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carlo-ancelotti-real-madridReal Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti believes the Spanish title race will not be decided until the final day of the season. Los Merengues won 2-0 at Elche on Sunday to move four points clear at the top of La Liga after nearest rivals Barcelona lost 1-0 at home to Malaga. Defending champions Atletico Madrid are third, just three points adrift of Barça.

“It was an important match given what happened with Barcelona,” Ancelotti told his club’s official website. “It has enabled us to pull further away from Barça.

UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour 2008Manuel Pellegrini believes Manchester City are in far better form to take on Barcelona in this season’s UEFA Champions League than they were when they lost to the same opponents in the competition 12 months ago. The Catalan club visit the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday for the first leg of the last 16 tie, a repeat of last season’s two-legged meeting from which Barça emerged as 4-1 aggregrate winners and City had players sent off in each game.

But, after a 5-0 victory over Newcastle United hauled City to within five points of English Premier League leaders Chelsea, Pellegrini claimed that his side will be far tougher opponents in 2015.

David MoyesSecond-half goals from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo earned Real Madrid a 2-0 win at struggling Elche that moved them four points clear at the top of the Spanish La Liga.

Benzema, who had earlier had a goal ruled out for offside, tapped home the opener before Ronaldo powered home a header to seal the points. Victory ensured the visitors took full advantage of Barcelona’s home defeat to Malaga to further strengthen their hold on top spot.

A last-minute winner from captain Xabi Prieto saw Real Sociedad win a seven-goal thriller against Sevilla 4-3. Imanol Agirretxe volleyed David Moyes’ side in front shortly after a quarter of an hour, but Timothee Kolodziejczak headed in an equaliser just before half-time.

MalagaBarcelona’s preparations for their UEFA Champions League clash with Manchester City were rocked as they suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at home against Malaga. 21-year-old Juanmi scored the only goal after just seven minutes following a glaring mistake by Dani Alves and Barcelona never recovered, producing a sluggish display which knocks a huge dent in their Spanish La Liga title hopes.

The Catalans passed up the opportunity to go top of the table and instead remain a point behind league leaders Real Madrid, who have the opportunity to extend their advantage to four points when they face Elche on Sunday evening. Barcelona must now regroup for the trip to Manchester and the last-16 European clash with City on Tuesday evening.

la_liga_logoBarcelona can move to the top of La Liga for the first time since early November when they look to stretch their winning run to 12 games against Malaga on Saturday.

The Catalans have struck 42 goals in that hot streak to close to within a point of Real Madrid and to the brink of reaching the Copa del Rey final. However, Luis Enrique’s men will be intent on not only taking top spot for at least 24 hours before Madrid travel to Elche on Sunday, but also ensuring they suffer no injury setbacks ahead of their return to UEFA Champions League action away to Manchester City on Tuesday.

messi-updatedLionel Messi has warned Manchester City that they could not have picked a worse time to face Barcelona. The two sides meet next week in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages for the second consecutive year and Barça are currently in rampant form with Messi scoring and setting up plenty of goals.

Barça, who are riding an 11-game winning streak in all competitions, defeated City 4-1 on aggregate last season.

“The truth is that we are good,” Messi told Mundo Leo. “Fortunately, after our poor start to the year after our game against Real Sociedad (1-0 defeat on 4 January), everything changed for us.

cr7The European and World Club champions took a big step towards reaching the Champions League quarter finals as they beat Schalke 2-0 in Germany on Wednesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo ended a rare drought of three games by heading Real ahead in the first half before Marcelo made victory safe with a terrific long range effort in the 79th minute. Timon Wellenreuther, a 19-year-old goalkeeper pressed into action due to injuries, impressed but ultimately Roberto Di Matteo’s side could not deny Real a tenth successive win in the competition.

cr7-ballonSpanish football expert Guillem Balague, writing for Sky Sports, claims that Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is once again suffering from a knee injury that has plagued him in recent seasons.

Ronaldo started the season on fire with 25 goals in 14 La Liga appearances, but he has struggled since the FIFA Club World Cup, scoring on three times in his last six games.

Balague believes that Ronaldo’s well-known knee injury, which hampered his effectiveness towards the end of last season, is to blame for his fluctuations in form.

Camp Nou StadiumFIFA has muddied the water in Barcelona’s transfer ban by telling Sky Sports News that the Spanish side can sign players this year as long as they do not register them before next January.

Last April, Barca were found guilty of breaking FIFA rules on the transfer of players under the age of 18 and banned from registering any new players for 14 months.

Barca appealed that decision to The Court of Arbitration for Sport, but in December they were told the transfer ban stands.

Barca could not sign anyone in January and are banned from bringing in any new players this summer.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has scored more league goals (11) than 78 of the 98 teams in Europe’s top 5 leagues in 2015