9 Games You Simply Must Watch This Weekend

It’s the middle of February guys, and you know what that means: Champions League football is back!

But, before we can enjoy the heavyweight clashes of Europe’s greatest competition, there is some scintillating domestic action from across the continent to get your teeth stuck in to first.

With title races heating up across the continent (except for England that is), as well as European qualification to play for, strap yourselves in for another adrenaline-pumping weekend of world-class football. 

Let’s take a look at the games you have to watch this weekend (Friday and Monday included).


Wolves vs Leicester (Friday)

Leicester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League

As the reverse fixtures of the ?Premier League’s opening weekend games come around, it’s always a good time to take stock. While the previous encounter finished 0-0, both sides find themselves in very different predicaments to when they met in August.

Leicester’s form may have dipped in recent weeks, but the Foxes are still a shoo-in for the top four, and a win would take them in to second (for a few days at least). Meanwhile, Wolves are knocking on the door of the Champions League places themselves, sitting just six points behind Chelsea in fourth.

More than anything, both Midlands clubs play some swashbuckling stuff under their respective managers, and both teams will be looking to end Valentine’s Day without a broken heart…or a massacre.


Valencia vs Atletico Madrid (Friday)

Diego Pablo Simeone

?The battle for ?Champions League qualification is wide open in La Liga, with Friday’s clash of titans potentially pivotal in the race for Europe. 

Atletico currently sit in fourth, but Valencia (seventh) can leapfrog Diego Simeone’s side with a victory at the Mestalla. Both sides may have one eye on their incredibly difficult Champions League ties midweek, but will also have to prioritise re-entering Europe’s top competition next season.

There may not be a flurry of goals, but the atmosphere and potential ramifications of this one makes it well worth a watch.


Borussia Dortmund vs Frankfurt (Friday)

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-LEVERKUSEN-DORTMUND

If you do happen to be alone this Valentine’s Day, you needn’t fear. There is yet another mouthwatering clash on Friday night, with the ?Bundesliga’s most chaotic side Dortmund in action against the resurgent Frankfurt.

The Eagles have won four of their last five matches, scoring five in their demolition of Augsburg last time out. Meanwhile, Dortmund played out a 4-3 thriller against Bayer Leverkusen last Saturday, and still have their eyes firmly fixed on top spot. 

Oh by the way, Dortmund’s last five results: 4-3, 3-2, 5-0, 5-1, 5-3. There’s gonna be goals.


West Brom vs Nottingham Forest (Saturday)

Alfa Semedo,Semi Ajayi

If you seldom seek out ?Championship football, then this should change all of that. 

West Brom moved six points clear at the top of the table midweek, while Forest’s slip-up means they remain just two points off Leeds in the automatic promotion places. Regardless, these are two of the league’s form sides and pressure is ramping up for both of them in their fight for Premier League football.


Barcelona vs Getafe (Saturday)

Quique Setien

With Quique Setien’s job already under threat, the last thing he needs is a game against a plucky underdog that will cause Barcelona problems.

Getafe have actually built on their near-miraculous form in ?La Liga from last season, and currently sit third in the league table having won their last four games without conceding a goal. With Barça’s injury crisis continually deepening, and their lack of options upfront and in defence, Getafe may be sniffing out a big-time scalp on Saturday afternoon.

This is a must-win game for the Catalan giants, especially at Camp Nou, with Real Madrid three points clear at the summit of La Liga.


?Norwich vs Liverpool (Saturday)

Mohamed Salah

?Liverpool have been so good this season that every game they play has become a must-watch.

But to add some extra spice to this one, it’s top vs bottom.

Norwich are seven points away from safety, while the Reds are looking to open up a 25-point gap at the top of the table (more points than the Canaries have). However, Norwich’s surprise win over Manchester City back in September will offer them hope and gives them a slim chance of ending Liverpool’s ‘invincible’ run.


Atalanta vs Roma (Saturday)

Luis Fernando Muriel

Why wouldn’t you want to watch Atalanta?

