In La Liga, there are many derbies that are more high-profile and entertaining than the Madrid one. The Basque derby, the Andalusian derby between Sevilla and Real Betis all draw more eyes around the country than the hegemonic Madrid one, but for the rest of the world, the repeat of the Champions League final is close to the paramount in Spanish football.
Today, both teams played out an entertaining match and gave us a clear indicator of where they are.
Real Madrid’s rebuilding process is stalling, but there’s plenty of positives
For the first time in more than half a decade, Real Madrid looks like a team. The abundance of trophies that Real have won is a bit misleading considering they haven’t really looked like a unit.
While a collection of phenomenal, superhuman level of football players tossed together in a weird mix of glamour and marketing gets you so far, with Real you always got the sense that they hadn’t quite lived up to their potential.
This mild level of frustration would transfer over to their spoilt, and ridiculously demanding fans on more than one occasion when they would get on the backs of their biggest stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
But the Madridistas finally have a team they can get behind.
Real started wonderfully, their peak performance coming unsurprisingly in the Champions League against Roma, but they have stumbled the last few weeks in La Liga.
Their fans should be patient; this is still a team rebuilding and recovering after the loss of their talismanic MVP.
Luckily for Real, Barcelona have been equally terrible the last few weeks, which hasn’t led to an early lead atop the La Liga table.
But Real looked really sharp against Atletico. It was just unfortunate that Real came up against a vintage defensive Atletico side. Nobody would have argued that they didn’t deserve it, had they stolen a win at the end.
Atletico Madrid are going back to basics and it’s paying off
Unfortunately for Atletico, they can no longer call themselves the underdog in big fixtures such as these anymore. The wave of neutrals that they got on their side during the big matches drove a lot of eyes to the club.
They have reached a major crossroads now, though. Having secured many of their biggest stars’ long-term futures, coupled with holding onto their messiah-like Diego Simeone, they have to move beyond their underdog tag.
Having made stellar signings in the summer, there was a real intention from the club of competing on many different fronts this year. But having started terribly, Simeone and his team have had to revert back to the basics that made them who they are.
The problem for them though, is while the results have now started to go in Atletico’s way, they have had to sacrifice on playing better football in order to get results in their favor again.
Seven weeks after one of their best summers in recent years, Atletico still find themselves at the crossroads they were at before the season started.
Simeone and his troops will never sacrifice on the hard work mentality, but they will have to improve on their style of play if they truly want to become one of Europe’s elite.
The result worked in favor of everyone in La Liga
Another week has gone by, and another decisive Sevilla victory that launched them up to the table. Atletico today, knew that they needed a victory in order to move back up the table. But luckily for them, Barcelona dropped points, which after 7 weeks in, left the La Liga table more competitive than ever.
Sevilla have really built up some good momentum over the last few weeks; additionally with Barcelona and Madrid dropping points, Ateltico have managed to catch up after a stumbling start to the season.
After many seasons of dominant hegemony by Europe’s biggest clubs (Real and Barca) it will be a pleasant change to see a competitive title race. Atleti’s draw at the Santiago Bernabeu has led to this potentially being a possibility.