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Sports Mole's La Liga Team of the Week

Sports Mole picks out its 11 star performers from the latest round of La Liga fixtures.

It is a case of 'as you were' at the top of La Liga, with still just two points separating the leaders Barcelona from second-placed Real Madrid with five games of the season remaining.

Barcelona initially stretched the gap to five points with a 2-0 win over Espanyol in the Catalan derby on Saturday, but Real Madrid responded with a 4-2 victory away to Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, made it 10 league games unbeaten with a 3-0 win over Elche and Diego Simeone's side are now almost assured of a spot in the top four following a wobble.

The battle for fourth is just as fascinating as the title race, meanwhile, with Sevilla moving above Valencia with a 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, but Valencia returned to fourth on Monday evening when they comfortably dispatched struggling Granada 4-0 at the Mestalla.

Week 33's action opened on Friday evening, when Athletic Bilbao continued their pursuit of a top-seven finish with a 1-0 win over basement side Cordoba, who are now 11 points from safety.

Levante eased their relegation fears with a 1-0 victory over Getafe in Saturday's penultimate match, before Villarreal made it nine games without a win in all competitions when they drew 0-0 at David Moyes's Real Sociedad.

On Sunday, Malaga's poor form continued as they could only draw 1-1 with Deportivo La Coruna, who are still in the bottom three, but Almeria moved out of the relegation zone with a vital 2-0 victory over Eibar, who are now just two points from safety.

Here, Sports Mole has picked out its 11 star performers following another pulsating weekend of action in Spain's top flight.

Fabricio (Deportivo)
Malaga would have fancied returning to winning ways against Deportivo on Sunday, but they would not have banked on the opposition goalkeeper being in such fine form. Fabricio, who has been impressive all season, made a number of excellent saves in the 1-1 draw – including a quite extraordinary stop to deny Javi Guerra from a point-blank header in the latter stages.

Jose Gimenez (Atletico Madrid)
It has been a real breakthrough season for the 20-year-old and he was again in fine form this weekend. The Uruguay international was called into action on a number of occasions throughout the match, and answered the challenge when needed. The centre-back did not put a foot wrong alongside Diego Godin as Elche struggled to make their mark in the final third of the field.
Pablo Insua (Deportivo)
It has been a largely disappointing campaign for Deportivo, but they did pick up what could prove to be a valuable point at Malaga on Sunday. As expected, the home side were on the front foot for long spells, and Depor needed their back four to remain strong. Insua did pick up a yellow card – his team's only booking of the match – but that was an indication of his commitment to the cause.
Daniel Carrico (Sevilla)
Sevilla's fine run of form continued at the weekend as they recorded a 2-0 win over Rayo Vallecano to momentarily move into the top four. Both of their goals came in the first period and the second was scored by Carrico, who headed home at the near post. Down the other end, the centre-back was also calm and composed in possession during what was a classy performance.

Nolito (Celta Vigo)
Nolito might have been on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline on Saturday, but that took nothing away from the Celta forward's performance. It was the Spaniard that opened the scoring against Real Madrid and he remained a threat throughout the match – setting up chances and causing havoc in the final third. He has been one of the most impressive performers in the entire division this term.
Dani Parejo (Valencia)
The Spaniard made it 10 league goals for the season when he netted Valencia's second in their 4-0 win over Granada on Monday. It was also the midfielder that set up Javi Fuego for the opening goal of the match in what was another fine performance. Los Che controlled the middle of the park against their struggling opponents and Parejo was their biggest contributor in that area.
James Rodriguez (Real Madrid)
The Colombian has only recently returned from a broken foot, but his performances in recent weeks have been sensational. The attacker set up Real Madrid's second in their 4-2 win over Celta on Sunday, before scoring their third in the latter stages of the first period. He was always involved in the final third, with his appreciation of space causing Celta a whole host of problems in Vigo.
Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)
The 24-year-old scored his third straight La Liga double as Atletico beat Elche 3-0 on Saturday. The Frenchman now has 22 league goals for the season and 25 in all competitions – some return. His first was the game's all-important opening goal, before he added Atletico's third in the 77th minute. There is no question that the attacker has been a key contributor in his team's impressive run.

Thievy Bifouma (Almeria)
The 22-year-old has not received too many plaudits this season, but he deserves them here. He scored his first league goal since November in Almeria's vital 2-0 win over Eibar on Sunday. The goal itself was a super finish, but it was Thievy's constant movement and pace in the final third that impressed the most. Eibar simply struggled to contain the lively Congo international.
Javier Hernandez (Real Madrid)
The Mexican proved the hero against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last week and followed that up with two vital goals in Real Madrid's 4-2 win over Celta. His finishing ability was in full view at the Balaidos as he converted two difficult chances, while the on-loan Manchester United striker's movement also opened space for those around him.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Messi was again in sparkling form at the weekend as Barcelona won 2-0 at Catalan rivals Espanyol. The Argentine caused havoc with his passing ability from a deeper position and he played a key role in his side's first, before scoring the second from a difficult angle. Barca's front three are all in wonderful form, but Messi was once again the star of the show in Catalonia.

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Antoine Griezmann for Atletico Madrid on January 24, 2015
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La Liga Team of the Week
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Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Real Madrid5410157813
2Atletico MadridAtletico532074311
3Valencia5311104610
4Real Sociedad531164210
5Athletic Bilbao52304139
6Sevilla42205148
7Barcelona42208538
8Osasuna52216608
9Mallorca52213308
10Rayo Vallecano52128537
11Real Betis51316606
12ElcheElche51313306
13CadizCadiz512268-25
14Villarreal40402204
15Levante504167-14
16Espanyol503235-23
17Granada503238-53
18Celta Vigo5014410-61
19Getafe500518-70
20AlavesAlaves4004110-90

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