Real Madrid might be heading for a European Super League at some point in the future but a 0-0 draw with Getafe on Sunday was a reminder of the charms of good old LaLiga.

An under-strength Madrid were given a rough ride by their near neighbours and lost ground to Atletico Madrid as a result, Diego Simeone's team seeing their lead at the top of the table grow from one point to three on Sunday.

After Atletico's 5-0 thumping of Eibar earlier in the day, the onus was on Zinedine Zidane's Madrid to follow up their Champions League success against Liverpool and last week's victory in El Clasico.

This was far from being classic Madrid, although they played their part in an entertaining tussle against relative minnows at Coliseum Alfonso Perez, the sort of match that would be missed if they were ever taken away by big-money deals.

Moments after Thibaut Courtois saved well from Mathias Olivera, Madrid had the ball in the net in the eighth minute when Mariano sprinted through and went wide of goalkeeper David Soria, sliding the ball into the net from a tight angle to the right of goal.

That was disallowed for offside after a VAR review, and Madrid were in trouble soon after when Mauro Arambarri had a clear sight of goal from 12 yards, only to rifle a foot wide of the left post.

The home side went even closer to a shock lead in the 23rd minute when Jaime Mata's flicked header from Nemanja Maksimovic's cross, drifted in from the left, rattled the right post.

David Timor made an outstanding clearance to deny Mariano in front of goal after Soria failed to gather a cross from Madrid left-back Marcelo. Vinicius Junior then drew an athletic but ultimately comfortable save from Soria with a header before half-time.

With Sergio Ramos absent through injury and Raphael Varane out after a COVID-19 positive test, it was a makeshift defence again for Madrid and they looked susceptible, Courtois having to make a fine save just before the hour mark to prevent Enes Unal finding the top left corner from 16 yards.

Madrid were sorely lacking sparkle and Angel Rodriguez nearly made a breakthrough for Getafe with 20 minutes remaining, clipping just wide of the left post. Courtois then saved expertly when a deflected shot from Maksimovic almost looped into the back of the net, the goalkeeper preventing a shock loss.

Zinedine Zidane joked he has not been a coaching "disaster" for Real Madrid and is not fretting about his contract situation.

Across his two spells in charge of Madrid, Zidane has led the club to 11 trophies. They remain in the hunt for glory in LaLiga and the Champions League this season.

The Frenchman's deal is set to expire in June 2022 and he has often shied away from confirming his long-term commitment to Los Blancos.

Club president Florentino Perez was this week re-elected for a fifth straight term running until 2025, but Zidane was guarded when asked he if could remain for the same period.

"I'm delighted that he's continuing on as president, but I'm not looking any further ahead than tomorrow's game," Zidane said at a news conference to preview Sunday's LaLiga meeting with Getafe.

"Nobody knows what'll happen later, so we just have to focus on the day to day.

"You can have a four- or five-year contract and leave tomorrow, or you can have a one-year contract and stay longer. That doesn't mean anything."

Zidane averages a trophy every 16 games with Madrid, but his detractors suggest his success is largely down to inheriting an incredibly strong squad.

"It's true that I'm lucky enough to coach this team and to be at this great club. I don't think that I'm an awful coach, but I'm sure that I'm not the best around," joked Zidane.

"I enjoy what I do and the important thing is that you're passionate about the things you enjoy.

"I know where I am and the important thing is that you always give your best. That's what me and my players, who are the most important ones, do.

"I'd like to talk more about football, but it's as if people are more interested in talking about other things. I think that it's better that we talk about football because I know that you all enjoy talking about football.

"I am happy, but I am just focusing on tomorrow's game. I never look into the future."

With Eden Hazard and Dani Carvajal having suffered setbacks in their returns from injury and Ferland Mendy out with a muscle issue, Zidane only named 16 players for the trip to the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.

However, Madrid are on a 10-game unbeaten away run in LaLiga and Getafe have not won a home game against them since August 2012, losing five of the most recent six such meetings.

