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La Liga roundup: Correa earns Atletico Madrid, Simeone second win of the year (video)

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Atletico Madrid’s hard-earned victory over Granda highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Atletico Madrid 1-0 Granada

Prior to Atletico Madrid’s 1-0 victory over a visiting Granda on Saturday, the club had yet to record a league victory since January 4 against Levante at the Wanda Metropolitano.

A sixth-minute strike from Angel Correa proved to be the determining factor for Los Colchoneros. Koke, back on the field after recovering from injury, set up the 24-year-old inside the box with a soft pass. Correa, with a Granda defender in closing in, struck the ball into the bottom left corner.

 

With Diego Costa and Joao Felix inactive with injuries, Correa, who increased his goal tally to four, and Vitolo spearheaded Diego Simeone’s 4-1-2-1-2 formation. The seldom seen tandem paid it forward.

Heading into Saturday matchup on a five-match winless streak, the pressure was looming on Simeone. So much so that reports out of Spain began indicating the potential hiring of Mauricio Pochettino by Atletico’s brass.

With that in mind, Simone, more than Atletico, needed the win to stay afloat in a couple of different areas.

“There are quite a few positive situations,” Simeone said after Atletico’s 1-0 win on Saturday. “We were coming from a not good time. We needed to win first and foremost. And that always generates a responsibility rather than pressure. We are once again an extraordinary stadium that generated that energy that is needed to get out of these bad times.”

Simeone and Atletico will try to build on the crucial victory on Friday, as they travel to Mestalla to take on Valencia. Granda, on the other hand, take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey semifinals midweek before hosting Real Valladolid on Saturday.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Getafe 3-0 Valencia

Valladolid 1-1 Villarreal

Levante 2-0 Leganes

La Liga roundup: Messi scores, wins game in Setien’s Barcelona debut (video)

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Barcelona’s vintage playing style in their 1-0 win over Granada highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Barcelona 1-0 Granda

With a goal from Lionel Messi against an iron-willed Granada, Barcelona are back at the top of La Liga.

The win is the club’s first under Quique Setien, who debuted as the Catalans manager after replacing Ernesto Valverde.

Barcelona rolled back to the years of Pep Guardiola‘s tiki-taka, as they culminated the game with 83 percent possession and completed 1005 passes. That said, Granda – playing  with 10 men from the 69h minute on – were bulletproof until the 76th minute. Messi gently pushed the ball with his weak foot, finishing what had been a series of fluid, build-up passing.

Setien deployed a nuanced 3-4-3 variation – far from Valverde’s 4-3-3 formation that ended up costing him his job after losing to Atletico Madrid in the Super Copa semifinals.

Players like Sergio Busquets were asked about the distinct styles, but he was candidly opposed to comparing the managers and their philosophies.

“We were a solid team. We had control of the ball. They created little against us,” he told Movistar. “It’s true that we struggled when they dropped deep but, in general terms, the team played a good game.

“It’s not about comparing. Every coach has his style and his way of seeing football. You’ll see what Setien asks us to do. We’re not going to reveal it. We’re delighted with what Ernesto did and we’re delighted with Setien.”

With Real Madrid and Atletico right behind, the defending champions have a long way to go this season. They’ll have to build on the win and, more importantly, further deepen their chemistry under the ex-Real Betis boss. Integrating winter signings into the fold might present itself as a challenge, too.

But one thing is certain: Barcelona can still play like they did back in their glory days. If that sticks, a lot can happen.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Mallorca 4-1 Valencia

Real Betis 3-0 Real Sociedad

Villarreal 1-2 Espanyol

Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Celta Vigo

La Liga roundup: Real Sociedad win, pull level with Barcelona and Real Madrid (video)

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Real Sociedad’s last-minute win in Granada highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Granada 1-2 Real Sociedad

Who would have thought that after 12 matchweeks, Real Sociedad were going to be in front of Atletico Madrid and Sevilla in the standings and tied with powerhouses Barcelona and Real Madrid at 22 points?

Surely, Imanol Alguacil and his men were amongst the few who held on to the string of hope. Perhaps that is why their fourth victory in seven away matches came down to the wire.

With a 89th-minute winner from Portu, Sociedad edged a formidable Granada side 2-1 on Sunday.

 

Playmaker Martin Odergaard, who is nursing a right foot injury, was inactive for the visitors, but Alguacil’s late, attack-oriented substitutions proved to be the password to victory. Taking the field in the 84th minute, Adnan Januzaj contributed the match-winning assist.

It was the same Portu who broke the deadlock in the 21st minute, ending Granada’s four-game run with clean sheets. Following a splendid 20-yard pass from captain Mikel Oyarzabal, the 27-year-old slotted them ball past Rui Silva with a right-footed strike.

Granada, who fell to sixth in what is a crowded top La Liga, responded with an eye-catching goal. Alvaro Vadillo lined up from distance and rifled the ball past an inattentive Alex Remiro, who saw the ball take a slight bounce before striking the back of the net.

