Ousmane Dembele, Gareth Bale and more: Guillem Balague's La Liga talking points

Ousmane Dembele

Guillem Balague takes a look at five talking points in La Liga, including Ousmane Dembele's injury and Gareth Bale's return to form....

1 - Atletico's new home

Let's start with Atletico's new stadium, the Wanda Metropolitano. It's a mixture of old and new - Metropolitano is the name of the old stadium and Wanda is the new sponsor.

It was an interesting game against Malaga because we saw the Atleti of old, a team that worked hard to grind out a 1-0 win. Diego Simeone gave their opponents plenty of respect and understood the significance of the evening.

Atletico played their typical style with four central midfielders but looked much better when Yannick Carrasco came on for Thomas Partey in the second half and Saul Niguez played down the centre.

Saul is absolutely ready to play through the middle now, he's becoming one of the best midfielders in Spain. Will Simeone be brave enough to play him there? Will he think that in a new stadium fans might demand better football, not just results?

In terms of the stadium, it is magnificent and modern. It is outside Madrid, which creates a little dilemma for Atletico supporters. Like Espanyol, who consider themselves a Barcelona club despite playing outside the city, Atleti are very much a Madrid club but they have been forced by circumstances and finance to leave the city.

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The pitch is the same size as the Vicente Calderon, which is important when you consider what's happened to Tottenham at Wembley.

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The surface at Wembley is bigger than White Hart Lane and that requires a big adjustment, as Spurs have found. It forces everybody to run faster and further, to be stronger physically and to recalculate mentally. It makes a difference.

There were 68,000 at the Wanda on Saturday and it sounded very intimidating. Atletico president Enrique Cerezo went to the stadium by underground as a symbolic gesture - while several roads to the stadium remain under construction it is the best way to travel.

King Felipe VI was also at the stadium - as an Atletico fan he was never going to miss it - but their biggest shareholder Wang Jianlin could not make it. His passport was confiscated by the police due to financial irregularities. That's modern football for you.

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From Real Sociedad to Valencia, Guillem Balague takes a look at four teams who could spring a few surprises in La Liga this season.

2 - Can Barca cope without Dembele?

Dembele had only played 122 minutes for Barcelona before his injury at the weekend during the 2-1 win over Getafe.

Interestingly, there were some pictures from a training session 10 days ago that seemed to show him complaining about that part of his leg. But nobody knows exactly how it happened - Barcelona blame the pitch, the player might not have prepared properly, the pre-season was strange for him, he was playing his third consecutive game from the start...

It is the first muscle injury of his career and comes after his disrupted pre-season. He didn't train for two weeks, then had a mini pre-season when he arrived at Barca. The idea was to bring him into the equation little by little but he started games early and his body seems to have reacted negatively.

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Highlights of Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Getafe in La Liga.

He will undergo an operation by the same doctor who treated Pep Guardiola and saved his career, and Dembele will be out for between three and four months.

Gerard Deulofeu is the favourite to replace him but Denis Suarez, Paco Alcacer and Arda Turan can also play in that position.

I have previously complained about a lack of impact from Barcelona's bench. Their XI is very good but unless their bench adds something it will be another very long season for the club.

Against Getafe, Suarez and Paulinho scored the goals, with Sergi Roberto involved in one of the two actions. That's positive for their Plan B.

Gefate deserved at least a draw but that's five wins in a row now for Barcelona in all competitions with just one goal conceded.

A very good start but a word of caution. It was another largely unchanged line-up for the third straight game and some of the players seemed tired. There will be rotation for the upcoming midweek games and that's why the bench is absolutely essential.

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Paulinho's first goal for Barcelona gave them a vital 2-1 win over Getafe.

3 - Zidane's trust rewarded

Zinedine Zidane said he trusted Borja Mayoral in the build-up to the game at Real Sociedad and he put him in the line-up as another show of faith. This is a player that had not started a match for Real before his star show in the 3-1 win on Sunday.

On a day without Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Marcelo it was good to see two things. One, Mayoral can be counted upon as he provided a goal and an assist.

And two, Luka Modric, Isco and Marco Asensio can dominate games from midfield, doing so against a Real Sociedad team that was on fire.

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Highlights of Real Madrid's 3-1 win over Real Sociedad in La Liga.

4 - Bale back among the goals

On Gareth Bale, he worked hard to negate the hosts' attacking threat down the flanks and then popped up with a goal, running 70m to make up the ground. It was a lovely lobbed finish and signals the return of Bale, at least in terms of goalscoring.

He has to do more, of course, but there has been a change of style since he was first injured and that requires adjustment. Isco is now the prominent force and it's more about passing, which kills the space that Bale thrives on. He'll need more time after a four-month absence.

So it was big test passed for Real and now they have Cristiano and Marcelo back for the match against Real Betis in midweek. Things are looking up.

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Gareth Bale silenced his critics as he scored a vital third goal for Real Madrid in their match against Real Sociedad.

5 - Zubeldia leaves Alaves

We had our first managerial casualty at the weekend, Luis Zubeldia, formerly of Alaves. Four defeats, seven goals conceded and none scored tells its own story.

Every league game Alaves played they fielded a different line-up - 19 players used in total - and this 36-year-old Argentinian has paid the price.

It's a difficult situation at the club because they lost a lot of first-team players over the summer - including Kiko Femenia to Watford and Theo Hernandez to Real Madrid.

Javier Cabello will take charge for now, while former Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka has already turned down the job on a permanent basis. His father recently passed away and he's not in the frame of mind to return to football yet. Javi Gracia, the former Malaga coach, is another contender.

And Guillem also answered a number of your questions on Twitter - use #AskGuillem to get involved...

@ConnorParnell23 Is Jose Gaya one of the most under-rated full backs in the world?

If you watched him last season you would say absolutely not but if you have seen him this campaign, you could make a case. Not for the moment, though. He needs to be more consistent.

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@TechAdict Will Barca suffer without Dembele?

Let's see what Denis Suarez, Alcacer and Turan can add first. If they can make an impact like the substitutes did against Getafe then Barca could be OK. The only thing is they can't replace Dembele in terms of style, not just as a goalscorer but as a pacey option up front too. In the big games, he will definitely missed.

@IrishMadridismo The rumours of Robert Lewandowski are back again, is there a possibility he could join in the summer or do Madrid prefer Timo Werner?

He will try everything he can to make the move to Real Madrid next summer. It doesn't mean he will move but he has told his agent that's where he wants to go next.

He knows at his age (29) it will be difficult but Ruud van Nistelrooy was a similar age when he arrived at Real and he made a big impact. The only thing is Lewandowski will cost around €80m (£70m) and that makes it difficult at the moment.

@LiamSmithYNWA Will Barcelona consider returning for Philippe Coutinho as the January market is difficult?

They are not going to go for Coutinho in January and it's far too early to say what might happen next summer.

@SuperLemina882 Any update on Diego Costa - I see reports in Spain that Atleti have made a final offer of €55m

Atleti have made one last offer. It's €55m (£48m) plus €10m (£8.8m) in bonuses. They say it's a final offer but that doesn't mean much at all. If Chelsea reject it they will have to find another €10m (£8.8m), which is about the difference in valuation between Chelsea and Atleti at the moment.

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