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Lionel Messi Goal

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde talked up the importance of having Lionel Messi in his side after the forward scored the winner in the 1-0 victory at Atletico Madrid.

Barca rode their luck in the first half, seeing the hosts hit the post and bring two fine saves out of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

But they punished Atletico’s failure to take their chances five minutes from time courtesy of Messi, who played a neat one-two with Luis Suarez on the edge of the area before coolly side-footing into the bottom corner.

La Liga Logo

The race for LaLiga looks set for several twists and turns this weekend as Atletico Madrid host Barcelona on Sunday night.

That clash will give Real Madrid and Sevilla, who are in action on early on Saturday and Sunday, the chance to take top spot before leaders Barca kick-off.

Elsewhere, there is a Basque derby between Real Sociedad and Eibar and a ‘hidden derby’ to look forward to as Valencia host Villarreal on Saturday evening.

Barcelona v Atletico Madrid

Barcelona face a serious test of their title credentials on Sunday evening when they take on Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Could Barcelona Be Heading To The Europa League?

Champions League Trophy

It’s impossible to talk about the knockout stages of the Champions League without discussing Barcelona as the La Liga champions are in real danger of failing to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition and risk playing the second half of the season in the Europa League.

The La Liga giants have not played a Europa League match since March 2004, the year before Lionel Messi joined the first-team, when they lost 1-0 on aggregate to Celtic in the UEFA Cup round-of-16.

But Ernesto Valverde’s side have been far from convincing this season – and two tricky group stage ties could put their Champions League hopes in jeopardy.

Ljuis Enrique Spain

Luis Enrique made his official return as head coach of the Spain team on Wednesday morning in Madrid, admitting that he felt betrayed by his former No 2 Robert Moreno.

Moreno took over from Luis Enrique in June when he resigned to care for his nine-year-old daughter Xana before she died of bone cancer in August.

Moreno saw Spain safely into next summer’s tournament but then left the job in tears after the last qualifier without giving his final post-match press conference.

The Spanish Football Federation [RFEF] reappointed Luis Enrique the following day amid suggestions he had not wanted Moreno on his staff.

Messi Named Ballon d’Or Winner?

Lionel Messi is set to win a record sixth Ballon d’Or award and the Barcelona superstar has already been informed of his achievement, according to reports in Spain.

Mundo Deportivo claims that the Argentine has already been told of his win, even though the awards ceremony is on Monday, December 2, and that a team from France Football magazine travelled to Barcelona to tell the 32-year-old.

Messi is on a three-man shortlist for this year’s gong alongside his perennial rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.

Must Win Match For Real Madrid Tonight

Real Madrid must beat PSG this evening at the Bernabeu to avoid a runners-up spot in Group A and a potentially tougher last-16 tie come February.

Madrid are currently on seven points from four games following a 3-0 defeat by the Ligue 1 champions on matchday one, as well as a 2-2 draw at home to Club Brugge two weeks later.

Although likely to qualify given closest rivals Brugge are only on two points, 13-time winners Real are likely to have to settle for second best, meaning potential knockout ties against current table-toppers Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Juventus or defending champions Liverpool.

Relief In Madrid As Mourinho Joins Tottenham

Real Madrid stars, led by Sergio Ramos, were happy to see Tottenham hire Jose Mourinho amid fears he could return to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Mourinho’s spell at Real between 2010 and 2013 brought success in La Liga but there were also battles with the bigger names in the squad, with the Portuguese manager famously falling out with Iker Casillas.

In recent months he has been named as a possible replacement for Zinedine Zidane if president Florentino Perez decides to dismiss the current manager.

And with Perez known to be a fan of Mourinho, there were concerns in the dressing room that he could bring him back.

Luis Enrique Returns As Spain Boss

Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique has officially returned as Spain boss five months after stepping down for personal reasons, it has been confirmed.

Former Barcelona boss Enrique stepped down from the role in June to spend time with his terminally ill daughter, who tragically passed away earlier this year.

The 49-year-old was replaced by his assistant, Robert Moreno, who went unbeaten through his nine matches at the helm – winning seven, and they have sealed their place in next summer’s European Championships finals.

Barcelona technical director Eric Abidal has admitted the Spanish giants are keeping a close eye on Inter Milan star Lautaro Martinez.

The 22-year-old is catching the eye in Italy after a series of stunning performances for Antonio Conte’s side, and swiftly becoming a wanted man among Europe’s elite sides.

Barcelona, who are known to be looking for a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez, are among those sides interested.

‘Yes, he is a complete player, I think he is performing at a great level,’ admitted Abidal recently to Mundo Deportivo.

El Clasico Set To Be Played On 18 December

El Clasico #eclasico

Barcelona’s rearranged home clash with rivals Real Madrid has finally been given a date with the Spanish giants meeting on December 18.

The duo were due to go head-to-head on October 26 but the highly anticipated fixture had to be postponed due to the political protests in Catalonia.

There was talk of the fixture being switched to the Santiago Bernabeu but both clubs decided against the idea.

They will now instead meet at the Nou Camp a week before Christmas Day.