La Liga Team of the Week—Round 9
Barcelona scored five goals in Vallecas to pull away in La Liga, but Atletico Madrid responded with three points of their own to stay level.
Real Madrid answered their great rivals with another 5-0 shelling, theirs against Joaquin Caparros' Mallorca.
Round 9 in Spain is not officially over, with Real Sociedad taking on Valladolid Monday afternoon, but players on those teams will have to miss out this time.
Let's see which players stood out this week as we look at La Liga's Team of the Week for Matchday 9.
Athletic Bilbao gave up two more goals against Getafe, but the result would have been much worse if not for their great keeper.
In continuing with their form of this season, Los Leones' defense looked slow to react, poorly positioned in the run of play and lost on set pieces.
It was just another night of frustration for Gorka Iraizoz as he once again finished with nothing to show for a fine effort.
Real Zaragoza managed their biggest win of the season against Sevilla and perhaps the biggest reason was their Romanian right-back.
Cristian Sapunaru completely shut down Manu del Moral and left Los Rojiblancos' left flank completely toothless.
In addition to the five tackles and six interceptions, the full-back also scored the clinching goal for his side just before halftime.
Atletico Madrid continued their perfect home record this season by defeating Osasuna convincingly at the Vicente Calderon.
A large reason the final score was so convincing was the fine display by the Los Colchoneros central defense.
Diego Godin led that charge at the back as he worked hard all night to give his teammates freedom to move forward while anchoring the team.
The Uruguayan managed four blocks, four tackles, one key interception and cleared 17 passing from play. Simply outstanding.
Atletico wasn't the only Madrid team with a fined defensive display.
Real Madrid's central trio neutralized Mallorca in embarrassing fashion. And that prevented the hosts from having a single shot on target all match.
Fair praise is due to Pepe, but his younger partner was the better defender all night and did not let anyone near goal the entire match.
If the Frenchman continues this top form, Jose Mourinho may find it difficult to play Alvaro Arbeloa when he returns from injury.
Valencia may have at times looked clueless on attack, but that was not because of their fabulous left-back.
Aly Cissokho was Los Che's best player in their loss to Betis and could be seen hustling up and down the pitch for 90 minutes.
He sent six crosses into the box, managed the second-most touches on the entire team and completed 90 percent of his passes.
He was also a rock defensively, as he killed countless attacks and guarded his flank as it was being attacked all night.
The Senegalese finished with seven tackles and six interceptions, but stats don't quite do him justice. He closed down on Granada's attacking core and bottled them up all night.
The 26-year-old forced the visitors to open up going forward, which greatly limited their chances by forcing a lot of chances from tough angles or out of range.
Just a complete performance from the midfielder.
Against Deportivo, I made the statement that Cesc Fabregas was officially back after earning three assists in the shootout.
If there was any doubt still remaining, the Spanish midfielder laid that to rest with another assist and goal against Rayo.
Tito Vilanova played a much more direct game against brave Rayo, and the style suited Fabregas perfectly.
The 25-year-old now leads all of Spain with six assists and is one of the hottest midfielders in Europe.
How did the Portuguese respond? By scoring a pair of his own and adding another assist in a 5-0 rout of struggling Mallorca.
Ronaldo has now scored in eight straight matches and has amassed 14 goals in that span.
When it rains, it pours. At least, that's the case when Lionel Messi scores this season. So far this term, Messi has scored a second goal any time he found the back of the net.
It is already almost impossible to stop the Ballon d'Or holder once, but against Rayo Vallecano, Messi proved that stopping him a second time is even harder.
The 25-year-old had a comparatively tame first half in Vallecas, but then went off in the latter 45. He scored a pair of goals and was a menace against the poor Rayo defense.
Messi now has 73 goals this calendar which brings him within a pair of Pele and 12 short of Gerd Muller's world record of 85.
With up to 13 games left to play, the Argentinian may put the record out of reach himself.
Obafemi Martins further proved to be one of the best signings in the league, as he ran circles around the Granada defense.
The Nigerian finished with two goals, but could have had a hat-trick if not for a great save and really should have added two more assists, but his teammates failed to finish.
Ronaldo and Messi will be talked about most, but Levante's 28-year-old striker was the best goal scorer this weekend.
And to think that many Madridistas were upset when they saw his name in the starting XI before the match.
To be fair, Higuain has been pretty wasteful in front of goal this season, but the striker was the model of efficiency against Mallorca.
The Argentinian put both of his shots in the net and added two more fine assists with some great one-touch passing to Cristiano Ronaldo who made sure to capitalize on Higuain's hard work.
Higuain now has six goals this season and has needed only six appearances to do it. Maybe this will silence critics for a while.
Miguel Moya—GK (Getafe)
Moya gave fans an epic battle against Gorka Iraizoz in goal and managed to make more saves in addition to getting the win. It was the quality, not the number of saves that left him second this week.
Martin Montoya—RB (Barcelona)
Tito Vilanova will be in a tough spot when Dani Alves returns to full fitness. La Masia's latest success is proving far more reliable defensively than the Brazilian's, and not a great step down in attack.
Juan Rodriguez—DM (Getafe)
His defensive play would have been impressive enough, but then the 30-year-old was also the key player in Getafe's attack. He opened the scoring and then assisted the second winner.
Gabi—DM (Atletico Madrid)
Atleti's central defense also includes the midfield and Gabi was just world-class against Osasuna. He had his best match of the season with six interceptions and six tackles to boot.
Luka Modric—M (Real Madrid)
Mesut Ozil better continue his recent resurgence because his new teammate is making it hard to leave on the bench after another class performance against Mallorca. He finished with 90 percent of his 79 passes complete.
Iago Aspas—CF (Celta Vigo)
Galicians are praying they can hold onto their star as Aspas now leads ALL of Europe in chances created this season.
Radamel Falcao—S (Atletico Madrid)
Atleti were struggling to close Osasuna out and had let them back into the match with new-found momentum, but, for the second week in a row, it was their superstar striker who clinched the match with a goal.