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Barcelona blushes spared by Atlético and Real Madrid stumbles

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The scrutiny over the Catalans’ poor start to the season

Real Madrid CF vs Real Betis Balompie : La Liga Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

FC Barcelona are still at the top of La Liga, somehow. Barça were second-best and roundly defeated by Levante 3-1, putting their lead in jeopardy. But Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, the teams tipped to wrest the title away from the Catalans, could only manage draws last weekend. In fact, none of the top 5 teams won. Sevilla could only manage a draw and Granada lost. Real Sociedad took advantage and hopped into third place by beating Granada.

Barcelona’s rocky start doesn’t look quite so bad because no one is really dominating La Liga. Calls to sack Ernesto Valverde, for example, have to be tempered somewhat by admitting his team is still first.

The flipside of that coin is that Barcelona are squandering what could potentially be another relatively straightforward title run, or at least, a moment to capitalize on opponents’ weakness. Barça’s place at the top is precarious, to say the least, with Getafe in 7th only 3 points back, for example. True, it’s still relatively early in the season, when gaps are a bit smaller, but even taking that into account, this is a tight pack.