Real Madrid's crucial key to La Liga title boost, Liverpool-Man City lessons, Man United's tough day, more

Real Madrid have flaws but their character puts them on the cusp of LaLiga glory. PLUS: What we learned from Liverpool vs. (Author: Gardener)

Real Madrid'sIt was a weekend of drama and excitement in Europe's top leagues as Real Madrid (dramatically) closer to winning the LaLiga title, Paris Saint-Germain won another Ligue 1 title, Liverpool took Manchester City into the FA Cup semi-finals and Cristiano def. Ronaldo scored a hat-trick for Manchester United in a game that showcased all their worst qualities (and included a fan protest). - ESPN+ Viewer Guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more Jump to: Real close to title | Liverpool beats Manchester City | PSG on the brink | Chelsea Reach Cup Final | Juventus disappoint | Man United's tough day | Uncertainty for Bavaria | Arsenal bad luck | Dortmund put on a show | Spurs hurt themselves | Atletico late goal This is an imperfect Real Madrid. That it's also a Real Madrid side 180 minutes from a Champions League final and on the verge of winning their 35th La Liga crown is down to a multitude of factors. They have a Ballon d'Or-leading center forward (Karim Benzema), a timelessly creative leprechaun who shows up often enough to make the difference (Luka Modric), one of the most underrated defenders in the game (David Alaba) and a Shutdown goalkeeper (Thibaut Courtois). They have a very experienced coach on the verge of becoming the first man to win titles in each of Europe's 'Big Five' leagues (Carlo Ancelotti) and an experienced supporting cast. But they also have the ability to digest defeats and poor performances like few other teams. For example, they were played out of the park by Paris Saint-Germain in Paris and stormed back to win 3-1 in the second leg. They were beaten at home by Barcelona in the Clasico and responded with an outstanding performance at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. And now, after losing at home to the same Chelsea FC (and needing extra time to progress in the Champions League), they turned around a 2-0 deficit in a 3-2 win at Sevilla with a superb second half . It's hard to overstate how bad Madrid were in the first half hour on Sunday. Julen Lopetegui's team took control of the game and took a 2-0 lead. Ancelotti's plan to replace Ferland Mendy with Dani Carvajal at left-back and, most importantly, to keep Toni Kroos in front of the back four with Casemiro suspended backfired. And because it never hurts to be lucky, they were lucky that Eduardo Camavinga wasn't sent off for a second bookable offence. Then came the break and Ancelotti sent Rodrygo for Camavinga and switched to a 4-3-3. Rodrigo struck straight away (his first LaLiga goal of the season) with his weaker foot after an assist from Dani Carvajal of all people. Then there was a sense of inevitability, even after Vinicius' goal was (bizarrely) disallowed. And while Madrid's other goals came late - Nacho eight minutes from time, Benzema in added time - it felt like it was just a matter of time. But we've seen Real Madrid turn things around enough times to know it wasn't an accident. Whether it's experience, tenacity or steadfastness, the feeling that they're coming back into play is real and more often than not the opponent feels it too. At this stage of the campaign, the effects of exhaustion (mental and physical) add up, so it's not uncommon for a game to be directly impacted by what came before it. Liverpool had an extra day off, resting seven players midweek ahead of their FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City as they went into the game with a 3-1 lead against Benfica. On the other hand, City were sent to Atletico Madrid, who rose overall but endured a long psychodrama marked by tension and anger. - Steffen's FA Cup howlers: How social media reacted - Highlights: Liverpool hold on to reaching FA Cup final (U. Pep Guardiola can spin it however he wants - and he revealed that Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan were unfit and only on the bench to even the numbers, perhaps to ward off accusations that the FA Cup is not a priority for him compared to the Premier League and Champions League, and if that means Ruben Dias on the bench stays because he is returning injury, Zack Steffen gets the nod against Ederson because he plays in cup games, Riyad Mahrez comes with just seven minutes left and Aymeric Laporte and Rodri remain on the bench so be it why City now have two players has less -- Benjamin Mendy is suspended and Ferran Torres at Barcelona -- than at the start of the season and yet hasn't bothered to strengthen the squad, or why, for someone who regularly talks about the overstrain at the top Players and the import With the introduction of five substitutes in the Premier League, he rarely uses his full replacement quota. What we learned on Saturday boils down to a fit and rested full-throttle Liverpool being better than a tired, remixed city. As for Liverpool, the win came with a little cautionary tale. At 3-0 they didn't kill the game. In fact, City pulled one back early in the second half and Alisson had to make two Alisson-like saves before Bernardo Silva struck in garbage time. It might not feel like something to be overly celebrated given how the season has gone, but Paris Saint-Germain's 2-1 win over Marseille means they are now on the verge of the eighth time in 10 years to win league 1. That's inevitable given the massive changes expected in the summer: from Kylian Mbappe to Leonardo, from Mauricio Pochettino to Lionel Messi, you're not sure who will stay. The win has been a bit of a microcosm of PSG lately. We've seen Messi, Mbappe and Neymar team up and magic (check out Neymar's delicate touch in the first set or Messi's unrecognized goal), we've seen a terrible equalizer defense (Gianluigi Donnarumma but not only him) and we saw the VAR controversy resolved by Mbappe's penalty. They suspect that this club needs stability and clear thinking above all. The FA Cup is all Chelsea have left this season so it's important they beat Crystal Palace 2-0 to set up a repeat of the League Cup final against Liverpool. It matters how they end the campaign and possibly how much clout Thomas Tuchel has over the new owner (assuming they are in place by the summer). - Highlights: Chelsea go strong in the second half in the FA Cup final (U.). In terms of performance, there wasn't much to celebrate, particularly in a first half where Palace frustrated Chelsea - one wondered if the hangover from the Bernabeu could have cost them another