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lessons from Spanish La Liga – report

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Barcelona and Valencia were the big winners of a La Liga weekend that saw Real Madrid’s title defence stumble once more in a bad-tempered capital derby at Atletico Madrid.

Barca now lead Real and Atletico by 10 points, a margin no side has ever overcome to win La Liga.

Valencia remain the closest challengers, just four points back, but had to ride their luck to win at Espanyol and set up an enticing showdown with Barca at Mestalla next weekend.

Here, AFP Sports looks at five things we learned from the La Liga weekend:

Barca win twice over in Madrid

Even Barca boss Ernesto Valverde admitted the scoreline was flattering but once again without shining, his side got the job done as Luis Suarez snapped a five-game goal drought with a double in a 3-0 win at Leganes on the south side of Madrid on Saturday afternoon.

Paulinho even came off the bench to notch his fourth La Liga goal of the season, matching the total sum provided by Real’s famed ‘BBC’ front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.

Barca then had the luxury of sitting back and watching Real and Atletico bruise and batter each other across the capital hours later on Saturday night for a result that only damaged both of their title credentials.

Aggressive Atletico

Diego Simeone insisted he was with Antoine Griezmann “to the death” as long as he remains in the Atletico family despite once again being hauled off 15 minutes from time amid jeers from the home fans.

The rest of the Atletico performance suggested they may have taken Simeone’s words a little too literally.

Sergio Ramos was left bloodied and with a broken nose from a flying Lucas Hernandez boot, Angel Correa smashed a ball into Benzema’s face and Stefan Savic escaped with a yellow card when he should have seen red for a horrendous lunge on Toni Kroos.

READ ALSO: Premier League: Liverpool Mohammed Salah Makes History, Breaks Robbie Fowler’s Record

Atletico ended the night with six bookings as they rediscovered the aggressive streak shown by Simeone’s sides of seasons past. Now they just need the results to follow.

Getafe get revenge

Beating a side that very recently gave you the sack 4-1 must be pretty sweet. It must be all the sweeter, though, when the firing came after winning promotion.

Alaves relieved Jose Bordalas Jimenez of his duties after leading them back to the top flight for the first time in over a decade in 2016 as he was deemed not good enough for La Liga.

Bordalas then repeated the trick by bringing Getafe back to La Liga and now has the Madrid side in the top half of the table. Alaves, meanwhile, remain joint bottom.

Ayestaran’s unlucky 13

Only Las Palmas’s inferior goal difference is keeping Alaves off the bottom as Paco Ayestaran stretched the worst ever losing streak for a La Liga coach to 13 games.

That run combines his final days at Valencia and his first six matches with the Canary Islanders.

Whether he gets the chance to snap the streak at Real Sociedad next weekend remains very much in doubt.

Baston back on the scoresheet

Thirteen months on since his last league goal, Swansea City’s club record signing found the net again. Unfortunately for the Swans, it was for Malaga.

Borja Baston ended his barren run in style to cap a comeback for the Andalusians to beat Deportivo la Coruna 3-2 and move off the foot of the table.

Baston was a hot prospect when Swansea splashed out £15.5 million ($20.5 million, 17.4 million euros) for him in the summer of 2016 after netting 19 goals for Eibar.

However, his career has been in freefall since and he had been publicly criticised by Malaga boss Michel for his attitude in recent weeks before coming off the bench to be the hosts’ hero on Sunday.

Football

If you want to win trophies, Leave Tottenham, Ibrahimovic tells Harry Kane

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Former Manchester United striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has told Tottenham Hotspur star, Harry Kane to leave Spurs, which according to him is a normal club, if he want to win trophies.

Kane, who is currently sidelined due to injury, is expected to return to training in March.

The 25-year-old injured his ankle ligaments at the end of Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in a Premier League encounter last week after a collision with Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof.

Ibrahimovic, who has represented the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Inter Milan, believes the time has come for Kane to leave Tottenham in pursuit of silverware.

“When I was in England, I saw him [Kane] play, I think he is a good striker,” the La Galaxy striker told Bethard.

“He’s still developing, he’s doing good things. But I always say, playing in a big club, performing good is different from playing in – with all due respect to Tottenham – a ‘normal’ club.

“Performing there is a different situation, because I saw players do the same thing, but when they go to a big club something is different.

“I think he can make it. He just needs to make the move and people will remember you for what you win and. In the end, he needs to win.

“If he wants to win, I think he needs to change. I think Tottenham has a great team but they’re not at the level to win everything, even if they’ve got a fantastic coach.”

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New Barcelona signing, Boateng to wear No 19

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The 31-year-old Ghanian Star, kevin-Prince Boateng has been reported to have accepted to waer the number 19 shirt previously worn by El Haddadi, Lucas Digne and Sandro Ramirez, uniquesports reports.

Boateng completed a €2million move to Barcelona from Serie A side, Sassuolo, on Monday and was unveiled on Tuesday at the Camp Nou.

The deal includes an €8million option for Barcelona to buy the former Tottenham and Portsmouth star if he impresses.

Boateng will stay in Spain until the end of the season.

Speaking after his unveiling, Boateng told reporters: “It’s a big dream come true. It’s a big honour for me to be here.”

Boateng will hope to feature for Barcelona when they tackle Girona on Sunday in the La Liga fixture.

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Sala’s father, mother cries out over missing Cardiff striker

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Cardiff City striker, Emiliano Sala’s mother and father have confirmed that their son was on board a plane that went missing from the English Channel on Monday night.

Sala was on the light aircraft that disappeared from radar on Monday night while apparently flying from Nantes to Cardiff.

The 28-year-old was announced as a new signing for Premier League club Cardiff City on Saturday, signing a three-and-a-half year deal, for a club record fee believed to be around £10 million.

Sala’s father, Horatio, told Argentine TV station Channel 5 News on Tuesday: “A friend told me the situation of my son, I did not know anything, I’m in Rosario, I’m desperate, I hope everything goes well.”

His mother, Mercedes, added: “The plane is from the President of Cardiff City FC, they informed us that the plane had disappeared and that they were looking for it.”

Meanwhile, Cardiff City chairman, Mehmet Dalman said in a statement on Tuesday through the club’s official website that the light aircraft lost contact over the Channel last night.

Dalman said: “We are very concerned by the latest news that a light aircraft lost contact over the Channel last night.

“We are very concerned about the safety of Emiliano Sala.

“We are awaiting confirmation before we can say anything further.”

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