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The Fight for the La Liga Crown Stays Tight
Both the reigning title-holders and Atletico Madrid won on matchday 17, putting the latter two points ahead with two games yet in hand. Barcelona barely edged Huesca to climb to 28 points, a full ten points behind the leaders Atletico. Third place Real Sociedad drew level with Osasuna to fall to six points below Real Madrid who are at 36. There is no room for drops in intensity whatsoever this season for a number of teams in La Liga.
The Past Weekend
Lucas Vázquez remained hot with a goal and an assist. Marco Asensio’s form had been steadily moving towards the crescendo displayed in Saturday’s performance where he threatened Celta’s goal repeatedly from the left wing, netting a goal and registering an assist. Perhaps most importantly, Real Madrid were without their captain Sergio Ramos and yet nevertheless kept a clean sheet against the likes of crafty Iago Aspas. Nacho managed a crucial clearance off the line when Aspas had beaten Thibaut Courtois. The squad overall looks to be rewarding the deep faith shown in them by Zinedine Zidane in his consistent selections for starting lineup.
The manager’s post-match comments reflect an attitude about the club’s quality of football this season being to due to a strong group and team mentality:
”It was a complete performance from us today, from the first minute to the last. We know we have to win every game and it’s not easy but the players are doing it and I’m thrilled for them”.
“We’re going in the right direction, doing a good job and we have to keep it up. It’s all about the team, the group, when we play like that from the off. We were very disciplined in offense and defence, with and without the ball. We’re all pleased but there’s still a long way to go”.
For Real Madrid’s next match Los Blancos travel on Saturday to Osasuna’s El Sadar Stadium at 20:00 PM CET and 3:00 PM EST. Osasuna are down at the bottom of the table, in 19th place, and are fighting to stay in the Spanish top league. This last weekend, as mentioned above, Los Rojillos tied Villareal 1-1, who are seeing their hopes of remaining in a Champions League spot fade week by week. They are clearly struggling compared to last season where they finished 10th. Los Rojillos are on a ten game winless streak, which makes each and every fixture a battle for survival.
Happy Birthday, Toni Kroos!
The German midfield passmaster turned 31 today, the fourth of January. Real Madrid’s website summarizes his absolutely impressive contributions to the Royal Whites:
The German arrived at Real Madrid in the summer of 2014 and halfway through his seventh season at the club, he’s just one game away from reaching the 300-appearances mark. In his 299 games to date, he’s netted 20 goals. His trophy haul as a madridista reads: 3 Champions Leagues, 4 Club World Cups, 3 European Super Cups, 2 LaLiga titles and 2 Spanish Super Cups. He also won the World Cup with Germany in 2014.