The last time Madrid went on a longer undefeated away streak in the top flight was in 2017, during Zidane's first spell in charge.

LaLiga's reigning champions moved into second by defeating Barcelona in El Clasico last weekend, with Atletico Madrid just one point ahead of them at the summit.

Despite having some key absentees against Getafe, Zidane believes he and his team have what it takes to get a positive result.

"My biggest strength in this role is that I enjoy myself every day and I've got a team that works really hard and is always hungry for more, despite having already won so much," said Zidane.

"We're going to keep battling and working because we also known how to dig in and that's something you have to do if you're going to win games. The result of our work is that it allows you to achieve something really special.

"The players believe in what they do and the challenges make us stronger. I'm really proud of that and that they're always hungry for more.

"Seeing my players so focused on everything we do fills me with joy. They're ready and we need to recover. Recovery is all about the small details to make sure you're ready when the games come round."

Diego Simeone claimed that Real Madrid and Barcelona are unlikely to lose again this season, as he conceded it is normal for his Atletico Madrid side to feel pressure.

LaLiga leaders Atleti were frustrated on Saturday, as they failed to overcome 10-man Getafe and had to settle for a 0-0 draw.

Atleti had 72.7 per cent possession, their highest total in a LaLiga match since at least 2004-05, when Opta started to collect this kind of data.

David Soria was in superb form for Getafe, making seven saves – including a standout stop from Moussa Dembele – while Luis Suarez hit the post.

The result leaves Atleti six points clear of city rivals Madrid, though Barca would move within four points of Simeone's team should they beat Huesca on Monday.

Karim Benzema's double lifted Madrid to victory over Elche earlier on Saturday, and Simeone believes that neither of Atleti's title rivals will slip up again.

"We had the idea of winning again and continuing to have the advantage that we had," he told a news conference.

"The first half was not good, the game did not flow, there were no good transitions. In the second half the team improved and in the end had more chances to score.

"I maintain that the team is playing well, we have to be calm, it is a very difficult championship, Real Madrid and Barcelona are not going to lose any game from here until the end and we have to know what our path is."

Asked if Atleti were feeling the pressure, Simeone replied: "It is normal, we come almost the whole season being first. 

"There are 11 games left, they said that Barcelona was bad but against Paris Saint-Germain they could have won, they have a new president, enthusiasm and Madrid always manages to get the games won.

"We try step by step to continue our way, game by game, and we have two monsters behind us with the idea of being where we are."

Atleti's focus switches, temporarily at least, away from LaLiga for the next few days, with the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Chelsea coming up on Wednesday.

Thomas Tuchel's team, who are still unbeaten under the German, lead 1-0 on aggregate thanks to Olivier Giroud's stunning strike in the first leg last month.

Atletico Madrid suffered another slip up in their LaLiga title charge as they were held to a 0-0 draw by 10-man Getafe.

Diego Simeone brought up his record-setting 309th victory in charge of Atleti with a win over Athletic Bilbao last time out, but triumph number 310 evaded him on Saturday.

It was not for a lack of trying – Getafe goalkeeper David Soria pulling off a string of impressive stops, while Luis Suarez hit the woodwork.

Allan Nyom saw red for the hosts with 20 minutes left, yet Atleti could not make their numerical advantage count as they were forced to settle for just one point.

Perhaps spurred on by Real Madrid's earlier win, Atleti started with real intent – Suarez popping a header over before Soria denied Yannick Carrasco.

A rare error from Jan Oblak almost proved costly before the break, though Nemanja Maksimovic was unable to capitalise.

Oblak was back at his best on the hour, standing firm to deny Enes Unal after a sweeping Getafe counter.

Introduced at half-time, Joao Felix thought he had broken the deadlock moments later, but Marcos Llorente failed to keep the ball in play before squaring for the Portugal youngster.

Atleti were handed a boost with Nyom having his booking for a stamp on Renan Lodi upgraded to a red after a VAR check.

