Erik ten Hag admits he expected more from Ryan Babel after the winger let his frustration get the better of him in Ajax's 2-0 loss to Getafe in Thursday's Europa League tie.

Last season's Champions League semi-finalists Ajax named a strong side that included Donny van de Beek, Dusan Tadic and new Chelsea signing Hakim Ziyech but registered just two shots, neither of those on target.

The last-32 first leg was briefly halted after Deyverson appeared to be hit by an object thrown from the away end when celebrating Getafe's deserved opener.

And Kenedy compounded Ajax's misery with a deflected shot at the end of a feisty affair.

Babel was one of three visiting players booked after catching Allan Nyom with a stray arm, before comically mocking his opponent's theatrical reaction by rolling on the floor and then mimicking the Getafe player's limp.

Ten Hag questioned Babel's actions, and the Netherlands international himself acknowledged he should have kept his cool.

"It wasn't smart. I don't expect that from an experienced player," Ten Hag said at his post-match news conference.

"You need to stay calm and use your head. You have to focus on your job, playing football."

Babel, speaking to FOX Sports, said: "I don't know if I would do it again.

"I found that the referee was fooled by the opponent at crucial moments. I was done with that. 

"I thought the opponent was exaggerating a lot, so I got a yellow card. 

"At times, we played nicely, but it wasn't good enough. We have a lot to analyse. Hopefully we can make it up to the fans."

Getafe - third in LaLiga - frustrated Ajax as the ball spent just 42 minutes and 36 seconds in play - the second-shortest amount of time in a Europa League game since 2009.

"There's been a lot of teams that lost here," Ten Hag added. "We know we can do better, we showed that in the final phase of the match.

"The fact is that you can't make mistakes at this level. In that case, your opponent gets the better of you - especially this opponent. 

"We gave them what they were looking for, and we know that, too. We're experienced enough to realise that, but you need to be patient and wait for decisive moments."

Quique Setien was unimpressed with Getafe's physical approach and referee Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez after Barcelona's 2-1 LaLiga win over Getafe.

Barca moved level on points with leaders Real Madrid, who face Celta Vigo in their game in hand on Sunday, courtesy of first-half goals from Antoine Griezmann and Sergi Roberto at Camp Nou on Saturday.

The Barca-linked Angel Rodriguez gave Getafe hope when he pulled one back in the second half, but the reigning LaLiga champions were not to be denied all three points.

Head coach Setien felt referee Cuadra Fernandez should have come down harder on what he deemed to be spoiling tactics from Getafe.

Asked what he was saying to the fourth official, Setien said: "I was complaining because many times you risk going out from the back and when you are fouled you have to start over.

"That hurts the pace of the game. I think they have made 30 fouls against 12, and we had one more [yellow] card.

"I think the referee had to be more severe. Sometimes you have no luck."

Setien was not interested in discussing why he did not shake hands with his opposite number Jose Bordalas.

"I want to talk about what happened on the pitch, that is where football is played." he said.

"We were nervous at the start, and Getafe made it very difficult for us with their press."

Antoine Griezmann says he is thoroughly enjoying life at Barcelona, even though he is still learning how to play alongside Lionel Messi.

Griezmann ended a five-match scoreless streak in LaLiga with a deft finish to open the scoring in a cagey 2-1 win over Getafe at Camp Nou on Saturday.

The goal was teed up brilliantly by Messi, with Sergi Roberto adding a second for Barca before Angel Rodriguez's goal for Getafe set up a tense finish.

France forward Griezmann missed a great chance to restore Barca's two-goal cushion late on, and acknowledged he is still adapting to playing with Messi.

"We knew how hard Getafe would be to play against," Griezmann said. "They put a lot of pressure on and pressed high. They are third for a reason but we kept cool, tried to play the ball well from the back. It was tough but we suffered and won.

"I've been here six months, we still have to learn. I have to learn [Messi's] movements and he has to learn mine. We're enjoying the work we put in together and it's getting better and better all the time. I'm very happy and really enjoying myself here.

