Sevilla's return to the Champions League was confirmed on Monday after Villarreal failed to defeat Real Sociedad in LaLiga. 

Villarreal needed to win their final three games to deny Sevilla a top-four finish but succumbed to a 2-1 loss against La Real at the Estadio de la Ceramica. 

LaLiga's top four has now been confirmed as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Julen Lopetegui's side. 

Sevilla reached the Champions League quarter-finals in 2017-18 but this season are in the Europa League – a competition they have won five times. 

They will play their last-16 tie against Roma on German soil after the first leg was postponed due the coronavirus pandemic.

Gerard Pique urged Barcelona to continue fighting in LaLiga despite trailing leaders and rivals Real Madrid.

Having won back-to-back league titles, Barca are four points adrift of Madrid after a 4-1 thrashing of Villarreal on Sunday.

Pique called for his side to keep pushing ahead of hosting Espanyol in a derby clash on Wednesday.

"We don't like to be behind in the standings, but we will fight to turn the situation around, knowing how complicated it is," the Barca defender told Movistar.

"We will fight to the end."

After a Pau Torres own goal and Luis Suarez strike, Antoine Griezmann scored his first goal since February, and Ansu Fati sealed Barca's win late on.

Pique hopes Griezmann, who has netted 15 times this season, gains confidence from his goal.

"Playing in this way makes the three of them [Lionel Messi, Suarez and Griezmann] closer to the goal," he said.

"We feel more protected. In addition, Antoine's goal is very important so that he is confident."

Quique Setien praised Antoine Griezmann after the forward finally returned to the scoresheet in Barcelona's 4-1 LaLiga victory over Villarreal.

Griezmann netted his first goal since February to go with strikes from Luis Suarez and Ansu Fati after Pau Torres' own goal as Barca pulled back to within four points of leaders and rivals Real Madrid.

Setien was happy with what he saw from Griezmann, whose goal was his 15th in his first season at Barcelona.

"He has associated himself very well and has been gaining confidence," the Barcelona head coach said, via AS.

"I am very satisfied as I suppose he will be after the goal so beautiful that he has scored, reminded me of one of [Lionel] Messi's at [Real] Betis."

Setien praised Barca's performance as they claimed just their second win in five games.

"All teams are different. Today, we have had everything," he said.

Setien added: "Other teams like Atletico [Madrid] or Sevilla, firmer in defence created more problems for us. Perhaps they were stronger than this.

"This helps us a lot in confidence. We have pressed very well and we haven't allowed them to leave. We have made a very balanced match. I would have liked to be right before."

Meanwhile, there was further controversy in Real Madrid's win over Athletic Bilbao as another Sergio Ramos penalty saw Zinedine Zidane's men claim three points.

The spot-kick was awarded via the VAR and Setien said the system was becoming more confusing.

"I understand it [the VAR] less and less," he said.

Barcelona reached 9,000 goals in all official competitions following their 4-1 rout of Villarreal in LaLiga on Sunday.

Barca celebrated the milestone thanks to teenage sensation Ansu Fati, who came off the bench and scored the team's fourth goal away to Villarreal.

The two-time reigning LaLiga champions, who are four points behind bitter rivals Real Madrid with four matches remaining, netted their first official goal in April 1909.

Just over 111 years later, Barca have scored their 9,000th goal – superstar captain and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi contributing 630.

Of Barca's overall tally, 6,165 goals have been scored in LaLiga, followed by the Copa del Rey (1,474) and the Champions League (543).

Antoine Griezmann ended his goal drought with a stunning finish and Lionel Messi tormented Villarreal as Barcelona cruised to a 4-1 LaLiga victory on Sunday.

Barca's grip on the title had slipped with back-to-back draws and bitter rivals Real Madrid moved seven points clear at the top with a win at Athletic Bilbao earlier in the day, but the champions responded at Estadio de la Ceramica.

An early Pau Torres own goal put Barca in front and the mercurial Messi set up sensational strikes from Luis Suarez and Griezmann after the in-form Gerard Moreno equalised, with Ansu Fati adding a fourth late on.

