While there is some separation at the top of the La Liga table, the middle of the standings are providing plenty of intrigue across the board.
Barcelona continues to do impressive work and has a solid lead on top, while Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid occupy the two and three positions, respectively. That leaves the likes of Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao and Getafe battling for that last Champions League qualifying spot.
On the flip side, there are a handful of teams battling to stave off relegation as the season heats up, including some that are in action on Friday.
There is certainly going to be plenty of drama on both ends of the table between now and the finish. Take a glance at the current standings following Friday’s action.
|La Liga Table—Matchday 13|
Almeria 1, Osasuna 0
Almeria picked up a critical three points as it battles near the bottom of the La Liga table with pending relegation serving as the stakes. The 1-0 victory over Osasuna moved the squad to within a single point of Sevilla FC, Malaga and Elche.
On the losing end, Osasuna is staring relegation right in the face for the time being after the loss. Osasuna is now one point behind Real Valladolid and two points behind the victorious Almeria.
Per WhoScored, Osasuna had plenty of opportunities to capitalize, especially out of set pieces. However, despite these chances and an overall domination on the possession front, Osasuna was shut out. Considering the 21-4 advantage in total attempts, this has to be an incredibly disappointing result.
While Osasuna may have dominated possession and overall play, Almeria won in the one spot that counted—the scoreboard. Almeria only had one set piece to Osasuna’s nine but still came away with the win.
Rodri put home the only goal of the game in the first half, and Almeria held on for dear life until the finish. Dominating possession and most of play is one thing, but this loss has to leave a bitter taste in the mouth of Osasuna, who have just a single win in the last five matches.
Granada 3, Malaga 1
What a second half it was for Granada.
After a scoreless first 45 minutes, Granada came out on fire after intermission and put home three goals. In fact, it wasn't just Granada that had three goals in the second half, it was Youssef El Arabi by himself who netted the second-half hat-trick.
Granada leaped up to eighth in the table with the three points and is now even in the points department with Real Sociedad and Levante. Furthermore, it pits Granada within striking distance of Getafe and even Athletic Bilbao.
Malaga, on the other hand, finds itself closer to the bottom of the table at 13th.
The scoreless first half was much more indicative of just how close the game was than the 3-1 final tally. Malaga outshot Granada by a slim 17-16 margin, per WhoScored, and had a 4-3 advantage in set pieces.
Friday’s action may not have directly impacted the top of the La Liga table, but it certainly had repercussions in the middle and bottom portions.
Real Madrid 5, Real Sociedad 1
Cristiano Ronaldo had himself quite a strong Saturday, securing a hat trick in Real Madrid's 5-1 victory over Real Sociedad. That gives the scorching striker nine goals over his past four matches.
After his latest eruption, Ronaldo leads La Liga with 16 goals, and that's not including his eight goals in Champions League play.
Newcomer Gareth Bale did not find the net, but he did register an assist during the onslaught. Ronaldo, Bale and Karim Benzema continue to form one of the league's deadliest trios that made quick work of Sociedad on Saturday.
Looking to keep pace along with the top-two clubs, Madrid now lingers three points behind Atletico Madrid and six behind Barcelona after Matchday 13. Sociedad falls to seventh place with 17 points.
Villarreal 1, Atletico Madrid 1
Each squad sabotaged their chances of gaining three points by surrendering own goals in a 1-1 draw.
With La Liga's top three teams all clobbering the competition, none of them can afford an off match while keeping up with the others. That's precisely what happened to Atletico Madrid, who can't feel too great after salvaging a point against a fourth-place Villarreal squad trying to lessen their distance from the league's top teams.
They jumped out to a quick edge after defender Mario Perez mistakenly sent a cross into his own net. Nobody could spend much time bashing Perez for his blunder, as Juanfran Torres returned the favor minutes later with his own mishap.
While Atletico still held partial ownership of first place after the draw, it did not last long after Barcelona concluded the week's action with a big win.
Barcelona 4, Real Bettis 1
Smelling blood, Barcelona pounced on their opportunity to seize first place by attaining a commanding victory over Real Bettis.
Neymar opened up the scoring with a goal during the 35th minute, and Pedro waited two minutes before adding another score. Cesc Fabregas put the match to bed with two insurance goals for Barca.
After cruising to their 12th victory of the season, Barcelona holds first place all to themselves with 37 points. They have manhandled the opposite all season long, leading La Liga in goals scored (38) and allowed (8).
The day was not all good, however, as star Lionel Messi left the match during the first half with an leg injury. Messi recently broke a four-match scoring drought with two goals in Wednesday's Champions League victory over AC Milan before leaving Sunday's match.
They didn't miss a beat without him on Sunday, but that came against an overwhelmed Real Bettis that fell to last place after suffering their eighth defeat. They'll need Messi, who has tallied eight goals and four assists in La Liga Play, to fend off Atletico and Real Madrid.
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