Skip to content

Spain: Derbi loss was so much more for Real Madrid

Sep 29, 2013, 10:05 PM EDT

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-ATLETICOMADRID Getty Images

Last year, Barcelona dropped points six times on the way to their title: four draws; two losses. The year before, Real Madrid posted the same record: 100 points; only six blemishes. In this new era of championship perfectionism, you have to go all the way back to Pep Guardiola’s first year on Barcelona’s sidelines (2008-09) to find a Primera Division champion who lost more than two games. Even that season, most of Barça’s losses came after they’d sewn-up the title.

That’s part of the context for Real Madrid’s 1-0 loss to Atlético Madrid. Carrying one draw into Saturday’s game, los Merengues already had an early, unexpected stumble. Now, after losing to one of the league’s two perfect teams, Carlo Ancelotti’s team is five points back in a league with no meaningful margin of error.

It sounds insane to be talking about title implications seven matches into the season, particularly with a team that sits 5-1-1 after Saturday’s loss, but that’s the absurdity of Spanish soccer. When you have a Barcelona team that’s adding new tricks to their playbook and an Atletico club that’s forged a surprise challenger, the margin looks even thinner than before. Coming off a season where they never meaningfully threatened Barcelona’s title run, we’re left wondering how much longer El Real can stay relevant.

For a club where la decima (a 10th European title) is the priority, domestic bumps can always be put in perspective. But having suffered their second straight home loss to the Atleti — their first in league since 1999 — this team’s struggles have been cast in a unique perspective. They’d already lost last year’s Copa del Rey to their cross-town rivals, and now falling at hope to team that sold Falcão this summer, there’s reason to believe what was previously unthinkable: El Real may be numero dos in the capital.

Given the talent disparity between the two sides, that’s a difficult proposition to accept, but at some point, results are the only thing that matter. Atlético is undefeated this season. The only blemishes among their results are two Supercopa draws to Barcelona (they ended up losing the competition on away goals). Through Liga and Champions League, Atlético remains one of the three perfect teams among Europe’s top five leagues. Those credentials transcend Saturday’s surprise.

They don’t have the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Isco or Sergio Ramos, but Atlético do have Diego Costa – Spain’s co-leading scorer whose form has enticed the Spanish national team to try to lure him away from Brazil. His early goal was set up by Koke, the 21-year-old attacker who’s now tied for the league lead in assists (six). With Thiago (midfield), Diego Godin (defense), and Thibaut Courtois (goalkeeper) forming one of the stronger bases of a Spanish defense, a side short on superstars is also lacks any obvious weaknesses.

source: Getty Images

Their Saturday loss to rival Atlético leaves Real Madrid five points back in Spain, but in a league that’s been won by 100-point seasons in back-to-back years, the margin for error is small. (Photo: Getty Images.)

But what they lack in star power — that enviable quality that underlies the Barça-Real duopoly — Diego Simeone’s making up in cohesion, with a stalwart defense and efficient, mostly counter-atttacking style making the Atleti into surprise contenders. Though the Argentine has led Atletico to Europa League and Supercopa triumphs since his arrival just under two years ago, nobody predicted this surprise challenge to Spain’s Big Two. Thanks to an almost trite more than the sum of their parts scenario, that’s exactly what Atlético’s done.

If Real could capture a little of that spirit, there may be hope for them to re-enter the title race. And Atlético’s quality could actually help them keep up, if their the Colchoneros are able to take league points off of Barça. But after today’s loss, El Real sit seven matches into the season having already dropped seven points. And for now, after losing to their cross-town rivals at the Bernabéu, they’ve lost their claim to being the best team in Madrid.

Elsewhere in Spain:

  • Real Valladolid 2-2 Málaga: A 76th minute goal by Bartlomiej Pawlowski salvages a result for Bernd Schuster’s side, with the point enough to carry Valladolid out of the drop.
  • Valencia 1-0 Rayo Vallecano: Jonás’s 37th minute goal completes Los Che’s turnaround. After losing their first three, they’ve taken three on the trot. Rayo, on the other hand, sit last in La Liga, allowing three goals per game.
  • Almería 0-2 Barcelona: More business-like than spectacular, Barcelona remains perfect. Lionel Messi picked up a goal and an injury.
  • Real Sociedad 1-1 Sevilla: Another disappointing result for La Real, whose winless run hits seven games. A second half goal from Antoine Griezmann pulled back Jairo’s early opener.
  • Osasuna 0-1 Levante: An 88th minute goal from Jordi Xumetra leaves Osasuna empty-handed from a match where they would have expected a result.
  • Celta de Vigo 0-1 Elche: Rebounding from mid-week disappointment, the visitors took full points thanks to Javíer Xumetra’s second half winner, Celta having lost three of four.
  • Espanyol 0-2 Getafe: Adrián Colunga scores in the 72nd, 93rd minutes to hand Espanyol their second straight loss, Getafe moving into eighth after their third win in four.
  • Real Betis 1-0 Villarreal: The Yellow Submarine had a chance to leap Real Madrid and take over third place. Instead, a 36th minute goal from Nosa hands Marcelino’s team their first loss since returning to the Primera Division.