Getafe felt equally as hard done by from their next attack, the referee dismissing what seemed valid appeals for a penalty following Moussa Dembele's challenge on Maksimovic.

Dembele was in the thick of it at the other end soon after, twice testing Soria from close range – the first effort drawing a truly sensational stop – either side of Joao Felix forcing Getafe's goalkeeper into action.

Suarez thought he had won it in the closing stages, only for the post to come to Getafe's rescue, with a 90th-minute miss from Dembele ensuring Real Madrid and Barcelona were handed a boost.

Karim Benzema insists "there is a long way to go" in the LaLiga title race after Real Madrid made up ground on leaders Atletico Madrid.

Benzema opened the scoring on the hour-mark and Ferland Mendy doubled the lead as Zinedine Zidane’s side claimed a 2-0 victory against Getafe on Tuesday.

Atleti were held to a 2-2 home draw by Celta Vigo on Monday as Los Blancos closed the gap to five points at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, although Diego Simeone’s team still have two games in hand.

But that does not matter to Benzema, who headed in Vinicius Junior's cross to net his 16th goal of the season in all competitions, and the France international striker believes Madrid have Atleti in their sights.

"It was a good goal, a good centre from Vini and the ball goes in. I think we are back," Benzema told Movistar.

"It is always very difficult against Getafe. We will continue like this. There is a long way to go until the end.

"Each game is a final and we have to try to win every one. We are confident.

"There is always a lot of noise around Madrid because this is the best club in the world."

Next up for Madrid is a meeting with Valencia on Sunday, while table-toppers Atletico travel to face Granada on Saturday.

Third-placed Barcelona, who are three points behind Madrid and eight points off the top, host Deportivo Alaves on Saturday following their Copa Del Rey semi-final first leg against Sevilla on Wednesday.

Real Madrid will "keep on fighting" in this season's LaLiga title race, says Zinedine Zidane, whose side are five points shy of leaders Atletico Madrid.

Atleti's draw with Celta Vigo on Monday gave Madrid the opportunity to make up some ground when they faced Getafe on Tuesday, and Los Blancos cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win.

Karim Benzema's fifth headed goal of the season in all competitions – more than any other LaLiga player other than Sevilla's Youssef En-Nesyri – put Madrid ahead with an hour played before Ferland Mendy turned home Marcelo's cross.

Getafe were hardly robust opposition, however, with Jose Bordalas' side mustering just one attempt in the entire match. Indeed, Thibaut Courtois did not have to make a save, claim a catch or punch a cross clear.

It is the lowest amount of shots Madrid have faced in a LaLiga match since 2004-05, while have scored just 17 goals in the league this term - their lowest tally in a single season after 22 games played.

Nevertheless, Madrid did what was required of them and moved back into second place, three points above Barcelona and five behind Atleti, though Diego Simeone's side have two games in hand.

Zidane insisted Madrid's focus is simply on taking it game by game as they hope to retain their title.

"It will not change anything, we will do our thing. Our duty is to fight, to continue with our work, without paying attention to others," said Zidane, after seeing his side win back-to-back games for the first time in 2021.

"It's a good win. They are two consecutive victories, we needed it. Also with many injuries. We needed it now.

"I don't think there are Madridistas who think we're going to lose the league. On the contrary, they think we can always change things and that is what we are going to try to do. 

"With difficulties, it is clear, but we continue to do our thing. You have to keep fighting, little by little."

With Madrid cruising, Zidane introduced the lesser-spotted Isco in the 75th minute – the playmaker having not featured since January 23 due to a back injury.

Isco has made just three LaLiga starts this season and has created five chances – registering one assist – across 12 league appearances in total.

"Isco couldn't start," Zidane explained when asked why Isco, who was linked with a move away in January, was on the bench.

"He has only trained once with the team. Then he entered the game a little later. It was just that, because he only did one training session with us."

Karim Benzema proved decisive yet again for Real Madrid as Zinedine Zidane's side took advantage of Atletico Madrid's slip-up by beating Getafe 2-0 in LaLiga.

After a run of four league matches against Getafe without being directly involved in a goal, Benzema headed Madrid in front an hour into Tuesday's clash.

In a match of few clear-cut opportunities, Benzema had previously gone close to breaking the deadlock when he hit the bar 14 minutes in.

Ferland Mendy made sure of what could prove a valuable victory, given city rivals and LaLiga leaders Atleti were pegged back late on and could only draw with Celta Vigo on Monday.

Madrid relied on Raphael Varane to snatch a late winner at Huesca last time out but aimed to make a fast start this time around – Casemiro blazing over from point-blank range before Benzema's header struck the crossbar.

Los Blancos saw just under 70 per cent possession in the first half, yet ultimately their only shot on target came when Luka Modric forced David Soria into an awkward stop.

Soria was called into action much sooner in the second half, making himself big to deny Benzema from a tight angle.

A neat passage of play from Getafe saw Marc Cucurella get into a similar position down the other end, yet the former Barcelona man's touch let him down.

Getafe were duly punished – Benzema making no mistake on this occasion as he directed Vinicius Junior's pinpoint cross beyond Soria.

It was 2-0 six minutes later, Marcelo drilling a low left-wing cross to the front post, with Mendy on hand to turn home his first LaLiga goal of 2020-21.

Benzema curled wide soon after, but Getafe never came close to testing Thibaut Courtois as Madrid cruised to a routine triumph.

Zinedine Zidane has denied suggestions he is close to leaving Real Madrid, though offered no guarantees about his future.

Madrid boss Zidane defiantly declared prior to last Saturday's meeting with Huesca he would not throw in the towel after seeing his team beat Deportivo Alaves and lose at home to Levante in his absence due to a positive coronavirus test.

Prior to that, Los Blancos lost in the Supercopa de Espana semi-finals against Athletic Bilbao and suffered a humiliating Copa del Rey exit at the hands of third-tier Alcoyano.

Although Madrid came from behind to beat Huesca 2-1 to record their second win in six games, Zidane still faced questions about his future ahead of a clash with Getafe on Tuesday.

When it was put to him his comments last week led to some concerns among fans that he could be on his way out of the club, Zidane replied on Monday: "No, listen, the important thing is the day-to-day work, that's what we're doing. The other day, whatever happened, we're just going to work.

"Everyone is here, we're just going to try to work. And the rest, everyone has freedom to have their opinion, that's normal.

"Everyone can say what they say, but I can also say what we're going to do here: that's work hard, believe in what we're doing and try to recover a bit of confidence and end the season well."

He added: "Why would I abandon Real Madrid? I'm doing what I like here. This is football; there are tough moments, but you just get on with it.

"We are just going to fight and battle, we need to do things properly with this team. Real Madrid is a great club and what you have to do is compete. There will always be changes here.

"We're all in the same boat here. I feel supported by everybody. You have to say what you have to say but we know what we have to do here. We just have to do things well, like we were doing just three or four weeks ago.

"There are difficult moments in a season, you have to accept it, and that helps you in more difficult moments. That's what we want to do, we want to change the situation.

"We've got important players, they're very good, they've won a lot, and nothing is going to stop us working hard for the rest of the season."

However, when asked if he would see out his contract, which runs until 2022, Zidane did not offer a straight answer.

"Well, we'll see," he said. "The important thing is, I said it to the other reporters, we're just focused on this season, the game tomorrow.

"I just focus on the day-to-day, today, tomorrow, the game. As for the rest, I don't know what's going to happen so I'm not thinking about anything apart from the game tomorrow."

Even in these extraordinary times, Barcelona letting Luis Suarez go to Atletico Madrid is starting to look like the oddest decision of the season.

Suarez's double over Eibar on Thursday secured a 2-1 victory for the league leaders, who are seven points clear at the top with a game in hand over champions Real Madrid in second.

The Uruguay star, who has netted six in his past six league games for Atleti, is joint-top of the division's scoring charts alongside former team-mate Lionel Messi.

