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Monday April 24 2017
What we learned from La Liga Week 33

Barcelona’s last gasp 3-2 win away at Real Madrid has blown the title race wide open, but that wasn’t the only talking point from the La Liga weekend, as David Peters explains.

1. Home advantage means nothing in the Clasico

Over two years have now passed since the home team last won a Clasico, with Barcelona proving this weekend that home advantage counts for nothing when the ball gets rolling in football’s biggest rivalry. These two teams have played each other so many times over the years that the hostility from the opposite team’s support does little to intimidate players and may even spurn them on, as evidenced by the fact that two of Barcelona’s best players in Sunday evening’s 3-2 win were Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi, two of the ones jeered the most by the locals. Both of last season’s Clasicos were also won by the visiting team, suggesting the pressure may have a greater impact on the home team’s players.

2. Even if we don’t hear about it, small teams are hurt by refereeing errors too

When there is a refereeing controversy involving Barcelona or Real Madrid, we hear all about it for days. Yet it is worth remembering that small teams are affected by refereeing mishaps too, even if we don’t hear about it as much. Leganes were the victim of a horrendous mistake on Saturday when they were denied a potentially vital point as Cedric Bakambu punched the ball into the back of the net for a last minute Villarreal winner. The goal was allowed to stand and Leganes travelled home feeling very hard done by, but few fans will ever know about the incident given that it didn’t involve Gerard Pique or Sergio Ramos.

3. Griezmann just needs one shot

It was always going to be tricky when Atletico Madrid visited in-form Espanyol on Saturday evening and so it proved. The Catalan side generally kept the visitors under control and Antoine Griezmann had a particularly quiet game. In the second half, with Fernando Torres having been sacrificed to add an extra midfielder, he was even more isolated at the tip of attack, but he proved he just needs one sight of goal to make a difference. A Saul Niguez shot deflected into his path and one accurate volley later the deadlock had been broken. Give Griezmann one good chance in a match and he’ll usually deliver.

4. Celta Vigo have given up on La Liga

If there was any doubt left as to whether or not Celta Vigo were still going to have a go at claiming the final European place in La Liga, then their squad selection for this weekend’s match against Real Betis dispelled them. Having booked a spot in the semi-finals of this season’s Europa League last Thursday, Eduardo Berizzo rested several starters for their home league match against Real Betis, even though they don’t play the first leg of their semi-final against Manchester United for another week and a half. They duly lost to Real Betis 1-0, but nobody seemed all that upset about it.

5. Osasuna have the worst luck with injuries

While Osasuna might still have struggled this season, it should be remembered that one reason they sit so far adrift at the bottom of the La Liga table is the fact that their squad has suffered so much from injury this season. As they went into their do-or-die clash with Sporting Gijon last weekend, there were already 11 names on their medical report and it took just nine minutes for Nikola Vujadinovic to hobble off to make it 12. They’ll surely go into the history books as one of the worst top tier sides ever, but they have been dealt an awful hand by the injury gods. 

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