By Noah TanFollow @@Noah_Tan
Real's loss to Granada was not the only surprising result from this weekend's round of action, as current league leaders Barcelona dropped points for only the third time this season after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Valencia at the Mestalla.
The Catalan giants however still hold a commanding nine-point lead over nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, who had to work hard for their 1-0 win over Real Betis.
Meanwhile, Malaga's push for a spot in next season's Champions League suffered a blow as they were held to a 1-1 home draw by lowly Real Zaragoza, Mallorca's bid to reverse their flagging fortunes suffered a setback as they fell to a 3-0 loss to Real Sociedad, Sevilla won their fourth consecutive home game with a 2-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano, and Osasuna secured a vital three points in their fight to stave off relegation as they overcame Celta Vigo 1-0.
Elsewhere, Getafe registered their first win in 10 games as they beat relegation battlers Deportivo La Coruna 3-1, Espanyol continued their climb away from the relegation zone with a 3-2 win over Levante, and Athletic Bilbao had to dig deep to come from two goals down to salvage a point as they drew 2-2 with Valladolid.
Here, FOXSPORTSASIA.com selects the best players from the La Liga this week. The formation chosen is 4-5-1.
GK: Victor Valdes (Barcelona)
It is not often that Valdes can steal the spotlight in a team containing the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, but the Barcelona custodian was undeniably the toast of the Catalan giants after his superb display in goal prevented his side from suffering only their second loss of the season.
The 31-year-old had a surprisingly busy afternoon in goal as Valencia, buoyed by their boisterous home crowd, took the game to the league leaders and very nearly caused an upset, but for the heroics of Valdes. With the score delicately tied at 1-1, Valdes prevented Los Che from taking the lead with a acrobatic diving save to keep out Sergio Canales' fine curling strike midway through the second half. The Spain international then came to the Blaugrana's rescue once again in the dying minutes of the game, first bravely getting down to deny Canales from connecting with Aly Cissokho's low cross, then showing incredible agility to recover quickly to block Roberto Soldado's follow-up effort.
LB: Miranda (Atletico Madrid)
Atletico's narrow win over Real Betis was a scrappy and turgid affair, with both teams failing to put together decent passages of play for majority of the game. Thankfully, there was at least one bright spark at the Vincente Calderon, and that was the performance of Atletico's left-back Miranda.
Quietly efficient and assured in possession, Miranda added an attacking dimension to his usually defensive minded game and was seen overlapping down the flanks and causing havoc in Betis' defence with his dangerous crosses from the left. The Brazilian added some much needed flair to the game and wowed the crowd with an array of tricks and flicks which left his opposite number Francisco Torres bamboozled.
RB: Allan-Roméo Nyom (Granada)
Nyom may not be a household name outside of the community of Andalusia, but the Granada right-back's reputation will surely have been boosted after he effectively shackled the great Cristiano Ronaldo to ensure that his side would end the game with a win and a clean sheet.
The former Udinese player showed great versatility and energy to charge forward often to support the attack but also remained mindful of his defensive duties. He was commanding in defence, nearly unbeatable on the ground, and the Real players found precious little joy when attacking down his flank.
CB: Adil Rami (Valencia)
Barcelona had scored an amazing 71 goals in just 21 La Liga prior to their clash with Valencia. This attack, and that Los Che managed to restrict the Blaugrana to scoring a solitary goal is no mean feat.
Much of the credit must go to Rami, who was once again a near unbeatable force at the back for Valencia. The French international often used his imposing physical presence to outmuscle the Barcelona players off the ball and slid in bravely on several occasions to block the likes of Fabregas and Messi from getting their shots away. In addition, he also organised the Valencia backline very well, but the highlight of his game was undoubtedly a fantastic last-ditch tackle which prevented Villa from connecting with a through ball.
CB: Jose Angel (Real Sociedad)
Sociedad's recent good run of form can be attributed largely to centre-back Jose Angel, who has been one of the best defenders in the second half of the La Liga season. And the 23-year-old proved his worth once more as he led the Txuri-urdin from the back to a convincing win over Mallorca.