It seems increasingly likely that Suarez, and certainly Atletico, will be at the top of the tree come the end of 2020-21.

With the majority of sides having now played half of their matches, the Stats Perform AI team have run the numbers to simulate how the rest of the LaLiga campaign will play out – and it's good news for Diego Simeone.

 

The data model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

 

ATLETICO WIN AT A CANTER

Atletico have been given a 75.1 per cent chance of winning LaLiga, according to the model.

Simeone's men are predicted to finish on 86 points, nine clear of the rest of the field. They are given just a 17.8 per cent chance of coming second and dropping outside the top four is considered practically impossible.

Barcelona and reigning champions Real Madrid are predicted to end with 77 points apiece, with just a 12.4 per cent chance each of pipping Atleti to the title. Madrid have a 41 per cent chance of finishing second, slightly above Barca's 39.4, having beaten Ronald Koeman's side 3-1 in the first Clasico of the season at Camp Nou last October.

Those two are, at least, very likely to end up in a Champions League place. They are expected to be joined there by Sevilla, who have a 47.8 per cent chance of finishing fourth on 65 points, just three above Villarreal and six clear of Real Sociedad. The remaining European spot is predicted to be a close battle between Granada, Getafe and Real Betis, with Diego Martinez's men odds on to snatch it.

Valencia fans might be enduring a difficult time (again), and our sim has Los Che missing out on European football once more, if only by four points. That said, they still have a 3.6 per cent chance of a Europa League spot, which is better odds than those given to Supercopa de Espana winners Athletic Bilbao.

 

WOE FOR HUESCA

At the other end of a relatively tight table, in which just 11 points will separate seventh from 16th, it looks like Huesca are in for a tough run-in. They are given a 59.7 per cent chance of finishing bottom of the pile and just a 5.1 per cent shot at avoiding relegation, having won only once so far this term.

Osasuna are predicted to end up just four points above them, with the bottom three likely to be completed by Deportivo Alaves, although Elche will also be right in the mix. In fact, with those two tipped to finish level on 39 points, survival could come down to their head-to-head record, making their showdown on May 11 potentially decisive. Elche have the advantage there, having won the reverse game 2-0 away from home.

Real Valladolid are expected to have just enough to stay out of trouble, although they have scant room for manoeuvre, with our predictor giving them an equal 15.1 per cent chance of finishing 17th and 18th.

Eibar and Cadiz are looking likely to stay safe; indeed, Jose Luis Mendilibar's men, along with Celta Vigo and Athletic, are given a 0.1 per cent chance of gatecrashing the top four. They might well have boosted those odds this week were it not for that pesky Suarez.

Real Madrid prospect Takefusa Kubo has joined Getafe on loan until the end of the season after ending a similar deal with Villarreal.

The 19-year-old was expected to spend the entire 2020-21 campaign with the Yellow Submarine after signing a season-long deal in August.

However, he had made just two La Liga starts by the turn of the year - a fact that, according to Villarreal coach Unai Emery, contributed to the Japan international instigating an early end to the clubs' temporary agreement.

The Spanish champions have now looked to ensure Kubo gets adequate playing time between now and the season's end by agreeing a new loan deal with neighbours Getafe.

Jose Bordalas' side sit in a perilous position in the Spanish top-flight, with just one point separating them from the relegation zone.

It will be hoped that Kubo, who enjoyed a more productive loan spell at Real Mallorca last term, can prove the catalyst for a move up the table.

His fine form in 2019-20 was ultimately insufficient in this regard as Mallorca suffered relegation despite Kubo chipping in with four goals and four assists.

He impressed with his brave and direct play on the ball, which was reflected by the fact he attempted 140 dribbles in LaLiga, a number bettered by only four players including Lionel Messi.

Kubo has at least tried to bring a similar quality to Villarreal, with his 5.6 attempted dribbles per 90 minutes the 14th highest figure among all players to have featured at least seven times this term.

But his efforts did not translate into regular starts for Unai Emery's men.