Serie A’s top scorers have netted 63 goals this campaign – 17 more than Italian giants Juventus – and can open the gap between themselves and fifth-placed Roma with a win on Saturday. However, this also means a win for the visitors can see the Giallorossi go level on points with Atalanta as they hunt a return to Champions League football.

Considering the teams played out two breathtaking 3-3 draws last season, there is certainly potential for a hell of a lot of action in this crucial clash.


Lazio vs Inter (Sunday)

Lega Calcio Serie A TIM"FC Internazionale v SS Lazio"

Undoubtedly the biggest clash of the weekend, ?Serie A’s title race could take another turn, and potentially twist, this Sunday evening.

Table-toppers Inter travel to Lazio knowing a victory would secure their place atop the league table for another week. However, the hosts are just a point behind Antonio Conte’s side, and could leapfrog the Nerazzurri with a win on home soil.

With two of the division’s top three scorers in action as well, this heavyweight clash won’t likely disappoint goals-wise. 


Chelsea vs Manchester United (Monday)

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Having already met twice this season, Manchester United have enjoyed the bragging rights on both occasions following wins in both the Premier League and Carabao Cup. 

United will be hoping to close the gap between themselves and Chelsea to just three points, but a trip to Stamford Bridge is a tricky proposition for any side, let alone a team struggling for consistency. 

Either way, both sides’ unpredictability may work in favour of the neutral this Monday night, as nobody truly knows what we’re going to see unravel in London.

Oh and we all get to see more of Bruno Fernandes!


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Dayot Upamecano Refuses New RB Leipzig Deal With Arsenal, Barcelona and Bayern Circling

?Dayot Upamecano has refused to sign a new deal at RB Leipzig with host of top European clubs eyeing up a summer move for the defender.

The 21-year-old has made 24 appearances for Julian Nagelsmann’s side this season and his stoic performances at centre-back have been crucial to Leipzig’s surprise title challenge. 

Dayot Upamecano

Upamecano has long been the subject of interest from across the continent with 90min revealing back in November that ?Manchester City were considering a ?January bid for the defender. As well as the Cityzens, Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Barcelona were all said to be tracking the player.

No such move materialised last month, however the Frenchman looks likely to depart Leipzig in the summer. According to ?BILD, Upamecano has refused to extend his contract which expires in June 2021. If negotiations continue to falter, the Frenchman would be available for a fixed price of €60m in the summer.

Leipzig have not yet given up hope that their star men will renew terms, with sporting director Markus Krösche explaining the club’s position.

“Dayot is a very important player on our team and showed on Sunday [against Bayern Munich] what a fantastic defender he is,” Krösche said. 

Dayot Upamecano

“I also think that we know what we have to each other – time will tell how things will go in the medium term.” 

?Barcelona are thought to be the club most heavily interested in signing Upamecano. They have struggled defensively this season and Quique Setien is keen to bolster his ranks. The club made the centre-back their ‘?ultimate‘ target last month. 

?Arsenal have also been porous defensively for about a decade, and view the stopper as the man to make them more sturdy at the back. The report in Bild states that the starlet’s preferred move would be to a club in the ?Premier League.

The Gunners’ north London rivals, ?Tottenham, take on Leipzig next Wednesday in the Champions League – though Upamecano will not be playing due to suspension.  


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Every Injury That Ousmane Dembele Has Suffered During His Barcelona Career

?When Neymar left Barcelona for PSG in 2017 for a world record €222m fee, many wondered who would be capable of filling his rather large Camp Nou shoes.

The world wouldn’t have to wait long to find out, as Barça forked out an initial €105m – with €40m in add-ons to follow – fee to snare Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund, making him, at the time, the second most expensive player in history.


With prices at an all-time high and market inflation continuing to soar, Dembele’s arrival was viewed as an expensive but necessary outlay. After all, he could prove to be the successor to Lionel Messi, who as great he is, won’t go on forever.

Sadly, for ?Dembele and ?Barcelona though, it hasn’t quite worked out. Injuries, injuries and more injuries have ruined his time in Catalonia, leaving the Frenchman’s once promising career hanging in the balance.

