Arturo Vidal

Barcelona recap
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Messi, Barcelona back with a bang

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It was a big day for Catalonia, as Barcelona took its next step toward another La Liga title and Espanyol crept closer to safety.

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Barca opened up a five-point lead on Real Madrid with a win at Mallorca before the second-place side tangles with Eibar on Sunday.

Mallorca 0-4 Barcelona

Lionel Messi scored and assisted two others while Jordi Alba had a goal and an assist as Barcelona cruised past Mallorca at the Son Moix.

Barca moves onto 61 points, while Mallorca’s 25 remain a point back of safety.

It didn’t take long for Barca to get going, with Alba spotting Arturo Vidal for a second-minute opener.

Mallorca manufactured some shots, but Barcelona expanded its lead to 2-0 when Messi headed a loose ball to Martin Braithwaite before halftime.

The assists were Messi’s 17th and 18th, the goal his 25th in 32 matches across all competitions.

Celta Vigo 0-1 Villarreal

Longtime Villarreal midfielder Manu Trigueros scored a somewhat rare goal in second half stoppage to move Villarreal into eighth place, four points out of the top six.

Trigueros’ 24th career goal came in his 316th appearance for El Submarino Amarillo.

Celta remains just one point above the bottom three and three points clear of 20th place in a shocking season. The club’s been in La Liga since 2013 and finished top half in three-straight seasons between 2013-14 and 2015-16.

Espanyol 2-0 Alaves

Fernando Pacheco’s 19th-minute handball saw him sent off for the visitors, and Espanyol scored in first half stoppage and just after the break to get a huge three points.

Espanyol remains 20th with 23 points but is just three points from safety. They needed the win with a tough run of fixtures ahead to close out the season.

Alaves has 32 points, seven points clear of the bottom three with 10 matches to play.

Leganes 1-2 Real Valladolid

Goals from Enes Unal and Ruben Alcaraz early in each half moved Valladolid seven points from the bottom three.

Oscar Rodriguez struck late to give the hosts some hope, but it wasn’t met by another goal and Leganes remains 19th.

Transfer rumor roundup: Four bids for Gabriel, Barca offer five for Martinez

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The transfer rumor mill has not paused often during the coronavirus suspension, with — nickname alert — French Eddy being linked to Arsenal along with RB Leipzig back Dayot Upamecano.

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It seems like more than links when it comes to Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes, as four clubs including Premier League side Everton are said to have made bids for the 22-year-old.

Gabriel moved from Brazil to France in 2016, and he was loaned by Lille to Dinamo Zagreb and Troyes before establishing himself as a first-teamer.

The center back has two goals in 52 appearances and is averaging 1.7 tackles per game, 3.3 clearances, and .9 interceptions in Ligue 1 play while passing at 82 percent.

Gabriel is set to cost more than $36 million. He’s repped Brazil at the U-20 level.

Elsewhere, a better-known South American is being linked to his usual destination in a wild exchange.

Calcio Mercato reports that Barcelona is willing to offer five players to Inter Milan in order to drive down the price on Lautaro Martinez.

There’s plenty of smoke to infer fire when it comes to the prolific 22-year-old Argentine striker, though a five-player exchange is different than meeting the $124 million release clause.

Those players are midfielders Arturo Vidal, Carles Alena, and Arthur, fullback Nelson Semedo, and Jean-Clair Todibo, who are worth a combined $167 million according to the loose estimates of Transfermarkt.

La Liga roundup: Last-place Espanyol equal Barcelona late in Catalan Derby

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Espanyol’s thrilling, late draw against cross-town rival Barcelona highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Espanyol 2-2 Barcelona

With a late goal from Wu Lei, Espanyol pulled off a stunning 2-2 derby draw against league leaders and rival Barcelona, who failed to regain their two-point lead at the top of La Liga on Saturday at RCDE Stadium.

Luis Suarez leveled the score with a right-footed, leaping volley in the 50th minute and assisted Arturo Vidal only nine minutes later with a superlative outside-of-the-boot cross well within the box. The Uruguayan ace has either scored or assisted in Barcelona’s last 10 league goals.

Espanyol, playing under newly-appointed manager Abelardo for the first time ever, made it difficult to believe that it was a derby between the best team in the Spanish league against the worst. Los Periquitos came out confident and poised, drawing first blood 23 minutes after David Lopez’s zoomed passed Neto.

The hosts went into halftime up a goal, and even though Barcelona benefited from Arturo Vidal’s inclusion, Espanyol fought back.

Chinese star Lei sent the home fans over the moon after striking the back of the net against a Frenkie de Jong-less, 10-man Barcelona with a minute to play in regular time.

With only a goal differential advantage on Real Madrid, Barcelona host Atletico Madrid on Thursday in the Supercopa semifinal. Espanyol, on the other hand, look to carry their positive momentum to their second round Copa del Rey bout in a weeks time.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Getafe 0-3 Real Madrid

Valencia 1-0 Eibar 

Atletico Madrid 2-1 Levante

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

Medel: Chile players decline friendly over civil unrest

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Chile had already canceled a home friendly with Bolivia this international break, and now the players will not play Tuesday in Peru either due to unrest in their country.’

A nationwide strike and protests against the government, spurred by a rise in metro fares, have Chile on edge.

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La Roja stars Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal both posted lengthy messages on their Instagram accounts, saying that the decision was made “in response to the social moment in our country.”

They urged both protestors and law enforcement to turn away from violence.

From Mega.CL:

“We are soccer players, but above all people and citizens. We know that we represent a complete country and today Chile has other priorities much more important than next Tuesday’s game.”

Chile is ranked No. 17 by FIFA and 22 in Elo Ratings.