Carlo Ancelotti was unbothered by Real Madrid's failed attempt to defend a three-goal lead against Villarreal, instead focusing on avoiding injuries and keeping their rhythm.

A double from Arda Guler, as well as goals from Joselu and Lucas Vazquez, had Madrid in control at 4-1 up away to Villarreal on Sunday.

Yet Alexander Sorloth, who pulled a goal back earlier on, managed three goals in eight minutes to salvage a 4-4 draw for the hosts against the LaLiga champions.

Despite faltering to a late comeback, Ancelotti was more than pleased with his side's efforts, ahead of the upcoming Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund on June 1 at Wembley Stadium.

"The target was not the points because we don't need them, the target was to play a good game with rhythm, intensity, avoiding injuries. Everything went perfectly," he told a post-match press conference.

"I'm not worried ahead of the Champions League final, this was an open game.

"Maybe we conceded more goals than necessary but that's okay, it doesn't change anything about what the final has to be. In attack, we played well."

Villarreal are set to finish eighth in the LaLiga table, unable to be caught by any team below and incapable of reaching seventh-placed Real Betis.

Sorloth may end with an individual award, though, after scoring his league-leading 23rd goal of the season with the fourth of his quartet of strikes.

"It was a match with a lot of goals, the kind that the fans like," Villarreal forward Gerard Moreno, who provided three assists, told Movistar. 

"I'll take the reaction in the second half. We will try to go to Europe next year.

"I hope Sorloth ends up top scorer. He's a fantastic teammate. He deserves it. We're going to try to help him. He's had an incredible season."

Villarreal forward Alexander Sorloth struck four times in 17 minutes to help his side fight back and snatch a 4-4 home draw against LaLiga champions Real Madrid on Sunday.

Madrid opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Turkey youngster Arda Guler slotted home a low strike off a Brahim Diaz pass before Joselu doubled the lead with a close-range header on the half-hour mark.

Sorloth pulled one back for Villarreal with a towering header in the 39th minute, but Lucas Vazquez restored Madrid's two-goal advantage a minute later, before Guler made it 4-1 in the final seconds of the first half.

But the hosts rallied after the break, with Sorloth scoring three goals in eight minutes, between the 48th and 56th minutes, as he reached 23 league goals this season to take LaLiga's Golden Boot award.

A second-half collapse will frustrate Carlo Ancelotti in the final league game of the season, with a Champions League final to come against Borussia Dortmund on June 1, but Madrid still achieved another record here.

Los Blancos surpassed the best unbeaten run in their entire LaLiga history after making it 31 games undefeated, eclipsing the previous record set between May 1988 and April 1989 with Leo Beenhakker as coach.

Data Debrief: Shot-heavy Sorloth delivers

Sorloth attempted nine shots in this game, the joint-highest total for a player in LaLiga this season, but those efforts paid dividends for his eye-catching four-goal haul.

He had played five games against Madrid and failed to score in all of them before this, against no other opponent has he played more games without scoring in the competition, but delivered emphatically here.

Bertrand Traore's goal gave Villarreal a 1-0 win at Girona on Tuesday that prevented the hosts from reclaiming second spot in LaLiga.

Girona, who have enjoyed a superb campaign, are third with 75 points, trailing Barcelona, who moved a point clear with a 2-0 home win over Real Sociedad on Monday.

Alexander Sorloth and Goncalo Guedes went close for Villarreal in the first half, but Girona goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga was in fine form.

Traore broke the deadlock in the 59th minute after latching on to a superb pass from Guedes, however.

Viktor Tsyhankov, Savio and Artem Dovbyk all went close for Girona, but could not find the back of Filip Jorgensen's net.

Villarreal were reduced to 10 men in the 95th minute after Kiko Femenia was sent off for a second yellow card after a push on Aleix Garcia.

Data Debrief: Rare home loss for Girona

Girona have suffered only their second defeat at Montilivi in LaLiga this season, following a 0-3 loss to Real Madrid in September.

The home side attempted 749 passes in this game, their highest total in a single match in LaLiga this season.

Carlo Ancelotti knows Real Madrid still have a long way to go if they are to achieve their targets for the season.

Los Blancos host Villarreal at the Bernabeu on Sunday looking to keep up the pressure at the top of LaLiga, with surprise leaders Girona not in action until Monday night.

