Analysis: Four things we learned in Spain's Matchday nine

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-21 16:30:22|Editor: Yurou
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MADRID, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Matchday nine in the Liga Santander saw a new leader in Spain, while at the bottom Leganes remain without a win, and a change of coach didn't produce a change of fortune for Espanyol. Here are four things we learned this weekend in Spain.

1. Real Madrid's 'Plan B' doesn't work

The first weekend back after the international break is often difficult for coaches as key players return late and tired (and sometimes injured) after playing for their countries. Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane tried to compensate for that by resting Eden Hazard and Raphael Varane, while Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Tony Kroos were all injured. Sadly for Zidane his 'Plan B' didn't work as Real Madrid produced a disjointed display to lose 1-0 away to recently promoted Mallorca.

Players such as Isco, James Rodriguez and Alvaro Odriozola all wasted chances to shine and now Zidane has a problem: does he give them another chance, or does he stick with his best 11 knowing the risks of burning them out over a busy two months?

2. Barca hitting form

While Real Madrid have problems, Barca are slowly getting back to their best form. Saturday's 3-0 win in Eibar saw Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann combine more effectively than they have all season, while in midfield, Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets and Arthur Melo kept the ball flowing smoothly.

The return of Samuel Umtiti after months with injury problems will also give Barca coach Ernesto Valverde more options in the coming weeks and comparing Barca's performance with Real Madrid's, there must be a sense of frustration in the Camp Nou that next week's 'Clasico' against the bitter rivals has been postponed due to non-sporting issues.

3. Atletico's struggles in front of goal continue

Atletico Madrid's players could only watch as Dani Parejo's late free kick assured a draw for Valencia in the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It is Atletico's third consecutive league draw in front of their fans and once again it came as the result of their inability to put the ball in the back of their rivals' net.

Alvaro Morata looked short of confidence again as he seems to overthink things, while Joao Felix was carried off with an ankle injury to only add to Atletico's woes.

Diego Simeone's men have only scored three times in their last five games with two of those in the same match against Mallorca and watching Saturday's performance it was no surprise that Diego Costa's effort came from the penalty spot.

4. No miracle cure for Espanyol

The international break saw Pablo Machin replace David Gallego at Wu Lei's Espanyol, but the traditional saying 'new coach - certain win' didn't come true as the Barcelona based club slipped to a 1-0 home defeat at home to Villarreal.

Although Machin will be pleased with the commitment of his players, Espanyol are still struggling to turn effort into goals and with the return of European football this week the new coach will have to consider resting key players in the Europa League in order to have them at their best for the domestic competition at the weekends. If he doesn't then Espanyol face the real possibility of relegation.