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La Liga: Real Madrid’s game in hand to decide title; Barcelona powerless

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A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Goodbye, White Hart Lane ]

Las Palmas 1-4 Barcelona

Barcelona have done just about everything they could possibly do (since drawing three straight games and dropping six of nine possible points in November and December… and inexplicably losing to 17th- and 11th-place Deportivo La Coruña and Malaga, respectively, in March and April) to put themselves in position to win the title.

On Sunday, Neymar bagged himself a hat trick to take his league goals tally to 13 on the season (to go with 11 assists) and keep Barca level on points with Real Madrid on points (87) and ahead based on the head-to-head tiebreaker (one win, one draw). The decisive game in the 2016-17 La Liga season will be played on Wednesday, with every one of Barca’s players and coaches sitting at home, their feet kicked up on the couch, as Real Madrid come level on games played (37), away to 13th-place Celta Vigo.

Luis Suarez scored Barcelona’s other goal (assisted by Neymar), the one that turned out to be the winner, giving him 28 league goals (to go with 13 assists) this season.

Real Madrid 4-1 Sevilla

These clubs hate each other so much, yet they’re constantly imitating and mimicking the other. Barca won 4-1, thus Madrid couldn’t be outdone.

Nacho opened the scoring early, putting Los Blancos ahead in the 10th minute, followed 13 minutes later by Cristiano Ronaldo’s 400th goal for Madrid (in just eight seasons — all competitions) to make it 2-0. Ronaldo made it 3-1 in the 78th minute (Stevan Jovetic pulled a goal back for Sevilla just after halftime) to give him 401 goals in the white shirt of Madrid, and Toni Kroos completed the scoring six minutes later. All Madrid need are four points from their final two games to win a record 33rd league title next Sunday.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Villarreal 0-0 Deportivo La Coruña
Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Leganes
Real Sociedad 2-2 Malaga
Eibar 0-1 Sporting Gijon
Alaves 3-1 Celta Vigo

Mascherano out 6 weeks, will miss Argentina vs. Brazil

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano will be out of action for six weeks to recover from a right knee injury.

[ MORE: Luis Enrique leaves Barca with feeling of accomplishment ]

Barcelona’s season is over, but the injury will rule out Mascherano from Argentina’s friendly against Brazil on June 9.

Mascherano injured his leg early in Saturday’s final of the Copa del Rey, when Barcelona beat Alaves 3-1 to defend its title for a third straight season.

He also cut his head during the collision with an Alaves player that produced the leg injury. He returned on crutches to join the team celebration.

Argentina doesn’t play its next World Cup qualifier until it plays Uruguay on Aug. 28.

Courtois aiming at new Chelsea contract after strong season

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There’s a wide range of players that were integral in Chelsea’s Premier League-winning season in 2016/17, but one of the most underrated was arguably goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

[ MORE: PL clubs may miss on Celtic’s Dembele and more transfer news ]

The Blues shot-stopper started all but two PL matches this past campaign, and now the Belgian international is seeking an extension with the London club.

“Contract talks haven’t opened but I am happy at Chelsea,” Courtois told Sky Sports after Chelsea’s loss to Arsenal at Wembley.

“I hope they reward me with a good contract, then there will be no doubt I will sign it.”

The 25-year-old keeper has been in at Stamford Bridge since arriving from Genk in 2011, but Courtois spent three seasons in Spain on a loan spell.

Courtois likened this PL campaign to his time on loan at Atletico Madrid, stating that while his side’s achievements in the league were everything Chelsea could have hoped for that there was still more the Blues could have done.

“It’s not a good feeling now,” Courtois told Chelsea’s official website. “I had the same thing in Spain when I won the league and then lost the Champions League.

“We wanted to end on a high, now we feel sad. Winning is everything so this is hard to face but we have to try to forget it.”

Francesco Totti on bench for final Roma match

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Sunday marks Francesco Totti’s final match with Roma after a stellar 24-year career, but the striker won’t be starting at the Stadio Olimpico.

[ MORE: Reus could miss at least six months after suffering knee damage ]

The 40-year-old was named to the bench for his club’s 2016/17 Serie A finale against Cagliari, with Roma needing a victory to capture second position in Italy’s top flight.

Napoli currently sits just one point behind the Giallorossi and hold a slight two-goal edge in goal differential, which could be a decisive factor in which side finishes second.

It would be quite odd for Roma to not give Totti playing time in his final outing, after a career that featured over 300 goals across all competitions for his hometown club.

Transfer rumor roundup: PL clubs losing ground for Dembele and more

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With all the major leagues across Europe either closing or already have finished it’s the season of transfer rumors once again.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s FA Cup win vs. Chelsea ]

Here are several of the juiciest pieces from Sunday:

Three London sides could potentially miss out on Celtic star Moussa Dembele as AC Milan has emerged as a favorite to sign the top-rated Frenchman. Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all expressed great interest in the promising attacker, who scored 17 goals this season for the Scottish champions.

After struggling at times this season to keep goals out, Liverpool could turn to France as a potential outlet to fix the cracks in their back line. AS Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy already has significant PL interest from Manchester United and Manchester City, but Jurgen Klopp‘s side could also put up a fight.

West Ham is looking to bolster its attack this summer, and with Pep Guardiola likely making significant changes at the Etihad Stadium, Kelechi Iheanacho could be on his way to the Hammers ahead of the 2017/18 PL season.

Manchester City higher ups are keen on having Guardiola bring back goalkeeper Joe Hart from Torino this summer. Hart spent last season on loan with the Italian club after Guardiola sent him away from England early in his managing tenure at the club.