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La Liga roundup: Messi-less Barcelona halted by Osasuna

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Barcelona’s draw and Real Betis’ win highlight Saturday’s La Liga action.

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Osasuna 2-2 Barcelona

With Antoine Griezmann’s magic nowhere to be spotted, Barcelona felt every bit of Lionel Messi’s absence for a second time this season.

Messi has yet to feature for the defending champions this season. Without him, Barcelona are off to a their worst start since Pep Guardiola‘s treble-winning side 11 years ago, earning only four points throughout three matches.

Barcelona’s latest hiccup? A 2-2 draw against a persistent Osasuna.

Osasuna’s game-defining goal came in the late stages, following a penalty call on Gerard Pique. Roberto Morales’ brace concluded a triumphant draw for the home side, that despite being severely outpossessed, managed to create more chances than Ernesto Valverde’s side.

Although the numbers aren’t in their favor, there is a glaring break in the clouds for Barcelona: 16-year-old Ansu Fati, who became the club’s youngest player to score in La Liga. The highly-touted left winger was brought on in the second half, and proved to be pivotal in the Catalonian’s punctured frontline.

With or without Messi, Barcelona host Valencia next, while Osasuna hope to continue their positive run against Real Valladolid.

Real Betis 2-1 Leganes 

For the first time this season, Real Betis have won a game.

With back-to-back losses to start the new campaign, Los Verdiblancos were far from meeting the high expectations that had them bouncing back from a wobbly 2018/2019 season. The team’s transition following a plethora of departures didn’t help the cause.

That continues to be the case for Real Betis, but with players such as summer signing Nabil Fekir, who continues to become more influential with each passing day, things can be different for Rubi’s side this time around.

The 26-year-old Frenchman, who missed out on move to Liverpool last summer, scored the game-winner against Leganes. With Giovani Lo Celso in London with Tottenham, Fekir is seamlessly becoming the ideal replacement: scoring two goals in the first three games La Liga.

The Sevilla based side can benefit from it again with Getafe up next, while Leganes, who are dead last, can learn something from Betis’ perseverance ahead of their bout against Villareal.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Levante 2-0 Real Valladolid

Getafe 1-1 Alaves

La Liga roundup: Griezmann shines in Barcelona’s 5-2 drubbing of Betis

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Wins from Barcelona and Atletico Madrid highlight La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Barcelona 5-2 Real Betis

Antoine Griezmann’s Camp Nou debut was one for the books.

With Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez sidelined with injuries, the floor was all Griezmann’s. He didn’t disappoint.

Down 1-0, Griezmann, sneaking past his markers inside the box, acrobatically tapped a lofting ball from Sergi Roberto into the back of the net.

The best was yet to come, however.

In the second half, as Barcelona pinned Real Betis back in their defensive third, the Frenchman’s magic came to life.

Soon after, the floodgates opened – Barcelona’s skill effortlessly began to pick apart a weaker Betis side. Just 30 minutes after the 28-year-old’s second goal, Ernesto Valverde’s side posed a 5-1 lead.

Loren Moron’s superb strike gave Betis a second, but the defending champions had already done the damage behind goals from Carles Perez, Jordi Alba, Arturo Vidal and Griezmann.

With Sunday’s performance in mind, how will Barcelona function with Messi, Suarez and Griezmann spearheading the attack?

Osasuna may soon find that out firsthand as they host the Catalonians next. Elsewhere, looking for their first points of the season, Betis host Leganes.

Leganes 0-1 Atletico Madrid 

With a goal in the 70th minute, Vitolo played the unlikely hero for Atletico Madrid in their 1-0 win over Leganes.

Following a smooth lay-off from Joao Felix, the 29-year-old calmly slotted the ball past Juan Soriano, ten minutes after replacing Mario Hermoso.

The goal certainly meant a lot to Vitolo and Atletico Madrid, who along with Sevilla, are one of two teams to start the season with six points after two matchweeks.

Although not entirely dominant throughout the course of the match, the home side was inches from stripping two points from Los Colchoneros with Jonathan Silva’s free-kick hitting the crossbar.

Despite having a pair of clear-cut opportunities on Sunday, Atletico’s $142 million summer signing is yet to celebrate his first La Liga goal. Alvaro Morata, too, is waiting to catch fire.

With Atletico hosting an underperforming Eibar next, the narrative that Simeone’s side is lacking efficiency in the attack can soon fall flat. On the other hand, no points to their name, will look to exploit a confidence-battered Real Betis.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Alaves 0-0 Espanyol

RCD Mallorca 0-1 Real Sociedad

Sevilla in danger of missing top-four after home hammering

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SEVILLE, Spain (AP) Sevilla suffered its worst home loss of the season on Friday, falling 3-0 at home to Leganes in the Spanish league and stumbling again in the fight for a Champions League berth.

It was a second consecutive defeat and third in four games for Sevilla, which is vying with Getafe and Valencia to accompany champion Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in the competition next season.

Sevilla remained in fifth, tied on points with fourth-place Getafe and three points ahead of Valencia. Getafe hosts Girona on Sunday before Valencia visits last-place Huesca.

Denmark forward Martin Braithwaite scored and had two assists for Leganes. He redirected a long pass with a subtle touch to set up Youssef En-Nesyri, who capped the counterattack with a curling shot in the eighth minute, then scored in the 20th when he used his chest to control the ball and open a firing angle around defender Jesus Navas.

