Barcelona boss Luis Enrique lauded the quality of strike duo Lionel Messi and Neymar after both were on target as the Catalans maintained their 100 per cent start to the La Liga season with a 5-0 win at Levante.
Messi fired a first-half penalty off target, but teed up Neymar and Sandro Ramirez to take his tally of assists to six in just five games this season and finally got his goal as he rounded off the scoring 18 minutes from time.
“With Leo Messi we are talking about a unique, special player. His team-mates know well that when he has the ball, he can not only beat players but assist them magnificently,” said Enrique.
Real Madrid Coach Carlo Ancelotti will switch his focus to improving the European Champions’s defence after seeing his attack click into gear in stunning fashion over the last week.
Real had come in for criticism following a disappointing start to the season which saw them lose two of their opening three La Liga games, having also been beaten by Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa. However, 13 goals in their last two matches, trashing Basle 5-1 and Deportivo La Coruna 8-2, suggests Real’s star-studded forward line is beginning to fire on all cylinders.
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Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, while Gareth Bale and Javier Hernandez both scored twice as Real Madrid ran riot against Deportivo La Coruna at Riazor. Although Los Blancos needed around 30 minutes to break the deadlock through Ronaldo, once Carlo Ancelotti’s side had got the first goal they went about mauling their hosts and buried the memory of last weekend’s defeat to local rivals Atletico Madrid by blitzing the Galicians 8-2.
While Ronaldo, Bale and substitute Hernandez contributed the majority of the goals, James Rodriguez also scored his first goal in the Spanish La Liga, while Haris Medunjanin and Toche replied for the hosts.
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Barcelona’s perfect start to the new Spanish La Liga season continued with a processional 5-0 victory over bottom side Levante at Ciutat de Valencia. Luis Enrique’s early leaders made it four wins from four and kept a fourth straight clean sheet as goals from Neymar, Ivan Rakitic, Sandro, Pedro and Lionel Messi demonstrated the wide gulf in class between the two sides.
There were, however, two moments of concern for the Catalan giants, with Messi missing a penalty after Loukas Vyntra was dismissed and Neymar making a premature exit in the second half having turned his ankle. Levante, meanwhile, remain in the basement with no goals and just one point from their opening four matches.
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Results continue to come easy in the Spanish La Liga for new Valencia coach Nuno Espirito Santo, whose side beat Espanyol 3-1 on Sunday. A close-range finish from Pablo Piatti put them ahead eight minutes in, and second-half strikers from Dani Parejo and Paco Alcacer finished off a Espanyol side, although Sergio Garcia did manage to score a late penalty for the Catalans. Valencia now have seven points and seven goals from their opening three games and are playing with a confidence and fluidity not seen since Unai Emery was in charge.
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti insisted that his star-laden side needs to find a balance between attack and defence as they were again humbled by local rivals Atletico Madrid 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. Atletico have yet to be beaten by Real in three meetings already this campaign after suffering a heartbreaking Champions League final defeat to Los Blancos back in May as they also won the Spanish Super Cup last month 2-1 on aggregate.
Two stunning pieces of skill by Lionel Messi and two languid finishes from substitute Neymar saw Barcelona beat a resilient Athletic Bilbao side 2-0 to pick up a third consecutive win and stay top of the Primera Division on a night that saw rivals Real Madrid beaten by defending champions Atletico.
Ernesto Valverde’s side had produced a disciplined performance at the Camp Nou and looked to be heading for a point until a moment of brilliance from Messi released Neymar, who broke the deadlock with nine minutes remaining. The Argentinian and Brazilian then combined again for the second goal, Messi cutting the ball back for his team-mate to strike low into the bottom corner and deliver the final blow to Athletic.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has said that Cristiano Ronaldo is over the worst of his recent injury problems and is ready to return for the European champions clash against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
The World Player of the Year missed Real’s 4-2 defeat to Real Sociedad two weeks ago, as well as Portugal’s embarrassing 1-0 loss at home to Albania on Monday due to a hamstring problem, but has trained all week in Madrid ahead of a seventh meeting with La Liga champions Atletico this year.
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Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has confirmed that Lionel Messi will be fit to face Athletic Bilbao on Saturday despite skipping Argentina’s FIFA World Cup™ Final rematch with Germany last week due to a groin strain.
“Messi is ready to play. He has trained both on his own and with the group,” Enrique said. “The relationship every player has with his international team is different. What concerns me is his relationship with the club and it has been great so far.”
Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo has completed an initial loan move to Valencia. The deal with Valencia includes an obligation for Los Che to buy the player, who is currently out with a broken foot, at the end of the season.
The 29-year-old impressed in what proved to be his only season in Manchester, but was reportedly keen to return to his homeland, leaving City manager Manuel Pellegrini with Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic as his options in attack.
City paid £20million to bring the forward from Sevilla last summer after his previous spells with Real Madrid’s ‘B’ team and Almeria.