Luis Suarez leads Pichichi race and Real Madrid buzzing under Zidane
A look back at the weekend's La Liga action, with Luis Suarez leading the way in the Pichichi race and Real Madrid scoring freely under Zinedine Zidane ...
1. Suarez leads Pichichi race
With Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid all winning easily this weekend, there was extra focus on the race for the Pichichi; the award given to La Liga's leading scorer at the end of the season.
With Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann and Barcelona trio Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez on the scoresheet on Sunday, there was quite a bit of movement throughout the day.
Suarez finished the weekend top with 18 goals after his hat trick in the 6-0 dismantling of Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou; a result set up when Suarez won a penalty after just three minutes which led to visiting goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz being sent off.
With Suarez's teammate Neymar and Real Madrid duo Ronaldo and Benzema just two behind, this this is the first time since 1947 that four players have scored 16 or more goals at this stage of the season.
Suarez admitted after the game that his teammates had been ribbing him about missing some easy chances recently: "Forwards go through runs and I was laughing with the team about the chances I had missed in recent games because normally I score them," he said.
2. Zidane not getting carried away yet
Madrid fans and pundits are getting pretty excited at the effect Zinedine Zidane has had on the team following Rafael Benitez's sacking. Madrid have scored 10 times in two games since the former galactico replaced Benitez on the bench, the latest win a 5-1 thrashing of Sporting Gijon on Sunday.
The Bernabeu had certainly been rocking as the BBC -- Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo -- all scored as Madrid raced into a 4-0 lead after just 18 minutes against a young Sporting side.
"Zidane has given a push to the team," Ronaldo said afterwards. "Don't ask me why, but the players have more empathy with Zizou."
But Madrid did not have it all their own way. Bale and Benzema picked up injuries and Ronaldo was lucky not to be sent off for kicking out at Sporting midfielder Nacho Cases. Zidane was not getting carried away at all during his postmatch news conference. "We played a very good first half. We were very plugged in and focused from the start," he said.
"The first half was spectacular but we must improve a lot and we will. This was against Sporting; we will have more difficult games as the season goes on."
3. Atletico keep making most of what they have
In-form Las Palmas really challenged Atletico from the off in Sunday afternoon's game at the Estadio Gran Canaria but Diego Simeone's men eventually prevailed 3-0.
Even after left-back Filipe Luis put Simeone's side ahead against run of play early on, the islanders dominated possession and the chances. Griezmann's double to make the game safe did not reflect the balance of play.
Just after the final whistle, it was put to Las Palmas' Jonathan Viera that "Atletico do very little but score."
The former Valencia winger's answer, however, suggests there is nothing fortuitous about how Simeone's team grind out results: "It might look like little from outside but from inside it's a f---ing lot," he said.
4. Wait goes on for Neville
Valencia's 2-2 draw at home to 19th placed Rayo Vallecano means rookie coach Gary Neville is still waiting for a first La Liga win after almost two months in the job.
The result should really have been worse for Neville's side, who were indebted to some superb saves by Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan and benefitted from mistakes by visiting centre-back Ze Castro for both Valencia goals.
Neville's team were again whistled off by a Mestalla crowd understandably upset as a Los Che XI which cost €150 million was overran by Rayo's much more organised collection of loans and free transfers.
"I am here because they were not getting results before," Neville said afterwards.
"The problem did not begin now. There is no magic wand. I want to change things, but it takes time."
The former Manchester United defender was correct in that he has come into a very difficult situation both on and off the pitch in his first senior managerial job. But there's little sign he has the answers to Valencia's problems.
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5. Gameiro gaining ground for Sevilla
Something had to give when Sevilla's eight-game home winning streak met Malaga's seven match unbeaten run on Saturday afternoon at the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan.
The match was decided by two expert finishes just before half time from Sevilla poacher Kevin Gameiro, although his side were hanging on at the end after Charles got one back for the visitors and home midfielder Vicente Iborra picked up two quick yellow cards.
Gameiro has not always been an automatic pick since joining from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2013. Five goals in seven days, against fellow European challengers Athletic Bilbao, city neighbours Real Betis and now Andalusian rivals Malaga, has taken him to 14 for the season and means Sevilla are well-placed to kick on over the second half of the campaign.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan