Mallorca and Real Sociedad’s Copa del Rey semi-final remains finely poised after a goalless first leg.

LaLiga strugglers Mallorca will be the happier of the two despite being the home side as they failed to register a shot on target against their Champions League opposition.

Imanol Alguacil will be hoping the visitors do not live to regret their stalemate at the Estadi Son Moix when they host the second leg on February 27.

The first half was a forgettable affair as neither side really created an opening that was deserving of breaking the deadlock.

Sociedad should have bagged an away goal but Umar Sadiq missed a golden opportunity to finish from close range.

Abdon Prats shot wide with the hosts’ best chance of the game but there was little for the home fans to shout about as they hoped to upset the odds.

With a number of LaLiga’s big hitters already eliminated, these two will fancy their chances at a rare glimpse of silverware.

Mallorca have won the Copa del Rey just once in their history – back in 2003 – while Sociedad have lifted it on only two occasions, the latter of which came with a 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in 2020.

That final could yet be repeated this season with Bilbao facing Atletico Madrid in the other semi-final.

While Mallorca now travel to Sociedad following this stalemate, the pair clash before that in a LaLiga fixture back at the Son Moix on February 18.

Girona were knocked out of the Copa del Rey in the quarter-finals as the LaLiga leaders fell to a 3-2 defeat at 10-man Real Mallorca.

The hosts took the lead in the 21st minute when Cyle Larin finished from close range having been teed up by Dani Rodriguez.

Mallorca’s advantage was then doubled seven minutes later by a wonder strike from Abdon Prats, who lashed the ball past Juan Carlos from around 25 yards out.

And Javier Aguirre’s side had a third another seven minutes on from that, Prats again the scorer as he converted a penalty following an Antal Yaakobishvili handball.

Girona pulled a goal back midway through the second half when Cristhian Stuani scored a spot-kick awarded after he was fouled by Antonio Raillo, who was given a second yellow card and his marching orders.

As Michel’s visitors looked to continue the fightback, they reduced the deficit further via a Savio finish in the sixth minute of stoppage time, but a last-gasp equaliser proved beyond them.

Leaders Real Madrid and second-placed Girona remain level on points at the top of LaLiga after both securing victory via late goals on Wednesday.

Real won 1-0 at home against Mallorca, with Antonio Rudiger heading in the only goal in the 78th minute.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men had survived a scare with the visitors hitting the woodwork twice, via Antonio Sanchez and Samu Costa, then did so themselves, with Brahim Diaz heading against a post when looking certain to score, before Rudiger showed greater accuracy.

Girona then kept pace as they emerged triumphant from a thriller, beating Atletico Madrid 4-3 at home thanks to a stoppage-time finish from Ivan Martin.

After Valery’s opener for the home side had been cancelled out by Alvaro Morata, an eventful first half continued with them adding further goals via Savio and Daley Blind.

Morata subsequently made it 3-2 in the 44th minute and completed his hat-trick to draw things level nine minutes into the second half, but Martin then had the final say with a finish into the top corner a minute into time added on at the end.

While Michel’s side join Real on 48 points, Diego Simeone’s Atletico are now 10 points back in third.

There was also a last-gasp winner for Celta Vigo as they came from behind to beat Real Betis 2-1 at home, courtesy of Williot Swedberg’s last-gasp effort.

That moved Celta out of the relegation zone at the expense of Cadiz, who were beaten 2-0 at second-bottom Granada, their first win under Alexander Medina.

Myrto Uzuni and Bryan Zaragoza scored for the hosts either side of Ruben Sobrino being sent off for the visitors as the gap between them reduced to one point.

Antonio Rudiger headed home a late winner as LaLiga leaders Real Madrid opened 2024 with a 1-0 victory over Mallorca at the Bernabeu.

Real edged in front when the centre-back connected with Luka Modric’s 78th-minute corner, having survived some scares with Mallorca hitting the woodwork via Antonio Sanchez and Samu Costa.

The hosts then did so themselves, substitute Brahim Diaz heading against a post when looking certain to score, before Rudiger showed greater accuracy to ensure they celebrated boss Carlo Ancelotti’s new contract with three points.

