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lessons from Spanish La Liga – report



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.

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Liverpool set Salah price with Real Madrid, Barcelona interest



Liverpool will seek to drive a hard bargain this summer, when top clubs come calling for Mohamed Salah.

The Reds will face a big fight to keep the Egyptian winger, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain all desperate to sign him according to The Sun.

Clubs keen on Salah will be quoted £200m for the 25-year-old, which would equal a £165m profit on the £35m fee Liverpool paid Roma last year.

The Premier League sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £145million in January and after Salah’s 28 Premier League goals this season, they are willing to go higher.

Real Madrid are apparently ready to shelve their bid for Eden Hazard if Salah is tempted by a switch to the Bernabeu, but it is believed the LaLiga giants will prioritise a move for Robert Lewandowski over Harry Kane at centre-forward.

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Rohr speaks on Super Eagkes’ World cup squad ahead of Poland Vs Nigeria tie



Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr has stated that John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses cannot single-handedly decide the outcome of matches at the World Cup.

The German coach admitted that the current squad is not as strong as the 90s team, who qualified for the second round of the World Cup twice in a row, defeated Spain and was close to eliminating Italy at USA ‘94.

“We do not have such great players as Kanu or Okocha, who then shone, but the strength of this team is the team work,” Rohr told Przegląd Sportowy ahead of Poland vs Nigeria match on Friday.

‘’Our captain Obi Mikel or Victor Moses are not the players who will decide the fate of the game themselves, like the stars from the 90s.”

Victor Moses was Nigeria’s top scorer with three goals during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, followed by Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi with two goals each, and Rohr says he is concerned about the absence of a top finisher in the team ahead of the Mundial.

He said: ‘’We really do not have an effective striker, but we have other good players like – Iwobi, Kelechi, Obi Mikel, Ighalo – they are also able to score goals.”

The Poland vs Nigeria tie will be played Municipal Stadium Wroclaw.

Rohr has already released a 28-man squad that will prosecute the game against Poland and Serbia.

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Cristiano Rinaldo makes enquiries about playing in China



Former Portugal coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari has admitted he advised Cristiano Ronaldo to play in China, after the Real Madrid star asked him about life there.

Last January, Madrid president Florentino Perez denied claims by Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, that a Chinese club had made a €300million offer for the player.

Scolari, who was Ronaldo’s national boss between 2004 and 2008, had told Esporte Interativo he had suggested that China could be good for Ronaldo.

“Yes, he has asked me more than once what it is like to live in China,” Scolari said.

“I told him everything.

“And we also must understand that China is China for different players. Cristiano Ronaldo has his brands, is an industry.

“And China is the best country in the world. I told him what I always say, whoever gets the chance, must come to China,”‎ he said.

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