LaLiga 2017/2018, matchday six round-up: Man-marked Messi, Dani Ceballos' first start, and goals galore
If there was one thing that several teams could be criticised for in LaLiga, it would be negative football. Espanyol and Getafe are two of their number, but disappointment and boredom weren't to be on the menu this weekend for either.
Four goals apiece, with that total being hit by Real Betis and Celta Vigo too, resulted in a goal-heavy few days.
Atletico Madrid and Sevilla kicked off the fixture list at Wanda Metropolitano, where Diego Simeone's men are quickly exorcising their demons. The opening few fixtures of the 2017/2018 campaign didn't bode so well for Los Colchoneros, but their homecoming has prefaced a turn of fortunes.
Antoine Griezmann, Koke, Yannick Carrasco and Angel Correa were some of the stars in a 2-0 win over Sevilla, with Eduardo Berizzo's men still looking like exactly what they are - a mix of new signings that have been rotated too often.
Real Madrid made fairly hard work of plucky Alaves, with the hosts having new coach De Biasi watching from the stands at Mendizorroza, but debutant Dani Ceballos came up with the two goals required to send Los Blancos home with a 2-1 victory and three points.
Cristiano Ronaldo had an afternoon to forget in front of goal, with a weakened Los Blancos doing just enough to edge it - but Alfonso Pedraza gave them a couple of late scares on the break.
Malaga and Athletic Bilbao played out one of the more bizarre fixtures of the weekend, as Los Leones somehow threw away a two-goal lead against Michel's ten men.
Zdravko Kuzmanovic picked up a second yellow card while the hosts trailing by a 3-1 scoreline, but two goals in the last 10 minutes from Paul Baysse and Diego Rolan were enough to salvage a point for Los Boquerones.
Barcelona rounded off Saturday with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Girona, with the Catalan derby not quite having the edge that many expected. Two own goals kicked off the politically-charged affair, before Luis Suarez wrapped up the three points with a neat finish with 20 minutes left on the clock.
Lionel Messi spent the evening being followed around by a shadow named Pablo Maffeo, with the young Girona defender doing well to nullify the Argentine star's influence on proceedings.
Sunday was something of a goal bonanza, with Espanyol racking up an impressive 4-1 home win over Deportivo. Pepe Mel continues to be piled under further pressure, with a distinctly average Espanyol side finding their way to three points all too easily in Cornella. Gerard Moreno snatched a brace, as Quique Sanchez Flores' men continue to rally.
Getafe then did the similarly unthinkable, as they put four past Villarreal in a victory that would lose Fran Escriba his job as Yellow Submarine boss. Three set pieces and a mistake from Ruben Semedo helped to send the Madrid-based club on their way, on an afternoon where the visitors really struggled to get going.
Set pieces played a vital role in Celta Vigo's win over Eibar, too, with Pione Sisto at the heart of everything good for La Celeste. The Danish winger picked up two assists, as well as netting a rather lucky direct free kick, allowing for Unzue's side to win 4-0 away. Los Armeros will be left scratching their heads, but some personnel changes gave a welcome boost to Celta.
Leganes relied on two counter-attacking strikes to defeat Las Palmas 2-0 in Gran Canaria, as Asier Garitano's men went forth and ended the slump which arrived after a brilliant first few LaLiga fixtures. Alexander Szymanowski was at the heart of the direct efforts of Los Pepineros, as Manolo Marquez watched his canaries get knocked back to square one again.
Valencia and Real Sociedad played out the game of the weekend at Anoeta, with Marcelino's men doing just enough to edge a 3-2 victory in the Basque Country.
Goncalo Guedes provided two lightning assists for Los Che, who played effectively on the counter-attack, as two teams who like to stick to their stylistic guns needed an 85th-minute winner from Simone Zaza to separate them.
Igor Zubeldia and Geoffrey Kondogbia both picked up red cards, but the former will feel much more aggrieved about his dismissal than the latter.
Monday saw Real Betis carve their way through a usually tough nut to crack, as Levante fell apart in a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Quique Setien's men at a rowdy Estadio Benito Villamarin. Tony Sanabria notched twice for Los Verdiblancos, with young midfielder Fabian also getting on the scoresheet, sending the fans home very happy indeed.
Goals from unexpected sources in an unpredictable week in LaLiga. 38 goals in 10 games is no mean feat, with plenty of teams that have been scolded for their negative approaches showing that there is still entertainment to be had.