It’s been away for so long, but in many ways it feels like almost nothing has changed.
Atlético Madrid drew, Valencia dropped points due to self-sabotage and both the top two won comfortably. Pretty much business as usual, then.
Beyond a couple of mild surprises, the first weekend of La Liga action after the lengthy enforced break was reassuringly familiar, as though the football gods knew the public needed something comforting to hang on to in these crazy times.
It began on Thursday night with the Seville derby – one of the most heated rivalries in the Spanish game. The absence of fans was felt more profoundly here given that this fixture is famous for its febrile atmosphere, and while some of the magic of the occasion was lost, Sevilla put in an accomplished performance at their home ground to win 2-0 thanks to goals from Lucas Ocampos and Fernando.
Betis struggled throughout, and there is a growing feeling that while Julen Lopetegui’s meticulous organisation of his Sevilla side is starting to bear fruit, his Betis counterpart Rubi is struggling to get a tune out his fine squad of players, and may find himself looking for work again soon.
Friday night brought another derby in the form of Valencia v Levante at Mestalla, a game that Valencia needed to win to kickstart their challenge for the Champions League places. They were outplayed at times by a Levante