Having secured safe passage through to the knockout stage of the Champions League with a perfect group record, Ancelotti wants full focus on the last two games before the Christmas break.


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“We are up against a well-organised, well-prepared team, but we are on a great run, the results reflect that,” Ancelotti said.

“The atmosphere is good, there’s a good mood around the place and the players are motivated.

“We want to finish the first half of the season strongly, we’ve done really well so far.

“We’ve managed the first part of the campaign well, despite all the problems we’ve had. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I have faith in the campaign.

“I’m pleased with what we’ve done to this point, but well aware of what is still to come because it’s a long season – there are still six months to go.”

Ancelotti’s current deal runs through to the end of the season and the veteran Italian coach has been linked with a switch to take over Brazil’s national team.

For the moment, though, the 64-year-old is just concentrating on the job in hand.

“Being Real Madrid coach is the most important thing. I hope the players will give me a Christmas present by winning the last couple of games so we can have a relaxed festive period,” Ancelotti said at a press conference.

“If the club is happy then I am too. There is no rush to renew my deal, it’s not a problem. We are here until 30 June 2024.”

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Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is fit again after a thigh injury and started the Champions League win at Union Berlin on Tuesday night ahead of Ukrainian Andriy Lunin.

“I have decided (who will play against Villarreal), but I haven’t spoken to them yet. I want them to hear it from me before finding out in the press,” Ancelotti said.

“The good thing is that they make it hard for me because they are both in such great form.”

Villarreal head coach Marcelino, who returned to the club last month, knows his side will have to try to shackle “extraordinary” England midfielder Jude Bellingham if they are to leave the Bernabeu with a positive result.

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“He is the player who has given the best performance in all of Europe,” Marcelino said at a press conference.

“We will try not to let him get involved too much. It will be difficult because he has a lot of participation in most of the pitch, especially in the final third.

“He is accompanied by players of great quality like Rodrygo.

“We are going to need to be strong collectively to reduce their influence on the game.”

Lamine Yamal has burst onto the scene for Barcelona and former Spain midfielder Marcos Senna believes the teenager could emulate Lionel Messi's Blaugrana exploits.

Yamal has enjoyed a meteoric rise into professional football this season, becoming Barcelona's youngest starter in La Liga and the youngest player to assist in the competition in the 21st century.

The Blaugrana talent also marked his name as the youngest debutant and scorer for Spain in the 7-1 victory over Georgia this month, aged just 16 years and 57 days.

Only two players have scored for a European nation at a younger age (Sam Johnston in 1882 for Northern Ireland and Jozsef Horvath in 1906 for Hungary), and Senna believes Yamal will go to the top.

Senna, a former Villarreal midfielder and 28-cap Spain international, told Stats Perform at the Thinking Football Summit: "He has had a big impact.

"He is really young with big talent. Obviously, he has to be very well looked after, like cutting a diamond.

"It's important not to rush, so that in the future he can be one of the best, like Messi himself, who left Barcelona.

"He has already shown that he has a great future."

Senna had a fine career in Spain as a La Liga regular as well as being a part of La Roja's European Championship-winning side in 2008.

The 47-year-old played with a golden generation of Spanish footballers, and picked out three midfielders as the best he has lined up alongside.

"I think it would be really unfair to choose just one," he responded when asked about his former team-mates.

"There are many players I played with. I can name a few. For example, at Villarreal, Riquelme, was one of the great players I had the opportunity to play with.

"Santi Cazorla and others in the Spanish national team. Andres Iniesta was very important and created a legacy.

"They are historic players and special players. In my list, I can fit many more but I gave you the names of a few players from Villarreal and the national team."

Yet Messi – who Yamal has drawn comparisons to – remains Senna's greatest challenge.

Senna said: "A big part of my career was in Spain, at Villarreal. I was there for 11 years. During this period I met Barcelona's Pep Guardiola, and I didn't even have the chance to get a draw against them!

"It was a very complicated period when Messi came along. And let's say that was the biggest difficulty we had.

"Messi was a revolution of the century. For me, it was the biggest challenge as a player."

Aston Villa have completed the signing of defender Pau Torres from Villarreal.

The 26-year-old, who has been capped 23 times for Spain, moves to Villa Park for an undisclosed fee after agreeing a five-year deal.

