La Liga Return: Five Players to Watch When Spanish Football Resumes

Martin Odegaard

Once upon a time, Martin Odegaard was the next future star and his move to Real Madrid from unknown Norwegian side, Strømsgodset, looked to be the start of a magical partnership.

However, since moving to Spain at 16, the tricky 21-year-old has made only two senior appearances for Madrid across three seasons and had to settle for loan spells elsewhere. With this said, it now seems that everything is falling into place Odegaard after another fantastic season away from the Bernabeu.

After making his way into the Eredivisie Team of the Year with eight goals for Vitesse last season, the Norwegian superstar has quickly become one of Europe's brightest talents once more. Thus far, Odegaard has netted seven times and bagged eight assists across La Liga and the Copa del Rey and even managed score against Madrid at the Bernabeu.

That goal against Los Blancos was met by muted celebrations, despite how much the winger wanted to show Zinedine Zidane what he is missing. This goal was part of a 4-3 scoreline that seen Odegaard and Sociedad eventually make it to the final of the Copa del Rey. It also means that the Madrid loanee has as many goals against the club than he does La Liga appearances for them.

The Norwegian has been in stellar form all season long and surely he has done enough to warrant a place back with his parent club. Now, with a Copa del Rey final to come, all eyes will be on Odegaard as he looks to win Sociedad their first major trophy in 34 years and keep up their pursuit of Champions League football.

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Lucas Ocampos

Lucas Ocampos and Sevilla are experiencing a wonderful season in La Liga this campaign and the hiatus on football will no doubt effect them more than any other side. The club has just earned a great draw away to Atletico Madrid, meaning Sevilla had lost just one of their previous six games on the domestic front.

Large parts of this was down to the brilliant goalscoring record their star man, Ocampos. The Argentine is in his first season with the club and has bagged 10 goals as Sevilla sit third and move closer to Champions League football.

If the Spanish side are to do that, their striker will be key and he is certainly worth looking at in the goalscoring markets for when action resumes.

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Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema has easily been the key asset to Madrid's title charge this season, as the club picks up the pieces left behind by Cristiano Ronaldo, just as his successor, Eden Hazard continues to struggles.

The Frenchman will no doubt go down as a La Liga legend and his importance for Los Blancos has always been brutally overlooked. Down the years, Benzema has bagged 241 goals for the club, but as this came during a time of a Ronaldo dominance, the striker has had the spotlight turned away from him.

Now, only the great Lionel Messi has managed to surpass him in the goalscoring charts with his 19 so far, compared to Benzema's 14. The Madrid star also has six assists this campaign, and his record of 159 minutes per goal has turned out to be crucial in keeping the pressure on leaders Barcelona.

Only two points separate the El Clasico rivals and if Zidane's men are to reclaim the throne in La Liga, Benzema will be vital and more goals will surely follow. Indeed, Madrid have seemingly got most of the worrying fixtures out the way, with a trip to Sociedad the only notably tough game from now until the end.

At the same time, Barcelona will meet both Sevilla and Atletico Madrid in a much more tense fixture list. So, it goes without saying that Benzema will be one to watch when action resumes.

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Antoine Griezmann

Antoine Greizmann hasn't had the most glamorous debut year at Barcelona. The Frenchman has been one of the world's very best over the past decade, a time where he cemented himself as the greatest goalscorer in Atletico's history.

It was more of a matter of when rather than if regarding his move to Barcelona, but now that it has happened, Griezmann is finding himself on edge of the Barcelona starting XI with just eight goals in La Liga so far.

However, a lengthy break was perhaps exactly the forward needed to reignite the flame that burned through every team in Spanish football. Combine this with the fact that veteran goalscorer Luis Suarez is still not 100% fit, means that Griezmann will lead the line alongside Messi once more.

Barcelona are just two clear at the top and will need the former Atletico star firing on all cylinders if they are to keep the distance on Madrid. And, with only eight goals in La Liga compared to his 15 last season, Griezmann must do for the sake of his own name.

Santi Carzola

If you ever watched Santi Carzola during his Arsenal days, it will be no surprise to see the Spaniard performing so well back at Villarreal this season. It may, however, be an almighty to surprise to see him lace his boots up at all and step out onto a professional pitch after years of horrific injury troubles.

Now, in what is his third stint with the Spanish side, Carzola is miraculously enduring his best season yet with Villarreal at the grand age of 35 and 17 years since he made his debut for the club. The creative midfielder has bagged 12 goals this season, including eight in La Liga, whilst registering seven assists along the way.

Villarreal are still quite a distance from European football, sitting seven points from sixth and if they are to make it to the Europa League once more, Carzola will be key.

Ultimately, it's great to just see this wizard back on the pitch in such stellar form.

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Nabil Fekir

There was a time where Nabil Fekir was meant to be the next big thing to come out of France. A time where a move to a European heavyweight was more of a case of when rather than if.

However, the Frenchman packed up and moved to Spain last summer after it seemed nailed on that he would join Liverpool. The move, for reasons unknown, failed to materialise, despite pictures flooding social media of Fekir in a Liverpool shirt during an interview for their website.

Now, the 26-year-old is with Real Betis where he has only continued the stellar form he showed at Lyon, scoring seven times and registering six assists - this is just three fewer goal involvements than in his final season with Lyon

Betis are slumped into mid-table and relegation is thankfully eight points away for them. On the other hand, they are 12 points off sixth and a Europa League spot is more than a tough ask. With this said, Fekir has been one of the main reasons Betis are not fighting relegation and the next few weeks will surely be an audience for him making a bigger move across Europe.

No doubt the top Premier League clubs and perhaps La Liga outfits will still be interested, should the attacking midfielder decide to move on. More goal involvements will surely follow and the France international will need another stint of top form to make a name for himself back with the national side.


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