Don’t believe it’s been that bad? Well, take a look at this, as 90min spins you through every injury he’s suffered since arriving in Spain.


Hamstring Injury (17/09/17)

Ousmane Dembele

?Days Injured: 106

Games Missed: 20

Dembele’s first – and sadly not last – hamstring injury, unbelievably, occurred on his first La Liga start for Barça, away at Getafe.

The injury would leave him on the sidelines for three months, leaving Dembele to watch on as the first Clasico of the season passed him by.


Hamstring Injury (15/01/18)

UEFA Champions League"FC Barcelona v PSV"

Days Injured: 26

Games Missed: 7

Tragedy struck again for Dembele as he suffered another hamstring problem just four games into his return.

He missed both legs of the Copa del Rey semi-final against Valencia, and was moved away from the first team as Ernesto Valverde switched to a 4-4-2 formation.


Ankle Injury (21/01/19)

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH64-FRA-CRO

Days Injured: 18

Games Missed: 5

It would be another year before Dembele’s injury curse would strike again, and during that period he had a pretty good time of it, winning La Liga with Barcelona and the World Cup with France.

But then an ankle injury struck ruled the Frenchman out of yet another Copa del Rey semi-final, this time against ?Real Madrid. He did return for the second leg, though, assisting twice as Barça beat their fiercest rivals 3-0.?


Torn Muscle Bundle (14/03/19)

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-LEVANTE

Days Injured: 26

Games Missed: 4?

Dembele’s next bout of inactivity stemmed from more ‘muscle’ problems, ruling him out of action for just under a month.

More worryingly, Barça didn’t appear to miss him during this period, averaging three goals per game in their four outings.


Hamstring Injury (05/05/19)

Ousmane Dembele

Days Injured: 42

Games Missed: 4

Ahhhh, back to the hamstring trail – with an injury that would end Dembele’s 2018/19 season, just six minutes into Barcelona’s clash with Celta Vigo.

On the positive, his absence allowed him to enjoy watching a brief – rather than a participating one – as Barça collapsed against Liverpool in their Champions League semi finals second leg tie.


Hamstring Injury (19/08/19)

Ousmane Dembele

Days Injured: 34

Games Missed: 5

Yep, you guessed it, another hamstring injury for Dembele – and again, another shocking start to a season.

Another month on the sidelines followed, with five games and 34 days required to get over this latest problem.


Muscle Injury (27/09/19)

FBL-ESP-LIGA-LEGANES-BARCELONA

Days Injured: 3

Games Missed: 1?

Just five days after returning to action, Dembele was ruled out once more – with another unspecified muscle problem ruling him out of Barça’s game with Getafe.

Unfortunately, the worst was still to come.


Hamstring Injury (28/11/19)

Ousmane Dembele

Days Injured: 67

Games Missed: 15

At this point we can only assume Dembele would have been doing his best Brenda from Bristol impersonation and saying: “What, another one?!”

A fifth hamstring injury in just over two years was one of Dembele’s worst to date – ruling him out of the Spanish Super Cup, another Clasico, as well as Barça’s crunch Champions League clash with ?Inter.

Still, could only get better, right?


Hamstring Tendon Tear (04/02/20)

Expected Days Injured: 182

Minimum Games Missed: 19

Sadly, things have deteriorated further, with a torn tendon in Dembele’s right hamstring – picked up during his rehabilitation – requiring surgery, ruling him out for six months.

Not only will be on the sidelines for the longest period of his career, he will now miss France’s Euro 2020 campaign – and question marks will be surely be raised among Barça’s hierarchy over his ability to recover from such a debilitating, ongoing injury.

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Why We Are Finally Starting to See the Best of Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona

When Frenkie De Jong joined Barcelona last summer, he became the 20th Dutchman to play for the Catalan giants, following in the footsteps of some of the game’s greats from Ronald Koeman and Edgar Davids to Johan Cruyff. 

However, De Jong’s first six months in Spain have seen the 22-year-old endure a mixed start to La Liga life. 

Critics have highlighted his tendency to hang onto the ball too long, gift possession too easily and generally fail to perfectly replicate his stunning performances which saw Ajax get within one 96th-minute winner of the Champions League final last season. 

