The top five in La Liga all won this weekend, but Villarreal's Champions League ambitions took a slight knock as the Yellow Submarine were beaten at home by an ever-improving Sevilla side.
The goals flowed on Sunday as Espanyol opened the action with a 4-2 win over Real Valladolid, who remain just outside the relegation zone, before Barcelona came from 2-0 behind to beat Getafe 5-2 in the Spanish capital.
Athletic Bilbao's assault on the top four continued in the penultimate match of the weekend with a 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Rayo Vallecano, who now boast the worst goal difference at this stage of the campaign.
Celta Vigo were held to a 1-1 draw by Osasuna in one of two late starts on Sunday, while Real Madrid needed a late strike from Jese Rodriguez to beat Valencia 3-2 and move five points off the top of the table.
Here, Sports Mole selects its 11 star La Liga performers on the final weekend of Spanish action before the winter break.
Betis will still be wondering just how they lost to Almeria on Saturday afternoon. The home side had a number of glorious chances, especially in the second period, but they found Esteban in top form in Seville. The 38-year-old made at least three world-class saves throughout the 90 minutes as he further demonstrated his standing as one of the best keepers in the league on current form.
Sergio Sanchez (Malaga)
It has been a season of disappointment for Malaga thus far, but they have certainly improved in recent weeks. The Champions League quarter-finalists from last season moved into 10th spot in the table with a 1-0 win over Elche on Friday. A major contributor to that result was Sanchez, with the Spanish centre-back a tower of strength in defence throughout the contest.
Jeremy Mathieu (Valencia)
The Frenchman might have been on the losing side against Real Madrid on Sunday evening, but it took nothing away from his performance. The centre-back scored Valencia's second with a towering header, but it was his defensive showing that gains him a spot in this team. It was a committed, hardworking night's work from one of the more unorthodox defenders in the division.
Jose Angel (Real Sociedad)
The on-loan Roma defender has not had too many chances to impress this season, but he certainly made his mark in Real Sociedad's 3-1 win over Granada. The 24-year-old was a constant menace in wide areas, while he also demonstrated his defensive instincts with a number of fine challenges. It was easily his best performance in a Sociedad shirt.
Aleix Vidal (Almeria)
With Almeria playing on the counter for the majority of their 1-0 win over Betis on Saturday, they needed an outlet in the final third. That was provided by Vidal, who was a constant menace to the Betis defence. The 24-year-old set up two golden chances in the second period, but neither was taken. The newly-promoted outfit would not have been able to set up the way they did without the pace of the Spaniard.
Victor Sanchez (Espanyol)
The 26-year-old was the star of the show as Espanyol beat Real Valladolid 4-2 on Sunday. The Spaniard was tactically astute and composed in the first period, but really shone in the second. He scored his side's third with a smart finish, before setting up Christian Stuani for the second of his two goals. It was an all-action display from the midfielder.
Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona)
The Spaniard took his La Liga tally to seven goals for the season with a brace in Barcelona's 5-2 win over Getafe on Sunday, while it was his sensational pass that assisted Pedro for the first of his three goals. The 26-year-old was class personified each time he had possession as the Catalan outfit recovered from 2-0 behind to claim all three points and move top of the table in the process.
Angel di Maria (Real Madrid)
The Argentine probably would not have started in Madrid's 3-2 win over Valencia had Gareth Bale been fit, but he made his point once again. The winger opened the scoring with a stunning curling effort, before assisting Cristiano Ronaldo with a sensational free kick. Monaco are reportedly interested, but can Los Blancos afford to let the winger leave?
Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)
So often Costa has been the saviour for Atletico Madrid this season and this weekend was no different. The capital outfit had to come from behind to beat Levante on Saturday, with the Brazil-born striker once more in fine form. Another brace from the 25-year-old moved him onto 19 league goals for the season. He has been the standout player in La Liga this campaign.
Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad)
The Mexican notched his 11th and 12th goals of the season as he inspired Real Sociedad to a 3-1 win over Granada at the weekend. It has been a stop-start campaign for the former Arsenal forward thus far, but he has found some serious form in the last couple of weeks. Granada just could not deal with his pace and movement.
Barcelona looked down and out after falling 2-0 behind against Getafe on Sunday, but Pedro had other ideas. The Spanish international struck a stunning hat-trick in the latter stages of the first period to help his side to all three points. He has found it difficult to cement a regular spot in the first XI this season, but has still bagged 14 goals.