potential trophy. But to their credit they have the pace of work increased after the break, and it's no coincidence that both goals came after Palace forced errors. There should have been a third goal, of course, but Romelu Lukaku ended up scoring at the far post instead of in goal, which sort of made his season summarizes: Juve needed a goal from Dusan Vlahovic deep in stoppage time against the nine-man Bologna to avoid a home defeat to opponents who only won twice in 2022 And yet Max Allegri spoke of a "psychologically important step forward in the table .” Psychological impulses should come from a good game and Juve were bad in every way. in" mood, especially in the first half. Sure, Juventus had a recognized fit midfielder (and that was Adrien Rabiot to boot) but you can't explain such away performances by citing unavailable players. The insane lack of creativity was due to a lack of game patterns and that must be down to Allegri too, not just the players. At times it feels like he's counting down the days until the end of the season. Plus we have one of the dumbest sending-offs in Recorded history: Gary Medel received several yellow cards for dissent for arguing about a penalty which the referee would not (and did not) award anyway. It started with a fan protest against the Glazer family and ended with that Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Norwich. Meanwhile, the 3-2 win confirmed so much of what we already know about the club. E There were defensive mistakes, there was at least one save from David De Gea who turned a point into three, and there was little cohesion and even less pattern. If you're forced to play a 4-3-3 with Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard in midfield, it's bound to be disjointed. This looks like a season-ending all-star XI if voters sign as many attacking players as possible. (Or rather, if any of those three had a good season.) Still, it's three points, and with Arsenal and Spurs both losing, United's Champions League hopes will be reignited... at least until you remember their next game is off to Liverpool at Anfield. As of this writing, the top 4 remains an uphill battle (and they still have games against Arsenal and Chelsea ahead of them). The best thing you can do is enjoy Ronaldo while you can and keep counting down the days until Erik ten Hag is announced. The 3-0 away win at Arminia Bielefeld was less a professional win and more a win that comes from the fact that Bayern are orders of magnitude more talented. It's not easy to bounce back when motivation is low and you've just suffered a painful Champions League elimination, but Bayern still cleared the minimum hurdle, although there were a few more scares on the defensive than Julian Nagelsmann would like was. - Highlights: Bayern head for the big win vs. Still, it's time to look ahead and while Nagelsmann had to endure the rage of the fans after the Villarreal game, it's obvious the club is (rightfully) in for another season (if not more) bound to him. . This is a club that, as we know, watch their pennies and when necessary they can be ruthless (just ask Alaba). A suboptimal situation for Nagelsmann, not least because he is advised but leaves the decision to the number freaks. After 10 straight titles, instead of extending the drama for another 12 months, one wonders if perhaps he wouldn't be tempted to rebuild for a year with a different cast of characters. It's easy to conclude that Arsenal unfortunately lost 1-0 away to Southampton. They were without Alexandre Lacazette, who has been crushed by COVID (and no, Eddie Nketiah isn't quite the same), as well as Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney. They dominated the xG fight (1.78 to .73), conceding just two shots in the second half and Southampton only scoring thanks to a massive defensive error. Throw in Fraser Forster, who has the game of his life in the Southampton goal, and yes, that's how you're beaten. But it also fails to notice how, after that 6-0 hammer against Chelsea, Southampton sat deep with a back five and handed the ball to Arsenal, almost challenging them to do anything with it. And Mikel Arteta's team didn't do enough, as he realized himself after the game. Sure, Lacazette (and Partey and Tierney) were missed, but at this stage people need to stand up. Arteta has chalked it up to inexperience but perhaps it's more about leadership at the moment, especially after three straight defeats. The fourth place is still very strong in the game. Arsenal must be ready to grab it. With Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season and second in the Bundesliga, it makes sense for the club to give space to the next generation. - Highlights: Haaland burns when Dortmund destroys Wolfsburg (U.). This is a big summer for Dortmund, and not just because Erling Haaland (who scored two goals and brought his season to 25) is almost certain to walk away. Between the players Dortmund may want to switch and the bigger clubs covet, a revision this summer is easy to foresee. Use what's left of the season to make the best decisions possible... including what to do with the trainer. After winning four league games in a row – and having climbed from seventh to fourth place – Tottenham were looking good ahead of their home game against Brighton. Sure, Graham Potter's side had a big win away from Arsenal, but so had they taken a point from their last seven games (and that was a home draw against, er, Norwich). They are in midfield and have nothing to play for. What's evident is that Antonio Conte was right after the game when he said: "There are games you can't win if you don't win them, don't lose them." Conceding in stoppage time instead of taking the point and living to fight another day is an obvious no-no. A goal hadn't come this late in a LaLiga game since 2008. It was 10 minutes into injury time and ten-man Atletico Madrid were pressing for the win against Espanyol An Atleti corner came in and hit Raul De Tomas I've watched the replay a dozen times and I'm hesitating between 'I can't tell' and 'de Tomas leg' Go ahead and try it out. Yannick Carrasco stepped up to convert the penalty and give Atletico the three points. As a result, Atletico remain in the race for a place in the top four and showed no ill effects from being eliminated from the Champions League mid-W also. (Perhaps no surprise considering that in "Chololand" City's game against the Wanda was treated like a moral victory.) After a sluggish first half, Diego sent on Simeone Carrasco, Matheus Cunha and Antoine Griezmann and he got attacking momentum , which he needed to balance.


