Barca hailed as champion-elect after beating Real

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail SHINE, March 4, 2019
Adjust font size:
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi (center) argues with Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos (right) during the Spanish La Liga match at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on Saturday. Barcelona won 1-0.

Barcelona was hailed as La Liga champion-elect in the Catalan media after its 1-0 win at Real Madrid on Saturday, while the capital's press called for sweeping changes at Real after another domestic failure.

Ivan Rakitic's cool strike in the first half was enough to see off Real and send Barca 12 points clear of its historic rival, as well as giving it a 10-point cushion over nearest challenger Atletico Madrid.

"They are like champions," said the cover of Barcelona-based newspaper Sport, describing the win, which came three days after a 3-0 victory over Real in the Copa del Rey semifinals, as "another assault on the Santiago Bernabeu".

Mundo Deportivo, another Barcelona daily, likened the victory and the team's jubilant celebrations to "a dance", adding: "Barca can almost touch the title after killing off Madrid."

Barca became the first team in the history of La Liga to win four league games in a row at Real, prompting Sport to gloat about the Catalan side's hegemony on enemy territory.

"Barca can now take the keys to the Bernabeu, a stadium which they have made their home and where they feel no fear at all, only pleasure," said the newspaper's editor.

"Barca strike another blow, leaving Real without the Copa or La Liga in the space of three days," said Madrid-based newspaper Marca.

Fellow Madrid daily AS said: "Madrid give up" on its front page, and also spoke of it being the end of an era for many of the club's players who appear to be beyond their best, such as Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Marcelo.

"This is a crisis which obliges the club to reinvent itself in the summer in a profound way after a turbulent year," said the newspaper.

"Changes need to be made in the dugout, as coach Santiago Solari has run out of credit, and above all in the squad, where players with huge salaries and inflated statuses are being shown up."

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, however, remained cautious.

"We are not yet considering Madrid out of the title race," he said. "Atletico is not our only rival, absolutely not. We all know Madrid is capable of winning several matches in a row and getting back in contention."

Real is in crisis, with the UEFA Champions League the only trophy it can win this season. Solari will be under pressure when his side hosts Ajax on Tuesday to defend a 2-1 first-leg lead in the round of 16.

"We have to see how we can improve," Solari said. "There is no doubt it's a significant distance to the lead in the league, but we are not going to give up. We will keep fighting until the end, in the Spanish league and Champions League."

Wu Lei makes history

Elsewhere on Saturday, Espanyol's Wu Lei became the first Chinese player to score in La Liga as his goal helped his team to a 3-1 win over Real Valladolid.

Wu, who was named the Chinese Super League's player of the year in November after helping Shanghai SIPG to its maiden national title, joined Espanyol in January and was making his fifth appearance for the club at its RCDE Stadium.

Valladolid had threatened a comeback but Wu sealed victory in the 65th minute by breaking in from behind and sliding a cool finish into the corner.

The 27-year-old forward has scored 15 goals in 63 appearances for China after making his international debut in 2010.

He is not the first Chinese player to feature in Spain's top flight. Zhang Chengdong took that honor in 2015 when he made his debut for Rayo Vallecano but Zhang never scored for the club.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from