Real Madrid vs. Barcelona  2 - 1

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Karanka: Clasicos could impact Champions League

3 March 2013 00:08

Assistant coach Aitor Karanka admitted Real Madrid face an uphill battle in the Champions League after tough matches against Barcelona.

Real followed Tuesday's 3-1 Copa del Rey win over Barcelona at Camp Nou with a 2-1 La Liga triumph against the same opponents at the Bernabeu on Saturday.

Jose Mourinho's side take on Manchester United in the Champions League on Tuesday, with their last-16 tie delicately poised at 1-1.

"Obviously we are very happy after these last five days and these two matches," Karanka said.

"We believe that we did something incredible, (but) we take the risk of paying for it on Tuesday.

"So we have to train tomorrow thinking of the game on Tuesday."

Meanwhile, Barcelona remain overwhelming favourites to regain the La Liga title with Real still 13 points adrift.

"The game was important for our moral and for the points, we came here with the intention of stretching our lead at the top of the league, to increase the 16 points," Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura said.

"Despite the result, we have to be very happy with the team's attitude in a difficult stadium like Bernabeu. The team fought and had options to get points."

Article

La Liga wrap: Madrid win consecutive Clasicos, Valencia in top four

2 March 2013 21:13

Real Madrid had the measure of Barcelona once again, with a 2-1 victory in Saturday's El Clasico in La Liga at Santiago Bernabeu.

The great rivals squared off just four days after Madrid's 3-1 Copa del Rey win at Camp Nou, but for the vast majority of the game, the tone could not have been any more different, with both sides reluctant to over-exert themselves with Champions League fixtures on the horizon.

With Cristiano Ronaldo looking on from the bench, Real took an early lead after only six minutes when Karim Benzema turned home Alvaro Morata's cross at the far post.

But Barca would soon hit back through Lionel Messi, who finished off a Dani Alves feed to score in his 16th straight league game, and equal Alfredo Di Stefano's Clasico record of 18 goals.

The match seemed destined to finish in a stalemate, but Sergio Ramos rose highest to head home Luka Modric's corner and clinch the points for Madrid in the 82nd minute.

However, the defender was lucky not to concede a late penalty after a blatant trip on Adriano - an incident that saw Victor Valdes sent off at the final whistle for confronting the referee in an ugly end to the game.

Jose Mourinho's men now move to within a point of second-placed Atletico Madrid, who could cut Barca's lead at the top of the table to single digits should they emerge victorious at Malaga on Sunday.

Xavi was replaced by Thiago in midfield after picking up a hamstring injury while Carles Puyol, perhaps inevitably after his error for Madrid's second goal mid-week, made way for Javier Mascherano in defence.

Mourinho only kept four players who started Tuesday's match, with Kaka replacing the suspended Angel Di Maria, and Morata chosen to lead the line in the absence of Ronaldo.

And the 20-year-old forward justified his selection by fashioning the opener, taking advantage of Alves' half-hearted pressure to put in a fantastic cross for Benzema, who was left with a simple tap in at the back post.

But Alves would make amends 12 minutes later. His sublime through pass cut straight through the heart of Madrid and released Messi, who cut onto his left foot ahead of the back-pedalling Ramos and drilled in at the near post.

The on-pitch atmosphere, as expected, was as relaxed as any Clasico in recent years, with the cut-throat intensity of meetings past absent.

Messi should have done better on the half-hour mark when played in by David Villa, but with time to pick his spot, he instead shot straight at Diego Lopez.

At the other end of the pitch, Morata went close with an unmarked header from Modric's cross that agonisingly found the side netting.

In the second half, Raphael Varane had to be at his absolute best to thwart Villa with a sliding tackle at point-blank range, after Messi's through ball opened up the defence.

With half an hour remaining, Ronaldo was summoned from the bench to replace Kaka, and five minutes after his introduction, the Portuguese made his presence felt with a stinging free-kick that was parried by Valdes.

Morata would go close yet again, but after latching on to Pepe's brilliant pass, he saw his finish thwarted from close range by the alert Valdes.

