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Spanish La Liga

La Liga Matchday 35 – Barcelona keep the pressure on Real Madrid but Tony Adams’ mission ends in failure

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Real Madrid once again came within minutes of throwing away their role of favourites in the La Liga title race at the Bernabeu in the rain as Valencia shocked them and almost held them to a 1-1 draw. Cristiano Ronaldo had opened the scoring with a deft header, only for Dani Parejo to level the scores with an exquisite free-kick from 20 yards which Keylor Navas could not quite keep out of his own net with only eight minutes left. Madrid did not have long to respond and fortunately for them they did so, with Marcelo proving to be the man of the moment as he weaved in and out of the Valencia defence before curling an effort past Diego Alves, who had previously saved a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo.

That was a blow to the hopes of Barcelona, who then faced even more pressure as they traveled across Barcelona to take on their city rivals Espanyol in the Catalan derby. A tense first half lived up to expectations as the friction between Luis Enrique and Quique Sanchez Flores on the touchline showed on the pitch with neither side able to find a breakthrough. Luis Suarez didn’t delay in the second half though, waiting just five minutes to pounce on Jurado’s poor back pass to round Diego Lopez and score his first goal in five games. Ivan Rakitic added a second later on to make sure before Suarez made it three in the closing stages to earn an impressive and vital win to keep the title race alive.

At the other end of the table, there was less positive news for Tony Adams at Granada. The former Arsenal captain saw his side relegated with three games to play as former Southampton striker Juanmi scored a late winner for Real Sociedad to send them down. Adrian Ramos had equalised to score the first goal in four games under Adams, but it was not enough and his team were relegated languishing at the bottom with only Osasuna for comfort below them.

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Sporting Gijon lived to fight another day thanks to Leganes’ defeat at Eibar, but Villarreal showed them no mercy on Friday night as Roberto Soldado and Cedric Bakambu blew them away, meaning that it now seems to be when rather than if the Asturians will join Granada in the second division next season.

It was a much needed result for the Yellow Submarine though as Athletic Bilbao continued to apply the pressure as they thrashed a weakened Celta Vigo side by three goals to nil with Raul Garcia on form. Celta had opted to rest a number of key players ahead of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday against Manchester United.

Another side with a big European game in midweek is Atletico Madrid, who will face Real Madrid, but they opted not to rest too many key men and still ran out more than comfortable winners over Las Palmas, who had Kevin Prince Boateng sent off as Atleti demolished them 5-0 with Kevin Gameiro, Saul, Thomas and Fernando Torres on the scoresheet.

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That allowed Atleti to stretch their lead over Sevilla to three points as Jorge Sampaoli’s team continued their decline as they fell to a shock defeat at La Rosaleda in a topsy-turvy game which saw Sevilla take the lead and then draw the scores back level before Real Madrid loanee Diego Llorente scored the winner with a header in the 77th minute, courtesy of an assist from free transfer signing Sandro Ramirez who was also on the scoresheet for his 15th goal of the season since joining from Barcelona in the summer, who went on to miss a penalty before Juankar scored the rebound to put the game to bed.

You can find the full results from this weekend’s fixtures below:

Villarreal 3-1 Sporting Gijon

Real Sociedad 2-1 Granada

Real Madrid 2-1 Valencia

UD Las Palmas 0-5 Atletico Madrid

RCD Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona

Osasuna 2-2 Deportivo A Coruna

Real Betis 1-4 Deportivo Alaves

SD Eibar 2-0 CD Leganes SAD

Celta Vigo 0-3 Athletic Bilbao

Malaga 4-2 Sevilla

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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