The international break is finally over -at least for the next 5 months-and the return of La liga feels like early Christmas. As has become the tradition right here on La Liga blog, we recognise and salute the outstanding performers after every match week in our unique Team of the Week feature. Unsurprisingly, the team is dominated by players from Atletico Madrid (the round’s biggest winners).
In goal, Elche goalkeeper Manu Herrera wins our hearts after delivering a huge performance in the derby between Elche and Valencia as the less fancied home side held on for all three points dropping their neighbours into the bottom half of the table. Herrera had a total 6 saves, and won all the aerial balls he contested in what was a near perfect showing.
Our four-man defence has a great Atletico Madrid feel to it as the Madrid side contribute both full backs. At right-back, experienced Spanish International Juanfran makes the cut after his steady show in his side’s routing of Getafe in the Madrid derby. The former Real Madrid player continued to prove why he’s arguably the best right-back in Spain, capping his commendable performance with an assist. Juanfran is joined by teammate Felipe Luis, who occupies the left-back position. The Brazilian defender was in a class of his own as he marauded the left flank and won battle after battle showing class and style.
Luis once again exhibited his importance to the Atletico side. At the heart of defence, Athletic Bilbao defender Mikel San Jose continues to show he can lay claim to being one of the best scoring defenders in the league as he came up with a crucial equaliser for Bilbao in their away fixture to Malaga at the La Rosaleda.
The 24 year-old wasn’t found wanting defensively too, as he managed a total 5 tackles, as much as any other player on both sides. Rounding-up the defence is Barcelona’s Marc Bartra, who showed he could be a worthy deputy to the likes of Mascherano and Puyol as he oozed calmness and quality at the back for the Catalan giants versus an absolutely determined Granada side. His total of 7 tackles was at least 3 more than any other player on the night, and 5 more than defensive partner, Gerard Pique.
In the midfield, rejuvenated Atletico Madrid man Raul Garcia is recognized and wins a slot by virtue of his 2 goals and offensive show against Getafe. Garcia was always a goal threat whenever he went forward and was never shy of testing Miguel Moya in the Getafe goal. Ivan Rakitic was in a class of his own as he led Sevilla’s onslaught of neighbours Real Betis in the big derby on Sunday. The Croatian grabbed 2 assists and his all-round display made it almost impossible for the Real Betis side to get a hold of the game as they ultimately lost by 4 goals.
The midfield is completed by Real Madrid’s attacking midfielder Isco. The little man had what was easily his best game in a Real Madrid shirt since September as he ran rings round the Almeria defence creating chances as well as grabbing a goal of his own.
Real Sociedad’s Mexican forward Carlos Vela became the first Mexican to score 4 goals in a La Liga match, a feat even the great Hugo Sanchez did not achieve. The former Arsenal man almost single-handedly crushed Celta Vigo in what was the joint highest scoring fixture of the round. Joining Vela in attack is the fourth Atletico Madrid player in the team, David Villa.
Things have finally turned around for the former Barca man and he looks as sharp as he was a few years ago when he was regarded as one of the deadliest strikers in the world. Villa was in imperious form, and was only denied a hat trick by the woodwork as he got two out of Atleti’s seven on the night. Nigerian striker Ikechukwu Uche completes the line-up in our Team of the round after his impressive show for the Yellow Submarines in their 3-0 away win over 10-man Levante. The former Real Zaragoza man was clinical and had two well taken goals, including a sumptuous over-head kick.
That’s the roll-call for Match Week 14. Do you disagree with our picks? Who would you rather have in….or out of the team? Drop your comments in the usual place below.