"I missed a chance which I shouldn't have done, it came to my weaker foot but luckily it didn't matter."

Getafe started strong at Camp Nou and thought they had the lead when Allan Nyom prodded in from a corner, but VAR disallowed the goal for a foul on Samuel Umtiti.

The visitors did haul themselves back into the contest when Angel volleyed home in the 66th minute, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen pulling off a fine double save to deny Getafe an equaliser.

Angel has been linked with a move to Barca as the defending champions aim to replace Ousmane Dembele and Nyom is unsure if the striker will be staying with Getafe.

"He's got a lot of quality," Nyom said of the 32-year-old. 

"He's a killer in front of goal and I'm delighted he's with us. I don't know whether he's staying or not."

Antoine Griezmann ended a five-match scoreless streak in LaLiga as Barcelona survived a second-half fightback to claim a 2-1 victory over third-placed Getafe.

Needing a win to put themselves level on points with table-toppers Real Madrid, Quique Setien's side started sluggishly on Saturday and would have gone behind if not for VAR.

Barca made their good fortune count, though, Lionel Messi - on his 350th official appearance at Camp Nou - setting up Griezmann to open the scoring in the 33rd minute.

Sergi Roberto doubled Barca's tally before half-time, but Barca-linked Angel Rodriguez set up a grandstand finish, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen just managing to deny Getafe an equaliser as the champions held on.

Jordi Alba succumbed to a right adductor injury in the 22nd minute, with Junior Firpo introduced, and things looked to have got worse for the hosts when Allan Nyom tucked home from a corner, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for a foul on Samuel Umtiti.

Marc Cucurella was inches away from putting his parent club behind moments later, yet it was Barca who broke the deadlock when Messi fed a wonderful, disguised pass through to Griezmann, who finished with a sublime flick over David Soria.

It was 2-0 six minutes later - Roberto sending a first-time finish into the bottom-right corner at the culmination of a slick move, and only a fine save from Soria prevented Messi adding a third before half-time.

Angel was brought on shortly after the restart and the change had the desired impact when he volleyed in from the edge of the box.

Ter Stegen denied Jaime Mata a tap-in with 18 minutes remaining and, though Griezmann squandered two great chances, Barca ultimately made their goalkeeper's save count as they claimed the points.

What does it mean? All level at the top

With Madrid not in action until Sunday, Barca are - temporarily at least - level on points with Los Blancos at the top. The rivals go head-to-head at the start of March, in what looks set to be a pivotal clash in the title race.

Angel makes his mark at Camp Nou

Barca seem set to be given dispensation to sign a forward due to the season-ending injury suffered by Ousmane Dembele and Angel is one of the players reportedly high on their list.

If he is indeed to wind up as a Barca player in the coming weeks, the 32-year-old did his chances no harm with an exquisite finish - his 10th league goal of the season.

More injury woe for Alba

It has been an injury hit campaign for Barca full-back Alba and his frustrations continued when he hobbled off midway through the first half and he could well now be a doubt for the Champions League encounter with Napoli on February 25, as well as a crucial Clasico on March 1.

What's next?

Barca are at home again in their next league fixture, against Eibar, while Getafe face Ajax in the Europa League on Thursday.

Barcelona will not take unnecessary risks with Lionel Messi's fitness, head coach Quique Setien has assured.

Barca are light on options in attack as they battle to defend their LaLiga title, with Luis Suarez set to be sidelined until May following knee surgery, while injury-plagued winger Ousmane Dembele will miss the rest of the campaign after an operation on a torn hamstring this week.

Reports earlier this month suggested Messi was playing through pain but Setien insisted he had no concerns over the six-time Ballon d'Or winner ahead of Saturday's home match against high-flying Getafe.

"Messi, like a lot of other players, knows what he can do and what he can’t do," he told a news conference.

"If he's on the pitch it’s because he's able to be. He's okay, there's no problem.

