Real Sociedad secured Champions League qualification despite goals from Antoine Griezmann and Nahuel Molina condemning them to a 2-1 defeat at Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

La Real headed to the Civitas Metropolitano knowing three points would seal a top-four LaLiga finish for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

But a superb first-half strike from Griezmann would put Diego Simeone's already-qualified Atletico in front, cutting onto his left foot before lashing into the far corner for his 15th league goal of the season.

Molina would make the points safe for third-placed Atletico, latching onto Griezmann's neat throughball before smashing a deflected effort past Alex Remiro and into the net.

Alexander Sorloth would pull one back late on, Brais Mendez producing a brilliant assist to set the striker in on goal before the Norway international fired home.

But time would run out on their pursuit of an equaliser as the visitors fell to a first loss in eight league matches.

La Real would be able to celebrate at full time, however, as Villarreal's 2-1 loss away at Rayo Vallecano ensured Imanol Alguacil's team will be playing Champions League football next season.

Atletico can still finish second. They are a point behind city rivals Real Madrid going into the final matchday of the season next weekend.

Atletico Madrid squandered a three-goal lead in a remarkable 3-3 draw at Espanyol, as Vinicius Souza's equaliser ensured Los Colchoneros missed the chance to go second in LaLiga.

After seeing rivals Real Madrid leapfrog them with a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano, Atleti appeared set to move one point clear in the battle to finish as runners-up when they raced into a 3-0 lead.

Saul Niguez struck first with a left-footed finish from a tight angle 21 minutes in, and Antoine Griezmann's 14th league goal of the season put Diego Simeone's men in control on the stroke of half-time.

Atleti further extended their lead within 14 seconds of the restart, Yannick Carrasco converting the rebound when Angel Correa's drive was palmed away by Fernando Pacheco.

But Espanyol, fighting for their lives near the bottom of LaLiga, were in no mood to roll over. Cesar Montes powered a header home from a right-wing corner before Ivo Grbic's foul on Javier Puado allowed Joselu to convert from the penalty spot.

Vinicius then dented Atleti's bid for second with a glancing header from Aleix Vidal's cross 11 minutes from time, but with the hosts three points adrift of safety, it may not be enough to preserve their top-flight status.

Atletico Madrid climbed to second in LaLiga following a commanding 3-0 victory over Osasuna at Civitas Metropolitano on Sunday.

Yannick Carrasco, Saul Niguez and Angel Correa were on target as Diego Simeone's side leapfrogged rivals Real Madrid, who play Valencia later on Sunday, with an eighth straight home win.

The hosts broke through a minute before half-time. Saul's throughball released Antoine Griezmann, who claimed his 13th assist of the season by putting the ball on a plate for Carrasco to tuck away his fifth goal in 11 appearances.

Saul doubled the lead in the 62nd minute when he rifled into the top corner, while substitute Correa sealed Atletico's 10th straight victory over Osasuna when he slotted home Rodrigo de Paul's throughball eight minutes from time.

Atletico Madrid missed the chance to leapfrog Real Madrid into second place in LaLiga on Sunday, as Ivo Grbic's error proved costly in a 1-0 defeat to relegated Elche.

Diego Simeone's men had the opportunity to go one point clear of their city rivals at the Estadio Martinez Valero, but their three-match winning run ground to a halt as Fidel Chaves restored some pride for LaLiga's bottom club.

Elche took the lead on the stroke of half-time as Grbic – deputising for the injured Jan Oblak – miscued his punch from Lautaro Blanco's long throw, allowing skipper Fidel to hook his finish into an unguarded net.

Edgar Badia made an excellent one-on-one save to deny Alvaro Morata an equaliser after the break, but Elche went closest to a second goal with both Pere Milla and Lucas Boye missing clear chances.

Though Atleti have all but sealed a top-four finish, they have work to do to overhaul Los Blancos, sitting two points adrift of Carlo Ancelotti's men in third with four games remaining.

Chelsea are reportedly investigating a potential transfer for Sadio Mane after the forward's highly publicised bust-up with Bayern Munich team-mate Leroy Sane.

