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LaLiga 2018/19 Matchweek 14: Team of the Week

FC Barcelona vs. Villarreal CF - La Liga
FC Barcelona vs. Villarreal CF - La Liga

The latest round of fixtures for LaLiga saw several key results at both ends of the table, for those fighting for a title and for those battling against potential relegation. As has been the case multiple times already, we also have a new team in first place following the weekend’s matches.

Action began on Friday evening in Madrid, as Rayo Vallecano hosted Eibar. Coming off their resounding win over Real Madrid in the previous week, many were expecting Eibar to take maximum points. Instead, a resilient Rayo side saw out an important 1-0 triumph.

Celta Vigo started Saturday’s games off with a comfortable 2-0 home win against Huesca. Leganés and manager Mauricio Pellegrino were able to finally capture three points away from home, producing a marvellous 4-2 victory at Real Valladolid to move further away from the drop zone.

Getafe dominated Espanyol in a 3-0 win. The result is the Catalan club’s third consecutive loss. Real Madrid returned to winning ways to finish the day’s matches, securing a 2-0 victory versus Valencia at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Sunday’s early kick-off saw Real Betis earn three points against Real Sociedad, with Junior Firpo’s first-half strike being the difference in a 1-0 result. Girona and Atlético Madrid played to a 1-1 draw.

Barcelona regained their place at LaLiga’s summit after a 2-0 win against Villarreal at the Camp Nou. Alavés and Sevilla shared the points in the day’s last fixture, finishing 1-1. Barcelona are now one point ahead of Sevilla in first place. Athletic Club's disappointments continued on Monday evening, falling 3-0 at Levante.

The Copa del Rey returns this week, with the Round of 32’s second legs resuming on Tuesday.

We highlight LaLiga’s top players during Matchweek 14:

Goalkeeper

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois
Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois

GK - Thibaut Courtois - Real Madrid CF

It was a summer full of drama for Thibaut Courtois, as he helped to engineer a move away from Chelsea to Real Madrid. The saga made him a bit of a villain and may have created difficulty adjusting to his new team quickly. However, recent performances like Saturday against Valencia show a talented player becoming quite content in his new setting.

Courtois recorded two saves on the night and communicated effectively with his back-line. It was the Belgian shot-stopper’s fourth clean sheet of the 2018-19 league campaign.

Defenders

Barcelona centre-back Gerard Piqué
Barcelona centre-back Gerard Piqué

RB - Hugo Mallo - Celta Vigo

Miguel Cardoso finally got his first win as Celta Vigo manager on Saturday, and Hugo Mallo was a key contributor at right-back.

Celta’s captain provided an assist on the team’s first goal, and helped to clear out dangerous opportunities for Huesca throughout the match.

CB - Gerard Piqué - FC Barcelona

Barcelona are back to the top of LaLiga’s table after their win on Sunday, with Gerard Piqué influencing the result against Villarreal at both ends of the pitch.

The 31-year-old defender opened the scoring in the first half, was accurate with his passing (98 percent) throughout the encounter and recorded three tackles.

CB - Dimitrios Siovas - CD Leganés

Leganés continue their quest to remain in the top flight, and Saturday’s win at Real Valladolid was an impressive showing. Their determination was a strength, exemplified with Dimitrios Siovas.

The Greek centre-back scored a goal in the first half, while his positioning at the other end with fellow team-mates helped to see out the result.

LB - Álex Moreno - Rayo Vallecano

Rayo’s win on Friday required maximum effort, and that is what supporters saw from Álex Moreno.

The 25-year-old set up the winning goal in the second half, and was seemingly everywhere on the pitch. Moreno finished the game with eight tackles and won three aerial duels.

Midfielders

William Carvalho
William Carvalho

MF - Jony Rodríguez - Deportivo Alavés

Things were looking good for Alavés in the first half Sunday against Sevilla, and it was Jony that pushed the home side ahead at the Estadio Mendizorroza. On-loan this season from Málaga, the Spanish winger opened the scoring in the 37th minute.

The game would eventually finish as a 1-1 draw, but the Basque side are still in very good shape. Alavés are fourth in the table, four points back of first-place Barcelona.

MF - William Carvalho - Real Betis

Real Betis’ big splash in the summer transfer market was William Carvalho, spending €20 million to improve manager Quique Setién's midfield. On Sunday afternoon versus Real Sociedad, we saw why they were willing to pay such a large transfer fee to secure his services.

In his holding role in front of the back-line, the Portuguese midfielder organised the squad well and his sharp passing was a true asset. Carvalho recorded three tackles, and provided the assist on Junior Firpo’s winning goal for Betis.

MF - Mauro Arambarri - Getafe CF

Getafe manager José Boralás has his side in the top half of the league and playing quite well. On Saturday, it was Mauro Arambarri’s impact that guided Los Azulones forward.

The Uruguayan midfielder made the most of his chances whenever he was on the ball, with proactive movements and winning possession when necessary. Arambarri assisted on Getafe’s second goal of the game in the second half.

Forwards

Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembélé vs. Villarreal on Sunday
Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembélé vs. Villarreal on Sunday

FW - Ousmane Dembélé - FC Barcelona

Barcelona returned to first place with a solid showing against Villarreal, as Ousmane Dembélé once again made life difficult for the opposing defence.

The French international had an assist on the Blaugrana’s first goal, and wreaked havoc on the right wing with an absurd eight successful dribbles. Villarreal defenders may still be having nightmares about him.

FW - Iago Aspas - Celta Vigo

Few things you can always count on, but Iago Aspas’ scoring form with Celta Vigo may have to be added to the list. We’ll go with death, taxes and Aspas for now. The Spanish forward netted both goals in his club’s 2-0 win versus Huesca.

Aspas is now second in LaLiga with ten goals thus far this season, behind only Girona's Cristhian Stuani (11).

FW - Guido Carrillo - CD Leganés

Saturday featured the first away league win for Leganés in more than a year, and Guido Carrillo’s work up front helped to make it happen. The Argentine striker netted a brace for Los Pepineros in a 4-2 win at Real Valladolid.

Carrillo also clearly has the full trust of his manager. After impressing him at Southampton, Mauricio Pellegrino made sure to add the forward on-loan at Leganés for 2018-19.

Manager

Rayo Vallecano manager Míchel
Rayo Vallecano manager Míchel

Míchel - Rayo Vallecano

When someone has their back against the wall, responses can be somewhat unpredictable. Facing an immense challenge can bring out our best, but can also see us sink further into a problem’s clutches. Rayo Vallecano and manager Míchel have struggled this season, although this past Friday proved that they are ready to fight for their top-flight future.

Eibar were coming in confident and in-form, having dispatched Real Madrid in dominant fashion a week ago. At the bottom of the division was Rayo, and the odds were not in their favour. But the home side were disciplined and organised, limiting chances for the visitors and finding the winning goal at just the right time. They are currently 19th in the table, four points away from escaping the relegation zone.

It was only the club’s second victory of the season, and Míchel’s own future in his position was very much up in the air prior to the game. His players have essentially bought him more time, and more results like this will keep Rayo Vallecano heading towards safety.

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Edited by Victor R. Lopez M.
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