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LaLiga Matchweek 11: Team of the Week

Rayo Vallecano de Madrid vs. FC Barcelona - La Liga
Rayo Vallecano de Madrid vs. FC Barcelona - La Liga
Roy Emanuel

The unpredictable nature of LaLiga was once again displayed this past weekend, as the top of the table saw significant changes throughout the latest round of fixtures. The title-holders almost took a tumble in Madrid, while a wild shootout in Andalusia highlighted Sunday’s fixtures.

The action began this past Saturday, as Atlético Madrid’s away form continued to disappoint fans. A 1-1 draw at Leganés certainly felt more like two points dropped as opposed to a point gained. A new era began at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu later that day, as new manager Santiago Solari led Real Madrid to a 2-0 win against Real Valladolid.

Promising youngster Vinícius Junior netted a goal in the second half, and helped to move Los Blancos up to sixth in the table. Valencia’s sluggish start to the campaign opened its latest chapter, this time in a 1-0 home loss to Girona. Los Che are now only two points clear of the relegation places.

Without Lionel Messi in the line-up, Barcelona were only minutes away from a surprising loss at Rayo Vallecano. But two goals in three minutes changed things in an instant, as the Blaugrana delivered a 3-2 win.

Barcelona remain first in the Spanish top flight on 24 points.

Sunday’s fixtures began with a Basque derby, as Eibar secured an important victory against Alavés. The three points vaulted the club up to 12th in the table. Levante and Getafe each picked up a point on their travels, after 1-1 scorelines at Villarreal and Huesca respectively. Real Sociedad were able to slow down Sevilla’s attack, but could not get a goal of their own in a 0-0 draw. La Real have failed to score in each of their past three league matches.

The day ended amidst immense drama, as Real Betis and Celta Vigo battled to a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Estadio Benito Villamarín. Monday produced a vital 1-0 win for Espanyol against Athletic Club, now only three points back of Barcelona in second place.

The coming week will bring European matches for several sides, in both the Champions League and Europa League. League games will return on Friday evening.

We review and highlight the top players in LaLiga during Matchweek 11.

Goalkeeper

Girona goalkeeper Bono (right) against Atlético Madrid during last season
Girona goalkeeper Bono (right) against Atlético Madrid during last season

GK - Bono - Girona FC

Girona were facing a tricky challenge at Valencia this past weekend, but luckily their goalkeeper was up to the task. Bono made nine saves in their 1-0 win on Saturday, keeping the clean sheet thanks to sharp positioning and quick reflexes.

The victory moved the Catalan side up to tenth place.

Defenders

Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos celebrates his goal on Saturday
Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos celebrates his goal on Saturday

RB - Daniel Wass - Valencia CF

Valencia will be disappointed with their result against Girona, but manager Marcelino will certainly be pleased with the play of Daniel Wass. At right-back this past weekend, his ability on the ball helped to keep possession in key moments and provided positive service on corner kicks.

A versatile player who can be placed at a variety of different positions, Wass’ addition this summer was a smart bit of business for Valencia.

CB - Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid CF

Real Madrid returned to winning ways on Saturday, and captain Sergio Ramos helped to lead the way.

The veteran defender scored a goal from the penalty spot late in the contest, and won six aerial duels that assisted in keeping the clean sheet.

CB - Xabier Etxeita - SD Huesca

Huesca earned a point this past weekend, and much praise belongs to Xabier Etxeita’s efforts in the game. The 30-year-old is currently on a season-long loan from Athletic Club.

Etxeita scored a goal in the second half that ultimately led to a 1-1 draw versus Getafe.

LB - Jordi Alba - FC Barcelona

Barcelona got a scare from Rayo on Saturday, but Jordi Alba’s play on the back-line was once again sharp.

The left-back recorded an assist on the team’s first goal and made three tackles.

Midfielders

Toni Kroos
Toni Kroos

MF - Toni Kroos - Real Madrid CF

Real Madrid’s win over Real Valladolid was made possible by several contributors, and a crucial element to success was Toni Kroos.

The German international completed 94 percent of his passes, made four tackles and controlled the middle of the pitch. He linked up well with the front-line, ultimately making the attack more dangerous.

MF - Joan Jordán - SD Eibar

Eibar have endured some difficult results to start the term, but enjoyed an important win this past weekend versus Alavés. Joan Jordán helped to make that happen.

The 24-year-old had a goal and an assist in his club’s 2-1 victory.

MF - Sergio Canales - Real Betis

The wildest game of the weekend almost saw Real Betis lose at home, until Sergio Canales struck in the final minutes of the match.

The midfielder scored the equaliser in the 87th minute versus Celta. Canales’ passing was accurate, and he came close to scoring another during the encounter.

Forwards

Luis Suárez
Luis Suárez

FW - Luis Suárez - FC Barcelona

Yes, Messi has been out injured. But Barcelona are able to rely on Luis Suárez, and he continues to show why he is the best striker in the game today.

The 31-year-old netted a brace at Rayo, including the winner in the 90th minute. Suárez has six goals in his last three league matches.

FW - Antoine Griezmann - Atlético Madrid

Atlético’s attack went missing on Saturday afternoon at Leganés, with only Antoine Griezmann offering up something special to give his team an advantage.

The French international scored off a wonderful free-kick in the second half, placing the ball perfectly from about 25 yards out. It was Griezmann’s fifth goal of 2018-19 across all competitions.

FW - Maxi Gómez - Celta Vigo

A forward does not always need to play the entire match to make an impact, and that statement was certainly true for Maxi Gómez and Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Subbed on in the 61st minute, the striker scored two goals against Real Betis that nearly produced three points for his squad.

Manager

Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari
Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari

Santiago Solari - Real Madrid CF

It is never easy to make a change at manager, particularly once the season is already underway. Julen Lopetegui was simply not gaining the required results for Real Madrid, but Santiago Solari has thus far enjoyed a positive start. After a Copa del Rey win at Melilla during the week, the new coach followed that up with his first LaLiga triumph versus Real Valladolid.

The players seemed to respond well to Solari, getting strong performances from Sergio Ramos, Luka Modrić and Karim Benzema. His introduction of Vinícius Junior late in the match worked out quite well also, as the Brazilian netted the eventual winner in the 83rd minute.

Solari knows what to expect from his club, having been a player and a reserves coach with Real Madrid in past years. But managing the senior side can be another story, and the 42-year-old appears ready for the new challenge.

He will get his first taste of the UEFA Champions League this week also, as Los Blancos travel to face Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday.

Edited by Arvind Sriram

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