La Liga Weekend Wrap
La Liga Round 34 looks to have shaken the league up.
While Barcelona's title celebrations remain imminent, the battle for European places and relegation is heating up. Can Deportivo stretch their unbeaten run to seven games? Will Atletico Madrid catch their neighbours for second place? Is there any hope of Levante's freefall down the league ending?
You can catch the full roundup here. Be sure to check back throughout the weekend, as updates will appear when each match concludes.
Celta Vigo 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
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Celta Vigo's confidence has improved over the past couple of weeks.
The struggling La Liga outfit welcomed Athletic Bilbao to Baladios needing a win to help escape the relegation zone. While three points didn't happen, a late equaliser from Iago Aspas could be pivotal as the season concludes.
Oscar De Marcos wasted a handful of chances before giving Bilbao the lead just before halftime. Mikel San Jose had already hit the woodwork for a team that lacked urgency after breaking the deadlock. Celta threatened throughout the match and also hit bar before the break as Alex Lopez's header missed by inches.
Despite Bilbao edging possession stats it was Celta who needed to take one of many chances created. Iago Aspas was the man for the occasion; the 25-year-old striker netting an important equaliser with six minutes left on the clock. Celta pushed for a winner, but it wasn't to be.
Total shots (on target shots): Celta Vigo 21(6)-8(2) Athletic Bilbao
Possession: Celta Vigo 45%-55% Athletic Bilbao
Hit woodwork: Celta Vigo 1-2 Athletic Bilbao
Valencia 4-0 Osasuna
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It was a story of two sides in completely different runs of form at the Mestalla. Valencia's push towards fourth place continued in emphatic style with a 4-0 win over an Osasuna side that has picked up just one win in the last six games.
Although Valencia took 39 minutes to break the deadlock, after Roberto Soldado's close-ranged, right-footed strike hit the bottom corner, the home side pushed on for a comfortable win. When Tino Costa's cross met Ricardo Costa's head to make it 2-0 just five minutes later, any chance of an Osasuna comeback soon disappeared through the side's lack of discipline.
Visiting goalkeeper Andres was forced to make a couple of saves at the beginning of the second half and desperately needed his defence to start challenging Valencia's forwards.
Alejandro Aribas was soon shown a straight red for hacking Soldado when the Spanish striker was through on goal. Things only got worse from the resulting free kick, as Ever Banega saw his effort crash off the underside of the bar and into the net.
Two quick bookings for David Timor—who obviously fancied joining Aribas in the bath—saw Osasuna down to nine men with 15 minutes left to play. Just to round things off, Nano's last-minute handball provided Jonas with the simplest opportunity of adding a fourth from the penalty spot.
Valencia's hunt for a Champions League place continues.
Total Shots (on target shots): Valencia 18(7)-8(3) Osasuna
Possession: Valencia 60-40 Osasuna
Red cards: Valencia 0-2 Osasuna
Granada 1-0 Malaga
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Valencia's quest for European football was also strengthened by Malaga's disappointing loss at Granada.
The home side netted the only goal of the game with 28 minutes on the clock. Odion Ighalo's simple right-footed finish on the six-yard box left Willy Caballero with no chance, as the 23-year-old took advantage of Yacine Brahimi's cross to put Malaga on the back foot.
Despite dominating much of the match, Manuel Pelligrini's side just couldn't find a route to goal.
Julio Baptista's influence on the pitch was minimal throughout; the Brazilian forward unable to muster an attempt on goal during his 58-minute spell on the pitch. Roque Santa Cruz came on to freshen things up, but unfortunately for Malaga fans, he missed two opportunities to level the score.
Weligton was also guilty of missing a fantastic chance in the first half, which summed up Malaga's current run of topsy-turvy form. Three wins and three losses from six games suggests Pelligrini's men will struggle to regain fifth from Valencia.
Granada's second consecutive win pushes Juan Antonio Anquela's team four points above the relegation zone.
