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Monday May 8 2017
What we learned from La Liga Week 36

As the La Liga season nears its end, David Peters looks back on the main talking points of 36th round of action.

1. Atletico don’t look like coming back

With third place nearly secured, there wasn’t too much for Atletico Madrid to play for when they hosted Eibar on Saturday, other than building up momentum for their Champions League semi-final comeback attempt. When Barcelona managed to turn their tie around against PSG, they won 5-0 at home against Celta Vigo the weekend before to provide the home fans with plenty of optimism, but Los Rojiblancos were unable to do likewise. Eibar frustrated them and all that separated the teams was one good finish from Saul. Wednesday’s performance will have to be much better.

2. Morata should be starting ahead of Benzema

It may have been against Granada, but Alvaro Morata delivered once again last Saturday night, bagging his 19th and 20th goals of the season. That puts him even further ahead of Karim Benzema, who has scored just 17 times despite playing around 2,900 minutes compared to the Spaniard’s 1,800. While it’s true that the Frenchman offers more to Real Madrid than just goals, so too does Morata, whose tally of six assists is just two behind Benzema’s eight. It’s been asked all season, but Morata probably deserves his shot ahead of the current No.9.

3. When Sergi Roberto plays further forward, he excels

For most of the 2016-17 season, Sergi Roberto has been playing at right-back for Barcelona, covering for the out-of-form and then injured Aleix Vidal. That is not his natural position and he made his name in the youth teams in midfield, a fact which is often forgotten when he is criticised for his occasional defensive errors. Yet the 25-year-old is demonstrating that he can make a significant contribution to the team when he plays further forward, one again embarking on a dizzying lengthy run to assist Luis Suarez last Saturday as Barcelona beat Villarreal 4-1. He did likewise for the winning goal in El Clasico and could have an impact next season if allowed to play where he feels most comfortable.

4. Sporting won, but did not convince

For the first time in eight matches, Sporting Gijon won. However, they were very unconvincing against Las Palmas and that will not give their fans much optimism as they seek to pull off a great escape from the bottom three. The Canary Islanders have the worst away form in the country and haven’t won on the road since the opening round of the season, yet they played just as well as Sporting and were unfortunate to lose. Making this all the more impressive for Las Palmas and shameful for Sporting is that the away side didn’t have any of their three best attacking players available, with Marko Livaja, Jese and Kevin Prince-Boateng all suspended.

5. Alaves approach the cup final in good form

 

A 1-0 victory over Basque rivals Athletic Club extended Alaves’ unbeaten run to five matches, meaning they approach this month’s Copa del Rey final against Barcelona in good form and they are bound to give the Catalans a tough time when they meet in the capital. Furthermore, Alaves can rest players as they don’t have anything to play for between now and the end of the season, unlike Barcelona. They have already started to rest some of their starters in away matches and will surely do so on the season’s final day when they visit Leganes. The following week, they’ll be ready and rearing to go.

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