From boring 0-0 draws, to unexpected upsets, to spectacular thrashings, the final gameweek of La Liga before the international break had it all. While the Friday fixtures started slowly, Celta de Vigo’s 2-0 victory against Atletico Madrid on Saturday jump started the weekend. Real Madrid brushed away Leganes 4-1, as Benzema seemed to rediscover his form, while Barcelona obliterated Huesca 8-2 – the first time the Catalans hit eight in a league game since 2011 against Osasuna. To end the gameweek, Real Betis secured a 1-0 win in El Gran Derbi versus Sevilla.
David Soria – GK (Getafe)
There wasn’t a lot of great goalkeeping this weekend. Thibaut Courtois could not keep a clean sheet on his Madrid debut, Marc-Andre ter Stegen conceded two against Huesca, as did Atleti’s Jan Oblak. Therefore, we turn to David Soria, who made four saves for Getafe against Valladolid in a balanced 0-0 draw.
Dani Carvajal – RB (Real Madrid)
Carvajal has not let the arrival of fellow Spanish international Alvaro Odriozola perturb him this season. He continued his fine early season form by assisting Gareth Bale this weekend, while also chipping in with two tackles and three dribbles. Invigorated, positive, and effective so far this year, Carvajal has even outshone his opposite full-back Marcelo early on this campaign.
Gustavo Cabral – CB (Celta Vigo)
Gustavo Cabral lead a Celta defense that limited an Atletico Madrid, toting Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa up top, to zero shots on goal. Goose egg! Nada! Nothing! He also won six aerial challenges, while Costa was only able to win two. Cabral’s performance in the center of a back three was no less than heroic, and he will certainly have won admiring glances from his opponent, the legendary Diego Godin.
Zouhair Feddal – CB (Real Betis)
Along with Marc Bartra, Zouhair Feddal marshaled a defense for Betis that held firm against a skilled Sevilla side boasting Andre Silva, Franco Vazquez, and Quincy Promes. Betis have big expectations this year, and winning one of the biggest derbies in Spain will give them confidence going forward.
Jordi Alba – LB (Barcelona)
It’s not every week that a left back scores or assists, but Alba did both this weekend in Barcelona’s 8-2 demolition of Huesca. Although conceding two against the newly promoted side is a slight negative, his assist for Luis Suarez to get off the mark was pinpoint, and his chemistry with Lionel Messi was flawless. Alba was imperious on the day, and with no first team backup left back in the squad, he knows his job is secure.
Lionel Messi – RM (Barcelona)
A day before being snubbed for the FIFA Best Player award, Messi reminded the world of his unparalleled dynamic range. He battered Huesca with two goals and two assists. For his first goal, he caused the entire Huesca defense to wobble and sway, before an instantaneous turn of pace and acceleration left five players in the dust, so that he could lash one home with his right foot. His cross field balls over to Alba, Philippe Coutinho, or Ousmane Dembele devastated Huesca, and his inventive chip pass to assist Rakitic’s volley demonstrated supreme vision. While Cristiano Ronaldo has yet to score for Juventus this season, Messi continues to churn away as ever.
Ivan Rakitic – CM (Barcelona)
Perhaps the player most susceptible in Barcelona’s starting XI to lose his place to new signings Arthur Melo or Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic put in a supreme performance against an overmatched Huesca. Taunting the away side with his huge passing range and long shot, the Croatian followed his early assist to Messi with a perfect half-volley after the Argentine returned the favor with an inventive chip ball. Rakitic struck the ball with perfect technique, and even though the angle was tight, as soon as he hit the ball, a goal felt certain.
Dani Parejo – CM (Valencia)
Dani Parejo had a huge 2017-18 for Valencia, and while he has had a slower start this year, his penalty in Valencia’s 2-2 draw with Levante may be just what he needs to get himself out of second gear. Coutinho may be a more standard pick in one’s TOTW, but the reemergence of Parejo’s leadership for Valencia this weekend has huge implications for Los Che’s season.
Denis Cheryshev – LM (Valencia)
The Russian national team played fairly defensive football at the World Cup this summer despite progressing to the quarterfinals; however, one player who stood out for his skill was Denis Cheryshev, who smacked in four gorgeous goals. After years of being on the outside looking in at Real Madrid and then Villareal, at Valencia, Cheryshev seems prepared to breakout. His goal against Levante is the first step in the process, especially if he plans on beating out the returning Goncalo Guedes for the left midfield role.
Karim Benzema – ST (Real Madrid)
After three years of decreasing returns, Benzema finally looks like the world class striker he was (and maybe still is). After scoring only 12 goals last year as Ronaldo’s transition to a more central role impinged on the Frenchman’s space, Benzema has already hit five goals in only four games this season. His brace against Leganes makes him joint top scorer in the league and also means that he has scored against all 33 teams he has faced in La Liga. The forgotten Frenchman is moving and grooving so far this year.
Luis Suarez – ST (Barcelona)
Suarez has struggled mightily this campaign, and his failure to put the ball in the back of the net has lead many to question whether his time as a top striker has passed. While a double against a poor Huesca doesn’t fully answer the question, getting off the mark for the season will help calm the nerves of the Barca faithful. Messi passed up the opportunity to try for a hattrick at the end of the game and allowed Suarez to take the penalty instead. El Pistolero scored to round off the game. His teammates still trust him, and maybe he now trusts himself.