Ancelotti gave Ceballos and Asensio the start and won at San Mamés while Barça won with the minimum of fuss against Getafe

Barça, winter champions with a renewed Real Madrid on the prowl

AFP/GIUSEPPE CACACE - Barcelona coach Xavi

In today's football it is difficult to know which competition each game represents, whether there is a second leg, when there is extra time or when the first round of the league is over. What's more, neither Real Madrid nor Barça have finished yet because they have played 17 games.

But the picture of this first stretch of the season, with a World Cup in between, already makes some things clear, such as that the two locomotives of Spanish football will fight for the title and that the only one that can stand up to them is Real Sociedad.

Barcelona came to a screeching halt against Getafe. Their good football gave way to a victory and little else thanks to Pedri's goal. Xavi's side also know how to win without playing well and Dembele had to be sent off after a very hard tackle that was only a yellow card.

Ansu Fati started because Xavi needs to have more players available and the substitution of the Barça star was starting to be a burden for the rest of the season. Even for Laporta, who will not cut corners when it comes to cashing in on the youngster if he doesn't start scoring goals. 


Something similar was happening at Real Madrid. Ancelotti's immobility predicted a complicated second half of the season, with a physically exhausted team and the same faces match after match.

But the Italian coach does not want to repeat the mistakes of his last season in charge. The comeback against Villarreal was a turning point. Ceballos and Asensio showed that they are active and involved and Nacho was again at his best just the year his contract expires.

In San Mamés Real Madrid roared much more than Athletic. Although that stadium is a cauldron and the fans get their players on their feet throughout the 90 minutes, the white team arrived with the desire to get the three points.

Camavinga, Valverde, Asensio and Ceballos organised Real Madrid's midfield and shared the tasks of defending and attacking. Kroos and Modric watched the game from the bench as their fitness levels are not up to the task and the season is long


Benzema scored the first goal with a spectacular half-turn inside the box. The game improved at times and Asensio missed by millimetres a spectacular team move launched by Benzema.

Vinicius is going through a sporting slump. His football is the same, his goals not so much, but he lacks a bit of physique and a lot more temperance in the face of the new trend of opponents trying to get him out of his box. They take advantage of the fact that he plays on the wing, that he overflows and that he receives a lot of kicks, but also that he is a hot-blooded player and that he gets on the receiving end of provocations. Ancelotti asked him at San Mamés to leave the opponents and the referee alone, to talk to him to avoid problems and to play.

Seeing Modric come on in the 75th minute and Kroos in the 89th minute is the prelude to the change of phase beginning to arrive in Real Madrid's midfield. The homework has been done and the new blood can do the same and even improve on the respected Casemiro.

The German player scored the definitive 0-2 with a trademark goal, inside the goalkeeper's post and three points behind Barça. One game down.

The next menu is the Copa del Rey. Spectators should know that there is Barcelona-Real Sociedad on Wednesday and Real Madrid-Atlético de Madrid on Thursday, which are at nine o'clock at night and are single games.