La Liga Team of the Week: Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi and Griezmann on Fire

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2016

La Liga Team of the Week: Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi and Griezmann on Fire

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    Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

    Jornada 28 (Round 28) in La Liga saw the top three all move further clear of the chasing pack with impressive big wins, leaving Barcelona still eight points clear at the top. The star forward from Barca, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid all hit top form this week, and all three are in our selected XI—in fact Real, the big winners of the weekend, have a full four players nominated.

    For our team of the week, we take the best individual displays from Spain's top flight and combine the most impressive player from each position into a viable formation, with our selection process seeing us analyse every game to pick out a star XI from the weekend's fixtures.

    This time we've opted for an offensive 4-4-2, with only the best players in each position included, leading, as always, to several tough decisions along the way. In addition to individual form, we take into account such factors as opposition quality and overall contribution to the team's display.

GK: Antonio Adan, BET

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    In a weekend of high-scoring matches in La Liga, only four goalkeepers kept clean sheets and, of those, only two were called into action with any kind of regularity.

    Real Betis stopper Antonio Adan takes top spot for us after producing a display that not only yielded another clean sheet, but it also set the platform for his team to take all three points late on. Soon after he had made another of his impressive stops, diving away to his right to save off a corner, Betis went up the other end and scored.

    Adan must be an outside shout for Spain's squad for the Euros after a season of largely good form.

RB: Oscar de Marcos, ATH

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    A standout performer and the scorer of one of the weekend's best goals in La Liga, Oscar de Marcos was excellent for Athletic Club as they beat Sporting Gijon 2-0 on the road.

    Raiding forward from right-back, he continually took advantage of the space down the flank, caused by Sporting's lopsided midfield and his own team's compact quartet in the middle when out of possession. De Marcos' pace and link play was a frequent outlet for the Basque side, and he defended well against counter-attacks, too.

    His goal was a thing of beauty—De Marcos ran onto a square pass and let fly, first time and on the diagonal, right into the far top corner to seal the win.

CB: Pepe, RMA

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    Pepe had an awful spell of form early in the season, mixed in with periods of injury, but of late he has returned to play an important part for the team with a couple of determined, effective performances.

    Against Celta Vigo it was Pepe, not captain Sergio Ramos, who held the defence together with good organisation, lots of communication and the aggressive challenges on the ground and in the air that have long been his trademark.

    Add in a thumping header for the game's opening goal and Pepe's influence on Real's big win was clear to see.

CB: German Pezzella, BET

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    Back to Betis and it wasn't just Adan who kept the clean sheet—his defence contributed plenty too, especially once left-back Juan Vargas had been sent off and Betis had to dig in at times, sitting deep before looking to strike on the break.

    In the centre, German Pezzella was once again the man who rose to the occasion for the hugely improved Andalucian side, remaining a rock at the back to make sure Sporting found no easy route to goal and making countless clearances from inside his own box.

    Betis have shot up the table to 11th place in recent weeks—eight points clear now of relegation.

LB: Guilherme Siqueira, VAL

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    Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

    Valencia left-back Guilherme Siqueira hasn't quite been up to speed since joining on loan from Atletico Madrid in January—but he put in his best performance so far on Sunday night against, ironically, his parent club.

    The defender was quick to surge forward in the first hour or so of the match when Los Che were able to match Atleti, physically as well as tactically, and it was no coincidence that most of their good build-up came down the left, with Siqueira working in tandem with Denis Cheryshev.

    Defensively Siqueira was reliable, strong and did well in stopping Juanfran getting forward, though he may be thinking he was lucky to escape a yellow or even red card for a dangerous high foot challenge that tore the shirt and bloodied the back of former team-mate Luciano Vietto.

CM: Casemiro, RMA

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    Real Madrid's cutting display in the final third was impressive to watch, but it came after they had resisted the Celta Vigo counter-attacking threat for the first 45 minutes of the game.

    That tactically vital innovation in the Real Madrid midfield came courtesy of the reintroduction to the team of Casemiro, who held things together at the base with an athletic performance that enabled him to roam the entire width of midfield, winning back the ball and protecting the back line.

    It wasn't purely a destructive display either, with Casemiro often a forward-looking player who sought to quickly put Real on the front foot and seek out passes in the final third.

CM: Isco, RMA

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    Third on the Real Madrid list of players is fellow midfielder Isco; while Casemiro provided the graft, Isco brought the craft to the party.

    Isco's well-overdue creative performance saw him rise to the occasion when Toni Kroos and Luka Modric were absent from the Real midfield, and his ability to take players on, find space centrally and pick out intelligent passes under pressure in the area were key to Real pulling away with ease in the second half.

    Isco could have scored himself with a little more luck but ended the match with two assists nonetheless, even though he was subbed off once the game was wrapped up to allow Zinedine Zidane to rotate and rest his team somewhat.

W: Lionel Messi, FCB

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    Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

    A world-class front line this week for the most part, we begin with Leo Messi who ran the show for Barcelona as they destroyed Eibar 4-0.

    The first goal scored by the No. 10 was one of the classic Messi slaloming runs for which he has become so admired—no matter how wide the Eibar defence tried to force him or how many doubled up with each other to stop him, he simply kept going and arrowed a low finish in.

    Messi ended with two and put in one of his best performances in some time.

W: Fede Cartabia, DEP

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    Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

    We're not going for a completely proven quartet, though—Deportivo La Coruna's Fede Cartabia, on loan from Valencia, is immensely talented but almost equally inconsistent.

    He was on top of his game at the weekend, though, as he pulled strings and created plenty for Depor to take a 3-3 draw against Malaga, scoring one of the goals of the weekend in the process as he drove down the right channel, leaving defenders tackling thin air and burying a low shot from the edge of the box.

    Cartabia was a huge danger with his constant running at the defence and ability to turn in tight spaces, and he went on to set up one of his team's other scores in the draw.

CF: Antoine Griezmann, ATM

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    Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

    Atletico Madrid's French centre-forward Antoine Griezmann is a man right back in form—three goals in his last three Liga games have kept Atleti near to Barcelona and have pushed his own tally to 15 for the season in league play.

    Against Valencia he was a key all-round performer, as his side won 3-1, scoring the first goal with a well-hit first-time finish but later on being the team's creative spark as he moved out of the front line and into a roaming, free role from wide midfield.

    Griezmann worked tremendously hard off the ball, found openings in the box for his team-mates and linked well with both Vietto and Fernando Torres in turn, as well as then setting up Yannick Carrasco for his solo goal—Atleti's third.

CF: Cristiano Ronaldo, RMA

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    GERARD JULIEN/Getty Images

    Our second centre-forward and the man who returned to lead the Pichichi race this weekend is Cristiano Ronaldo.

    The Real Madrid attacker started wide left and later moved into a forward role when Real went 4-4-2, producing a scintillating second-half display to net four goals and move to 27 for the season. A long-range strike, a free-kick, a header and a close-range finish on a sweeping move—a diverse and clinical quartet of goals from the No. 7 sent Real well on their way to the 7-1 win over Celta.

    Aside from his goals, Ronaldo's movement was excellent, he spurred his team to get forward quickly and he exploited the space in ruthless fashion that Celta's faltering defence and midfield continued to leave after the break.


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