International

Five things we learned from La Liga

2017-03-06 10:01
Lionel Messi (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Lionel Messi put on a masterclass for Barcelona, while Real Madrid reserves ensured they bounced back to winning ways.

Meanwhile, the fight for fourth place hotted up, while the relegation battle may already be over.

Here, we looks at five things we learned from week 26 in La Liga:

RELIEVED BARCA BELIEVE

Outgoing Barcelona boss Luis Enrique revealed on Friday he was "relieved" to have ended any speculation over his future by announcing he will leave at the end of the season.

The Catalans responded to that news with arguably their best performance of the season as Messi scored two great individual goals and set up two more in a 5-0 rout of Celta Vigo.

Having now plundered 11 goals in their last two outings, Barca hopes have even been raised of pulling off what midfielder Ivan Rakitic described as a "miracle" to overturn a 4-0 first leg deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday.

'BBC' UNBALANCE MADRID

Madrid travelled to Eibar without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, suspended Gareth Bale and a host of other first-team regulars on the bench.

Yet, not for the first time, Real looked more balanced and dominant without many of their star players in a 4-1 rout at Eibar.

Bale's return from injury had coincided with Madrid conceding seven times in their previous three outings.

While the Welshman's qualities going forward can't be questioned, squeezing all of the 'BBC' frontline of Bale, Ronaldo and Karim Benzema into the same side often leaves Madrid's midfield and defence exposed.

GRIEZMANN MAKES TORRES SMILE

Just four days after suffering a terrifying head knock that left him unconscious, Fernando Torres was in attendance and received like a hero as Atletico Madrid swept aside Valencia 3-0.

Thankfully, Torres suffered no serious injuries and could even return to training this week.

And he will be counting down the days to partner Antoine Griezmann up front as the Frenchman produced two more fine finishes to take his tally for the season to 20.

SOCIEDAD, VILLARREAL MAKE ATLETICO SWEAT

Victory for Atletico was a much-needed one as it moved them back just a point clear of Real Sociedad into fourth.

Champions League football is a must for Los Rojiblancos next season as they move into a new 67 000 capacity stadium.

However, as well as Sociedad, who won 3-2 at Real Betis on Friday, Villarreal remain in the hunt just four points back as they comfortably saw off Espanyol 2-0.

BOTTOM THREE ISOLATED

Granada's revival allied to a slump for Leganes and Deportivo la Coruna in recent weeks had threatened to turn the relegation battle into a five-way fight.

Instead, this weekend may have condemned all of Granada, Sporting Gijon and the completely doomed Osasuna.

Deportivo registered their first win since December at Sporting, while Granada conceded late to lose at Leganes.

There is now a four-point gap between Granada in 18th and Deportivo in 17th, who also have a game in hand.

Read more on:    real madrid  |  barcelona  |  la liga  |  soccer
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