La Liga Player Rankings: Andres Iniesta Joins the Party, Diego Godin Surges
Jornada 14 in La Liga saw the gap at the top of the table closed, with Barcelona dropping points at Valencia and both Madrid clubs, Atletico and Real, making up ground as a result.
Players from those leading sides feature prominently in our rankings once again as the in-form stars of Spain's top flight find consistency to go with their quality.
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, search 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 and gauging 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.
There are several outgoing names this week: Villarreal and Spain right-back Mario Gaspar is out as he remains sidelined through injury, Sevilla's Yevhen Konoplyanka is replaced by a team-mate, Barcelona's Sergi Roberto missed a second game through injury and falls out and Real Madrid's Raphael Varane does the same.
On the watch list
Gerard Pique, FCB
Imanol Agirretxe, RSO
Raul Garcia, ATH
Jefferson Lerma, LEV
20. Borja Baston, EIB
Borja Baston is actually a re-entry, having figured in our top 20 previously this season.
The Eibar forward is enjoying a productive campaign and netted his seventh league goal of the season at the weekend at Real Sociedad, in what was eventually a 2-1 loss for his team.
Hard-working, tenacious, aggressive in the final third and with an eye to get a shot away as early as possible, Borja continues to impress and has the consistency in his game at present to earn his team points and himself individual plaudits.
19. Timothee Kolodziejczak, SEV
Another new entry and a name who has been on our radar for a while now, Sevilla's central defender Timothee Kolodziejczak—or Kolo as he's rather lazily referred to in La Liga—impressed again at the weekend as Sevilla took a 1-1 draw at Depor.
Equally adept centrally or on the left, Kolodziejczak is aggressive, strong on the ground and quick to recover his position or cover behind team-mates.
In an uncertain season for Sevilla with results and performances, he has been consistent when fit and available and is a cause for optimism over the rest of the campaign.
18. Victor Ruiz, VIL
Victor Ruiz only just survives the cull this week, but it's still a downward trend for a player who was performing consistently at the start of the season.
His game at the weekend was broadly split in two: He was uncertain in the first half, evaded by forwards and not looking part of a secure back line, but he then became much more dominant and impressive in the second 45 minutes.
Ruiz's forward surges into the opposition half are quickly becoming a trademark of his play, and when he performs as he did in the latter stages of the game, there aren't many Liga defenders who look more impressive.
17. Andres Iniesta, FCB
Having regained fitness and managed a recent run of games in the starting XI, it's no surprise to see Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta quickly back into our top 20.
His skill and touch on the ball is unrivalled by any other central midfielder in La Liga, and over the past few weeks, his ability to open defences with a dribble or incisive pass has been on show for all to see.
If anything, his display at the weekend against Valencia was slightly less dominant than other performances of late, but the six-game rolling score dictates this is the week he breaks into our 20. A rise up the charts is predictable.
16. Lucas Perez, DEP
Deportivo La Coruna's start to the season has been maintained into December, and they will have hope of a top-half finish after impressing with their blend of work rate and creativity.
Key to it all and embodying both sides of their game is forward Lucas Perez, whose drive and determination has been allied to a consistent finishing touch in recent weeks—his goal against Sevilla in the 1-1 draw marked a fifth successive Liga match in which he has hit the back of the net.
Lucas is in double figures this season already, easily outstripping his total of six in La Liga last term.
15. Claudio Bravo, FCB
Claudio Bravo had a good game against Valencia, but was beaten late on by a strike he couldn't do too much about as Barcelona drew 1-1.
The Chilean was dominant and made a few routine saves in the early part of the game, before having little to do after the break.
It certainly wasn't his fault that Santi Mina hit a late leveller—a fierce drive from close range—so it's still a slight rise for Barcelona's Liga No. 1.
14. Juanfran, ATM
Juanfran isn't doing much wrong for Atletico Madrid, but with other players showing better form of late in our rankings, it's another slide down the charts for him.
The right-back has been solid in recent weeks without being spectacular, whereas earlier in the season—he was in our top three for a time—he was a more offensive outlet, combining well in the final third and getting into the penalty box.
Against Granada, he was kept back a lot of the match by the home team's flank threats—with Isaac Success and Penaranda swapping wings—but he defended diligently and held his line well.
13. Keylor Navas, RMA
Keylor Navas had an extremely easy time of things this weekend for Real Madrid against Getafe, with the away team barely bothering to threaten his goal.
Even so, he conceded a soft goal as Alexis won a header off a corner, and the Costa Rican will be disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet in a game where the opposition only managed three shots on his goal, per WhoScored.com.
12. Mariano, SEV
Mariano continues to keep his spot on the right side of Sevilla's defence, and he continues to deserve it.
The Brazilian again played a key part in his team's performance as they came back to draw 1-1 at Depor, defending extremely well against the threat of the home side's varied wing attacks.
Mariano didn't get forward quite as much as he usually does, and when he did so, it was more in a support capacity rather than delivering crosses into the box. Counter-attacking away from home, though, perhaps that's not a surprise.
