With just over a quarter of the La Liga season through, Atletico Madrid find themselves in a great position in the title race.
They extended their winning streak to six matches over the weekend and still have two games in hand which they can use to open up a sizable lead at the top.
Meanwhile, their main rivals — Real Sociedad and Real Madrid — both dropped points. Los Blancos suffered a shock loss at home as their form has taken a significant dip amid recent injuries.
Read on below for SBOTOP’s complete list of top takeaways from this latest round of La Liga fixtures.
Atleti can still grind out results
Over the course of Diego Simeone’s time in charge, Atletico Madrid have been known as a side that can capably grind out narrow wins, thanks in large part due to their outstanding defence.
This season, though, their early La Liga 2020 results have seen them pick up rather comfortable victories; their first five wins were all by at least two clear goals. But their last two matches against Barcelona and Valencia have seen them go back to that more familiar 1-0 scoreline.
Their victory over Valencia was especially notable as they were without strikers Luis Suarez and Diego Costa, while Joao Felix — who has been in outstanding form this season — only came on at half-time. And yet they still managed to secure the win, albeit via a somewhat fortunate late own-goal.
Regardless of how they got the win, though, it was still a promising sign that an Atleti side at less than full-strength found a way to pick up three points to keep their title challenge on track.
Real Madrid’s poor run of form continues
On the other side of Madrid, though, Real are having quite a rough time of it at the moment. After picking up a big win at Inter Milan in the Champions League, they suffered a shock 1-2 defeat at home to Alaves
That result extended their winless run in the league to three matches. They had previously drawn 1-1 away to Villarreal.
And to make matters worse, Eden Hazard picked up yet another injury and could face another extended spell on the sideline. Hazard joins a suddenly crowded Real injury list which also includes Karim Benzema, Fede Valverde, and captain Sergio Ramos.
Benzema’s current injury absence has further highlighted the weaknesses in this Real squad. Without the veteran French forward leading the line, Real’s attack looks lost.
The likes of Mariano Diaz, Rodrygo, and Vinicius Junior have been unable to step up and earn their spot in the starting XI despite the side’s glaring need for an attacking spark.
Manager Zinedine Zidane will be hoping to have Ramos and/or Benzema back soon, with key matches coming up against Sevilla and Atleti. Los Blancos risk falling even further behind in the title race if they fail to pick up positive results in those matches.
Braithwaite making an impact at Barca
Could Martin Braithwaite be the answer to Barcelona’s problems? With Lionel Messi rested for their trip to Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League, the 29-year-old starred with two goals and an assist in a 4-0 win.
That earned the Swedish striker his first start in La Liga this season, and he repaid that faith by scoring Barca’s opening goal in another 4-0 thrashing of Osasuna.
Messi, inspired by the passing of the great Diego Maradona, had one of his best games of the season, while Antoine Griezmann also had an excellent performance with a goal and an assist.
Braithwaite is by no means the talent that those other two are, but his ability to lead the line and bring others into play might be exactly what Barcelona need to deliver a more consistent attack.
Sociedad still need to prove themselves vs top sides
Real Sociedad are still top of the table, but only just. They were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Villarreal, which finally snapped their six-match winning run.
Granted, a draw against the third-placed side in the table should be considered a good result. But still, La Real missed out on an opportunity to send a message to the rest of the league that they are true title contenders by beating a tough Villarreal side at home.
As things stand, they have had a relatively easy schedule thus far and have yet to pick up a signature win against one of La Liga’s other top-tier sides.
Beating up on the bad teams is important, but at some point, they will also need to beat the teams they’re fighting against up the table if they hope to improve their La Liga 2020 odds of winning the title this season.
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