He links up again with Villa boss Unai Emery who he played under for the Yellow Submarine.

Torres won the Europa League in 2021 – under Emery – and helped Villarreal reach the semi-finals of the Champions League a year later.

He becomes Villa’s second summer signing after the arrival of former Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans on a free transfer.

Osasuna sealed European qualification for the first time in over a decade-and-a-half, as Real Valladolid were relegated on a gripping final day of the season in LaLiga.

With champions Barcelona, as well as Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad having wrapped up Champions League football, the continental spaces were mostly settled before Sunday.

But a Europa Conference League berth was still at stake, with Osasuna, Athletic Bilbao, Girona and Rayo Vallecano all in contention.

Ultimately, Jagoba Arrasate's Osasuna took the spoils with a 2-1 win over Girona, as Ernesto Valverde's Athletic finished two points adrift following a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid.

A solitary point for Los Blancos was enough for them to secure second ahead of rivals Atleti, who conceded a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Villarreal.

At the other end of the table, it was Valladolid who finished Sunday where they started in the relegation zone, joining Espanyol and Elche in dropping to the second tier.

Their goalless draw with Getafe was not enough as Cadiz, Valencia and Almeria also played out stalemates to secure survival, the latter needing a late equaliser to do so.

Celta Vigo, meanwhile, jumped from 17th to 13th with an impressive 2-1 win over Barcelona, making them the only relegation-threatened side to claim three points on Sunday.

Atletico Madrid missed the chance to leapfrog Real Madrid and finish second in LaLiga on the final day of the season, as Jorge Pascual scored Villarreal's last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw.

Antoine Griezmann laid on two goals for Angel Correa after Nicolas Jackson put Villarreal ahead early on, but Axel Witsel's red card saw Diego Simeone's side come under mounting pressure, which told when Pascual converted two minutes into stoppage time.

That meant Atleti finished the season one point adrift of their city rivals in third, despite Los Blancos labouring to a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Pablo Barrios' error was punished as Villarreal went ahead after nine minutes, the teenager's miscued header teeing up Jackson for a powerful finish across goal. 

Atleti levelled when Correa turned Griezmann's clever free-kick home nine minutes later, and the France international teed up Correa again with the latter rounding Filip Jorgensen to put the visitors 2-1 up after the break.

With Atleti seemingly heading for second place, Witsel was dismissed for fouling Giovani Lo Celso as the last man, and Villarreal made their numerical advantage count in the season's dying moments, Pascual converting a rebound to condemn Simeone's side to third.

Borussia Dortmund's England international midfielder Jude Bellingham is expected to be the topic of widespread speculation in the next transfer window.

Several top clubs are circling to sign the 19-year-old, with Dortmund slapping a staggering £130million transfer fee on him as their asking price.

Real Madrid, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have all been linked with Bellingham, who is contracted to the German side until 2025.


Liverpool have withdrawn from the race to sign Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham, according to The Athletic.

The Reds had previously made him their number one priority signing but have now opted out of the race given the price tag and impact that would have on their off-season transfer budget.

Football.London claims Liverpool will instead turn their attention to Chelsea's Mason Mount as a priority midfield target.

Other potential targets mentioned by The Athletic are Brighton and Hove Albion pair Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister along with Bayern Munich's Ryan Gravenberch.


Real Madrid are pondering a free transfer move for Liverpool's Roberto Firmino, according to El Nacional. The Brazilian will depart Anfield when his contract expires at the end of this season.

– Marca claims Madrid are also interested in Villarreal's Samuel Chukwueze, who netted twice against Los Blancos on Saturday. The Nigerian is contracted until 2024 and has a €100m buyout clause on the deal, although Villarreal may reportedly be willing to accept around half of that at the end of this term.

Bayern Munich have come into the picture to sign Napoli forward Victor Osimhen with the German champions weighing up a bid for the Nigerian, reports Sky Germany.

– Football Insider reports Brighton and Hove Albion are willing to accept a £80m bid from Manchester United for midfielder Caicedo, who penned a new long-term deal until 2027 in March following January interest from Arsenal.

– AS claims Chelsea have held talks with Barcelona midfielder Gavi's agent to discuss a potential free transfer to the Blues in the off-season.

Villarreal midfielder Alex Baena hit out at the "irreparable" and "unjustifiable" threats after he was allegedly assaulted by Real Madrid's Federico Valverde following Saturday's LaLiga match.

