Things are still awfully tight at the top of La Liga as the league slate moves to Matchday 17.
In Week 16, Barcelona were able to hold onto a share of the top spot thanks to two Ne
ymar goals in a 2-1 victory over Villarreal. Atletico Madrid kept up their blistering pace by easily disposing of Valencia. Both Barcelona and Atletico are tied at 43 points.
Real Madrid weren't able to get through the weekend with three points in hand, however, after a draw against Osasuna. Heading into a matchup against Valencia in Week 17, the pressure is heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo and company to keep from slipping further from title contention.
Atletico will need to take care of business at home against Levante on Saturday, Dec. 21, while Barcelona travel to Getafe on Sunday, Dec. 22.
Here's a look at the table for Week 17, the weekend's fixtures and a breakdown of the results.
|Athletic Bilbao||2-1||Rayo Vallecano|
Update: Sunday, Dec. 22 at 7:45 p.m. ET by Richard Langford
Sunday saw lots of scoring in La Liga action. Espanyol and Barcelona led the scoring charge as the two top-half sides combined to dump in nine scores on the day.
Playing without Lionel Messi or Neymar, table leaders Barcelona went for five on the road against an over matched Getafe.
Barcelona has scored 4 or more goals 9 times this season, most by any team in #LaLiga— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 22, 2013
Eighth-place Getafe had allowed just seven goals at home in their eight home league games prior to Sunday.
The home side actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead by the 14th minute. Three straight goals from Pedro, however, flipped the lead. Cesc Fabregas added the matches final two goals.
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino, as quoted by Daily Mail's Pete Jenson, had this to say about his star for the day:
He never lets his head drop. When it is his turn to play he plays well and when he has to sit on the bench he does so without complaining. Any coach would want a player like him in their squad.
He knows the competition for places is tough because we have so many good forwards but he always gives you everything.
Espanyol did not need a comeback to earn their 4-2 victory over Real Valladolid. Led by a brace from Christian Stuani, Espanyol opened up a 4-0 lead playing in front of their home fans.
Two late goals for Valladolid made the outcome appear closer than the match really was.
In other Sunday action, Jese netted a goal in the 82nd minute to propel Real Madrid to an away 3-2 win over Valencia. This was a key win for Real Madrid to help them stay just five points behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the table.
FT Valencia 2, Real Madrid 3. Jese the hero in a tough game that for large patches, lacked skill. His goal was gifted him by the keeper.— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) December 22, 2013
Moreno Mikel Rico sent home the winning score in the 66th minute to lead Athletic Bilbao to a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano and further entrench themselves in fourth place in the table.
Elche 0, Malaga 1
Malaga went on the road and battled through a rough 90 minutes to secure a tight 1-0 victory over Elche to skyrocket up the table in a match between two clubs tied in points entering the day.
Despite the loss, Elche dominated things early on. They maintained a 65 percent possession advantage in the first half and had more shots on goal. Malaga's lone shot of the opening frame was converted when Ignacio Carmacho netted a sixth-minute goal early on.
There was nothing doing in the second half, as Elche weren't able to manufacture a shot on goal in the final 45 minutes to put any sort of heat on Malaga's close lead. A 60th-minute red card from Elche's Damian Suarez didn't help their chances.
With the win, Malaga climbed way up from a tie for 13th in the table to a now four-way tie for ninth place at 20 points. It's been a season to forget for Malaga thus far, but there is still plenty of time to turn things around and they proved that with a hard-fought win on Friday, Dec. 20.