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La Liga: boring, uncompetitive and all that. Hang on … | Sid Lowe


Just seven weeks in, no one is winless in Spain and no one is unbeaten either. Is this season competitive rather than cheap?

On Saturday afternoon, leaders Barcelona only managed a 1-1 home draw against 15th-placed Athletic Club Bilbao; without a win in three, they dropped their seventh point in six days. On Saturday night, Real Madrid failed to score for the second game running, drawing 0-0 with Atlético Madrid; they’ve won just one in four now, while their city rivals left the Bernabéu unbeaten for a sixth successive season but have only won three from seven. And in between those matches, Sevilla beat Eibar, taking them third and on to 17 goals in 10 days, including three against Madrid. Before that, they hadn’t won in three, collecting a solitary point. They hadn’t even scored.

On Sunday evening, Alavés had the chance to go joint top with Barcelona, a club with a budget 16 times bigger. It wasn’t just an early-season quirk: since Abelardo Fernández took over 31 weeks before, only Barcelona, Madrid and Atlético had more points. All Alavés had to do now was beat Levante, who’d slipped into the relegation zone, but they didn’t: 1-0 up early, another wonderful delivery from Ibai Gómez headed in by Ruben Sobrino, they lost 2-1. Led by Rubén Rochina, Levante scored twice before half-time, Jason and Toño García getting the goals. “They were better than us,” Abelardo said. “It’s very difficult to win.”

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Rayo Vallecano 2-2 Espanyol, Real Madrid 0-0 Atlético Madrid, Eibar 1-3 Sevilla, Barcelona 1-1 Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad 0-1 Valencia, Real Betis 1-0 Leganés, Levante 2-1 Alavés, Villarreal 0-1 Real Valladolid, SD Huesca 1-1 Girona

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