Total shots (on target shots): Granada 14(4)-10(4) Malaga
Possession: Granada 34-66 Malaga
Yellow cards: Granada 4-2 Malaga
Real Madrid 4-3 Valladolid
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Where did this come from!?
Real Madrid—who so nearly overturned Borussia Dortmund's 4-1 aggregate Champions League lead during the week—may have been looking forward to a comfortable match against Valladolid this weekend. Instead, Miroslav Dukic's side came to play.
Jose Mourinho rested a number of key defensive players, and boy, did it show. Pepe's early handball set the tone for a back four that forced Madrid's attacking prowess to bail them out across the match. Oscar found space inside the area to give Valladolid a shocking lead with eight minutes gone.
Madrid created a number of opportunities in the minutes following the opener, with Angel Di Maria, Luka Modric and Kaka all racking up attempts on goal. Di Maria made it 1-1 with 26 minutes gone, his deflected shot capitalising on a spell of pressure from the home side.
Cristiano Ronaldo's prominence soon emerged. Di Maria was once again involved as Madrid took the lead just after the half hour. The Argentinian's corner met the head of his Portuguese colleague, with only one result to follow.
The flurry of goals continued three minutes later as a speedy Valladolid breakaway caught the Bernabeu defence napping. Javi Guerra rounded off Omar Ramos' pass to square things up at half-time.
The drama continued straight after the break when Kaka found the top corner from the left side of the box. Another Madrid set piece looked to have eased the pressure with 20 minutes to go, as Ronaldo added his second header of the game from Mesut Ozil's cross.
Valladolid continued to threaten after the gap opened and managed to add a third with three minutes left, as Lluis Sastre came off the bench to power a drive beyond Diego Lopez.
Madrid halt Barcelona's title celebrations for one more week with the victory.
Total shots (on target shots): Real Madrid 27(11)-14(6) Valladolid
Possession: Real Madrid 49-51 Valladolid
Yellow cards: Real Madrid 1-2 Valladolid
Deportivo 0-0 Atletico Madrid
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An eventful yet scoreless encounter at the Riazor saw Atletico Madrid lose sight of finishing second.
Although Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was rarely tested against a relegation threatened Deportivo, he may have been fortunate not to face a penalty when Miranda tripped Bruno Gama inside the box.
The visitors struggled to gain attacking momentum throughout the game, with the likes of Gabi, Arda Turan and Radamel Falcao missing the target in decent positions. In fact, Atletico failed to register a shot on target throughout the entire match.
Arda Turan did put the ball in the back of the net during injury time, only for his strike to be incorrectly ruled out for offside. Deportivo may also feel hard done by even later in the game. Evaldo's shot was blocked by Juanfran's hand inside the area, but referee Ayza Gamez remained oblivious until he blew the final whistle.
Deportivo continue to fight for their La Liga future. Fernando Vazquez's side are now unbeaten in seven games since losing to Barcelona.
Total shots (on target shots): Deportivo 10(3)-9(0) Atletico Madrid
Possession: Deportivo 48-52 Atletico Madrid
Yellow cards: Deportivo 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Mallorca 1-1 Levante
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Mallorca's last-ditch attempt to escape relegation got off to a perfect start against the out-of-form Levante. Tomer Hemed's seventh-minute goal eased the pressure on a side that has only tasted victory once in the last seven games.
Plenty of late tackles littered the first half as Levante pushed for an equaliser. The important goal came with 42 minutes gone, as Robert Acquafresca tucked away a simple header from Pedro Lopez's cross. Mallorca dominated massively after this point and could have taken the lead shortly after halftime with a couple of quickfire headers from Victor.
Mallorca continued to press and deserved a winner as the game entered the latter stages. As injury time approached, the chances continued to stack up. Hemed saw a shot blocked before Javier Marquez missed the target, and Alejandro Alfaro had two opportunities to win it. With seconds remaining, it was Marquez who once again shot wide to confirm the draw.