Angel cut an imposing figure in the heart of defence, clearing his lines effectively and showing excellent reading of the game to make several timely interceptions and deny Mallorca a sniff at goal. Unsurprisingly, Mallorca failed to find the net, and Angel will be pleased that his side managed to keep a clean sheet.
CM: Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)
Atletico manager Diego Simeone must be seriously considering starting Costa on a more regular basis after the 24-year-old scored the only goal of their game against Betis, a simple headed goal into an unguarded net following a corner, to secure a valuable three points for Los Colchoneros.
With chief striker Radamel Falcao sidelined with injury, Atletico were finding it hard to breach a stubborn Betis defence, but the introduction of Costa in the 56th minute radically changed the complexion of the game as the former Braga player added some urgency and directness to Atletico's attack.
CM: Ever Banega (Valencia)
It is never easy for any midfielder to come up against the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Fabreagas, but Banega showed absolutely no fear and performed credibly against the much vaunted midfield trio. The Argentine international curbed his naturally attacking-minded instincts to sit back and helped his side stifle Barcelona's passing game.
Banega played a huge part in ensuring his side shared the spoils with the mighty Blaugrana by scoring the vital opening goal, showing great reaction to capitalise on a poor Gerard Pique clearance to drill home from 16 yards.
CM: Markel Susaeta (Athletic Bilbao)
Bilbao's remarkable comeback from two goals down to salvage a draw with Valladolid would not have been possible without the immense contributions of Susaeta. Valladolid simply failed to cope with the 25-year-old's creative vision and wide range of passing, and on the basis of this performance, Susaeta can be expected to feature more prominently in the Spain national team sooner rather than later.
Los Leones got their first goal after Oscar de Marcos gleefully volleyed in Susaeta's accurate cross from the right, then completed their comeback when Susaeta himself got onto the scoresheet when he took one touch to control Aritz Aduriz's header before unleashing a fierce right-footed shot into the top-left corner of the net.
LM: Abdelaziz Barrada (Getafe)
Getafe will have Barrada to thank after the Moroccan midfielder inspired his side to a win over Deportivo. Barrada was the catalyst for almost every Getafe attack as he often used his pace and trickery to beat the Deportivo defenders, opening up space for his forwards to exploit in the process.
It was Barrada's quick feet which led to his side's first goal when he forced Ze Castro to foul him in the box, and Diego Castro duly converted the resulting penalty. Barrada then got an assist to his name after his fantastic through pass set up Alvaro Vasquez to score to put his side in the lead. The former Paris Saint-Germain player was the creator once more for his side's third goal when he cleverly found Adrian Colunga in the box, who finished the chance with aplomb.
RM: Andres Guardado (Valencia)
One of the reasons why Barcelona failed to make inroads into Valencia's defence was largely due to their full-backs being pegged back and unable to go up to support their attack. And the main reason for that was because the potent combination of Guardado and Soldado had the Barcelona defence troubled throughout the game.
Guardado used his mobility and pace to launch several devastating counter-attacks from the flanks, and he created numerous goalscoring chances for his team-mates, in particular Soldado, who were unfortunately unable to find the back of the net. The Mexican international also worked hard up front to close down the Barcelona defenders whenever they had the ball, which caused the likes of Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique to misplace several passes out from defence.
ST: Emiliano Armenteros (Osasuna)
Osasuna had Armenteros to thank for firing them out of the relegation zone as his well-taken goal, a fierce shot which nestled into the bottom corner of the net and left Celta Vigo custodian Javi Varas grasping at air, proved to be enough for his side to claim all three points.
It was no surprise that the lively Armenteros got himself on the scoresheet as he had looked a real threat up front and was a real livewire for Osasuna the whole game. The former Sevilla player, usually more adept at playing on the left wing, showed great versatility to lead the line for his side, linking up well with his team-mates in midfield and keeping Varas busy with several testing shots.