Though the standings still mean very little because of the discrepancy in how many games everyone has played, there’s plenty to talk about ahead of matchday 5 in La Liga.
It all starts with … first-place Getafe, which meets Real Sociedad on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Eastern???
With seven points through three games, they’re playing well – and we’ll have plenty to say about them before they meet Barcelona on October 18 – but the headliner this weekend is Barcelona’s home clash with Sevilla on Sunday at 3 p.m.
We also have Atlético Madrid-Villarreal on Saturday at 10 a.m., which would be the clear game of the week on a lot of weekends.
Considering Real Madrid’s issues through their first three games – a season-opening draw vs. Real Sociedad followed by ugly victories over Real Betis and Valladolid – Los Blancos’ tilt with Levante on Sunday at 10 a.m. is another one worth watching.
Title Odds On The Move
We pointed out on this week’s High Press Pod that RM had gone from -134 to win the title prior to the season to +125 going into Wednesday’s game at Valladolid. Zinedine Zidane’s team is now +130 after that hard-earned W, while Barcelona are currently +100 to win La Liga after their odds were +150 in early September and +120 before their win over Celta Vigo. That’s a lot of movement after 180 minutes for Barcelona and 270 for the reigning champs.
Barcelona (-167) vs. Sevilla (+425)
After one of the most chaotic offseasons – for anyone, in any sport — in recent memory, Barcelona is still the most interesting team in the league by a mile. The good news is that over the past week, it’s for all the right reasons. Their 4-0 blowout of Villarreal in the season opener last Sunday was hard to ignore. They followed that with an impressive showing in a 3-0 win at Celta Vigo on Thursday.
“Good vibes” is probably the last thing you would have said to describe this group in July and August. But with Ansu Fati terrorizing defenders, Philippe Coutinho (no, seriously!) performing better than he has in years and Messi playing with an edge, the mood after two games under Ronald Koeman is the best it’s been in a while. And signing USMNT and Ajax right back Sergiño Dest, reportedly beating out Bayern Munich for the 19-year-old’s signature, was a cherry on top.
Meanwhile, Sevilla is quietly looking like a threat to push for the top three as well, making Sunday’s match as must-see as an early-October game gets. If Sevilla’s win over Inter Milan to secure yet another Europa League trophy last season and their near-upset of Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup last week did not turn heads, then I doubt they blew anyone away by beating Cádiz 3-1 or defeating Levante 1-0. Whether people recognize it or not, these guys are legit.
It’s understandable that Sevilla are underdogs on the road at Barcelona, but at +425 (!), they’re a good bet to pull the upset or play the Catalans to a draw (+325). Either way, find time to check this one out.
Atleti (-150) vs. Villarreal (+430)
Atleti’s season-opening 6-1 win over Granada made us (or maybe it was just me) wonder whether we were looking at a team that transformed overnight. The score in that game pretty much spoke for itself, but that performance was even more impressive than it looks on paper. João Félix looked healthy and confident, Ángel Correa impressed and Luis Suárez enjoyed the best 20-minute debut any of us have ever seen. Atleti looked nothing like they did for much of the disappointing ’19-20 season.
So of course they turned around and failed to score in their next game, a 0-0 draw vs. Huesca in a game in which they “were out-Atleti’d.” Promoted side Huesca packed it in and got the draw they were looking for.
Attack-minded, defensively shaky Villarreal – which allowed Barcelona to pile up nine shots on goal — will not use those that approach, though, and I expect at least two or three goals from Los Rojiblancos. Villarreal is considered a candidate to finish top-four, but another blowout loss to one of Spain’s top three would be a sign they’re not quite at that level.
Levante (+510) vs. Real Madrid (-195)
On paper, Real Madrid’s two wins and a draw represent a solid start to the season. But the inability to score at a championship-winning clip does not appear to have been resolved, giving this team no margin for error.
It’s early, but we’re into Karim Benzema’s third post-Cristiano Ronaldo season, and he still does not have anyone to truly complement him up top. Zidane is giving Luka Jovic every chance, and the Serbian has made plenty happen early this season, but has been unable to finish his chances. There are going to be a lot of disappointing results until Jovic or someone else steps up.
Against Levante, I expect RM to find a way to win, but the lack of offense gets more concerning every week.