Karim Benzema

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Real Madrid loses 2-1 at Betis as Barcelona stays top in Spain

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BARCELONA, Spain — Real Madrid lost 2-1 at Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday and wasted its chance to reclaim the lead from Barcelona.

Barcelona, which beat Real Sociedad 1-0 on Saturday, was left two points ahead of Madrid at the top, one week after the Catalan club had lost the “clasico” to its rival.

Led by France forward Nabil Fekir, Betis outplayed Madrid for long stretches of the match in Seville.

Betis defender Sidnei scored one goal and unintentionally helped Madrid claw back an equalizer just before halftime.

Sidnei rifled in Betis’ goal in the 40th minute before he committed a foul that Karim Benzema converted to level the score in first-half stoppage time.

Zinedine Zidane sent on more attacking players to seek the winner, but Betis substitute Cristian Tello scored the hosts’ second goal in the 82nd after a passing mistake by Benzema that led to a quick counterattack.

Betis was winless in six games before taking down Madrid.

La Liga roundup: Casemiro’s brace earns injury-riddled Real Madrid win (video)

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Casemiro’s heroic performance against Sevilla highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Real Madrid 2-1 Sevilla

Real Madrid’s goalscoring hero on Saturday wasn’t Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, or even Sergio Ramos.

With two crucial goals in the second half, Casemiro single-handedly earned three points at the Santiago Bernabeu, days removed from cathartic Spanish Super Cup win against arch rivals Atletico Madrid.

With Bale, Hazard, Ramos injured, Benzema on the bench far from match-fit, and Federico Valverde suspended, Los Blancos were in dire need of someone to lead the way, and place pressure on struggling co-leaders Barcelona, who are now under Quique Setien’s tutelage.

By the time the first 45 minutes came to a close, the overall impression was that it would take a miracle for the home side to earn much-needed three points.

That all quickly changed in the second half as the Brazilian midfielder chipped Tomas Vaclik after a picture-perfect backheel from Luka Jovic. Madrid were edging Julen Lopetegui’s side, and Casemiro foreshadowed what was to come.

With the score level, the Brazilian leaped inside the box and headed home a lofting ball from the right flank, catching Sevilla’s defense completely off guard.

Casemiro’s brace came just five minutes after Luuk De Jong‘s left-footed goal in the 64th minute.

League leaders with 43 points, Madrid prepares for their Copa del Rey bout against third-division side Unionistas midweek. Sevilla, on the other hand, host Levante in the same tournament.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Eibar 2-0 Atletico Madrid

Osasuna 0-0 Real Valladolid

Levante 0-1 Alaves

French Football leader: Benzema could return after blackmail case

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Karim Benzema has been anything but gracious when it comes to his suspension from the French national team, claiming racism and not his role in the blackmailing of a teammate was why he was kept from EURO 2016.

That said the 28-year-old will see the door to the team re-opened once his court case is over, according to French Football Federation president Noel Graet.

[ MORE: World Cup qualifying roundup ]

Benzema has been suspended from the national team because of his involvement in an extortion scam over a sex tape involving France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

He’s scored 27 goals in 81 caps for France, in addition to the 161 club goals Benzema has nabbed between Real Madrid and Lyon.

From The Sun:

“I am against lifetime punishments. Benzema needs to go through the courts, we won’t take a risk, whatever it might be.”

“He already missed the Euros, that’s something.

“The problem hasn’t been raised for the moment, but he’s available for selection. The day when justice will be done, only then will Didier decide whether to integrate him or not.”

That is something. No date has been set for his court case. Prison is something that could stop him from rejoining the team, though!