RIVAL WATCH: Still four points clear at the top of the Liga table

RIVAL WATCH: Still four points clear at the top of the Liga table

All the leading sides in La Liga collected three points this weekend. We take a look at how Barça's most direct opponents fared both at home and around Europe on October 21 and 22

FC Barcelona defeated Málaga 2-0 on Saturday, and there’s no change at the top after the front-runners in La Liga all picked up wins this weekend (VIEW FULL TABLE HERE)

It means the Catalans remain four points clear of second placed Valencia, who equalled their best ever start to a season with a 4-0 defeat of Sevilla. The victory came courtesy of a brace from Goncalo Guedes and one each from Simone Zaza and Santi Min.

Real Madrid stay a point short of Valencia following a comfortable 3-0 win over Eibar. A Paulo Oliveira own goal was added to by Marco Asensio and Marcelo.

And fourth placed Atlético Madrid have a superlative Jan Oblak very much to thank for their 1-0 win at Celta, in front of a half-empty stadium due to safety issues with the construction of the new stand at Balaidos. Kevin Gameiro scored the only goal of the game after 28 minutes.

League and cup opponents

Next up in the league for FCB is a trip to Athletic Club Bilbao on Saturday at 8.45pm CET. The Basques were beaten 1-0 this weekend at Leganés, who have risen to an impressive fifth in the table thanks to that result.

Claudio Beauvue scored the only goal of the game after 54 minutes, after which a frustrated Athletic manager Kuko Ziganda commented that “now it’s just a question of closing our eyes, counting to ten and carrying on…” A visit from FCB is one of the last things his side needs given their current lull in form!

But before that there’s Tuesday’s Copa del Rey first leg at Real Murcia (kick off 9.00pm CET). And the preparations were far from ideal for the Division 2B side, who have dropped into the relegation zone following a 3-2 defeat at Cádiz based CD San Fernando.

They managed to fight back from 2-0 down thanks to Eladio Zorrilla and Perez Martinez (penalty), but the home side snatched the points with a goal four minutes from time.

Struggling Murcia have just two wins from their first ten games – and will need to find something truly magical if they want to upset the Liga leaders in the cup!

Meanwhile in Europe...

As far Barça’s Champions League opponents, Juventus were involved in a lively visit to Udinese, where they played over an hour of the game without Mario Mandzukic after the Croatian was red carded. They led 2-1 at the time, but with an extra man, the home side pulled back level after the break.

It looked ominous for the Old Lady at that stage, but Juve then went on a rampage and ended up cruising home 6-2, with Sami Khedira netting a hat-trick. The win closes the gap between them and top two Napoli and Inter, who drew 0-0 in Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash.

The leading pair were also in action in the Greek Super League, where Barça’s UCL group-mates Olympiacos defeated PAOK Thessaloniki 1-0 to close the gap on the pace setters to one point. Belgian Björn Engels scored the all-important goal.

And in Portugal, Sporting Lisbon remain two points adrift of leaders Porto thanks to a 5-1 defeat of Chaves, with Bas Dost getting a hat-trick and Marcos Acuna claiming the other two.

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