Monday January 23 2017
What we learned from La Liga Week 19

The first half of the LaLiga season is in the books and David Peters looks back on its closing weekend.

1. Valencia’s impressive hire was there all along

Valencia have gone through coach after coach over their disastrous past 18 months, but it seems they’ve finally made a successful appointment. For the rest of the season, Los Che have given the job to Voro - the former player who had previously taken charge of the team as a caretaker but always just acting as a placeholder for the next heralded arrival. In that role he has now racked up eight wins out of his 12 matches in charge, which makes him the statistically most successful Valencia coach in their LaLiga history. The latest win was an especially sweet one, as they got the better of their local rivals Villarreal 2-0, while taking another huge step towards safety.

2. Sergio Ramos will always steal the headlines

We should all know by now that whenever Sergio Ramos is on a football pitch, he is bound to do something eye-catching, sometimes good and sometimes bad. In the past year he has scored in a Champions League final and then missed a penalty in a crucial Euro 2016 match for his country. He has scored a Panenka to silence Sevilla fans and has then netted an own goal to send those same fans jumping for joy. Last week he was back in the headlines for allegedly spitting at Iago Aspas in a cup game, but then a few days later he returned to the scene of the alleged crime to lead Real Madrid past Malaga with a double. Will the 30-year-old defender be involved in the thick of the action for the Copa Del Rey return leg in Vigo this midweek? And new customers at 138 can enjoy a £25 free bet on a game of their choice - including Madrid's visit to Celta.

3. Danilo’s Real Madrid future is in jeopardy

Staying at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, there was another interesting development from Los Blancos’ clash with Malaga and it was not a pleasant one for Danilo. With starting right-back Dani Carvajal ruled out for the next month with injury, Danilo was the obvious option to replace the Spaniard and he duly did so in the cup loss to Celta Vigo, but a suspect performance in that match saw Zinedine Zidane bench him on Saturday to favour utility man Nacho Fernandez. Yet an injury to left-back Marcelo saw Nacho shift over to the left and it was expected that Danilo would finally retake his spot on the right of defence. Instead, Zidane shifted attacking player Lucas Vazquez into the role, a sign that his faith in Danilo has become shaken. The fans were similarly unhappy with the Brazilian, booing his name when it was read out before the match.

4. The MSN are all in good form

When you have three world-class forwards, at least one of them tends to be in form and that has generally been the case for Barcelona this season, with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez entering this past weekend with 27 and 18 goals respectively marked alongside their names. Yet Neymar’s performances had yet to hit the heights Barcelona fans had become used to. The Brazilian was still providing assists, but he was misfiring in front of goal. Until now. Two of them may have been from the penalty spot, but he has now scored in his past three matches in all competitions, including in the 4-0 win over Eibar on Sunday. Messi and Suarez also scored in that one, meaning that two of the four times the MSN have all scored in the same game this season have occurred this January.

5. Antoine Griezmann is also loving 2017

Another player in impressive form is Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann. He entered the new year without a La Liga goal since October, but the Frenchman has now netted five goals in the six matches he has played so far this calendar year, most recently earning his side a point in Bilbao with a superb late effort from outside the area. He also converted with an impressive and delicate chip from outside the box in that match, one which nestled in the bottom corner, but one which was also ruled out for a dubious offside. He has so far stepped up a level in 2017 and is one of the leading contenders to bag January’s Player of the Month prize. 

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