Barcelona boss Xavi looked to remain positive following a goalless draw with Getafe, as the club approach the end of an empty-handed season.

Barca lacked verve in the middle of the pitch without Pedri at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, creating nothing of substance despite having 71.3 per cent possession for the match.

The Blaugrana remain 12 points from Real Madrid, with both teams only managing a point this weekend, but the latter have the LaLiga title already wrapped up with a Champions League final awaiting.

Xavi wants to remain upbeat coming into the off-season, however, believing Barcelona have salvaged a season that could have finished much worse. Since his appointment, Barcelona have surged from mid-table to second place, which is where they will finish.

"As for the league, we were very far away, but the reality is that we have not been able to compete in other competitions. Now things have to be corrected, but it could have been worse," Xavi said.

"If the economic situation is good, I'm optimistic, but we'll wait. We have to plan now and we don't have much time. We are already against the clock to plan and to decide things."

Barca were knocked out of the Champions League's group stage and the Copa del Rey's last-16, opening with only four wins in their opening 11 league games before Xavi was announced to replace Ronald Koeman in November.

A 4-0 win over title winners Madrid in March was soured by their eventual elimination at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarter-final of the Europa League, confirming a trophy-less season.

Post-match on Sunday, despite Getafe generating a greater xG (0.43-0.22) with 28.7 per cent possession, Xavi tried to bring the result into context.

"The goal was to qualify for the Super Cup, to finish second, and we've covered that," he said. "Just as we were in November, December, January, we can be happy. Not so much with this game, we were too tidy in the first half, we need to generate more.

"We have not achieved the main objective of winning titles, I would not have signed for it [when taking the job], but we have denied the blow of a disastrous season."

Getafe and Barcelona played out an almost entirely uneventful 0-0 draw at Coliseum Alfonso Perez on the penultimate weekend of the LaLiga season.

A game with an enormous 'end of term' air about it never got going, though in reality that suited both teams.

The draw means that Barca have sealed second spot in LaLiga, while Getafe are now safe from relegation.

It represents an improvement on last season for the Catalan giants after they finished third behind Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.

A very quiet first half unsurprisingly saw Barca dominate possession, but it was Getafe who created more chances and former Blaugrana player Carles Alena tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen from range, though the effort was easily dealt with by the German stopper.

Little of note happened early in the second half either, with Barca's first shot on target not arriving until the 48th minute as Ferran Torres tried to chip David Soria, but it was an easy save.

Memphis Depay was forced off with an injury, replaced by fellow Dutchman Luuk de Jong, who set up Alejandro Balde for a shot that flew over the bar following nice work from Ansu Fati down the left.

It was an otherwise quiet game, though, and the important thing for both was that they secured the point needed for a positive end to the campaign.

Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo is a shock contender to face Getafe on Sunday – just five days after suffering a head injury that caused him to spend a night in hospital.

The 23-year-old Uruguayan suffered a heavy blow in Tuesday's 3-1 LaLiga win against Celta Vigo, clashing heads with team-mate Gavi shortly after the hour mark.

Both sets of players urged medical staff to come onto the field, and Araujo received around 10 minutes of treatment before leaving the pitch in an ambulance.

Xavi said after the match that Araujo was "conscious and out of danger", and his discharge from hospital was confirmed on Wednesday.

Barcelona stated on Tuesday that Araujo had suffered concussion, which is a brain injury.

In England, Football Association rules stipulate that any player with concussion should not be allowed to play again for at least six days; however, Barcelona believe Araujo could be ready to feature in Spain's LaLiga after coming through training with team-mates.

"Araujo wants to play," Xavi said on Saturday. "For us that means a lost. At no time was he unconscious, and he wants to play. He wants to be with us.

"I am moved by the commitment he has. The feelings on the training field are very good. He was not unconscious and in that sense it is important so that he can be there tomorrow."

Araujo posted on Twitter on Friday: "Thank God everything went well and it was nothing serious. Thank you all for your support. Blessings!"

