Another gameweek of La Liga action has come and gone with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid all winning.
The top of the table stays the same as the big three all win while Osasuna climb out of the relegation places. Who were the big winners and losers from gameweek 20?
Winner: Luis Suárez
When Luis Suárez left Barcelona it was worth wondering if he had the physical prowess to hack it in La Liga anymore. He looked a busted flush at Barcelona and Atlético Madrid are famously even more physically demanding with Diego Simeone in charge.
Turns out Luis Suárez is just fine and dandy when he’s the only 33 (now 34!) year-old on the field. Surrounded by young legs doing the running for him, Suárez has been lethal and was the match-winner today for Atlético Madrid.
Played in behind the defence by Joao Felix, Suárez was faced with an acute angle from which to shoot and you’d expect most strikers to opt for power and he denied by a goalkeeper but Suárez deftly curled it into the far corner of the net to celebrate his 34th birthday.
Luis Suarez has now reached double figures for league goals in each of the past 10 league campaigns:
Double digits in his first campaign with Atleti. 👊 pic.twitter.com/zwe4A5B3OT
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 21, 2021
An absolute masterpiece that makes it seven wins in a row for Atleti, extended their lead atop La Liga to 7 points in the process. They say that revenge is best served cold but Luis Suárez is serving his vengeance to Barcelona piping hot and will probably lead Atleti to the title.
Loser: Uros Racic
The goal of the weekend was unquestionably Uros Racic’s first of his Valencia career. An absolute thunderbolt from 25 yards launched with such ferocity that you weren’t even surprised that the immortal Jan Oblak couldn’t get to it. It was a breathtaking strike that would have brought the Wanda to its feet in appreciation were fans in the stands, but instead it played out to an empty ground and will, frankly, be largely forgotten as Atleti’s riposte blew Valencia off the field.
Winner: Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard has been a miserable player for Real Madrid but against Alaves on Saturday the Belgian showed a bit more of the classic style that we’re used to seeing him from him in a Chelsea shirt. The Belgian picked up a delicious flicked assist for Karim Benzema’s first goal and then bagged a goal himself with a composed finish to give Los Blancos a big away win.
2020 was a nightmare year for Eden Hazard, can 2021 be the year he turns it all around?
Eden Hazard has both scored and assisted in an away league game for Real Madrid for the first time.
The last time he did so was in Chelsea colours (Dec 2018 vs. Brighton). pic.twitter.com/T3QSOHI8pQ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 23, 2021
Osasuna came into gameweek 20 in the relegation zone playing high-flying Granada in 7th. No one would have given then much of a chance but they put in a brilliant performance, Ante Budimir scored twice to give them a lead and then they managed to absorb the Granada riposte in the second-half, extending their lead in the last few minutes and seeing out a huge win that lifts them out of the bottom three spots. There’s still a way to go, but that was a good start.
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Loser: Real Sociedad
With seven minutes left to play at Anoeta, Real Sociedad were heading to a home win that would move them up into fifth place just three points behind Sevilla in fourth. For a side still smarting from their Supercopa loss to Barcelona, it would be the ideal return to action.
Seven minutes later, the score was 2-2. A score draw that saw La Real stay stuck in sixth place, three behind Villarreal in fifth and five behind Sevilla having played a game more. Imanol Alguacil’s men have now won just once in their last five games across all competitions and, even worse, have won just twice in their last 15 games. They are struggling.
Of course the reason La Real collapsed was because of one man: Joaquin. The 39-year-old one-time wing wonder came off the bench with his side trailing 2-0 and went to work. Just under 10 minutes later, Joaquin created a goal out of nothing for Betis, bending a beauty of a cross in all the way from the touchline in to Sergio Canales who headed home.
Seven minutes later, in the 92nd minute of the match, Cristian Tello fizzed a low cross into the area and it sailed behind everyone but Joaqin came steaming in at the far-post and scuffed a left-footed shot at goal and the ball deflected off Nacho Monreal and bobbled in. A phenomenal moment that made Joaquin the fourth-oldest scorer in La Liga history.
Loser: Antoine Griezmann
Barcelona won comfortably against Elche. Sergio Busquets and Pedri were serene behind the scenes, Frenkie de Jong got a goal and an assist while Riqui Puig came on to score the second. The defence was solid too with Ronald Araujo and Samuel Umtiti looking like a perfect partnership. Marc-André Ter Stegen only really had one save to make and he made it magnificently.
And in attack Ousmane Dembélé was the side’s most dangerous forward and Martin Braithwaite sent in the cross that led to the opening goal. The only Barcelona player who didn’t deliver, who failed to perform, was Antoine Griezmann. With no Messi in the side and a free roaming role as the central striker of the side, Griezmann absolutely failed to capitalise on the chance to make his mark. Oh dear.
Winner: Youssef En-Neysri
Coming into gameweek 20 the Pichichi was a battle between Leo Messi of Barcelona and Luis Suárez of Atlético Madrid. Two great friends and two of the best players in the last decade of La Liga.
But at the end of gameweek 20 the man atop the Pichichi standings is Youssef En-Neysri. The Moroccan snatched a superb hat-trick to fire Sevilla to a solid 3-0 win against Cadiz and in doing so lifted himself up to the top of the Pichichi standings.
This is En-Neysri’s second hat-trick of 2021 (his seventh goal overall) and if he can keep this sort of performance up, who knows how far Sevilla could be able to go?