"Like any other players, there will be a time when we have to rest him. I haven’t spent so much time here to be able to evaluate this.

"These players are so used to playing Sunday to Wednesday for many years that in some cases it is not necessary for them to rest, but we will have a look as it goes on."

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and LaLiga granted Barcelona special dispensation to sign a replacement for Dembele, with Real Sociedad's Willian Jose among those touted as a possible target.

Setien refused to be drawn on links to Loren Moron, who he coached at Real Betis, with his successor at the Seville club, Rubi, saying such a deal is a non-starter.

"What I've done all of my life is adapt to what I have," Setien said. "If a player arrives then that's preferable.

"Dembele’s injury affects us a lot and puts us in a risky situation. In the end, you have to play with 11 men and that's what we're going to do

"We'll adapt. We'll find a solution and the way forward."

An unlikely solution might have already presented itself in Rey Manaj, the 22-year-old forward signed for Barca B from Albacete during the January transfer window.

Albania international Manaj has trained with the first team over recent days and certainly made an impression with Setien.

"We don’t know Rey completely. We haven’t seen everything he can do because he's spent little time here," he added.

"His willingness is extraordinary and if he's here it's because he is going to help us."

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien does not believe Real Madrid should be considered favourites for LaLiga glory this season.

Madrid hold a three-point advantage at the summit over Barca, who have struggled for their best form since Setien replaced Ernesto Valverde last month.

Valverde and Barca won the previous two titles, with the Blaugrana also collecting four of the past five either side of Zinedine Zidane's sole domestic success in 2016-17.

Setien feels the Clasico showdown at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 1 could yet prove to be pivotal.

"Many league titles have been decided on details, in final minutes, in situations that neither of the two teams are able to control," he told a news conference.

"We're just as much favourites as Real Madrid. They have got a three-point advantage but we've got a game there at the Bernabeu and when that moment comes we've got a lot of expectation.

"We know the importance of the game and of course we'll go all out for it."

First, Barca must negotiate a game that might turn a two-way battle into a three-horse race.

Getafe travel to Camp Nou on Saturday sitting third in the table, seven points shy of their hosts but enjoying another exceptional season on the back of a surprise fifth-place finish in 2018-19.

Setien has previously clashed with Jose Bordalas over Getafe's direct style of play and, while he declined to discuss a feuding relationship with his opposite number that dates back to their respective tenures in charge of Segunda Division sides Lugo and Alcorcon, he praised their impressive progress.

"It's clear that we have two different styles. Barca have been playing like this for years, Getafe are playing the way they have been for years," he said.

"The important thing is your plan and way of doing it overcomes the opposition

"We're clear in what we're playing for and how we play. What you have to do, you must to well and I think both of us do that."

On whether Getafe might become a direct rival in LaLiga this term, Setien suggested their forthcoming Europa League obligations – an intriguing last-32 showdown with Ajax – could be a complicating factor.

"The difficult thing for every club is to stay at the top. I don’t know if it's us and Madrid or Getafe [as well], who are on a great run.” said the Barca boss.

"The difficult thing is to keep up that run. There are some difficult games coming up for them in Europe that might take something out of their power in LaLiga.

"Getafe last year stayed up there and this year they're still up there. I don't know if this form is going to be enough to catch us and Real Madrid but we have to consider them rivals."

Barcelona expect Ousmane Dembele to be sidelined for six months, meaning a new signing could be imminent at Camp Nou.

Under LaLiga regulations, teams can look to the transfer market outside the window if they lose a player to injury for more than five months.

However, they can only sign individuals from the top two tiers in Spain, or those who are available as free agents.

With Luis Suarez also ruled out until May, we look at the options Barca could go for in order to bolster their attack.

 

Willian Jose (Real Sociedad)

The former Real Madrid striker was heavily linked with a move to Tottenham during the January transfer window but a move did not come to fruition. However, Barca reportedly only have a budget of €12million, which could prove to be insufficient to sign Willian Jose, who has fallen behind Alexander Isak in the pecking order at the Reale Arena.

Angel Rodriguez (Getafe)

A more realistic option appears to be Getafe's Rodriguez, who is believed to have €10m release clause. The 32-year-old has scored nine LaLiga goals for Jose Bordalas' Champions League-chasing side this season but has started just six top-flight matches.

Lucas Perez

After failing to make his mark in the Premier League at Arsenal and West Ham, at Deportivo Alaves Perez has rediscovered the sort of form that encouraged the Gunners to sign him from Deportivo La Coruna in 2016. He has scored nine LaLiga goals and laid on four more for Alaves this season and strike partner Joselu, formerly of Real Madrid, this week revealed he has urged Perez not to join Barca.

Loren Moron

Head coach Quique Setien coached Moron for two seasons at Real Betis and he is the club's leading goalscorer in LaLiga this season, finding the net eight times and supplying two assists. Betis president Angel Haro said at the weekend there has been no official contact from Barca, and Moron's release clause is understood to stand at €40m.

Getafe defender Marc Cucurella denied allegations he racially abused Real Madrid's Eder Militao during their LaLiga match on Saturday.

The two were involved in a heated exchange during the second half of Madrid's 3-0 victory at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.

It was alleged on social media that Cucurella, who joined Getafe on a season-long loan from Barcelona last July, addressed Militao with the word 'mico', which means monkey in Catalan.

Cucurella said he used the Castilian Spanish term 'pico', which translates in the context used as mouth.

"I would like to clarify that in no moment did I insult Militao. My words were 'Shut your f****** mouth'," he posted on Twitter.

"I apologise if anyone has been offended by this. These are the only statements I have made and that I will make about it. Thank you."

Zinedine Zidane believes Raphael Varane's brace in the 3-0 win at Getafe showed how Real Madrid do not only have to rely on their forwards to score goals.

Los Blancos returned to duty having scored just once in their previous three LaLiga matches, but France international Varane netted either side of half-time to put them firmly in control against Jose Bordalas' men.

Luka Modric added a third deep into additional time to wrap up Madrid's biggest league win since November 9, and Zidane said his side's patience had paid off in the derby fixture.

"I already said that you have to be calm in front of goal," the Madrid coach told reporters.

"You have to be calm because sometimes the ball does not fit. And with goals today from Varane, it shows that we have many resources to score.

"For us, it is important to win here because it is a very complicated league. The boys have been plugged in since minute one with great intensity."

Zidane also paid tribute to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who kept his third consecutive clean sheet to help his side go top of the table, albeit with previous leaders Barcelona playing later on Saturday.

The Belgium international was unbeatable in goalless draws with Barca and Athletic Bilbao prior to the mid-season break, leading to Zidane underlining the importance of his performances.

"I am happy for him and sure he is happy with his work," Zidane said of Courtois. "We are happy for him and he is for us.

"We have suffered in some games and Courtois has been very good. We have played as a team, which is the most important in these games and against these teams.

"We achieved a good result as a team, thanks to everyone’s efforts."

Raphael Varane scored one and played a big part in another as Real Madrid returned to winning ways with a 3-0 victory away at neighbours Getafe that took them top of LaLiga.

Madrid drew three straight league matches prior to the two-week break, including back-to-back games without scoring, but got back on track on their return to action on Saturday.

The visitors ended their goalless run in fortuitous circumstances as opposition keeper David Soria helped the ball into his own net under pressure from Varane.

Varane headed in a second eight minutes into the second half at Estadio Coliseum Alfonso Perez and Luka Modric tapped home a late third as Madrid saw things through to move a point above Barcelona after playing a game more.

Madrid fired a blank at this ground last term but edged in front after 34 minutes on this latest visit, Soria getting the final touch after Varane beat him to Ferland Mendy's cross.

