Athletic Bilbao

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La Liga roundup: Real Madrid held to back-to-back draw (video)

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Real Madrid’s second consecutive league draw highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Real Madrid 0-0 Athletic Bilbao

Barcelona head into La Liga’s mid-season break with a two point cushion as Real Madrid were held to a draw by Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It’s Zinedine Zidane and company second consecutive draw as Los Blancos are just days removed from Wednesday’s stalemate at Camp Nou in El Clasico.

Despite controlling possession completely, Real Madrid were unable to break the deadlock. Nacho and Luka Modric each hit the crossbar, while subsitute Luka Jovic struck the post in the dying minutes of Sunday’s bout.

“I’m very disappointed for my players,”Zidane said in his post-match press conference. “They put in a lot of effort and had a good match, but we lacked a goal again. In football, it’s true that you have to score them. We had three or four in the first half where if you score then the match could be different.”

“It’s only a couple of matches without scoring, so we have to remain calm because the performance was good,” he added. “I think we’ve gotten better and we’re strong defensively. Today, we just lacked a goal, but the important thing is to create chances. After the match I spoke to the players and told them that the most important thing was that they gave their all. Today, the ball just didn’t want to go in. We hit the post three times.”

When the home side managed to put shots on target, Bilbao’s Unai Simon was there to prevent a goal. The Basque goalkeeper registered eight saves throughout the 90 minutes.

With the draw, defending champions Barcelona go two points clear of Los Blancos, who return to action January 4 when they visit Getafe, while Bilbao – now seventh on the table – go against Sevilla to start the new year.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Leganes 2-0 Espanyol 

Osasuna 3-4 Real Sociedad

Real Betis 1-2 Atletico Madrid

Levante 3-1 Celta Vigo

La Liga roundup: Atletico Madrid win, go level on points with Barcelona (video)

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Atletico Madrid’s victory over Athletic Bilbao, inspired by Angel Correa’s genius, highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Atletico Madrid 4-2 Granada

Diego Simeone took what many would consider to be a gamble prior to Saturday’s first whistle: starting Angel Correa over Diego Costa, Atletico’s goal scoring machine.

By the 64th minute, however, everyone at the Wanda Metropolitana and Simeone himself knew that the right choice was made. Correa – a low light coming into Saturday’s game – contributed the assists on both goals that handed Los Colchoneros their fifth win of the season.

Early on, it was Jan Oblak to the rescue, as Athletic’s attack cracked the home side’s backline. Specifically, the Slovenian showed off his impeccable abilities when, Iñigo Martínez’s header from a corner kick set piece, was just tipped over the crossbar.

The Basque’s club dominance wouldn’t last long.

In the 28th minute, following some mesmerizingly quick faints inside the penalty box, Correa laid it off to Saul, who made no mistake and put it into the back of net. It was the start of the Argentine’s special night.

Following a slew of uninterrupted passes, it was Correa again making the penultimate effort. This time, his darting, crossing service within the box found a well-positioned Alvaro Morata, who gently tapped the ball into the back of the net.

With the postponement of El Clasico, which was done because Catalan separatists are planning another large rally in Barcelona, Atletico will share the podium with leaders Barcelona for at least a week after their win against Athletic Bilbao, who host Espanyol next.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Leganes 1-0 RCD Mallorca 

Valladolid 2-0 Eibar

VIDEO: Barcelona beaten by 38-year-old Aduriz’s bicycle kick

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Barcelona’s 2019-20 La Liga campaign, and their quest for a third straight domestic title, began with a shocking defeat away to Athletic Bilbao, last season’s 8th-place finishers.

But, on the bright side (for neutrals and Barca haters, of course) it happened in the most spectacular of fashions.

[ MORE: Barcelona, Bayern Munich agree deal to loan Philippe Coutinho ]

38-year-old Aritz Aduriz made his early submission for goal of the season: the following bicycle kick from 14 yards out on a high, long cross into the penalty area (goal at 0:38 mark).