Gareth Bale's embarrassing reaction as Real Madrid team-mates snap in the dressing room

The Wales international looked extremely awkward in the dressing room as his team-mates celebrated and hugged after their remarkable comeback win (Author: Gardener)

Gareth Bale'sGareth Bale's awkward reaction as Real Madrid team-mates snap in the dressing room The Wales international looked extremely awkward in the dressing room as his team-mates clenched and celebrated and hugged after their remarkable comeback win. Bale seen looking awkward in the dressing room Pitch Sign up for our Football NewsletterSomething went wrong, please try again later. Thank you for subscribing!We have more NewsletterShow meGareth Bale was spotted feeling very uncomfortable as the Real Madrid players freaked out after their comeback at the weekend. Los Blancos' official Twitter account shared a video showing the sheer celebration of all the players in the dressing room after the final whistle, with one exception. Gareth Bale could be seen in the background of the video looking embarrassed while Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Jr celebrated alongside him. During the video, the camera pans through the dressing room as some players can be seen hugging and screaming while Bale awkwardly stands at his locker and then walks to the other part of the dressing room. The video garnered more than 17,000 likes and 2,000 retweets as people lashed out at Bale for his casualness. The Real Madrid tweet was captioned in typically excited fashion: '¡VAAAAAAAAAMOSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!' What do you think of Gareth Bale's lack of celebration after Real Madrid's win? Real Madrid stars go wild in the dressing room @G3RMIN noticed Bale's awkwardness and tweeted: "Bale is like: what am I doing here mate?" While other Twitter users responded with screenshots of Bale, he stood looking. @invisiblehbd quoted the tweet as saying: "And people are wondering why Bale isn't playing. Look at his face..." @ngkhalela found the funny side of the Welsh winger's lack of celebration: "Bale should take it easy on celebrations." Bale is expected to leave Real Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the season after a turbulent period in of the Spanish capital has been phased out in recent years.


