Things are not good at the Bernabeu for the hosts, though Villarreal is quite pleased after picking up its first ever win at the venue in dramatic fashion.
Pablo Fornals’ terrific late chip finished a lightning counter attack, and the Yellow Submarines pulled within a point of fourth-place (!!) Real Madrid with a 1-0 win.
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Critically for Real, winless in three league matches, is where they sit compared to leaders Barcelona: 16 points back of the Blaugranas.
Real outshot Villarreal 28-10, and are now seven points back of second place Atletico Madrid and five behind third-place Valencia.
And alarming to Real fans is that Ballon d’Or winning striker Cristiano Ronaldo has just four goals this season and lacks a single assist (He has scored nine Champions League goals, netting in a record every match of the group stage).
A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…
[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]
Athletic Bilbao 0-2 Barcelona
Barcelona’s quest for an unbeaten La Liga season continued in earnest on Saturday, as Lionel Messi scored his league-leading 12th goal of the still-young season to help secure all three points from a difficult test away to Athletic Bilbao. The victory keeps Barca four points clear of second-place Valencia and eight points ahead of third-place Real Madrid, who play on Sunday.
Saturday’s hosts had ample opportunity of their own to open the scoring, but missed a pair of key chances before Messi swept home a Jordi Alba cross in the 36th minute.
Paulinho put the game out of reach in the 91st minute, slotting home an empty-net rebound for his third league goal of the season.
Alaves 1-2 Valencia
Valencia maintained their best-ever start to a league season with a 2-1 win away to 19th-place Alaves. Simone Zaza bagged his ninth goal of the season (second-most behind Messi) in the 34th minute, before Alaves pulled level through Alexis Ruano in the 49th minute. Rodrigo Moreno converted from the penalty spot not long after the hour mark for Valencia’s seventh victory (to go with three draws) of the season.
Atletico Madrid 1-1 Villarreal
Atletico Madrid’s title bid is, for all intents and purposes, finished. After dropping two points to Villarreal, Diego Simeone’s side now trails Barca by eight. Angel Correa put Los Rojiblancos ahead on the hour mark, but Carlos Bacca grabbed the equalizer in the 81st minute as Villarreal moved to within three points of Atleti for the fourth and final UEFA Champions League place.
Elsewhere in La Liga
Sevilla 2-1 Leganes
Sunday’s La Liga schedule
Getafe vs. Real Sociedad — 7 a.m. ET
Girona vs. Real Madrid — 11:15 a.m. ET
Eibar vs. Levante — 1:30 p.m. ET
Malaga vs. Celta Vigo — 3:45 p.m. ET
The rumors look set to come true: A report from Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep says the LA Galaxy have doubled their Dos Santos with a $5 million purchase of Jonathan Dos Santos from Villarreal.
Jonathan joins older brother Giovani with the Galaxy, and if he has half the impact of his sibling it’s going to be a high-flying half-season for Los Angeles.
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Jonathan Dos Santos is an organizing center midfielder with offensive upside; For a quick Premier League comparison, think Danny Drinkwater or James McCarthy. The 27-year-old has 29 caps for Mexico, and played in four of El Tri’s Confederations Cup matches this summer.
He’ll help facilitate chances for star attackers Romain Alessandrini, Giovani Dos Santos, and — hopefully — Gyasi Zardes.
Giovani has 23 goals and 18 assists in 52 games for the Galaxy.
Double Dos Santos DPs in Tinseltown?
That’s again the rumor out of Spain, where Jonathan Dos Santos has reportedly left Villarreal camp with permission to negotiate with the LA Galaxy.
Dos Santos would join his brother Giovani in a move which would not only increase the Galaxy’s attacking portfolio but give the club another feather in the cap as it attempts to ward off incoming Los Angeles FC in the race for the hearts of L.A. soccer supporters.
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It would be the second time Jonathan joined his brother on a squad, and the third time the two were professional teammates. Both joined Barcelona’s academy in 2002.
Jonathan posted two goals and three assists in La Liga last season, leading the team in key passes per game with 1.3. He added a goal and an assist in UEFA Europa League play, where he also registered a hemorrhagic 2.6 giveaways per contest.
Nevertheless, there’s little doubt the younger Dos Santos brother would shine in MLS, where he could set up his brother and Romain Alessandrini to feast on defenses, and maybe even help Gyasi Zardes find his form.
As Alexandre Lacazette, Lyon, and Arsenal sort out their futures, plenty of other names are making their way through the gossip pages.
One of those is a former Premier League Player of the Year, and he’s being linked with the same destination as Lacazette.
CalcioMercato says Riyad Mahrez is close to a North London transfer, though it offers little in the way of concrete details. The report says Arsene Wenger is ready to make the move for one of Leicester City’s Algerian playmakers, and that it should be announced “soon.” Could the move be a domino that helps Alexis Sanchez in his decision to stay, or Arsenal’s readiness to let him go?
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West Ham has reportedly seen a $29 million bids turned down by Villarreal and Koln as the Irons aim to pry strikers Cedric Bakambu and Anthony Modeste from their clubs. Modeste, 29, scored a brilliant 25 goals in Bundesliga play last season, improving on his 15-goal 2015-16 campaign.
Bakambu, 26, has five goals in 13 caps for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has 34 goals in two seasons with the Yellow Submarines. The failed bid is rumored to trigger pursuit from Newcastle United, which is yet to add a new player this season.
Where could West Ham turn in their seemingly eternal search for a star striker? The Mirror claims the Irons could trigger a $17 million release clause in order to bring Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to London from Bayer Leverkusen.