Rodrygo will be unlucky to drop out when Karim Benzema returns, Joao Felix is an AWFUL substitute and Gerard Pique still looks like Barcelona’s best defender despite Joan Laporta’s contract frustration… 10 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM LALIGA
- Rodrygo impressed in Karim Benzema’s absence as Real Madrid beat Getafe 1-0
- Joao Felix, who was on the bench for a third game in a row, is causing a dilemma
- Gerard Pique looks like Barcelona’s best defender despite Joan Laporta’s anger
- Marc-Andre Ter Stegen could be Germany’s number one at this year’s World Cup
In the weekend before the Clasico both Madrid and Barça looked like teams keeping their powder dry for next Sunday. Barça went top with a 1-0 win but with Lewandowski on mute due to lack of service they needed the outstanding Gerard Pique to ensure the three points.
Madrid also need to find another gear. It might come from the return of Benzema but it will be harsh on Rodrygo if the Frenchman’s return comes at the Brazilian’s expense.
Elsewhere Jorge Sampaoli took charge of his first game since returning to Sevilla but was lucky to get a point against Athletic Bilbao. Ernesto Valverde’s team and the other Basque giants, Real Sociedad, are out playing everyone in La Liga at the moment. Here are 10 things we learned.
Rodrygo is another beneficiary of Madrid’s failure to sign Mbappe
The 21-year-old would have slipped down a rung or two had Madrid been successful in their attempts to bring in the Frenchman.
Rodrygo has shown himself to be more than capable of replacing Karim Benzema at centre-forward.
With three goals in five starts it will be hard on him when – if as expected – he is left out of next week’s Clasico as Benzema returns.
Real Madrid forward Rodrygo has shown himself to be a capable deputy to Karim Benzema
The forward will be unlucky to miss out of next week’s El Clasico in place of Benzema
Lunin probably needs a new club
The 23-year-old Ukrainian goalkeeper kept Real Madrid’s first clean sheet of the season on Saturday against an albeit very unambitious Getafe.
When Thibaut Courtois returns from his Sciatica problem, as he is expected to do next weekend, Lunin will be back on the bench and without much chance of playing.
He’s shown enough in his short run that he’s too good not to be a number one somewhere.
Joao Felix is the non-impact sub
Wherever you stand on the Joao Felix debate – is it his fault or Diego Simeone’s? Everyone can a agree on one thing: he makes a rotten substitute.
He hasn’t started any of the last three and coming off the bench just isn’t his thing.
He’s another one who needs to be the number one, and another one who might have to move to get that status.
Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix makes a rotten sub – coming off the bench is not his thing
He has struggled for minutes recently under Diego Simeone and may need to swap clubs
The Brais is right for Spain
No midfielder has as many goals as the six-goal Real Sociedad midfielder, Brais Mendez. He could well make a late dash for Luis Enrique’s Spain squad.
He looked too good for Celta Vigo last season and there were plenty of suitors – credit to Real Sociedad who went the extra mile to sign him. His first half goal against Villarreal was enough to give his team victory.
Unai looking lost in La Liga again
Villarreal have now gone four games without a win in the domestic competition and their status as team most likely to finish fourth this season is slipping.
They have plenty of attacking firepower but no one has the ability to link play like Gerard Moreno whose hamstring injury has coincided with the poor run.
Emery needs solutions fast or this will become his third underwhelming season in La Liga – and unlike the two previous seasons, European exploits wont make up for it.
Umai Emery’s Villarreal side are in poor form and are without a win in four domestic games
European exploits wont make up for another poor season in Spain for the 50-year-old
Imanol Alguacil is the reason Xabi is in the Bundesliga
The plan was for Xabi Alonso to step up from Real Sociedad’s B-team to manage the senior side but Alguacil had other ideas and his development as a coach could reach another level this season.
The team defend well and attack with as much verve and invention as any team in La Liga.
Alonso has taken over a team in the Champions League – if they keep this up Real Sociedad will be there too soon.
Xabi Alonso’s development as a coach has been impressive and could soon hit another level
Pique isn’t finished yet
Joan Laporta isn’t too impressed with the Barça captain not agreeing to another pay cut this summer. And the club is clearly going to struggle to find the estimated 42m gross earnings owed to him over the next two years.
That’s part of the reason why so many defenders have been drafted in with the idea to limit Pique’s involvement to the point where he leaves next summer 12 months ahead of his contract running out.
But with so many injuries he was first choice on Sunday and still looks the club’s best defender.
Gerard Pique (right) still looks like the club’s best defender despite being frozen out recently
Pique has angered club president Joan Laporta after he refused to to a pay cut to help the club
Barça kids also carrying the team
Gavi and Pedri’s combined age of 37 is three years short of La Liga’s oldest players Joaquin and Diego Lopez. But what they lack in experience they make up for in absolutely having no respect for their elders.
Gavi doesn’t mind who he smashes into as he bosses midfield and no opponent is so big that Pedri’s can’t lead him a merry dance.
The two combined on Sunday for the only goal of the game and it was enough to send Barcelona top.
Gavi (right) and Pedri are showcasing their talents in Barcelona’s midfield and link up well
Post-injury Ter Stegen is better than ever
Barcelona’s defensive record is the best in the division and much of that is down to their German keeper who has only be beaten once all season (by now-Newcastle forward Alexander Isak).
He was troubled by injury last season but an operation in May to mend his right knee has left him back at 100 per cent and it’s showing.
His form might even make him number one for Germany in Qatar.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen has been in fantastic form recently for LaLiga’s table toppers
His impressive showings could help him become Germany’s number one at the World Cup
Lopetegui was not the problem
Most people already knew as much but there was more evidence on Saturday.
New coach Jorge Sampaoli got the perfect start with Oliver Torres scoring after four minutes but then his team folded and Athletic Bilbao would have won comfortably had they taken their chances.
A squad without a convincing pair of central defenders or enough midfield quality is still a squad without a convincing pair of central defenders or enough midfield quality, regardless of who the manager is.
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