Antoine Griezmann

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Atletico Madrid comes back to stun Barcelona, set up derby final

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We’ve got a Madrid Derby in Saudi Arabia.

Atletico Madrid outlasted Barcelona in a thrilling Spanish Super Cup semifinal on Thursday, the Blaugranas defense a second half shambles.

All five goals came in the second half of a 3-2 decision, Atleti earning a spot opposite Real Madrid in Sunday afternoon’s final.

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Real routed Valencia in the other semifinal.

Atleti is looking for its first Supercup since 2014, while Real won its 10th in 2017. Only Barcelona (13) has won more.

Koke had given Atleti the shot at a Madrid Derby final, but Barca answered well.

Former Atleti man Antoine Griezmann headed in a rebound after Lionel Messi supplied the equalizer with a quick-witted shot in traffic.

Gerard Pique tapped in a would-be third goal after Messi teamed up with Arturo Vidal for a clever free kick routine, but VAR overturned the call.

Atleti then won a penalty on a reckless challenge from Barca goalkeeper Neto, and Morata converted the chance. The Madrid side looked to have a second penalty in three minutes when Morata’s cross appeared to strike the hand of Pique, but VAR did not see a conclusive error.

Barca’s defense remained wide open, however, and Angel Correa raced past the back line and powered a shot through Neto’s hands to make it 3-2 in the 86th.

Messi now has 16 goals and nine assists in 20 matches this season. He has 13 goals and five assists in 18 Super Cup matches.

La Liga roundup: Messi, Suarez, Griezmann score as Barcelona thump Alaves (video)

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Barcelona’s near-flawless performance against Alaves highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Barcelona 4-1 Alaves

On Saturday at the Camp Nou, Barcelona demonstrated what they can be on a good day: a dangerous force, spearheaded by an unstoppable front three.

After a sloppy 0-0 draw against Real Madrid, the defending champions came out firing against a visiting Alaves side. The star-studded trio of Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez scored, while Arturo Vidal also scored.

In the 56th minute, Pere Pons’ unstoppable header jetted past Marc-Andre ter Stegen, putting the visitors one goal behind Ernesto Valverde and company.

It wouldn’t take long for the hosts to respond, however.

In quintessential Messi fashion, Barcelona’s No. 10 struck the ball from distance with his left foot. The ball, traveling with obvious pace, guided itself directly into the back of the net. For a sixth consecutive year, Messi’s goal count has hit 50 goals.

“All matches require a lot,” Valverde said after the match. “When they scored, they were spurred on and they had the chance to equalise, but Leo scored a great goal and things are seen in a different way from there.

“I think we played the game well, I would say the first half was very good, then we had less momentum at the beginning of the second. We got a boost with the third goal.

“These things happen with Messi. We see it all the time. Something like that can happen, and it’s a huge advantage that we have Messi.”

“Leo appears and makes you a goal from anywhere,” he added.

Suarez capped off the night, converting from the spot and earning Barcelona a much-needed victory to stay atop of La Liga.

Barcelona now prepares for the Derbi Barceloní, while Alaves sets their sights on Real Betis.

Elsewhere in La Liga

RCD Mallorca 0-2 Sevilla

Villarreal 1-0 Getafe

Real Valladolid 1-1 Valencia

Spoils split in dud El Clasico

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The first El Clasico of the season was a relative dud, though Real Madrid made another statement of strong defense in a 0-0 draw with Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

Barca dropped points at home for the first time this season, but maintains its table edge on goal differential. All La Liga sides have now played 17 matches, with Barca and Real five points clear of third place Sevilla.

The visitors out shot Barcelona 17-9, and had 46 percent of the ball on the day.

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Zinedine Zidane’s suddenly stingy defense kept Barca out of the box for much of the game. Real has only allowed 12 goals in 17 La Liga matches this season after allowing 46 in 38 last campaign.

Barca produced the only big chances of the match aside from an offside Gareth Bale goal, but had little aside from Lionel Messi.

The Argentine great completed a remarkable 8 of 9 dribbles but missed a scoring chance. Luis Suarez was quite poor in the draw, Antoine Griezmann slightly better in his Clasico debut.

Real’s tactics became more and more reliant on the counter attack as the game wore on, and Gareth Bale ripped a shot off the outside netting in the 68th.

Bale had the ball in the back of the goal in the 72nd, but was whistled offside.

The jailing of nine Catalan separatists caused an initial postponement of the match, and perhaps the midweek legs cost both teams some class.

The match was originally scheduled for Oct. 26, and La Liga officials were so angry at the move of a marquee television match to midweek that they appealed to the courts.