Mane, 31, won the Premier League and Champions League with Liverpool before joining Bayern in a £27million (€32m) transfer in June.

His first season in Germany has resulted in 10 goals and five assists in his 30 combined appearances in the Bundesliga and Champions League, making 22 starts.

While he has been far from a disappointment, his future at the club is now up in the air after a widely reported incident where he punched his team-mate after a 3-0 Champions League defeat against Manchester City.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO OFFER MANE A RETURN TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE

According to Football Insider, Sadio Mane "is now believed to be on the radar of Chelsea", and the Stamford Bridge club are now "ready to consider a shock move".

The report states Bayern will only be looking to recoup the majority of the fee they paid for the Senegalese star, and would provide a far cheaper alternative to Napoli's 24-year-old sensation Victor Osimhen.

It also adds that Mane's former club Liverpool have no interest in bringing him back to Anfield.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Telegraph is reporting that West Ham's 24-year-old midfielder Declan Rice is Arsenal's top priority in the next transfer window.

Aston Villa are planning a bid for 27-year-old Brentford striker Ivan Toney, who also has interest from Manchester United, per Football Insider.

– According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Milan would like to secure 30-year-old Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata as a replacement for injury-prone veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

– Former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel wants to reunite with 28-year-old midfielder Mateo Kovacic at Bayern Munich, per Sport1.

Barcelona's determination to bring Lionel Messi back to Camp Nou is going to be a major storyline during the next transfer window.

But their pursuit of the 2022 World Cup winner is complicated given the Blaugrana's financial situation.

As a result, Barca's squad are on notice, with expectations that key players may need to be offloaded.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE TRIO TO SWOOP FOR RAPHINHA

Raphinha is set to be sold by Barcelona in the off-season with three Premier League clubs circling for his signature, according to reports.

The Blaugrana will need to let Raphinha go to free up space for Messi to return given the club's financial issues, claims Fichajes. Messi is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain at the end of this season.

Raphinha joined from Leeds United last year and his stay could be short. AS claims Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle United are all interested in the 26-year-old.

 

ROUND-UP

– Milan forward Rafael Leao has declined offers from both Real Madrid and Chelsea, claims La Gazzetta dello Sport.

– Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic is drawing interest from Manchester United , according to Croatian outlet Jutarnji, with the Red Devils uncertain on David de Gea 's future.

Chelsea are tracking Brentford pair David Raya and Ivan Toney, reports Football London.

– Football 365 claims Aston Villa are circling for Emile Smith Rowe,  who is "disappointed" with his lack of game time at Arsenal.

– Leicester City defender Caglar Soyuncu's planned move to Atletico Madrid is signed and sealed, according to Fabrizio Romano. The Turkish defender's contract will run until 2027.

– Sky Germany's Florian Plettenberg claims Yann Sommer could leave Bayern Munich in the off-season, with new head coach Thomas Tuchel set to restore Manuel Neuer to the side when he returns to full fitness.

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo would like to see Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo face off in LaLiga before both players retire.

Messi has been repeatedly linked with a return to Barcelona, with whom he spent 21 years prior to leaving for Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent in August 2021.

Ronaldo enjoyed nine trophy-laden seasons with Real Madrid, meanwhile, prior to playing for Juventus, Manchester United and now Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr.

While there has been little talk of Ronaldo heading back to the Spanish top flight, Cerezo believes it would benefit the league for the two superstar forwards to return one day.

"It would seem fantastic to me if Messi returned to the league, the same as Cristiano Ronaldo," he said while attending the Barcelona Open tennis final on Sunday. 

"Both are still playing and it would be fantastic if they returned."

Cerezo was speaking ahead of Atletico's 1-0 loss to Barcelona, which leaves Diego Simeone's side 16 points adrift of the leaders and five behind second-place Real Madrid.

Yannick Carrasco played a full part for Atletico, though he may find himself at Barcelona next season as the Catalan giants have the option to sign the versatile wide player.

