Matches of the Spanish Primera Division resumed once again with round 16 games after a week-long break during which Copa del Rey games were given precedence. Barcelona and Atletico Madrid were surely the big winners of the round as they took full advantage of Real Madrid’s loss of points.
As we always do here at La liga blog it’s time for us to reel out our best 11 performers of the weekend in our unique team of the week.
Granada shot-stopper Roberto Fernandez was key in his side’s 2-0 away victory at Vallecas against Rayo Vallecano. Roberto kept his side alive in the tie, giving them a fighting chance with numerous saves (8) as they held on to seal a late second goal.
Despite not doing the necessary to seal all three points against Osasuna at Pamplona, Real Madrid stalwart Pepe gets the nod to lead our three-man defence. The Portuguese scored The Whites’ all-important equaliser in what looked at some point a match they should lose. Pepe was also assured in defence, making key interceptions as Real Madrid poured men forward after the sending off of his partner in defence, Sergio Ramos.
Real Valladolid defender, Carlos Pena joins Pepe in defence after his fine showing for his side in their 3-0 thrashing of Celta Vigo. The 30 year-old was highly involved both offensively and defensively, making a total of 5 tackles-a joint game-high-as well as providing an assist for one of his sides’ goals.
Rounding up the defence is Villareal captain Mateo Musacchio who somehow ended up on the losing side despite his commendable performance. Musacchio was tough in defence, winning all his aerial duels as well as throwing in crucial tackles. He was also on hand to give his side a big boost with an equalising goal minutes into the second half in their 2-1 away loss to Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
Sevilla’s utility man, Alberto Moreno who got on the score sheet for his side after only 3 minutes leads our four-man midfield. The youngster shone all through the game, getting involved in all aspects, as he continues to show why he’s regarded as one of the most exciting talents in Spain.
From one promising youngster to two others, Real Sociedad’s promising midfield maestro Ruben Pardo and Real Madrid’s Isco join Moreno in midfield. Pardo showed exceptional class in his display versus struggling Real Betis. The 21 year-old was in charge in the middle of the park for La Real, and created 3 assists as the home side ran riot over Betis. Real Madrid’s Isco stepped-up his game when players like Ronaldo and Bale failed to, as 10-man Real Madrid clawed their way back to secure a point. Isco grabbed a neatly taken goal, and set up Pepe for the equaliser 11 minutes from time.
Granada’s Fran Rico completes the midfield after giving his side the lead from a free-kick situation, calming their nerves in what was meant to be a tough tie away at Rayo Vallecano.
Brazilian star Neymar continued to show he can be held responsible to lead Barcelona in the absence of Lionel Messi. The former Santos man showed calmness and oozed assurance as he gave the Blaugranas the lead from the penalty spot in the first half and was composed to tap-in the second from close range after Villareal had drawn level. Five goals in just two games (in all competitions), and it’s starting to look like Messi can take all the time he needs to fully recover.
Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa moved level with Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the Pichichi with two goals as The Mattress Makers destroyed Valencia 3-0 at the Vicente Calderon. The Brazil-born striker won two penalties and missed one of them, but was at his brilliant best for Diego Simeone’s side.
Finally, the man of the round clearly, Real Valladolid striker Javi Guerra continued to show why he’s arguably the most important man in Juan Ignacio Martinez’s team. Guerra was the only player to hit a hat trick in the round of games as he put 3 past Celta Vigo goalkeeper, Joel.
Javi Guerra has now accounted for 10 of Valladolid’s 19 goals this season, about 53% of the team’s goals, which is the best percentage by any player in the league. Crucial, really influential player