La Liga round-up: Barca's unbeaten start under Xavi ends, Real Madrid stretch lead

Matchday 16 in La Liga has all but wrapped up, with Getafe vs Athletic Club being the only remaining fixture. The action got underway on Friday, with Granada beating Deportivo Alaves 2-1 in the first fixture. However, all eyes were on the weekend games, with the country's biggest teams taking to the field on Saturday.

Sevilla vs Villarreal was the first tricky showdown, with Lopetegui's men eyeing a return to winning ways in their clash with Emery's side. Los Nervionenses did just that, beating the Yellow Submarine by a slim 1-0 score line. Barcelona were next up, with the Blaugrana hosting Real Betis. Unfortunately, this Camp Nou tie saw Xavi's unbeaten start come to an end as the Catalan giants lost 1-0.

However, Barca weren't the only Spanish giants to slip up as Atletico Madrid also suffered a defeat. Simeone's men went 2-1 down at home to Mallorca, a result which was damaging to their pursuit of Real Madrid. Speaking of Los Blancos, they marched to a crucial victory, beating Real Sociedad – a fellow title challenger – 2-0 to move eight points clear at the top. Here's everything you need to know about the recent round in La Liga.

Who are the top teams in La Liga?

La Liga, Atletico, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Sevilla, Standings 

La Liga top 3 scorers

Karim Benzema, Juanmi, Vinicius Junior, Real Madrid, Real Betis, La Liga, Pichichi 

La Liga – top headlines

Vinicius Jr. scored in Real Madrid's 2-0 win over Real Sociedad, continuing his excellent form this season. That strike has taken his tally to 10, making Los Blancos the first team in Europe's top five leagues to have two players with 10+ goals – Vinicius (10) and Benzema (12).

Barcelona suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss, a result that leaves their top-four hopes in bigger trouble than they were before. However, Jordi Alba enjoyed a lovely feat in that fixture as the Spanish fullback made his 400th appearance across all competitions for the club, becoming only the 15th player in Blaugrana history to reach this feat.

Speaking of that Barcelona vs Real Betis game, Juanmi Jiménez scored the one and only goal, thus becoming the Spanish player with the most goals this season in Europe's top five leagues (11 across all competitions; 9 in La Liga). 

Rayo Vallecano pulled off a lovely victory over the weekend, beating Espanyol 1-0. That result helped them secure their 27th point of the season, the first time in history that they have amassed this amount of points after only 16 games.

Atletico Madrid suffered an unwanted 2-1 loss at home to Mallorca, but similar to Barcelona's defeat, one man set an amazing feat. That player was Jan Oblak, with the Rojiblancos goalkeeper making his 244th La Liga appearance for the club. He is now officially the goalkeeper with the most number of appearances for the Madrid giants (244).

Top matches to watch in La Liga Liga: Dec. 10-13, 2021

Osasuna vs Barcelona: Xavi's side are currently seventh in the table, with the Blaugrana giants falling 16 points behind league leaders Real Madrid. As a result, it is safe to say that the title race is all but over for Barcelona. The focus should now be on a top-four finish, but with fourth-placed Atletico sitting six points ahead, the Catalan giants must pick up as many points as possible, starting this weekend. Their opponent will be Osasuna, who sit only two points behind in 9th, meaning this won't be a walk in the park for Xavi's men. Will they emerge triumphant or lose for the second consecutive time? Tune in to find out.

Real Betis vs Real Sociedad: With no wins from their last three league outings, Real Sociedad know they must triumph this weekend or will risk dropping 13 points behind Real Madrid. Unfortunately, things won't get easier for La Real as they will be facing Real Betis next. The visitors are third in the league, having moved a point ahead of Isak and Co. This was due to Los Verdiblancos' recent triumph at the Camp Nou, meaning Manuel Pellegrini's side will not want to relinquish their spot just yet.

Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: The Madrid Derby makes its return in the upcoming round. Real Madrid will play hosts to Atletico in a highly-anticipated showdown, one that could have huge implications in the title race. The 2-1 loss to Mallorca has seen Simeone's men drop to fourth in the table, albeit by slight margins. Defeat at the Bernabeu would see them go 13 points behind their city rivals. That would be nearly unsurmountable, hence why this game is crucial. Ancelotti's men, on the other hand, have been in excellent form and will look to continue their winning streak when Suarez and Co. pay them a visit.

*Keep track of all the action in the Spanish top-flight by following our dedicated La Liga competition page. 

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