The Uruguay international has played 42 times this term, totalling 3,181 minutes on the field – only Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Frenkie de Jong have played more minutes among outfield Barca players.

Carlo Ancelotti praised Gareth Bale's professionalism after the Welshman was subjected to boos from sections of the Real Madrid fanbase during Saturday's win against Getafe.

Bale was a 74th-minute substitute during the 2-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu, completing four of five passes and hitting two shots, one of which tested Getafe goalkeeper David Soria from distance.

The 32-year-old has been a divisive figure in the Spanish capital, scoring crucial goals and winning four Champions League trophies in his time there, but he has missed a lot of football through injury in recent years.

Bale has also made it known he prefers to play for Wales than for his club, and is expected to bring his nine years at Madrid to an end when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Ancelotti refused to criticise the fans, but did praise Bale and insisted he will continue to play if fit.

"The fans are very important, such as against PSG," he said, referring to the recent dramatic 3-2 aggregate turnaround in the Champions League round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain. 

"Bale has been whistled but he's a serious professional and if he's well, he can play."

Goals from Casemiro and Lucas Vazquez sealed the win, which restored Madrid's 12-point lead at the top of LaLiga, and Ancelotti was satisfied with his team's performance, but insisted the title race is not yet over.

"We're closer [to the title]," he said. "It's a good run but it's not over yet, we have to keep fighting, we have two away games now with Sevilla and Osasuna."

Los Blancos' next game is on Tuesday when Chelsea come to Spain for their Champions League quarter-final second leg, where Madrid will have a 3-1 aggregate lead.

The Blues warmed up for the clash with an emphatic 6-0 win at Southampton on Saturday, and Ancelotti remains wary of his former club, saying: "It will be a difficult game, we have to prepare it as if we don't have that advantage.

"Today, [Chelsea] won by many goals. We are going to have to be very focused."

Real Madrid secured victory against Getafe at the Santiago Bernabeu to restore their 12-point lead at the top of LaLiga on Saturday.

It was a relatively comfortable evening's work for Madrid, with Casemiro's first-half header and Lucas Vazquez's second-half finish sealing a 2-0 win.

Madrid controlled the game from start to finish, and Carlo Ancelotti was even able to save the legs of some of his key players.

The coach made four changes from the midweek Champions League win against Chelsea, resting Dani Carvajal, Ferland Mendy, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric with one eye on the quarter-final second leg.

Stamford Bridge hat-trick hero Karim Benzema remained in the line-up and had the ball in the net inside four minutes after a long pass from David Alaba fell kindly to him, only to see the flag go up for offside.

Madrid dominated the early stages but struggled to create chances, with Federico Valverde coming closest with a volley from a Benzema cross, forcing a tremendous save from David Soria.

The deadlock was broken in the 38th minute after Vinicius Junior put in a delightful cross with the outside of his right foot for Casemiro to head in at the far post.

The hosts knocked on the door for another soon after the break, with Valverde again going close with a free-kick from range.

But Madrid were made to wait until the 68th minute when Vazquez played a neat one-two on the right with Rodrygo before placing the ball with his left foot into the far corner of the net.

The visitors showed a brief glimpse of fight at the end, with Enes Unal hitting the post with an effort in the 90th minute, but it was merely a minor scare for the league leaders.

Carlo Ancelotti wants Gareth Bale to leave Real Madrid in a blaze of glory rather than with his reputation sullied, hailing the Welsh winger as a history maker.

Bale was a €100million (£85.3m) signing from Tottenham nine years ago during Ancelotti's first stint as Los Blancos coach, and with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema he formed part of a thrilling front three.

The 32-year-old has already won the Champions League four times in Madrid, as well as two LaLiga titles, but in recent seasons Bale has been nudged towards the fringes of the squad.

Injuries have been a factor, and while Bale has been reliably brilliant for the Wales national team, opportunities in Madrid have become sporadic. He spent last season on loan at Tottenham.

