On a weekend where the league leaders - Real Madrid - would be facing a stiff test and risking points, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid did what they were supposed to do. Two-thirds of Spain's Big Three clubs played Saturday, and both took all three points in front of them.
Neither team were playing a team the caliber of second-place Sevilla, therefore they could not afford to lose or tie when Real is as likely as ever to drop some. Simply playing the probability of a 40-match no loss streak on the line against a team that they will have played three times in the past 10 days.
Barcelona laid a whopping on Las Palmas, finding the back of the net for five goals on the day. Leo Messi accomplished a personal feat by scoring a goal against the canarios, after he made it 2-0 it meant that he had scored a goal against every club in the Spanish first division. Uruguay stud Luis Suarez continued to prove his worth in goals by netting a brace of his own. Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal added one a piece, giving Barça a comfortable 5-0 win.
Per usual, Atlético Madrid earned their three points the hard way, winning a hard-nosed 1-0 win over Real Betis is a battle of the other teams in Madrid and Sevilla, sort of a bizarro Real Madrid vs. Sevilla. Argentinian Nicolas Gaitan scored early in the match, in the eighth minute, and los rojiblancos held tight the rest of the way to at least stay as many points behind Real as they were entering the weekend. Best case scenario, Barça and Atleti will be five and nine points behind respectively.
What's odd is how Atlético has fallen so far behind this year, despite having an impressive array of forwards themselves. I mean, they've got Antoine Greizemann, who finished in the top three for most if not all the major individual awards this year. Plus former Sevilla star Kevin Gameiro, his countryman and new pick up from this past summer. Then there's the flashy Belgian Yannick Carrasco, who acts as the style to contrast against the hard nosed style of the two French forwards.
With all those weapons in attack Diego Simeone hasn't found a way to do anything more than win with defense. It's odd because they have achieved as much as any Atletico team yet hardware has been scarce. Perhaps it's time to question if it may be time for a different philosophy for the club.
Photo: Flickr/Dan Farrimond