Latest Posts
  1. Serie A season preview, predictions: Juve still class of deep league

    Aug 29, 2014, 1:38 PM EDT

    Italy Soccer Serie A AP

    The Old Lady went an absurd 33W-3D-2L last season, busting No. 2 AS Roma in the nose by a meager 27 points.

  2. Premier League preview: Everton vs. Chelsea

    Aug 29, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

    Diego Costa could be sidelined with a muscle injury Getty Images

    A Diego Costa injury could hurt Chelsea’s chances as the Toffees look to rebound from a tough draw against Arsenal.

  3. Friday’s transfer rumor roundup: Vidal stays at Juve, Cerci wants move

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:49 PM EDT

    Juventus Training Session Getty Images

    Manchester United, Liverpool, Newcastle, PSG and Arsenal all make the transfer churner to end the workweek.

  4. Report: Manchester United accepts $13 million PL bid for Tom Cleverley

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT

    Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Can Paul Lambert and Roy Keane convince the midfielder to come to Villa Park?

  5. VIDEO: Louis van Gaal talks Angel Di Maria, Man Utd rebuilding process

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 11.20.53 AM

    LVG says the addition of ADM won’t change his approach to building how United plays soccer.

  6. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 3

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game this weekend.

  7. Americans Abroad Preview: Howard faces Chelsea, many Yanks on the road

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Everton v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    The club season is in full swing, and there are plenty of American faces looking for three points this weekend.

  8. Men in Blazers video: Men in Blazers breakdown Everton-Chelsea

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 10.07.01 AM

    Who fears the match more: a Chelsea man bemoaning the last few visits to Goodison Park or an Everton fan wearing a ‘Not in the face’ button?

  9. Mourinho on Torres: “Our squad is closed”; Costa doubtful for weekend

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:50 AM EDT

    Burnley v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    Will Fernando Torres be leaving Stamford Bridge, and are Diego Costa’s injury concerns far less than first reported? Ask The Special One.

  10. Premier League Preview: Burnley vs. Manchester United

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:14 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria AP

    Regardless of whether Di Maria plays, it’s hard to imagine Manchester United doesn’t wake up and use its desperation as an advantage.

  11. Europa League group draw: Everton, Spurs face stiff tests

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:19 AM EDT

    Italy Soccer Europa League Final AP

    Can the Toffees emerge from a very difficult group headlined by Lille? Will Spurs triumph over Besiktas and Partizan?

  12. PST Extra: Did Manchester United waste $99 million on Angel Di Maria?

    Aug 29, 2014, 7:42 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 7.34.13 AM

    Joe Prince-Wright, Mike Prindiville and Jenna Corrado dig into the transfers of Angel Di Maria and Mario Balotelli to the Premier League.

  13. MLS Weekend Preview: Derbies close weekend kicking off off at Sporting Park

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:42 AM EDT

    Sporting Kansas City v Montreal Impact Getty Images

    NBCSN games on Friday, Sunday highlight a nine-match weekend in the domestic league.

  14. Leicester City lands coup with Inter legend Esteban Cambiasso

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT

    esteban_cambiasso Getty Images

    The Nerazzurri icon moves to the East Midlands after 10 years at the San Siro.

  15. Crimes and Misdemeanors: Portland’s Norberto Paparatto receives one-game suspension from MLS

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT

    norberto_paparatto AP

    An arm to the back of Chad Marshall’s head earns the Timber’s center back a weekend off.

  16. Kei Kamara returning the MLS? Regardless, his time’s done at Middlesbrough

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT

    Kamara head shot

    Columbus, Sporting, Vancouver connected with a possible return.

  17. Lessons from 2010 say U.S. squad as much about opportunity, circumstances as youth

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT

    jurgen_klinsmann

    In 2010, a series of young Americans looked prime for breakthroughs. Their experience reminds up: Four years is a long way off.

  18. Premier League Power Rankings: Familiar faces jostle for the top spot – Week 1

    Aug 28, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Nacer Chadli AP

    Our first Power Rankings of the 2014-15 season. What do you think?

  19. U.S. roster for Czech Republic: Quick look at some of the newer names

    Aug 28, 2014, 5:13 PM EDT

    Rubin Rubin

    Rubio Rubin, Joe Gyau, and Emerson Hyndman are among the roster’s most-intriguing prospects for 2018.

  20. VIDEO: PST Extra – Did Manchester United waste $99 million on Angel Di Maria?

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria AP

    Jenna, JPW and Prindi break down Di Maria to United, Balotelli to Liverpool and Chelsea’s tough trip to Everton.

Featured video

Breaking down Di Maria, Balotelli deals