His contract expires at the end of June, and Bale will be moving on. This season he has faced vicious criticism in some sections of the Spanish media, recently being dubbed a "parasite" in sports daily Marca, and there has been a danger of him leaving without any fanfare, or even amid a torrent of negativity.

Bale did not help himself when he paraded a flag bearing the immortal slogan "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order" after helping his national team qualify for Euro 2020.

Yet head coach Ancelotti says Bale, who could face Getafe in LaLiga on Saturday, is worthy of respect for his achievements in Spain.

He has scored 81 goals in 175 LaLiga games for the club, and has managed five goals and two assists in eight league games against Getafe.

In the Champions League, Bale has totted up 16 goals and 12 assists in 41 starts and 16 substitute appearances. That figure includes two crucial goals in Madrid's 3-1 defeat of Liverpool in the 2018 final in Kyiv.

The most recent outing from the bench came on Wednesday, late in the day as Madrid won 3-1 at Chelsea in the first leg of their quarter-final.

Madrid could yet win a famous double in Bale's final season at the club.

"Gareth Bale is fit right now. I'm sure he wants to show it here at Real Madrid," said Ancelotti. "It would be deserved and right for him to bid farewell to the Bernabeu.

"He expects confidence in him from us. He wants to finish his career at Real Madrid on a high note. We will see how it goes.

"He has already made history at Real Madrid with his games, his goals and his triumphs. He's a very respected player, and we want the best for him."

Karim Benzema was served a rich compliment when Carlo Ancelotti said the Real Madrid striker reminds him of the great Marco van Basten.

Madrid head coach Ancelotti told a news conference he also expects Benzema to remain a talisman for the LaLiga giants, even if the club bring in Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland before next season.

French striker Benzema has 10 goals in his last four games, boosting his total to 37 in 36 appearances during a remarkable campaign for the 34-year-old club captain.

It will not have escaped Benzema's attention that Madrid are engaged in long-term planning, with his France team-mate Mbappe thought to be their prime target.

Paris Saint-Germain frontman Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund's Haaland are the two hottest young properties in the European game, and it might not be beyond the realm of possibility that both end up in Madrid.

Asked how that might change Benzema's position in the pecking order, Ancelotti cast doubt on whether it should make any immediate difference.

"Considering Karim's age, and considering the fact over the past years he's been getting better and better, I don't think this situation will change," Ancelotti said. "I know he will continue to do well, and he's one of the most important players of this club. We will see what happens, but I'm sure nothing will change for him."

Ancelotti, whose Madrid side face Getafe on Saturday evening, was asked how Benzema compared to players he has coached in the past, including the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba.

This spurred the veteran Italian to mention Van Basten, his former Milan team-mate and a Dutch legend whose career was cruelly cut short by injury.

"It's really difficult to make these comparisons because we're talking about different eras and different people," Ancelotti responded.

"I think comparing him to Van Basten is actually a good comparison. I think they would both appreciate that comparison, Marco and Karim."

It remains to be seen whether Ancelotti remains at the helm with Madrid next season.

His team are close to securing the LaLiga title, holding a 12-point lead over Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, and a 3-1 win at Chelsea on Wednesday gave them a handsome first-leg lead in their Champions League quarter-final.

Benzema's hat-trick at Stamford Bridge should mean Tuesday's second leg is one that Madrid can safely negotiate.

Yet doubts exist and rumours circulate about whether Madrid are planning to stick with Ancelotti, who arrived ahead of this season after a stint with Everton.

Asked about his prospects, Ancelotti said: "I enjoy what I do every day. I love the atmosphere we have in the team and I'm 100 per cent focused on my work.

"When the season is over, we will evaluate everything, and we will make decisions."

He refused to give himself a mark out of 10 for his performance so far.

"I'm not giving myself any marks," he said. "I have to give it my all, and we have to wait until the end of the season to see if we are lucky enough and have enough quality to win titles, and then we will draw conclusions."

