Luis Suarez, Karim Benzema and La Liga Team of the Week After Matchday 17

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2019

VALENCIA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 15: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring during the Liga match between Valencia CF and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Mestalla on December 15, 2019 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Xaume Olleros/Getty Images)
Xaume Olleros/Getty Images

Barcelona and Real Madrid are still tied on points at the top of La Liga after Matchday 17 of the 2019-20 season.

The Blaugrana were held to a 2-2 draw by Real Sociedad, while Los Blancos needed a stoppage-time goal from Karim Benzema to earn a point at Valencia.

In the chasing pack, Sevilla lost to Villarreal, but Getafe and Atletico Madrid got victories against Real Valladolid and Osasuna, respectively.

LaLiga @LaLigaEN

That's it for Matchday 17 of #LaLigaSantander, which featured SIX draws! 🤜💥🤛 https://t.co/akPZsAW6av

LaLiga @LaLigaEN

So where's your team on the #LaLigaSantander table after Matchday 17? 🏆👀 https://t.co/pjtdsnFYfh

Here is the team of the week.  


GK: Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid 

Real's No. 1 made an impact at both ends against Valencia. He kept his side in the game with some fine saves, most notably staying big in the second half to keep out Ferran Torres.

Courtois then went up for the corner in stoppage time that led to Benzema's equaliser, heading powerfully at opposite number Jaume Domenech, who could only parry into the Frenchman's path:

Dean Jones @DeanJonesBR

Courtois came so close to scoring with this late header! Keeper saved it and Benz ate up the rebound https://t.co/e0DDSt6uok

Squawka Football @Squawka

Arsenal Thibaut Courtois 🤝 1 shot on target today https://t.co/BbDy6XprS3


DEF: Kieran Trippier, Atletico Madrid 

The English right-back played a key role as Atleti beat Osasuna for their first La Liga win in four.

Trippier provided a deft free-kick delivery from the right for Alvaro Morata to head home the opener in the 67th minute, and he also made four tackles in the match, more than any other player on the pitch.


DEF: Inigo Martinez, Athletic Bilbao 

In Athletic's 0-0 draw with Eibar, the defenders stood out.

Martinez was the pick of the bunch, making a total of nine clearances, three interceptions and one blocked shot while winning six aerial duels.


DEF: Paulo Oliveira, Eibar

Oliveira was similarly dominant in the centre of Eibar's defence as the visitors claimed a point.

The Portuguese won four aerial duels, completed seven clearances and made two tackles, while his 10 long balls regularly relieved the pressure that built up on Eibar, who remain two points clear of the drop zone.


DEF: Lucas Olaza, Celta Vigo

Olaza made a big impact in Celta's 2-2 draw with fellow relegation battlers Mallorca on Sunday.

Not only did he put in an inch-perfect cross from the left for Rafinha to open the scoring in the 20th minute, he also won the penalty from which Iago Aspas scored Celta's second soon after the break. 


MID: Saul Niguez, Atletico Madrid

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 14: Saul Niguez of  Club Atletico de Madrid 
 celebrates scoring his team's 2nd goal during the Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and CA Osasuna at Wanda Metropolitano on December 14, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Deni
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The most complete performance of the La Liga weekend came from Atleti's Saul in the heart of the midfield.

His long-range effort early on stung the gloves of Osasuna goalkeeper Sergio Herrera, and he scored Atleti's second in the 75th minute after a bursting run into the box.

Meanwhile, the 25-year-old also won 10 aerial duels, made five clearances and completed 54 passes, all contributions unmatched by any other player on the pitch. 


MID: Martin Odegaard, Real Sociedad

Real Madrid loanee Odegaard is enjoying a fine season so far with La Real, and he was in good form again on Saturday for the visit of Barcelona to the Anoeta Stadium.

He was unable to add to his season tally of three goals and four assists in the league, but the 20-year-old pulled the strings for the hosts as they ended Barca's seven-game winning run in all competitions:

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Martin Ødegaard’s game by numbers vs. Barcelona: 87% pass accuracy 29 successful final third passes 4 successful take-ons 3 chances created 2 ball recoveries 2 tackles Caused havoc between the lines. 🇳🇴 https://t.co/vaPQvuC8Mp


MID: Rafinha, Celta Vigo 

Rafinha's goal against Mallorca, an expertly converted header from Olaza's cross, was his first of the season in La Liga.

It was one of five shots the Brazilian attempted during the match, and he also completed four successful dribbles, made three tackles and three interceptions in the No. 10 role. 


FWD: Luis Suarez, Barcelona

At 32 years old, Suarez remains a relentless presence in Barcelona's attack.

He produced a typical performance against La Real, feeding Antoine Griezmann to score Barca's equaliser, netting the second after combining with Lionel Messi, and earning a booking with 16 minutes to go. 


FWD: Karim Benzema, Real Madrid

Benzema joined Messi on 12 goals at the top of the La Liga scoring charts with his equaliser in the fifth minute of injury time at the Mestalla Stadium:

LaLiga @LaLigaEN

After Matchday 17, @Benzema joins Messi at the front of the Top Goalscorer Race! 🔝🏎️ #LaLigaSantander https://t.co/w6Tn5n5czH

It could prove a vital goal in the title race because it means Real are still level on points with Barca going into Wednesday's Clasico at the Camp Nou. 


FWD: Jaime Mata, Getafe

Getafe's 2-0 win at home to Valladolid on Sunday moved them up to fourth in the table, and Mata was the star man.

He was at the heart of almost every smart piece of Getafe play, and he topped off a fine performance with one of the most ingenious crosses of the season to set up Angel for the second goal in the 82nd minute.  


Stats from WhoScored.com