Bale's reaction to Real Madrid teammates' celebrations

Gareth Bale was in no mood to celebrate with his Real Madrid team-mates after they put in a brilliant performance as they came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Sevilla in La Liga (Author: Gardener)

Real MadridGareth Bale was in no mood to celebrate with his Real Madrid team-mates after they put in a brilliant performance to return from a 2-0 deficit against Sevilla in La Liga. Gareth Bale's isolation at Real Madrid was captured in footage in the dressing room after the club's huge comeback win over Sevilla on Sunday. Real came from a 2-0 deficit at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium to a 3-2 win and are 15 points clear of rivals Barcelona at the top of La Liga. Ivan Rakitic's free-kick and Erik Lamela's shot gave Sevilla a two-goal lead after just 25 minutes, stunning the designated champions. Real had ruled out a controversial goal from VAR's Vinicius Jr for a handball but it didn't matter as Nacho scored with his first touch after coming on as a substitute to make it 2-2 before Karim Benzema struck the winner in the 92nd minute scored Carlo Ancelotti's side were understandably delighted with their dramatic comeback in Andalusia and footage from the club's Twitter account showed the players returning to the dressing room to celebrate. But there is one player who is not involved: Bale. As all of his teammates and coaching staff jump around chanting, high-fiving and hugging, Bale stands motionless and refuses to join in. Where will Gareth Bale end up if he leaves Real Madrid? As is so often the case this season, Bale did not appear on the pitch against Sevilla. He was an unused substitute and watched as Rodrygo, Nacho, Marco Asensio and Mariano Diaz were all called onto the pitch by Ancelotti in front of him. The 32-year-old has made just seven appearances in all competitions for Los Blancos this season and will leave once his contract expires on July 1. He has scored two goals and two assists for Wales this season but only one goal for his club side. Bale has been at Real for nine years since his blockbuster transfer from Tottenham in September 2013. He has contributed 106 goals and 67 assists in 258 games for the Spanish giants but has endured some frustrating campaigns at Madrid in recent years. In February, Ancelotti all but confirmed that we are in the final months of Bale's career at Real. "His contract is about to expire and it could be that he hasn't had much motivation lately," he said. “Now he feels good and wants to finish his time here as he deserves because Bale has brought many titles to this club. He helped the club win the Champions League and the Copa Del Rey so I think ending his time here on a high would do his career good." He added: "The personal relationship with him and the other players are good, I can't fault him. As long as a player is serious, professional and respects the rules and the people he works with, our personal relationship will be good." Good.


Real Madrid goalkeeper Courtois stops mid-game to chat with Sevilla fans

Thibaut Courtois took the opportunity during a long VAR break to speak to opposing fans about the incident during Real Madrid's game against Sevilla on Sunday night (Author: Gardener)

SevillaThibaut Courtois took the opportunity during a long VAR break to speak to opposing fans about the incident during Real Madrid's game against Sevilla on Sunday night. Thibaut Courtois spoke to Sevilla fans during their game against Real Madrid went wrong, please try again later. Thank you for subscribing!We have more newslettersShow meFootballers can prove as clueless to VAR incidents as the fans at the stadium, as Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Sevilla supporters proved on Sunday night. Los Blancos were 2-1 down when Vinicius Junior scored what he thought was the equalizer in the 74th minute at Sevilla's Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. The Brazilian appeared to control the ball with his chest before firing past Yassine Bounou but VAR reviewed the incident for a possible handball against the winger. While VAR officials reviewed footage in the studio, looking at multiple stills and replays, Courtois was left completely in the dark about what had happened down the field. As spotted by Spanish football expert Sid Lowe, the 29-year-old sat on the billboard to discuss the matter with the Sevilla fans behind him. Courtois is hardly the most popular goalkeeper, as evidenced by the hostile reception he received from Chelsea fans six days ago. But the conversation seemed polite in context as he was chatting to a group of Sevilla fans. After a lengthy check, the goal was controversially checked off by the referee and it went on for Courtois and Real, who found themselves unable to climb after falling behind early on. Ivan Rakitic defeated Courtois with a clever free-kick that pierced the Madrid wall to put Julen Lopetegui's side ahead after 21 minutes. Former Tottenham midfielder Erik Lamela then took advantage of a disastrous Real Madrid defense to make it 2-0 just three minutes later. But Real, who sealed their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a comeback against Chelsea on Tuesday, were alive in the second half. MY MESSAGE: Will Real Madrid win the Champions League this season? Thibaut Courtois couldn't believe Vinicius Junior's try was thwarted by VAR Rodrygo, pulling one back just five minutes after the break before Vinicius' goal was ruled out. Carlo Ancelotti was in disbelief at the referee's decision to disallow Vinicius' goal after the game: "Vinicius' goal was never a hand ball. I can't believe the referee wouldn't have allowed it if he had given Camavinga the red card as well – his plan would have worked perfectly.” Real appear certain of reclaiming the title from capital rivals Atletico Madrid with just seven games remaining 15 points clear at the top of La Liga. But the battle for second place is alive and well and well after the loss means Sevilla are level with Barcelona and Atletico on 60 points going into the final weeks of the season.


