La Liga at week eighteen saw Barcelona at the top of the table with 48 points followed by Atletico Madrid (39) nine points off the pace, Valencia (37) eleven points away, and Real Madrid (32 with a game in hand) at sixteen points adrift.
The top scorer continues to be Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (16) followed by Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas (11) and Barcelona’s Luis Suarez (11) tied for second, and Valencia’s Simone Zaza at third with ten goals.
The eighteenth round began on Saturday, with hosts Atletico Madrid beating Getafe 2-0, and Valencia, at home, coming back to barely defeat Girona 2-1 in a 10-yellow-card match. The visitors pulled ahead at the 7th minute, the hosts tied at the 26th and Parejo put Valencia ahead at the 47th. But the visitors did not give up and a heated game continued and got even tougher with five of those yellows coming in the last fifteen minutes.
Las Palmas continued their awful form with a 1-2 home defeat to Eibar, ensuring the hosts would remain the last team on the table. Sevilla were beaten 3-5 at home by Real Betis, in one of the better matches of the weekend. The hosts came back twice in the first half to tie Betis 2-2 at the break, but a two-goal surge at the 62nd and 64th minutes put the game out of reach despite Sevilla’s 66th minute score. The visitors put the final nail in the coffin at the 94th for the two-goal margin win.
On Sunday Leganes won 1-0 at home to Real Sociedad, Barcelona did the same, 3-0, at the Camp Nou, over Levante and Athletic Bilbao did the honors 2-0 over visiting Alaves. Villarreal were held 1-1 at home by Deportivo La Coruna, while Celta Vigo put another nail in Real Madrid’s coffin with a 2-2 home draw. Malaga and Espanyol are slated to play later today.
The news of the week was 25-year old midfielder Philipe Coutinho’s transfer to Barcelona from Liverpool for $170 million. The Brazilian ace, Andres Iniesta’s eventual replacement, now teams up with compatriots Rafinha and Paulinho and fits into a midfield that includes Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Iniesta, Sergi Roberto and Andre Gomes. Who will leave this World Cup summer, given the potential for reduced playing time for several high-quality players, is anyone’s guess.
With Barcelona’s La Liga runaway most Spanish Football fans now look to where their teams will end up on the domestic table and what potential there may be for a Copa del Rey surprise. Likewise, fans of Barcelona, Sevilla, and Real Madrid, if a bit less so those of the Madrid side, will be looking forward to redemption come February and March when the UEFA Champions League resumes play.