Diego Simeone paid tribute to his Atletico Madrid players after overcoming numerous obstacles in their chaotic 4-3 LaLiga win over Getafe on Saturday.

The two teams played out an especially remarkable first half, which included six goals and a missed penalty by Luis Suarez.

Atletico were initially 2-0 up but then found themselves 3-2 down, with Borja Mayoral and a pair of Enes Unal penalties doing the damage.

Angel Correa got his second of the day just before the break to level the score, but Atletico received another blow when Felipe was sent off for a high and wild challenge on Mauro Arambarri.

The drama did not end there, however. Just when Atletico looked happy to play out for a draw, three substitutes linked up.

Rodrigo De Paul's deep free-kick was headed back across goal by Joao Felix, and Mario Hermoso was on hand to acrobatically turn in at the second time of asking.

Simeone struggled to make sense of the epic encounter but did praise Atletico's response.

"It's difficult to explain a match that had several mini-matches in it," he told reporters. "If you value how many times they've had a shot on goal, they are very few.

"There are times when adversity has to be overcome and once again those moments appeared: the missed penalty, going from 2-0 up to 3-2 down, and then the red card gave us a difficult match.

"Once again the hearts of the boys responded in an extraordinary way. Those who came on, De Paul, [Hector] Herrera, Joao... did so with a passion that was what we needed."

 

But while the dramatic nature of such a victory led to joyous scenes and took them back up to fourth, the match once again highlighted Atletico's defensive issues.

Two penalties were conceded for handball; Mayoral reacted quicker than the defence for his goal; and Felipe's red card came as a direct consequence of Stefan Savic's heavy touch just inside his own half.

It was the sixth successive game in which Atletico have conceded at least twice, while the three concessions took their overall LaLiga tally for 2021-22 to 33 – that surpassed their previous worst record for an entire season under Simeone (31 in 2012-13).

Yet Simeone did not seem overly concerned – at least not in the context of this match.

"The first goal is a good play for them, but the two subsequent penalties… there were no threatening plays. If you're looking for a save from Oblak, there wasn't any," he said.

"Hopefully we are already passing this situation of adversity."

Mario Hermoso was 10-man Atletico Madrid's hero as the defender scored a dramatic late winner in Saturday's chaotic 4-3 derby win over Getafe.

A manic match looked to be petering out until Hermoso – who attracted much criticism for his performance against Barcelona last week – showed Atletico's character despite being down to 10 men.

An astonishing first half saw Atletico charge into a 2-0 lead through Angel Correa and Matheus Cunha after Luis Suarez's early penalty miss, only for Getafe to turn the game on its head thanks to Borja Mayoral's poacher's effort and a pair of Enes Unal spot-kicks.

Correa made it 3-3 just before the interval, but the hosts suffered another blow in the second half as Felipe was shown a straight red for a wild challenge.

At that point a draw looked a reasonable result for Atletico, but substitute Hermoso popped up late on to spark bedlam at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Ousmane Dembele's future at Barcelona has been uncertain for months.

The 24-year-old has stalled on a new deal with the Catalans.

Dembele has attracted interest from several top clubs, meaning his signature looms for deadline day.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO HIJACK PSG'S DEMBELE MOVE

Manchester United are set to make a deadline-day move for Barcelona's Dembele, according to Footmercato.

The Red Devils could hijack Paris Saint-Germain's plans, with the Ligue 1 club having already verbally agreed to a deal with the French winger.

United are ready to move, with Anthony Martial loaned out and Donny van de Beek and Jesse Lingard also set to exit.

 

ROUND-UP

- Arsenal outcast Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has agreed to a deal to join Barcelona, according to Sport, but Dembele must exit the Catalans to enable the move to be completed.

- Real Madrid have opted against a January move for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni, claims Diario Sport, due to their €80m asking price.

- Talksport claims that Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso will join Spanish club Villarreal on loan for the rest of the season. Lyon were also interested in the Argentina international.

- Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches has opted against a €25 million move from Lille to Milan, according to Calciomercato.

