February 10, 2020 / 11:45 AM / 15 days ago

Talking points from the weekend in La Liga

BARCELONA (Reuters) - The following are three talking points from the La Liga weekend:

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Osasuna v Real Madrid - El Sadar Stadium, Pamplona, Spain - February 9, 2020 Real Madrid players celebrate after teammate Lucas Vazquez scores their third goal REUTERS/Vincent West

HOME SWEET HOME

Espanyol have been wretched at home this season but finally gave supporters something to celebrate with a 1-0 win over Real Mallorca on Sunday.

Four draws and seven defeats in La Liga at the RCDE Stadium have been the main factor in their disappointing campaign, with the club bottom for eight weeks running.

However, the signing of Raul de Tomas from Benfica, along with new coach Abelardo, has helped revive the side.

The striker scored his fourth goal in four games, pulling them level on 18 points with their opponents and Leganes.

Fans turned out in droves, with 32,084 their second biggest attendance of the season. “I would have paid to play at Cornella with this atmosphere,” said Abelardo.

“The fans were ten out of ten, they scored part of the goal. This victory is important, we have lifted a stone off of ourselves.”

THE BATTLE OF THE BENITO VILLARMARIN

Barcelona beat Real Betis 3-2 in Quique Setien's return to face his former side, but this match was more a wild thrill ride full of controversial incidents than closure for the coach.

Barcelona had four players booked, including Clement Lenglet conceding a penalty for handball, with the French defender later sent off in the second half.

Real Betis, who also had four players booked, finished the game with 10 men too, as Nabil Fekir was issued a yellow card for a foul and then another seconds later for dissent.

Barcelona’s Sergi Roberto could have been dismissed too, hacking down Carles Alena while already on a yellow card.

Lionel Messi was denied a penalty at the other end when he was clearly tugged back in the area, with the officials looking to have lost control of the clash.

GROWN-UP ISCO

Real Madrid’s Spanish playmaker Isco has long been cherished by the club’s fans for his wonderful skills, but coaches at the club haven’t held him in such high regard.

Isco can sometimes be viewed as a luxury pick, someone who will sprinkle magic dust on the game but won’t be helpful in a battle against determined opponents.

Earlier this season he seemed poised to leave the club but has played his way into Zinedine Zidane’s plans, with strong performances for the benefit of the team, rather than himself.

Isco scored as league leaders Real Madrid won 4-1 at Osasuna and it was the cherry on the cake of his excellent all-round performance.

“He was much more solid than usual and understood what his team needed in every moment,” noted Marca.

Reporting by Rik Sharma; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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