Barcelona and Real Sociedad are the two at the top whilst Real Madrid drop points at home again.
Riazor, La Coruna – The Real Sociedad team bus returned from La Coruna back to San Sebastian on Sunday evening – the pintxos bars were still open and brimming with life in Spain’s gastronomic capital. The relatively short journey from Galicia to the Basque country was an enjoyable one for the La Real players and coaches. Having scored four against Deportivo La Coruna – two early and two late – the Basques maintained their 100 percent winning start to the La Liga season. San Sebastian has more Michelin stars than anywhere in Europe along with the longest beach on the continent now it also has a team at the top of the table.
The last time Real Sociedad won their first three La Liga games, they ended up as champions of Spain in 1982. There is a positivity that Eusebio Sacristan has instilled on the team – not only have they won their first three but they have also scored at least three goals in each those games. The days of David Moyes sitting in the dugout seem like a lifetime ago.
Eusebio Sacristan joined in November 2015 and each season his side have improved their standings in the table – 12th, 9th, and 6th. Having been at one of Sacristan’s first games in charge at the Anoeta, I can vouch for how quickly his team have improved and developed.
The style of football is also now far more attractive. Illarramendi, who is putting his education at Real Madrid into practice at the heart of the midfield, controls games along with Xabi Prieto, who has spent the fourteen years of his professional career with his hometown club. Combined with a promising young goalkeeper in Rulli and a striker, Willian Jose, who finds the net with relative ease make Real Sociedad a team that has a lot going for it. It’s also the club/manager/city that made Carlos Vela fall back in love with football – an achievement that should not be underestimated.
The two sets of quick-fire goals that Real Sociedad scored against Deportivo gave La Real a 4–2 victory. Juanmi Jimenez volleyed the visitors ahead in the 3rd minute from a quickly taken free-kick. Not even a minute later, Illarramendi appeared at the edge of the Depor area to send the ball low past Tyton, who was starting his first game of the season in Deportivo’s goal, and into the bottom corner.
Deportivo, whose only point came in the last matchday against Levante, managed to get a goal back when former Atletico Madrid forward Adrian Lopez scored with a powerful volley just before the half-hour mark. The comeback was complete five minutes into the second half – Romanian striker Florin Andone scored from close range.
The Basque spirit that Eusebio Sacristan encourages his side to harness became apparent again late in the second half when they regained control. Diego Llorente capitalised on some poor defending by Deportivo at a corner and managed to poke the ball into the net. Then a minute later in the 86th Illarramendi scored his second of the match to ensure that La Real maintain their 100 percent start to the La Liga season.
La Real’s winning start continues and with their Europa League campaign beginning on Thursday at home against Rosenborg and the prospect of welcoming reigning champions Real Madrid to the Anoeta next weekend; there is plenty to look forward to. However, the Sociedad fans are not getting ahead of themselves – they’re enjoying seeing their team regularly put in good performances and picking up points. The bars around the streets of the Old Town of San Sebastian will be welcoming more European visitors in the coming months but the pintxos and txakoli are tasting that bit better at the moment for the locals of Spain’s most beautiful city.
Los Otros Puntos
- Real Madrid’s stuttering start to their title defence continued with a draw against Levante at the Bernabeu. Levante unexpectedly took the lead when Ivi Lopez spun past Carvajal in the penalty area before slotting the ball into the net. However, Real Madrid equalised later on in the first half – Lucas Vazquez scored from close range after Levante goalkeeper Raul Fernandez saved Sergio Ramos’s header. Marcelo had a busy few minutes in the closing stages; firstly forcing a brilliant save from Fernandez and then lashing out at Jefferson Lerma after a challenge by the Levante player resulting in a sending off for the Brazilian. A performance that was underwhelming in the eyes of manager Zidane couldn’t be rescued by new star Marco Asensio and Bale spurred a number of chances in the second half.
- Ernesto Valverde emerged from the home changing rooms deep within the Camp Nou – a smile beaming across his face – and shook his head. Leo Messi and his extraordinary performance had made his evening, along with many other Barca fans, an enjoyable one. The Argentinian playmaker scored a hat-trick in a 5–0 thrashing of city rivals Espanyol. With Real and Atletico having dropped points earlier in the day – Valverde and Barcelona hoped and managed to strike an early blow at the top of the table. Pique and Suarez – who was playing his first match of the season following suspension – added to Messi’s hat-trick late on to inflict a rather humiliating defeat on their Catalan rivals.
- Sevilla prepared for a trip to Anfield in mid-week with a handsome 3–0 victory over Eibar. Eduardo Berizzo said after the match that he was happy with his squad and how they are applying themselves in matches and practice sessions. New signing Nolito scored in the 90th minute after Ganso and Ben Yedder gave the Andalucians a two-goal lead.
- The top three at the top of the La Liga after the 2nd matchday became a top two after the 3rd – Leganes were unable to get their third victory in a row, a late goal from Getafe’s Gimenez resulted in the away side taking the points from Butarque.
Leganes 1–2 Getafe
Real Madrid 1–1 Levante
Valencia 0–0 Atletico Madrid
Sevilla 3–0 Eibar
Barcelona 5–0 Espanyol
Deportivo 2–4 Real Sociedad
Athletic Bilbao 2–0 Girona
Celta Vigo 1–0 Alaves
Villarreal 3–1 Real Betis
Malaga – Las Palmas to be played on Monday
El Jugador de la Semana: Leo Messi (Barcelona)