The 11th round of Primera Division action produced a number of stories. Barcelona continued their near-flawless start to La Liga with a 4-2 win at Mallorca, as Lionel Messi reached 76 goals for the calendar year with his double on Sunday. And later, Real Madrid left it late to beat Levante as Alvaro Morata scored the winner with six minutes remaining on a soaked surface in Valencia.
Here, Goal.com picks out the best performers from those two and the other eight top-tier fixtures. Here is the Liga Team of the Week.
In goal, Gorka Iraizoz put his recent off-colour performances behind him with a superb game for Athletic Bilbao in the Basques’ much-needed 2-1 win over Sevilla.
At the back, Juanfran and Luis Filipe were on top form for Atletico Madrid as Diego Simeone’s side beat Getafe 2-0, while Osasuna’s Alejandro Arribas also makes it in after helping his side to a clean sheet and a vital victory at Espanyol.
In the middle, Xavi is included after his fantastic free kick against Mallorca. He is joined by Atletico’s Arda Turan, back to his best in the win over Getafe. The other midfield place goes to Real Sociedad’s Asier Illarramendi for his fine showing in Real Sociedad’s 2-1 success at Malaga.
In attack, Lionel Messi is back again, this time after netting twice for Barca and overtaking Pele’s mark of 75 goals in a calendar year. His namesake Leo Baptistao is also included after his impressive showing in Rayo Vallecano’s 3-2 win over Celta Vigo. Carlos Vela starred for Real Sociedad at Malaga with a goal and a great game, earning the Mexican a place in this team, along with Madrid’s Alvaro Morata. The canterano was only on the pitch for six minutes but scored a vital goal with his first touch, and he is the only Blancos player to make the XI this week.
Levante have published an ironic statement on their official website hailing their players’ exemplary behaviour during and after the Liga match against Real Madrid, using almost the exact same wording as los Blancos in a similar declaration on Monday.
The Santiago Bernabeu side released a statement on Monday about their own players’ actions, but the Valencia side refuse to accept any blame for what happened after the final whistle.
Levante defender Sergio Ballesteros was allegedly involved in a brawl with Madrid’s Pepe, while a clash between an official from each club had to be broken up by security staff. Nevertheless, clearly neither side feel that their players or staff are in any way to blame.
“1) The behaviour of all of our players and technical staff was exemplary during the course of the match, which was held in harsh conditions for playing football, and we overcame it with professionalism, dedication and sportsmanship,” Levante’s statement reads in exactly the same wording as Madrid’s previous declaration.
“2) At the end of the game, the attitude and behaviour of the players, coaches and members of the travelling party were correct and blameless, as it had been at all times.
“3) We would like to highlight the performance of our players and technical staff during yesterday’s spectacular match, for their dedication, fight and competitiveness. We would also like to express our gratitude for the unconditional support of the fans who were cheering on the team the whole game despite the rain.
“4) Levante will continue with its philosophy of defending the values that have made our 100-year-old club loved and respected by Spanish football.“
Levante sit sixth in La Liga following their defeat against Madrid.
Levante defender Sergio Ballesteros has strongly denied rumours of an altercation between him and Real Madrid’s Pepe.
Sections of the media have reported that the centre-back grabbed the Portugal international by the throat and punched him in the face inside the club’s treatment facilities, after Sunday’s game, but Ballesteros has dismissed those wild allegations.
“I’ve never assaulted anyone in my life, especially not Pepe,” he told reporters.
“After 20 years in this profession you can believe anything I say. I went in to see how Cristiano [Ronaldo] was, that is all. I would never dare to assault anyone.
The Granotes player was also disappointed with comments made by Sergio Ramos. who suggested he should swap football for boxing in light of the allegations.
“That’s what hurt me the most. Before the game I congratulated him and [Iker] Casillas for what they had achieved with the national team and what he said surprised me,” he added.
“These things happen because it involves Madrid, it is not a coincidence.”
Real Madrid forward Kaka has heaped praise on Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao.
The pair’s clubs may well be fierce rivals, but that has not stopped the two from becoming firm friends, and the 30-year-old spoke of his appreciation for the Colombian’s footballing ability.
“Radamel Falcao is an excellent talent. He is also a great friend of mine and I often meet with him in Madrid, our families are friends and I hope that remains for a long time,” he told Lance!
Kaka and Falcao will face one another on Thursday evening when Brazil take on Colombia, and despite enjoying something of a second coming for the national side, the former AC Milan man is refusing to take his place for granted, while acknowledging the threat posed by the Selecao’s latest opponents.
“Colombia have some incredible players and we will have to be at our best to win the game,” he added.
“I feel good to have played the last two games, however, my place is far from consolidated. They were two important games and I did well, but I still have a lot to give to the squad.”
Barcelona star Andres Iniesta has revealed that he holds no hatred towards Real Madrid’s Pepe.
The pair were surrounded by controversy because of a verbal row after the 2-2 Clasico draw earlier this season, but when questioned whether or not the two can see past their differences, Iniesta responded in a positive manner.
“I can be friends with him, why not?” he told SportYou magazine.
“There was a point in time when I said what I thought of him, I did not like him, but now, why not?”
The Spain international also played down the on field tension between Lionel Messi and David Villa and spoke about the differences between the Blaugrana and Madrid in relation to their respective youth systems.
“What we have seen are things that remain on the field. These things happen at all workplaces,” he added.
“Every club is different. I’ve been fortunate to be where I am, and what matters is that people trust the cantera. Otherwise, it is not worth it.”