After another comeback, the league title will soon belong to Real Madrid again

After PSG and Chelsea, Sevilla were the last team to suffer from Carlo Ancelotti's male recovery power (Author: Gardener)

Real MadridIt was late, it had been a long week, his legs were tired and everyone was making a lot of noise, but this seat wasn't for sitting on. That was to celebrate, his thing now, so he took it and lifted it over his head. Returning by popular demand, he emulated what he had done after that absurd comeback against Paris Saint Germain, cheers went through the dressing room and his teammates started chanting, "This is how Madrid wins!" They'd just gone and had it all over again done, and this time it had won the title. "It's only three points, that's the reality," said Nacho Fernández, standing on the sidelines when everything was finished, apart from the shouting, and there was a lot of that, but the reality was that the league was theirs and secured her way. Four days after the implausible revival against Chelsea, Real Madrid came back from a 2-0 win over Sevilla 3-2 in a brilliant game at the Sánchez Pizjuán. With that, the only undefeated home record was over and the race was as good as over. Carlo Ancelotti, a title winner in Italy, England, Germany and France, should now add Spain, a fifth different championship that comes through a second opportunity he never expected, a chance call about something else entirely that got him back at the Bernabéu brings. It might even arrive soon: Madrid don't play next weekend - Saturday is the Copa del Rey final between Valencia and Betis - but they could be champions on Sunday night if Barcelona slip up this week. Fifteen points clear with six games remaining, what a bit of hope was lost to someone else late Sunday night. It was Easter Sunday in the place where the Passion of Christ is taken more seriously than anywhere else, the orange blossoms were once again turning Seville into the sweetest-smelling city in the world, and a giant banner had covered one end on Pizjuán. They meant Seville, of course - and there are two Jesuss on their team, etc and so on - but it was made for Madrid, always kind of stood there when the stone is rolled back. Ivan Rakitic had scored the opening goal, his free-kick going through the wall where Éder Militão had been. Five minutes later, Érik Lamela made it 2-0 and the place roared. Sevilla have only been beaten once since their last clash with Madrid in November and have not been at home at all. Sevilla were in control, playing the ball from deep and starting every move pretty much on their own baseline. At one point they worked their way out of the corner, were forced back in and worked their way back out as easily, accompanied by Olés from the stands. "We had the game in a good place," Rakitic said. This was going to be a story; Instead, it was the story of their season. There but out of reach, a feeling that they just couldn't take that step, on some level they still didn't really believe it as well as it was going. "There was fear of victory," admitted Julen Lopetegui. Antony Martial was eliminated by Eduardo Camavinga and deported where the Madrid midfielder could have been deported, a moment when they felt they had changed everything. "If we had kept them all, we would have won for sure," said sporting director Monchi. "It's such a shame." He, too, saw their entire season in that one game, missed opportunity. A "photo" he called it. In the end it wasn't even that good. Sevilla haven't lost in 11 league games since the start of the year, the transfer window - signing Tecatito Corona and Martial, resisting Newcastle's approach to Diego Carlos - reflected a feeling they faced a unique opportunity. The problem was that they didn't win much either; seven of them ended in a draw, the challenge resolved point by point. Even second place slipped. Kicked out of the Cup by Betis and out of the Europa League by West Ham, they missed a chance to lift their trophy at their stadium. And now this stadium suffered its first defeat of the league season, which ended in whistles and finger pointing. "That's exactly what we're asking ourselves," he said, but the truth was that the move had come earlier, late in the first half. "You can't give them an inch," said Sevilla captain Rakitic. "We invited them to come back." Even when they made it 2-0 - a goal Sevilla had not missed at home in almost a decade - there was a sense that this was about to happen. Not just because this is Seville, but because this is Madrid. "Everyone has been waiting for us to slip, but this team doesn't slip because they have guts, heart and character," said Ancelotti. Some really good players and a coach who listens to them, reaches out to them and trusts them. "This team is capable of special things," Ancelotti added, and for all the talk of epic, mentality or luck, there's also a physical prowess that's all the more unexpected the less they rotate. Madrid left late but were great in the second half in Seville, the three goals were far from their only chances and it was about talent as much as temperament. Each time he made his way to the touchline, Vinicius in particular made for nice touches to open up his opponents. The changes worked, as is so often the case with Ancelotti, and the contrast with Seville was stark. Rodrygo, who came on as a half-time substitute, quickly scored the first and Nacho scored the second at 82. That could already have been Madrid's third goal, Thibaut Courtois sitting on the advertising boards at one end chatting politely to Sevilla fans about whether an earlier 'goal' would be awarded, only for the VAR to decide Vinicius handled. Instead, the third had to wait until Benzema finished another clean move in the 92nd minute while Julen Lopetegui waved frantically on the touchline. Ancelotti clenched his fists and screamed. Alaba held his head in his hands. "We're a little bit closer," Nacho said, but it was a lot. This game, the front pages of both Madrid newspapers agreed on Sunday morning, was "half a league", championship point or break point, as Diario AS put it. Barcelona and Sevilla were given hope and then taken away. Rafa Mir had missed a glorious chance to make it 2-1 just to take the lead but with eight minutes remaining Madrid were still losing. Had it stayed that way, they would have gone to Pamplona - not somewhere they enjoy themselves - knowing that another loss could have caught them by just three points by the end of the next weekend. Instead, they could soon become champions. Madrid only need ten points from six games to be sure of whatever the rest are doing now to react when it matters again. "Statement," Toni Kroos called it, the entire team posed for a photo together - well, almost the entire team. One last big hurdle was taken as they please, the title as good as theirs, even if they still have to wait for the trophy, Alaba's chair just plays the role a little longer.


