La Liga Winners and Losers After Final 2020 Week 24 Table

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2020

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 16: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) Gareth Bale of Real Madrid looks on during the Liga match between Real Madrid CF and RC Celta de Vigo at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 16, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Alejandro/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Gareth Bale struggled to inspire Real Madrid on a night when struggling Celta Vigo held the leaders in La Liga to a 2-2 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Celta claimed a precious point thanks to Santi Mina's equaliser, good enough to lift Oscar Garcia Junyent's team out of the bottom three on Sunday night.

The bigger story is at the top, where Los Blancos are now just a point clear of rivals Barcelona. Real's old enemy had already closed the gap after edging past tough Getafe on Saturday, with Antoine Griezmann rediscovering the finishing touch in front of goal.

Despite the setback, Getafe are still third and in the thick of the scramble for a place in next season's UEFA Champions League football. By contrast, playing in a European tournament during the 2020/21 campaign may be an impossible dream for Athletic Bilbao after the Basque club slipped to a costly defeat at home to Osasuna on Sunday.

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Winner: Celta's Survival Bid

Taking a point from the home of the leaders is all the proof Celta should need that they can beat the drop. If the result isn't enough to convince Junyent's players, then the quality of their performance should.

Celta went to the Spanish capital and took the game to Real from the off. An enterprising midfield led by Barca loanee Rafinha Alcantara moved the ball with pace and purpose between the lines.

Alcantara's ingenuity kept the supply flowing toward intelligent attacking talisman Iago Aspas and powerhouse Fedor Smolov. They combined for the opener, with Aspas feeding the man on loan from Lokomotiv Moscow in the seventh minute.

Later, it was left to Denis Suarez to provide the key pass for Mina. Suarez, who has spent time at Barcelona and had loan spells with Sevilla and Arsenal, possesses the technical quality to make a difference in forward areas.

It's a trait common throughout the top end of this Celta team. This is a group loaded with a collection of match-winners too good for the drop.

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Loser: Gareth Bale

Things didn't go well for Bale, who still has a lot to do before he gets sections of Real's fanbase back on his side.

The Welshman's critics will feel vindicated after the way Eden Hazard upstaged Bale. An ankle problem had kept Hazard out since November, but the former Chelsea ace looked like he'd never been away during a performance defined by wizardry and daring.

Next to Hazard, Bale looked downright soporific. He was at least a yard off the pace and rarely showed the requisite quality when it came to picking a pass or applying the finishing touch:

Real need more from Bale while Hazard is working his way back to full fitness. Manager Zinedine Zidane can't be left to rely on developing 19-year-olds Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo to provide overworked centre-forward Karim Benzema with the support he's been lacking.

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Winner: Antoine Griezmann

Griezmann's first season at the Camp Nou has so far been a trying experience. The Frenchman has rarely shown the pace, timing and cool finishing that made him a star for Real Sociedad and then Atletico Madrid.

Griezmann looked sharp against Getafe, though. He was making runs early and often, intelligently moving from out to in whenever Lionel Messi dropped off to give him space.

The Messi and Griezmann partnership is supposed to work the way it did in the 33rd minute when the former's inch-perfect pass released the latter, who calmly slotted the ball into the net.

Keeping Griezmann on song will be key for Quique Setien. The Barca boss needs Griezmann firing with Ousmane Dembele out for the season with a hamstring injury, while Luis Suarez is sidelined until April.

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Loser: Athletic Bilbao's European Hopes

Athletic have been a Europa League fixture in recent seasons, but the chances of keeping the run going look bleak following Sunday's reversal. Oier Sanjurjo's goal at San Mames Stadium drew Osasuna level on points with Athletic.

Rekindling hope of finishing in the European places will demand more goals from a team with only 23 to its credit through 24 games this season. Inaki Williams has the pace to frighten and stretch any defence, but manager Gaizka Garitano has failed to replace the aerial power and eye for goal of Aritz Aduriz in the starting lineup.

Aduriz is now 39, but he remains the most accomplished finisher in the squad. It hasn't helped the goals have dried up for another veteran, 33-year-old attacking midfielder Raul Garcia.

Athletic need Iker Muniain's quick brain and clever touches back in the fold, as well as more telling contributions from left-winger Ibai Gomez. Without them, this team won't merit a place at one of Europe's top tables next season.

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