La Liga Player Rankings: Suarez and Ronaldo Fly Up, Gabi and Modric Drop

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2016

La Liga Player Rankings: Suarez and Ronaldo Fly Up, Gabi and Modric Drop

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    The penultimate round of fixtures in La Liga saw Barcelona take another step to retaining the title and Atletico Madrid fall out of the running to win it, leaving only Real Madrid capable of snatching it on the last day.

    After a fourth big Barca win in succession, it's no surprise to see several of their stars return to our top 20.

    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.


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    Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

    Roberto Soldado didn't play for Villarreal and drops out, as do Atletico Madrid's Juanfran and Valencia's Paco Alcacer.

    On the verge

    Lucas Vazquez, RMA

    Diego Reyes, RSO

    Youssef El Arabi, GRA

    On the radar

    Diego Alves, VAL

    Santi Mina, VAL

    Neymar, FCB

    Sergio Busquets, FCB

    Marcelo, RMA

20. Roque Mesa, LPA

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Down 5

    Just about hanging in is Roque Mesa of Las Palmas, but he didn't play in his side's 0-0 draw with Athletic Bilbao at the weekend and drops to the edge of our 20.

19. Andres Iniesta, FCB

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    New entry

    Andres Iniesta is now one game from lifting La Liga's trophy in his first season as skipper of Barcelona, and the 32-year-old is finishing the campaign on a high note.

    He typified his side's approach in the 5-0 win against Espanyol in the local derby: his focus was on the game and being far better on the ball, leaving his opponents to the rough stuff and seeing them lose concentration in the process.

    Many of Barca's best moves started with Iniesta finding space or playing passes between the lines, and he was an exemplary performer once more.

18. Luka Modric, RMA

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Down 1

    Luka Modric didn't play for Real Madrid in the 3-2 win over Valencia at the weekend.

17. Gerard Pique, FCB

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    New entry

    Barcelona's frontmen are getting plenty of plaudits after huge goalscoring exploits of late, but Gerard Pique has returned to top form in recent games at the back, too. While that's obviously good news for Barcelona, Spain will also be happy he's in a good moment before UEFA Euro 2016.

    Pique was excellent against Espanyol, challenging effectively and aggressively when he needed to and keeping the tempo up with passes out from the back.

16. Lionel Messi, FCB

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    New entry

    It couldn't be long before Lionel Messi returned to the top 20, could it?

    After a definite downturn in form, for Messi and the team as a whole, he is back with some big performances to end the season with, and it seems as though the side are back on course to continue their domestic dominance as a result.

    Espanyol simply couldn't cope with the No. 10, who found space to run through and create chances at every turn as well as scoring the game's opener from a free-kick.

15. Gabi, ATM

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    VI-Images/Getty Images

    Down 5

    Gabi couldn't really control too much in midfield for Atletico Madrid in the 2-1 loss against Levante; not because the relegated side swamped Atleti but because there was little pressure in his area of the field and even less movement.

    As a result, he was somewhat restricted to simple passes across field or trying to force the issue by surging forward, thus leaving gaps behind.

    It wasn't his best game, and he was subbed with 20 minutes to play.

14. Lucas Hernandez, ATM

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    JAVIER SORIANO/Getty Images

    Down 6

    Lucas Hernandez didn't feature for Atletico against Levante.

13. Nolito, CEL

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    Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

    Up 3

    A good all-round game for Nolito, who scored the winner for Celta Vigo in their 1-0 win against Malaga.

    The wide forward was instrumental in his team's creative moves as usual, more often getting himself into shooting positions this week rather than being the instigator of attacks.

    His movement infield was good, his first touch was impressive and he is a big reason Celta are likely to finish fifth. He should also be in Spain's squad for Euro 2016.

12. Ignacio Camacho, MGA

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    Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

    Up 1

    Ignacio Camacho was on the losing side against Nolito's Celta Vigo, but his own performance was still good.

    The central midfielder operated intelligently in both halves of the pitch, closing out central spaces and making challenges to win back possession before pushing forward to support the attack from the second line.

