Off-field problems have haunted Barcelona all season, but the Catalans really saw their campaign self-destruct this week with another shocking loss. Atletico Madrid soundly beat Barca in the Champions League midweek, but another 1-0 reverse to lowly Granada virtually put them out of the running for the La Liga title. Barca enjoyed over 80 per cent of possession but could not turn around Yacine Brahimi’s first-half strike as their forwards once again misfired. Now four points adrift of Atletico in third place, extra pressure is on Barcelona to win the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday, or potentially go a season without any silverware. Tata Martino may also find his job is on the line at the Mestalla this week.
Diego Costa had just made his return from a thigh injury, having sat out the last few games. But he was stretchered off after an ugly injury at Getafe on Sunday. Costa collided with a post as he scored the second Atletico goal in their 2-0 win, boasting a large cut on his knee. Such was the velocity that Costa hit the frame of the goal, it had sparked fears in the Spanish media that he had suffered a fracture or a break, potentially side-lining him for the World Cup, too. He was stretchered off but Atletico later confirmed Costa had only sustained a cut, claiming the post had come off worse! The Brazilian-turned-Spaniard had earlier missed a penalty but made up for the error by sliding in Adrian Lopez’s cross late on. Diego Godin had given Atleti the lead, enough to see off a spirited, yet toothless, Getafe side in real trouble at the bottom.
Real Madrid had to make do without their star man as Cristiano Ronaldo was absent with a knee injury. But Madrid kept up their pursuit of Atletico thanks to a 4-0 win over Almeria. Ronaldo will miss the midweek final in Valencia, but his presence was not missed on Saturday as Gareth Bale notched another to continue his impressive form. Angel Di Maria opened the scoring, curling a brilliant effort past Esteban minutes after the keeper had incredibly stopped Bale at his feet. The Welshman was not to be kept quiet however, neatly finishing his 19th goal of the season before Isco and Morata added to the scoreline. Bale and co will now look to claiming what could be a vital piece of silverware on Wednesday, with neither they nor Barcelona certain of winning anything else this season.
Both Arsenal and Hull City enjoyed taking ‘selfies’ after reaching the FA Cup Final this weekend, but a rather different craze has swept across Spain. On Sunday there were two incidents where rival fans showed their cheek towards opposition players. During the Seville derby between Betis and Sevilla, one Betis fan couldn’t bear watching the opposition celebrate, so whipped down his shorts in an ugly protest. That incident occurred in the early kick-off, but was repeated during the Getafe versus Atletico Madrid match later that evening. As Costa went to take his penalty, one Getafe supporter tried the ultimate distraction by boasting his backside whilst Costa was running up. Whether or not the tactic worked is debateable as Atletico failed to convert either the spot-kick or the rebound, but we certainly hope we have seen the ‘back end’ of that gesture in the beautiful game!
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