Diego Simeone may call people who think Atletico Madrid can win the league 'fools', but after Barcelona's defeat at the weekend, Atleti are level at the top of La Liga...
With Ronaldo and Messi both injured, will Atletico finally step into the limelight? Or, will the Spanish media just transfer their focus to Real Madrid's €100million man..?
It did not take too long at all for Tata Martino to work out how a frequently perplexing Barcelona ticks both on and off the pitch. The Argentinean manager and his players are just two victories away from breaking the record for the best league start by any team ever in La Liga, showing that things are going just fine in terms of the simple game of football.
However, Tata has also noted that despite still settling in to the club "I'm discovering the need to have a crisis every week," reinforcing Gerard Piqué's recent observation that Barça's biggest enemy is normally Barça.
One of the first big kerfuffles of the season was the arrival of Neymar over the summer. In theory, it was a big money, big excitement transfer that should have calmed a few nerves in the Catalan capital. After all, this was the version three of the mythical Plan B of the club finally coming into play.
Rather than bringing in players of a different ilk - not small and not tricksy - like David Villa or Zlatan Ibrahimovic to freshen things up in attack, Barça were going along the route of removing the effects of Messi-dependency by purchasing a footballer who was somewhat similar to the free-scoring forward.
The big concern for those of a fretting persuasion over the arrival of Neymar was that a footballer with a rather complicated ownership scheme and a billion noisy sponsors was going to be an expensive haircut that would just mess everything up at the Camp Nou.
There was a genuine fear that Messi and Neymar wouldn't even talk to each other, never mind be able to play together. After all, Barça's Argentinean totem has developed a bit of a reputation as a footballer that likes to have everything his own way, from choice of playing partners to the brand of soft drink he downs during team talks. Considering what Messi has delivered Barça in recent years, it is a justified prima-donna approach.
However, Neymar has managed his arrival and probationary period in the Catalan capital with aplomb. The Brazilian has toned down the extravagance in his personal appearance, been suitably grovelling to Messi - eye contact avoided at all times - and claimed that he has no issues whatsoever being on the bench or being tactically subservient to his illustrious colleague. It is fair to say that a certain Swedish striker had a very different attitude to playing for Barcelona.
This softly, softly low profile is starting to pay dividends for both the league leaders and Neymar, especially as Messi is now sidelined for another couple of weeks at least with a thigh injury. But rather than the former Santos man opting to take charge of the Barcelona attack with a helpless Messi watching from the stands, Neymar has continued to be impressively giving and unselfish, and taken on the role as the creative hub of the forward line rather than the glory-hunting finisher, not unlike Mesut Özil's job at Real Madrid before leaving in a huff to Arsenal.
Neymar has just scored two league goals, but rather than this being a point of criticism in the Catalan capital, the Brazilian's obvious selflessness has won admiration and praise. "He is a footballer can causes damage, is not at all egotistical, as freedom of movement and drops back to pick up the ball," wrote Josep Maria Casanovas in 'Sport', after a performance at the weekend where the footballer picked up two assists and a goal.
This attitude was clearly shown in Saturday's 4-1 win over Valladolid. Neymar probably could have picked up a hat-trick had the footballer being more goal-orientated - in a very literal sense - but the €57 million man was always looking for the killer pass to a teammate in a better position.
"It doesn't matter if he plays on the left, the right, or up front like Messi does," was the praise from Martino, "these kinds of footballers always do well." Barcelona are also benefiting from Alexis Sánchez rediscovering the kind of form that the footballer displayed at Udinese that tempted Barça to bring him over from Serie A. Once Messi returns from injury, the Catalan club's forward line will be well-stocked indeed with Cesc Fabregas and Pedro both starting the season strongly.
Neymar's introduction to Spanish football has followed a similar theme to Barcelona's start to the season - extremely effective without too much fuss or attention. The Brazilian's summer purchase from Santos is already looking as smart as Neymar's low key approach to adapting to live in La Liga.
Round 8 Results
Málaga 0-1 Osasuna
Villarreal 3-0 Granada
Levante 2-3 Real Madrid
Rayo Vallecano 1-0 Real Sociedad
Elche 2-1 Espanyol
Barcelona 4-1 Valladolid
Atlético 2-1 Celta Vigo
Getafe 3-1 Betis
Sevilla 2-1 Almería
Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Valencia
Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter