Moreno, Griezmann and Raúl de Tomás among five players to watch in LaLiga Santander after the mid-season break

Following LaLiga Santander’s seven-week break for the World Cup, the competition is now back, beginning with Matchday 15 which starts on December 29th. Over the next few weeks, there will be several players worth paying close attention to and here comes a look at five of them, some of whom are returning from injuries and some of whom just had a great World Cup.

Gerard Moreno (Villarreal CF)

When he is fit and available, Gerard Moreno is one of the very best forwards in LaLiga Santander, as evidenced by his 103 goals from 259 appearances in the competition. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he hasn’t played much yet this 2022/23 season, as he missed eight of the opening 14 matchdays with injury.

Now, though, Gerard Moreno is back and fully recovered, and has been demonstrating his skill during Villarreal CF’s various warm-up friendlies, with El Submarino Amarillo defeating the likes of Galatasaray, Aston Villa and Napoli. He netted in the 3-2 victory over the Serie A leaders and will be keen to lead his team on the pitch in 2023, the year of Villarreal CF’s centenary.

Ansu Fati (FC Barcelona)

The next few weeks could be significant for Ansu Fati, who is still trying to recover his best form following his serious knee injuries. The 20-year-old showed glimpses of his best during the first months of the 2022/23 season and will now have a great opportunity to find consistency because of the three-match suspension that starting centre-forward Robert Lewandowski must serve, when the Pole will miss Barça’s games against RCD Espanyol, Atlético de Madrid and Getafe CF.

Ansu Fati knows that he’ll have extra game time during Lewandowski’s absence, whether at centre-forward or on the wing. Despite having been at the World Cup, the youngster has demonstrated his commitment to the cause by returning to FC Barcelona training earlier than he was required.

Jawad El Yamiq (Real Valladolid)

Undoubtedly, one of the surprise stars of the 2022 World Cup was Jawad El Yamiq, the 30-year-old centre-back who reached the semi-finals with Morocco and who played in six of the North Africa team’s seven matches. His club is Real Valladolid, who he has been with since 2020, and he’ll be one to watch when he returns from a well-deserved post-World Cup holiday.

Real Valladolid have enjoyed a good start to the season and spent the World Cup break in 12th position in the table. They and El Yamiq will look to keep up that good form when club football returns.

Raúl de Tomás (Rayo Vallecano)

January 1st brings with it the start of the winter transfer window and this means Raúl de Tomás can finally be registered with Rayo Vallecano, after the striker agreed to rejoin the capital city club back in September. Already, RDT has been able to feature for Andoni Iraola’s side during their warm-up friendly matches and the first LaLiga Santander game in which he can play will be the home match against Real Betis on January 8th.

This will be Raúl de Tomás’ second stint with Rayo Vallecano, after he previously played in Vallecas between 2017 and 2019. In that time, he scored 38 goals in 66 games for Los Franjirrojos and became a fan favourite. Given how well Iraola’s team were playing before the pause, sitting in eighth position, it’ll be fascinating to see how far this team can go with their new striker.

Antoine Griezmann (Atlético de Madrid)

Antoine Griezmann was one of the very best players at the 2022 World Cup, coming so close to lifting the trophy for a second time in a row with France. Despite suffering defeat to Argentina in the final, Griezmann left Qatar full of confidence and it’ll be interesting to see how he performs once he puts on the red and white stripes of Atlético de Madrid.

Before the World Cup, Diego Simeone had experimented by placing Griezmann in midfield in a number of matches, most successfully in the LaLiga Santander win over Girona FC in October. Then, Griezmann was deployed in midfield for most of France’s World Cup run, and excelled in that deeper role. Simeone will be determined to get the best out of Griezmann when LaLiga Santander resumes, and may draw inspiration from the Frenchman’s performances in Qatar.

MG Team

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