    He got a couple of shots away thanks to his less-restricted role and, as always, his underrated ability to win the ball in the air was a factor during the game. Malaga should finish in the top half, barring a final-day capitulation to Las Palmas.

11. Saul Niguez, ATM

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    Up 1

    Also on the losing side but putting in a good individual performance was Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez.

    His running off the ball and continuous approach to finding a route to goal was one of the best points of Atleti's play on the day, as he cut infield to get involved in link play and also tried to get behind the defence more than once.

    Saul's work rate and defensive ability were on show later in the game, though he couldn't inspire the win in the end.

10. Jan Oblak, ATM

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    Boris Streubel/Getty Images

    Down 1

    Jan Oblak was beaten twice by Levante; Barcelona are the only other side to do that in La Liga this season.

    There was little the Slovenian could do about either goal, but it does damage his hopes of a Liga record for lowest average rate of conceding goals in a 38-game season. Per Marca, he can now equal, but not better, Paco Liano on 0.47 conceded per game (with Depor in 1993-94)—if he keeps a clean sheet on the final day.

9. Keylor Navas, RMA

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    Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

    Down 4

    Keylor Navas didn't play for Real Madrid, with Kiko Casilla in goal against Valencia.

8. Gareth Bale, RMA

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    Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

    Down 1

    Gareth Bale missed the weekend's match against Valencia.

7. Luis Suarez, FCB

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    Up 11

    When he hits top gear, he really hits top gear.

    Luis Suarez took his recent tally to 11 goals in four games with another brace against Espanyol, as Barcelona won 5-0 and moved to within a game of the title.

    The Uruguayan's movement and closing down was a huge factor in the win, as the defence utterly failed to contain him. Suarez is the league's top scorer heading into the last day with 37 for the season.

6. Filipe Luis, ATM

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    Boris Streubel/Getty Images

    Down 2

    Having been on a good run of form recently, Filipe Luis will be slightly disappointed with his display for Atletico at the weekend.

    He was caught out positionally more than once, perhaps a little guilty of taking the Levante side too lightly, and didn't really contribute too much in the final third other than a low cross or two into the box.

5. Antoine Griezmann, ATM

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Down 3

    Atletico left Antoine Griezmann on the bench as they try to manage his minutes heading into the UEFA Champions League final, but they needed to call him on at half-time.

    He couldn't find space in a packed Levante defensive third and didn't really have the impact the team needed. 

4. Cristiano Ronaldo, RMA

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    JAVIER SORIANO/Getty Images

    Up 7

    Flying toward the end of the season in great form, Cristiano Ronaldo netted another two goals that eventually gave Real Madrid the 3-2 win over Valencia.

    The left-sided forward played as he always does: Direct, attacking the channels, looking to get in behind the full-backs and a real threat when running across the box.

    His goals were well-taken, and he now has 33 for the Liga season.

3. Casemiro, RMA

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    Up 3

    Again a huge part of Real Madrid's win at the weekend, Casemiro seemed to be holding the midfield together by himself at times when Valencia had possession, with Toni Kroos once more bypassed almost entirely.

    The Brazilian has been in great form for most of the second half of the season, winning over media, fans and manager alike.

    He'll be vital in the Champions League final and is an undroppable part of the team right now.

2. Fernando Torres, ATM

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    Up 1

    Fernando Torres scored again at the weekend, making it six in his last nine in La Liga and reaching double figures for the season in the process.

    At that point, early in the game, it looked as though Atleti were heading for another three points, but they couldn't maintain the lead and ended up as the losing side.

    Torres' work rate and movement throughout the 90 minutes was impressive, though, and he was the one who found the key to unlock Levante's defence more than once, but he couldn't replicate his early cool finish to find another telling strike.

1. Koke, ATM

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    Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

    No change

    Still top of our charts despite the loss to Levante, Koke's excellent form continued in this game, and he was one of the top performers on and off the ball.

    He played the pass that led to the opening goal early on and delivered several more telling balls into the final third. Koke skippering the team after Gabi's substitution only highlights his importance to Atletico, and he ran the game from the centre, despite his side ultimately failing to find a way through.

    Koke should be assured of a Euro 2016 place and will hope for a starting central role, too.


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