Griezmann had gone eight games without a goal, but silenced his critics with a moment of class in a breathtaking attacking display from Barca, with Messi – who had a goal disallowed and hit the crossbar – starring at the end of a week in which his future has been the subject of more speculation.

Previously in-form Villarreal have still not beaten the Catalan giants since 2008 and their first defeat since the season restarted is a blow to their bid for a Champions League spot.

Barca made a blistering start and they were rewarded when Torres turned the ball into his own net just three minutes in with Griezmann waiting to pounce on Jordi Alba's cross behind him.

The Blaugrana were causing the home side all sorts of problems going forward but looked vulnerable on the break and Moreno levelled clinically against the run of play with 14 minutes played after Marc-Andre ter Stegen palmed away Santi Cazorla's strike.

Barca wasted little time in regaining the lead, though, Messi running from just inside the Villarreal half and beating two players before finding Suarez, who picked out the far corner with a sublime first-time finish from the edge of the penalty area.

Arturo Vidal and Suarez came close before Griezmann added a third just before half-time, lobbing Sergio Asenjo with a superb effort after Messi set him up with a cheeky backheel following another penetrating run.

The busy Asenjo denied Suarez and Vidal after the break and Messi had a goal chalked off after VAR ruled he had been offside before tucking in Sergi Roberto's cutback.

Fati came off the bench to put the icing on the cake, cutting in from the left to fire home and Messi rattled the crossbar with a free-kick before Asenjo superbly saved Martin Braithwaite's header following up.

  

What does it mean? Relief for Setien

Barca boss Quique Setien has come under fire, but his players appear to be behind him on the evidence of this performance.

On a day when it was revealed Xavi, linked with the Barca hotseat, will stay at Al-Sadd, the defending champions showed they will not give up their title without a fight with four games to play.

Messi magic, Griezmann shows his class

Griezmann has had a tough first season at Barca, but he showed what he is capable of with the finish of a player who is anything but short of confidence.

It was Messi who was the star of the show, though, yet again, slipping away from defenders with ease and laying on two goals with sheer brilliance and not looking like a man eager to leave Camp Nou.

Semedo all at sea

Barca full-back Nelson Semedo looked vulnerable defensively in the first half and was hooked off early in the second. Setien's men were too open at the back in the first half and Semedo was caught out too often.

What's next?

Barca host lowly Espanyol in a derby clash on Wednesday, with Villarreal facing a tricky trip to sixth-placed Getafe on the same evening.

Barcelona will be without Junior Firpo when they face Villarreal in LaLiga on Sunday.

A right hip problem will keep the left-back out of the meeting at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

The issue further restricts Quique Setien's senior options in defence, with Samuel Umtiti ruled out of the match due to a left knee injury.

Junior has featured 20 times in all competitions for Barca this season, starting just once since the league resumed last month following its suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Defending champions Barca will be seven points adrift of top spot at kick-off if leaders Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao earlier in the day.

Villarreal are unbeaten since LaLiga returned, winning five of their six games, and are just three points behind fourth-placed Sevilla in the final Champions League qualification spot.

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien insists he "does not spend a minute" thinking about his future amid speculation he is close to being sacked.

The 61-year-old's position has been called into question following a run of three draws in four matches that leaves Barca four points adrift of LaLiga leaders Real Madrid.

Setien was handed a two-and-a-half-year deal when succeeding Ernesto Valverde at Camp Nou in January, but club icon Xavi is reportedly being lined up to take charge.

However, the former Las Palmas and Real Betis boss says he takes no notice of the rumours and is instead focused on Sunday's trip to in-form Villarreal.

"I don't spend a minute thinking about that," he said at his pre-match news conference on Saturday. "I focus on what I have to focus on, which in this case is Sunday's game.

"This is the circus we're involved in and we accept it, but I don't waste time listening or reading [speculation]. I know there is noise being made but I have to focus on my own job.