UEFA Champions League"Ajax v Tottenham Hotspur FC"

Many non-footballing factors could have contributed to the adjustment period De Jong has gone through since the summer. Namely, he’s a 22-year-old kid who’s moved to a new country, with a different language, culture and climate.

On the pitch, things have proven different for De Jong as well. 

In the superb Ajax team of last season De Jong, in the ?Champions League, was fielded as one of two holding midfielders in a 4-2-3-1, alongside the Denmark international Lasse Schöne. From here, the Dutchman would drop deep to pick up the ball from his back-line and drive forward, exploiting his speed and agility to become one of the most press-resistant midfielders in Europe. 

Barcelona have played with a single holding midfielder for decades and unfortunately for De Jong, he was deemed good enough for La Blaugrana to buy him, but not good enough to oust Sergio Busquets from that role. 

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-TRAINING

For almost the entirety of the season so far, De Jong has been fielded in one of the more advanced roles in ?Barcelona’s midfield three, ahead of Busquets. This positional change has seen De Jong’s defensive contribution drop off a cliff compared to his peak at Ajax.

The apparent emphasis on attacking implied by this move upfield has drawn ?criticism from many, including his former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag. 

Ten Hag argues that De Jong is not a goalscorer but the person who provides the ball before the goal, or the ball before the assist.

Yet, under Valverde, it seems as though De Jong wasn’t instructed to get forward, or break up play, or much else apart from passing. Over the course of the Dutchman’s first 19 league appearances for Barcelona, he took a grand total of two shots (admittedly he scored from one but two shots in almost 1,500 minutes is woeful for an advanced midfielder).

The nadir of De Jong’s opening salvo in Barcelona colours coincided with Valverde’s final game at the club as the 22-year-old conceded the free kick against Espanyol which resulted in their cross-city foes taking the lead, before later being sent off and paving the way for Wu Lei’s 88th-minute equaliser. 

Frenkie de Jong,Gerard Pique

Valverde’s successor Quique Setién has seemed to have granted De Jong more freedom in the very small time the two have worked together. 

In the ?three La Liga games under Setién, the Dutchman has remained in this advanced role but, crucially, taken as many shots as he did during his five-month spell with Valverde at the helm. 

Saturday saw the second of those efforts nestle in Real Betis’ net as De Jong volleyed home after linking up with Lionel Messi to finish a move that had begun with the Dutchman collecting the ball from Barcelona’s back-line. 

De Jong himself ?refused to say that this was his best performance in a Barça shirt but he excelled throughout as his side twice came from behind to record only their fifth victory in 12 league games on the road this season. 

Whilst one good performance should not banish all memories of his first six months, many of the criticisms levelled as De Jong can be somewhat explained by the sub-par performances of his teammates.  

While it may look like De Jong is in his own little world with the ball at his feet and three opposition players charging at him from all sides, he often is forced to hold possession due to the lack of forward movement ahead of him. Couple this with the fact that he’s dispossessed only once per match and his time in Catalonia is cast a more favourable light. 

De Jong often found himself as Barcelona’s most advanced player against Betis and while this is certainly a different role to the one he flourished in at Ajax, he has the technical and tactical fluency to thrive almost anywhere you put him, given enough time and support to adapt. 

After a rocky start to life during a rocky period in Barcelona’s history, he’s starting to put out performances which reflect his other-worldly talent in a position he’s still learning. And at just 22 years old, he has plenty of time to get it right.

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Barça to Sign €35m Striker Outside of Transfer Window After Ousmane Dembele Ruled Out for 6 Months

?Barcelona have apparently reached an agreement to sign Willian Jose from Real Sociedad, following the news that Ousmane Dembélé will ruled out for up to six months after undergoing hamstring surgery in Finland.

The France international has made just nine appearances this season due to a constant battle with injury problems and his latest setback came after a 2-1 win over CD Leganés earlier this season.

Barcelona have now confirmed that Dembélé will not be available for selection for another six months, ruling his out for France at Euro 2020 and at least until the start of the 2020/21 season for the club.

