Neymar, Messi, Bale and Ronaldo Watch: A Welsh Stunner and Argentine Magic

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2014

Neymar, Messi, Bale and Ronaldo Watch: A Welsh Stunner and Argentine Magic

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    This week was an odd one for the four biggest stars in Spain. Lionel Messi played a major role for Barcelona, while Neymar performed well as his partner. Cristiano Ronaldo was out of action, but Gareth Bale stepped up in his absence.

    For Real Madrid it was a huge weekend. Los Blancos saw off visitors Elche 3-0 in a dominant display even without their biggest stars.

    However, it was a week of mixed emotions for the Catalans, who defeated Manchester City 2-0 in Champions League action before suffering a disappointing 3-1 loss at Anoeta against Real Sociedad.

    In this week's installment of the Neymar, Messi Bale, and Ronaldo watch, we will break down just how well the stars performed. Of course, Ronaldo will not be included as he did not feature for Los Blancos.

    * All statistics are courtesy of WhoScored?


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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    It was a rather slow week for the Brazilian starlet. Neymar participated in both of Barcelona's matches this week but only managed to record an assist.

    The 22-year-old came off the bench late against Manchester City and had an immediate impact. His pace and ability to beat defenders caused a lot of problems against the English club. Neymar was even able to provide a wonderful assist to Dani Alves to seal the 2-0 win.

    Neymar has quickly adapted to European football and is showing just how talented he really is in Champions League play.

    The Brazilian found his way into the starting lineup against Real Sociedad Saturday but did not have as much of an influence on the game.

    Neymar was able to link up well in attack and get off a few shots, but he struggled to make things hard for the defense. Surprisingly, he was unable to win a single dribble as Barcelona's attack was neutralized for the most part.

Gareth Bale

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Real Madrid were in thrilling form as they defeated Elche 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Los Blancos had to make do without Cristiano Ronaldo, but that did not prove to be a problem at all.

    Gareth Bale used his speed to make trouble for the Elche defense; however, it took him quite a while to get into the game. He did manage to win two dribbles and get off five shots, but it was his wonder goal that stole the show.

    After 70 minutes of play, Bale blasted a shot from well outside the box. The ball struck off of the underside of the crossbar and beat the keeper to double Real Madrid's lead and seal the win.

    Bale is still transitioning to Spanish football, and with more games he will only get better. In truth, fans were really excited to see a trademark Bale strike for the first time with the club.

Lionel Messi

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    Clint Hughes/Associated Press

    It was a stunning week for Lionel Messi, who was Barcelona's best player in both games. Messi continued to lead the Blaugrana attack, and if not for his magic, the club could have struggled more than they did.

    In Barcelona's Champions League match Messi was in his usual unbelievable form. The Argentine managed to win four dribbles, causing havoc for the English hosts. He also got off a total of six shots.

    Messi even managed to get Martin Demichelis sent off with a great run, which resulted in a penalty kick. Of course, Messi buried it.

    Against Real Sociedad, Messi was Barcelona's only real bright spot. The club struggled mightily against their Basque hosts and fell 3-1 at Anoeta. The result was stunning and very disappointing for La Blaugrana.

    Yet, Messi was able to score the club's only goal after dazzling buildup play on the edge of the box. The 26-year-old appeared to turn things around with the strike, but it would not be enough for the Catalans, who left the Basque Country without a win for their fourth time this season.

    What do you make of this week's action? Which of these three stars had the better week? Leave your thoughts and comments below!