La Liga

La Liga Top Five, Round Eleven: Messi being Messi, and Real Madrid bounce back

The Argentine was in supreme form against Valladolid, while Los Blancos have two players in the top five.

 
9:00am on Friday 1st November 2019
By
Martin Macdonald
Lionel Messi
W (R), F (C) - Barcelona - 32 yrs
MAN OF THE MATCH
90'
10
Oct 29, 2019

With Barcelona's game against Valladolid locked at 1-1, Messi burst into life with an assist and a goal within five minutes around the half-hour mark. To make it 2-1, he picked out a curled cross into the centre of the box for Arturo Vidal to stretch out a leg to finish into the corner. For his own first goal of the night, he then stepped up to whip a perfect free-kick into the top right corner from 30 yards. The Argentine then claimed his second with a ferocious finish which was slammed home from the edge of the box, before setting up Luis Suarez for the Blaugrana's fifth with a pass through the eye-of-the-needle late on.

Karim Benzema
S (C) - Real Madrid - 31 yrs
MAN OF THE MATCH
70'
9.4
Oct 30, 2019

Benzema is currently Real Madrid's main man, with his form being consistently good even through their early-season rough patches. He was scintillating as Madrid destroyed Leganes 5-0, setting up the opening two goals - firstly with a volleyed cross for Rodrygo to score, and then a pass to the front post for Toni Kroos to flick home after some slick work near the goalline. He eventually scored a deserved goal himself via a penalty, but he could have had at least one more, with a brilliant effort from the edge of the box clattering into the post. Overall, he had nine touches inside the Leganes box.

Fabián Orellana
M (R), AM (C) - Eibar - 33 yrs
MAN OF THE MATCH
90'
9.4
Oct 31, 2019

Eibar moved three points clear of the relegation zone on Thursday after a 2-1 win over Villarreal, in large part due to the performance of the veteran Chilean, who had 92 touches (the most in the game), with 16 of them coming in the opposition penalty area. He assisted the opening goal with a curled corner-kick, before earning a deserved goal himself in the dying seconds of the game, nodding home the vital winner to make it 2-1. If not for Villareal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo, he would have had more, as he hit the target with four out of his seven attempted shots.

Iker Muniain
AM (LC) - Athletic - 26 yrs
MAN OF THE MATCH
86'
9.0
Oct 30, 2019

A few years ago Muniain was the next big thing coming out of Spanish football, with a move to a European powerhouse mooted on more than one occasion. However, he has remained loyal to Athletic and is now their key man in attack. The Basque side dispatched of Espanyol with a 3-0 win on Wednesday, with Muniain scoring two, with the forst coming via an opportunistic finish into the corner. His second, though, was outrageous. Following a corner kick which was cleared out of the area, he chested the ball back into the air before firing a tremendous half-volley high into the top corner from 25 yards. He would have had a hat-trick, too, if not for Victor Perea pouncing to score an own goal to block his route through to the keeper.

Dani Carvajal
D (R) - Real Madrid - 27 yrs
90'
9.0
Oct 30, 2019

Back to Real Madrid, now, and Carvajal was one of their best performers on the night from right-back. He may have eventually gained a lovely assist in the last minute with a cross into Luka Jovic, but his influence on the flank could be felt all night. He sent 27 passes into the final third and had the fifth-most touches of anyone in La Liga on Wednesday. Defensively, he made seven ball recoveries and two interceptions, helping to ensure Leganes couldn't gain any momentum going forward.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Pablo De Blasis (9) was vital in Eibar's win over Villarreal, assisting the winner as well as winning the majority of his duels and tackles.

Casemiro (8.8) won the majority of his duels (17/25), tackles (8/10), and aerial duels (6/6) in midfield, while also making an incredible 13 ball recoveries. He did have one shot on goal himself, but that was never going to go in, was it?

ROUND TO FORGET

A top five of 'Round to Forget' players would see a group who had the misfortune of playing against the in-form Clasico teams. However, the worst of the bunch was Kenneth Omeruo (4) of Leganes who won just a third of his attempted tackles. He also gave away the second-half penalty after a clumsy tackle on Luka Modric.

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