Barcelona’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.
Antoine Griezmann’s brace helped Atletico Madrid take full advantage of Barcelona’s slip up as they cruised to a 3-0 victory over Almeria. Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring with a controversial penalty before Griezmann’s double ensured the game was over as a contest inside the first half-hour. Guilherme Siqueira was sent off in stoppage time for the Rojiblancos but it made little difference as they moved within three points of the Catalans.
Valencia tightened their grip on fourth place in the standings by beating Cordoba 2-1 thanks to a late winner by Pablo Piatti. Andre Gomes gave the visitors the lead towards the end of the first half but Nabil Ghilas levelled for the league’s bottom side in the 72nd minute, only for Piatti to put Valencia in charge again with nine minutes remaining.
Elsewhere, Celta Vigo claimed a Galician derby double as second-half goals from Charles and Joaquin Larrivey earned them a 2-0 victory at Deportivo La Coruna. Celta, who also beat their rivals 2-1 in September, took the lead through Charles’ deft chip 36 seconds into the second half, before Deportivo centre-back Alberto Lopo was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 73rd minute and Larrivey rounded off the win late on.