What we learned from La Liga Week 23

1. Real Madrid keep marching on

The La Liga leaders dominated from start to finish on Saturday afternoon against Espanyol, yet it took quite some time for them to seal the three points, even requiring Gareth Bale to come off the bench and add the decisive second goal upon his return from injury.  That steered them towards a 2-0 win, a scoreline which neither excited nor disappointed and which keeps Real Madrid’s title charge on track. They now face a tough week, with an away trip to Valencia followed by a visit to Villarreal, but they swatted off Espanyol for the best possible start.

2. Sevilla keep marching on too

In similar fashion, Sevilla were also able to grind out a 2-0 win on Saturday. They were hosting in-form Eibar and, despite Sevilla’s impressive home record, this was always going to be a tough one. So it proved. Pablo Sarabia may have put the Andalusian side ahead after just half an hour, but their guests kept the pressure on and the three points weren’t secured until Stevan Jovetic slid the ball through for Vitolo to add a late second. That keeps Sevilla in third place and three points ahead of Atletico Madrid in the race for third.  

3. Barcelona stumble on

Contrastingly, Barcelona had what should have been – on paper at least – a simple fixture. They had been humbled 4-0 against PSG in midweek, so a match at home against winless-in-ten Leganes seemed like the perfect bounce-back game, but it very nearly capped off a disastrous week. An early Lionel Messi goal put the Blaugrana one up on the scoreboard, yet Unai Lopez was able to level with 20 minutes to go. That kick-started a sudden race for Barcelona’s winner and their blushes were only spared when they were awarded a last minute penalty. Messi duly stepped up and converted, but this was not the convincing showing that many at the Camp Nou had been expecting.

4. Granada now look the most likely to escape the drop zone

Down at the bottom, Granada conjured up one of the shock results of the LaLiga weekend as they defeated Real Betis 4-1, a result which moves them level with Sporting Gijon and just two points away from Leganes. After their 4-0 drubbing away at Eibar last time out, Granada had seemed destined for the drop, buy they were able to secure what was a second win in two home games to give their fans a lift and to foster further support. With Osasuna, Sporting Gijon and Leganes all suffering defeat over the course of this past weekend, all of a sudden Granada are in the ascendency.

5. Kevin Gameiro may have scored three, but is still uncertain to start

It was one of the quickest hat-tricks in La Liga history as Kevin Gameiro came off the bench to score 80th, 81st and 85th minute goals for Atletico Madrid. So, many were asking, why didn’t he start the match? Well, Fernando Torres had been the striker in better form and the Spaniard started ahead of last summer’s big signing for the fourth consecutive match. As such, this was the 13th match out of the 13 Los Rojiblancos have played so far this year in which Gameiro did not play all 90 minutes and he is still not likely to complete a full match any time soon. He may have netted three times in this one, but his form is too inconsistent and at other times he can be as wasteful as he was efficient on Saturday. 

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