La Liga Match Day 19 Review – Messi at 400, Solari’s back 5 plus Iñaki & RDT Star!

Barcelona vs Osasuna Match Preview & Prediction

La Liga 2018/19 reached the halfway stage this weekend with some really exciting matches and plenty of talking points. There were important wins for Rayo, Athletic and Leganes at the bottom, a setback for Sevilla, a milestone for Messi and that was all before a fascinating game at the Benito Villamarin between Real Betis and Real Madrid.

Here was the best of the action on match-day 19 in the 2018/19 Spanish Primera Division:

La Liga Match Day 19 Results, Expected Goals & Highlights

Friday 11th January 2019

Rayo Vallecano 4-2 Celta Vigo (xG 2.17-2.09)

Saturday 12th January 2019

Leganes 1-0 Huesca (xG 1.39-0.5)

Valencia 1-1 Real Valladolid (xG 1.94-0.1)

Girona 1-1 Alaves (xG 0.64-1.23)

Villarreal 1-2 Getafe (xG 3.02-0.83)

Sunday 13th January 2019

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Levante (xG 2.01-0.46)

Athletic Bilbao 2-0 Sevilla (xG 0.85-1.43)

Barcelona 3-0 Eibar (xG 0.78-1.38)

Real Betis 1-2 Real Madrid (xG 0.44-1.33)

Monday 14th January 2019

Real Sociedad 3-2 Espanyol (xG 2.19-1.47)

Links lead to Youtube highlights via the official La Liga channel and may contain ads.

Messi hits 400 La Liga Goals

Another weekend brought another milestone for Leo Messi. He fired in his 400th league goal in Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Eibar. He missed a good opportunity to make it 401 in the Second Half and Messi will no doubt have his eyes set on 500 before he retires. That would be a stunning achievement when you consider the record stood at 251 for over 50 years before Messi and Ronaldo came along.

Solari’s Back 5 Generate Mixed Reaction but the Right Result

Real Madrid opted to play with three centre-backs at Real Betis, operating essentially as a back five when Real Betis had the ball, which was a staggering 73% of the time. Solari has received criticism from sections of the media since with accusations Los Blancos played like ‘a small team’.

However it could also be pretty strongly argued that Solari got his tactics spot on for a game against strong opponents when numerous key players were missing. His decision to leave not only Isco but Marcelo on the bench paid off, as Real’s youngsters stood up and delivered. In the 1st Half it was a masterclass of hard-work in defence and counter-attacking football to which a patient Betis side had seemingly no response. The hosts improved after the break but this should still be seen as a feather in the cap of Solari, whose tactical tweaks delivered three points in a difficult fixture.

RDT Hat-Trick Fires Rayo to 3rd Win on the Spin

The weekend started with a Friday night cracker in Vallecas. Rayo’s on-loan striker Raul De Tomas was the inspiration, scoring three goals and missing a further two good chances as the struggling hosts easily cut open the Celta Vigo back-line. De Tomas’ 3rd goal was an absolute thunderbolt and it means he is now the highest scoring Real Madrid player in La Liga this season. Bebe added a 4th as Rayo made it 3 wins on the bounce. Suddenly they look capable of making a real fight of this relegation battle but they do remain in the drop-zone. The side directly above them are the side they beat on Friday, with Celta having lost 3 straight games now in La Liga.

Iñaki Williams finally scores at Home!

One of La Liga’s weirdest streaks was broken this weekend, as after more than two years of waiting Iñaki Williams finally scored a home league goal. As is often the case with these things, one goal was quickly followed by another (cue bus comparisons) as the pacy forward ran half the length of the pitch to seal a 2-0 win for Athletic late on. The result effectively ends any hopes of a Sevilla title challenge. The sides will meet for the 3rd time in a week in Andalusia this Wednesday in the Copa del Rey.

Match Day 19 in Numbers

  • Athletic Bilbao played 40 home leagues games between Iñaki Williams last goal at San Mames and his 2 goals against Sevilla this weekend.
  • Leo Messi hit his 400th goal in La Liga. He has scored 243 more than the next highest active player in the league, Aritz Aduriz (157).
  • Barcelona have created fewer Expected Goals than their opponents in each of their last 3 matches in all competitions (vs Eibar, Levante & Getafe).
  • Valladolid had just 0.1 Expected Goals vs Valencia this weekend, scoring with their only shot on target.
  • Real Madrid had just 27% possession against Real Betis, their lowest figure in La Liga since 2011 and reportedly their lowest ever against anyone other than Barcelona (since they started recording it anyway!).

Up Next…

The Copa del Rey last 16 concludes this midweek. Barcelona are bidding to overturn a 2-1 deficit against Levante while Valencia will do likewise against the only remaining lower league side, Sporting Gijon. La Liga is back on Friday and we will be previewing the game between Getafe and Alaves, two of the season’s surprise packages. The standout fixture from match-day 20 is a top four showdown at the Bernabeu between Real Madrid and Sevilla.

Keep tabs on our La Liga previews for more analysis ahead of the next round of fixtures.

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About Mark Sochon 2074 Articles
Mark is a freelance writer based in Madrid. He has been writing about Spanish football since 2014 and regularly attends and covers matches across Spain. His work has also been published by various newspapers and websites including These Football Times, World Soccer and Guardian Sport. Available for freelance work: marksochon (at)

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