Ousmane Dembele

In a statement on their official website, Barcelona said: “The first team player Ousmane Dembélé has successfully undergone surgery in Turku, Finland where he was operated on by Dr. Lasse Lempainen for a ruptured tendon in his proximal hamstring in his right thigh. 

“The Frenchman will be out for around 6 months.

“The striker was continuing his recovery from the hamstring injury when he was forced to retire from a training session at the Ciutat Esportiva last week. Subsequent tests confirmed a complete rupture to the tendon in the proximal hamstring of his right leg.”

Although Dembélé’s six-month injury lay off will come as a blow for Barcelona, they could be about to be given special permission from the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to make a new signing outside of the transfer window.

According to RTVE (via Sport), Barcelona expects to be given the green light by the RFEF and they’ve apparently even reached an agreement with Real Sociedad ahead of a move for striker Willian Jose.

The 28-year-old was targeted by the club during the January transfer window but they ultimately rejected a move due to his €70m release clause.

Willian Jose

At this moment in time it’s not known exactly why Real Sociedad would let Jose leave San Sebastián for half of his release clause, especially during a time of the season where they can’t sign a direct replacement.

Although Jose has lost his first-team place this season, 20-year-old Alexander Isak is the only other recognised centre forward available for the club.


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5 of the Best Moments of Luis Suarez’s Career

Luis Suarez is number 34 in 90min’s Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time series


Luis Suarez, arguably the greatest Spanish player of the 20th century, won a lot of things. He played a lot of football – some 500-and-several club games, plus a chunk for the national team. 

He played for Barcelona. He played for Inter. He played for Spain and he played, a little, for Deportivo La Coruña and Sampdoria to book-end his career. 

We’re going to focus a little on the middle three here, because…well, you hit your best moments in your prime, don’t you?


Atletico Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (12/04/59)?

Luis Suarez

Starting a list of the five greatest moments of one of the best footballers of all time…with a 1-1 draw away to Atleti. What of it? Don’t like it? Write your own list. 

Anyway, it’s not just any 1-1 draw away at Atleti. It is, thanks to Athletic Club’s José María Maguregui-inspired 4-1 smashing of Real Madrid on the same weekend, the 1-1 draw away at Atleti that won Suarez his first league title after coming second, third and third respectively in the previous three seasons. 

Barça’s task was made harder when stalwart goalkeeper Antoni Ramallets went off midway through the first half, but a second-half goal from Joan Segarra settled Catalan nerves – and Vavá’s late equaliser mattered little in the end. 

Not only way it Suarez’s first La Liga title, but it was the first for Barça since their move to Camp Nou. They followed it up with another the next season, because Barcelona. 


1960 Ballon d’Or

Alright, winning the Ballon d’Or didn’t necessarily mean you were the best player in the world until 2007 (not the 1995 George Weah thing! You still had to be playing at a European club there!) but it was still a pretty big deal. 

Coming off back-to-back La Liga titles and a win in the 1958-60 Fairs Cup (that’s not a typo, it was played over the course of two full seasons, weird), Suarez became the first player in four years to break Real Madrid’s hold on the shiny globe. Nice one. 


Inter 6-0 Genoa (10/03/63)

San Siro At Night

While Suarez was reasonably prolific in Spain, he found goalscoring a little more difficult in Italy – although it may be fairer to say that goalscoring was less necessary at Inter, playing in a deeper-lying role in a team built around structure, with counter-attacks and flying full-backs.

In his first title-winning season at San Siro, late in the season, having scored four goals in his 21 other appearances in Serie A that season, he went on the rampage against the Genoese – striking three times in the second half to become the first Spaniard to record a hat-trick in the Italian top flight.

That mark stood for 53 years, until Suso romped all over Frosinone in 2016. The team he scored it for? Genoa, of course. 


1964 European Cup Final?

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Losing a European Cup final sucks. Even if your team is great, if you’re a cracking player, you might only get one shot. Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp, Roberto Mancini – all great players with fantastic careers, but each of them lost their only European Cup final appearance. 