"Yannick is a very good player, fantastic," Cerezo said when asked about Carrasco's future. 

"In the world of football, there are people who want to achieve many things and don't get to, and others who don't want anything and get it. I don't know [what will happen next]."

Barcelona coach Xavi talked up the importance of Barcelona's victory over Atletico Madrid as the LaLiga leaders returned to winning ways on Sunday.

Ferran Torres netted the only goal in a 1-0 win at Camp Nou, bringing an end to a goalless run that included back-to-back goalless draws in the league.

The victory also extended Barca's commanding lead at the top of LaLiga to 11 points over rivals Real Madrid, who could be forgiven for having their attention elsewhere as they defend their Champions League crown.

With eight games to go, Barca are closing on the title, but Xavi made clear there was work still to be done.

"There is nothing done, although it is exciting," he said. "Here, nobody feels like a champion, and if someone does, we will tell them that nothing has been done.

"If we lost, they were eight [points back]; it was crucial. Beyond the individualities, we played a very good game. It was crucial to win after two draws, and it's one more step."

Barca's victory was not as comfortable as it perhaps should have been, with Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha among those to miss chances, which Xavi lamented.

"I have the feeling of having wasted opportunities to make it 2-0; they were very clear," he said. "Rapha's, Robert's, one of Gavi's at the penalty spot.

"In the end, you end up suffering in a game that you deserved to win by more than one goal."

Barcelona returned to winning ways in LaLiga with a 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou.

Held to goalless draws in back-to-back league matches, Barca's march to the title had lost some steam, but a narrow victory ended that run.

Ferran Torres' first-half goal secured all three points for the hosts, with Atletico struggling to muster much of a threat in response.

The win moves Barcelona 11 points ahead of Real Madrid with eight games left to play.

Antoine Griezmann was inches away from putting Atletico ahead early on, Thomas Lemar feeding a pass to his compatriot who curled an effort from outside the box that struck the underside of the crossbar.

Angel Correa then tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a strike from the edge of the area, forcing the Barca goalkeeper into a diving save, while the hosts dominated possession but had few chances to threaten Jan Oblak.

That changed one minute before the break, Raphinha bursting down the left side and playing a pass into the middle of the pitch that was met by Torres, who steered his effort into the bottom right corner.

Barcelona pushed to further their advantage in the second half, Raphinha dragging an effort off target before Gavi picked up a loose ball following a corner and drilled a low strike that bounced narrowly wide of the left-hand post.

Raphinha then bundled Robert Lewandowski's drilled cross goal bound but Oblak dived onto the loose ball, before Lewandowski wasted a golden opportunity to secure the win when he selfishly went for goal but missed the target with the Brazilian in space with an open goal to aim at.

Xavi described 15-year-old Lamine Yamal as fearless after the winger became the youngest player to be included in Barcelona's squad for a competitive game.

Yamal, a La Masia product who will turn 16 in July, could become the youngest player to feature for Barca when they face Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou on Sunday.

The Spain Under-19 international is already the youngest player to be named in an official Blaugrana matchday squad, but Xavi is confident he can make an impact if called upon.

"He is a player who can help us because he is talented," Xavi said on Saturday. "He has a lot of personality, he can play one-on-one, he is strong and I am convinced that he can help us.

"I have spoken with him and he is grateful and happy. If the circumstances arise that he can help us, he is prepared."

Asked if Yamal reminded him of any former Barca greats, Xavi said: "He's an innate talent.

"With the new generations, the difference from my era is that they have no fear. Lamine is different... he has attributes from various players, I don't see a direct comparison."

Xavi welcomed the returns of Pedri and Frenkie de Jong as the Barcelona midfielders were passed fit to feature in Sunday's clash with Atletico Madrid.

Pedri has not played for Barca since he sustained a hamstring injury during February's 2-2 Europa League draw against Manchester United.

The Spain international initially looked set to return for last month's LaLiga meeting with Clasico rivals Real Madrid – a game Barca won 2-1 – only to suffer a setback in his recovery.  