With Leganes next up on the calendar, the new co-leaders’ chances of remaining atop take a big boost. As for league newcomers Granada, who have put together an impressive season, Valencia is the next opponent they’ll try to defeat.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Valladolid 3-0 RCD Mallorca

Villarreal 1-2 Athletic Bilbao

Osasuna 4-2 Alaves

Leganes 1-2 Eibar 

Celta Vigo 0-1 Getafe 

La Liga roundup: Granada tops table Real Sociedad stays close (video)

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Granada’s rise to the top of the table highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Granada 1-0 Real Betis

Perhaps the biggest storyline in what is still a young La Liga season is recently-promoted side Granda’s impressive season.

With only two losses and a historic 2-0 win over Barcelona this season, Diego Martínez’s side are separating themselves from the notion that they’re running on luck, and instead are gravitating towards becoming a legitimate force within the league.

On Sunday, for a second time this season, the Andalusian side reached the La Liga summit – albeit El Clasico was postponed due to Catalonia’s political crisis.

The game boosted only a goal – a gentle strike inside the six-yard box from Alvaro Vadillo – but saw a handful of chances be wasted by both sides. Real Betis, who are in the relegation zone as a result of the outcome, controlled the possession of the ball and accumulated a total of 12, although none were on target.

Betis manager, Rubi, who joined the recent Europa League competitors this summer, is expected to be back on the dugout midweek, although his job hangs on a thread.

That said, a lot will be on the line when Betis receives Celta Vigo midweek, while Granada, on the other side of the spectrum, look to keep defying the odds as they travel to Getafe.

Celta Vigo 0-1 Real Sociedad 

Over the summer, Real Sociedad bet on two Scandinavian youngsters Alexander Isak and Martin Ödegaard, signing the former to a permanent deal and bringing in the latter on a loan from Real Madrid.

Long story short, they’ve payed dividends thus far for La Reala, who climbed up to third in the table following their 1-0 victory against Celta Vigo.

The youthful duo had everything to do with the visitor’s win in Balaidos.

In the 82nd minute, after taking the field seven minutes earlier, Isak’s unbalanced left-footed strike struck the inner-portion of the net. Ödegaard, as vigilant as ever before, picked out the Swedish attacker and assisted what would be his game-winning goal.

Real Sociedad now aim to continue their positive run going as they host Levante, while struggling Celta hope they can edge Real Betis, who are also experiencing a sour moment themselves.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Levante 0-1 Espanyol 

Sevilla 2-0 Getafe 

Osasuna 3-1 Valencia

La Liga roundup: Real Madrid remain atop of La Liga (video)

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Real Madrid’s near-perfect victory over Granada highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Real Madrid 4-2 Granada

Real Madrid’s 4-2 victory over a on-fire Granada had it all: a Karim Benzema goal, Eden Hazard‘s first La Liga goal, a Luka Modric rocket goal, a laudable response from the visitor’s, and a game-winning tap-in from James Rodriguez.

Surely, the result and now a clear lead in the league’s table is what Zinedine Zidane needs to continue carrying his campaign forward in the right direction. But that’s not only what the Frenchmen is getting.

As Saturday’s result showed, Real Madrid’s star-studded lineup, following an alarming start, is back on its two feet. Luka Modric – although it’s unlikely he’ll lift it again – is regaining the level that earned him the Ballon d’Or in 2018. Gareth Bale, who had his fair share of severe ups and downs with Zidane over the summer amid talks of a move to China, has regained his from – visible in his assist to Benzema two minutes into Saturday’s game.

Hazard, too, is showing signs of the assimilation process coming to an end. The Belgium scored his first La Liga goal, and offered a well-rounded performance to compliment such accomplishment. Off the bench, James continues to make the case that he won’t stop fighting for a starting spot anytime soon.

All in all, Real Madrid’s victory against a second-place Granda, who remain as the biggest surprise of the season, goes to show that the giant is awake and hungry.

Following international break, Zidane and company will travel to Mallorca, while Granada aims to get back into winning ways against Osasuna.

Valencia 2-1 Alaves 

Just days removed from being routed in at home in Champions League play, Valencia responded in valiant fashion.

 

Back at La Mestalla, Albert Celades and company put together their second consecutive win against a tough Alaves side.

Following an efficient counter-attack, Maxi Gomez broke deadlock with a calmly taken right-footed strike inside Alaves’ box 27 minutes in.

Nothing would separate either side for nearly 60 minutes, but then a foul on Daniel Parejo occurred inside the box. A penalty was award in favor of the home side. Of course, the captain capitalized from the spot, recording his fourth of the season.

Late in stoppage time, Alaves responded with one of their own. Former Arsenal man Lucas Perez pounced on a second chance  ball inside the box, but it was far from being enough to earn the visitors any points.

Unbeaten in their last four, Valencia move to the eighth spot ahead of their match against Atletico Madrid following international break. Alavaes, on the other hand, host Celta Vigo.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Osasuna 2-1 Villareal

Leganes 1-2 Levante