The visitors relied on Thibaut Courtois to keep them in front, though, the Belgium keeper denying Faycal Fajr and Leandro Cabrera with impressive saves at the end of the first half.

And those stops proved defining as, two minutes after Getafe had a penalty shout for handball against Eder Militao rejected, Varane powered home a header that was allowed to stand after a lengthy VAR check.

Gareth Bale was thwarted by Soria from a one-on-one late on but Madrid scored a third in added time through Modric, who had a simple finish after being teed up by substitute Federico Valverde at the end of a swift counter.


What does it mean? Madrid back on track

Back-to-back blanks for Los Blancos made it advantage Barcelona heading into the mid-season break in Spain's top flight.

This Varane-inspired victory moves them a point above Barca, who play their game in hand against Catalan rivals Espanyol later on Saturday.

Another clean sheet for Courtois

Courtois was last month described as the best goalkeeper in the world by his Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez and the ex-Chelsea shot-stopper has certainly stepped up of late.

This was his third clean sheen on the spin, secured thanks to two fine stops in the space of 163 seconds at the end of a closely contested first half.

Stranded Soria gifts goal to Madrid

Getafe could have gone fourth with victory and were arguably the side on top when the visitors opened the scoring via a huge helping hand - literally - from former Madrid youth product Soria.

He attempted to punch clear Mendy's left-sided delivery but Varane got the slightest of glances to it first, with the final touch coming off Soria's gloves for an own goal.

What's next?

Madrid turn focus to Wednesday's Supercopa de Espana semi-final with Valencia in Jeddah, while Getafe face third-tier side Badalona in the Copa del Rey second round on their return to action in a week's time.

Gareth Bale is named in Real Madrid's starting XI for the clash with Getafe, along with Isco, as they return to LaLiga duty.

Bale - who has been linked with a move away from Madrid in the January window - has made 11 league appearances in total in 2019-20, including starting the rearranged Clasico against Barcelona on December 18.

The Wales forward also came on as a substitute in late December matches against Valencia and Athletic Bilbao prior to the mid-season break.

However, Zinedine Zidane has handed the 30-year-old a chance to impress from the off against Getafe in Madrid's first outing in 2020.

Bale starts up top alongside Karim Benzema and Isco, who has been restricted to just 10 league appearances this season, having been hampered by a hamstring injury and inconsistent form.

Meanwhile, Eder Militao - who has struggled to establish himself as a regular since moving to Madrid from Porto - starts at the back in place of Sergio Ramos, who is suspended.

There is no place for Marcelo, who has been battling a calf injury, while Eden Hazard is still out with an ankle problem.

Real Madrid star Eden Hazard will miss the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury, coach Zinedine Zidane has confirmed.

The Belgium international, who signed from Chelsea ahead of the 2019-20 season, has played only eight times in LaLiga, scoring once.

Hazard's most recent appearance came against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on November 26, subsequently missing a Clasico draw with Barcelona due to a small ankle fracture.

Madrid face Getafe in LaLiga this weekend, before heading to Jeddah for the revamped four-team Supercopa, but Hazard will not travel.

"Yes, he's 100 per cent out of the Supercopa," Zidane told a news conference on Friday. "He's not travelling.

"And, at the moment, he's in a normal process of recovery. I hope that just after the Supercopa, bit by bit, we could see him with us again."

Discussing his squad heading into 2020, Zidane added: "Every player is important.

"I've got a very good squad with a lot of good players, and I'm going to use what I have - some [players] more than others].

"Squad rotation depends on the game, it depends on a lot of things. What I'm looking at is just the next game tomorrow, where we have two or three players out.

"All the players, apart from those two or three, are available. That's good for me.

"I'd prefer to have everybody available. I have injured players, but the season is long and I'm going to need every player. That's my message."

