Barça's opponents in the last 16 of the Champions League. Premier League side Arsenal, took an morale boosting 2-1 victory over title rivals Manchester City on Monday at the Emirates Stadium in London. Goals from Theo Walcott and Oliver Giroud put the Gunners 2-0 up at half time and despite a late effort for City from former blaugrana Yaya Touré, the Londoners held on for three vital points. The win leaves Arsène Wenger's team just two points behind surprise league leaders Leicester City ahead of the busy holiday period in which Arsenal face three important league games in the space of seven days.
Closer to home in la Liga, on a wonderful weekend, not only did FC Barcelona collect their third Club World Cup trophy, but they also learned that they’ll be spending this Christmas as Liga leaders.
While Barça were away in Japan, Atlético Madrid were in Malaga, where just one point would have been enough to move them clear at the top of the table. But in what was not their most inspired performance of the season, and with Gabi sent off in the second half, Diego Simeone’s side went down 1-0 after Charles scored for the home side with just four minutes to go. Barça stay top on goal difference, but now with a game in hand.
Real Madrid, however, did make the most of Barça’s absence by collecting all three points from the local derby with Rayo Vallecano to close the gap to two points on the frontrunners. In an incident-packed game at the Bernabéu, Rayo led 2-1 after 12 minutes, but after both Tito and Baena were sent off, the visitors had to play for over an hour with just nine men. Madrid made their numerical superiority tell, eventually waltzing home to a 10-2 win, with Gareth Bale scoring four, Benzema three, Ronaldo two and Danilo getting the other.
Barça’s next league match, and the last of 2015, is at home to Betis on Wednesday 30 December at 8.30pm CET. Hopefully it’ll be a more interesting encounter than a Seville derby to forget at the weekend, which ended 0-0 and with a total of twelve yellow cards. The result leaves the green-and-whites eleventh in the table.
It was a cheerier weekend for Espanyol, as manager Constantin Gâlcă made it two wins out of two since taking charge. After qualifying midweek for a Copa del Rey derby match-up with Barça in January, the ‘budgies’ ended an eight-match winless streak by beating Las Palmas 1-0, the solitary goal scored by Ecuadorian international Felipe Caicedo after 66 minutes.
Valencia 2-2 Getafe
Espanyol 1-0 Las Palmas
Betis 0-0 Sevilla
Deportivo 2-0 Eibar
Real Madrid 10-2 Rayo Vallecano
Real Sociedad 0-2 Villarreal
Granada 0-2 Celta Vigo
Athletic 2-0 Levante
Málaga 1-0 Atlético
[[BOTOVERMELL::LA LIGA TABLE++::http://www.fcbarcelona.com/football/first-team/spanish-league::HOR::::NO-TRACKING::::::]]