- Newcastle United's January spending is not over as the club eyes deadline-day deals for Aston Villa's Matt Targett and Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah, reports The Telegraph.

- Newcastle are set to land Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson on loan, claims Talksport.

- Struggling Spanish club Getafe are interested in free agent Diego Costa, according to Marca.

- Dele Alli could join Milan on loan from Tottenham, reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

Carlo Ancelotti took a swipe at a subdued performance from Real Madrid in the 1-0 defeat to Getafe, saying: "It seems we stayed on holiday for one more day."

The Madrid head coach said there was no cause for "drama or tragedy" given his team continue to blaze a trail at the top of LaLiga.

However, the shock loss at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez was a miserable way to begin 2022 for the capital titans, who are attempting to unseat neighbours Atletico Madrid as Spanish champions.

It was the second time in three seasons under Ancelotti, who was appointed in June for a second spell with Los Blancos, that Madrid have lost their opening game of a calendar year.

The previous defeat came against Valencia at Mestalla in January 2015, when a 2-1 loss halted a run of 22 consecutive wins.

This time, Madrid fell behind inside nine minutes when Eder Militao was caught dawdling on the edge of the penalty area by Enes Unal, who fired past Thibaut Courtois.

Luka Modric, Casemiro and star striker Karim Benzema went close to finding an equaliser, but a gritty Getafe held on for the points.

"We had a reaction for the first 10 minutes after the goal, then we were nervous and lost balls and duels," Ancelotti said.

"I think there is not much to say about this game. It seems we stayed on holiday for one more day.

"It didn't seem like the team that ended the year: less concentration, less commitment. We didn't deserve to win, but we didn't deserve to lose either.

"We gave away a goal and lost. It is a wake-up call. We didn't play well and there are no excuses."

 

The former Chelsea and Milan boss had not expected such a pallid showing from his side, having observed they were looking sharp in training.

And he accepted it was not his finest day as a coach either, saying: "The coach might also have been on holiday today."

Italian boss Ancelotti added: "We face this defeat without drama or tragedy because we continue to be leaders."

Real Madrid's 11-game unbeaten run in LaLiga came to a surprising end as Enes Unal's strike gave Getafe a shock 1-0 win over the leaders.

It meant Quique Sanchez Flores got the better of Carlo Ancelotti, with Madrid's head coach seeing his team deliver a flat performance in their first game of the new year.

Madrid had won their last five away LaLiga games, scoring at least two goals in each, but they encountered a hard-grafting Getafe side who stretched their own undefeated streak to six games.

Unal took advantage of a defensive aberration from Eder Militao to strike early in the game, with Madrid frustrated in their efforts to draw level.

Militao was woefully caught out in the ninth minute, after collecting the ball from Toni Kroos on the edge of the penalty area. He stuttered rather than show his usual conviction and Unal exposed the uncertainty, making a careful tackle before firing past Thibaut Courtois, low into the left corner.

Madrid playmaker Luka Modric saw a long-range strike tipped wide and went closer in the 17th minute when he beat David Soria but his 15-yard strike rattled away off the crossbar.

Carlo Ancelotti saw his Madrid team struggle to break down the home defence and was rankled by the officiating of referee Mario Melero Lopez, who might reasonably have booked former Barcelona midfielder Carles Alena.

Alena had committed five fouls by half-time, but it was Ancelotti who picked up a yellow card as he showed frustration on the touchline.

Modric was thwarted by Soria again early in the second half, a tame shot easily gathered, with Madrid struggling to pose a serious threat. Karim Benzema had been quiet but teamed up neatly with substitute Eden Hazard and had a shot from 15 yards headed over the bar by Jorge Cuenca.

Marcelo had his shirt tugged in the penalty area but spot-kick appeals were dismissed, while Casemiro had a thumping 20-yard strike turned wide by the excellent Soria.

Struggling Getafe have sacked head coach Michel after less than six months in the post with the club sitting last in LaLiga.