Baena played a full part in the contest at the Santiago Bernabeu and assisted Samuel Chukwueze's late goal as Villarreal beat Madrid 3-2.

According to sports newspaper AS and widespread reports, Baena was punched while looking at his phone when making his way to the Villarreal team bus.

It is alleged that Valverde assaulted Baena in retaliation to derogatory remarks the latter made about his unborn child in a previous encounter between the sides, claims the Villarreal man strongly denies.

Valverde was not referenced by name as Villarreal confirmed Baena had filed a police complaint in a statement on Sunday, in which the club expressed their support for the Spain youth international.

Baena took to social media on Monday to confirm he has lodged an official police complaint, while hitting out at the tirade of abuse that has followed towards him and his family.

A statement from Baena read: "Last Saturday I was attacked by a fellow colleague after the match against Real Madrid.

"After the event, various declarations came to light, presumably made by his entourage, in which it was said that I had wished pain for one of his family members.

"Since then, as it cannot be any other way, there has been no evidence that proves the facts that I am accused of.

"A misfortune was used to justify the aggression and there are lies that hurt more than blows.

"The damage that is being done to my family is irreparable and unjustifiable: threats, insults and even private messages wishing my family death.

"Yesterday I reported the case to the police. Let justice do its job. Now my only goal is to focus on my profession and help my club achieve its goals."

Valverde and Los Blancos have yet to comment on Saturday's alleged incident.

Villarreal midfielder Alex Baena has filed a complaint with police after he was allegedly assaulted by Real Madrid's Federico Valverde following Saturday's LaLiga match.

Spain Under-21 international Baena was reportedly involved in a heated confrontation with Valverde shortly after the game.

According to sports newspaper AS, Baena was punched while looking at his phone when making his way to the Villarreal team bus.

Baena played a full part in the LaLiga contest at the Santiago Bernabeu and assisted Samuel Chukwueze's late goal as Villarreal beat Madrid 3-2.

In a statement issued late on Sunday, in which Valverde was not referenced by name, Villarreal confirmed the police involvement and said Baena have the club's support.

The club said: "Villarreal CF player Alex Baena was assaulted last night while on his way to the team bus after the match against Real Madrid CF at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

"Faced with this situation, the player has decided to file a complaint against the aggressor with the police.

"Once again, Villarreal CF rejects any act of violence and firmly believes in the player's version of events and will support him throughout this process."


Baena has denied reports he made crude personal remarks about Valverde before the alleged attack.

The 21-year-old has represented Spain at every age-grade level from under-16 and has made over 50 appearances for Villarreal since making his senior debut in July 2020.

Valverde and Los Blancos have yet to comment on Saturday's alleged incident.

Villarreal midfielder Alex Baena says he is "very sad about the aggression" after allegedly being attacked by Real Madrid's Federico Valverde following Saturday's match.

Baena played a full part in the LaLiga contest at the Santiago Bernabeu and assisted Samuel Chukwueze's late goal as Villarreal stunned Madrid 3-2.

According to widespread reports, the Spain Under-21 international was involved in a heated confrontation with Valverde shortly after the game.

It is alleged that Valverde punched Baena in retaliation to derogatory remarks the latter made about his unborn child in a previous encounter between the sides.

Villarreal are said to have the incident recorded and are discussing the next steps with local police.

Xisco Nadal, a team delegate for Villarreal, said in a now-deleted tweet: "Fede Valverde, loutish and cowardly."

Baena took to Instagram shortly after news of the incident emerged to seemingly deny making the previous comments that had been credited to him.

"Very happy with the impressive victory of the team on a stage like the Santiago Bernabeu," he said. 

"But at the same time [I am] very sad about the aggression I suffered after the match and surprised by what is being said about my person. It is totally false that I said it."

Baena has represented Spain at every age-grade level from Under-16 and has made over 50 appearances for Villarreal since making his senior debut in July 2020.

Neither Villarreal nor Madrid are yet to officially comment on the incident.

Liverpool's underwhelming 2022-23 campaign has led to talk that the club will undertake a squad overhaul in the off-season.

Chief among Jurgen Klopp's priorities is a midfield revamp, with Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham and Chelsea's Mason Mount among those linked to the Reds.

