La Liga really kicked into life for 2019 on Sunday with all of the top four in action. It’s safe to say the day couldn’t have gone much better for Barcelona, who ground out a win at Getafe while their rivals all dropped points. There were some really significant results at the bottom end of La Liga too with the bottom three sealing wins to breathe new life into the relegation battle.
Here was the best of the action on match-day 18 in the 2018/19 Spanish Primera Division:
La Liga Match Day 18 Results, Expected Goals & Highlights
Friday 4th January 2019
Levante 2-2 Girona (xG 2.06-1.14)
Espanyol 1-0 Leganes (xG 0.78-0.34)
Saturday 5th January 2019
Real Valladolid 0-1 Rayo Vallecano (xG 1.55-1.29)
Alaves 2-1 Valencia (xG 1.72-0.48)
Huesca 2-1 Real Betis (xG 1.09-0.87)
Sunday 6th January 2019
Eibar 0-0 Villarreal (xG 2.15-0.99)
Sevilla 1-1 Atletico Madrid (xG 1.43-0.85)
Real Madrid 0-2 Real Sociedad (xG 3.4-1.61)
Getafe 1-2 Barcelona (xG 1.5-1.02)
Monday 7th January 2019
Celta Vigo 1-2 Athletic Bilbao (xG & Highlights to come)
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Sociedad Win at the Bernabeu
The standout result of the weekend was clearly Real Sociedad’s win at the Bernabeu, a dream start for Imanol Alguacil, La Real’s returning boss. It was a day when little went right for Los Blancos, who surprisingly still left Isco out despite injuries to both Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio. Vinicius Júnior was instead preferred and to some extent warranted his selection with a lively display but it wasn’t enough to salvage Real from a damaging 2-0 defeat sealed by Ruben Pardo’s late header.
Barca Five Points Clear
Real Madrid started 2019 with high hopes of cutting the gap to Barcelona in the first week of the new year with their game in hand at Villarreal and Barca facing a tough game at Getafe. Instead they end it 10 points back after an equal number of games with Barca surviving a spirited Getafe rally to hold on for a 2-1 win. The good news didn’t end there for the Catalans with nearest rivals Sevilla and Atletico Madrid playing out a draw at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Barca are now 5 points clear at the top, their biggest advantage of the season to date.
With back-to-back home games against Eibar and Leganes following this, they have a real chance to extend that advantage further and right now it’s hard to see the title heading anywhere other than Camp Nou.
The Bottom Three All Win!
It was also a brilliant weekend for the sides in the relegation zone. Rayo Vallecano got things started with a 1-0 win at Real Valladolid on Saturday. That briefly left Huesca 8 points adrift at the foot of the table but the Aragonese minnows picked up their first ever home win in the top flight by beating Real Betis 2-1. They will feel it is just rewards for some of the performances they have put in this season that haven’t yielded the wins they’ve perhaps deserved. Those results increased the pressure on Athletic Bilbao but Gaizka Garitano’s honeymoon period continued with an important 2-1 win at Celta on Monday night. Inaki Williams was the star turn as the pacy winger turned forward again impressed away from home.
Match Day 18 in Numbers
- Athletic have already matched their 2018 tally of 1 away league win after they beat Celta on Monday.
- All of Inaki Williams’ last 15 league goals have come away from home after he netted the winner at Balaidos.
- Real Madrid created the most Expected Goals this weekend in La Liga with 3.4 against Sociedad but they were one of just 5 teams to fail to score.
- Huesca won their first league game in 17 attempts having not tasted victory since the opening day.
- Barcelona conceded for the first time in 416 minutes in La Liga. Jaime Mata’s goal was the first they’d let in since the 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in November.
The Copa del Rey last 16 gets going this week with 15 top flight sides in action plus Segunda Division Sporting Gijon, who take on Valencia. La Liga returns on Friday night as Rayo Vallecano host Celta Vigo. The visitors are slipping towards a bit of trouble now so that will be a big game at the bottom. The standout fixture next weekend though sees Real Madrid travel to Seville to take on Real Betis. They’ve already suffered one heavy defeat in the Andalusian capital this term and you sense it could be another very difficult evening for Los Blancos at the Benito Villamarin.
Keep tabs on our La Liga previews for more analysis ahead of the next round of fixtures.