In the marquee game of La Liga, week eight, Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium hosted Barcelona FC, but not its fans. The Madrid side had “technical difficulties” in fulfilling the Catalan fans’ ticket orders. Those who witnessed or were affected by the empty Camp Nou when Las Palmas visited last week, also without being able to have their fans present, seemed to think tit-for-tat was fair play.
In the very exciting and well-played match, Atleti pulled ahead at the 21st minute thanks to a beautiful 25-yard curler of a goal by Saul Niguez, only have Luis Suarez’s powerful last gasp 82nd minute close-in header secure the draw for Barca. The ref, Antonio Lahoz, one of the league’s best, was mostly even handed which proved a major set-back for the visitors who nevertheless managed to have an advantage in the calls made in another away game, with 12 fouls and three yellows called against Atleti to Barca’s 10 fouls and two yellows. It seems when you don’t get your customary 2-1 advantage in calls going your way it is a bit harder to sustain wins.
In Friday’s earliest game Espanyol and Levante drew 0-0. In other Saturday games, Athletic Bilbao defeated visiting Sevilla 1-0, Real Madrid needed a last gasp Cristiano Ronaldo goal to defeat hosts Getafe 2-1, and Real Sociedad won 2-0 away to Alaves. In Sunday’s games, Eibar and Deportivo La Coruna tied 0-0, hosts Malaga lost to visiting Leganes 0-2, and Girona lost a tough fight of a match to visiting Villarreal 1-2. In Girona, there were 32 fouls called and eight yellow cards shown in a match in which the home team had 52% of possession and took 26 shots at goal with only five finding the target while the visitors had ten shots at goal and yet scored on two of the three they actually got on target.
Real Betis, playing with 10 men since the 58th minute lost 3-6 to visiting Valencia in the last shoot out of the round. The winners will host Sevilla next week in a highly anticipated match-up between teams having a great start to their seasons.
At the end of week eight, Barcelona leads the pack with 22 points followed by Valencia (18), Real Madrid (17), Atletico Madrid (16) and Sevilla (16).
Next round, the rest of the top teams on the table (other than Sevilla and Valencia) have it easier, with Real Madrid at home to Eibar (16th on the table), Barcelona hosting Malaga (20th) and Atletico Madrid away to Celta Vigo (13th).