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Five things learned in La Liga

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Barcelona dropped their first La Liga points of the season as they came from behind to salvage a point at Atletico Madrid.

The Catalans' lead at the top of the table was cut to four points by Valencia, whose rise continued with a thrilling 6-3 win at Real Betis.

And Real Madrid took advantage of their title rivals facing off by squeezing past Getafe to move up to third.

Here, AFP Sport looks at five things we learned from the La Liga weekend:

POLITICS BRIEFLY FORGOTTEN

Barca's first trip to the capital since a violence-marred Catalan referendum threatened to be overshadowed by the political tension sweeping Spain.

Yet, despite a greater presence of Spanish flags than normal, both managers hailed the atmosphere as a “great night of football” as many of the political overtones were forgotten as two of Europe's top sides served up a spectacle on the field.

INDISPENSABLE ISCO 

Zinedine Zidane had left two of his more creative forces on the bench in Luka Modric and Isco at Getafe and it showed as the European champions laboured to a 2-1 victory thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's winner five minutes from time at Getafe.

Isco rode to the rescue as he created the winner, continuing his remarkable rise in 2017.

Not a starter for either Real or Spain a year ago, he is now a key figure for both club and country, making it increasingly difficult for Gareth Bale to get back in the Madrid side once he returns from injury.

 

BARCA ONE PIECE SHORT

In five games since losing club record signing Ousmane Dembele for four months to a hamstring injury, Barca boss Ernesto Valverde has tried four different replacements without success.

Andre Gomes was the surprise choice for Barca's biggest game of the season so far at Atletico, but like Gerard Deulofeu, Aleix Vidal and Sergi Roberto before him, failed to take his chance alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez up front.

Suarez netted nine minutes from time to maintain Barca's unbeaten start to the season, but there is still plenty of margin for improvement once Dembele returns, as despite their impressive start to the season, Neymar's absence is being felt.

VALENCIA FOR REAL 

Valencia stormed past Real Madrid, Atletico, and Sevilla up to second with a hugely impressive 6-3 rout at previously high-flying Real Betis.

Marcelino Garcia Toral has transformed Los Che's fortunes in just two months after two years in the doldrums.

A title challenge is almost certainly beyond Valencia's realistic ambitions, but with Atletico and Sevilla stumbling, they could be back in the Champions League this time next year.

COSTA CAN'T COME QUICK ENOUGH 

Atletico coach Diego Simeone lamented his side's inability to strike on the counter-attack with Barca chasing the game for an hour at the Wanda Metropolitano.

The man Atletico needed was in the stands with Diego Costa unable to play until January.

Los Rojiblancos have lacked a world-class partner for Antoine Griezmann for at least two years, and with four draws from their opening eight games, Costa may come too late to salvage Atletico's title challenge.