El Clasico

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La Liga roundup: Granada tops table Real Sociedad stays close (video)

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Granada’s rise to the top of the table highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Granada 1-0 Real Betis

Perhaps the biggest storyline in what is still a young La Liga season is recently-promoted side Granda’s impressive season.

With only two losses and a historic 2-0 win over Barcelona this season, Diego Martínez’s side are separating themselves from the notion that they’re running on luck, and instead are gravitating towards becoming a legitimate force within the league.

On Sunday, for a second time this season, the Andalusian side reached the La Liga summit – albeit El Clasico was postponed due to Catalonia’s political crisis.

The game boosted only a goal – a gentle strike inside the six-yard box from Alvaro Vadillo – but saw a handful of chances be wasted by both sides. Real Betis, who are in the relegation zone as a result of the outcome, controlled the possession of the ball and accumulated a total of 12, although none were on target.

Betis manager, Rubi, who joined the recent Europa League competitors this summer, is expected to be back on the dugout midweek, although his job hangs on a thread.

That said, a lot will be on the line when Betis receives Celta Vigo midweek, while Granada, on the other side of the spectrum, look to keep defying the odds as they travel to Getafe.

Celta Vigo 0-1 Real Sociedad 

Over the summer, Real Sociedad bet on two Scandinavian youngsters Alexander Isak and Martin Ödegaard, signing the former to a permanent deal and bringing in the latter on a loan from Real Madrid.

Long story short, they’ve payed dividends thus far for La Reala, who climbed up to third in the table following their 1-0 victory against Celta Vigo.

The youthful duo had everything to do with the visitor’s win in Balaidos.

In the 82nd minute, after taking the field seven minutes earlier, Isak’s unbalanced left-footed strike struck the inner-portion of the net. Ödegaard, as vigilant as ever before, picked out the Swedish attacker and assisted what would be his game-winning goal.

Real Sociedad now aim to continue their positive run going as they host Levante, while struggling Celta hope they can edge Real Betis, who are also experiencing a sour moment themselves.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Levante 0-1 Espanyol 

Sevilla 2-0 Getafe 

Osasuna 3-1 Valencia

El Clasico postponed amid fears of unrest in Catalonia

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After days of speculation, Barcelona and Real Madrid have seen next weekend’s meeting at the Camp Nou officially postponed. La Liga announced Friday morning that the fixture had been pushed back thanks to fears of civil unrest in Catalonia.

Nine Catalan political leaders were arrested on Monday and put in jail for past efforts towards securing Catalan independence, leading to days of protests. The Camp Nou has been a popular location for pro-Catalan political displays and banners, and it was feared that the high profile sporting event would be a focal point for unrest following the arrests.

Reportedly, the new proposed date is December 18, which slides the match in between a congestion of games just before the league-wide holiday break. Both teams have league matches on December 15 and December 22, with each side visiting opponents on the former and playing at home on the latter. The Spanish federation has given the clubs until Monday to officially agree on a new date.

At least 96 people have been injured in protests that have continued for the last five days across the region, with many turning violent in clashes with police.

The separatist leaders were jailed specifically for their roles in a 2017 Catalonia referendum that featured a 43% voter turnout and a 90% backing for independence. The Spanish court system ruled the referendum illegal after its conclusion.

Barcelona issued a statement on Monday regarding the ruling, saying “prison is not the solution.”

Midweek El Clasico possible in December following political unrest

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Political unrest in Catalonia has both La Liga and the Spanish government looking to move the first El Clasico of the season.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are scheduled to meet at the Camp Nou on Oct. 26, but the jailing of nine Catalan separatists has caused uproar in-and-around Barca.

In fact, Barca as a club has denounced the imprisonment, so it plays more than a peripheral role in the controversy.

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Players heading to and returning from international break have faced in challenges in getting to the club.

Instead, Marca says that we may see a midweek match played in Madrid on Wednesday, Dec. 18, with the reverse fixture in March moved from Madrid to Barcelona.

Dec. 18 would give both teams three matches in eight days before La Liga’s winter break. Barca would play Real Sociedad, Real Madrid, and Alaves, while Real would play Valencia and Real Betis in addition to the Clasico. Both difficult runs, but fairly even.

Suarez double wins El Clasico at Real, sends Barca to Copa del Rey final

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Luis Suarez’s brace, the second goal a panenka penalty, gave Barcelona a 3-0 win at Madrid and a shot at its fifth-straight tournament title.

The victory came despite the hosts boasting a 14-4 advantage in shot attempts.

[ MORE: Recapping Weds. in the PL ]

Suarez’s 50th minute goal put Barcelona ahead in the game and level in the tie after a 1-1 first leg at the Camp Nou.

Away goals have a way of turning two-legged ties on their ear, and Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semifinal second leg between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Bernabeu is no exception.

Barca would’ve liked a bid to go up 2-0 on the day when Sergio Ramos took down Ivan Rakitic, but no call arrived for the visitors.

The Blaugranas got their insurance marker through Real defender Raphael Varane, who turned an Ousmane Dembele cross into his own goal.

And Suarez doubled his haul to complete the score line, with Barca now set to face either Valencia or Real Betis in search of its fifth-straight Copa del Rey.

Athletic Bilbao and Madrid FC are the only other sides to win four in-a-row.

Messi practices ahead of Copa ‘clasico’ against Real Madrid

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi has returned to training, a day before Barcelona hosts Real Madrid in the first leg of the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.

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Messi was sidelined from Monday’s training session because of a right leg injury sustained in a Spanish league match on Saturday.

He re-joined his teammates on the practice field on Tuesday and showed no signs he was bothered by the injury. The media could only watch the first few minutes of the session, when players warmed up and played keep-away.

Coach Ernesto Valverde had said earlier Tuesday he would wait for the training session to end before deciding whether Messi will play on Wednesday at Camp Nou Stadium.