La Liga Team of the Week: Isco, Messi & Soldado star

Barcelona claimed victory without coach Tito Vilanova on Saturday night in Valladolid to make it 16 wins out of 17 in the Primera Division so far in 2012-13 and stay nine points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table, but the Catalans are now 16 points above fierce rivals Real Madrid, who lost 3-2 at Malaga in a surprise result as Iker Casillas was left on the bench by Jose Mourinho.

Here, for the last time in 2012 as the winter break begins in Spain, looks at the pick of the performers from the weekend action in La Liga.

In goal, Roberto Jimenez is included after he made two fantastic saves in Zaragoza’s fine 2-0 win at Athletic Bilbao at the weekend.

Malaga’s Martin Demichelis was a key component in the Andalusians’ 3-2 success over Madrid and is included alongside Real Sociedad’s Alberto De La Bella, who impressed in the Basques’ win over Sevilla. Nacho Martinez makes up the back line after scoring a fine goal and helping Rayo Vallecano keep a clean sheet in the emphatic 3-0 victory over Levante.

Isco opened the scoring for Malaga with a fine strike at La Rosaleda, while Joaquin became the first player this season to grab two assists in one match against Madrid. Both were key in Malaga’s win on Saturday and are included along with Granada’s Dani Benítez, who scored his first league goal of the season after some time in the shadows. And for Barcelona, Xavi scored one and set up another with a delicious backheel for team-mate Lionel Messi.

Messi makes the cut after starring once again, albeit scoring only one this week, while Zaragoza’s Helder Postiga continued his fine form with a goal at Athletic Bilbao and Valencia’s Roberto Soldado makes up the selection following a goal and an assist in the 4-2 win over Getafe.

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