While Pedri has missed a total of 11 games, Barca have also been without fellow midfielder De Jong for their last four matches after he sustained a similar injury.

Barca have struggled for creativity in back-to-back goalless draws against Girona and Getafe in LaLiga, but they will have both midfielders available when they host in-form Atleti.

"Pedri helps us, also Frenkie," Xavi said. "They are essential, vital players, however you want to say it, but we have played great games without them. 

"In the end, it is about the idea and the game model. We are in a privileged situation in LaLiga and the players have understood this well. We have played great games without some crucial players.

"Pedri is key in the last pass. He associates very well with Robert [Lewandowski], they get along very well. It's very good news to get him back, not only for Robert."

Having built an 11-point lead over second-placed Madrid with just nine games remaining, Xavi knows a first league title since 2019 is now Barca's to lose.

However, with Diego Simeone's visitors winning six successive league games ahead of their trip to Camp Nou, the Blaugrana boss expects a difficult challenge next time out.

"We have an important advantage and we have to make it good," Xavi said. "Losing the League would be anything but the fault of the other teams, it would be our fault. 

"Every game is a final from now on. If we beat Atletico, we would eliminate them as a rival. We are in a privileged situation but we cannot relax.

"Tomorrow will be a difficult game, Atleti are the best team in the league at the moment, they are the fittest team in LaLiga right now."

Diego Simeone is no stranger to defensive organisation, and the Atletico Madrid boss has been impressed by Xavi's work in making Barcelona difficult to break down this season.

Barca are closing in on their first league title since the 2018-19 campaign, sitting 11 points clear of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga with nine games of the season remaining.

While Xavi's side have been criticised at times for a perceived failure to employ an entertaining style, they have conceded just nine goals in 29 league games this term.  

The Blaugrana have kept a remarkable 22 clean sheets in LaLiga this season, at least four more than any other team in Europe's top five leagues (Lazio are second with 18).

At Saturday's pre-match press conference, Simeone was asked whether Atleti and Barca had become stylistically similar as a result of Xavi's work.

"I like this Barcelona," Simeone said. "It's a different Barcelona style. They have been growing and have had a great season. 

"They have improved in defence thanks to the characteristics of their players, and improving the defensive part has added more value to Xavi's work."

Atleti have won six successive league games to move within two points of second-placed Real Madrid, and Simeone believes their displays have not been met with the credit they deserve.

"When we started the season we were not in the best way. But if we go back a bit, to when we won LaLiga, we did it by playing very well," Simeone added.

"Sometimes a stigma is generated. Sometimes people don't watch the games and they give their opinion just to give their opinion. 

"Like Barca improving defensively, or Manchester City – who have given a very good defensive performance – we have improved, we have grown."

Simeone has overseen 15 trips to Camp Nou without winning as Atleti boss, more matches than he has taken charge of at any other venue since taking over Los Colchoneros in 2011. 

Opposing boss Xavi, meanwhile, has won both of his league games against Atleti since taking the reins at Camp Nou, and he could become just the second coach in Barca's history to win his first three meetings with Atleti in LaLiga (after Luis Enrique).

Atletico Madrid will welcome Joao Felix back with open arms if Chelsea decide against pursuing a permanent move for the forward, says club president Enrique Cerezo.

Joao Felix joined Chelsea on loan in January as part of a flurry of mid-season transfer activity at Stamford Bridge.

However, the Portugal international has managed just two goals in 11 Premier League appearances to date, and Frank Lampard has named him on the bench for Chelsea's last two games. 

While Joao Felix endured a strained relationship with Atletico boss Diego Simeone before departing on loan, Los Colchoneros will find a place for him if he returns to the club next season.

Asked about the forward's future, Cerezo told Cadena SER: "You can't anticipate things, everything is yet to be seen. Chelsea are a big team that can count on him. 

"If he comes back, he will be well received, if he returns. Nothing can ever be ruled out in football, you can't take anything for granted."

Atletico are two points behind second-placed Real Madrid in LaLiga after winning six successive league games, but Cerezo does not believe their improved form can be attributed to Joao Felix's exit.

