Real Madrid opened up a four-point lead at the top of La Liga after their narrow 2-1 win at home over Sevilla on Sunday at the end of a weekend marked by some poor refereeing. Here are some things we learned in Spain this weekend:
1. Referees and VAR must improve
The weekend was littered with inexplicable refereeing decisions: it’s almost impossible to understand how Gerard Pique’s clear sixth-minute handball against Villarreal wasn’t seen as a penalty and although the matchday referee may have not seen it clearly, the VAR team must have as Pique’s arm blocking a goal-bound shot was obvious to anyone watching on TV.
Likewise, referee Mateu Lahoz was guilty of a terrible mistake when he ruled out a Real Sociedad goal after the ball struck him in Sunday’s game against Espanyol. Mateu waved play on and then disallowed the goal five seconds later when it should have been given as the ball didn’t change possession after hitting him — a basic misreading of the rules.
Finally, referee Sanchez Martinez failed to give a penalty to each side in Real Madrid’s win over Sevilla, with the one he denied Sevilla perhaps more significant as it would have put the visitors 2-1 ahead.
If La Liga claims to be the best league in the world, the officials have to do much better.
2. Vinicius saves Real Madrid again
Vinicius Jr continues to build his reputation with his ninth goal of the season, which gave Real Madrid a vital 2-1 home win over Sevilla on Sunday night.
The winger cut inside and unleashed a furious shot in the 87th minute when it looked the game was heading for a draw that would have kept Sevilla right in the title race.
The visitors were on the better side in the Bernabeu for around an hour, but after Rafa Mir’s opener, Bono’s terrible error gifted Real Madrid an equalizing goal. With players such as Benzema and Vinicius, you cannot allow them to give Madrid gifts as they will gleefully accept them.
3. Atletico get onto the front foot, and score goals
Atletico Madrid’s reoccurring problem this season is that despite the attacking talent available to Diego Simeone, his ‘factory setting’ seems to be defensive as he showed by replacing forwards with midfielders in last Wednesda’s defeat to AC Milan in the Champions League.
On Sunday Atletico were being held 0-0 at the break by a well-drilled Cadiz, leaving him few options other than to attack.
Atletico ended up with 4-1 winners as Thomas Lemar, Antoine Griezmann, Yannick Carrasco, Angel Correa, and Matheus Cunha ran riot to make you wonder why they don’t play like that more often.
4. Worrying signs for Athletic Club
It’s no secret that Athletic Club Bilbao have problems scoring goals, due partly to the fact of an effective number 9 and partly to a lack of creativity in central midfield, but until now the Basque side has compensated partly by a mean, rock-solid defense.
That defense was breached twice in their 2-2 draw at home to Granada and the worrying thing for coach Marcelino Garcia Toral is that both goals were avoidable, coming as the result of errors and a lack of conviction in the tackle. If you aren’t scoring goals, you need to keep a clean sheet to get a point and with a visit to Real Madrid on Wednesday, Athletic need to recover their mean streak.