Real went three points clear of second-placed Girona ahead of them playing Atletico Madrid later on Wednesday.

Ancelotti – whose new deal to 2026 was announced on Friday – made four changes from the 1-0 victory at Alaves, which included bringing in Andriy Lunin in goal for Kepa Arrizabalaga, who had been recovering from illness, and the fit-again Vinicius Junior in attack, for his first appearance since sustaining an injury on Brazil duty in November.

Lunin came out of his box early on to intercept a ball with a diving header before Cyle Larin could latch on to it, before Jude Bellingham saw a header at the other end caught by Predrag Rajkovic.

Vinicius Junior was then to the fore, shooting just wide after a delightful through ball from Modric, missing with another attempt and then hitting a piledriver from just outside the box that the diving Rajkovic did well to keep out.

Mallorca had offered little going forward, but almost grabbed a shock lead in the 42nd minute as Sanchez saw a header come down off the underside of the Real crossbar.

Javier Aguirre’s visitors threatened again in first-half stoppage time as Larin sent an effort bouncing wide, and after Toni Kroos curled a free-kick over early in the second half for Real, Mallorca were then once again denied by the goalframe, with Costa unleashing a shot from distance that struck the foot of a post.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Real then gathered some momentum again and in the 69th minute Rodrygo brought a parry out of Rajkovic and the loose ball came to Diaz, only for the former Manchester City man to head against the upright from close range.

The hosts then made the breakthrough nine minutes later as skipper Modric sent a corner into the area and Rudiger was there to power past Rajkovic.

Top-scorer Bellingham sent an effort off-target as Real sought to add to their lead in the closing stages.

Ansu Fati's fabulous first-half double fired LaLiga champions Barcelona to victory in their Camp Nou farewell with a 3-0 win over Real Mallorca.

The Blaugrana signed off from their famous stadium in style, with Gavi also netting in a comfortable win over their 10-men visitors on Sunday.

In what was their final home game at their iconic ground before a temporary move to facilitate a lengthy renovation, Xavi's side ensured they bade it a fitting goodbye.

After losses against Real Sociedad and Real Valladolid, it also marked an impressive return to form.

Barca needed less than a minute to carve open their visitors, with Fati tucking away a Gavi cutback following a neat Robert Lewandowski ball into the box.

Matters soon worsened for Mallorca, when Amath Ndiaye saw his yellow card upgraded to a red by VAR for a shocking foul on Alejandro Balde.

Fati doubled his tally after that with a close-range rocket off Lewandowski's deft one-touch set-up, and Barca never looked like losing control from there on out.

Mallorca dug their heels in, but even then remained under siege, with Jules Kounde hitting the bar with a header shortly after the restart.

Lewandowski crashed a free-kick against the woodwork too, but Barca finally found their third when Gavi lashed a low finish beyond Dominik Greif.

There were standing ovations for Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets on their final home appearances, with the Camp Nou crowd rising to salute the club legends.

Carlo Ancelotti suggested Spanish football has a "problem" with racism after Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior was abused again on Sunday.

LaLiga launched an investigation on Monday after social media footage showed racist insults being directed at Vinicius during Madrid's 1-0 defeat at Real Mallorca on Sunday.

The 22-year-old was subjected to racist abuse in both of Madrid's matches with city rivals Atletico Madrid this season, while LaLiga filed hate crime charges to Spanish courts after similar incidents in December's game with Real Valladolid.

Vinicius accused LaLiga in December of "doing nothing" to combat racism, and his head coach feels Spanish football must face up to the issue.

"The question I ask is this: What is the problem?" Ancelotti told reporters. "Vinicius? Vinicius' team-mates? What's the problem? To defend himself? What does Vinicius have to defend himself against? What do his team-mates have to defend themselves against? I don't know.

"It seems like the problem is Vinicius, but the problem is what happens around him. Period.

"It is a problem of Spanish football. I am a part of Spanish football and I think it's a problem that we have to solve. Because it seems that Vinicius is the culprit, but he is the victim of something that I don't understand."

Federico Valverde defended Vinicius' exuberant playing style after he was fouled 10 times against Mallorca – the most by any Madrid player in a Spanish top-flight match since Isco against Real Betis in August 2013.

