LaLiga Matchweek 1: Team of the Week
The 2018-19 LaLiga campaign is off and running, with the first weekend of action bringing both superb quality and a few surprises as well. This past Friday provided the intrigue right from the start, as Levante and manager Paco López engineered a fantastic 3-0 victory at Real Betis to open their season with three points.
The headlines belonged to the title-holders on Saturday, as Barcelona cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win against Deportivo Alavés. The attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Ousmane Dembélé were extremely effective, while Sergi Roberto certainly did not look out-of-place in a midfield role.
For Sunday, all eyes were on the capital as Real Madrid and Gareth Bale began the post-Ronaldo era with a 2-0 victory versus Getafe. Keylor Navas got the start at goalkeeper, while new addition Thibaut Courtois was on the bench.
After their UEFA Super Cup triumph mid-week, Atlético Madrid were denied maximum points in a 1-1 draw at Valencia on Monday evening. Angel Correa gave Los Rojiblancos a lead in the first half, but a second-half strike from Rodrigo levelled the match. Atlético manager Diego Simeone will be focused on ensuring points are not dropped often for his team in the near future.
Following an exhilarating round of fixtures, we look at the performances that shined brightest during Matchweek One of LaLiga.
Goalkeepers and Defenders
GK: Oier Olazábal – UD Levante
In the weekend’s major upset, Levante were able to make the most of their limited possession at Betis. A major part of that victory was attributed to goalkeeper Oier Olazábal’s play, recording eight saves in the game.
The 28-year-old was called upon often, displaying excellent instincts and organising the back-line.
LB: Marcelo – Real Madrid CF
One of the most talented full-backs of his generation, Marcelo continues to be a positive force for Real Madrid. His work on the left side helped to advance play and link into the attack, as he makes possession on the wing dangerous for opponents.
With creativity and sharp passing, new manager Julen Lopetegui will expect more of the same from the Brazilian during 2018-19.
CB: Mario Hermoso – RCD Espanyol
Espanyol finished 11th last term, but are a popular pick amongst pundits for relegation now. With the sale of Gerard Moreno and others this summer, a concern is where the necessary goals will come from. In a 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo to open the season, defender Mario Hermoso showed that he is available when necessary in the opposing half.
Although Celta would equalise, Hermoso was also essential in clearing out scoring opportunities throughout the contest.
CB: Samuel Umtiti – FC Barcelona
It all seemed a bit routine in some ways for Barcelona and manager Ernesto Valverde against Alavés, but solid defensive work was at the heart of the victory. Samuel Umtiti performed well in central defence and ensured that team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen had a quiet evening in goal.
The French international’s passing was accurate and mistakes were limited.
RB: Daniel Carvajal – Real Madrid CF
Real Madrid’s first goal of the new season was provided by a defender, as Dani Carvajal put himself in an excellent position and headed in the opening strike of the game.
The 26-year-old’s efforts on the right side were integral in keeping the clean sheet against Getafe.