Fabio Cannavaro? Roberto Baggio? ACTUAL RONALDO? Never even made the European Cup final. 

Luis Suarez’s Barcelona team lost to Bela Guttmann’s Benfica in the 1961 final, and he left the club almost instantly for a new adventure in Italy. He didn’t win anything in his first season, won Serie A in the second and made it to the European Cup final in his third. 

Against old rivals Real Madrid, he shone – as ever – in a 3-1 win. Noice. 


1964 European Championship Final

Jose Villalonga

The Euros used to have four teams. Weird. In the 1964 edition, Sanchez first came up against a Hungary team without many of the best Hungarian players of the era (see: the Hungarian revolution and associated political and social mess). 

Former teammates and rivals Sándor Kocsis and Ferenc Puskas were toward the end of their careers, but still would’ve been…y’know, helpful. Spain won that game in extra time to set up a final against the Soviet Union (we miss you, 1960s football). 

Spain won. In case you hadn’t guessed. 2-1, thanks to a Marcelino goal in the dying minutes. A European Cup and a European Championship in the same summer. Handy. 


For more from Chris Deeley, follow him on Twitter at @ThatChris1209!?


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Erik ten Hag Questions Decision to Play Frenkie de Jong in Advanced Barcelona Role

Ajax head coach ?Erik ten Hag has questioned Frenkie de Jong’s new role at Barcelona, claiming that he is not a natural goalscorer.

The 22-year-old has been deployed in a more advanced role at Barcelona in recent times, and was on the scoresheet in Barça’s 3-2 win over Real Betis in La Liga.

Frenkie de Jong

But Ten Hag, who managed De Jong during the formative years of his career at Ajax, claims that he’s more suited to being utilised in a deeper, more creative role – suggesting that he doesn’t have the eye for goal required to play further up the field.

Speaking to Ziggo Sport, in quotes relayed by ?Marca, Ten Hag said: “He’s not a goalscorer. He’s the player who supplies… who supplies the teammates who give the assists or who score goals from their position.

“Once I got him out of there, I asked him: are you a No.10? Then when do you score goals?”

De Jong has scored just two goals for Barcelona in all competitions, suggesting that Ten Hag‘s judgement of the midfielder’s best qualities are somewhat accurate. 

In La Liga, the Dutchman has 92.4% pass accuracy, suggesting that the strength of his game does indeed lie with linking up play, rather than finishing moves off. But even though those numbers are impressive, De Jong is seeing less of the ball since joining Barça – averaging just 59.3 passes per game for the Catalans, compared to 79.5 passes per Ajax game.

His inability to get on the ball is perhaps indicative of the higher standard of football in La Liga, with the Eredivisie – and Ajax’s dominance of it – allowing De Jong to roam around more freely in possession.

Frenkie de Jong

But Barcelona’s struggles will also have played a part, with a rebuild under Quique Setién the order of the day following the dismissal of previous manager Ernesto Valverde.

Barça are currently playing second fiddle to Real Madrid in the ?La Liga title race, and know they’ll have to be at their absolute best if they want to have any chance of dethroning Liverpool as champions of Europe.

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Barcelona’s Injury Crisis Deepens as Club Without Any Available Centre Backs Ahead of Getafe Clash

?Both Gerard Piqué and Samuel Umtiti are struggling with injury ahead of Barcelona’s clash with Getafe at the weekend, meaning manager Quique Setién may have to get creative with his defensive options. 

The club were already without Clément Lenglet as they look to reclaim the initiative in the La Liga title race, the French defender a confirmed absence after his red card in the 3-2 victory at Real Betis on Sunday, meaning options were already thin on the ground.

Captain ?Piqué was forced off with an injury in the ?Copa Del Rey defeat to Athletic Club last week, and having sat out Saturday’s trip to Betis due to an accumulation of yellow cards, the extent of the injury was unclear. 

Marc Andre Ter Stegen,Gerard Pique

AS have delivered news on that front, however, saying that ?Barca don’t expect him to return to full training until Thursday – meaning he is likely to be touch-and-go to start at the weekend. 

