Four things we learned from Spain's matchday 18
MADRID, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- League football returned to Spain at the weekend with the 18th round of matches in the Liga Santander and here are a few things we learned.
1. It continues to look good for Barca
Leo Messi pulled the strings once again in Barca's 3-0 win at home to Levante as Barca remain nine points clear at the top of the table.
Luis Suarez and Paulinho also scored, and coach Ernesto Valverde was able to rest Sergio Busquets who was serving a suspension, and Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano got some much-needed game time. The only slight worry for Valverde would have been that Ousmane Dembele had a disappointing return to the Camp Nou after returning from injury, and seemed to be trying too hard to impress.
If you bear in mind that Saturday saw Barca complete the signing of Phillipe Coutinho for around 160 million euros (the club' s record signing), and that Real Madrid dropped two more points, it's been a good weekend for Barca, who look stronger than ever.
2. Bale is back, but Real Madrid are not
Gareth Bale has now scored four league goals this season for Real Madrid; the same as Cristiano Ronaldo. The Welshman scored his four goals in just under 500 minutes of playing time, but Ronaldo needed 1,150 minutes to accomplish the same feat.
Bale was the standout player as Madrid dropped two more points away to Celta Vigo and they could easily have dropped all three had his two moments of magic not put some shine an otherwise undisciplined performance . The 2-2 draw not only leaves Madrid 16 points behind Barca, but also leaves the Catalans five points behind third placed Valencia.
The title looks to be out of sight, and worryingly for Madrid, it now looks as if their battle to finish in the top-3, and avoid an early season play-off to qualify for the Champions League, might also be in jeopardy.
3. Costa is back...and he hasn't changed
Atletico Madrid fans welcomed Diego Costa's return to the club ahead of their 2-0 win at home to Getafe. The Brazilian born Spanish international didn't disappoint, with a display that showed he hasn't changed either - for good or for bad.
Costa showed he gives Atletico a much needed outlet for long balls and his ability to play with his back to goal is something his fellow strikers struggle to emulate. He also showed his goal-scoring ability with Atletico's second goal of the game.
Unfortunately he also demonstrated he hasn't lost his 'dark side,'earning a yellow card for using an elbow against Getafe defender Djene and perhaps being lucky not to see a second after catching Juan Cala with a raised arm shortly before his goal.
However, he saw a second yellow card for celebrating his goal with the fans; something not allowed by the rules and wi ll now miss next weekend's trip to Eibar.
4. Unless they can tighten up in defense, Las Palmas are doomed
Paco Jemez began his reign as the fifth Las Palmas coach of the season with a 2-1 defeat at home to Eibar in a game which highlighted the problems the former Rayo Vallecano and Cruz Azul boss will face at his new club.
Las Palmas produced some nice combinations in attack and took the lead through a Jonathan Viera penalty. However as the second half continued, they sat deep, inviting Eibar to attack and they paid for it when Fabian Orellana and Sergi Enrich scored to win the match for Eibar.
Both goals came following poor defence from crosses into the area, with both keeper and defenders at fault. With a tough schedule around the corner, Jemez needs to resolve his team's defensive issues otherwise survival will become increasingly unlikely.Source: Goog le News Spain | Netizen 24 Spain