But with 82 minutes on the clock, Madrid would find the winner. Modric's corner saw the Barca defence hesitate, allowing Ramos just enough time to plant a superb header into the back of the net.

Ronaldo could have put the icing on the game after crashing a 25-yard free kick off the crossbar.

Instead, Madrid were the ones left counting their blessings at the end of the game after Ramos' clear trip on Adriano inside the area went uncalled, sparking the ire of Valdes.

Meanwhile, Valencia climbed into the top four with a 2-1 home win over Levante - which was the latter's fourth loss in five.

Jonas and Roberto Soldado were the goal scorers for Valencia, who arrested an early deficit at the Estadio de Mestalla when Levante's Vicente Iborra was on target through 16 minutes.

Athletic Bilbao broke a three-match losing streak with a 1-0 away triumph over Osasuna.

The Basque club have endured a tough season, but moved above their opponents and put six points between themselves and the drop zone, courtesy of a goal to Markel Susaeta.

Deportivo La Coruna were held to a home 0-0 draw by Rayo Vallecano, and the hosts finished with 10 men when Carlos Marchena was sent off late.

Article

Valdes faces suspension for ref abuse

2 March 2013 20:55

Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes could face a lengthy ban for verbally abusing referee Miguel Angel Perez Lasa in Saturday's El Clasico.

Valdes was furious at the official's decision not to award a late penalty in their 2-1 loss to Real Madrid, following a challenge from Sergio Ramos on Adriano.

Although further from the action than any other player on the pitch, Valdes protested more vehemently than any of his team-mates and had to be restrained by a member of the club's staff.

Shouting angrily in the referee's face, Valdes was shown a yellow card but continued to protest until Perez Lasa produced a red moments later.

According to the referee's report, Valdes verbally insulted the official, shouting: "You (the officials) s**t yourselves, you have no shame."

And Perez Lasa claimed the 'keeper, who will leave Barcelona when his contract expires in 2014, kept on repeating: "You have no shame."

The referee's full report reads as follows: "Once the game was over and while were still on the field of play, I booked Barcelona player, No. 1, Victor Valdes Arribas, for squaring up to me with his arms aloft and his voice shouting, recriminating one of my decisions. I then sent off the same player for shouting repeatly in my face, from just a few centimetres: 'You (the officials) s**t yourselves, you have no shame.'

"After he was sent off, the same player persisted with his attitude and kept on saying, in the same tone: 'You have no shame.' He had to be restrained by his team-mates and a delegate from his club. Once we were in the tunnel, the same player persisted with his attitude and repeated the same thing as he had before, still shouting: 'You have no shame, you have no shame.'"

Meanwhile, Gerard Pique stoked the flames after the game by saying: "I hope Perez Lasa apologises next time he referees one of our games."

Real defender Ramos was handed by a five-game ban by Spain's fooball federation (RFEF) for insulting referee Miguel Angel Ayza Gamez in a match against Celta Vigo in January and Valdes could now face a similar sanction.

Article

Kaka seeks another Clasico win

1 March 2013 16:55

Kaka believes a Real Madrid victory over Barcelona on Saturday would be ideal preparation for their Champions League tie with Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho's men dumped Barca out of the Copa del Rey on Tuesday and face them again in La Liga on Saturday, though the match is considered of less importance due to Barca's dominance this campaign in the top tier.

With Real's trip to England coming up on Tuesday, the Brazilian said it is critical that they record another victory over their arch-rivals.

"To go to Manchester in good form it is important that we beat Barcelona tomorrow," the Brazilian told reporters.

"We are not thinking about whether we are causing a crisis at Barcelona or not. We are thinking about ourselves and what we have to do. The team showed that we have the ability to beat anyone and that gives us confidence."

Kaka did admit, however, that he was gutted to not have featured in Madrid's 3-1 Clasico win at Camp Nou, but believes he can build on his recent impressive performances to force his way into the first team in the near future.

"It was a disappointment," he said. "But I have to respect the coach's decisions, and seeing what the team did against Barcelona I can only congratulate my team-mates.

