MADRID (Reuters) - Talking points from the weekend in Spanish soccer:
IT'S RAINING PENALTIES, BUT NOT EVERYONE CAN SCORE THEM
A whopping 12 penalties were awarded over the weekend, with Valencia's Carlos Soler managing to score three times from the spot in his side's 4-1 win over Real Madrid.
There were also three spot-kicks given in Real Sociedad's 2-0 win over Granada. Mikel Oyarzabal kept up his 100% record from the spot by scoring an 11th consecutive penalty and then generously handed his side's second spot-kick to strike partner Willian Jose, who saw his effort missed.
Granada's Darwin Machis also squandered a penalty in added time in the game, becoming the third player this weekend to fluff his lines from the spot.
A day earlier, Antoine Griezmann capped a horrendous first-half against Real Betis when his penalty was saved by former Barca keeper Claudio Bravo.
Bravo let out an expletive-ridden sigh when Betis conceded a second penalty in the second half, perhaps knowing Lionel Messi was going to take it. The Argentine duly nailed the ball into the top corner.
WILL ZIDANE EVER TRUST MARCELO AGAIN?
Marcelo was usurped by Ferland Mendy as Real Madrid's first choice leftback last year but still gets plenty of opportunities as coach Zinedine Zidane favours rotating his squad to prevent burn out.
Yet the Frenchman's loyalty to the second longest serving player in the squad was tested yet again in the defeat to Valencia, as the Brazilian was woefully off the pace throughout the defeat to Valencia and also conceded a penalty.
The numbers also make for grim reading: Marcelo has played in all nine of Real's La Liga defeats since Zidane returned as coach in March 2019, while they have not lost a single game when he has been left out.
HOW WILL BARCA COPE WITHOUT ANSU FATI?
Barca snapped a four-game winless streak with a 5-2 win over Real Betis but their relief was soon replaced by terrible news concerning teenage sensation Ansu Fati, who faces surgery after rupturing the meniscus ligament in his knee.
Fati, who honed his skills in Barca's academy and has already broken four goalscoring records in less than two seasons, has been one of few bright spots in a chaotic season for Barca but is set to be out for up to four months.
The Catalans do have a wealth of options to fill in while he recovers, such as Ousmane Dembele, who scored a superb goal against Betis, plus 17-year-old Pedri and Francisco Trincao.
But Griezmann could benefit the most from the absence of the youngster. Fati upstaged Griezmann's arrival last year with a sensational rise from the under-19 side to the first team and the French forward never really recovered.
The 120-million-euro man may have been profligate against Betis, but Fati's prolonged absence gives him yet another chance to prove he can make it at Barca.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Michael Perry)