Soccer-LaLiga talking points
Yet after a year and a half sabbatical, Valverde decided to get back into coaching for a third stint at Athletic Bilbao and his return has been remarkable. After three consecutive league wins, Athletic are third in standings on 16 points, three behind leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid, having won five of their seven league games.
Talking points from the weekend in LaLiga.
VALVERDE TAKES ATHLETIC INTO TOP THREE When Ernesto Valverde was sacked by Barcelona in January 2020 after guiding them to two league titles and the Copa del Rey in two and a half seasons, he was so disappointed that he decided to take some time away from the sport.
He returned to his hometown Bilbao to spend some quality time with his family. Yet after a year and a half sabbatical, Valverde decided to get back into coaching for a third stint at Athletic Bilbao and his return has been remarkable.
After three consecutive league wins, Athletic are third in standings on 16 points, three behind leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid, having won five of their seven league games. The last time Athletic were in the top three in LaLiga was 30 years ago, when Jupp Heynckes was the team’s manager.
LEWANDOWSKI'S OUTSTANDING RUN Robert Lewandowski is delivering everything Barcelona fans hoped when the twice FIFA Best Player of the Year joined the Spanish giants from Bayern Munich in July.
The Polish striker delighted Barcelona fans once again on Saturday when he scored the winner at Mallorca with a brilliant effort. In-form Lewandowski became the first player to score in six consecutive LaLiga match weeks since Ruud van Nistelrooy with Real Madrid in the 2006-07 season. It was the Pole's ninth league goal of the season.
The 34-year-old forward’s arrival has upped the expectation levels at the Camp Nou after Barca endured a frustrating 2021-22 season following the departure of club great Lionel Messi to Paris St Germain. They are on top of the standings on 19 points, level with Real Madrid who dropped their first points of the season on Sunday in a disappointing home draw with Osasuna.
SEVILLA IN DIRE STRAITS Sevilla slumped to a 2-0 home defeat by Atletico Madrid on Saturday to continue their poor start to the LaLiga campaign, having won only one match in all competitions so far this season.
The record six-time Europa League winners are 17th in the league standings on five points, one above the relegation zone. It's Sevilla's worst start to a league season since being promoted back to the top-flight in 2001.
Manager Julen Lopetegui and the club's board are facing questions from angry fans who had high expectations after they finished last season in fourth place having battled with Real Madrid for the title for most of the campaign. They face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday and in-form Athletic Bilbao three days later as the pressure mounts.
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