La Liga Team of the Week: Puyol & Messi shine for Tito's Barcelona

La Liga got back underway again at the weekend and there was plenty of excitement in an opening round of matches which saw 29 goals struck, including eight in Betis’ amazing 5-3 win at Athletic Bilbao and six in Barcelona’s 5-1 success over Real Sociedad at Camp Nou. Here, looks at the star performers from the first weekend of action in the Primera Division.

Starting between the posts, Valencia’s Diego Alves is the overwhelming choice, having also been named as’s World Player of the Week. The Brazilian shot-stopper produced a stunning performance to deny Real Madrid with a series of world-class stops, including a fantastic save to thwart Angel Di Maria.

Alves was helped out by defender Victor Ruiz as Mauricio Pellegrini’s men defended brilliantly to shut out the champions on their own patch. Valencia defended as a unit and gave Cristiano Ronaldo perhaps his toughest-ever game at the Bernabeu. Ruiz, however, was the pick of the bunch. Elsewhere, Carlos Marchena enjoyed a memorable return to the top flight as he slotted in comfortably at the back to help Deportivo La Coruna to a 2-0 win over Osasuna on his debut, while Carles Puyol made his first appearance under yet another coach and the veteran defender made it count as he scored the first goal in Tito Vilanova’s reign, powering an early header home from a corner to give Barcelona the lead in a memorable match against Real Sociedad.

Moving into midfield, Tino Costa is the third Valencia player in the line-up after his impressive performance at the Bernabeu. The Argentine’s free kick set up Jonas for Valencia’s equaliser and his wonderful pass also put through Roberto Soldado for the controversial disallowed strike in the second half. He was also slick in possession and busy throughout. For Atletico Madrid, Arda Turan struck a wonderful goal in his side’s Liga clash against Levante and was a bright presence throughout in the teams’ 1-1 draw, while Oscar gave promoted outfit Valladolid the best possible start as he hit the only goal of the game at Zaragoza. Benat scored one and made another as Betis beat Athletic Bilbao 5-3 in an incredible match at San Mames.

Further forward, there is a place for Malaga’s 16-year-old hero Fabrice Olinga, who came off the bench to make light of the Andalusians problems and hit the winner at Celta Vigo. More predictably, Lionel Messi is included for his fantastic two-goal display in the 5-1 win over Real Sociedad, while the final place in the side goes to Mallorca’s Tomer Hemed. The Israeli struck a fine goal in each half to give Mallorca a hard-fought 2-1 win at home to Espanyol and ensure a happy start to the season for Joaquin Caparros’ side.

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