Key Takeaways from LaLiga: Jude Bellingham’s Potential at Real Madrid, Ronald Araujo’s Departure from Barcelona, and Villarreal’s Defensive Needs

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What a difference a week makes. 

Atletico Madrid were beaten by Barcelona last weekend but now sit above them in the table with a game in hand. 

Joao Felix was the man of the hour eight days ago but on Sunday he was taken off as Barcelona conceded four. 

Elsewhere, Jude Bellingham keeps scoring, VAR keeps trying to ruin football, and Girona are starting to look a little bit like Leicester 2015-16. 

Here are 10 things we learned from LaLiga.

Jude Bellingham scored his 12th goal in 14 games for Real Madrid in 1-1 draw at Real Betis

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Bellingham en route to records

With 12 goals in league 14 games, Jude Bellingham is still Spain’s leading scorer. 

If he stays out in front until the end of the season, he will be the first Brit to top score in LaLiga and become the first midfielder to do it since Luis Aragones. 

There is no doubt he will finish the season with some new records to his name, the only question is which ones.

 

Girona as champions? Why not?

They have 41 points from 16 games and the projection is that if they maintain the same level they will finish with 97 points. 

Barca won the league last season with 88. 

Surely they can’t keep this up, can they?

 

Feel good story of the season

In August 2022, Kirian Rodriguez announced he was suffering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. 

He recovered to start the last four games of last season as Las Palmas were promoted and this season he’s their star turn with three goals all from outside the area. 

Saturday’s goal was enough to give them a 1-0 win over Alaves.

 

Barcelona open to offers for below-par Araujo?

Bayern Munich have clearly been encouraged in their pursuit of Ronald Araujo. 

Whether that is by his representatives or by the club, still chasing money, time will tell. The player doesn’t want to leave in January but next summer could be a different story and Barcelona will gladly accept if the offer approaches the €100million (£85m) mark mentioned in Germany. 

He was not quite himself on Sunday with Barcelona taken apart by La Liga’s top scorers Girona.

Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich in Germany

Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich in Germany

 

Another team playing more like Barca than Barca

Girona aren’t the only imitation proving more convincing than the real thing at the moment. 

Las Palmas are eighth with former Barca B coach Garcia Pimienta coaching them.

It’s a team replete with former Barca players and with one who is set to return – Julian Araujo has impressed at right-back and will return from his loan spell next summer.

 

Sevilla showing extraordinary patience

Diego Alonso hasn’t won any of his first seven league games but director of football Victor Orta is determined to stick with him. 

Beating Lens away on Tuesday night to scrape into the Europe League would certainly make that decision easier to justify. 

Diego Martinez – sacked by Olympiacos but still well respected in Spain, and a former Sevilla youth team coach, is well-place if a change is forced.

Sevilla director of football Victor Orta is backing Diego Alonso (above) despite his winless run

Sevilla director of football Victor Orta is backing Diego Alonso (above) despite his winless run

 

Still stupid o’clock at VAR central #1

Mallorca were 1-0 up against Sevilla when a pot-shot from Adria Pedroza flew into the Mallorca net taking a slight deflection off of Youssef En-Nesyri’s backside. 

The goal was given and no one complained until VAR spotted that the ball may have grazed En-Nesyri’s elbow after it hit his derriere. 

The image was inconclusive but after staring at it for a few seconds the referee ruled out the goal. 

The coach who had benefited from the mistake, Javier Aguirre, said: ‘I would be upset if I was Sevilla.’

 

Still stupid o’clock at VAR central #2

Osasuna were 1-0 down when Chimy Avila’s header flashed wide. 

Replays showed the ball had grazed the hand of Momo Mbaye who was no more than a meter from Avila. Play continued until VAR piped up and after watching it pitchside the referee gave the penalty which Ante Budimir scored. 

The Osasuna coach who benefited from the decision said afterwards: ‘In modern football it’s a penalty. But in my opinion it should never be a penalty’.

 

Antonio Trujillo RIP

The 64-year-old Granada season ticket holder died of a heart attack during his team’s home game with Athletic Club. 

It was Athletic goalkeeper Unai Simon who alerted the referee to the incident because he sensed the panic and concern behind his goal. 

The game restarted but, with frantic supporters whistling for it to be stopped and for all the focus to be on the spectator, the players were finally taken off the pitch. 

The game was suspended after 18 minutes and will be finished tonight at 9pm.

The game between Granada and Athletic Bilbao was suspended after a fan died on Sunday

The game between Granada and Athletic Bilbao was suspended after a fan died on Sunday

 

Villarreal will be busy in January

The club have cashed in by selling to the Premier League in recent years with Pau Torres and Nico Jackson the best examples.

It’s left them considerably weaker though. They were thrashed 3-0 on Saturday and new coach Marcelino desperately needs more quality. 

A quick winger to replace the injured Yeremy Pino and a centre-back are the priorities.

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

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