The Spanish Clasico is two weeks away and Barcelona and Real Madrid, one match behind their peers, catch up with them on December 18th at the Camp Nou. The rescheduled clasico had been postponed due to pollical unrest in Catalonia.
This weekend a sublime give-and-go, Lionel Messi to Luis Suarez and back, left the diminutive Argentine aiming at goal from his favorite right-to-left sprint-and-shoot stance. The play produced the only score and winning goal of a hard-fought match at the Wanda Metropolitano. The win tied Barca at 31 points with the Merengues but on top by a single-goal differential.
In other action on Sunday, host Sevilla beat Leganes 1-0, Athletic Bilbao defeated visiting Granada 2-0, Espanyol lost at home 2-4 to Osasuna, and Getafe won 4-0 at home over Levante.
In Saturday action, Alaves lost 1-2 at home to Real Madrid, Real Sociedad played poor host, defeating Eibar 4-1, visiting Real Betis beat Mallorca 2-1, and Valencia won at home 2-1 over Villarreal. In Friday’s lone match, Celta Vigo were held at home to a 0-0 draw by Real Valladolid.
At round’s end, Barcelona with 31 points and +20 goal differential were first, followed by Real Madrid at 31 points and +19, Sevilla at 30 points, and Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao both at 26 points and +8 goals.
The top scorers remained Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema with 10 goals and four assists, Barca’s Messi with nine goals and five assists, and tied at 8 goals apiece Alaves’ Lucas Perez, Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno, and Real Betis’ Loren Moron.
The upcoming Clasico, on December 18th, seems the perfect mid-season turning point for the La Liga championship this year. A Barca home win will put Messi’s troops in the driver’s seat until their next meeting in the Spring while a Real Madrid win will give coach Zinedine Zidane the breathing room he needs to assuage what will surely be a UEFA Champions League disappointment some months down the line.