New Chelsea owners face a pivotal transfer as the grand Real Madrid heist takes shape

Carlo Ancelotti could give Chelsea's new owners an immediate big decision after a report detailed his plans to sign Reece James. (Author: Gardener)

Real MadridCarlo Ancelotti could give Chelsea's new owners an immediate big decision after a report detailed his plans to sign Reece James. James, 22, has continued to take his game to new heights this season. Playing at either right-back or right wing, James has scored six goals and provided seven assists in all competitions this year. The vast majority of top teams are now operating with a creative force in their broad defensive positions. Joao Cancelo has been a revelation at Man City, while Chelsea are at their best with Reece James and Ben Chilwell marauding down the flanks. Indeed, Real Madrid - coached by ex-Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti - are huge admirers. The Mirror offers a fresh look at Real's interest today and makes for nervous reading for Chelsea fans. First, Ancelotti is said to have put Reece James "at the top of his list" of summer destinations. Dani Carvajal is currently Ancelotti's first choice for the position but is now on the wrong side of 30. Real have reportedly seen James in action nine times this season. Having the chance to spot him up close in the Champions League quarter-finals, James shone in both games against Real. While no transfer numbers are mentioned, it's common sense that a James transfer could be a bank breaker. James would then become an important part of their long term plans if he is signed. The report claims Real are fully aware James would not come cheap. In fact, they say they believe he has "many years of precipitous development" ahead of him. Of course, Chelsea are currently banned from buying and selling players due to UK government sanctions. Selling such an accomplished academy graduate who is already performing at an elite level would be unthinkable for most Chelsea fans. However, with Real Madrid going in circles and a monster offer expected, James' future could lie with Chelsea's new owners. It is noted that Thomas Tuchel would be consulted before an exit would be sanctioned. However, every decision is ultimately made by the new owners – whoever they may be.


Real Madrid bounce back from a 2-0 deficit against Sevilla as they move closer to the league title

Karim Benzema scored in extra time at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium on Sunday to complete a dramatic comeback for Real Madrid against Sevilla in a 3-2 win for Real Madrid, marking his 35th LaLiga win closer. (Author: Gardener)