Vinicius has won 79 fouls in LaLiga this season, 25 more than any other player, and Valverde feels Madrid's players must stand up for him to counter any opposition roughhouse tactics.

"He is an incredible person, with a lot of values," Valverde said ahead of Madrid's Club World Cup semi-final against Egyptian side Al Ahly on Wednesday. "On the pitch, he tries to enjoy it, that's the way he is.

"I always say that so many fouls on the pitch is part of the game, we have to defend him as team-mates.

"Another thing is racism and what happens on the pitch, [there is] so much anger. He is a 22-year-old boy. I think Vinicius deserves respect."

LaLiga has launched an investigation after Vinicius Junior was again the target of "intolerable" racist abuse in Real Madrid's defeat at Real Mallorca on Sunday.

Social media footage showed racist insults being shouted at Vinicius during Madrid's 1-0 loss at Son Moix, marking the latest in a string of similar incidents involving the Brazilian this season.

Vinicius has been subjected to racist abuse before and during both of Madrid's meetings with cross-city rivals Atletico Madrid this season, while individuals were charged after similar incidents occurred at December's fixture against Real Valladolid. 

A statement released by LaLiga on Monday read: "Given the events that occurred in the RCD Mallorca-Real Madrid match, in which once again intolerable racist insults were observed against Real Madrid player Vinicius Junior, LaLiga is putting all the technical means at its disposal and working with the local club to identify those responsible, with the aim of taking the appropriate legal measures.

"LaLiga firmly condemns what happened and, as on previous occasions, will file the necessary complaints and appear in person to continue fighting, within its powers, against any type of racist act, behaviour or incident.

"LaLiga has spent years fighting against this kind of behaviour and promoting the positive values of sport, not only on the pitch, but also off it."

The league also called for supporters with any knowledge pertaining to the events to get in touch via a dedicated email address. 

In December, Vinicius took to social media to accuse LaLiga of "doing nothing" to combat racist abuse from the stands, comments which drew a response from league president Javier Tebas.

Tebas described Vinicius' complaints as "unfair and untrue" on Twitter, adding: "I've been fighting racism for years. We are at your disposal so that together, we can walk in the same direction."

In the build-up to Madrid's Copa del Rey win over Atletico last month, social media images showed a mannequin, wearing a Vinicius shirt, hung by the neck from a bridge in the Spanish capital.

Both clubs and the Confederacao Brasileira de Futebol (CBF) condemned the incident, with Los Blancos describing it as a "repugnant act of racism, xenophobia and hatred".

Carlo Ancelotti defended Vinicius Junior after the Brazil forward was subjected to rough treatment during Real Madrid's defeat at Real Mallorca.

Los Blancos missed the chance to close the five-point gap on LaLiga leaders Barcelona after Nacho's own goal condemned them to a 1-0 loss on Sunday, in which Marco Asensio also saw a penalty saved.

Vinicius, who complained of being targeted during his side's 4-1 victory in the reverse fixture in September, was fouled 10 times – the most by any Madrid player in a Spanish top-flight match since Isco against Real Betis in August 2013.

Having branded Vinicius "disrespectful" earlier in the season, Mallorca captain Antonio Raillo also turned up the pressure earlier this week by claiming he would "never" cite the 22-year-old as a role model for his son.

But Ancelotti leapt to his forward's defence, telling Movistar: "Everything that happens is not Vinicius' fault. All he wants to do is play football and then there is an atmosphere that provokes, rivals that squeeze him. 

"The focus must be changed. We have to look at what happened to him in today's game.

"Today, the referee has forgotten about the repetitions of the fouls. It is a yellow card when the foul is repeated, repeated, repeated and repeated again. From the first half, we have come out with two cards and Mallorca with zero.

"It's a defeat that hurts a lot in this sense, but it was the game we expected. We prepared a hard, difficult game, with many fouls and interruptions.

"The small details determined the match. We were very affected by the goal conceded early and the missed penalty."

Andriy Lunin, who was a late replacement in goal for the injured Thibaut Courtois, added: "We did not deserve to lose this game. I'm angry about conceding the goal.