The outlet note that there is even more concern surrounding Umtiti, who managed 90 minutes against Betis but is suffering from a recurrence of the knee issue which kept him out for a prolonged period last season. His knee is said to be badly swollen meaning he is unlikely to feature from the start this weekend. 

All this means Setién is said to be casting an eye over 20-year-old starlet Ronald Araújo to step in and ease his dwindling options. He’s made just one senior appearance so far, but has frequented the bench, and could end up starting alongside Piqué – with the captain likely to be risked if he is nearing fitness given the lack of other senior options.

Chicharito Hernandez,Ronald Araujo

The report also notes that Sergio Busquets could be used in central defence if necessary, while Frenkie de Jong is yet to fulfil that role for Barcelona, but has done so in the past for Ajax. 

In any case, it seems we are likely to see something of a makeshift defensive lineup as the Catalan giants look to repel a formidable Getafe side who trail them by just seven points in the La Liga standings. 


For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!

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La Liga Roundup: 5 Things You Might Have Missed as Title Race in Spain Heats Up

?The title race in Spain is going to go down to the wire.

Just three points separate La Liga table toppers Real Madrid from last season’s champions Barcelona, and right now it’s impossible to say who is going to come out as the victors: Zinedine Zidane’s relentless Madrid side or a team led by the mercurial Lionel Messi?

Outside the top two, there were a number of other talking points in La Liga at the weekend. Let’s have a look at some of the biggest moments.


Hat-Trick of Assists for Messi as Barça Win Thriller

Lionel Messi

Sometimes it’s hard to find words to describe? Lionel Messi.

The funny thing is ?Barcelona have been playing really badly as of late, and it would be easy to say that Madrid are going to win ?La Liga. But as seen on Sunday evening, as long as Barça have their little magician, they’ll always have a shot.

Messi bagged a hat trick of assists against Real Betis as Barça scraped to a 3-2 win despite going behind on two occasions. Both teams also had a man sent off.

Madrid are probably the favourites right now to win La Liga, but Messi might have something to say about that.


Real Madrid Roll On

Lucas Vazquez,Karim Benzema

Madrid have been in relentless form since ditching their miserable early season antics, and continued their charge at the top of La Liga with another resounding win on Sunday.

Los Blancos hammered Osasuna 4-1 despite going behind early on, with ?Isco, ?Sergio Ramos, Lucas Vazquez and Luka Jovic all getting on the scoresheet.

Eden Hazard is also closing in on a return to match fitness and the Belgian will only make Zidane’s side stronger. Everything’s coming together for Los Blancos ahead of a big few months in La Liga and the Champions League.


Getafe Continue to Impress

Jaime Mata

Perhaps the surprise package of the season, Getafe continue to impress.

A 3-0 win against Valencia meant they stayed in third place and they will be hoping to continue this form as they target a place in the Champions League next season.

Beating Valencia isn’t an easy task, but three goals in the final 35 minutes of the game showcased that they have the minerals to finish as the ‘best of the rest’ in Spain.


Atletico Madrid Struggles on Show Despite Victory

Club Atletico de Madrid v Granada CF  - La Liga

?Atletico are having a pretty bad season. Diego Simeone continues to have his side defend superbly, but there is simply no attacking threat.

Despite beating Granada 1-0 thanks to a goal in the sixth minute from Angel Correa, they really struggled to create anything else of note.

Through the game they had just six shots, with their opponents mustering up ten. Things really have to change for Atletico, with Sevilla, Real Sociedad, Valencia and Villarreal all in with credible shouts of pipping them to fourth spot.


Sevilla Falter in Top Four Race as Real Sociedad Close Gap

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The top four race in Spain is extremely tight this season, with a number of clubs battling it out for a spot in the Champions League.

Sevilla dropped points as they lost 2-1 against 17th placed Celta Vigo, meaning Atletico leapfrogged them into fourth. However, goal difference is the only thing that separates them.

Sociedad are also in serious contention for a top four finish, and on the weekend they beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 thanks to a late goal from Alexander Isak. As a result, they put themselves just two points off fourth.

La Liga is in for a really thrilling finish.


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