Each week, Sport360 brings you the best five players from La Liga, as chosen by you the supporters through our ValoraFutbol fan ratings tool.
YOU have direct influence on who appears in each Top Five, so be sure to rate each weekend.
1) GERONIMO RULLI (REAL SOCIEDAD) – 8.1
The shot-stopper was crucial to Real Sociedad’s 1-0 away win over Las Palmas, making sure his team claimed all three points with a string of important saves.
The hosts dominated the fixture but just couldn’t find a way past the goalkeeper.
2) SERGI ENRICH (EIBAR) – 7.5
The Eibar forward was crucial to his team’s comfortable 3-0 win over Malaga, as Enrich got on the scoresheet and bagged an assist. His goal was a well-taken, fiercely-struck shot to seal the points and move him into double figures for the season in La Liga.
Enrich also brought up a club milestone with his goal.
3) MIKEL SAN JOSE (ATHLETIC CLUB BILBAO) – 7.5
On a day when Bilbao honoured manager Ernesto Valverde after he recently broke the record for most games in charge of the Basque club, Mikel San Jose made sure the team gave their boss a win.
The defensive midfielder’s coolly-dispatched finish in the second half capped off an impressive individual display and gave Bilbao a 3-1 lead over Granada, wrapping up the points.
4) ASIER ILLARRAMENDI (REAL SOCIEDAD) – 7.5
Many fans will remember Illarramendi from his time at Real Madrid but he has been one of Real Sociedad’s best players this season, reminding observers why Los Blancos signed him in the first place.
Against Las Palmas on Friday, Illarramendi engaged in an enthralling individual duel with opposition midfielder Roque Mesa for control of the midfield. While Las Palmas were the better side on the night, the 26-year-old ensured Sociedad were never out of the game as they eked out a 1-0 win that could prove crucial in the race for Champions League spots.
Afterwards, the midfielder was delighted with the three points.
5) ALEXANDER SZYMANOWSKI (LEGANES) – 7.4
The Argentine attacker is now Leganes’ top scorer in La Liga this season, having picked up a fourth during a stunning 4-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna in the relegation six-pointer.
Leganes hadn’t won in La Liga since November and started Saturday’s game just one point above the relegation places, and a point behind their opponents, but thanks to Szymanowski and this teammates, the team have a little breathing space in the relegation fight now in the form of a four-point cushion.
GOAL! Leganes take a 1-0 lead as Alexander Szymanowski nicely finishes Nabil El Zhar's cross while on the turn (20). #LeganesDepor— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) February 25, 2017
The sombre look on Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho’s face spoke volumes.
As his players cavorted with the League Cup on Sunday, the non-plussed behaviour of the ‘Special One’ stood in stark contrast.
Despite his protestations about the benign nature of his actions, it is difficult to believe they did not possess an ulterior motive.
A message was surely being delivered about the true value of success in England’s third-ranked competition and the pressing need for summer refinements.
True, we are talking about a man who has consistently proven not to be beholden to pomp and ceremony. He wasted no time bolting from the pitch after he staggeringly led Porto to the 2003/04 Champions League, while a succession of medals quickly found their way into the crowd at other postings.
Extensive work is not needed to lift United up from sixth in the Premier League.
A late salvage job from Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who else? – was required after a two-goal lead was spurned against Southampton, but this was the worst performance in an otherwise promising run of one defeat in 26 matches.
United also find themselves so close to every other giant in the top flight apart from runaway leaders Chelsea despite a paltry chance-conversion rate of 12.5 per cent – the 17th best.
Mourinho will relish retooling a £600 million (Dh2.7 billion) squad classed as the most-expensive ever by the CIES Football Observatory.
Talismanic striker Ibrahimovic’s free-kick and last-gasp header undid the Saints and brought him onto 26 goals in 38 appearances during a bravura debut campaign.
This tally is 19 more than any of his team-mates.
This glaring dependency – if the Swede exercises the option on the second year of his deal – must be reduced, with Atletico Madrid and France forward Antoine Griezmann the obvious and expensive solution.
A ball-playing centre-back to add refinement alongside the agricultural Phil Jones and Eric Bailly should be recruited. Benfica’s Victor Lindelof is a better option when compared to the increasingly-shaky Chris Smalling.
Left-back remains an issue. Argentina’s Marcos Rojo was a repeat sinner against the Saints, meaning Luke Shaw’s abandonment is ever puzzling.
A system which can ensure Paul Pogba consistently lives up to his billing as football’s £89m (Dh406.7m) record buy is another priority.
Of this term’s benchmark matches, only November’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal can be classed as one which he truly grasped.
His partnership with fellow runner Ander Herrera can leave the kind of spaces which Southampton regularly exploited, with defensive midfielder Michael Carrick’s advancing years ensuring he cannot always be counted on to plug gaps. A successor in the transfer market is a must, with Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko repeatedly linked.
A definitive solution to Wayne Rooney’s situation must follow. The captain and club-top scorer was an unused substitute for the showpiece, yet still dominated coverage. If his phasing out under Mourinho reaches a denouement at the end of the season, it will force a clear path towards the future.
The list of changes is not long.
Now watch them be enacted with characteristic precision by one of football’s most-prolific winners.
Joel Matip has been a fantastic signing for Liverpool this season. With Mamadou Sakho not featuring at all for the Reds in the first half of the campaign and being loaned to Crystal Palace in January, the Cameroon international has been a mainstay in defence and has adapted to the Premier League with ease.
Matip, who arrived at Anfield on a free transfer, has been one of the positives of Liverpool’s season, and during his 16 league appearances, the side had only lost on one occasion before the defeat away to Leicester City on Monday night.
Completing just over 250 appearances for Bundesliga side Schalke 04, the 25-year-old has successfully carried his form into the Premier League.
On the other hand, there is still room for improvement. Alongside the dominant aerial presence, sliding tackles and intelligent distribution, he is also prone to strange fouls or bizarre decisions. Matip has a tendency to go into tackles very aggressively and also has the habit of proceeding high up the pitch while in possession.
He is the type defender who likes to play on the edge, which can also involve doing more than just defending and helping the team go forward in attack. Playing at the half-way line leaves a centre-back open to get caught out on the counter-attack, which is an area in which Matip needs to improve going forward.
This was revealed during the Hull City game in early February. Matip held a high line as Liverpool chased an equaliser, but Oumar Niasse received the ball after making a darting run in behind him. The forward went on to slot the ball past Simon Mignolet to secure all three points for his team.
Nevertheless, former Liverpool defender, Jamie Carragher, has been full of praise for Matip.
“He’s made a huge difference since he’s come in. He brings calmness to the rest of the team. The effect he’s had on [Dejan] Lovren as well. It’s not just his own performance, it’s the effect he has on everyone else.”
Considering the defender’s performances over the course of the season, Carragher is correct. Matip has had an instant impact since moving to Anfield. However, he is not the finished article yet and has some way to go in order to become one of the best centre-backs in the league.
Liverpool have been suffering from defensive issues for the past few years now, but the way things have gone so far this term, Matip could be the ideal individual that solidifies the heart of their defence.
Although Lovren, who was considered the side’s weak link last season, has improved and has been able to form a partnership with Matip, he has failed to replicate the form he showed at Southampton and needs replacing once the summer transfer window arrives.
Since his move from Germany, Matip has already been regarded as the best centre-back within the squad. Once Jurgen Klopp digs into the summer transfer funds to recruit the right partner for him, Liverpool could forge a steady defence.
With a central defender alongside who sweeps up behind him and compliments his best assets, there’s no reason why Matip can’t be permanent fixture in Liverpool’s back-line for years to come.