BARCELONA (Reuters) - Talking points from the weekend's action in La Liga.
SILVA ADDS MORE SWAGGER TO SOCIEDAD
David Silva showed he still has plenty to offer even as he approaches 35 years old with a superb display in Real Sociedad's 4-1 thrashing of visiting Huesca.
Spanish football fans have been deprived of Silva's best years as he left Valencia for Manchester City a decade ago but were treated to an exhibition of passing.
Silva ran the show for Sociedad, capping a dominant display by laying on the passes for Cristian Portu and Alexander Isak to clinch a stylish win with late goals.
Silva's start to life at Sociedad was delayed after he tested positive for COVID-19 but his classy display was worth waiting for and will give Imanol Alguacil's side further belief they can challenge for the top four or even more.
STREETWISE RAMOS PROVES THE DIFFERENCE
Real coach Zinedine Zidane was unable to explain how his side could beat Barca so comfortably after pitiful defeats by Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk but there was in fact a simple explanation: Sergio Ramos.
Madrid's captain got injured against Cadiz and was not risked against Shakhtar, meaning he was at his all-powerful, bloody-minded best for the game that mattered the most and once again the towering centre back proved the difference.
Ramos restored power and concentration to Madrid's defence but above all embodied the winning mentality that runs through the club -- underlined when he made the most of a tug by Clement Lenglet to win the second-half penalty from which he put Madrid back in front.
"The smartest kid in class, he brought home the bacon for Madrid by falling over and reacting far quicker than any other player would," said newspaper AS, adding that Ramos was 'Madrid's life insurance'.
CAN GRIEZMANN FIND A WAY BACK AFTER LATEST SNUB?
Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann began the biggest game of the season on the bench and was not called upon until there were nine minutes to go, a damning indictment of the fading status of a player who cost 120 million euros (108.98 million pounds).
The France striker has now been left out of the starting 11 in Barca's last three biggest matches, also being dropped in a title showdown against Atletico Madrid last season and the 8-2 Champions League quarter-final defeat by Bayern Munich.
Griezmann could at least argue that Barcelona have failed to win these matches without him, but it speaks volumes about his low status in the team that few people seemed to think he would have made any difference.
CAN ATLETICO GRIND THEIR WAY TO THE TITLE?
With Real and Barca looking far away from their peak powers, Diego Simeone's Atletico side are starting to look like a consistent, solid outfit after seeing off Real Betis 2-0.
Atleti are the only team still unbeaten in the league and have the best defence, conceding once in five matches and racking up four consecutive clean sheets.
With a proven goalscorer in Luis Suarez now ensuring they take full advantage of the few chances they create, Atletico have their best chance in recent memory of repeating their heroic title win of 2013/14.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; editing by Clare Fallon and Ken Ferris)