• @darryl_geraghty

La Liga Round Up - Ronaldo back on fire after his Ballon D'Or victory

It was very much a case of as you were at the top of La Liga as the top four all grabbing victories to keep the exciting title race going.

A depleted Real Madrid flew off to defend their Club World Cup in style after a 5-0 first half demolition of an awful Sevilla defensive display at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Fresh from collecting his 5th Ballon D’or,, Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a brace with Nacho, Kroos and Achraf also netting as the goals flowed in Saturdays early kick off. Despite missing the likes of such first team regulars as Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Casemiro, As much as Los Blancos looked clinical in the final third, the impressive stand-ins of Nacho, Achraf and Vallejo looked just as sharp at the back, really grasping their rare opportunity to impress.

The second half petered out as Zidane’s troop had one eye on the long trip to Abu Dhabi to defend their crown.

Meanwhile Atletico Madrid put in an a typical Atleti performance as they notched a 1-0 win away at Betis to remain unbeaten in the league and setting a new club record in the process. Reverting back to type, Atleti had just the two shots on target with only 31% possession to keep Betis at bay. Saul Niguez was the hero scoring just before the half hour mark to keep vital two point gap between themselves and cross town rivals Real Madrid and remain in third.

Second place Valencia bounced back from last week’s first defeat of the season, needing a late Dani Parejo penalty to take all three points against Celta Vigo. In form hitman Simone Zaza opened the scoring only for Celta’s talisman Iago Aspas to equalize from close range.

Second half goals from Luis Suarez and Leo Messi’s 14th of the season saw Barcelona win in unconvincing fashion away at 10 man Villareal. A dire first half sparked to life with the sending off of Dani Raba and introduction of the busy Paco Alcacer as, much like many times this season, Barca just did enough to get over the line.

The big narrative of the weekend looks to be the what’s going on outside the European qualification positions. In the most competitive La Liga in years, an incredible 6 points separate 6th position to 17th so far.

Malaga sprung probably the surprise of the weekend, getting their first away win of the season at Real Sociedad, winning 2-0 and good value for it. Borja Baston and Chory Castro got the all important goals to drag themselves off the foot of the table, leaving the worryingly poor Las Palmas, who went down 2-0 away at relegation rivals Alaves, to take their place with just 10 points from 15 games.

Shout of the week out goes to Aritz Aduriz who became the oldest player to score for Athletic Bilbao at the tender age of 36 years and 302 days, and in turn helping his side to a huge win 2-1 win away at Levante as the bottom half of the league becomes increasingly tighter by the week.

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