The result snapped Barca’s streak of having won their opening league fixture for 10 straight seasons.

To make matters worse, Luis Suarez suffered a muscular injury to his right leg in the first half and was subbed off in the 37th minute. Barca were without Lionel Messi due to a calf injury, but Antoine Griezmann made his competitive debut for the club after moving from Atletico Madrid for $135 million this summer.

On the bright side (for Barca), they did manage to agree a loan move for Philippe Coutinho to leave the club, presumably shedding some, or all, of his wages off their books for the rest of the season.

Reports: Man Utd to buy $99M Williams as Lukaku leaves

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Antonio Conte is getting his man, and that man is going to cost him a lot of money.

Now how will Manchester United react?

Romelu Lukaku will go to Inter Milan for around $94 million, according to Sky Sports, leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Marcus Rashford and not much else at center forward.

[ MORE: Manchester United season preview ]

While Lukaku struggled last season, at least according to his usual playmaking standards, his 12 goals are still more than Rashford has recorded in a PL season.

Rashford recorded 10 goals and 7 assists in just over 2,300 minutes last season, while Lukaku had 12 and 1 in a bit more than 2,100.

A Sunday Express report says that Ed Woodward will respond by pulling the trigger on a near $99 million deal for Athletic Bilbao’s Inaki Williams, who is Lukaku’s junior by 13 months.

Williams, 25, scored 13 times with four assists in La Liga play last season, including three against Atletico Madrid and two against Sevilla (though he was pretty streaky).

He’s also played just under half of his career matches at right wing, and he’s been plenty productive in the assist department when away from center forward.

La Liga: Messi saves Barcelona in draw, Sociedad wins Basque derby

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Barcelona dropped two points at the Camp Nou but it could have been worse, as Lionel Messi once again was the hero for the Blaugrana.

The star forward scored twice on either side of halftime, first from the penalty spot and the second from outside the box as Barcelona came back to draw Valencia, 2-2 on Saturday afternoon. Messi also took a knock to his thigh, raising doubts on his fitness ahead of Barcelona’s Copa Del Rey semifinal first leg on Wednesday against arch rivals Real Madrid.

[READ: Sean Dyche hammers officiating]

Twice, Valencia made a slow Barcelona backline pay on the counter attack within the game’s first half hour. First, Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno drove through the middle of the field untouched before laying off a perfectly-weighted pass into the box for Kevin Gameiro to smash home. Then, in the 30th minute, Barcelona’s Sergi Roberto bowled over Daniel Wass in the box, giving up a penalty kick. Dani Parejo stepped up and confidently slotted home to give Valencia the shock 2-0 lead.

It only took five minutes for Barcelona to pull one back. After Nelson Semedo was tripped up in the box, Messi stepped up to the spot and sent Valencia goallkeeper Neto the wrong way to make it 2-1. Messi forced a save from Neto a minute into the second half, and he finally found the net once again around a crowd of defenders in the 64th minute on a curling left-footed strike.

With the draw, Barcelona remains atop the La Liga standings with 50 points, six above Atletico Madrid in second-place, though Atleti has a game-in-hand. Real Madrid is currently 11 points back, with a game-in-hand as well.

Elsewhere in Spain on Saturday, Real Sociedad its second consecutive win over Athletic Bilbao in the Basque derby. Both teams featured new coaches since the last meeting but the result was the same, with Sociedad winning, 2-1, over Bilbao. Mikel Oyarzabal, who scored two goals in the last meeting, scored the opener again for Sociedad, and Willian Jose added a second over the poor Bilbao squad. Raul Garcia turned in a rebound late in the match to make it interesting for Bilbao but they ran out of time.

In Saturday’s late match, relegation-threatened Celta Vigo shocked fourth-place Sevilla with a 1-0 victory. Mexican National Team defender Nestor Araujo helped keep a clean sheet for Celta. Also, Levante and Getafe played to a scoreless draw.