Real Madrid climbed to the top of La Liga on Saturday after Karim Benzema’s flicked finish helped them claim a thrilling 2-1 victory over Barcelona in a wild Clasico at Valdebebas. Benzema’s superb piece of skill and a deflected Toni Kroos free-kick put Madrid
Barcelona sailed back to the top of the table on Saturday and trouble returned to Real Madrid after they endured their first La Liga defeat of the season at newly-promoted Real Mallorca.
The Argentine gave Courtois no chance with a shot on his left foot from 20 yards out that arrowed into the corner.
Real Madrid eased the pressure on Zinedine Zidane and delivered a resounding response to their loss to Paris Saint-Germain by winning 1-0 away at high-flying Sevilla in La Liga on Sunday.
Madrid: Real Madrid will rival Barcelona in the race to sign Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar this summer, according to reports in the Spanish press on Friday. Madrid have shifted focus to Neymar after the close of the English Premier League’s transfer window on Thursday ended their hopes of signing
Madrid: Neymar remains no closer to getting his desired move away from Paris Saint-Germain amid reports on Thursday that the French club have rejected offers from both La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona for the Brazilian superstar. PSG reportedly rejected an offer from Real Madrid of 100 million euros ($111 million) plus players.
Madrid: Both Barcelona and Real Madrid travel to Andalusia this weekend in search of precious Liga points after stuttering form in Europe and in their domestic campaigns as table-toppers
Real Madrid’s 5-0 thumping of Leganes on Wednesday was their biggest win in La Liga since his first spell as coach but Zinedine Zidane was hardly in a celebratory mood.
Toni Kroos admits Real Madrid’s players feel frustrated they have not used the inconsistency of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid to establish a hefty lead in La Liga.
Barca have already lost three games out of 11 this season while Atletico have managed only five wins from 12, with Real Sociedad sitting third after a surprisingly strong start.
But Real have not taken advantage. They missed out on the chance to go top last weekend by drawing at home to Real Betis, just after Barcelona were beaten by Levante and Atletico drew against Sevilla.
Zinedine Zidane’s side got back on track with an emphatic 6-0 win over Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday, a morale-boosting win ahead of Saturday’s visit to Eibar in La Liga.
“The last few games have been better,” Kroos said. “More and more players are coming into form which is good because at the start of the season only a few players were in form which made it difficult.
“To be honest my feeling in the league is that we should be a few points clear by now. But we aren’t and we have to keep fighting for that first place.
“You have to be frustrated because we have missed out but we are using that as motivation because we are still in contention. We can’t change anything, we have to concentrate on our game.
“We will focus on the others when we play them but we know when they lose points, it gives us a chance and we have to take our chance. We have to get some points ahead.”
Madrid’s thrashing of Galatasaray means they are virtually qualified from Group A and the victory also launched 18-year-old Rodrygo onto the international stage, after the Brazilian scored a hat-trick.
He is the second youngest player to hit a hat-trick in Champions League history behind Madrid’s former striker Raul while his first two goals came before the seventh minute, making his the fastest brace ever in the competition.
Rodrygo joined Madrid from Santos last summer in a 45-million euro deal and has been given his chance on the right of the front three, in the absence of the injured Gareth Bale.
“It’s impressive and I’m happy for him,” Kroos said. “It’s not just about the goals, he helps us in lots of ways. He works very hard on the flanks and he doesn’t lose the ball.
“He is very mature for his age, not only in his game but off the pitch as well. I have no doubt these three goals will not change anything about his character.”
Kroos has found a new midfield partner too in recent weeks in Fede Valverde, the 21-year-old Uruguayan who has established himself ahead of Luka Modric in the starting line-up.
“He is amazing,” Kroos said. “I really love this player. To come here is not easy and to play like he is at this age means he has a lot of quality. I’m sure he has a great future here for many years to come.”
After Madrid face Eibar at Ipurua, Barcelona play at home to struggling Celta Vigo, who appointed Oscar Garcia coach on Wednesday after Fran Escriba was sacked earlier this week.
Celta will be hoping to lift the mood, and Barca too, after they followed up their defeat by Levante with a goalless draw against Slavia Prague in front of a restless Camp Nou.
“We know that we need to give more, especially when we play at home,” said Frenkie de Jong. “I can understand that when we’re not winning at home, it’s normal that people criticise. We’re not running away from that, we know that we have a lot to improve.”
Atletico are also looking for a change in momentum as they host Espanyol on the back of three games without a win. “The first person responsible is me,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone, after Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.
Spanish League fixtures (all times GMT)
Saturday: Alaves vs Real Valladolid (1200), Valencia vs Granada (1500), Eibar vs Real Madrid (1730), Barcelona vs Celta Vigo (2000)
Sunday: Mallorca vs Villarreal (1200), Athletic Bilbao vs Levante (1400), Atletico Madrid vs Espanyol (1500), Getafe vs Osasuna (1730), Real Betis vs Sevilla (2000)