Patience in Europe and the return of Sergio Ramos?
Inside Spain is a weekly instalment brought to you by Football España, providing an insight into all of the major stories coming out of the rich and intense climes of La Liga and beyond.
For the second time in seven days, a Spanish giant is doing some soul-searching after they were exploited in Europe. As if being eliminated from the Champions League was not enough, Atletico Madrid will not even make the Europa League after they were beaten by Porto on Tuesday. It is the first time they have ever finished last in their group.
Antoine Griezmann called on his team to clench their arses afterwards, Diego Simeone said they deserved last place and the club finally started looking for a central defender. The only issue is Liverpool are also interested.
Barcelona did manage a 4-2 win over Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League but the fact it meant nothing was an indictment of its own. Star striker Robert Lewandowski told the press this was not a surprise and it was silly just to expect them to be an elite team, despite all their investment.
It has been a serious blow to their self-confidence and although the club are 100% behind manager Xavi Hernandez for now, perhaps it is no coincidence that their interest in Mikel Arteta emerged. In spite of their financial struggles, links to Bernardo Silva, and now Jorginho, just won’t go away.
Unai Emery seems intent on bringing some keepsakes from Spain with him to Aston Villa, as he eyes one of his former players and one of Real Madrid’s unwanted stars.
Carlo Ancelotti had lost his rag at the referee on Sunday after Real Madrid dropped points in 1-1 draw at home with Girona, meaning their La Liga lead was cut to just a point over Barcelona. He was much more sedate on Wednesday after they were awarded two penalties early on in a 5-1 win over Celtic. As the only Spanish side in the Champions League Round of 16, Real Madrid could face any of seven opponents, but Liverpool are the most likely.
Asked after the match, Ancelotti was assertive in his answer on Sergio Ramos’ World Cup chances, as was he. Before the European fixtures took over, the World Cup squad was the chief topic of conversation, with Ramos and Gerard Pique supposedly included in Luis Enrique’s 55-man squad.