"I will try to continue to build on the opportunities I have been given and tomorrow may be a good time for me. It's an opportunity to show that in big games I can do important things for the team. "

"The last two games for Real Madrid have given me the opportunity to be decisive. I'm fine physically and that makes me happy. I'm lighter and I can do the things I'm used to.

"I'd like to play more, but I understand the situation. There are players that are great and I have respect for those who play. I'm not comfortable with my situation though and I am trying to find solutions."

Kaka was linked with a move to AC Milan in January but financial differences between the two European giants reportedly scuppered the deal, but the Brazil star insisted he is happy to remain in Madrid and believes he can still make it into Luiz Felipe Scolari's World Cup 2014 squad.

"I have two years left on my contract," the former Ballon d'Or winner continued. "It would be no problem for me to carry on with Madrid, and I have always said that I do not want to be a problem for the club. If I have to go, I will go, but if I have to stay here, I will do so professionally.

"Also, it's clear I would like to play in the World Cup in my country. I have not spoken with Scolari, I don't know if I will return to the national side at the moment, but I have to be ready. I would really like to come back."

Article

Alonso favours direct approach

1 March 2013 13:47

Xabi Alonso says Real Madrid are a more direct side than Barcelona, and do not require as much possession.

Real impressed in midweek when they recorded a 3-1 win over their arch-rivals at Camp Nou, and Alonso has stressed that they always aim to get to their opponents' goal as soon as possible.

"At Madrid we are a team of very quick changes, with deep vertical passing that creates many chances," the holding midfielder told UEFA's Champions Magazine.

"We don't want to keep possession for the sake of keeping possession, and we always have a clear objective, which is reaching the box.

"That works well with the players we have in attack, who are good at putting opponents off balance and finding the goal.

"In attack we have players that surpass those at the other clubs I have played for. Every attacking player here can create a goal-scoring chance at any time."

Real are preparing for the Liga match at home against Barcelona on Saturday.

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La Liga preview: Barca, Real face off in intriguing El Clasico

28 February 2013 10:26

Real Madrid will be aiming for two wins in the space of five days over arch-rivals Barcelona when they host the La Liga leaders on Saturday.

The reigning Spanish champions stunned Barcelona 3-1 at Camp Nou in their Copa del Rey semi-final second leg on Tuesday with Real advancing to the final 4-2 on aggregate.

While victory in Madrid would be unlikely to make much of a difference in the La Liga title race, Real are always keen to inflict punishment on Barcelona, while it would also put pressure on their local rivals Atletico Madrid.

Real have not claimed successive El Clasico victories since the 2007/08 season but were clearly the best team in Tuesday's clash, making the upcoming match one of the games of the weekend throughout Europe.

If Real win they could move within a point of Atletico, if Diego Simeone's men lose to fourth-placed Malaga on Sunday.

Simeone has done a brilliant job to keep Atletico ahead of Real for so long this season but he will know the trip to Malaga looms as a major test for his team.

Malaga have won seven of their 13 games at home in La Liga this season and have lost just three but if Atletico cannot manage to take all three points and Real win, the pressure will rise rapidly on Simeone's team.

La Liga's Round 26 will begin on Friday with Getafe hosting Real Zaragoza and, apart from El Clasico, Saturday will see a local derby between Valencia and Levante, as well as Deportivo La Coruna versus Rayo Vallecano, Osasuna up against Athletic Bilbao and Granada taking on Mallorca.

In other games, Real Valladolid will travel to Barcelona to play Espanyol, Real Sociedad will welcome Real Betis to San Sebastian and Sevilla will host Celta de Vigo.

Primera División table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +75 100
2 38 +61 85
3 38 +34 76
4 38 +21 66
5 38 +13 65
6 38 +3 57
7 38 +1 56
8 38 -16 53
9 38 +4 50
10 38 -14 47
11 38 -17 46
12 38 -21 45
13 38 -9 44
14 38 -9 43
15 38 -17 42
16 38 -17 39
17 38 -15 37
18 38 -29 36
19 38 -23 35
20 38 -25 34