SevillaReal Madrid return from a 2-0 deficit against Sevilla and are closer to the league title. Karim Benzema scored in extra time at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium on Sunday to complete a dramatic comeback for Real Madrid against Sevilla in a 3-2 win for Real Madrid, marking his 35th LaLiga win closer. Sevilla took an early lead within the first 21 minutes of the game thanks to Ivan Rakitić, who scored an accidental free-kick that slid through the Madrid barrier. Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois failed to clear the ball just under four minutes later, allowing Sevilla to contribute to the final score with a goal from Erik Lamela – who pounced on the deflection to capitalize. The hosts went 2-0 into the second half but Madrid showed signs of breaking Sevilla's momentum with a clear try from star striker Benzema. Los Blancos finally broke through in the 50th minute when substitute Rodrygo came into the box and found a cross from defender Dani Carvajal at the end. Despite a questionable disallowed goal from Vinícius Jr. after a handball decision by the video assistant referee (VAR), Madrid leveled the game with a great 82nd-minute finish from Nacho Fernández in the box after a Carvajal pass. The game looked decidedly in a tie when yet another moment of Madrid magic occurred late in the game. Benzema laid the ball down in the 92nd minute for Rodrygo, who swept wide to the right of the box and returned it to the Frenchman who controlled it, taking two touches and smashing the ball through four Sevilla bodies to seal the comeback for Real. It was Benzema's 25th league goal of the season and his 39th goal in 39 games that year. It's also the second late-game winner he's scored in the past week after his 96th-minute goal against Chelsea propelled Madrid into the Champions League semi-finals on April 12. Benzema in action at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in Seville. A series of VAR-related controversies added drama to an already charged game. In addition to Vinícius Jr.'s disallowed goal, the referee decided not to award the Merengues a penalty for what appeared to be a handball by Sevilla defender Diego Carlos. Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga also dodged a clear second yellow card for a clumsy tackle on Anthony Martial. Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said of the handball incident: "I saw it live and it didn't look like it touched his hand. I also don't understand the interpretation of Diego Carlos and Vinícius' handball - and Atlético Madrid on the second th place with 60 points "We start with an incredible feeling, we always fight to the end. We knew this was going to be a very difficult game, but I'm thrilled that I advanced in the second half, scored a goal and gave my team an assist," Rodrygo said. Those are things that only Real Madrid are capable of. I'm incredibly proud to be part of this team and to be involved in these comebacks. "It's sad today, we had a great first half but you can't allow Real Madrid a way back into the game," said midfielder Sevilla Rakitić, telling reporters after the game: "If you don't take your clear chances, that can happen." Sunday saw a series of exciting league games across the board as relegated Levante beat Granada 4-1 at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes Madrid meet Osasuna in their next league game on Wednesday, while Sevilla play Levante on Thursday.


Rodrygo claims stunning comebacks are 'things only Real Madrid are capable of'

Real Madrid's results and performances over the past week have embodied the team's never-dying attitude, with Rodrygo at the helm. (Author: Gardener)

Real MadridRodrygo led a Real Madrid fight for the second time in days before declaring only LaLiga leaders are capable of such about-faces. Madrid ended a stunning week with a 3-2 win over title rivals Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to move up 15 points clear at the top of the table - although Barcelona are yet to play on Monday. Madrid went 3-0 down against the reigning European champions but recovered similarly, again with a goal from Rodrygo that started extra time and a crucial header from Benzema in a 5-4 aggregate win. Rodrygo has scored in consecutive games for the first time in his Madrid career and could hardly have done so at a better time. The half-time substitute, who also assisted in Benzema's winning goal in Seville, said: "We start with an incredible feeling, we always fight to the end." We knew it was going to be a very difficult game but I'm thrilled in the came on in the second half, scored a goal and provided an assist to help my team. It's three points that bring us closer to our goal, which is to win LaLiga. "These are things that only Real Madrid are capable of. This was the first time Madrid had won in LaLiga by two goals since another 3-2 win over Villarreal in February 2017, but they have in this one Repeated results this season and earned a league-high 17 points from a deficit Sevilla have started unbeaten in La Liga at home this season, while it was the first time they had lost in competition at home since a 4-2 defeat , after leading at half-time at the hands of Barcelona in February 2019. In fact, they had lost nowhere, having led at half-time since a 2-1 loss to Athletic Bilbao in October 2020. Since September 2019 against Eibar, another 2 : 3 defeat, Sevilla had no longer missed a two-goal lead in the top flight.


Karim Benzema reiterates Ballon d'Or credentials with latest Real Madrid exploits

Real Madrid star Karim Benzema has had the best goalscoring season of his career and is looking to end 2022 as the Ballon d'Or winner for the first time (Author: Gardener)

