Round 16 of LaLiga has come to a close and while the league looked like it will provide us with a close race for the title between multiple teams, it seems like we will once again be watching a two-man race between Real Madrid and Barcelona, who are entering round 17 with three-point lead ahead of their competition.
Barcelona demonstrate their potent attack
Barcelona ended their round 16 fixture against Mallorca with a dominant 5:2 win, which they earned with a very solid performance where they put their attacking strength on full display for the struggling Mallorca. Barcelona entered the said fixture hungry for points, and they did not hesitate to show just how strong they can be. Griezmann scored the game opener only seven minutes with the help of ter Stegen who assisted for the goal with a long pass that took Mallorca’s defence by surprise. Messi followed with a goal of his own in the 17th minute to get the hosts two up. Mallorca answered with a goal of their own in the 45th minute, which seemingly only motivated Barcelona to push harder, as they scored two more goals in quick succession before the first half ended.
Messi added his second of the night in 41st minute, and Suarez followed with a goal of his own in 43rd. With that, Barcelona entered the second half 4:1 up which set them up nicely to finish with all three points in their hands. Mallorca put up some resistance in the second half and managed to score a goal in 64th minute, but failed to see more success in their attacks. Instead, it was Barcelona who responded with the help of Messi who scored his third of the night in 83rd minute to seal the deal and earn his team a dominant 5:2 win.
Barcelona ended the match with 66% ball possession, 25 goal attempts and 17 shots on goal, while Mallorca produced only nine goal attempts and three shots on goal with 34% ball possession. All in all, it was a dominant display of power from Barcelona who cemented themselves as the league leaders, while Mallorca suffered their third defeat in a row, which now sits them only one point clear of the relegation zone.
Real Madrid keeping up the pace with their rivals
While Barcelona flexed their muscles against Mallorca, Real Madrid took a more calm approach against Espanyol, yet with the same efficiency as they as well added another win to their record.
The said fixture started with Varane scoring the game-opening goal in 37th minute, which was also the only goal of the first half, which was surprising to see, considering how dominant Real Madrid looked like for the opening 45 minutes. Los Blancos ended the first half with 67% ball possession, 11 goal attempts and six shots on goal, while Espanyol put up only one goal attempt and one shot on goal with 33% ball possession. The second half was slightly closer in terms of what the teams produced, seeing how Real Madrid ended the second half with 55% ball possession, seven-goal attempts and two shots on goal, while Espanyol ended the second half with 45% ball possession, five-goal attempts and one shot on goal. That being said, it was Real Madrid, who scored their second in 79th minute while Espanyol failed to see the same success with their shots. The match ended with 2:0 win for Real Madrid who secured their 10th win of the season and are now tied with Barcelona at the top of the standings.
Sevilla and Atletico Madrid’s stalemate
Sevilla entered round 16 only one point adrift from the two league leaders and were aiming to keep up the pace, yet fell flat against Osasuna, who proved to be too tough of a nut to crack. The two sides met at Estadio El Sadar, where Sevilla arrived as favourites but failed to justify that tag. The visitors scored the game opener in 11th minute but suffered an equalizer in 45’+2, meaning the two sides entered the second half 1-all. Sevilla put up a show in the second half, producing 11 goal attempts and three shots on goal with 68% ball possession, however, failed to find their way to the net. While losing to underdogs was painful enough, the fact that Osasuna were left with only 10 men since 61st minute only added salt to the wound. All things considered, it’s safe to say Sevilla underperformed and Osasuna deserved to grab a point from that bout.
Atletico Madrid on the other side met with Villarreal, which provided them with a great opportunity to grab themselves some much-needed points, but just like Sevilla, Simeone’s men failed to take advantage of the opportunity. Despite entering the match as favourites Atletico Madrid failed to look as dominant as many would expect. In fact, it was Villarreal who played better. The hosts ended the match with 53% ball possession, 23 goal attempts and three shots on goal, while Atletico produced only 18 goal attempts and three shots on goal with 47% ball possession. It would be fair to say neither side impressed with their shooting accuracy and the result of that is a rather underwhelming 0:0 draw, which benefited Villarreal more compared to Atletico Madrid, who are entering round 17 with eight draws to their name and are now eight points adrift of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
No changes happened at the top of the league standings after round 16, the standings are the same as in the previous round. Barcelona (11-1-3) and Real Madrid (10-4-1) remain the top dogs of the league with 34 points apiece, while Sevilla (9-4-3) remains third with 31 points next to their name. Real Sociedad (8-3-5) are tied with Getafe (7-6-3) at fourth place with 27 points, followed by a three-way tie between Ath Bilbao (7-5-4), Atl. Madrid (6-8-2) and Valencia (7-5-4) in sixth place, where all three teams hold onto 26 points.