La Liga Talking Points – Celta Fall Away as Big Two Take Charge

Celta Vigo Balaidos (via Flikr Creative Commons).
Celta Vigo Balaidos (via Flikr Creative Commons). /

Welcome to La Liga Talking Points, a weekly column running throughout the season in which we take a look at the key stories and talking points from Spanish football’s top flight. With an inevitable focus on the biggest teams, such as Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona, there will also be a worthwhile nod toward the rest, we take a look at how the league is shaping up each week and what to look out for going forward.

Celta Lose in Top of Table Clash

Celta Vigo hosted Real Madrid at the Estadio De Balaidos on Saturday afternoon as bot sides met equal on 18 points. Celta had of course beaten Barcelona on home turf this season 4-1, and we’re more than allowed believe another big victory was possible.

However, Celta never really got going and lost 3-1 to Madrid, leaving them now three points behind both Barcelona and Real Madrid. Celta will be hopeful of keeping up their impressive form for the next few weeks, with the likes of Sporting Gijon, Almeria, Deportivo La Coruna and Real Betis to come in the next two months; all eminently winnable matches.

Slightly more long term Celta may have to worry about keeping Nolito away from Barcelona in particular. Their star attacker has seven goals in La Liga this season, and has recently spoke about the possibility of joining La Blaugrana in the future. The thoughts of some ‘tapping up’ having already happened seems very likely.

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Suarez Takes the Mantle from the Absent Messi

While last week it was Neymar who took responsibilities for the absent Lionel Messi it was Luis Suarez who took over, hitting Eibar for three at the Camp Nou, as Barca joined Real Madrid in the likely head-to head title race beginning to take form. Javier Mascherano seen red late on for alleged comments made at the referee, though the club have appealed the decision.

Barca now look very comfortable in the absence of Messi, and look ready to challenge Real Madrid for the lone spot at the top of La Liga. Barca will meet Real Madrid in three weeks on November 21 with Real Madrid at home. As it stand Lionel Messi has not been ruled out to feature, and Luis Enrique will surely welcome Messi back for a game that already could go some way in deciding the fate of the league title this season.

Atleti Stay Hot on Heels in Superlative Performance 

Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid were the performers of the weekend, as they beat Valencia 2-1 at the Vicente Calderon. While Valencia scored a second-half penalty to put Atleti under some pressure, their first half performance left spectators breathless at times.

Driven from the front by the Antoine Griezmann Atleti looked slick and intelligent in possession, leaving the Valencia backline bedazzled and beleaguered throughout. The 2013/14 La Liga champions are now two points behind Real Madrid and Barcelona. Should they keep up their form, perhaps they can draw level by the time of the Clasico, if not before them. In Europe Simeone’s men could be a match for anyone this season.