The full draw for the Europa League's round of 32 is: 

Wolves v Espanyol

Sporting CP v Istanbul Basaksehir

Getafe v Ajax

Bayer Leverkusen v Porto

Copenhagen v Celtic

APOEL v Basel

Cluj v Sevilla

Olympiacos v Arsenal

AZ v LASK Linz

Club Brugge v Manchester United

Ludogorets v Inter

Eintracht Frankfurt v Salzburg

Shakhtar Donetsk v Benfica

Wolfsburg v Malmo

Roma v Gent

Rangers v Braga

The first legs will take place on Thursday 20 February, with the return fixtures scheduled for a week later.

Club chiefs will return to Nyon for the last-16 draw on February 28.

Barcelona are planning for life after Uruguay striker Luis Suarez.

The 32-year-old is highly regarded at Camp Nou, however, he has struggled for form and consistency.

Now, LaLiga champions Barca appear to be lining up a possible replacement.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA READY TO SPEND €50M ON PIATEK

Barcelona are interested in signing AC Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez, says Calciomercato.it.

Suarez celebrates his 33rd birthday in January and the Barca veteran is showing signs of decline at the LaLiga champions, where he has struggled for form and consistency.

Barca will look to bring in a new face in January, with the Spanish giants ready to spend €50million on Piatek, while RB Leipzig's Timo Werner, Getafe forward Jaime Mata and Juventus veteran Mario Mandzukic have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

Juventus have set their sights on three Premier League players – Chelsea's Willian, and Tottenham pair Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld, according to Tuttosport. The trio will be available on free transfers at the end of the season and Eriksen tops Juve's wish list.

- The Daily Mail says Tottenham have opened contract talks with defender Jan Vertonghen. The Belgium international is out of contract at season's end and Spurs are reluctant to lose him on a free transfer.

- AC Milan are interested in signing Nice star Arnaud Lusamba, according to Calciomercato. The 22-year-old midfielder is contracted to the Ligue 1 club until 2021.

Arsenal will send scouts to watch Salzburg and Hungary star Dominik Szoboszlai in Wednesday's Champions League showdown against Liverpool, reports the Daily Mail. The 18-year-old sensation has also attracted interested from Serie A trio Juventus, Inter and Lazio.

- Eredivisie side PSV are interested in signing Manchester United's Tahith Chong on loan in January, according to the Daily Mail. The 19-year-old Dutch winger, who arrived from Feyenoord in 2016, has been involved with the first team under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ernesto Valverde hailed the perseverance of Luis Suarez, who silenced his critics with a goal in Barcelona's 2-0 LaLiga victory at Getafe.

Suarez was on target in the opening half as 10-man Barca recorded their first away victory of the league season on Saturday.

Whistled during Barca's win at home to Villarreal midweek, Suarez responded by scoring his third LaLiga goal of the campaign – a lobbed effort in the 41st minute.

Barca head coach Valverde lauded 32-year-old forward Suarez, who has come in for criticism due to his form.

"Goalscorers sometimes score and sometimes they don't, but Luis always perseveres," Valverde said. "He fought for a long ball and was rewarded."

Barca had lost two and drawn one of their opening three away fixtures in LaLiga prior to Saturday's triumph against Getafe.

The result left Barca fourth in the standings, two points adrift of leaders and bitter rivals Real Madrid.

"It was important not to make mistakes early on like we have done in other games," Valverde said. "That was fundamental. The goal calmed us down and, from there, we imposed ourselves well. We didn't give much away and had chances to score more.

"If you want to win LaLiga you have to win a lot of games away from home, not just your home games. Getafe were a tough rival, it's a hard place to come and we've played well. Now we have three days to prepare for Inter."  

Barca were without Ousmane Dembele for the Getafe trip due to a thigh injury and it remains to be seen whether the France international will be fit for Wednesday's Champions League showdown against Inter.

"It's true that I left him out of the [matchday] squad," Valverde added. "It was more as a precaution. He's told me that he is calm. We think it's a little nuisance, but it's nothing serious."

When asked if Dembele would feature against Inter, Valverde replied: "I don't know. I wish that wasn't the case, but I can't say for sure."

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