"Madrid always comes back and we will fight until the end. We don't have to think about this defeat, now it's our turn to go to the World Cup [against Al Ahly on Tuesday]."

Marco Asensio missed a penalty as Nacho's own goal condemned Real Madrid to a surprise 1-0 defeat against mid-table Real Mallorca in LaLiga on Sunday.

Madrid fell behind when stand-in captain Nacho deflected Vedat Muqiri's header beyond Andriy Lunin – a late replacement for the injured Thibaut Courtois – 13 minutes in.

The champions toiled for long periods without absent striker Karim Benzema, and they missed a golden chance to level when Predrag Rajkovic saved Asensio's second-half penalty.

The result meant Los Blancos missed the chance to close the gap on LaLiga leaders Barcelona ahead of their fixture against Sevilla later on Sunday, handing the Blaugrana the chance to move eight points clear.

Fresh from three successive home wins, Mallorca wasted little time in taking the lead. Muriqi met Dani Gonzalez's inswinging cross, and his flicked header deflected off Nacho before looping over Lunin. 

Madrid controlled the remainder of a scrappy first half but failed to register a single shot on target before the break, with the likes of Federico Valverde and Antonio Rudiger restricted to ambitious long-range efforts that cleared the crossbar.

The visitors were presented with a wonderful opportunity to equalise on the hour mark when a VAR review ruled Rajkovic had fouled Vinicius Junior. However, the goalkeeper atoned for his error by guessing correctly to brilliantly deny Asensio. 

Ancelotti introduced the likes of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in a bid to inspire Madrid, who had lost just once in their nine previous away games against Mallorca prior to Sunday's meeting.

Substitute Mariano Diaz volleyed narrowly over and Rudiger sent a header wide late on, but the stubborn hosts clung on to deal a huge blow to the champions' title defence.

 

Carlo Ancelotti hailed Vinicius Junior as a role model after the Real Madrid forward faced fresh criticism from the Real Mallorca camp ahead of Sunday's LaLiga game at Son Moix.

Madrid won 4-1 at home against Mallorca in September, with Vinicius complaining during the game of instructions from visiting boss Javier Aguirre.

The Brazilian felt Aguirre was telling his Mallorca players to hand out some rough treatment, and Vinicius confronted him about his orders.

Days later, Mallorca captain Antonio Raillo told Diario de Mallorca: "Vinicius should dance, but he shouldn't be disrespectful, he shouldn't insult or belittle his fellow professionals; then when he is branded as provocative he uses the race card."

This week, Raillo spoke again about Vinicius, saying in a clip on DAZN's Twitch channel: "If tomorrow I have to set an example for my son as a player, maybe I would give [Luka] Modric or [Karim] Benzema, but never him."

It means there will be focus on Vinicius on Sunday, but Ancelotti has no doubt the 22-year-old can cope with the attention.

"Vini's going to prepare for this game the same way as he does for all matches," said Ancelotti. "He doesn't need a sit-down, for me to have a chat with him.

"For me, Vinicius is an example of a footballer. Youngsters like players with such quality. My grandchildren have his shirt and they don't want another one."

Ancelotti spoke in a press conference on Saturday, ahead of a trip to face a Mallorca side who sat 10th heading into the latest round of games.

Defending LaLiga champions Madrid began the weekend five points behind leaders Barcelona, with a win over Valencia on Thursday atoning to some extent for last weekend's goalless draw with Real Sociedad.

Madrid have won nine of their past 10 games against Mallorca in LaLiga, including each of the last four, while Los Blancos have won six times in their last nine visits to the island outfit (D2 L1).

Ancelotti is unimpressed that Madrid have been handed an early afternoon kick-off slot on Sunday, having been in action on Thursday evening.

"We're not happy," he said. "We don't have a choice. The 72 hours is the minimum needed, so playing at two o'clock I don't think is right."

A Club World Cup campaign awaits, and Ancelotti could rest veteran midfielders Luka Modric or Toni Kroos on Sunday.

Equally, he could play both, as the Italian said: "The most important game is the one against Mallorca. There is a lot riding on the match, so I'll pick my best team, with or without Modric and Kroos, we'll see.