Total shots (on target shots): Mallorca 21(8)-3(1) Levante
Possession: Mallorca 64%-36% Levante
Yellow cards: Mallorca 0-3 Levante
Zaragoza 3-0 Rayo Vallecano
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A massive win for Zaragoza has seen the side climb out of La Liga's relegation zone. Two important victories in the last two games has ramped up the pressure on Deportivo, who grabbed an excellent point at home to Atletico Madrid.
Vallecano's slight dip in form shouldn't worry supporters of the Madrid-based club. With a top 10 finish virtually confirmed, this was always Zaragoza's game to take. It was a toothless performance from the visitors who provided their opposition with an easy chance to take the lead after Jordi Figueras handled in the area. Apono stepped up to take the resulting spot kick and duly delivered with 25 minutes gone.
Despite a flurry of attempts from Alejandro Dominguez, Franco Vazquez and Piti before the break, it was Zaragoza who confirmed victory shortly after half time. Rodri pounced from close range to make it 2-0 after 50 minutes, before Apono curled home his second deep into injury time.
A huge win for the home side, but will it be enough to confirm their La Liga position next year?
Total shots (on target shots): Zaragoza 16(6)-7(3) Vallecano
Possession: Zaragoza 32%-68% Vallecano
Yellow cards: Zaragoza 4-2 Vallecano
Sevilla 3-0 Espanyol
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Sevilla and Espanyol were locked on 43 points before the penultimate game of the weekend. Unai Emery's side were without a win in three before a match that saw the hosts blitz their visitors inside the opening 23 minutes.
Much like many of the matches we've seen this week, the losing team were the architects of their own downfall. A headed own goal by Joan Capdevila gave Sevilla the advantage with 11 minutes elapsed, while Coke's thumping strike from the edge of the box provided Kiko Castilla with little hope just eight minutes later.
Espanyol barely had time to console themselves before Alvaro Negredo produced a clever flick from a tight angle. Castilla went missing in the buildup and Sevilla had two men ready to pounce on an open goal if the powerful forward's attempt drifted off target. With the win confirmed inside 23 minutes, Emery's side slowed down considerably to see out an easy three points.
Beto was forced into a decent save from Joan Verdu late on, and Christian Stuani saw his effort deflect off the bar during injury time, but any kind of positive result was long gone for Espanyol.
Total shots (on target shots): Sevilla 16(5)-11(4) Espanyol
Possession: Sevilla 69%-31% Espanyol
Yellow cards: Sevilla 1-1 Espanyol
Barcelona 4-2 Real Betis
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How would Barcelona fare without Lionel Messi?
Once again the answer was an emphatic "badly". Betis arrived at the Camp Nou looking to compound the champions-elect to another awful defeat after the 7-0 aggregate Champions League thrashing against Bayern Munich. For a while, it looked as if the wheels really were off for the Spanish giants.
Dorlan Pabon raced in to slot Betis ahead after just two minutes. It didn't take long for the home side to reply, as Andres Iniesta's fine cross found the head of Alexis Sanchez seven minutes later. Opportunities came and went for Barcelona, with David Villa blasting over from close range and Xavi seeing a well-worked effort saved by Adrian.
Betis stormed ahead once more just before the halftime whistle. Ruben Perez lashed a fantastic strike into the top corner from outside the box to give the confident visitors an advantage going into the break. Although Messi threatened to come on for the start of the second half, Villa's powerful header tied the score at 2-2 before he exited for the Argentinian maestro.
Messi made the difference four minutes after coming on. A stunning free kick found the top corner of Adrian's net, giving Barcelona the lead for the first time on the night. Nine minutes after this incident he crashed another free kick off the crossbar. Gulp.
Twenty minutes remained when Messi added his second of the game. Clever work from Sanchez provided the substitute with a simple tap in to put Barcelona out of sight. Messi may have grabbed a third during injury time, but his attempted dink was easily palmed away from the busy keeper.
Barcelona will win the title if Real Madrid fail to beat Malaga on Wednesday.
Total shots (on target shots): Barcelona 19(10)-5(3) Betis
Possession: Barcelona 70%-30% Betis
Hit woodwork: Barcelona 2-0 Betis
All statistics in this article are courtesy of Whoscored.