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Barcelona 17 11 3 3 43 20 23 7-1-0 4-2-3 36
 Real Madrid 17 10 6 1 33 12 21 6-2-0 4-4-1 36
 Sevilla 17 9 4 4 21 17 4 4-2-2 5-2-2 31
 Getafe 17 8 6 3 26 16 10 5-3-1 3-3-2 30
 Atlético Madrid 17 7 8 2 18 10 8 5-3-1 2-5-1 29
 Real Sociedad 17 8 4 5 28 20 8 4-2-2 4-2-3 28
 Athletic Club 17 7 6 4 19 12 7 6-2-1 1-4-3 27
 València 17 7 6 4 27 24 3 4-5-0 3-1-4 27
 Granada 17 7 3 7 24 22 2 5-1-3 2-2-4 24
 Osasuna 17 5 8 4 22 20 2 3-4-1 2-4-3 23
 Levante 17 7 2 8 22 26 -4 4-2-2 3-0-6 23
 Betis 17 6 5 6 24 29 -5 5-2-2 1-3-4 23
 Villarreal 17 6 4 7 30 25 5 3-4-1 3-0-6 22
 Alavés 17 5 4 8 18 24 -6 4-3-2 1-1-6 19
 Valladolid 17 4 7 6 14 20 -6 2-4-1 2-3-5 19
 Eibar 17 4 4 9 15 28 -13 3-0-5 1-4-4 16
 Mallorca 17 4 3 10 18 30 -12 4-2-3 0-1-7 15
 Celta Vigo 17 3 5 9 14 25 -11 2-3-4 1-2-5 14
 Leganés 17 2 4 11 12 28 -16 2-1-6 0-3-5 10
 Espanyol 17 2 4 11 12 32 -20 0-2-7 2-2-4 10

La Liga roundup: Barcelona, Real Madrid remain level on points after wins (video)

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Routine wins from league favorites Barcelona and Real Madrid, highlight La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Barcelona 5-2 RCD Mallorca

It was a special night at Barcelona’s Camp Nou.

Fresh from winning the Ballon d’Or for a record sixth time, Lionel Messi was greeted by his three children on the field, who handed him a shinny, golden ball – given yearly to the best player in the world – prior to the first whistle.

From that point on, it was evident that it would be all smiles for everyone tied to the defending champions at the stadium (and for those watching remotely) on Saturday.

 

That was the case.

Antoine Griezmann – a topic of conversation due to lack of productivity at Barcelona this season – kicked off the game with a solo run and subsequent goal in the seventh minute, opening the floodgates.

As a celebration of his latest, individual accomplishment, Messi showcased the power and precision of his left foot at the tune of a hat-trick. The Argentine ace scored twice in the first half and another in consolation time, putting his season total mark at a league-best 12 goals.

The moment and goal of the night (possibly of the season) didn’t directly involve Messi, however. With a daring, emphatic and genius back-heel strike, not only did Luis Suarez put the home side up 4-1, but cemented himself in the ballot for best goal of the season.

With 34 and a better goal differential than Real Madrid, Barcelona remain atop of La Liga ahead of their clash with Inter Milan on Tuesday, while Mallorca hope Ante Budimir can score another brace; this time against a struggling Celta Vigo next weekend.

Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol

With goals from Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane, Real Madrid comfortably cruised past a struggling Espanyol.

With the majority of Real Madrid in Espanyol’s final third following a recovered free-kick attempt, Benzema charged his way into the box before laying off a ball to Varane, who not a proven goalscorer whatsoever, placed the ball into the back of the net with ease.

It was the 37th minute, and the home side were up 1-0 against a poor Espanyol.

With a notable superior style at hand, Los Blancos continued to surge forward. Opportunities at goal were generated but the ball wouldn’t go past ex-Real Madrid ‘keeper Diego Lopez.

Then, in the 79th minute, Benzema registered his 11th goal of the season, finishing an off-balance pass from Federico Valverde inside the box.

Winners in their last La Liga bouts, Real Madrid now prepare for their Champions League Group Stage finale against Club Brugge midweek. Espanyol, despite being in the drop zone, host CSKA Moscow in their Europa League Group Stage finale. The Catalonian club lead Group H with 11 points after five matches.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Granada 3-0 Alaves

Levante 2-4 Valencia

Atleti escapes major punishment for fans’ Griezmann threats

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MADRID — Atletico Madrid escaped major punishment Wednesday after its fans made threatening chants against former player Antoine Griezmann during last weekend’s La Liga match against Barcelona.

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The Spanish league had denounced the club after some fans chanted “Die Griezmann” in Sunday’s match, won by Barcelona at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

The Spanish soccer federation said it would fine Atletico $333 because the game was disrupted, but it did not cite the chants against Griezmann. The fine was prompted mainly because fans threw objects — including an umbrella — onto the field.

The Spanish league had denounced the club to the federation’s anti-violence committee, saying about 2,000 fans from Atletico’s “ultras” section made the chants for about 20 seconds before the start of the second half, and again later in the game.

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Griezmann left Atletico for Barcelona at the end of last season in a transfer worth more than $132 million.

The France forward was jeered nearly every time he touched the ball at the Metropolitano on Sunday. It was his first match at Atletico’s stadium since leaving the club.