The 2014/2015 season finally hit the halfway mark, with Real Madrid getting the unofficial title of winter champions after they completed a hard-fought but comprehensive win away at Getafe. There were also wins for title contenders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, while European football hopefuls Valencia, Sevilla and Villareal enjoyed a great weekend too.
No surprises that this round’s best XI is largely influenced by players from these clubs.
Elche goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton is one of only two players playing for clubs outside the top 6, but he makes the team nonetheless after he ensured Los Franjiverdes secured all three points at home against Levante in an eventful relegation dogfight. Tyton saved Ruben Garcia’s penalty 18 minutes from time as Elche held on desperately for a 1-0 win.
In defence, Altetico Madrid’s stalwart Diego Godin was influential as always as the champions beat Granada 2-0 at the Vicente Calderon. The Uruguayan was assured in defence, time and again stepping up to thwart Granada’s attacking forays, but he was even more key when he won Atleti the penalty through which they scored they scored their first of two goals.
Villareal man Victor Ruiz joins Godin in defence after marshalling the Yellow Submarines rearguard in a 2-0 victory at the Madrigal. The 26-year-old, on loan from Valencia claimed an assist with a well lofted pass over the top for Villareal’s first goal.
Experienced defender Fernando Navarro is the final man in a three-man defence after he put in a great show at left-back for Sevilla in their well contested 2-0 win against Malaga.
In midfield, Denis Cheryshev makes yet another appearance. The Russian winger scored a wonder-goal to open scoring for the Yellow Submarines in a 2-0 win against Athletic Bilbao. Cheryshev proved a constant threat to the Basque side, time and again attempting to increase his goalscoring haul in the game. Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic enjoyed arguably his best game in a Blaugrana shirt at the Riazor when Deportivo fell by 4-0 to Barcelona. The Croatian barely put a foot wrong, and pulled the strings masterfully. He also claimed to good assists, both for hattrick hero Lionel Messi.
Valencia squeezed past Almeria with the odd goal in a five-goal thriller courtesy a late Alvaro Negredo goal; however they owe much thanks to talismanic midfielder and captain Dani Parejo who pulled the strings in the middle and got a goal as well for good measure. Finally in midfield is Real Madrid man James Rodriguez. The Colombian attacking-midfielder was part of a Real Madrid second half revival, and he handed the Los Blancos two of their three goals with well measured assists. He had more touches of the ball than any other player in the game and was arguably the best man on the pitch.
It was business as usual for Cristiano Ronaldo when Real Madrid visited the Coliseum. The Portugese forward notched a brace, including the strike which unlocked Getafe’s stubborn backline.
Tommer Hemmed is the only man to finish on the losing side in this round’s best XI. The 27-year-old Israeli did all he could to deny Valencia all three points at the Mestalla, scoring to equalising goals. He also hit the woodwork in what was a near flawless show. Unlucky to end up on the losing team.
Finally is Lionel Messi. The Ballon d’or runner up had a 10/10 game for Barcelona in their 4-0 win away against Deportivo La Coruna. The Argentine striker scored a hattrick, drawing level with Telmo Zarra and Alfredo Di Stefano on 22 career hattricks. What else can be said about the little magician?