This past week brought us Matchday 16 of the 2022/23 LaLiga Santander season and it was a thrilling one, with some results that could prove decisive come the end of the campaign. The main storylines from the weekend’s action are outlined below, along with some news on transfers, contract renewals and an individual award.
FC Barcelona move three points clear
There was a huge match in Spain’s capital on Sunday night, as FC Barcelona visited Atlético de Madrid, with Barça earning an impressive 1-0 victory courtesy of a first-half Ousmane Dembélé strike. That makes it two wins from two now for Xavi in his meetings as a coach with Diego Simeone, while the result also means FC Barcelona pull three points ahead of title rivals Real Madrid.
Quique Setién’s Villarreal CF are clicking
The reason Barça pulled further clear at the top this weekend is because their former coach Quique Setién oversaw a 2-1 victory when his Villarreal CF side hosted Real Madrid. El Submarino Amarillo were magnificent from start to finish, with Yéremy Pino and Gerard Moreno netting their two goals, even though the Castellón club could have scored more.
This could be the year that La Real return to the Champions League
Real Sociedad won again this weekend, claiming a 2-0 win away at UD Almería’s Power Horse Stadium, which has not been an easy place to visit this season. That result means they sit in third place and four points clear of fourth, so this might be the year in which Real Sociedad once again qualify for the Champions League, a competition they last played in back in 2013/14.
Joselu is an early favourite for the Zarra Trophy
The Zarra Trophy is the prize given out at the end of each LaLiga Santander season to the top-scoring Spanish player and there could be a new winner in 2022/23, with RCD Espanyol forward Joselu having struck nine goals already, including one in each of his two matches since the World Cup pause. Real Betis’ Borja Iglesias and RC Celta’s Iago Aspas, who has won this prize four times, are just one goal back on eight, but Joselu looks to be in unstoppable form.
Luiz Henrique is a special talent
Just days after his 22nd birthday, Luiz Henrique scored his first LaLiga Santander goal to earn Real Betis a hard-fought 2-1 victory away at Rayo Vallecano. The young Brazilian winger had already scored for Los Verdiblancos in Europe following his arrival in the summer, but produced a special solo goal in Vallecas, with a quick tip-tap dribble and an accurate finish. He is becoming an increasingly important player for the Andalusian side.
Juanmi is staying at Real Betis
Not only will Real Betis have Luiz Henrique at their disposal over the coming years, but they’ll also have Juanmi for some time yet. The winger, who has 27 goals in 82 appearances for the club, renewed his contract this week, committing to Real Betis until 2026.
Frustrating debuts for R.D.T and Luis Suárez
Two of LaLiga Santander’s top marksmen were back in action this past weekend, as Raúl de Tomás made his re-debut for Rayo Vallecano and Luis Suárez turned out for new club UD Almería for the first time. Both strikers came off the bench to make their bows and did so with their teams already losing, proving unable to change the result in this first matchday back. Before long, though, they’ll surely both be back amongst the goals.
Lisandro Magallán returns to LaLiga Santander
Bottom-placed Elche CF have signed centre-back Lisandro Magallán as they aim to turn their situation around. For the Argentine, this will be his second experience in LaLiga Santander, as he previously played for Deportivo Alavés in the 2019/20 season.
Another individual award for Courtois
Thibaut Courtois is playing at a spectacular level and has been for some time. His displays in 2022 saw him win several individual trophies and he claimed another this week, being named the best goalkeeper in the world in 2022 by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS).
We’ll have four top-tier fixtures in the Copa del Rey last 16
This past week, we also witnessed the draw for the Copa del Rey last 16. With just four lower league teams still remaining in the competition, there will be several all-LaLiga Santander ties in the next round, namely Villarreal CF vs Real Madrid, Real Sociedad vs RCD Mallorca, Real Betis vs CA Osasuna and Athletic Club vs RCD Espanyol.