La Liga Player Rankings: Antoine Griezmann and Gareth Bale Surge Up the Charts
Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid all won in La Liga over the weekend to leave the race for the title still finely poised, but Levante were relegated after losing two late goals in the 3-1 defeat to Malaga on Monday night.
The top three all made plenty of rotations—and it means more changes and surprises in our player rankings, which now has just two more gameweeks to run.
As usual, we have analysed each game from the week's fixtures to update our player rankings; the rankings are based on players' last six games and are continually updated throughout the season, with slightly more emphasis placed on their most recent outing.
Only Liga performances are counted, and typically, one-week wonders do not find their way in—instead, see our Team of the Week for the top performers over a single weekend.
We look beyond the statistical measures and into the performance, reviewing tape to gauge impact. It's not just goals, assists and heroic clearances that impress; it's about how a player contributes to the tactical plan at hand and what impact he has over the entire 90-minute period.
On the radar
Lucas Vazquez, RMA
Diego Reyes, RSO
Diego Alves, VAL
Cedric Bakambu, VIL
Santi Mina, VAL
Lionel Messi, FCB
Gerard Pique, FCB
Andres Iniesta, FCB
20. Roberto Soldado, VIL
Villarreal's experienced centre-forward is getting noticed around Europe thanks to his team's exploits in the UEFA Europa League, but Roberto Soldado has been largely playing this way all season.
He gave his much-changed side the win against Valencia at the weekend thanks to two assists, a fine through ball for one and an intelligent laid-off pass for the other.
Soldado was the only player of the XI not rotated by Marcelino between the two legs of their European semi-final.
19. Juanfran, ATM
Atletico Madrid's first-choice right-back and an undroppable part of their side.
His form has bounced back again of late after a slight stutter, certainly in terms of his work on the ball, and the bearded defender showed against Rayo Vallecano why he is so highly valued by Diego Simeone.
He shut down the entire left flank of Rayo's attack, even when in the diamond formation which required Juanfran to push on more regularly. A tremendous display again.
18. Luis Suarez, FCB
It wasn't Luis Suarez's best day at the office, but such is the relentless nature of the Uruguayan forward that he still made a telling impact.
The Barcelona front man continually found space inside the box against Real Betis, but he scuffed or mis-hit every shot which fell his way, twice missing the target when he should have scored and once being thwarted by Antonio Adan.
Work rate and self-belief goes a long way for a striker, though, and Suarez kept plugging away—and eventually scored the match-settling goal for 2-0.
17. Luka Modric, RMA
Luka Modric was kept in place by Zinedine Zidane as he looked for the win over Real Sociedad, and the former France international was rewarded with a busy and effective performance from the Croatian.
Real Madrid's key midfielder was instrumental in their early dominance and second-half surge for points, keeping the team on the front foot and finding space between La Real's defence and midfield lines to turn and play in team-mates.
A couple of shots from range from Modric also caused danger.
16. Nolito, CEL
Nolito and his Celta team started the match at Athletic Club Bilbao in good form.
They took the lead and looked set for a big three points—but defender Cabral ruined all that by conceding a penalty in the 38th minute and then getting sent off within a minute of the two occurrences.
Celta struggled to retain possession or find Nolito as an out-ball after that, and they ended up losing 2-1.
15. Roque Mesa, LPA
After his recent tremendous form, this was a real departure for Roque Mesa as he was bypassed in midfield for Las Palmas.
It was a crazy game: his side went two goals up early on, then collapsed and lost 3-2 to relegation-threatened Granada, with the pace and relentless offensive mindset from the Andalucian club seeming to swamp Las Palmas' midfield at times.
Roque was subbed late on.
14. Paco Alcacer, VAL
Paco Alcacer was left on the bench by Valencia for their defeat to Villarreal, only coming on for the final 15 minutes, having little impact.
13. Ignacio Camacho, MGA
Ignacio Camacho was one of those in place as Malaga took a late 3-1 win over Levante—consigning the defeated club to relegation.
The Spanish midfielder was industrious throughout and showed great work rate to help win back the ball repetitively and dominate the centre of the park, though it was aerially as much as on the ground where his influence was felt.
Camacho was able to push forward into space to help create, too, with Levante forced to leave gaps in the chase for points.