Getafe claimed their first point of the 2021-22 season with Sunday's 1-1 home draw with third-placed Real Sociedad.

However, the draw was not enough to save former Real Madrid midfielder Michel's job, having been appointed in May.

Azulones have one point from eight league games this term, conceding 13 goals and only scoring three times.

Michel's dismissal follows Levante's decision to axe Paco Lopez on Sunday after their poor start to the season.

Levante are 18th, having lost three games in a row and collected only four points in a winless start to the 2021-22 campaign. Levante's winless run is 16 games and dates back to April.

Paco Lopez had been Levante head coach since May 2018, with 15th, 12th and 14th-place finishes respectively over the past three seasons.

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone says the side are different to the one when Antoine Griezmann previously left and has called for patience with the French forward.

Griezmann was replaced in the 67th minute with Atletico trailing 1-0 against Getafe on Tuesday, before Luis Suarez netted twice to complete a fine comeback.

The France international was making his fourth appearance for Atletico since returning from Barcelona on deadline day, having left for the Blaugrana in 2019. Griezmann is yet to score for Atleti in his second stint at the club.

"It is normal. He was very enthusiastic to return," Simeone told reporters after the game.

"He is in the process of adapting to this Atletico, which is not the same as the one he left but I have no doubts that it will be what we expect. We are fortunate to have him.

"Atletico generated other things last season… now we understand that with the players we have these systems can also enter.

"The team has more associative play. We are on a path for everyone to adapt, not only Griezmann, but also Rodrigo [De Paul]. Today he did very well. He came on to give us more stability."

Atletico's comeback was aided by Carles Alena's 74th-minute sending off, dismissed for a second yellow card upon consultation with the VAR.

Suarez equalised in the 78th minute from Hermoso's ball into the box, before the Uruguayan headed a 90th-minute winner from Sime Vrsaljko's hopeful cross.

The brace ended Suarez's slow start to the campaign, having only netted once in Atletico's five games prior to the Getafe clash.

"Anyone would have removed Suarez and Suarez scored goals," Simeone said.

“We chatted at half-time and then, even aside from the goals, we saw another team that played with more offensive forcefulness. We have to continue managing that and wait for our most important players to hit their best form."

The result lifts Atletico above Real Madrid into top spot with 14 points from six games, although Los Blancos have a game in hand against Real Mallorca on Wednesday. Simeone conceded his side are yet to find their best form.

"We're at the start of the season," Simeone said. "There are many situations that the team needs to overcome, the team hasn't been as we would like them to be. The game was against a difficult opponent, who aren't going to lose all season and are dangerous."

Luis Suarez led Atletico Madrid to another stunning turnaround on the road in LaLiga as they won 2-1 again at Getafe on Tuesday.

Champions Atleti had scored a 99th-minute winner in their previous away match at Espanyol having trailed at half-time and required a repeat against their latest hosts.

Stefan Mitrovic's fortuitous first-half header ended Getafe's long drought in this fixture going back to 2011 and kept them in front until a foolish red card for Carles Alena.

Suarez capitalised in typically clinical fashion, scoring twice in the closing stages to continue this remarkable trend of late heroics.

The Uruguay forward had been involved in Atleti's best chance of the opening period when they looked certain to take the lead after his volley was parried only as far as Angel Correa, but Juan Iglesias stretched to block just as the winger appeared to have a simple finish.

Instead, Getafe were in front on the stroke of the interval, keeping an attack alive when Jan Oblak failed to claim a high ball, before Mitrovic's header bounced off the post, against the goalkeeper's right hand and in.

Suarez deserved better when a looping header on 68 minutes hit the crossbar after beating David Soria, as pressure had built on the home goal throughout the second half.

It only ramped up further when Alena, already booked, was dismissed following a VAR review for an ugly stamp on the back of Matheus Cunha's calf.

Suarez soon rifled past Soria and, after Oblak had to be alert to a close-range Enes Unal attempt, the Atleti number seven was there again with a header as the clock turned 90.

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