Barca one win away from title after Atletico collapse at Real Sociedad

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FC Barcelona are one win away from a 25th Spanish La Liga title after Atletico Madrid lost by 3-0 at Real Sociedad.

Diego Simeone’s side team second best throughout and fell behind when Willian Jose turned home a cutback by winger Adnan Januzaj, while substitute Juanmi made it 2-0 late on when he drove in before getting his second in stoppage time with a chip.

Barcelona will win the La Liga title with victory at Deportivo La Coruna on 29 April, after finishing second last season, three points behind rivals Real Madrid.

Atletico hosts fifth-placed Real Betis on Sunday with the chance to close the gap to Barca back to nine points, but only if Barca does not win.

Second-placed Atletico, who are now 12 points behind Barcelona with five games remaining, would travel to Arsenal in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on 26 April but carry a concerning streak in regards to away games, as demonstrated by their rout at Real Sociedad, with Simeone putting the blame on concentration issues.

“We have to take a good look at our away form and be more alert and attentive because we are letting ourselves down on the road,” Simeone said after the game.

“Today we did not play a good first half. We improved at the start of the second half, but we did not have the consistency to get closer on the scoreboard.”

“We have to look at what happened, but congratulate Real Sociedad on their deserved win.”

Pochettino: FA Cup victory would not change Tottenham’s life

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Mauricio Pochettino says that an FA Cup triumph this season would not change Tottenham’s life, as he looked ahead to Saturday’s semi-final against Manchester United.

“It would be fantastic to win the FA Cup,” the Argentinian said.

“But is it going to change our life? I don’t believe so. Every one of the semi‑finalists will fight to win but it’s not about who needs the trophy more.”

Tottenham have lost their previous seven FA Cup semi-finals — the most recent being the one last season against Chelsea. That defeat still hurts Pochettino but he remains consumed by the pursuit of glory in the Premier League or Champions League.

“If we are capable to win the Premier League and the Champions League, it is a moment you say the team has improved and reached the next level,” Pochettino added. “ To win the FA Cup or the League Cup — it will be fantastic for the fans but it is not going to move the club to a different level.”

“That is my opinion. Some people respect it; some people don’t. I want to play to win the Premier League and Champions League. If we can win the FA Cup, then fantastic. But if you are going to change the vision or put the club in a different level, you must compete for and then win the Premier League and Champions League.”

“People in England love to talk about perception and the changing of perceptions. We had a good Champions League group stage this season — beating Dortmund and Real Madrid — and we competed very well against Juventus [in the last 16]. The dimension of the club around the world changes completely [because of that].”

Michael Carrick: midfielder asked to no to be picked for England

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Michael Carrick has revealed he asked not to be picked for England after becoming “depressed” on international duty.

Carrick, who plays as a midfielder for Manchester United has also made 34 appearances for his country, with the last being in a friendly against Spain in November 2015.

However, he said that his experience at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa left a lasting impression.

“I’d been in the squad a long time and I’ll be honest, I was finding it hard going away with England. I didn’t mind going away with United pre-season for three weeks or whatever and coming back, but going with England, it was almost depressing in a way.”

“It made me really down, so I came to the point after South Africa where I thought: ‘I can’t do that again.’ People would be saying: ‘Pull yourself together and be grateful for it’ and I understood the position I was in, the privileged position I was in, but I just found it so hard and I couldn’t deal with it any more.”

“I was probably on the verge of … yes, I was depressed at times, yes. I told the FA: ‘Look, please don’t pick me.’”

Carrick, 36, has revealed his intentions earlier this season to retire as a player at the end of the season, when he will join the coaching staff at Manchester United

Sergi Roberto sees red but Barca keeps unbeaten run

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A second-string FC Barcelona side were held at Celta Vigo by 2-2 as Ernesto Valverde rested players before Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Sevilla.

Key players such as Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez started from the bench and Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta were rested, although Valverde started Ousmane Dembele.

He and Philippe Coutinho came into the Barca squad as part of eight changes for the night, with the goalkeeper Marc ter Stegen captaining them for the first time.

Dembele, 20, then fired Barca ahead with his first La Liga goal since joining the Catalan team in the summer before the defender Jonny Castro Otto equalised on the stroke of half-time.

Paulinho put the visitors ahead again just after the hour, by which time Messi had been sent on, but Sergio Roberto saw red on 71 minutes for pulling down Iago Aspas, who made it 2-2 with eight minutes left.

Paulinho also hit the post for the La Liga leaders on what was a frustrating night for Valverde’s side.

Still, they held out to extend their unbeaten run to 40 matches, however, and move 12 points ahead of Atletico Madrid who stays at second place, who have a game in hand.