Monday December 12 2016
What we learned from La Liga Week 15

After a weekend in which Real Madrid did it again, David Peters discusses the main storylines from Spanish football’s top flight.

1. Never rule Madrid out

Once again the hero for Real Madrid was Sergio Ramos, with the centre-back heading home the winner against Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday night to spare Los Blancos’ blushes. A heavily-rotated team trailed their visitors from Galicia 2-1 in the second half but were able to mount a late comeback. First, substitute Mariano Diaz scored in the 84th minute, before a stoppage-time header from Ramos sealed the three points and sent the home fans, who had been singing about the potential of a late Ramos goal, into raptures. Since equalising in the 2014 Champions League final, the defender has netted three more decisive last-minute goals. He, and his team, can never be ruled out.

2. Returning midfielders prove their worth

Barcelona, Real Sociedad and Sevilla were all far stronger this weekend with their key midfielders Andres Iniesta, David Zurutuza and Samir Nasri back in the starting line-ups. None of those three teams won last weekend, with Barca drawing 1-1 and only looking coherent when Iniesta was substituted on, Real Sociedad being humbled 5-1 by Depor and Sevilla suffering a shock 2-1 loss to Granada. This weekend, however, all three of those sides won, with their returning midfielders playing well. They say you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone. You really realise what you’ve got when it comes back.

3. The Betis revival continues

Victor Sanchez is not only improving Real Betis’ results, but he’s also slowly improving their performances. Before this La Liga weekend, the Andalusian side had won once, drawn once and lost once under the new Coach, so the visit of Athletic Bilbao was always going to be an interesting litmus test. They managed to edge the game with a 1-0 win and even managed to entertain the Benito Villamarin crowd in the process. Their intense pressing game is working for them, and week by week they’ve been able to play slightly further forward. Los Verdiblancos are certainly evolving and the fans are excited.

4. Leganes have no shortage of character

With Las Palmas unbeaten at home since March, no team enjoys a visit to Gran Canaria, but with Leganes making the 3,500km round trip missing eight players through injury, it was especially daunting for the newly-promoted side. Yet they managed to escape with a 1-1 draw. They made up for their absences through hard work and the group of players kept working until the very end, even though many of them seemed exhausted in the final minutes. It was an inspiring performances and one which demonstrated the team’s character. Lega may still be sucked into a relegation battle, but they won’t be going down without a fight.

5. Alaves continue to impress away from home

Playing in front of your home fans is supposed to be an advantage, but it seems that Alaves prefer to go on the road. They have won just seven points at home so far this season, while claiming 11 away from Mendizorrotza, the most of recent of which was their 0-0 draw against Eibar. That was especially impressive, given that their Basque neighbours came into that game with five wins from their seven home matches and Alaves can now add that to their list of excellent away performances, having also earned a point away at Atletico Madrid, while they defeated at Camp Nou. Unfortunate for Alaves, however, is that they now don’t have another away game until next year.

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