La Liga: Four things we learned from Spain’s Matchday 24 (analysis)

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Matchday 24 in La Liga had plenty of drama with late goals in both Atletico Madrid’s home game against Getafe and Barca’s draw away to Espanyol. Here are some things we learned this weekend in Spain.

1. Barca fail to show consistency

Although Luuk de Jong headed a dramatic 96th-minute equalizer to save a point for Barcelona on their visit to face local rivals Espanyol to spark celebrations in the Barca dugout, it’s hard to escape the feeling that it was two points dropped for Barca, rather than a point saved.

Following their best display of the season against Atletico Madrid a week ago, Barca were once again below par, with only Adama Traore really threatening an Espanyol who haven’t beaten Barca at home for 16 games, reports Xinhua.

There are signs of improvement under Xavi Hernandez, but consistency remains hard to find and with Ronald Araujo picking up a calf injury, despite De Jong’s late goal, it was another frustrating day for FC Barcelona.

2. Atletico leave it late, but same problems remain

Fans will have left the Wanda Metropolitano stadium happy after Mario Hermoso’s second late winner in a fortnight gave Atletico Madrid a 4-3 win in a topsy-turvy game at home to Getafe.

However, Atletico fans shouldn’t fool themselves — despite a brave last half hour with 10 men, Atletico once again showed the defensive frailties that have haunted them all season. After cruising into a 2-0 lead thanks to the impressive Angel Correa and Mathias Cunha, Atletico fell to pieces at the back, turning into defensive jelly as Getafe scored three goals in just 12 minutes thanks to some chaotic defending. It’s impossible to imagine previous Atletico sides collapsing like that and nine goals conceded in their last three league games is way too many for any top-four contender.

3. Benzema remains the key

Real Madrid won’t be too disappointed with their 0-0 draw away to Villarreal on Saturday afternoon, although the game once again showed just how important Karim Benzema is to Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

That importance was highlighted in the closing moments when Luka Jovic hit the Villarreal bar when you get the feeling Benzema would have scored. The Real Madrid have scored just one goal in the three games he has missed with a hamstring problem (and that goal was a 25-yard screamer from Marco Asensio), only highlights the Frenchman’s importance in terms of goals and collective play.

It was interesting to see Gareth Bale start on Saturday and the Welshman was one of Madrid’s best players, while Eden Hazard and Jovic also got their chances to show the depth of Madrid’s squad: but none of them do what Benzema does.

4. Joselu is Alaves’ saviour once again

Despite attempts to intimidate him by three Valencia players, Alaves striker Joselu kept his calm to slot home the 76th-minute penalty that gave his side a 2-1 win at home to Valencia and end an 11-game run without a win on Saturday afternoon.

Although Alaves are still deep in trouble and three points from safety, the win gives the team from the city of Vitoria the chance of avoiding the drop. However, the fact that Joselu has scored 12 of his side’s meager 19 league goals this season, means any chance Alaves have stayed up involve the striker staying fit and keeping in form.

As for Valencia, maybe things would go better for them if they actually tried to play football rather than focusing their efforts on gamesmanship and frankly subterranean tactics.

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