"It is not the first time that I have experienced it, nor is it the first time a coach has lived through a situation like this when they don't win a game."

Setien is said to have been summoned to a meeting with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and other members of the board following Tuesday's 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid.

But the Spaniard did not get the impression from the face-to-face talks that he is on the verge of losing his job.

"I have said I am not going to reveal the conversations we had that day, but I didn't sense that, not at all," he said.

Barca could find themselves seven points off top spot by the time they face Villarreal should Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao earlier on Sunday.

Unlike the reigning Spanish champions, fifth-placed Villarreal have hit the ground running since the restart by taking 16 points from a possible 18.

"I don't know if they are the best or [one of] the best teams returning from isolation," Setien said of Sunday's opponents.

"They are doing things very well, with a lot of talent and players in good form, who defend well and who are going to compromise us a lot because they are playing at home.

"But we played a pretty good game against Atletico and I hope we are at that level and get through the game."

Barcelona have revealed defender Samuel Umtiti has suffered another knee injury.

The centre-back has been blighted by persistent knee problems over the past couple of years and is back on the sidelines.

Barca did not reveal the extent of the damage Umtiti has sustained on Friday, but he is set to miss the clash with Villarreal in LaLiga on Sunday.

A statement from the Catalan giants said: "The first team player Samuel Umtiti has a problem with his left knee and will undergo conservative treatment.

"The player is not available and his recovery will dictate when he can return."

Umtiti was an unused substitute in Barca's 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, having been handed a start at Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Real Madrid's 1-0 win over Getafe on Thursday left Quique Setien's second-placed side trailing LaLiga's leaders by four points with five games to play.

Villarreal captain Bruno Soriano revealed he considered retirement after making an emotional comeback following more than three years on the sidelines.

Not since May 2017 had Soriano played a game for boyhood club Villarreal – two operations and a painful recovery leaving the 36-year-old out of action.

But after 1,128 days without football, Soriano finally returned in Monday's 2-2 LaLiga draw at home to Sevilla.

Soriano came off the bench in the 88th minute at El Madrigal, where he received a great ovation from his team-mates, coaching staff and the president in the dressing room.

"I don't know what to say," a tearful Soriano told Movistar post-match. "It's been so long since I played that I almost don't know what to say.

"I'm very happy, of course. I had tried to return many times and it wasn't possible. It's a massive joy for me and for all the people at the club and for my family.

Asked if he had ever considered retirement, Soriano replied: "There were some tough times where I thought that maybe the best thing was to stop, because there had been many disappointments in a row. But now I'm going to try to help the team."

Soriano has spent his entire career with Villarreal since making his debut in 2006 – the Spanish midfielder holding the record for most appearances in club history with 418.

"That's best of all," said head coach Javi Calleja. "Having him back and helping the team is very important for us.

"He's an example of fighting back, we're all very happy for his return and we hope to be able to count on him for the rest of the games."

Lyon have completed the permanent signing of Karl Toko Ekambi from Villarreal for an initial fee of €11.5million.

The striker signed on loan with an option to buy in January and scored two goals in eight Ligue 1 appearances, also providing an assist.

Lyon have taken up the option to sign the 27-year-old permanently for a fee that could rise to €15.5m and includes a 15 per cent sell-on clause, which stands at 50 per cent if any such sale happens before September 15 this year.

The Cameroon international, who will be eligible to face Juventus in the Champions League last-16 second leg if the competition resumes, has signed a four-year contract with OL.

"The permanent arrival of Karl Toko Ekambi confirms Olympique Lyonnais' ambition to give ourselves the means to be at the highest level next season," the club said.

Ekambi's arrival comes amid speculation around the future of Moussa Dembele, who is said to be of interest to Manchester United and Chelsea.

The 23-year-old has long been linked with the Red Devils, although United's decision to extend Odion Ighalo's loan until next January and the possible financial constraints brought about by the coronavirus crisis have cast doubt on a possible move to Old Trafford.

Lyon finished the 2019-20 season seventh in Ligue 1 after the campaign was ended early due to the pandemic.

