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Spanish La Liga

La Liga Matchday 33 – All eyes on the Bernabeu as the title race comes back to life

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As is always the case when the world’s most watched fixture comes around, the Clasico more than lived up to the hype as Barcelona fought back to keep the title race alive with a late, late victory over Real Madrid as Lionel Messi scored with the final touch of the game to round off a superb team move in the 92nd minute of a thrilling game.

That goal came as a shock given that Casemiro had opened the scoring just before the half hour mark, pouncing at the far post, but it took the Argentinean just five minutes to react as he weaved past the Madrid defence to equalise. In the second half, Barcelona took the lead with Ivan Rakitic firing a thunderbolt past Keylor Navas from distance.

That riled the hosts, who saw Sergio Ramos sent off for a flying two footed tackle at the ankles of Barcelona’s talisman, but Zidane’s side did not give up, with James Rodriguez seemingly winning his side a crucial point with five minutes left on the clock. That didn’t account for Messi’s brilliance though and with three points on the board, the Catalans moved back to top of the table despite Madrid’s game in hand.

That cut the gap between second and third to just six points for Atletico, but it seems too late for Diego Simeone’s side to mount any kind of late comeback even in spite of their win over Espanyol on Saturday evening with Antoine Griezmann the saviour as it looked as though Quique Sanchez Flores would extend his unbeaten run against his former club until the Frenchman broke the deadlock late on.

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Sevilla are not far behind the side from the Calderon as Jorge Sampaoli’s team returned to winning ways at Tony Adam’s expense as Granada fell to a 2-0 defeat. Some bright spells going forward in the closing stages gave hope to the former Arsenal captain, but Sevilla’s attacking prowess just proved too much for the fellow Andalucians with Ganso twice on the scoresheet.

That gave Sevilla a comfortable cushion over Villarreal, who remain eight points behind despite some controversial refereeing against Leganes this weekend. Miguel Angel Guerrero had seemed to have earned a pivotal point for the Madrid minnows in the 90th minute to aid their battle to survive relegation, only for Cedric Bakambu to punch the ball into the back of the net Maradona style in the 93rd minute to secure his brace and a victory for the Yellow Submarine.

Fortunately for Leganes, Sporting Gijon failed to capitalise as they could not beat bottom side Osasuna away from home. A nightmare start saw Jorge Mere deflect an effort into his own net and it took a late comeback from Castro and Roberto Canella to even earn a point in Pamplona.

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Monday night saw an important Basque derby as Eibar met Athletic Bilbao knowing that both would be fighting for the final Europa League spot and neither could afford to slip up with fellow local rivals Real Sociedad also on the pace. A controversial red card for Gonzalo Escalante gave Athletic hope but it was only after hitting the post twice that Raul Garcia could find them the winner with what was the final touch of the game.

Below are the weekend’s results in full:

Sevilla 2-0 Granada

Malaga 2-0 Valencia

Villarreal 2-1 Leganes

Osasuna 2-2 Sporting Gijon

Espanyol 0-1 Atletico Madrid

Real Sociedad 1-0 Deportivo A Coruna

Celta Vigo 0-1 Real Betis

Las Palmas 1-1 Deportivo Alaves

Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona

Eibar 0-1 Athletic Bilbao

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Real Madrid.

Sam is a football journalist focusing on English football at all levels and Spanish football. He also writes for Spain's biggest daily sports newspaper, MARCA, as well as The Boot Room. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

Liverpool

Liverpool identify Sevilla defender Clement Lenglet as Virgil Van Dijk’s perfect partner

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Photo: Getty Images.

After signing Virgil Van Dijk in January to begin a rebuilding project in defence, Liverpool could now look to Seville for the next addition and a long-term partner for the Dutchman, with that man being Clement Lenglet.

According to Spanish newspaper SPORT, Liverpool have entered the race to sign the Frenchman alongside Barcelona as interest in the youngster hots up.

The reports indicate that the defender has a release clause set as low as €30 million (£26.1 million) and as such would be a bargain addition in the summer, particularly given the price tag that other players of a similar quality would demand.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

In his first full season in Spain, Lenglet has established a reputation as one of La Liga’s finest defenders, immediately becoming one of the first names on the Sevilla team-sheet under the management of both Eduardo Berizzo and Vincenzo Montella.

At 22-years-old, Lenglet has huge potential and already has four seasons of experience at first team level in France with Nancy and now in the south of Spain.

Good on the ball and strong in the tackle, he is exactly the mould of defender that Jurgen Klopp has looked for previously by signing the likes of Van Dijk and Joel Matip.

Whether a deal is realistic may be another matter given Barcelona’s interest, but it would certainly be one worth pursuing for Liverpool if they do have hopes of mounting a title challenge in the Premier League next season.

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Liverpool

Real Madrid prospect Dani Ceballos would be tremendous signing for Jurgen Klopp

The 21-year-old is expected to leave the Spanish capital this summer.

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Photo: Getty Images

This past week reports in the Spanish media outlet Don Balon linked Real Madrid central midfielder Dani Ceballos with a move to Liverpool.

Ceballos is an immensely talented creative player who would slot in perfectly at Anfield and, at only 21 years of age, has the potential to be a Kop favourite for many seasons to come.

The Spanish Under-21 international joined Madrid from Real Betis last summer for a fee of around 15 million euros, after 98 appearances and seven goals for the Sevilla club.

Ceballos has frustratingly found first-team opportunities severely limited at the Bernabeu, as the youngster is forced to contend for playing time with some of the biggest names in world football.

A move to Liverpool would be an ideal switch for the talented playmaker, as he could adequately fill the gap that the outgoing Emre Can will create. A uniquely skilful dribbler, Ceballos has a wand of a right foot that can flick the ball past defenders at ease.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

A quick glance at the Spaniard’s highlight roll reveals a plethora of intricate touches, driving runs, and slicing through balls that terrorise opposition backlines. What is even more impressive is that Ceballos produced such feats as a young player in La Liga, against the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and other top sides.

The midfielder has also hit fine form for the Spanish youth set-up, winning the prestigious Player of the Tournament awards at the U-21 European Championships last summer. His performances in Poland were eye-catching, captivating audiences with his mazy runs and audacious feints.

If the 21-year-old makes the switch to Anfield, he would provide the perfect complement to the high-powered attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane.

To imagine Ceballos slotting wonderfully weighted through balls to those three is a salivating sight for Liverpool supporters; they must hope he chooses to join Jurgen Klopp’s side this offseason.

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Barcelona

Is Barcelona’s Andre Gomes the man to take West Ham to the next level?

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Photo: Getty Images

This season has been a disappointing one for West Ham as they have once again failed to match the rising expectations of fans and owners after their move to the London Stadium, but there could be hope in the summer with rumours of a sensation signing from Spain.

Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes is believed to be a target, according to the Mirror, as he looks for a fresh start after a disappointing two years at the Camp Nou.

The former Benfica and Valencia man has struggled to adapt since joining the La Liga leaders and has only been a bit part player this season, with the Hammers ready to make a move to bring him to London.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

There is no doubting that such a signing would be a coup given the quality of Gomes that he so regularly displayed before moving to Catalonia and he could benefit from moving to a club content with fighting for Europe, rather than titles.

The Portugal international relished his role as a leader in attack and the freedom that came with it in the past, so much so that it earned him his big-money move, and a deal taking him to West Ham could see him return to such a role.

David Moyes’ side have been sorely lacking creativity, particularly with Manuel Lanzini out injured and struggling for consistent form, and Gomes could be the man to help lead a charge back up the table next season after a disastrous 2017/18.

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