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Spanish football round-up (8 Mar) – Benzema rescues Real’s title hopes

The most important Madrid derby in years ended in a draw as Karim Benzema snatched an 88th minute equaliser for Real Madrid on Sunday at the Wanda Metropolitana. 

Former Spurs defender Kieran Tripper got off to a blinding start after having spent ten weeks out over a ban for betting. 

The English right-back was instrumental in Atletico’s opener. From a defensive position, he was able to pick out Marcos Llorente who set up Luis Suarez with a through-ball that was slotted low into the back of the net from inside the box. 

Just before the first half came to a close, Real were denied a penalty. Despite the referee spending plenty of time watching the replay, which showed the ball touching Felipe’s arm, in the end nothing was given.

After the interval, Real’s Thibaut Courtois kept his side in the game with a string of saves, denying Yannick Carrasco and stopping two would-be goals from Luis Suarez. 

Down the other end of the pitch, Oblak made a heroic double save to deny Benzema with just ten minutes left on the clock but Real’s veteran French forward persevered and managed to snatch an equalising goal just two minutes from full time by tapping in a pass from Casemiro. The Brazilian had made the opposition goalkeeper rush out towards him, paving the way for the golden opportunity that followed.

Karim Benzema celebrates his equaliser against Atletico Madrid on 7 March 2021. (@RealMadrid / Twitter)

There are only only 5 points between the three sides at the top of La Liga. Leaders Atlético Madrid are on 59 points whilst Barcelona trail them by only 3 points and Real Madrid are just 2 behind the Catalans. With 12 – or in Atlético’s case 13 – games left of the season, no one can rule out any of those three sides from the title race.

Aside from not being able to get past their local rivals in the derby, Real Madrid will undoubtedly regret coming up short at home to Real Sociedad on Monday evening.

It was a game that the reigning champions dominated, particularly in the first half, keeping the Basques on the back-foot and rattling the crossbar in only the first couple of minutes. 

But early into the first-half, Portu opened the scoring against the run of play by heading in a cross from former Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal.

Later in the game, Zinedine Zidane switched his attackers around with some substitutions that proved to work, as in the 89th minute, Vinicious Junior, who had spent the bulk of the game on the bench, equalised from a Lucas Vasquez cross.

Both Madrid sides will feel disappointed with the week’s results but it is Barcelona who will come out most satisfied. Whilst all eyes were on the Madrid derby, the Catalans got a comfortable 2-0 win away to Osasuna with goals from Jordi Alba and Korouma Kourouma, and Messi providing the assist for both.

Whoever wins the title is yet to be seen. But the fact that we are already in mid-March with three sides so close to one another is a very exciting prospect, one that brings a little spark into the lives of football fans whilst stadiums remain empty.

Joan Laporta – president again

Joan Laporta has won the FC Barcelona presidential election, held on Sunday 7 March. With 55,661 votes cast, Laporta won around 54% of the votes, followed by Victor Font (30%) and Toni Freixa (9%). First elected in 2003, Laporta presided over one of the club’s most successful spells, until 2010. Laporta hired Pep Guardiola as manager in 2008, and a year later the club won six titles: La Liga, the Champions League, Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup and the Club World Cup.

The presidential election follows last week’s news that the Catalan police had detained Josep Maria Bartomeu, the ex-president of FC Barcelona, as well as other former and current directors of the club.

La Liga table 8 March

La Liga

Sunday 7 March

Huesca 3   Celta Vigo 4

Atlético Madrid 1   Real Madrid 1

Real Sociedad 1   Levante 0

Athletic Bilbao 2   Granada 1

Saturday 6 March

Real Valladolid 2   Getafe 1

Elche 2   Sevilla 1

Cádiz 1   Eibar 0

Osasuna 0   Barcelona 2 

Friday 5 March

Valencia 2   Villarreal 1

Monday 1 March

Real Madrid 1 Real Sociedad 1

ALSO READ: Catalan police detain Barça ex-president

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