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Spain Five things we learned from La Liga

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Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring on December 10, 2016 play

Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring on December 10, 2016


Real Madrid had to lean on another late show from captain Sergio Ramos to remain six points clear at the top, whilst Lionel Messi shone for Barcelona and Valencia's season from hell continued.

Here AFP Sports looks at five things we learned from week 15 in La Liga.

- Valencia face hostile homecoming

Valencia players needed a police escort to escape the fury of angry fans on their return to the club's training ground on Saturday night after their winless run stretched to seven league games with a 3-2 defeat at Real Sociedad.

Former Italy boss Cesare Prandelli challenged his players to show they had the heart for a relegation battle on Friday and was duly rewarded by going 2-0 down inside 24 minutes.

Real Sociedad's midfielder Juanmi (L) clashes with Valencia's defender Aderlan Santos on December 10, 2016 play

Real Sociedad's midfielder Juanmi (L) clashes with Valencia's defender Aderlan Santos on December 10, 2016


Prandelli has been summoned to a meeting with owner Peter Lim in Singapore this week more with an eye to the January transfer window than his own future.

Yet, Prandelli's record since taking charge in October is making Gary Neville's ill-fated four-month spell at Mestalla earlier this year look respectable.

Valencia aren't in action next weekend as they were due to play Real Madrid, who are instead away in Japan at the Club World Cup.

Los Che are therefore likely to end a dreadful 2016 in the bottom three.

- Ramos winner fitting for record-breaking Real

The difficulties in analysing Real's now club record 35-game unbeaten run stretching back to April were laid bare as they recovered from a 2-1 deficit with six minutes remaining to beat Deportivo la Coruna 3-2 on Saturday.

That Ramos should once again power home the stoppage time winner is a great reflection of the heart and never say die attitude that has carried Real for the past eight months.

Yet, the fact Madrid needed a late revival was due to one of many sub-par performances on that run bailed out by moments of individual brilliance.

That potent mix of attributes looks like will deliver Real's first league title in five years, but should their luck finally run out in the new year, Barcelona may be ready to pounce.

- Messi makes magical seem routine

Barca got their first league win in four in comfortable fashion with a 3-0 win at bottom side Osasuna.

Barcelona's forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring on December 10, 2016 play

Barcelona's forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring on December 10, 2016


Messi scored twice to leapfrog Cristiano Ronaldo as La Liga's top scorer with 11, two days before he is likely to lose his crown as the World Player of the Year to the Portuguese.

Messi's second was sensational as he left four defenders in his wake and the goalkeeper on the ground before lifting the ball high into the net.

It is often said that great goals by others would get more attention had Messi scored them. In fact, the opposite is often true as the diminutive Argentine makes the magical seem routine.

- Perfect ten for Espanyol

Espanyol will head into the Catalan derby with Barca next weekend full of confidence after extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 games with a 2-1 win over Sporting Gijon.

The fact Sporting even managed a consolation goal was an impressive feat as Duje Cop's injury time free-kick broke a club record 586 minutes without conceding for Espanyol goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

- Atletico face Champions League fight

Atletico Madrid unveiled the name of their new 67,000 capacity stadium for next season on Friday with 20 percent owners of the club, Chinese conglomerate Wanda, snapping up the naming rights for the Wanda Metropolitano.

Yet, just as Atletico look set to cement their position as Spain's third force financially, they face a fight to guarantee their place in next season's Champions League.

Sevilla's impressive 3-0 win at Celta Vigo puts them five points ahead of Diego Simeone's men, who face a tricky trip to sixth-placed Villarreal on Monday night.

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