12. Saul Niguez, ATM
Saul Niguez was one of those rested by Atletico.
11. Cristiano Ronaldo, RMA
Still out injured, Cristiano Ronaldo missed the weekend win over Real Sociedad.
10. Gabi, ATM
Gabi played the first 45 minutes for Atletico Madrid in what was clearly a pre-designed tactic to preserve the captain's fitness ahead of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg.
The central midfielder largely bossed matters against Rayo, switching from a flat 4-4-2 midfield to playing on the right side of a diamond as Atletico sought to get the upper hand.
9. Jan Oblak, ATM
Jan Oblak passed the 600-minute mark without conceding a goal at the weekend, shutting out Rayo Vallecano to help record the 1-0 win.
The Slovenian goalkeeper wasn't called upon to make too many spectacular saves, but his imposing presence in the box meant set pieces and crosses were dealt with without fuss and always with the possibility of smart distribution afterward.
Good footwork, two brave blocks and one low save in the second half were further highlights.
8. Lucas Hernandez, ATM
Lucas Hernandez returned at centre-back for Atletico Madrid and put in an excellent performance alongside Josema Gimenez.
The French defender was imperious at the back, making plenty of important clearances in the second half as they sat back on a one-goal lead and eventually took the three points.
Lucas has performed admirably with senior stars out injured and looks set for a good future at Atletico—though perhaps a season on loan next year will yield more game time.
7. Gareth Bale, RMA
Not a stand-out performance from Gareth Bale in terms of relentless productivity or incisive work in the final third, but his work rate was tremendous and he kept going throughout the 90 minutes despite missing a glut of headed chances.
That endeavour was rewarded when he headed the winning goal 10 minutes from time against Real Sociedad, with the freedom Bale was afforded by his manager—running centrally for much of the game, not just cutting in from the flank—paying dividends.
For two Liga games running, Bale has been Real Madrid's man for the occasion in the absence of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.
6. Casemiro, RMA
A big jump up the charts for Casemiro, who is the single biggest defining player of the Zinedine Zidane era so far.
The holding midfielder was not one of those rested for the game at Anoeta, with the boss noting the need to protect his flaky back four with the Brazilian's presence.
Casemiro was vital in the first half in breaking up play, chasing back counter-attacks and picking up loose balls as La Real took the game to Real Madrid.
After the break it was more about Casemiro's ability on the ball and passing between the lines as he set his team on the front foot.
5. Keylor Navas, RMA
Keylor Navas kept another clean sheet for Real Madrid and this one was vital, with his team struggling to create real openings against Real Sociedad.
The Costa Rican goalkeeper wasn't overly tested, but he had a few moments in the first half where he needed to produce reaction stops or race bravely from his line.
After the break it was a stroll for Navas as Real Madrid dominated—but showed his concentration and handling skills to make an injury-time save off a header and, vitally, he kept hold of the ball with an attacker running in for a potential rebound.
4. Filipe Luis, ATM
Filipe Luis was another of the many Madrid-based stars rested. Jesus Gamez took his place at left-back for Atleti.
3. Fernando Torres, ATM
Fernando Torres came off the bench for Atletico just after the restart and was important for the team's brief dominance and eventual win, though he should have scored himself.
Twice he was played in by Antoine Griezmann, only to spurn shooting chances, but his movement was impressive throughout his time on the pitch and his overall game was good.
2. Antoine Griezmann, ATM
A huge 40 minutes from Antoine Griezmann sees him rise, Atletico stay in the title hunt and the Frenchman once again look like being La Liga's highest scorer outside of Real and Barca.
Called from the bench just after the break to give Atletico more of an attacking edge, Griezmann needed less than one minute to have an impact, latching onto a ball and smashing a fierce effort into the bottom corner from outside the box.
Playing centrally and wide, as he did late on, Griezmann was a threat on the counter and worked hard defensively.
1. Koke, ATM
No alteration for top spot, as Koke came on at half-time for Atletico Madrid, replacing Gabi.
He was good without being at his absolute stellar best for Atleti, helping to quickly assert dominance in midfield and then doing his usual immense work load defensively to help protect the lead.
Koke will be heading into Euro 2016 in fine form, but can he end the season on top of the player rankings in La Liga?