La Liga Team of the Week—Round 8
Anyone who tries to call La Liga boring should spend more time watching matches and less time needlessly defending their favorite league.
Matchday 8 of this La Liga campaign will long be remembered as the weekend of comebacks—and probably heart attacks.
No less than six deciding goals were scored in the dying minutes of play and that doesn't even include the nine-goal shootout in A Coruna.
After two days full of emotional goals, heartbreak and lots of drama, fans of Spanish football must feel drained both physically and emotionally.
Let's take a look at the best players from the weekend.
Note that players from the Sevilla-Mallorca match have not been considered here. All stats taken from Whoscored.com.
For 87 minutes Athletic Bilbao's shot-stopper was spectacular. If not for Iraizoz, Los Leones would have lost their match much sooner.
Valencia managed 28 total shots against the poor Basque defense and put 12 on target. Iraizoz stopped nine of them from going in.
When Ander Herrera was sent off in the 67th minute, Los Che were relentless in attack and a goal seemed inevitable.
They managed to get two goals in the last two minutes of play, but not because of the Basque keeper.
Sergio Ramos moved back out right to account for the loss of Alvaro Arbeloa against Celta Vigo and showed that he is still a world class fullback.
The 26-year-old's signature attacking runs were there as he managed to take five shots at goal.
His defense was still stout as he shut Michael Krohn-Delhi and Alex Lopez down. He also cut off three passes and made three successful tackles.
Granada played a bad match against one of the worst teams in the league, but their 30-year-old center-back had a great game.
Lopez really helped his team settle down after the early goal and was immense after Iriney was sent off in the second half.
The Spaniard worked hard all night, making key tackles, blocking two shots and cleaning up for his teammates at the back.
Getafe shut Levante out for almost 90 minutes before Michel silenced Madrid with a late winner that turned out to be the theme of this weekend's La Liga matches.
Torres was the biggest reason why as he neutralized Nabil el Zhar and Obafemi Martins for much of the match.
The left back held both players without a shot. He finished with four tackles, six interceptions and at least two key blocks.
What a match for Costa! The midfielder was the key player for Los Che at both ends of the pitch against Bilbao.
He had more touches than any other player, made six tackles, one block that stopped a potential one-on-one with the keeper and cut off multiple passes.
The 27-year-old's highlight came in the last few minutes of play when he scored Valencia's second goal to pull them level in the 88th minute before sending Nelson Valdes through for the winner in extra time.
Rayo's star midfielder finally got back on track against Espanyol after a pair of disappointing performances.
Fuego started Vallecano's first goal by cutting off a pass and then sending it through to Leo who beat almost the entire Espanyol team to open scoring.
Zaragoza ended their two-game skid with a close win against Granada and owe a big thanks to Victor Rodriguez.
The midfielder started the match with a brilliant free kick in the third minute that found Helder Postiga's head in front of goal to open the scoring.
The midfielder later made a brilliant run through Granada's defense as he met Abraham's cross with a cool finish that ended up being the winner.
Two goals, another on the post and an acrobatic save that almost prevented Rayo from scoring their first goal.
Espanyol and Rayo are not the biggest teams in Barcelona and Madrid, but that does not mean great football is hard to find.
Verdu's brace matched our next midfielder blow-for-blow and made for an exciting match that finished with a last-minute winner that proved to be the theme of the weekend in Spain.
It may not have been Messi vs. Ronaldo, but La Liga fans were treated to a fantastic battle when Barcelona's 'second' team welcome Madrid's Rayo Vallecano.
Leo was locked in a great individual battle with Espanyol's Verdu that saw them go back-and-forth with two goals apiece.
The 20-year-old now has four goals in six starts.
Now this is the Cesc Fabregas we've all been waiting for. Against Deportivo, Barcelona's No. 4 had his best match in Blaugrana.
He became the first player in Europe to score three assists in one match and he did it in less than 20 minutes.
Fabregas was almost perfect in his hour on the pitch as he was highly influential in Barça's attack.
Read my review of that match to read more about Cesc's great match.
Messi scored yet another hat trick in his match against Depor that ended up being an unexpected shootout and the best match of the weekend.
His three goals put him at 44 total league goals in 2012. That breaks Cristiano Ronaldo's record of 43 set just last year—and we're only in October!
It ended up being a great gift to little Thiago as Messi flew home to Argentina immediately after the match to greet his newborn son.
I also reviewed Messi's performance in my review piece.
Keeper—Gustavo Munua (Levante)
He had six saves—three great ones—and kept his second consecutive clean sheet.
Defender—Michael Essien (Real Madrid)
The midfielder was never really tested against Celta Vigo, but was was almost perfect in his duties and looked natural on the left flank.
Midfielder—Vicente Iborra (Levante)
Munua earned praise for some key saves, but, if not for Iborra's great night that included seven interceptions, the keeper would have had to work much harder.
Midfielder—Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
No Sami Khedira, no problem against Vigo. Real Madrid's Croatian worked flawlessly with Xabi Alonso and continues to make a strong case for a permanent place in the starting XI.
Santi who? Malaga's 20-year-old phenom continued his great season by scoring against Valladolid and working magic alongside the equally impressive Joaquin.
The Portuguese wide man looked a bit like Cristiano Ronaldo with a penalty and world class free kick against Barcelona.
Striker—Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao)
The Basque striker showed great positioning and awareness to score a brace against his former team in the loss.
Please feel free to comment below and let us know which players you feel deserved a place in the starting XI this week.