Barcelona of Xavi lose

 

Juanmi goal late in the second half gave a solid Real Betis side a huge 1-0 victory against Barcelona at the Camp Nou in what is Xavi Hernandez’s first defeat in the Blaugrana dugout.

Xavi fielded a rotated line-up, leaving both Gerard Pique and Frenkie de Jong on the bench ahead of Barcelona’s important Champions League clash against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

The Blaugrana had a lot of the ball in the first 15 minutes, with Philippe Coutinho being particularly active in the final third, but they failed to create any danger in front of Rui Silva’s goal.

Gavi had to be stretched off amidst an ovation from the Barcelona fans after the half an hour mark after receiving a blow to his head, with Riqui Puig coming off the bench to replace the youngster.

Meanwhile, Betis grew into the game and tried to hit on the counter, but they lacked a final pass in Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s box before the break.

Betis started the second half well and had a goal disallowed in the 52nd minute when Juanmi managed to beat Ter Stegen from an offside position.

Ousmane Dembele came off the bench on the hour mark and made an immediate impact, with Barcelona attacking from his side and looking dangerous in the final third.

The Catalan side pushed forward and attempted to break down Betis’ defence from either dead balls or cutbacks in the box, but they failed to find the back of the net and were punished by the visitors as an in-form Juanmi netted on the counter to put his team ahead.

This was Juanmi’s 11th goal in 16 games across all competitions, with the Betis forward being LaLiga Santander’s top Spanish scorer so far this term with nine goals.

Then, Abde Ezzalzouli sent the ball miles over the bar with eight minutes to go in his last touch in the match before making way for Luuk de Jong, who didn’t manage to threaten Rui Silva in the remaining minutes.

With this win, Betis climb up to the third spot in the LaLiga Santander table, while Barcelona remain in the seventh position after their second loss on home soil this season.

Real Madrid loanee beat Atletico Madrid

Despite Matheus Cunha opening the scoring for Atletico Madrid in the second half of their match at home against Real Mallorca, the visitors came back and registered their first victory in eight games thanks to goals from Franco Russo and Take Kubo.

Atletico Madrid hit the ground running and came close to breaking the deadlock just five minutes in when Cunha unleashed an effort from outside the box that went just wide.

Mallorca grew into the game and missed a couple of good chances, as Abdon Prats’ long effort didn’t hit the target and Kang-in Lee was denied by Jan Oblak before the interval.

Los Rojiblancos pushed forward in their bid to grab an opener in the second half and they managed to do so, with Angel Correa teeing up a lively Cunha, who netted with 22 minutes to go.

But Mallorca didn’t give in and equalised through Russo, who headed home in the 80th minute to send shockwaves through the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano.

Atletico piled the pressure on the visitors and pinned them back towards their own box, but Kubo hit on the counter one minute into second-half stoppage time to complete an epic comeback.

Just before the final whistle, Joao Felix received the ball inside the box from a corner kick, but he missed the target and Mallorca snatched a shocking victory.

Following their defeat on Saturday, Atletico find themselves fifth in the table on 29 points, while Mallorca are 12th with 19 points.

Vinicius Junior strikes, Real Madrid win

Luka Jovic produced an assist and a goal off the bench to hand Real Madrid a well-earned 2-0 victory away at Real Sociedad on Saturday evening. Incredibly, this was Jovic’s first league goal for Los Blancos since February 2020 against Osasuna.

Real Madrid made two changes to the team that beat Athletic Club 1-0 at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in midweek, with Dani Carvajal returning to the starting line-up and Rodrygo Goes featuring on the right-wing instead of Marco Asensio.

Carlo Ancelotti was dealt a hard blow 17 minutes in, however, when Karim Benzema had to be replaced due to a knock, with Jovic coming off the bench in LaLiga Santander for the first time since his cameo appearance in Los Blancos’ 4-1 victory away at Granada on November 21.

Despite Benzema’s absence, Real Madrid pushed forward for a goal and they would have taken the lead had Alex Remiro not pulled off a fine save to deny Luka Modric.

Real Sociedad didn’t look dangerous in attack and was mainly threatened with dead balls. The hosts did come close to scoring just before the break, though, when Mikel Oyarzabal sent his strike just wide.

Real Madrid got off to a brilliant start in the second half. Rodrygo couldn’t beat Remiro, but Vinicius Junior broke the deadlock with his 10th LaLiga Santander goal this season after a beautiful Jovic assist.

The Serbian striker turned from provider to scorer just before the hour mark to double the lead for Real Madrid with a diving header following a Casemiro headed pass.

Real Sociedad hardly created any clear chances in the remaining minutes, while Vinicius failed to beat Remiro in a one on one with three minutes to go.

Following their win in San Sebastian, LaLiga Santander leaders Real Madrid are now 10 points ahead of reigning champions Atletico Madrid and have a 16-point advantage over Barcelona.

Real Sociedad, meanwhile, are sitting in the fifth position on 29 points, while second-placed Sevilla have registered 31 points in 15 games.

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 Courtesy: MARCA

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