La Liga, Week 19: At the halfway point, things remain close all through the table

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

At the halfway point of the season La Liga is poised for an entertaining second half with multiple important races extremely close.

As most observers had their focus firmly on Saturday's meeting between Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, there were some far more interesting results across the league this week that deserved more attention. The conlusion of week 19 means we've reached the halfway point of the season and this might be the tighest the league has been in several years.

Barcelona and Atlético Madrid remain virtually tied at the top of the table with Real Madrid lurking just three points behind. Atheltic Bilbao, Villarreal and Real Sociedad remain within four points of one another in the race for fourth. Every team from eight place down are no more than seven points clear of the drop zone.

In other words, things are close.

The dynamic surrounding the battle for fourth place evoked yet again thanks to two blowout victories, with one of the three teams involved ending up on the wrong end of things. Athletic Bilbao remained in fourth thanks to a six-goal outburst against Almeria with Ibai Gomez scoring twice. In the week's other big match, Villarreal pummeled Real Sociedad 5-1 to jump into fifth place, two points behind Atheltic, thanks to braces from Giovani Dos Santos and Ikechukwu Uche.

Valencia slipped further behind the European spot race after a second half brace from Celta Vigo striker Charles sunk Los Che in a disappointing defeat.

The much ballyhooed battle between Barca and Atléti was a scoreless, defensive affair in which we learned two key things. First, in case you had any lingering doubts, Los Colchoneros are for real and baring a massive meltdown in the second half of the season they'll be in the title race until the end. Second we learned that Barcelona's offense needs Lionel Messi and Neymar at 100% to be able to break down a tough, organized defense.

Real Madrid ended up as the winner of the week thanks to the previously discussed draw, defeating Espanyol 1-0 and closing to within three points of the top two teams.

Granada 4-0 Real Valladolid
Athletic Bilbao 6-1 Almeria
Celta Vigo 2-1 Valencia
Atlético Madrid 0-0 Barcelona
Elche 1-1 Sevilla
Getafe 0-1 Rayo Vallecano
Real Betis 1-2 Osasuna
Espanyol 0-1 Real Madrid
Levante 1-0 Málaga
Real Sociedad 1-5 Villarreal

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