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Week 16 of the 2019-20 La Liga season is in the books, and the title race became a little clearer, with Barcelona and Real Madrid continuing their fine run and Atletico Madrid slumping further.
The Catalans cruised past Mallorca on Saturday, hours after Los Blancos held off Espanyol in the capital. Atletico played out a drab scoreless draw with Villarreal on Friday, and Sevilla dropped points against Osasuna in the final match of the weekend.
Here are the full results from Week 16:
Villarreal 0-0 Atletico
Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol
Granada 3-0 Alaves
Levante 2-4 Valencia
Barcelona 5-2 Mallorca
Eibar 0-1 Getafe
Real Betis 3-2 Athletic
Valladolid 0-0 Real Sociedad
Leganes 3-2 Celta Vigo
Osasuna 1-1 Sevilla
The latest La Liga standings:
Here are your winners and losers from Week 16.
No one stole the show quite like Joaquin in Week 16, needing just 20 minutes to hand Real Betis a three-goal lead over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
The 38-year-old became the competition’s oldest hat-trick scorer in the win:
Betis needed all three goals, with Athletic nearly completing a comeback in one of the best matches of the weekend.
Joaquin started his career in Andalusia and returned to his first love in 2015 after spells with Valencia, Malaga and Fiorentina. He’s become something of a cult hero at the Villamarin, and Sunday’s performance may have been his best ever for the club.
Loser: Diego Simeone
Following yet another poor result, Atletico find themselves in a disappointing seventh place, already eight points behind the co-leaders. Barcelona and Real still have a match in hand as well, as they’ll face each other on December 18 at the Camp Nou.
With just one win in their last six La Liga outings, things have not gone according to plan at the Wanda Metropolitano, and Goal wondered whether Simeone has to fear for his job:
While that seems premature, it’s fair to question some of his tactical decisions this season. On Friday, he started without a natural winger and left Thomas Lemar on the bench, despite his team struggling to create out wide against an organised Villarreal team.
If the Rojiblancos can’t beat Lokomotiv Moscow in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, Cholo may find himself in real trouble.
Winner: Barcelona’s Front 3
Lionel Messi netted a hat-trick and could easily have made this section on his own, but something far more encouraging took place during the 5-2 win over Mallorca.
The goals the six-time Ballon d’Or winner didn’t net came courtesy of his attacking partners Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann:
Both were also credited with an assist on what was a fantastic night for the Blaugrana attack.
After a poor stretch of matches, Suarez has now scored or assisted in his last four outings for Barcelona across all competitions. And Griezmann, who has not enjoyed a great start to life at the Camp Nou, has scored in two of his last three while starting to form some chemistry with his team-mates.
That’s huge news for Barcelona, who had been far too reliant on Messi so far. A more balanced approach should lead to more success later this season.
Loser: Ferland Mendy
Real Madrid’s Mendy added some late drama to the win over Espanyol, getting sent off after Karim Benzema had doubled the lead.
Already on a yellow card, the full-back foolishly dove into a tackle and was dismissed. Per sports writer Lucas Navarrete, that presents a problem for Real:
With no Mendy or Marcelo available against a surging Valencia team, manager Zinedine Zidane will have to get creative. Los Che have won four of their last five La Liga matches, scoring at an impressive rate, and the duo of Ferran Torres and Rodrigo Moreno carry great form into Sunday’s match.