La Liga Results: Analysis for Real Madrid, Barcelona and the Weekend's Matches
After the excitement of the international break, La Liga returns with Real Madrid and Barcelona both hoping to get confidence-boosting wins ahead of next week's Clasico.
Barcelona had the chance to equal Madrid's 1968/69 season record of nine consecutive wins to start a league campaign on Saturday, something Atletico Madrid could also do with victory in the late kick-off against Espanyol.
To find out how all three teams, along with the others in La Liga, got on this weekend, click on. This slideshow will be updated as games are completed.
(All statistics via WhoScored)
Osasuna 0-0 Barcelona: Lionel Messi and Carles Puyol Return Don't Help
Even the returns of Carles Puyol (from the start) and Lionel Messi (as a second half substitute) could not help Barcelona pick up all three points against Osasuna, as the Pamplona club held on doggedly for a 0-0 draw on Saturday evening.
The result saw the end of Barcelona's 100 per cent start to the season. They also failed to score in a league encounter for the first time in 65 games.
It was an underwhelming performance from the reigning champions, who had Neymar at his dribbling best. Everyone else failed with their passing. It was Cesc Fabregas who missed his side's best openings, however, with two second half chances failing to find the net.
Messi's introduction with 20 minutes remaining seemed to improve Barcelona's tempo, but the man himself was clearly not 100 percent. He wasted one particularly great opening that he would normally bury.
The team remained at the top of the table but will be off the top when the Clasico kicks off next week, should Atletico Madrid win later in the evening.
On Target: 1-3
Real Madrid 2-0 Malaga: Cristiano Ronaldo Seals Points with Late Penalty
Real Madrid dominated Malaga on Saturday but had to wait until the 90th minute and a fortuitous penalty before a 2-0 win was confirmed.
Cristiano Ronaldo converted after Gareth Bale, a second half substitute, had gone down under minimal pressure in the box, complementing Angel Di Maria's opener and clinching the three points for Carlo Ancelotti's side.
Despite the controversial nature of the late strike, Real were worthy of their win—with Bale's 15-minute cameo paving the way for him to feature against Juventus in the Champions League in midweek and then the Clasico with Barcelona next weekend.
Afterwards, Ancelotti said (per Football Italia):
It was a very good game. I hope we will play with the same intensity against Juventus in the Champions League next week.
We worked harder in defence. We focused on recovering possession faster and creating chances in attack – and that’s definitely something that happened this afternoon.
I'm happy with how we played, but we have to continue improving. Bale is fit to play. He has three days of training and then we will decide if he starts against Juve.
There was even more good news for Real later, with Barcelona's draw meaning they are now only three points behind their arch-rivals. Victory next weekend would erase that deficit entirely.
On Target: 15-1
Athletic Bilbao 2-0 Villarreal: Two Goals in Two Minutes Sinks Yellow Submarine
Athletic Bilbao recorded their first win in three games with a 2-0 victory over Villarreal, with first-half goals from Mikel Rico and Aritz Aduriz proving enough to take home the points.
The duo struck within minutes of each other just after the half-hour mark to put the home side in front, before Villarreal's job become much harder only a minute before the break, when Bruno was shown a second yellow card in eight minutes, as well as the subsequent red.
It turned out to be a fairly comfortable night for Bilbao, with the away side suffering their second loss in three league games after going the previous six unbeaten—but they remain in the top four for now.
Athletic are back up to sixth, one point behind Villarreal.
On target: 3-2
Pass success: 81%-74%
Espanyol 1-0 Atletico Madrid: Thibaut Courtois Own Goal Costs Simeone's Men
An odd own goal from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois meant Atletico Madrid were also unable to continue their 100 percent start to the new season on Saturday evening, losing 1-0 at Espanyol.
After Barcelona's draw earlier in the day, Atletico had the chance to go top with a ninth straight victory to start the season—in the process equaling Real Madrid's record to begin a campaign.
Alas, a sub-par performance was compounded by Courtois' 54th minute own goal; the giant shot-stopper inadvertantly deflecting Juan Rafael Fuentes' cross inside his far post.
Atletico had their chances to equalise but key man Diego Costa was not on his game. The visitors were ultimately forced to accept their first loss of the new season.
They remain in second, one point behind Barcelona and two ahead of their cross-city rivals.
On Target: 3-0
Celta Vigo 0-1 Levante: Celta Pay Hefty Price for Missed Opportunities
The home side dominated possession throughout the match, but were unable to find the goal which would have lifted them out of the drop zone.
Nolito, Michael Krohn-Deli, Santiago Mina and Charles all squandered gilt-edged opportunities to give Celta the lead, and possibly a crucial victory.
Instead, however, Diop stole the points with a fine shot from outside of the area in the penultimate minute of the game.
Levante move above Elche, Sevilla and Real Sociedad into ninth place in the table, while Celta are left second-bottom in the league.
On target: 4-3
Valencia 1-2 Real Sociedad: Dour Home Side Edged After Pardo's Strike
Goals either side of half-time from Antoine Griezmann and Ruben Pardo were enough as Real Sociedad beat Valencia in the first game of the weekend, rendering Dorian Pabon's late strike virtually irrelevant.
Miroslav Dukic's side looked disjointed throughout, with the final statistics perhaps not quite representative of the flow of the contest.
The result means Sociedad move into the top ten, with three points of the side they defeated.
On Target: 4-3
Granada 0-2 Getafe: Home Woes Continue for El Grana
Granada continued their inconsistent start to the season by going down 2-0 at home to Getafe.
Centre-back Jeison Murillo opened the scoring for the visitors by putting the ball into his own net, then Pedro Leon sealed the result with a sweetly-struck effort from just outside the penalty area.
The result condemns el Grana to their fourth home defeat of the campaign and buries them into the bottom quarter of the Liga table.
On Target: 5-7
Almeria 0-1 Rayo Vallecano: Mini-Resurgence Continues for the Vallecanos
Rayo Vallecano made it two wins on the bounce at the Juegos Mediterraneos on Sunday, beating Almeria by a 1-0 scoreline.
It caps a remarkable mini-resurgence for the Vallecanos who were looking rather flat off the back of four consecutive losses, and it was centre-back Alejandro Galvez who stepped up with a stunning long-range free kick to win it.
The away side were able to see out a vital three-point haul despite finishing the game with 10 men.
On Target: 2-10
Real Betis 1-2 Elche: Beticos' Slump Continues
Real Betis have slumped to another home defeat as their promising season begins to derail quite severely.
They fell behind to two goals in quick succession, and after negotiating the first 28 minutes well, found themselves in a 2-0 hole courtesy of Manu del Moral and Fidel.
Jorge Molina struck back immediately to bring the game back within the Beticos' grasp, but failed to level matters despite dominating possession and fashioning twice as many scoring opportunities.
On Target: 7-4
Real Valladolid 2-2 Sevilla
An entertaining affair between Real Valladolid and Sevilla ended 2-2 at the Jose Zorrilla on Sunday.
The Pucela have struggled to find any semblance of form this season and were 2-0 down after 30 minutes played, with Carlos Bacca and left-back Alberto Moreno netting without reply.
It wasn't until a frantic final 10 minutes that Valladolid bit back, grabbing their first through Manucho and their second via the ever-reliable Patrick Ebert.
On Target: 5-6