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LaLiga Matchweek 12: Team of the Week

FC Barcelona vs. Real Betis Balompie - La Liga
FC Barcelona vs. Real Betis Balompie - La Liga
Roy Emanuel

The top half of LaLiga's table has become an extremely tight race after this past weekend’s matches, with the division’s top six separated by only four points. After 12 rounds of fixtures, the Spanish league has been as unpredictable as it has been for a number of years.

The week’s action began on Friday evening, as Real Sociedad’s stellar second half produced a 3-1 win at Levante. La Real’s attack was struggling in the past few matches, only to come alive late in the game with three goals in ten minutes.

Saturday began with a 0-0 draw between Real Valladolid and Eibar, followed by a 1-0 victory for Valencia at Getafe. The result was Los Che’s second league win of 2018-19.

A wild match at the Wanda Metropolitano saw Atlético Madrid earn three points in the final moments against Athletic Club in a 3-2 final scoreline. Los Rojiblancos are now third in the table. The day finished with Leganés securing a point at Girona (0-0).

Sunday's afternoon kick-off featured another strong showing from Alavés, in a 2-1 home win versus Huesca. The Basque side are level on points with Sevilla and Atlético Madrid, in fourth place on goal difference.

Barcelona’s defence endured a tough outing against Real Betis at the Camp Nou, as the visitors came away with a 4-3 victory. It was Betis’ first league win at Barcelona since 1998. The Blaugrana remain in first place on 24 points.

Sevilla required a second-half comeback to defeat Espanyol 2-1, with Rayo Vallecano and Villarreal playing to a 2-2 draw.

The weekend’s final encounter was another bright moment for Santiago Solari, as Real Madrid beat Celta 4-2. Solari has won four matches out of four across all competitions since taking over for Julen Lopetegui last month.

The international break begins this week. League fixtures return on November 23. We highlight the top players in LaLiga from Matchweek 12.

Goalkeeper

Real Valladolid goalkeeper Jordi Masip
Real Valladolid goalkeeper Jordi Masip

GK - Jordi Masip - Real Valladolid

There will be some disappointment for Real Valladolid from Saturday, unable to find a win at home. However, goalkeeper Jordi Masip certainly did all he could to make that happen.

The former Barcelona shot-stopper made seven saves versus Eibar, earning his sixth clean sheet of the campaign (leading the league along with Jan Oblak).

Defenders

Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos

RB - Álvaro Odriozola - Real Madrid CF

Injuries at full-back have hurt Real Madrid during the early weeks of the season, setting up a potential problem against a talented Celta attack. Álvaro Odriozola helped to make sure it was not an issue on Sunday.

The 22-year-old displayed sharp passing and made several strong tackles.

CB - Diego Godín - Atlético Madrid

Atlético had maximum points available to them late in the game versus Athletic, and it was their captain who delivered the key strike.

Diego Godín was in the right place at the right moment, with the winning goal in stoppage-time for Los Colchoneros on Saturday.

CB - Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid CF

Another game, another outstanding performance for Sergio Ramos. Real Madrid’s captain was again a presence at both ends of the pitch.

The 32-year-old recorded a goal and an assist on Sunday and cleared out several dangerous scoring opportunities for the opposition.

LB - Theo Hernández - Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad had not netted a goal in three consecutive league games prior to Friday. Left-back Theo Hernández got things started in the second half at Levante.

The 21-year-old levelled the score in the 73rd minute and was a constant threat going forward with four successful dribbles throughout the match.

Midfielders

Thomas Partey celebrates his goal vs. Athletic Club on Saturday
Thomas Partey celebrates his goal vs. Athletic Club on Saturday

MF - Thomas Partey - Atlético Madrid

Athletic did not come into Saturday’s match at Atlético in great form, but they certainly did not make things easy for the hosts. In the midfield, it was Thomas Partey who kept his side in the game.

The Ghanaian international scored Atlético’s opener and assisted on the second strike for team-mate Rodri. Thomas covered acres of space, making three tackles along the way.

MF - Daniel Parejo - Valencia CF

Valencia have found victories tough to come by, making their win at Getafe that much more important. It was ultimately their captain that carried them to the result.

Daniel Parejo scored the winning goal from the penalty spot, and his accurate passing (92 per cent) was a true asset in keeping possession.

MF - Junior Firpo - Real Betis

It was a magical night at the Camp Nou for Real Betis, with Junior Firpo seemingly involved in almost all the action. Lined up in a wing-back role at times as well, his work in the middle of the pitch was vital to success for Los Verdiblancos.

The 22-year-old had a goal and an assist during the 4-3 victory, along with winning two aerial duels and two tackles.

Forwards

Barcelona's Lionel Messi scores a goal from the penalty spot Sunday vs. Real Betis
Barcelona's Lionel Messi scores a goal from the penalty spot Sunday vs. Real Betis

FW - Lionel Messi - FC Barcelona

Returning to the pitch after suffering a broken arm last month, Lionel Messi made his presence felt versus Real Betis. The Argentine was everywhere at once, with an absurd seven successful dribbles.

However, his two goals were ultimately not enough for Barcelona to come away with anything on Sunday.

FW - Iñaki Williams - Athletic Club

Athletic Club needed a spark and had to be at their best in the final third at Atlético Madrid. Iñaki Williams was up to the challenge.

The 24-year-old forward netted a brace and did well to create space with his sharp runs in the opposing half.

FW - Karim Benzema - Real Madrid CF

If Real Madrid are going to keep winning matches, they will want their striker to keep finding goals. Karim Benzema opened the scoring Sunday at Celta Vigo in the first half.

The French international now has five league goals in 2018-19, the same tally that he had for all of last season.

Manager

Real Betis manager Quique Setién
Real Betis manager Quique Setién

Quique Setién - Real Betis

Visiting sides at the Camp Nou can be overwhelmed by the occasion. Barcelona bring some of the best footballing talent in the world, and the packed stadium can create an immense atmosphere. That can have an effect on tactics, but it was not about to slow down Real Betis and manager Quique Setién this past weekend.

Betis put constant pressure on Barca’s midfield, even making completing a pass to be a difficult scenario. The back-line was perfectly prepared and did extremely well to shut down Luis Suárez.

Lionel Messi was impossible to stop at times, but that is nothing to be upset about (happens to the best of squads). For a club that have struggled to re-create some of their attacking skill this term, Setién’s confidence in this match was a breath of fresh air.

The win moved Betis up to 12th in the table, and they will aim for another good result at Villarreal on November 25. The Andalusian side went for it, something that a lot of teams do not do when playing Barcelona. Even Sergio Busquets was impressed by it all.

Edited by Sundaresh Kumar

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