However, there could also be another attempt at signing a France international they were beaten to in 2022 by Real Madrid.


Real Madrid's Aurelien Tchouameni is once again high on Liverpool's transfer agenda as they look to refresh their midfield, reports El Nacional.

The Reds were interested in the 23-year-old at the end of last season but were unable to land him after he chose to move from Monaco to Madrid for a reported €100 million on a six-year deal.

Though he started Saturday's 3-2 home defeat to Villarreal, Tchouameni has been unable to establish himself as a frequent starter under Carlo Ancelotti, meaning Los Blancos may be willing to let him go to raise funds, with Liverpool reportedly still keen and willing to offer £71m (€80m).


– Calciomercatoweb claims Inter are warming to the idea of Nicolo Barella exiting San Siro, as Liverpool circle for the midfielder as part of their revamp. Inter reportedly want no less than €50m (£44m) for him.

Barcelona's discussions with Ousmane Dembele over a new contract have stopped, with the Catalans unable to offer him a pay rise, reports SPORT.

ArsenalChelsea and Villarreal are all interested in Wolfsburg full-back Ridle Baku, claims Caught Offside.

– Newcastle United and West Ham United are leading the race to sign Wilfried Zaha on a free transfer from Crystal Palace, according to The Star.

– The Mirror reports ex-Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch has agreed to a long-term deal to take over at Leicester City following Brendan Rodgers' dismissal.

Carlo Ancelotti admitted his Real Madrid side were not '100 per cent motivated' as they fell to a 3-2 LaLiga defeat to Villarreal.

Samuel Chukwueze's inspired performance led the Yellow Submarine to a memorable win at the Santiago Bernabeu, marking the first time they have secured a LaLiga double against Los Blancos.

While Villarreal had everything to play for as they continue their charge to achieve a top-four finish and Champions League football, Madrid's attention is focused on other competitions.

Ancelotti's side swept Barcelona aside on Wednesday to secure a spot in the Copa del Rey final, while a Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea lies ahead.

Sitting 12 points behind leaders Barca, Ancelotti admitted it is difficult for his team to be motivated for their league games.

"It was a difficult game, it was difficult to recover the ball, they handle it well, we had opportunities to make it 3-1, and there we could lower the pace of the game," he told reporters.

"But it did not happen and we did not defend well. The truth is it was hard for us to be 100 per cent motivated, it is quite normal."

Ancelotti was adamant that a similar situation would not occur in their upcoming Champions League clash against Chelsea, where he expects a response from his side.

"It was known that it could be complicated, it has happened and Wednesday is another story," he added. "The temperature of the boiler has dropped a little today, but on Wednesday it will be at its peak."

Real Madrid risk falling further behind Barcelona in the LaLiga title race after suffering a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Villarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Yellow Submarine twice pegged back their hosts, with Samuel Chukwueze the key man as he produced two goals and an assist, including a superb winner.

A Pau Torres own goal had given Madrid the lead before Chukwueze tucked home an equaliser, with substitute Jose Morales then levelling the score again after Vinicius Junior had put Madrid back in front following a fine solo run.

However, Chukwueze struck again in a dramatic final 10 minutes to give Villarreal a famous win, with Madrid seeing a late penalty award overturned by VAR.

Vinicius was quickly pulling the strings for Madrid and cut a pass back to Marco Asensio after 16 minutes, who saw his attempt to divert the ball back into the middle deflected into his own net by Torres.

Having missed earlier opportunities, Chukwueze finally took his chance by showing superb skill to beat Nacho on the edge of the box after receiving a pass from Giovanni Lo Celso and expertly dispatching his finish.

Madrid responded just three minutes after the break, Vinicius powering past Chukwueze and Aissa Mandi into the box and firing past Pepe Reina from close range to restore the hosts' lead.

Mandi had a goal ruled out for offside but an equaliser did follow with 20 minutes remaining, with Chukwueze's low cross into the box causing panic amongst the Madrid defenders, allowing Morales to stab home at the second attempt.

Chukwueze then struck again, brilliantly curling past Courtois from the edge of the box to put Villarreal ahead, though Madrid thought they had been handed a lifeline with a late penalty.

After Eduardo Camavinga's run into the box, a penalty was called following an alleged handball from Mandi, though a VAR review showed no contact and the on-field decision was overturned, with Villarreal holding on for an impressive win.

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