"This is the most important game right now and will help with preparations ahead of the Club World Cup."

Carlo Ancelotti is optimistic Karim Benzema will not miss Sunday's trip to Real Mallorca despite limping out of Real Madrid's win against Valencia, but defender Eder Militao's injury is of greater concern.

Benzema teed up second-half goals for Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior on Thursday, as Madrid moved to within five points of LaLiga leaders Barcelona with a 2-0 victory over Los Che.

However, the reigning Ballon d'Or holder limped out of the contest with an apparent thigh problem on the hour mark, after Militao had been replaced in the first half for what looked to be a groin issue.

While Ancelotti is hopeful of having his star striker available for Madrid's final league game before their Club World Cup campaign, Militao's initial prognosis is less encouraging.

Asked about the condition of the duo after Thursday's win, Ancelotti said: "Karim seems like a slight problem and Militao will not be fit on Sunday."

Benzema has been involved in 11 goals in his last 12 appearances for Madrid in all competitions, having only registered five goal contributions in his first nine matches this season.

After Sunday's trip to Mallorca, Madrid jet off to Morocco for the Club World Cup, where they will meet either the Seattle Sounders or Al Ahly in a semi-final tie next Wednesday.

Madrid's involvement in that competition means there will be no respite during a congested period, but Ancelotti is pleased with how Los Blancos have coped in recent weeks.

"January was a hard month after the World Cup and we've turned out well. We're going to see in February. It doesn't stop here," Ancelotti said.

"Luckily, they have put the game on Sunday for both us [and Barcelona]. Imagine they had put ours on Saturday night!"

Diego Simeone urged Atletico Madrid to return after the World Cup with the intention of turning around their faltering season following another defeat.

Atletico were beaten 1-0 away to Mallorca on Wednesday, stretching their winless run to five matches across all competitions – they have never endured a worse streak during Simeone's spell in charge.

Up next is a tussle with minnows Almazan in the Copa del Rey on Saturday, but otherwise Atletico are now not due to play competitively again until after the World Cup.

Wednesday's defeat leaves Atletico sixth in LaLiga, although a big win for Rayo Vallecano against Celta Vigo on Thursday could push Simeone's men down a place.

Either way, the first half of the season has not gone to plan for Atletico, who will be without knockout European football in the new year for the first time since 2010-11.

"The pause of the championship will generate peace of mind to work, and to fully recover [injured players], whom we obviously need," Simeone told DAZN.

"I hope that after the World Cup they come back with the idea of reversing this difficult situation."

Despite the obvious issues for Atletico, Simeone actually seemed somewhat philosophical about their situation and Wednesday's performance.

While concerns remain, Simeone also saw elements that he liked, especially the team's attitude towards the end.

"To say that we have lacked forcefulness in all the games is a very simple excuse. We're making a lot of defensive mistakes that make games uphill battles for us, having to go looking to change the result and that creates complications for us," he later said in his post-match press conference.

"It's clear that little happened in the game in the first half. We couldn't solve a very simple plan in the best way and the game was played where [Mallorca] feel most comfortable.

"Defensively, [Mallorca's] work was very comfortable. In the first half we were looking for balls with more directness in order to be closer to the goal.

"Our changes gave us more vitality, freshness, a more dynamic way of approaching the game with speed on the flanks with [Antoine] Griezmann, [Thomas] Lemar's [ability to] break [the lines], and the appearance of [Sergio] Reguilon, who can give important things. But it was not enough.

"Reality makes us leave with a defeat that hurts and that obviously makes us have to work hard in the time we are going to have, because when LaLiga returns there will be complicated games.

"[But] the team never gave up, I never saw a team that didn't want to go for the game, and that gives me strength."

Atletico Madrid failed to win a fifth successive match as they were beaten 1-0 away to Mallorca in LaLiga on Wednesday.

Diego Simeone's side – who had lost two of their previous three games across all competitions – were unable to stop the rot as they offered little threat in what was their final league game before the World Cup break.

Mallorca talisman Vedat Muriqi was unsurprisingly the one to edge Mallorca in front early on, and that ultimately proved decisive.