LaLiga has confirmed the season will restart with a Seville derby on June 11 and the campaign will wrap up on July 19, it was confirmed on Sunday.

Suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, LaLiga will get back underway with a clash between Sevilla and Real Betis.

The remaining 11 matchdays will be played in less than six weeks as Barcelona and Real Madrid battle for the title.

Barca were two points clear of their bitter rivals when the season was stopped due to COVID-19, which has killed more than 373,000 people worldwide.

Quique Setien's men return to action with a trip to Real Mallorca on June 13, a day before Madrid host Eibar.

Barcelona also host Atletico Madrid on July 1 before facing rivals Espanyol in a derby clash a week later.

Barcelona's remaining fixtures
June 13: Real Mallorca (A)
June 16: Leganes (H)
June 21: Sevilla (A)
June 24: Athletic Bilbao (H)
June 28: Celta Vigo (A)
July 1: Atletico Madrid (H)
July 5: Villarreal (A)
July 8: Espanyol (H)
July 12: Real Valladolid (A)
July 15: Osasuna (H)
July 19: Deportivo Alaves (A)

Real Madrid's remaining fixtures
June 14: Eibar (H)
June 18: Valencia (H)
June 21: Real Sociedad (A)
June 24: Real Mallorca (H)
June 28: Espanyol (A)
July 1: Getafe (H)
July 5: Athletic Bilbao (A)
July 8: Deportivo Alaves (H)
July 12: Granada (A)
July 15: Villarreal (H)
July 19: Leganes (A)

Getafe striker Jorge Molina defended himself after being named in media reports regarding a match-fixing investigation.

LaLiga clubs Villarreal and Getafe categorically denied any wrongdoing after reports in Spain suggested a game between the teams was part of a match-fixing investigation.

Getafe and Villarreal drew 2-2 at Coliseum Alfonso Perez on May 18, 2019.

It was the final match of the league season for both sides, one which Getafe needed to win to stand any chance of earning Champions League qualification.

El Pais reported the contest was being scrutinised by police as part of Operation Oikos, which is probing an alleged match-fixing group that was profiting from betting on games.

Getafe also said they would consider legal action and staunchly defended their veteran striker Molina, who was named in media reports.

In addition, some of the club's players tweeted their support for him before Molina denied any wrongdoing.

"Regarding the news that has been published about me, I want to say that I have no relationship, knowledge or implication," he said on Instagram.

"It is in the hands of my lawyers and they will take the appropriate legal measures."

Both teams released firm statements on Friday.

"Villarreal CF and its first team absolutely reject the accusations made in recent hours," read the release from the Yellow Submarine.

"Both Villarreal CF and its first team want to underline that they absolutely reject the accusations made in recent hours and want to publicly deny in a categoric and emphatic way the alleged involvement in match fixing during the match against Getafe.

"As previously expressed repeatedly, the club condemns this type of action which harms the essence of sport and competition, and stands by its principles of transparency, ethics, integrity and fair play as fundamental values within the entity's philosophy.

"Villarreal CF will study and weigh up the possibility of taking legal action against this situation."

Getafe offered "its unconditional support to" Molina and "regret the serious violation of his fundamental right to the presumption of innocence".

The statement added: "We want to spread a message of rejection and categorically deny any implication related to this matter.

"Getafe CF publicly condemns this type of conduct and will not tolerate its reputation being tarnished, nor will its integrity be doubted."

LaLiga clubs Villarreal and Getafe have categorically denied any wrongdoing after reports in Spain suggested a game between the teams was part of a match-fixing investigation.

Getafe and Villarreal drew 2-2 at Coliseum Alfonso Perez on May 18, 2019.

It was the final match of the league season for both sides, one which Getafe needed to win to stand any chance of earning Champions League qualification.

El Pais reported the contest was being scrutinised by police as part of Operation Oikos, which is probing an alleged match-fixing group that was profiting from betting on games.

Both teams released firm statements in response on Friday.

