The Catalans were upset by the previously winless Leganes before the Blancos failed to capitalise by slumping to a dismal 3-0 loss at Sevilla. Real Madrid and Barcelona like to outdo each other but this was just ridiculous.
On the one, crazy evening in La Liga, the Catalans stumbled to a shameful 2-1 defeat at lowly Leganes before Real Madrid suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat at Sevilla, blowing the chance to move above their great rivals at the top of the table. Both Leganes and Sevilla produced superb, electric performances and fully deserve the credit for their impressive victories against Spain’s top two. But the limp displays offered by Barcelona and Madrid – both beaten on the same day for the first time since January 4, 2015 – were remarkable in their own right.
On that day, Barcelona lost at David Moyes’s Real Sociedad, a defeat which sent shockwaves through the club and ultimately sparked the start of their charge towards the treble. The sad thing about this defeat, though, was that it was more predictable. Ernesto Valverde brought in Munir El Haddadi and Thomas Vermaelen, resting Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba, and it had the expected effect of upsetting the team’s performance, as his rotations have tended to do.
Not content with his costly changes against Girona, which saw the team drop their first points of the season in a 2-2 draw, the coach rotated again and paid the price. Barcelona’s squad still doesn’t look deep enough to withstand changes, with Munir obviously not up to the challenge of filling Suarez’s boots.
After Philippe Coutinho put Barcelona ahead with a technically exquisite volley, the visitors were stunned by a second-half double from Nabil El Zhar and Oscar Rodriguez – on loan from Real Madrid – in the space of just 68 seconds. Vermaeleen made the mistake of not picking up former Liverpool winger El Zhar for the first goal and Gerard Pique put the second on a plate, as Barcelona exhibited a worrying lack of spine. To make matters worse, Valverde’s substitutions didn’t help the team either, with the coach seemingly unable to change his system during a game, instead making like-for-like swaps. Barcelona’s performance was limp and bar forcing an excellent double save out of Leganes goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar, they never looked like forcing their way back into the game.
Madrid’s defeat was more drastic in terms of the scoreline, although in Sevilla they found motivated, high-class opponents, who attacked relentlessly. A defence with Marcelo and Sergio Ramos is never likely to be overly secure and the resurgent Andre Silva exposed its frailties with two goals in four minutes. The Portuguese forward, once touted by Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo as his heir in the national team, was not picked up as he sent the Andalusians rushing into a two-goal lead before a buzzing Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Wissam Ben Yedder’s third sent Sevilla further ahead, after Gareth Bale had hit the post. Madrid found their footing in the second half and Luka Modric scored with a neat chip although the goal was correctly ruled out by VAR for offside.
Despite the magnitude of the scoreline, Madrid’s performance bettered that of Barcelona’s in the Spanish capital, but it will still go down as an opportunity lost, as they sit behind their arch-rivals on goal difference at the top of the table. It adds to the pressure on coach Julen Lopetegui ahead of Saturday’s derby clash with Atletico Madrid, who, with the right combination of results, could go top themselves. Los Blancos may have a new coach, but the story was the same, a sixth defeat in seven league games at Sevilla’s historic stadium.
On this humiliating night, both Real Madrid and Barcelona showed La Liga is more wide open than it has been for years.