Braithwaite assisted Oscar Rodriguez to round off the rout in the 82nd minute. Navas tried to clear Rodriguez’s goal-bound shot, but it went off his leg and into the net.

Leganes, a modest club from Madrid, is quietly having a solid campaign, moving into ninth place with the win.

Benzema rescues a 1-1 draw for Madrid at Leganes

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Real Madrid needed Karim Benzema to salvage a 1-1 draw at Spanish league minnow Leganes on Monday.

Benzema again proved a bright spot in a disappointing season for his club, scoring his fifth goal in four matches to cancel out an opener by right back Jonathan Silva.

[READ: Arsenal top ten-man Watford]

The France striker also snatched recent wins for Madrid with late goals against Huesca and Eibar.

Madrid remains third in the standings, 13 points adrift of Barcelona, which is on course to retain its title with six games left and a nine-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

Coach Zinedine Zidane already said Madrid had little to play for this season, adding over the weekend that his squad was set to be culled at the end of the campaign.

Goalkeeper Keylor Navas, whose future has been in doubt since the arrival of Thibaut Courtois last year, said on Monday that the players had more to play for than just trophies.

“We have our pride and our love for this shirt, which is worth more than any title,” Navas said. “It has been a complicated season for everyone.

“We have gone out there to win games, but they have gotten away from us. It is difficult to explain. We are all sad for the situation.”

Other than a shot by Marco Asensio saved by goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar, Leganes had little trouble keeping in check Madrid’s attack in the first half.

The hosts went ahead just before halftime when Martin Braithwaite won the ball in a crowded area and passed to Silva, who curled a shot around Navas into the corner of the net from the edge of the penalty box.

A flash of skill from Luka Modric then set up the equalizer in the 51st minute.

The Ballon d’Or winner turned quickly before slipping a pass through the defense to Benzema. His first strike was blocked by Cuellar, but the France forward pounced on the rebound and fired it home.

It was Benzema’s team-leading 27th goal in all competitions this season.

His increasing status since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo at the end of last season is in stark contrast to the fall from grace of Gareth Bale.

Bale played only the last 10 minutes against Leganes and, after falling out with the fans this season, he could be one of the stars the club will look to move on.

“I didn’t like our first half, but I think our second half was better,” Zidane said. “At the end we managed to draw, but we could have played much better. That is for sure. The sensation is not good.”

La Liga shockers: Barca loses, but Real fails to take advantage

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Maybe some foresaw Sevilla beating Real Madrid on Wednesday, but did anyone predict that decision would join a Leganes defeat of Barcelona hours earlier?

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap – Pulisic shines again ]

Andre Silva scored twice and Wissam Ben Yedder continued his fine season with a goal past as Sevilla beat Real to stop Los Blancos from taking ahold of the La Liga lead.

Sevilla managed seven shots on target in the match, while Real only managed three. Thibaut Courtois was between the sticks for Real.

The loss stings more because Barcelona wasted a Philippe Coutinho 12th minute opener and lost 2-1 to last place Leganes at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque.

Nabil El Zhar and Oscar Rodriguez scored a minute apart early in the second half, and Leganes boosted its points total from one to four.

Alaves can join Barcelona and Real Madrid on a league-best 13 points with a win on Thursday, as no unbeaten teams remain in La Liga. Atletico Madrid has 11 points, while Sevilla and Espanyol each have 10.

Elsewhere
Athletic Bilbao 0-3 Villarreal
Valencia 1-1 Celta Vigo

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Barcelona 6 4 1 1 17 7 10 2-1-0 2-0-1 13
 Real Madrid 6 4 1 1 12 6 6 3-0-0 1-1-1 13
 Atlético Madrid 6 3 2 1 8 4 4 2-1-0 1-1-1 11
 Sevilla 6 3 1 2 13 6 7 1-1-1 2-0-1 10
 Alavés 5 3 1 1 8 5 3 1-1-0 2-0-1 10
 Espanyol 6 3 1 2 6 4 2 3-0-0 0-1-2 10
 Celta Vigo 6 2 3 1 11 9 2 1-2-0 1-1-1 9
 Villarreal 6 2 2 2 5 3 2 0-1-2 2-1-0 8
 Real Sociedad 6 2 2 2 9 9 0 0-1-1 2-1-1 8
 Girona 5 2 2 1 7 8 -1 1-1-1 1-1-0 8
 Getafe 5 2 1 2 4 4 0 1-1-1 1-0-1 7
 Eibar 6 2 1 3 5 7 -2 2-0-1 0-1-2 7
 Athletic 5 1 3 1 7 9 -2 1-2-1 0-1-0 6
 Betis 5 1 3 1 3 5 -2 1-1-1 0-2-0 6
 València 6 0 5 1 4 6 -2 0-3-0 0-2-1 5
 Levante 5 1 1 3 8 11 -3 0-1-2 1-0-1 4
 Leganés 6 1 1 4 6 11 -5 1-1-1 0-0-3 4
 Rayo Vallecano 5 1 1 3 5 12 -7 0-0-2 1-1-1 4
 Huesca 6 1 1 4 6 16 -10 0-0-2 1-1-2 4
 Valladolid 5 0 3 2 3 5 -2 0-0-2 0-3-0 3