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Analysis: Four things we learned in Spain’s Matchday 21

Girona remained leaders of La Liga this weekend after a stunning 5-1 win at home to a hapless Sevilla, while Real Madrid came back from behind amid massive controversy to beat Almeria and Barca took advantage of Real Betis’ long list of absentees to claim an important win. Here are some things we learned in Spain this weekend.

1. VAR raises more doubts in Real Madrid win

Never before in a game in Spain had the VAR been used to overturn three decisions, with every decision favoring the same team, as Real Madrid came from 2-0 down to snatch a 3-2 win at home to Almeria.

With Madrid trailing 2-0 in the second half, it awarded them a penalty for handball and while there was an accidental hand from an Almeria defender, there were two fouls in attack in the same move that the VAR didn’t highlight.

Almeria then had a goal disallowed after the VAR saw a foul in the buildup, while Vinicius made it 2-2 with a goal that appeared to come off his arm.

The VAR then failed to advise the referee when Vinicius used his elbow on an Almeria defender, and Real Madrid won the game in the ninth of the 11 minutes of time added on by the referee.

Days like this only serve to reduce confidence in a system that is meant to improve the game and eradicate refereeing errors.

2. Ferran on target for Barca

Betis midfielder Isco didn’t deserve to be on the losing team after his two goals clawed his side back from 2-0 down at home to FC Barcelona, but in the end it was a hat-trick from Ferran Torres that gave Barca three vital points and a confidence boost.

Lamine Yamal impressed on the right wing, while Pedri gave Barca more spark in midfield and 17-year-old defender Pau Cubarsi looked assured beyond his years in defense.

The question now is: was this win a sign of consistent improvement, or just a one-off? Perhaps we’ll get the answer in the Copa del Rey quarterfinal in Bilbao on Wednesday.

3. Necessity brings success at Valencia

Valencia’s 1-0 win at home to Athletic Bilbao ended the Basque side’s 14-game unbeaten run, while extending Valencia’s winning run to four games, putting them on the verge of the battle to qualify for Europe next season.

Coach Ruben Baraja has little or no leeway in the transfer market due to the limitations placed by club owner Peter Lim, but he has looked to the club’s youth system to fulfill his needs.

Players such as Cristhian Mosquera, Fran Perez, Javi Guerra and Jesus Vazquez, along with Hugo Duro, Pepelu and Sergi Canos, have given a new look to a club that was in serious decline. Although the fans still want Lim out, their young players have given them reasons for optimism.

4. Time runs out for Sergio Gonzalez

Cadiz’s 1-0 defeat away to Alaves on Friday night saw coach Sergio Gonzalez sacked the following morning. It was a decision that didn’t surprise anyone, with Gonzalez himself accepting the decision in his post-game press conference.

The former Espanyol and Valladolid coach arrived in Cadiz two years ago and did a good job of keeping the side with one of the lowest budgets and wage ceilings in La Liga in the top flight for two seasons.

Cadiz had a positive start to this season, with two wins and seven points from their first four games, but the following 17 matches have seen no wins and nine defeats, and with performances getting steadily worse, Gonzalez’s time ran out.