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atletico-madrid-vs-real-madridA late Luciano Vietto goal earned Atletico Madrid a point in a Madrid derby that failed to live up to its billing.

But Real has to thank goalkeeper Keylor Navas for even that point and he saved Los Blancos from defeat by stopping a penalty shot and making some superb saves in the last minutes, when Atletico increased their pressure seeking the victory.

This was Rafa Benitez first Madrid derby as Real manager and it was clear that he played not lose instead of trying to win. The longer the game went on the more conservatives he became, introducing defensive players in the field during the second half. The problem was that once Atletico levelled late, Real didn’t have enough attackers on the field to try and retake the lead.

atletico-madrid-vs-real-madridReal Madrid will be without James Rodriguez for Sunday’s derby with Atletico Madrid, but Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale are available.

Marca had reported this week that James was recovering from his thigh injury ahead of schedule and would be back for the derby, but he was absent from the team’s final training session ahead of the trip to the Vicente Calderon.

“The idea was to have him ready as soon as possible [but] he’s not fit,” coach Rafa Benitez told his prematch news conference on Saturday.

Messi-PricelessBarcelona’s indifferent start to the season continued on Saturday as they lost 2-1 to Sevilla in a riveting game at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Michael Krohn-Delhi gave the hosts the lead after 52 minutes and Vicente Iborra increased the advantage six minutes later, capitalising on awful defending from the Catalans.

Neymar pulled one back for Luis Enrique’s side but, despite dominating the latter stages and hitting the woodwork three times over the course of the game, the champions could not find an equaliser and fell to a second straight away defeat.

diego-costa-cfcDiego Costa and Andres Iniesta will play no part in the final two UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers but defender Sergio Ramos was in the Spain squad Vicente del Bosque for the games with Luxembourg and Ukraine.

European champions Spain top Group C with 21 points ahead of Slovakia on 19 and Ukraine on 16, with a home game with Luxemburg on 9 October and in Ukraine three days later.

“Costa is suspended for the first game so we decided not to take him to Ukraine either,”

cr7-ballonEven before a ball was kicked at Malmö New Stadium on Wednesday night, Cristiano Ronaldo dominated headlines in Sweden and in Spain.

From a Malmö perspective, the focus was on containing the Portuguese sharpshooter. From Real Madrid’s side, the question was – would their No7 reach a pair of scoring milestones? One goal against Malmö would take him to 500 career goals. Two goals meant equalling Raúl González as the club’s all-time top scorer.

CR7RonaldoReal Madrid chalked up a second successive victory in UEFA Champions League Group A after two milestone goals from Cristiano Ronaldo subdued Malmö in southern Sweden.

Malmö coach Åge Hareide had spoken of the importance of keeping Ronaldo facing towards his own goal in this matchday two contest – the theory being it would also keep the Madrid No7 off the scoresheet. In practice, the tactic failed blatantly as the Portuguese international netted on 29 and 90 minutes to clinch the points. The landmark first was his 500th career goal for club and country; the second brought him level with the great Raúl González in the Madrid scoring charts.

Messi-PricelessLionel Messi will be out for up to eight weeks after suffering knee ligament damage in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas on Saturday, the Catalan giants confirmed.

“Tests have confirmed that Leo Messi suffered a torn internal collateral knee ligament. The estimated time out will be seven to eight weeks,” Barcelona said in a statement.

Messi will miss at least eight Barca games, and is a huge doubt for the first El Clasico of the season away to Real Madrid on 21 November. Barça face Sevilla, Rayo Vallecano, Eibar, Getafe and Villarreal in La Liga before visiting the Bernabeu. The European champions host Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday and will also have to do without Messi for back-to-back games against BATE Borisov.

CR7RonaldoIt’s a rare midweek slate of games in La Liga this week with the headline match being Los Blancos daunting trip to take on Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.

Rafa Benitez’s side Madrid struggled to beat Granada 1-0 at the weekend and owed the victory to a string of saves from Keylor Navas as he stretched his unbeaten streak to five games. The Costa Rica international is now within 10 minutes of breaking Iker Casillas’s club record for the longest start to a campaign without conceding a goal.

Messi-PricelessLionel Messi scored twice and missed a penalty as Barcelona stretched their 100 per cent record in Spain’s La Liga to four games with a 4-1 win over Levante on Sunday. The European champions lead Real Madrid, Villarreal and Celta Vigo by two points with Atletico Madrid a point further adrift in fifth.

Levante frustrated an experimental Barça side shorn of Luis Suarez from the start for 50 minutes before Marc Bartra settled the Catalans’ nerves from Messi’s cross. The floodgates then opened as Neymar doubled the advantage before Messi converted his first effort from the spot.

navas-rmfcA solitary goal from Karim Benzema spared Real Madrid’s blushes as the Spanish giants moved to the top of Spain’s La Liga with a nervy 1-0 win over Granada on Saturday. Atletico Madrid remain just a point behind their city rivals as Fernando Torres came off the bench to inspire Diego Simeone’s men to a 2-0 win at Eibar.

Benzema grabbed the only goal of the game nine minutes into the second-half with a cushioned header from Isco’s fine cross. Victory moves Madrid a point ahead of Barcelona at the top of the table with the Catalans not in action until Sunday when they host Levante.