"Villarreal CF and its first team absolutely reject the accusations made in recent hours," read the release from the Yellow Submarine.

"Both Villarreal CF and its first team want to underline that they absolutely reject the accusations made in recent hours and want to publicly deny in a categoric and emphatic way the alleged involvement in match fixing during the match against Getafe.

"As previously expressed repeatedly, the club condemns this type of action which harms the essence of sport and competition, and stands by its principles of transparency, ethics, integrity and fair play as fundamental values within the entity's philosophy.

"Villarreal CF will study and weigh up the possibility of taking legal action against this situation."

Getafe also said they would consider legal action and staunchly defended their veteran striker Jorge Molina, who was named in media reports.

In addition, some of the club's players tweeted their support for him.

Getafe said the club want "to offer its unconditional support to" Molina and "regret the serious violation of his fundamental right to the presumption of innocence".

The statement added: "We want to spread a message of rejection and categorically deny any implication related to this matter. 

"Getafe CF publicly condemns this type of conduct and will not tolerate its reputation being tarnished, nor will its integrity be doubted."

With most of the world still operating under lockdown conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic, most professional sport is on hold for the foreseeable future.

Given the outbreak occurred at a particularly inopportune moment for top-level football in Europe, the situation has bred uncertainty across most leagues – including Spain's LaLiga.

Competitions in Europe are facing the question of whether finishing the season, regardless of the impact it may have on future campaigns, should be the priority once normality returns.

The current focus does appear to be on concluding the 2019-20 campaign. However, even with Euro 2020 pushed back by 12 months, clubs and leagues are still having to work to tight schedules, with UEFA hoping seasons finish by the end of June.

While the discussion over how to complete the schedule continues, the Stats Perform AI team have crunched the numbers behind the scenes.

With all of the division's teams having completed 27 of 38 matches, their goal was to simulate how the rest of the season would pan out if the games were played now to produce a predicted 2019-20 table.

The statistical model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

Without further ado, let's have a good look at the results of the simulation with the predicted final league table.

BARCELONA CROWNED CHAMPIONS WITH 83 POINTS

The results in the statistical model see Barcelona crowned champions with a final total of just 83 points.

With 11 games to play, they presently lead rivals Real Madrid by two points, a gap that is predicted to have increased to four by the conclusion of the campaign, giving Quique Setien a first league crown.

Such have been the struggles of the big two this season, the final tally would be the lowest points recorded by a team to win the LaLiga since Fabio Capello's Madrid.

That team defeated Barca by virtue of their superior head-to-head record in a dramatic finish to the 2006-07 campaign, when the two sides accumulated 76 points.

It also suggests the chasing pack missed a rare opportunity to strike on a down year for both Clasico rivals, which will frustrate 2014 champions Atletico Madrid, who spent big on Joao Felix.

REAL MADRID FALL FOUR POINTS SHORT

The likelihood of Barca winning the title is 70.1%, with Real Madrid's chances rated at 29.9%. No other team is in with a chance of topping the table, according to the model.

But Zinedine Zidane's men are unlikely to face a challenge for second place, meaning they at least improve on their third-place finish from the 2018-19 season.

That third spot is poised to be grabbed by Atletico, who have a projected final points total of 65 and a 41.6% chance of claiming the position.

Atletico's closest challengers for third are predicted to be Sevilla (who are given a 26.1% chance) and Getafe (16.8%), with just two points separating those three sides in the final reckoning.

Diego Simeone would be thrilled with third place given his side went into the coronavirus-enforced break down in sixth, with Real Sociedad (9.1%) and Valencia (5%) the other teams in the mix.

UCL HEARTBREAK FOR LA REAL & GETAFE AS SEVILLA CLINCH 4TH

Sociedad and Getafe go into the break dreaming of a Champions League place amid fine seasons, but they are the two teams who will be worst affected by Atletico's predicted surge.

As part of a thrilling finish in the race for the top four, they are set to suffer heartbreak as Atletico pass them and they fall agonisingly short of catching Sevilla, who went into the halt in action sitting third.