Karim BenzemaReal Madrid star Karim Benzema has had the best goalscoring season of his career and is aiming to end his first Ballon d'Or win in 2022, reiterating his Ballon d'Or credentials by capping a comeback win for Real Madrid in Seville . The 34-year-old is enjoying the most prolific season of his life and is just one goal away from hitting 40 goals in all competitions for the first time. His record includes hat-tricks in consecutive Champions League games, while he also scored the extra-time winner that propelled Real Madrid to the Champions League semi-finals. With Lionel Messi in the middle of a stunning season in Paris and Cristiano Ronaldo ending the season empty-handed, we could be lining up for a new Ballon d'Or winner. At the start of Sunday's game, Sevilla were unbeaten with 11 wins and four draws in 15 games at home in La Liga. They looked set to continue that run as Ivan Rakitic and Erik Lamela scored twice at half-time, only for Carlo Ancelotti's side to stage a dramatic comeback. And then, more than a minute after time, Benzema was the calmest man in the stadium as he conceded a Rodrygo cutback before stabilizing with a few touches and shooting past goalkeeper Bono. It was Benzema's 25th goal of the season in La Liga - 10 more than any other player in La Liga - and 39th overall. Prior to this season, he had never scored more than 24 goals in a single league season. Should Benzema win the Ballon d'Or? Benzema enjoys his best season for goals "The performance in the first half was the manager's fault and in the second half it was the quality of the players," said Real Madrid coach Ancelotti. "I'm very proud of that performance in the second half. With six games to go, Real Madrid are 15 points clear at the top, despite the fact that closest challengers Barcelona have two games in their hands. Benzema remains in the Ballon d'Or race ,” However, the goal of the Champions League trophy could be a factor, but his colleague Mohamed Salah could yet beat him as he steers Liverpool to European glory, with voting on the individual award taking place ahead of the Winter World Cup between Madrid and Brazil's strikers Ronaldo is among those who advocate for Benzema, who has already scored 12 Champions League goals this season: “Karim deserves the Ballon d'Or, I've been saying that for years and they have criticized me. .. but he deserves it, he's a great striker," said the world champion.


Real Madrid hit back again to stun Sevilla, Atletico scrape past Espanyol

MADRID, France, April 18 (Reuters) - Karim Benzema made another incredible comeback from Real Madrid on Sunday as they struggled two goals down to defeat Sevilla. Get the latest local and international sports updates, football, rugby, athletics, golf, cricket and more (Author: Gardener)

SevillaMADRID, France, April 18 (Reuters) - Karim Benzema made another incredible comeback from Real Madrid on Sunday as they struggled two goals down to defeat Sevilla 3-2 in La Liga. After Madrid fell 3-0 to Chelsea on Tuesday to secure a place in the Champions League semi-finals, Madrid stunned Sevilla and sealed the win that has surely given them La Liga. A defeat would have given the chasing group new hope as Sevilla and Barcelona both started the day 12 points adrift, with Barca two games in hand. Instead, second-half goals from Rodrygo, Nacho Fernandez and Benzema in the 92nd minute mean Madrid extend their lead to 15 points with six games to go. An Ivan Rakitic free-kick and a clever finish from Erik Lamela had put Sevilla ahead twice at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Benzema's goal ended Chelsea on Tuesday after Rodrygo forced extra time at the Santiago Bernabeu and those two, along with Vinicius Junior, were crucial again. Benzema now has 44 goals in 46 games this season and 15 in his last 10. Rakitic put Sevilla ahead in the 25th minute by curling a free-kick into the corner after Luka Modric brought down Papu Gomez. Lamela doubled the lead four minutes later after Tecatito pulled Thibaut Courtois out and left the net open. But an excellent chop from Vinicius for Dani Carvajal allowed Rodrygo to score in the 50th minute. Vinicius thought he made it 2-2 in the 74th minute, only when the goal was ruled out did the referee rule that the Brazilian had controlled with his arm and not his chest. Madrid, however, were undeterred when Rakitic headed away a corner, only for Carvajal to get on the line and pull back for Nacho to finish. And then, in the 92nd minute, Benzema completed another remarkable revival, collecting Rodrygo's pass, controlling and shooting past three Sevilla defenders on the line. Ten-man Atletico Madrid also made it late when Yannick Carrasco's last shot of the game secured the decisive penalty in a 2-1 win against Espanyol. Atletico looked set to lose another two points at the Wanda Metropolitano when Geoffrey Kondogbia was sent off in the second half and equalized three minutes later from Raul de Tomas Carrasco's opener, whose free-kick wound through Jan Oblak's fingers. But De Tomas played well into injury time, the referee awarding a penalty after much deliberation with VAR before Carrasco kept his nerve. "It was an important game for us and when you score the last kick of the game it feels even more important to achieve our goal this season," said Carrasco. Atletico remain three points clear of Real Betis in fifth place and level on points with third-placed Sevilla. Atletico sliced ​​open Espanyol in the 52nd minute when Matheus Cunha, who came on as a half-time substitute, slipped into Carrasco, who turned inside and rolled over Diego Lopez at the near post. But the game turned in Espanyol's favor in the 71st minute when Kondogbia saw the second yellow card for blocking Sergi Darder's shot with his hand and then equalized with de Tomas' resulting free-kick. With a man up, Espanyol wanted a winner but Atletico found a way back. In the 95th minute, De Tomas tried to clear Antoine Griezmann's header but missed the angle and instead the ball hit his elbow.