MADRID: Barcelona clawed back ground on Real Madrid in the title race, while a number of the relegation candidates showed they are up for the fight. Here are three talking points from the weekend's La Liga action.
A Hazard warning for Man City
Real Madrid might have been held to a shock 2-2 draw by lowly Celta Vigo at the Bernabeu on Sunday, but many Real fans were left salivating at Eden Hazard’s individual display.
The Belgian, starting his first game since November due to an ankle problem, showed the Spanish capital exactly what they had been missing in his absence: guile, creativity and a direct threat at goal.
Hazard was felled for the penalty that allowed Sergio Ramos to put his side 2-1 up and was taken off to a standing ovation with Madrid ahead and cruising, only for them to concede a late equaliser when he was no longer on the pitch.
While the result was not what Madrid would have wanted, the form of Hazard with Manchester City’s visit in the Champions League fast approaching will have pleased coach Zinedine Zidane.
Angel passes Camp Nou audition
Barca’s injury crisis up front, with Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele likely to miss the rest of the season, means the La Liga holders are permitted to sign an injury replacement – and Getafe’s Angel Rodriguez has been the name on everyone’s lips.
The Madrid outfit are punching well above their weight this season and are third in the standings, helped by Angel's 10 La Liga goals; the latest of which was a sublime volley as Jose Bordalas's side were trailing 2-0 at Barca on Saturday.
Although they would go on to lose the game 2-1, Getafe were revitalised by Angel’s strike and would have pulled off an unlikely comeback were it not for some inspired goalkeeping by Marc Andre ter Stegen in the Barca goal.
Nevertheless, the 32-year-old left his mark in the Catalan capital, leading many to call for Barca to make their move and bring him in.
The basement boys looking for an escape
A few weeks ago, few would have given Espanyol, Mallorca or Leganes any hope of escaping the La Liga relegation zone.
However, all four sides showed this weekend they are up for the fight in a bid to retain their top division status.
Basement club Espanyol pulled off a deserved 2-2 draw away at Champions League chasing Sevilla on Sunday, just 24 hours after Mallorca recorded their first win for a month – and only a sixth victory of the season – at home to Alaves.
Leganes picked up a point at home to Real Betis to pile the pressure on fourth-bottom Celta, who faced table toppers Real Madrid in weekend’s final game. The Galician outfit pulled off the result of the weekend as they claimed an invaluable 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu.
The four sides are separated by just two points and any small slip up at this stage could prove fatal.
(Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli; Editing by Christian Radnedge)