Sevilla are anticipated to finish with 64 points, just one behind Atletico and one ahead of Getafe. 

Sociedad are then a further two behind Getafe with 61 as they are forced to settle for sixth, with Valencia staying in seventh on 59.

The four teams scheduled to finish between fourth and seventh all have a greater than 10.7% chance of finishing fourth, with none greater than Sevilla's 28.5%, so one bounce of the ball in a key game could still make an enormous difference.

Villarreal are predicted to finish in their current position of eighth, though they are given a 1.3% probability of breaking the top four.

Athletic Bilbao pass Granada for ninth position as Real Betis and Levante narrowly miss out on a spot in the top half.

Osasuna drop from 11th to 13th, where they are predicted to finish one point above Deportivo Alaves.

ESPANYOL SUFFER THE DROP AFTER 26 YEARS IN TOP FLIGHT

Mallorca, Leganes and Espanyol are the current bottom three in LaLiga and all are forecast to suffer relegation.

Espanyol have been in the top flight since 1994 but they go into the break six points adrift of safety and the model predicts they will be unable to make a great escape.

They are forecasted to collect 13 points from their last 11 games, but that is not even enough to get them off the bottom of the standings, highlighting the scale of the task they have ahead of them.

Similarly, Mallorca (36 points) and Leganes (35) are not expected to pick up enough victories to secure survival.

That means Celta Vigo, presently just one point clear of the drop zone, are predicted to survive with a final tally of 40, giving them a four-point cushion.

Celta are credited with 14 points between now and the end of the season to finish just behind Eibar (15th) and Real Valladolid (16th).

That means they would avoid a return to the Segunda Division, which is where they started the last decade.

The coronavirus crisis continues to challenge decision-makers in football's corridors of power and could soon leave some of the game's biggest clubs facing contract conundrums.

Manchester United, Milan and Paris Saint-Germain are among the major European outfits who are due to farewell high-profile players when free agency comes into force on June 30.

Domestic leagues across the world appear increasingly likely to run beyond that deadline, meaning sides up and down the divisions could be forced to renegotiate deals beyond the typical expiry date.

It remains to be seen how governing bodies will approach the unfamiliar territory but Edinson Cavani, Mario Gotze and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be watching closely like dozens more across Europe's top five leagues.

These are the stars and solid supporting cast members whose contract situations are worth monitoring in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

LaLiga

Athletic Bilbao: Aritz Aduriz (retiring), Benat, Mikel San Jose
Atletico Madrid: Antonio Adan
Espanyol: Ander Iturraspe
Granada: Roberto Soldado
Real Valladolid: Hatem Ben Arfa
Sevilla: Ever Banega (joining Al Shabab at end of contract), Nolito
Valencia: Ezequiel Garay
Villarreal: Santi Cazorla 

Premier League

Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser
Burnley: Joe Hart
Chelsea: Olivier Giroud, Pedro, Willian
Liverpool: Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne
Manchester City: David Silva (confirmed he will leave at end of contract)
Manchester United: Nemanja Matic, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Odion Ighalo (loan ends)
Newcastle United: Matty Longstaff
Tottenham: Jan Vertonghen, Japhet Tanganga

Serie A

Atalanta: Jose Luis Palomino
Hellas Verona: Fabio Borini
Inter: Ashley Young
Juventus: Gianluigi Buffon
Milan: Lucas Biglia, Giacomo Bonaventura, Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Napoli: Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens

Bundesliga

Bayer Leverkusen: Charles Aranguiz
Borussia Dortmund: Mario Gotze, Lukasz Piszczek
Hertha Berlin: Salomon Kalou
Schalke: Benjamin Stambouli
Wolfsburg: Robin Knoche

Ligue 1

Lille: Loic Remy
Monaco: Jemerson
Nice: Walter Benitez, Arnaud Lusamba
Paris Saint-Germain: Edinson Cavani, Thomas Meunier, Tanguy Kouassi, Layvin Kurzawa, Thiago Silva

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