Watch: Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone weighs in on Alvaro Morata-referee controversy

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Alvaro Morata

Atletico Madrid needed Thomas Lemar to come off the bench and score an 85th-minute winner against Eibar on Saturday as they stretched their lead over Real Madrid to seven points in La Liga.

Real play at home to in-form Athletic Bilbao on Sunday but Atletico took another step towards finishing above their city rivals for a second consecutive year by squeezing past Eibar 1-0 at Ipurua.

Without Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa, who were both suspended, Diego Simeone’s side looked set for a stalemate that would have given Real at least a sniff of second place.

Instead Lemar, on as a substitute, tucked home at the back post to end Eibar’s resistance and reduce the gap behind run-away leaders Barcelona to six points.

Eibar have now won only once in their last eight games and stay 13th.








Lemar’s goal will have done his confidence no harm either, after a difficult debut season with Atleti, who paid €60 million to sign the Frenchman from Monaco last summer. Simeone will hope for more from the 23-year-old next term.


Speaking after the game, however, Simeone pointed to a controversial incident between Alberola Rojas and Alvaro Morata where the referee slapped the Atletico man on the back of the neck.


Watch the Atletico boss had to say in the clip above.




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Barcelona can experiment with a front four against Real Sociedad

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After easing past Manchester United in the quarter-final of the Champions League and progressing to the semis for the first time in three seasons, Barcelona turn their attention back to their La Liga campaign as they host Real Sociedad.

The league leaders will be looking to get back to winning ways after a stutter at Huesca where a second-string side played out a goal-less draw.

We take a look at the talking points ahead of the big game.

Wrap up the league title

messi

The lead at the top is a major advantage Barcelona hold over Liverpool before the pair locks horns in the semis. Ernesto Valverde’s men need just nine points in six games to wrap up the league title, whereas Liverpool might have to wait until the last game of the season.

This would allow Barcelona to rotate heavily, like they did against Huesca and hence have fresh legs for the semi-final tie.

Mathematically, the Catalans can be crowned champions as early as on Tuesday, when they take on Alaves.

Should Barcelona win both their matches and Atletico Madrid drop three points or more in their games against Alaves and Valencia in the coming week, Valverde’s side will be crowned champions.

This would then allow them complete liberty to rotate against Levante next weekend, three days prior to the all-important Champions League tie.

This should present Valverde extra incentive to go all guns blazing against Sociedad as it can potentially set the tone for the final stretch of games.

Will we see a front four?

Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho’s tremendous strike from distance against Manchester United which all but confirmed the tie in Barcelona’s was a clear indication of what he can do. He has scored such goals routinely in the Premier League, but the teams in La Liga know better than to give him acres of space in that part of the pitch.

One of the few times he succeeded in guiding a long-ranger home in a Barcelona shirt was in the same fixture last season. Another notable screamer was produced against Girona last season on a rare occasion when all four of Coutinho, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele started together. The game ended 6-1 in Barcelona’s favour.

Messi is in great form and Suarez has always performed well on English soil. Dembele is a game-changer in his own right and Coutinho too is beginning to impress after a woeful season.

This could be the perfect time for Valverde to experiment starting all these players together. A 4-4-2 formation turning into a 4-2-4 in attack can spell danger if the front-line performs. This can then serve as a blue-print for when Barcelona need to switch into an all-out-attack mode in the Champions League.

Real Sociedad look to end woeful run?

At one point in February, Sociedad were seventh in the league and just three points away from a Champions League spot. Now they need to overcome a five-point deficit to leapfrog Real Betis, Alaves and replace seventh-placed Athletic Bilbao to stand a chance of qualifying for the Europa League.

La Real have endured eight games with just one win in the league and will be looking to get back to winning ways at the Camp Nou.

With Alaves, Bilbao and Betis facing a tougher run of fixtures in the concluding stages, Sociedad could fancy a shot at a Europa League qualifier spot.

However, they know that this is no easy task, given they have lost their last six games at the Camp Nou.

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Jan Oblak signs new Atletico Madrid deal with huge release clause

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Jan Oblak has become one of the world's best goalkeepers at Atletico.

Slovenia goalkeeper Jan Oblak has signed a new contract at Atletico Madrid in a deal that will keep him in the Spanish capital until 2023.

Oblak has risen to become one of the world’s best goalkeepers since joining Atletico in 2014, and has recently been catching the eye of several clubs across Europe.

Manchester United were said to be among the clubs keeping tabs on the 26-year-old as they brace for the possible exit of David De Gea, but the latest development makes it unlikely that Oblak leaves this summer.

According to The Mirror, Oblak’s new contract contains a release clause of €120 million, which would make him the most expensive goalkeeper in history if anyone were to activate that option.

After leaving Benfica in 2014, Oblak has made 203 appearances for Atletico, keeping 115 clean sheets while helping the club win the 2018 Europa League and UEFA Super Cup titles. The club have also usurped Real Madrid in La Liga during Oblak’s tenure, finishing ahead of their city rivals last season and looking likely to repeat the feat in the ongoing campaign, where they are set for a second consecutive second-place finish, albeit yet again far behind leaders and defending league champions Barcelona.

“I’m very happy to have signed a contract extension and to be here. I’m going to defend these colours to the best of my abilities and continue working hard,” Oblak told the club’s official website.

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