Category Archives: Spanish La Liga

SPain La Liga League Cup

Barca on steady course to La Liga title after Madrid derby ends in draw

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FC Barcelona is on a steady course to win their 25th La Liga title after the match between their two closest rivals, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid ended in a 1-1 draw.

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick for runaway leaders Barcelona as the Spanish giants equalled the La Liga record of 38 games unbeaten with a 3-1 victory over Leganes. The previous record by was held Real Sociedad, across 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons, a record that Barca could yet break next week at home against Valencia.

Messi began the scoring when he curled home a stunning 30-yard free-kick before latching onto Philippe Coutinho’s through ball to make it 2-0.

Although Leganes winger Nabil el Zhar pulled one back Messi scored once more, this time from Ousmane Dembele’s pass to complete a 45th career hat-trick.

They are also just seven games from an unbeaten La Liga season, and were 12 points above Atletico Madrid for a brief moment.

Although Atletico could have reduced the deficit, the Madrid team were held to a stalemate against their neighbouring rivals Real.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored for a 10th consecutive match for Real when he volleyed home Gareth Bale’s left-wing cross for his 20th goal in 10 club appearances, but Atletico was able to respond through Antoine Griezmann, who equalised on the rebound after Vitolo’s shot was saved by Keylor Navas.

While it meant that Atletico would be four points above Real, they are eleven behind Barca.

It came as a surprise when Ronaldo was replaced by Karim Benzema for the final 26 minutes, perhaps with Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Juventus in mind.

“We’ve got a lot of games and from time to time he has to rest,” said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. “He’s clever and there are times when you have to rest. Nowadays he needs it and every time it does him good.”

“I’m happy with the match and how we performed because we clearly deserved more. It was a shame we didn’t get more from it but we could have even lost the game at the end.”

Quickfire Barca double helps Catalans maintain unbeaten run

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Lionel Messi’s cameo appearance was enough for FC Barcelona to secure two dramatic late equalisers in a 2-2 draw at Sevilla.

Earlier in the first half, Franco Vazquez had opened the scoring for Sevilla from close range in and the Colombia international Luis Muriel doubled the home side’s lead by smashing in on the rebound five minutes into the second half.

Messi had began the game on the bench due to continued muscle discomfort which caused him to miss Argentina’s friendlies against Italy and Spain; but the league’s top scorer was called into action in the 58th minute, replacing Ousmane Dembele.

However, Ernesto Valverde saw his men being instantly lifted by the Argentine’s arrival and Luis Suarez rattled the near post but Sevilla continued to pour forward with Vazquez and Muriel missed clear chances to put the game to bed.

The team then paid dearly for their wastefulness as Suarez pulled one back for Barca with an acrobatic finish in the 88th minute following a corner and Messi whipped in the equaliser in the 89th with a fierce left-foot strike from the edge of the box.

The goal stretched the Catalans’ unbeaten league run to 37 games; if they avoid defeat next week at home to Leganés they will equal Real Sociedad’s Liga record of 38 games without defeat, which has stood since 1980.

Barca kept their impervious lead at the top the standings on 76 points, although second-placed Atletico Madrid defeated Deportivo La Coruna with a Kevin Gameiro penalty on Sunday their advantage at the top at nine points.

David De Gea: Man United keeper says he feels loved at club

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David De Gea has said that he feels his heroics for Manchester United have earned him a respect that he does not feel in Spain.

The Spanish International goalkeeper continues to put on starring displays for Jose Mourinho’s side frequently as they look to secure the runner-up spot in the Premier League.

De Gea, 27, has always been understood to be heavily pursued by Real Madrid in recent years after he came close to making the switch to back to his homeland in 2015, only for the deal to break down due to a delay in the paperwork.

Despite the setback, he is still high on the European champions’ wanted list and they are hoping the Red Devils’ elimination from the Champions League could help persuade him to finally return to the Spanish capital.

Despite Madrid’s continued interest and his status as La Roja’s first choice between the posts, De Gea feels he gets a lot more love in his current country of residence.

“In England I have a great affection and respect that I do not notice so much here (in Spain),” he said, but added: “every time I come to the national team I feel fondness inside, and it is the most important thing.”

De Gea has made 30 appearances for United in the Premier League this season, keeping 15 clean sheets from those games with another four in six Champions League games.

He is currently tied to the Old Trafford club until 2019, but has an option to extend it for another year.

Ryan Giggs: Wales coach urges Gareth Bale to stay at Real Madrid

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Ryan Giggs has urged Gareth Bale to resist any offers from Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United and stay with Real Madrid.

Giggs, 44, spent his whole playing career at United and made a record 963 appearances, but he does not believe that the former Tottenham forward — who this week became his country’s leading scorer — should leave the Bernabeu despite Mourinho’s strong interest.

“It’s Real Madrid – there are only a handful of clubs who have got that aura,” Giggs said. “Of course you would want to stay there. What’s Gareth won, three Champions League titles? The proof is in that. When you are at clubs like that, you are always going to win things. Gareth has the ability to score every type of goal and there are similarities with Cristiano Ronaldo. They both started out as wingers and they are now goalscorers.”

Giggs’s spell as Wales manager started with a 6-0 win over China, inspired by a Bale hat-trick, but he acknowledges he has plenty to learn and has singled out Chelsea’s Antonio Conte and the England rugby union head coach, Eddie Jones as his role models.

“I spoke to a lot of managers in the time I was out of the game,” said Giggs. “I was busy and always watch other sports. I was in between Conte and Eddie at a charity dinner and I was constantly trying to talk to them. That was a nightmare actually as Eddie was trying to ask me questions about Sir Alex Ferguson and I wanted to get everything out of him.”

Giggs spent four games in interim charge of Manchester United after David Moyes was sacked and found it an enlightening experience.

“I learned a lot about how lonely it was when I was United manager,” he said. “When you shut the door of your office and everyone else has gone home, you’re on your own.

“It’s good to have people around and you want those people to be the ones you trust, but it can still be a lonely place. Ultimately you’re the boss and you have to make the decisions.”

Bale will feature for the Welsh team again as Giggs’s men would play Uruguay in the China Cup final, after South American nation beat the Czech Republic by 2-0 on Friday with goals from Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.