An Alvaro Morata strike was ruled out shortly after, but it was by no means a prelude to legal Atletico goals as Los Colchoneros failed to make the most of their dominance of the ball.

Mallorca were good value for their 16th-minute opener, however scrappy it was.

After Jan Oblak spilled Antonio Sanchez's long-range effort, Antonio Raillo's follow-up was blocked into Jaume Costa's path and his scuffed low cross fortunately left Muriqi with an easy finish.

Atletico thought they had a swift response as Morata lifted a lovely finish over Predrag Rajkovic following Rodrigo de Paul's excellent throughball, only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.

The visitors showed more attacking purpose at the start of the second half, but Axel Witsel completely missed the ball when teed up inside the box in the 48th minute.

It was not until the 82nd minute that Atletico threatened again, with Morata failing to bundle over the line from close range, and a few moments later he saw a volley brilliantly saved by Rajkovic.

Robert Lewandowski chalked up a LaLiga record as his ninth goal of the season gave Barcelona a 1-0 win at Real Mallorca, taking Xavi's team to the top of LaLiga.

The match-winning strike from Lewandowski made him the fastest player to reach nine goals in the Spanish top flight in the 21st century, with this just his seventh game since arriving from Bayern Munich.

Real Madrid can reassert themselves as leaders when they face Osasuna on Sunday, but the sight of Barca at the summit, however fleetingly, points to the prospect of a fierce title battle.

There was plenty to satisfy coach Xavi, including a first domestic league start of the season for Ansu Fati, even if his team had to settle for a slender victory margin.

Lewandowski put Barcelona ahead in the 20th minute, collecting a pass from Ansu Fati and racing in from the left. He cut back cleverly onto his right foot to make space, cracking a powerful low shot into the far corner.

The Pole had another chance shortly after but could not apply power to his finish after being picked out by Sergio Busquets with a smart first-time pass.

Mallorca went close to a leveller when Jaume Costa tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen after good persistence on the right flank from Antonio Sanchez.

Sanchez forced another save from Ter Stegen soon after the break with a vicious cross-shot, while at the other end Franck Kessie sent a 25-yard drive just wide after good work from Fati.

Kessie and Fati made way midway through the half as Xavi brought on Pedri and Raphinha, emphasising Barcelona's squad depth.

Pedri, Gavi and Raphinha almost combined for a fantasy goal, but Barcelona ultimately did not need a second.

Barcelona boss Xavi has played down concerns over the future of captain Sergio Busquets, insisting the Spain international remains "key" to his plans at the club.

A difficult start to the season for the 34-year-old, including a red card against Rayo Vallecano, seems to have stoked further suggestions this campaign could be his last at Camp Nou.

With Barca still likely to need to cut their cloth accordingly amid their financial struggles, the Spain skipper could well be one key man to depart next year.

But the defensive midfielder has publicly downplayed a definitive answer on his future, and speaking ahead of his side's clash with Mallorca, Xavi reiterated that no decisions have yet been made.

"Busquets has said publicly that he hasn't decided anything," he stated. "He will make a decision at the end of the season and for me, he continues to be key."

With domestic and European concerns to field, Barca are set to enter a major period of fixture congestion, with a dozen games crunched into the month-and-a-half stretch ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Several of Xavi's fellow coaches across the continent have voiced their displeasure at the intense calendar, but he is instead focusing on the need to take as many points as they can at home and abroad.

"We have 12 games until the break for the World Cup," he added. "It's a momentous stretch of the season. All games are going to be very important.

"Tomorrow we have to win and show our character. We have to show our strengths."

Barca will move into an enforced break this term thanks to the mid-season winter staging of the World Cup in Qatar, adding another tough dimension to an already gruelling campaign.

With FIFA having mooted plans in recent times to potentially expand the tournament to a biennial staging, Xavi feels there should be no further restructures or moves from its traditional off-season berth.

"FIFA plans to organise the World Cup every two years," he added. "Now we have the World Cup in Qatar during the winter period.

"I think it would be better if the tournament is compiled at a separate time. Then the other time is allocated to the clubs."

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