Real Madrid and Getafe were the big winners of Week 21 of the 2019-20 La Liga campaign, earning hard-fought wins while some of their direct rivals faltered
Los Blancos are the outright leaders after beating Real Valladolid, while Barcelona lost away to Valencia and Atletico Madrid only managed a draw against Leganes. They're now ranked fifth, level on points with Getafe, who beat Real Betis.
Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Villarreal also earned three points with wins over Granada, Mallorca and Deportivo Alaves, respectively. Here are the standings after Sunday's results:
Your winners and losers from Week 21:
Loser: Quique Setien
Barcelona have looked far from convincing under new manager Setien, and following the club's first loss during his reign, the honeymoon period is officially over.
Per sports writer Dermot Corrigan, the Blaugrana hadn't lost at the Estadio Mestalla in well over a decade:
It's been a rocky start for Setien, who has had little time to teach his new team how to play his particular style of football. Some early struggles were expected, but Valencia easily handled Barcelona on Saturday, missing a penalty and having several goals overturned.
Winner: Real's Title Chances
Setien's early struggles are a bad omen for the Blaugrana in the title race, while Real just keep plugging along, recording their third straight La Liga win on Sunday.
It wasn't pretty away to Valladolid, but Nacho Fernandez's late winner was enough to bag all three points at the Estadio Nuevo Jose Zorrilla, a place that hasn't been kind to Los Blancos in the past:
La Liga Lowdown 🧡🇪🇸⚽️ @LaLigaLowdown
FT: Real Valladolid💜 0-1 Real Madrid⚪ In only his 4th start this season, Nacho heads home to send Madrid 3 points clear at the top of LaLiga💥 It's RM's 1st clean sheet at Valladolid since Feb 2000! In the 10 games since: won 4, drew 4 & lost 2, always conceding #LLL 🧡🇪🇸⚽️ https://t.co/CDPrHNAKoL
The Catalans have handed their greatest rivals a major advantage in the title race, ditching a coach who was known for his pragmatic approach―Ernesto Valverde―in favour of the wide-open style of Setien, doing so in mid-season.
It's a huge gamble that can only increase Real's title-winning chances, especially if Los Blancos continue to find goals from unlikely scorers.
Loser: Joao Felix
One man who has struggled to score goals is Atletico's Felix, who has found the net just twice in La Liga since his summer move to the Spanish capital.
He once again failed to convince in the scoreless draw against Leganes, striking a frustrated figure, per AS' Robbie Dunne:
The stats behind Atletico's attacking issues suggest the team is creating similar chances to last season, with the biggest difference being none of the forwards can convert at the same rate as Antoine Griezmann, who departed for Barcelona.
All of the Atletico forwards are at fault for this, but the Rojiblancos smashed their transfer record on Felix specifically to offset Griezmann's departure. Fair or not, the 20-year-old is the one shouldering the bulk of the blame right now.
Winner: Fernando Nino
Villarreal's Nino made his La Liga debut on Saturday, entering the pitch after 88 minutes with his team in search of a winner against Alaves.
It took the 19-year-old just one minute to make his debut a memorable one, smashing home the winning goal with a brilliant strike:
The goal moved the Yellow Submarine level on points with Athletic Bilbao in eighth place. In a tight race for the UEFA Europa League tickets, it could prove one of the most important of the season, making Saturday's remarkable debut one of the best in recent La Liga history.