La Liga Week 7: Valencia stun Atlético as Athletic’s slump continues

The main talking point of this weekend was Valencia’s hugely impressive 3-1 win against Atlético at the Mestalla. The home side scored three times in the opening 13 minutes, with Miranda scoring a bizarre own-goal in the 6th minute after a mix-up with Moyá, before Andre Gomes jinked past the defence a minute later to make it two, with Otamendi heading in from a corner for Valencia’s third. It was a miserable afternoon for Atlético, who looked completely drainedpossibly due to their taxing game against Juventus in midweek. Mandžukić got a consolation goal in the 29th minute, and Siqueira had the chance to make it 3-2 from the penalty spot, but his shot was easily saved by Diego Alves, and their misfortune was perhaps best summed up as Alessio Cerci scored late on, only to be shown a second yellow card for handball and sent off.

Atlético had 19 shots to Valencia’s 6, and although they rode their luck for large parts of the match, there is cause for optimism around the Mestalla. Valencia’s smart summer recruitment seems to have paid off, with Otamendi, Gomes and Rodrigo all impressing so far this season. Add to the that the excellent performances of youngsters José Gayá and Paco Alcácer, and the fact that marquee signing Álvaro Negredo has yet to play, and it is easy to see why some are tipping this team for the top four. New manager Nuno has built a side with a lethal attack, and it will be interesting to see how far they can go this season.

Elsewhere, Athletic Club’s awful form culminated in a 5-0 defeat at the Bernabéu, with Ronaldo scoring another hat-trick, his third in his last four games in La Liga. Ernesto Valverde’s team were brilliant last season, securing fourth place and a Champions League spot, but they now find themselves joint bottom of the table. Just like their rivals Real Sociedad last season, Athletic don’t seem to be coping with the extra demands of Champions League football, with three of their defeats coming after tiring games in midweek. Speaking of La Real, they aren’t doing much better than Athletic and slumped to 15th after a 2-0 defeat against Espanyol this weekend. Eibar remain the highest ranked Basque side in 9th after a 3-3 draw with Levante, which featured this goal from Saúl Berjón.

Results: Getafe 1-1 Córdoba, Valencia 3-1 Atlético, Rayo 0-2 Barcelona, Eibar 3-3 Levante, Almería 2-2 Elche, Málaga 2-1 Granada, Sevilla 4-1 Deportivo, Espanyol 2-2 Real Sociedad, Real Madrid 5-0 Espanyol.

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