LaLiga

Talking points from the weekend's LaLiga action: Madrid, Setién, Simeone...

Real Madrid’s strength in depth, and a tricky start for Barca’s Quique Setien. Plus are we reaching the end of the Diego Simeone era at Atletico?

Talking points from the weekend's LaLiga action: Madrid, Setién, Simeone...

Real Madrid’s strength in depth, and a tricky start for Barca’s Quique Setien. Plus are we reaching the end of the Diego Simeone era at Atletico? Here are the weekend’s talking points from La Liga:

Real Madrid squad depth the difference as Setien’s teething problems continue at Barca

Nervy, narrow wins in Quique Setien's first two games in charge, against Granada and Ibiza, left the Camp Nou faithful underwhelmed. And they were left seething on Saturday as they were outplayed by an injury-depleted Valencia side who won 2-0.

Barca looked devoid of ideas other than passing the ball to Lionel Messi - a problem that cannot be said of their great rivals Real Madrid, who are finding ways to win games from unlikely sources.

Following defensive midfielder Casemiro’s double to get them over the line against Sevilla last week, this time it was the turn of backup defender Nacho to become the hero as he expertly steered in a Toni Kroos cross to lift Real on to 46 points, three ahead of Barca after 21 games.

Valencia CF v FC Barcelona - La LigaVALENCIA, SPAIN - JANUARY 25: Quique Setien, Manager of Barcelona looks on prior to the La Liga match between Valencia CF and FC Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on January 25, 2020 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

Diego Simeone: the end?

Few can argue against Diego Simeone’s place in Atletico Madrid's history, having led the side to an improbable La Liga crown in 2014, as well as two Champions League finals since taking over in 2011.

However it is looking as if time may nearly be up for the Argentinian in the Spanish capital. The side appear to have forgotten how to score goals and another meek display at home against second-bottom Leganes means Atleti have now drawn nine of their 21 La Liga matches this season, slipping out of the top four behind Sevilla and Getafe.

With Real and Barça in periods of transition, Atleti were expected to launch another title tilt this campaign, but they look far away from Spain’s "big two". With the in-form Valencia and Real Sociedad breathing down their necks, there is a real chance they could miss out on European football altogether next term.

Manager Diego Pablo Simeone of Atletico de Madrid reacts during the Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid

The strangest end to a game you will ever see?

While Leganes’s trip to Atletico was not a classic, fans were treated to a bizarre final five minutes as away keeper Ivan Cuellar was shown a second yellow card of the afternoon – both for timewasting.

Cuellar, who had infuriated the Metropolitano all match with his leisurely approach to goal kicks, appeared to throw the ball back at the ball boy after the youngster had tried to hurriedly get the ball back into play with 90 minutes on the clock.

Soccer: La Liga - At Madrid v CD LeganesIvan Cuellar of Leganes, during the Spanish League, La Liga, football match played between Atletico de Madrid and CD Leganes at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on January 26, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. 26/01/2020 ONLY FOR USE IN SPAIN

The ball boy then gave him the ball back, prompting Cuellar to square up to him before dramatically collapsing after being nudged. Far from eliciting sympathy from referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, Cuellar was given his marching orders.

Having made all three substitutions, defender Jonathan Silva had to put on the keeper’s gloves for the remainder of injury time, but not before Cuellar had caused more trouble by refusing to leave the pitch.

The keeper almost sparked a 22-man brawl as he picked fights with the Atleti players while slowly trudging towards the sideline, dramatically hitting the deck on more than one occasion as he did so.