La Liga’s week three saw as many surprises and table hops as the second week offered. On Friday, visiting Getafe beat Leganes 2-1. On Saturday, Real Madrid coach, Zinedine Zidane’s latest line-up gamble backfired at home against Levante who left the Bernabeu with a 1-1 draw. Barcelona, a 5-0 pile-on winner, continued feasting on its serving of officiating largess as Leo Messi, two full strides off sides, scored the home side’s opening goal at the 26th minute against an Espanyol who had been holding its own. The new Valencia drew 0-0 with Atletico Madrid in a match that showcased the hosts much more intense and all-around higher level of play this season, coming off their 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu last week and an opening day 1-0 win over Las Palmas. The similarly surprising Sevilla, defeated visiting Eibar 3-0 to follow the Sevillistas’ 1-0 away win to Getafe and their opening week 1-1 tie against Espanyol.
On Sunday, Deportivo La Coruna lost 2-4 to visiting Real Sociedad in one of the rounds most entertaining clashes. Athletic Club defeated visiting Girona 2-0 with simple if not naive goals that belied the promoted side’s prior feats. Celta Vigo held on to a 1-0 home win against an unlucky Deportivo Alaves who should have gone ahead by at least two in the first half. Villarreal came back from an early (11th minute) deficit to defeat visiting Real Betis 3-1 thanks to a blunder by Betis keeper Antonio Adan which turned the tide from a Betis walkover to a Villarreal inspired victory. Beautiful goals by Samu Castillejo and Enes Unal sealed the victory in the second half.
In Monday’s last match of the third round hosts Malaga were unlucky not to have an obvious early penalty called in their favor. Las Palmas pulled ahead (45th) on shot that went in high off the inside of the keeper’s left post while Malaga’s equalizer (48th) was a header that went off the very bottom inside of the keeper’s right post. Goals by Calleri (69th) and Remy (88th) sealed the score line in favor of the visitors.
By round’s end, Barca (9 points), Real Sociedad (9), Sevilla (7), Athletic Bilbao (7), Leganes (6), Atletico Madrid (5), and Real Madrid (5) were the top seven on the La Liga table.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, La Liga teams will be in Champions League action with Barcelona hosting Juventus and Atletico Madrid visiting Roma on Tuesday, while Real Madrid will host APOEL and Sevilla will visit Liverpool on Wednesday.