"The circumstances of each team are different," he said. "Joao was under a lot of pressure, he's a star, but here he hasn't had the luck to show it. 

"He's going to be a great player, and not in the very distant future."

Real Madrid are reportedly eager to bolster their full-back options, to upgrade from Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy.

Los Blancos were linked with Manchester City's Joao Cancelo - currently on loan at Bayern Munich - earlier this week by Fichajes.

The Spanish giants are set to miss out on this season's LaLiga title, with Barcelona leading by 10 points.

TOP STORY – MADRID KEEN ON LIVERPOOL'S TAA

Real Madrid will turn to Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold should they fail to land Reece James from Chelsea, claims Ekrem Konur.

Los Blancos are in the market for a new full-back and Konur claims Madrid could also turn to Bayer Leverkusen's Jeremie Frimpong.

Alexander-Arnold has had a mixed campaign for Liverpool, who appear set for a squad revamp in the off-season. The 24-year-old England full-back is contracted with the Reds until 2025.

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti is an admirer of Torino's 21-year-old midfielder Samuele Ricci with Los Blancos keeping tabs on his situation, according to Tuttosport.

– The Sunday Mirror claims Manchester City are leading the race to sign Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham from Real Madrid , with Liverpool having pulled out.

Chelsea are looking to offer Romelu Lukaku as part of a deal with Atletico Madrid to sign Portuguese forward Joao Felix permanently, reports Fichajes. Chelsea are unwilling to pay Atletico's €100m asking fee, but may part with €70m along with the Belgian forward.

Tottenham are tracking Barcelona winger Ansu Fati, reports Mundo Deportivo. The report suggests Spurs are willing to make him their most expensive transfer in club history.

RB Leipzig are considering a move to sign Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun in the close season, claims Todofichajes. Balogun has impressed this season on loan with Reims .

Chelsea have interviewed Sporting boss Ruben Amorim about taking over as manager next season, reports talkSPORT.

Chelsea's dismissal of Graham Potter and decision not to rush into an appointment has generated speculation about their next permanent manager.

The Blues are destined to miss out on the Premier League's top four this season, thus will not qualify for the Champions League via the league.

As a result, there appears a lack of urgency as they look to get back on the right direction after sacking both Potter and Thomas Tuchel this term under new owner Todd Boehly.

TOP STORY – BLUES MULL OVER ENRIQUE, NAGELSMANN AND CONTE

Fabrizio Romano reports Frank Lampard will take over as Chelsea's interim manager, but that ex-Spain boss Luis Enrique is 100 per cent interested in the permanent position.

Enrique has flown into London for talks on the role, while the Blues will also continue talks with ex-Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann who is the leading candidate.

The Independent claims the Blues are also considering a shock return for Antonio Conte after initial contact between intermediaries.

ROUND-UP

– Football Insider reports Manchester United are keen on Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse. United may take advantage of the Saints' possible relegation to bolster their midfield with the 28-year-old free-kick specialist. Aston Villa and Newcastle United are also interested in him.

Liverpool are willing to cough up €40 million (£35m) for Atletico Madrid's Argentinian World Cup winner Rodrigo De Paul to bolster their midfield next term, reports Fichajes. Inter Live claims Tottenham are also interested in De Paul.

Arsenal are pondering an off-season move for Lazio midfielder Sergei Milinkovic-Savic who will be a free agent in 2024, claims Gazzetta dello Sport. The reported fee would be around €40m.

Luka Modric is disgruntled with his contract situation at Real Madrid, with his future not yet resolved with only a few months left on his deal, claims Goal.

– Fichajes claims West Ham, Leeds United and Nice are all circling for Real Madrid's Mariano who will be available on a free transfer at the end of this season.

Leicester City have shortlisted Ralph Hasenhuttl, Jesse Marsch and Oscar Garcia for their vacant managerial role according to Fabrizio Romano. The Independent's Miguel Delaney claims the Foxes are also interested in experienced pair Martin O'Neill and Rafa Benitez.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.