This La Liga weekend which was dominated by young players strutting their stuff. Plenty of people will remember the name Martin Ǿdegaard. It won’t be for his play, but if he keeps playing like he did this weekend that will change. And Ansu Fati, the 16-year-old sensation who is taking Barcelona by storm.
La Liga Review: The Kids On Display
Real Sociedad 2-0 Atletico Madrid
When Atletico Madrid travelled to the newly finished Reale Stadium in San Sebastian, they knew they would be tested. This was the first game since the completion of the renovations to remove the running track at Anoeta Stadium. The newly named Reale Stadium is a proper footballing ground.
The fans are tight to the pitch, condensed, and loud. By removing the track La Real have added 5,000 seats and brought the fans 32 meters closer to each goal. Make no mistake about it was a difference that could be felt, a feeling Atletico Madrid got the full force of.
The difference that level of noise and proximity change can make for a team is unquantifiable. But you could really see the difference in Real Sociedad on Saturday. A team that had been bullied in the Derby before the break bullied Atletico Madrid. They were first to every ball, they were quicker, stronger, and more determined than even Atletico Madrid.
After bullying Atletico in the first half, La Real got their rewards in the second. And they came from Martin Ǿdegaard. Yes, that’s right, the same viral Norwegian kid that signed for Real Madrid at 16. That skinny kid is now 20, and after a few seasons on loan in the Netherlands, he is back in Spain to prove his worth.
He has become a really good player in the years since he first came to Madrid. Ǿdegaard bossed the game. He has become an elite playmaker in midfield, and as he continues to get stronger, he should make some midfielder. Right now, in the no.10 position for La Real, he’s in the best place for him.
Last season in the Netherlands he had double-digit goals & assists in the league. If he can complete that in La Liga than he might be on his way back to Madrid. Where he can going killing Atletico like he did this weekend for a few years to come.
Barcelona 5-2 Valencia
Ansu Fati once again grabbed all of the headlines as Barcelona beat Valencia 5-2 at the Camp Nou. The 16-year-old was making his first start at home, before ever playing for the B team even. And within his first ten minutes on the pitch, he had already scored and assisted Barcelona’s first two goals.
The deadly combination of Ansu Fati and Frenkie De Jong had seen Barcelona up 2-0 after ten minutes. Along with Fati, Ernesto Valverde had played Arthur and De Jong together in midfield for the first time. They absolutely tore Valencia apart in this game. Fati has gotten all the headlines, for good and bad, but the midfield performance in this game is exciting.
Barcelona fans will be happiest with the performance of Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan came back from his injury in stride and immediately scored a goal of Ronaldinho-esq quality. It was followed by another very nice goal that completed Barcelona’s thumping of poor Valencia.
La Liga Refereeing
Finally, let’s talk about La Liga’s initiative in refereeing. They have decided that virtually any foot-to-Achilles contact will result in a red card. They have tried to distil intent and circumstance by boiling this decision to basically, touch the Achilles and you’re off. Only because it is such a drastic change it’s not going very smoothly.
The prime example this weekend was at Balaidos in the game between Celta Vigo and Granada. Celta defender Jose Saenz tread on a players Achilles in a fairly benign way. Maybe it deserved a yellow card, but it was hardly a red. And it came just a day after Maxi Gomez did the same thing against Barcelona.
At halftime of the Celta game, their captain Hugo Mallo pointed this out to the referee in his game. The audio of the exchange was caught and it was damning. The referee basically told him that Gomez should’ve been sent off just like Saenz was. Even with the help of VAR referee’s are making this call inconsistently, making La Liga or RFEF looking like fools.