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Spanish La Liga

La Liga Matchday 36 – Title race goes down to the wire as Sporting live to fight another day

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Real Madrid inflicted yet more pain on Tony Adams’ Granada side as their B team, featuring a side that had nine changes from the team that beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-final in midweek. Even then, it took just 35 minutes for James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata to both have registered braces and earned a 4-0 win that allowed Zinedine Zidane’s side to coast through the final 55 minutes and give substantial game time to the likes of the rarely seen Fabio Coentrao, Danilo and Mariano Diaz.

Not to be outdone, Barcelona overcame their toughest remaining fixture at the Nou Camp against Villarreal to ensure that they kept the pressure up on Los Blancos, as they saw off the Yellow Submarine by four goals to one. The MSN trio were on form with Neymar producing a magical display, opening the scoring before Lionel Messi scored twice and Luis Suarez also found the back of the net after Cedric Bakambu had drawn the scores back level on the counter attack.

One of the most impressive results of the weekend came at El Molinon, where Sporting Gijon secured a pivotal three points against Las Palmas to keep their survival hopes alive. Quique Setien’s team are in freefall without a win in five games and Carlos Carmona’s second half goal gave Sporting hope of escaping the bottom three and avoiding relegation.

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Unfortunately for them, Leganes were not prepared to do them a favour and produced potentially their best display of the season to all but guarantee their safety with a six point lead over Sporting with two games to play. Their 4-0 thrashing of Real Betis was a shock for many from a side who have not been known for their goalscoring this season, but does look likely to have earned the minnows a place in La Liga for next season.

It also meant that they climbed above Deportivo A Coruna, who are in danger only five points above Sporting after Leo Baptistao and Gerard Moreno gave RCD Espanyol an impressive win at Riazor, with Florin Andone’s goal nothing more than a consolation strike. With just one win in nine since the peak of their Pepe Mel honeymoon saw them beat Barcelona, there may be cause for concern in Galicia.

In the race for Europe, Sevilla dropped yet more points as they were held by the ten men of Real Sociedad as David Zurutuza saw red for two yellow cards in five minutes after Carlos Vela had canceled out Pablo Sarabia’s strike just before the break to give Jorge Sampaoli’s team the lead.

Athletic Bilbao failed to take advantage of Real Sociedad’s draw as they went down in a 1-0 defeat to Alaves, with Real Madrid bound Theo Hernandez scoring his first professional goal with a thunderbolt of a strike into the top corner to earn his loan club three points against the Basque side.

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Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid virtually guaranteed themselves third place with a win over Eibar, which leaves them out of the running for a Europa League place, as Saul scored with a fine finish. Diego Godin’s red card, reportedly for telling the linesman to put his glasses on, marred an otherwise perfect afternoon at the Calderon.

Here are the weekend’s results in full:

Sevilla 1-1 Real Sociedad

Sporting Gijon 1-0 Las Palmas

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Eibar

Barcelona 4-1 Villarreal

Granada 0-4 Real Madrid

Deportivo Alaves 1-0 Athletic Bilbao

Valencia 4-1 Osasuna

Deportivo A Coruna 1-2 RCD Espanyol

Malaga 3-0 Celta Vigo

Leganes 4-0 Real Betis

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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