Spain may have been given a rather short straw in Netherlands and Chile in their World Cup draw, but that shouldn't give them cause for concern. The pressure is on the rest...
Those of us who support lowly clubs can find it difficult to imagine the fuss made over two defeats suffered by a goliath. Will this weekend's Copa offer some respite?
Poor Atlético Madrid. The side are sitting at the top of the table with four wins from four, and looking completely devastating. But of course the noisy-till-five-in-the-morning neighbours manage to still the the club's thunder, limelight and pretty much everything that is not tied down.
Real Madrid have managed to park themselves on all the front covers of the sports papers in the capital city, but not for the correct footballing reasons. Alarm bells should be sounding with the Bernabeu side having dropped the first points of the season after a 2-2 draw against Villarreal on Saturday. In fact, more should have been lost in the opener against Betis and the team completely relied on Diego López in goal for the weekend's single point in El Madrigal.
The defence is a shambles, Cristiano Ronaldo is not particularly enjoying playing in the more confined spaces of Carlo Ancelotti's set-up and Karim Benzema looks even more disinterested and lackadaisical than ever. But, Gareth Bale made his debut, scored and then the next day it was announced that Ronaldo had renewed his current deal to 2018 - two tiresome sagas put to bed in one weekend. That was enough to blow away anything Atlético Madrid could do.
Bale starting against Villarreal was news enough. The incoming Welshman had barely played any minutes of football since the end of the last Premier League campaign, but was chucked into action against a vibrant, counter-attacking side who had won their first three games.
Playing wide on the right, to balance Ronaldo on the opposite flank, Bale would have quickly realised that La Liga is not always a slower-paced and more technical pursuit in comparison with the blood and guts of England. Villarreal were blistering in attack and took the lead just before the half hour mark. However, Bale popped up some ten minutes later to slide in for his first goal for Madrid and the chance to do his trademark goal celebration which is not going to get annoying at all.
Although the former Spurs man struggled to get a grip on the game - like most of his teammates - there were flashes of pace and the lethal long shot, enough to keep Madrid fans reasonably happy until he appears next, potentially in Tuesday's visit to Turkey to take on Galatasaray in the Champions League.
Atlético Madrid had quietly gone about their business earlier on in the day with a 4-2 beating of Almería in the Vicente Calderon, to put the side at the top of the table with Barcelona on an alphabetical basis, with the two teams tied on points, goals scored and conceded.
Diego Simeone's side were seconds away from being stand-alone league leaders. Barcelona were drawing 2-2 in the Camp Nou with a new-look and very spirited Sevilla, before an injury-time charge from Leo Messi allowed Alexis Sánchez to finish off a final desperate move. The result was a controversial one in Spain with Sevilla having a Juan Cala headed effort from a corner being ruled out for no good reason and the Barca's winner arriving in injury time of injury time in the second half. "It was a robbery," fumed Sevilla defender, Fernando Navarro, straight after the game.
Whilst Real Madrid have their defensive issues, Barcelona still look rather pedestrian going forward, whilst remaining utterly vulnerable on corners. Instead it is Atlético Madrid who are looking fairly flawless with a versatile forward line, well-oiled midfield machine and sturdy defence. However, it was not Atleti that spent some €100m on one player and will probably hand over the same amount to another over the next five seasons that is making the waves in Spain. As ever.
Round Four Results
Atlético Madrid 4-2 Almería
Levante 0-0 Real Sociedad
Barcelona 3-2 Sevilla
Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid
Granada 0-1 Espanyol
Getafe 2-1 Osasuna
Málaga 5-0 Rayo Vallecano
Betis 3-2 Valencia
Elche vs. Valladolid (Monday)
Athletic Bilbao vs. Celta Vigo (Monday)
Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter
I'm just happy this campaign might actually be competitive in the long run, having watched the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup where Atletico completely outclassed Barcelona, I hope they keep it up and maybe the Liga BBVA might not be a two horse race.- josh365