Barcelona midfielder Carles Alena has joined Getafe on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

The Barca academy product spent the second half of 2019-20 on loan with Real Betis and has struggled to establish himself under Ronald Koeman since returning ahead of this season.

Alena has made five appearances in LaLiga and the Champions League this term, just one of those coming from the start.

Koeman confirmed on Tuesday that Alena was close to departing Camp Nou on a temporary basis after Getafe president Angel Torres had revealed his side's interest.

Barca announced on their official website on Wednesday that the deal had gone through, with Getafe to pick up the player's wages in full until he returns to Catalonia.

Alena has played 43 times for Barcelona in total since making his first-team debut in the 2016-17 campaign.

Including his spell on loan with Betis last season, the 23-year-old has three goals and zero assists across 43 LaLiga outings, the first of those coming against Granada on April 2, 2017.

He may only have created one big chance for team-mates in that time, but the Spain Under-21s international ranks highly in terms of passes in the opposition half, averaging 47.45 per 90 minutes.

That places him behind only eight players who have featured at least 16 times across that period.

Barcelona have given midfielder Carles Alena permission to leave the club this month, with the player expected to move on loan.

The 23-year-old La Masia product has struggled to establish himself under Ronald Koeman this season, with only one of his five appearances across LaLiga and the Champions League coming in the starting XI.

Alena spent the second half of last season on loan at Real Betis and Getafe have been linked with his services on a deal that will likely run until the end of the season.

"Alena has permission from the club to seek his exit," Koeman told a news conference ahead of Wednesday's trip to Athletic Bilbao.

"When everything is done, I will be able to give an opinion, but there are players who can decide to stay or not. He has decided to seek his exit."

Barca's preparations for their visit to San Mames were hit by two positive coronavirus cases among the club staff on Monday.

That forced pre-match training and media duties to be postponed until later on Tuesday, when Koeman's squad were confirmed to have a clean bill of health in terms of COVID-19.

"There are things in life that cannot be controlled," the former Netherlands boss said.

"We have followed the protocol by suspending the training this morning and repeating the PCR tests.

"We could only hope that there were no more positives. Thank goodness that everyone has come out negative and we were able to prepare for tomorrow's game. "

Barcelona head into the match in fifth, 10 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid having played a game more.

Despite a hectic fixture schedule this month, Koeman has not ruled out bringing in reinforcements to bolster an ailing title challenge.

"Any team looks at how the squad can be improved in January," he added.

"I make my plans on seeing the casualties we may have and what players [we need] to bring.

"But if it is not possible, I will have the same players."

Real Madrid youngster Takefusa Kubo is looking to cut short his loan spell with Villarreal and join another club, the Yellow Submarine's head coach Unai Emery has confirmed.

Kubo has started just two LaLiga games for Villarreal since joining on a season-long deal from Madrid in August and was not part of the squad for Saturday's 2-1 win over Levante.

Getafe president Angel Torres revealed his side's interest in the Japan international this week and reports from Spain suggest the Madrid-based club are close to striking a deal.

Speaking after his side's victory against Levante, which moved Villarreal up to fourth, Emery admitted it is likely the winger will move on.

"I asked Kubo if he wanted to stay or leave [Villarreal] and he told me that he is looking for a way out," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"Take's behaviour is good, he has helped us and he must continue to grow as a player. 

"However, he told me he wants to leave in order to find more minutes elsewhere and that's why he wasn't in the matchday squad today."

Kubo was snapped up by Madrid from FC Tokyo in 2019 and spent last season on loan with Real Mallorca, where he enjoyed more success than his current spell with Villarreal.

He scored four and assisted four more in 35 appearances but was unable to save Mallorca from relegation in their first season back in the top tier.

The 19-year-old has been used 19 times in total by Villarreal this season, 13 of those appearances coming in LaLiga.

However, Kubo has failed score from his eight shots, five of which were on target, and has yet to assist a team-mate or so much as play a successful cross from open play.

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