Spanish La Liga Team of the Week

A hard-working Real Betis defence ensured Real Madrid suffered their third defeat of the season while Barcelona's Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi were the stars against Levante the next day.

Nosa Iglebor and Salvador Agra of Real Betis and J

Suhas Bhat

The sequence of results all but assures that Atletico Madrid remain the only side capable of posing a realistic challenge to runaway leaders Barcelona. Los Colchoneros, unlike their neighbours who lost 1-0 to Betis, did not falter and posted an impressive 4-0 win over nine-man Sevilla, with Radamel Falcao netting his 50th goal for the side.

Barcelona were impressive in their win over Levante and the star of the night was undoubtedly Andres Iniesta as who put in a superb display with three assists and a goal.

Malaga were the other side to catch over the weekend with a 4-0 dismantling of Valencia at La Rosaleda.


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GK: Adrian (Real Betis)

The Betis goalkeeper was the hero in his side's win over Valencia recently and he rose to the occasion yet again with a sterling display between the sticks.

Adrian denied Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka and inspired his defence to play their hearts out with his rousing cheer after every save.

RB: Jesus Gamez (Malaga)

Gamez was diligent down the right and combined really well with Joaquin in the game. Against Valencia, he did a smart one-two to get inside the box and then sent in a cross which was met by Roque Santa Cuz for the final goal of the night.

CB: Miranda (Atletico Madrid)

His presence inside the penalty box in the 92nd minute was wholly unexpected but with Sevilla already down to nine men, the centre-back demonstrated his ambitious nature by netting Atletico's fourth goal of the game. It was a well-deserved bonus as he was the quickest to react after a Filipe Luis' strike from 30 yards out was spilt by Andres Palop.

Defensively, he was in the right place at the right time to frustrate Baba and Jose Antonio Reyes.

CB: Alexis (Getafe)

Alexis was the quiet star in Getafe's 2-0 away win at Espanyol as he made no less than five crucial tackles to deny the home side a way back in the game. A rock in the heart of defence, he repeatedly denied Wakaso Mubarak and Samuele Longo the time to string passes and come up with attacking plays.

Ultimately, they were forced to try desperate long-range efforts, none of which came to fruition.

LB: Eliseu (Malaga)

Billed as the battle between two strong sides aiming for the fourth Champions League qualification berth, Malaga showed Valencia why they're the new kid on the block. An all-action display involving some excellent play on the wings ensured Los Che were largely pegged into their own half.

Eliseu helped open the scoring by chasing down the ball inside the Valencia box and spotting Javier Portillo with a precise pass as early as the eighth minute to help Malaga get first blood.

MC: Ignacio Camacho (Malaga)

Malaga's strong attacking performance was anchored by a diligent midfield display by Camacho and Jeremy Toulalan, with the Spaniard getting the spot after being slightly more successful with his tackling in the game.

MC: Benat Etxebarria (Real Betis)

Etxebarria's strike wasn't anything spectacular but the low shot from outside the box was angled perfectly making it difficult for Casillas to dive across goal and palm it away.

It proved to be the only goal of the game but Benat was also a livewire with the ball at his feet and made Pepe and Sergio Ramos exercise a lot more than they would have wanted to.

AMR: Markel Susaeta (Athletic Bilbao)

A smart low cross from the right perfectly picked out Oscar de Marcos for his early goal and Susaeta worked hard to help every other player get on the scoresheet as well. Fernando Llorente was particularly grateful for the service provided and nearly grabbed a goal on his first start of the season after he connected with a free-kick by the 24-year-old.

The bar denied the striker on that occasion and a goal by Abel Aguilar denied the Basque side the three points on Sunday.

AMC: Isco (Malaga)

If there is one player that pulls the strings in the Malaga midfield, it is Isco with his fleet-footedness and vision.

He scored a goal against Valencia in the dying minutes of the game through a superb long-range strike and it wouldn't be a surprise if clubs come knocking with enquires on the availability of the 20-year-old in January.

AML: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)

When you've had a hand in all four of your team's goals, it's hard to see anyone else more qualified for the accolade of Player of the Week. Iniesta was simply superb and the magnetic pull that he has over the ball made him a menace down the left.

He scored a goal and assisted Messi and Cesc Fabregas for their goals in the game as well. Messi's second goal epitomised Iniesta's abilities as he dribbled all the way to the byline and sent in a pass with the quickest of glances to spot a free player, helping tee the Argentinean perfectly for a close-range finish.

And then there was his goal - a right footed screamer from outside the box. A pitch-perfect performance from the little man.

ST: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

A brace against Levante put him just three goals shy of Gerd Muller's calendar-year record of 85 goals on Sunday night. Messi was predatory in every sense of the word as he pounced on the loose balls and repeatedly wriggled his way through the packed Levante defence.

Ultimately, a through-ball and a cross by Iniesta was all that was required for him to score but the cheeky lob for the first enthralled the few Blaugrana fans at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia. 



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