Not the best of weeks for Spanish sides in the Champions League, Real Madrid the only ones to ensure their place in the knock-out stage after a 1-0 victory over Paris Saint Germain, Nacho the scorer just minutes after coming on as substitute. Barcelona though are close to a place in the last sixteen after a 3-0 win over BATE Borisov, Neymar getting two including a penalty, and Luis Suárez one in between. However the other three teams struggled, Atlético Madrid being held to a 0-0 draw by the little known Astana, Valencia losing 1-0 at Gent, and Sevilla being beaten 1-3 by Manchester City, with Trémoulinas getting their only goal. Better news though in Thursday’s Europa League ties, Athletic thrashing Partizan Belgrade 5-1 with a second brace by Williams in four days, and goals by Beñat, Aduríz and Elustondo, and Villarreal coming from behind to win 1-2 at Dinamo Minsk, Soldado converting a penalty and then forcing a defender to put through his own net late on.

It was the last weekend in the league before the two week international break, and also the last before the upcoming “clásico” in the Bernabeu stadium, and Barcelona will start with a three point advantage after they beat fifth placed Villarreal 3-0 on Sunday. It is not sure yet whether Messi will be fit for that match, but with Neymar and Luis Suárez on cracking form they shouldn’t be too worried. The pair were on target again, Neymar netting twice, including a spectacular “sombrero” for the second, and Luis Suárez converted a penalty in between, meaning the two forwards have scored all sixteen of Barça’s goals in their last six games! Real Madrid however lost 3-2 at Sevilla, their first defeat in all competitions this season, although they had the consolation of the recovery of Bale and of James, who got the last goal. Immobile, Banega and Llorente were the scorers for the Andalusians, who have now beaten the big two in the Sánchez Pizjuán stadium this season.

Atlético Madrid meanwhile close to within a point of their city rivals, although they had to wait until injury time before Griezmann headed the winner in a 1-0 victory over Sporting Gijón. Celta though drop to fourth after they were hammered 1-5 by Valencia, Paco Alcácer and Dani Parejo helping themselves to two each as the Ches bounced back from that midweek defeat. Athletic Bilbao are also moving rapidly up the table, the on-form Williams also producing a “sombrero” just as good as Neymar’s to open the scoring against Espanyol, and Raúl García heading the winner after the Catalans had levelled the scores. That took them above Deportivo who could only draw 1-1 at bottom club Levante, Lucas Pérez once again getting the goal for the Galicians. He is one of several Spanish strikers who are banging them in this season, Javi Guerra for example getting both of Rayo’s goals in a 2-1 win over Granada, Rubén Castro on target again as Betis won 0-1 at Málaga, and Aduríz still topping our chart. Del Bosque ignored all of them though, and opted to recall the argumentative Diego Costa to join Alcácer and Morata for next week’s friendly games against England and Belgium. Don Vicente, what were you thinking??? (10.11.15)

Pichichi League Cup Europe Total (Penalties)
Aduríz (Athletic Bilbao) 7 4 4 15 (1)
Neymar (Barcelona) 11 0 2 13 (4)
Luis Suárez (Barcelona) 9 0 4 13 (1)
Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 8 0 5 13 (3)
Javi Guerra (Rayo) 8 0 0 8 (0)
Agirretxe (Real Sociedad) 8 0 0 8 (0)
Rubén Castro (Betis) 7 0 0 7 (2)
Nolito (Celta) 7 0 0 7 (1)
Lucas Pérez (Deportivo) 7 0 0 7 (0)
Benzema (Real Madrid) 6 0 1 7 (0)
Griezmann (Atlético) 5 0 2 7 (0)
Gameiro (Sevilla) 5 0 2 7 (3)
Iago Aspas (Celta) 6 0 0 6 (0)
Borja Bastón (Eibar) 6 0 0 6 (0)
Messi (Barcelona) 3 1 2 6 (1)
Williams (Athletic) 4 0 2 6 (0)
Bakambu (Villarreal) 4 0 2 6 (0)
Alcácer (Valencia) 5 0 0 5 (2)
Parejo (Valencia) 4 0 1 5 (1)
Konoplyanka (Sevilla) 2 0 3 5 (1)
Caicedo (Espanyol) 4 0 0 4 (0)
Raúl García (Athletic) 3 0 1 4 (0)
Banega (Sevilla) 2 0 2 4 (2)
Baptistao (Villarreal) 2 0 2 4 (0)
Soldado (Villarreal) 2 0 2 4 (1)
Feghouli (Valencia) 1 0 3 4 (0)