La Liga table, Barcelona missed Neymar as they lost to Deportivo, Sevilla ran out of gas and Antoine Griezmann's Atletico suddenly look like the "best of the rest" again.

1. Too many late shows from Madrid

The headlines were shared by Keylor Navas, Sergio Ramos and the referee (again) as Real Madrid beat Real Betis 2-1 on Sunday evening to move back two points clear at the top of the table, with Zinedine Zidane's side still having a game in hand on their challengers.

The real story for Madrid, however, was yet another slow start to the game -- which saw Betis deservedly in front at the Bernabeu, as another opposition team were able to counter attack quickly and pick holes in the Blancos' backline. Zidane's side have been behind in six of their last seven games in all competitions, and cannot realistically keep relying on heroics from Ramos or other circumstances to bail them out time and again.

2. No Neymar, no party for Barcelona

Neymar was the driving force behind Barcelona's amazing 6-1 Champions League comeback against Paris Saint-Germain last week, thanks to his amazing personal contribution of two goals and an assist in just 549 seconds late in the game.


But the energy used up clearly took its toll as the Brazilian missed Sunday's 2-1 defeat against Deportivo due to an apparent light adductor muscle strain.

3. Sevilla running out of gas

Six times already this season in La Liga, Sevilla have come from behind to pick up all three points. But on Saturday at home to Leganes they just could not muster a comeback after Leganes' Gabriel Pires gave the visitors a shock lead just two minutes in.

Jorge Sampaoli's team did manage to equalise by half-time when Stevan Jovetic played a lovely one-two with Franco Vazquez, flicked the ball over goalkeeper Iago Herrerin, and finished beautifully.

4. Griezmann is gearing up

Antoine Griezmann's return to his best form has come just at the right time for Atletico Madrid -- with his late header in Saturday evening's 1-0 win at Granada keeping them on track for Champions League qualification next season.


Fellow strikers Kevin Gameiro and Fernando Torres were missing through injury on Saturday, and have not been showing much consistency lately even when available. Once again it was Atletico's main man who came up with the goods just when needed, getting free to head in Koke's cross with just six minutes remaining at Los Carmenes.

5. Basque derby tightens European race


Athletic Bilbao's surprise 2-0 win at Real Sociedad on Sunday lunchtime was a real dent to the latter's Champions League aspirations, but tightened up the battle for the Europa League spots this year considerably.

Sociedad are now in fifth on 48 points, with Villarreal in sixth on 45 following their 1-0 win at Celta Vigo later on Sunday. Athletic themselves climbed to seventh with 44 points, and a tight struggle to the finish for fifth, sixth and seventh looks likely.
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