La Liga now has just one round of fixtures left in 2018 after a match-day which went pretty much to the form-book. Barcelona continue to set the pace but the big two in Madrid and both Seville clubs also won this weekend. Here were the main headlines from match day 16 in the 2018-19 Spanish Primera Division:
La Liga Match Day 16 Results, Expected Goals & Highlights
Friday 14th December 2018
Celta Vigo 0-0 Leganes (xG 1.31-0.66)
Saturday 15th December 2018
Getafe 1-0 Real Sociedad (xG 0.71-1.01)
Real Valladolid 2-3 Atletico Madrid (xG 0.51-2.09)
Real Madrid 1-0 Rayo Vallecano (xG 1.07-0.81)
Eibar 1-1 Valencia (xG 1.37-2.01)
Sunday 16th December 2018
Sevilla 2-0 Girona (xG 2.52-0.92)
Espanyol 1-3 Real Betis (xG 0.8-2.46)
Huesca 2-2 Villarreal (xG 4.32-2.38)
Levante 0-5 Barcelona (xG 1.22-3.08)
Monday 17th December 2018
Alaves 0-0 Athletic Bilbao (xG 0.57-0.78)
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The Top Four All Win
— Cynthia (@katyperry_ng) December 18, 2018
The top four in La Liga are now threatening to break away from the best of the rest with all of the sides currently occupying the Champions League places winning over the weekend. The manner of those victories was very different though it has to be said.
Leo Messi and Luis Suarez were exceptional for Barcelona as the Catalans won 5-0 at Levante to avenge what was their only league defeat of last season at the same venue. Coming so soon after an easy derby win at Espanyol, Ernesto Valverde’s men now seem to have really found another gear, one the Madrid clubs may struggle to live with over the long run.
As for Los Blancos, it was a familiar tale this weekend as they won without playing well under Santiago Solari. Back-to-back 1-0 victories over the bottom two sides don’t exactly send them off to the Club World Cup in the best of spirits. Atletico Madrid meanwhile were also narrow winners over newly promoted opposition with Antoine Griezmann’s late strike seeing off Real Valladolid.
Betis record 3rd straight Win
Watching Espanyol vs Real Betis from the weekend and I thought this was interesting. Start in a 3142 which turns in a 3422 (including the GK). Bartra steps into midfield from the back three in build up to give more options. This was something I suggested Stones do for England pic.twitter.com/RsPGFDZDOJ
— Luke (@GriffinFtbl) December 19, 2018
It was an excellent weekend for Real Betis meanwhile. Quique Setien’s men recorded a third straight league win to move up to 5th place on Sunday as they beat Espanyol 3-1 with a couple of late goals. In a season in which they are having to contend with the extra demands of continental action, the Seville club will delighted to be one game off the short winter break in an even higher position than the one they finished in last term, which itself was exceptional by their recent standards.
Getafe sneaking up Unnoticed
— Hasnain Shah (@Shahhasnain69) December 15, 2018
While the likes of Espanyol, Valladolid and to a lesser extent Alaves have started to fall back after impressive starts, Real Betis and Getafe have crept up almost unnoticed. Getafe in truth have managed it because they’ve never been a club to attract much media attention but like Betis, they’ve built on the foundations laid last season. They remain a physical and at times direct side but they added a bit more quality over the summer and their win over Real Sociedad this weekend was the latest step in the right direction.
Match Day 16 in Numbers
- The side to create the most expected expected goals were bottom club Huesca (4.32 vs Villarreal).
- Leo Messi scored or created all of Barcelona’s 5 goals at Levante (3 Goals, 2 Assists for Messi).
- Athletic Bilbao kept their 3rd straight clean sheet in all competitions since appointing Gaizka Garitano.
- Just 55,529 attended Real Madrid’s home game with Rayo. Their average home league attendance this season is lower than any other year in the 21st Century.
- Leganes are now unbeaten in 8 matches in all competitions.
The next round of fixtures in La Liga sees the final match-day of 2019. It will only feature 9 games though due to Real Madrid’s involvement in the Club World Cup. That offers Barcelona a chance to move 8 points clear of Los Blancos if they can see off Celta while Atletico Madrid also have a home game they will expect to win. At the bottom, Rayo host Levante while Huesca visit Valencia and the bottom two could really do with ending the year on high with a huge task ahead of them in 2019.
Keep tabs on our La Liga match predictions for more analysis ahead of the next round of fixtures.