11. Yannick Carrasco, ATM
Atletico Madrid's big wide threat over the past two months, Yannick Carrasco impressed once more against Granada with his running off the ball, his pace and his ability to pick passes inside the area.
The Belgian was one of the main protagonists as Atleti took the game to Granada and ended up winning 2-0. He didn't have a hand in either goal this time, but he was responsible for much of the sustained pressure that his team managed to put on the relegation-threatened opposition.
Carrasco played 80 minutes and was applauded off again when subbed.
10. Augusto Fernandez, CEL
Augusto Fernandez has been fantastic for Celta Vigo since coming back into the side.
The aggressive holding midfielder put in another big performance in the centre at Real Betis, especially in the second half with his team down to 10 men and having to withstand the home side's grip on possession.
Fernandez made big challenges and important interventions—there was no shortage of work rate on his behalf, and he has had a very good season so far.
9. Jan Oblak, ATM
Two big displays in successive matches see Jan Oblak shoot up the charts thanks to our rolling six-game score—with more recent matches counting more heavily, his run of clean sheets is proving helpful in that regard.
The Atletico Madrid goalkeeper didn't concede at all in November and started December in La Liga the same way, shutting out Granada and making two big saves along the way.
When things were tight late in the game before Atleti's second killer goal, he was a calming and dominant presence to take high balls, punch clear corners and ensure Granada never really had a sniff. He is the most in-form goalkeeper in La Liga right now.
8. Aritz Aduriz, ATH
Athletic Club striker Aritz Aduriz sinks slightly this week after a tough game, a thankless task of running without service after his team played 70 minutes of the match with 10 men.
A 0-0 draw against Malaga wasn't a hugely surprising result, with very little support or crosses to Aduriz in the final third.
7. Luka Modric, RMA
Luka Modric falls one place, but that's largely because another player overtook him rather than a poor display by the Real Madrid man.
The Croatian midfielder had it far too easy against Getafe as they let him have the run of the centre third, so Modric was able to stride around, making clever passes and keeping the tempo of the game going.
He was important to the team's good start but was subbed after the break with Real already well clear, eventually winning 4-1.
6. Nolito, CEL
Nolito falls again this week despite an improved performance, but his all-round excellent displays aren't quite there at the moment and he looks in danger of falling out of our top 10 soon.
The Celta Vigo forward created the goal for his team in the 1-1 draw at Real Betis, and he was dangerous in creating other opportunities for his fellow attackers. However, the finishing touch which saw him net plenty early in the campaign has been missing of late.
He was hard working throughout and protected his defence well when he needed to, though, and he certainly has the quality to bounce back better than he is showing at present.
5. Diego Godin, ATM
Perhaps La Liga's most in-form player in the past few weeks outside of Barcelona, Diego Godin is back to his best and showing just how important he is to Atletico Madrid at both ends of the pitch.
A thumping header in the first half against Granada gave his side the lead and the Uruguayan his first goal of the season. After that, he was extraordinarily consistent and aggressive with his defensive work at the other end.
Godin has been a big reason for Atleti's recent good defensive form, and he'll look to continue that to keep his team in touch at the top.
4. Sergio Busquets, FCB
Holding midfielder Sergio Busquets put in his usual performance on the ball, moving possession around for Barcelona and making sure he was always available to recycle possession. He was strangely bypassed a few times defensively, though.
Valencia threatened only intermittently, especially in the second half, so perhaps it's harsh to judge him too much on this game after a good run. However, in the one fixture where the scoreline remained close, it was more important than ever that he was on top of his game defensively to help secure the three points.
That wasn't the case, though, and a few counters through the centre were noticeable for Busquets tracking back to no avail.
3. Antoine Griezmann, ATM
Back into our top three, Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann scored his seventh Liga goal of the season on Saturday to secure the points for his team, smashing high into the net late on to make it 2-0 at Granada.
Before that, he had been heavily involved in Atleti's dominance and link play, trying to provide Fernando Torres with his 100th goal for the club and flitting between centre-forward and the right flank to open the defence.
Hard-working, clinical and full of pace, he's a great all-round forward and continues to shine for his team.
2. Luis Suarez, FCB
No change at the top of La Liga, nor in our standings.
Luis Suarez scored the goal which put Valencia to the sword at the Mestalla—before the late equaliser from Mina left things at 1-1 at full-time.
The Uruguayan was his usual menacing self, full of running and scheming to create chances, get shots away and dribble past frustrated defenders who were left in his wake.
Suarez has 13 for the season in La Liga and is in excellent form.
1. Neymar, FCB
Neymar forgot his shooting boots at the weekend and spurned two good chances to score, but that was all he did wrong for 70 minutes or so as he twisted and tormented the Valencia defenders to a ridiculous extent.
Even for his recent form, the opening stages of the first half were breathtaking for Neymar's touch, dribbling and ability to turn defenders inside out—poor Ruben Vezo, out of position and exposed without protection, was left a gibbering wreck inside half an hour.
Neymar couldn't find a scoring touch, but he's still way out in front as the most in-form player in La Liga.