Neymar has hit out at Mallorca captain Antonio Raillo over controversial remarks directed towards Brazil team-mate Vinicius Jr.

The Real Madrid forward has been embroiled in a racism scandal after a Spanish agent told him to "stop playing the monkey" in reference to his dancing celebration.

Vinicius was then subject to a torrent of abuse from Atletico Madrid fans in Madrid's recent derby victory, celebrating Rodrygo's goal in his customary fashion after being urged to "keep on dancing" in a flood of support.

On Monday, Raillo cause further controversy when he accused Vinicius of using the "race card" when he is criticised.

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

Neymar has subsequently responded on social media, replying to a post from TNT Sport Brasil and asking: "Who is Raillo?" – accompanying his comment with a laughing face emoji.

Brazilian footballers have unfortunately been on the receiving end of recent abuse, with the incident on Vinicius followed by a banana being thrown at Richarlison after he scored for the national side in a 5-1 friendly victory against Tunisia on Tuesday.

Mallorca head coach Javier Aguirre has hit out at LaLiga's scheduling as he considered the decision to play in the afternoon heat against Real Madrid "a crime".

Los Blancos maintained their 100 per cent start to the new season with a 4-1 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu, played under 32-degree heat after kicking off at 2:00pm local time.

The kick-off time left Mexican boss Aguirre furious as he detailed the problems his players had in such temperatures.

"You can't play at this hour, it's a crime. You can see how the players end up after going after the ball," he said in his post-match press conference.

"We are all exhausted, so are the fans. It is very difficult to play at this time, [Vedat] Muriqi with cramps, [Rodrigo] Battaglia with discomfort, Dani [Rodriguez], too.

"I had to change the whole midfield, and we have another one on Saturday at the same time and we have come from another. Let's see if we have better luck in the future."

Carlo Ancelotti also discussed the conditions after the game but came to a different conclusion, understanding the schedule is necessary due to the upcoming World Cup.

"That's the way the calendar is – like today we had to play at 2pm," Ancelotti said. "Fortunately, it wasn't too hot."

Rodrygo declared Real Madrid's start to the new campaign "couldn't have been any better" after helping Los Blancos preserve their 100 per cent winning record in LaLiga.

The Brazil winger contributed a goal and an assist as Madrid rallied to beat Mallorca 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu, completing a comeback that began with Federico Valverde's extraordinary solo goal.

With five wins from as many matches in LaLiga, Madrid are the only team with a 100 per cent record in the big five European leagues this season.

This is only the second season this century in which Madrid have started with five league wins (also 2009-10).

Speaking to the club's website after Sunday's win, Rodrygo said: "Our start couldn't have been any better. 

"This is the fruit of our efforts. We have two tough games coming up now, we have to keep working and doing the right things because we have everything in place to enjoy a fantastic season."

Rodrygo's assist teed up Vinicius Junior to score in his fourth consecutive league appearance at the start of the season, and the former is enjoying linking up with his compatriot.

"Vini and I have a great understanding. We had to get a bit closer to each other," Rodrygo added.

"[Luka] Modric was threading balls between the lines, which is where the coach asked me to be for most of the game. I found space there, linked up with Vini, and the goal came. We just had to move closer.

"The gaffer asked me to attack the space, get in behind the defence. That was the only space you could find because they were very compact and it was so tough to link up on the inside. 

"We managed a few times, but it wasn't easy. Then eventually the goals came."

Tenacious midfielder Valverde was the catalyst for Madrid's comeback, driving forward from his own half before drilling a fabulous effort into the top-left corner to get the hosts on level terms.

However, rather than any individual plaudits, Valverde's main concern was picking up the three points.

"I'm delighted to have got the win. The goal was beautiful, but the important thing was to win. We've got that pride and daring to go after the game even if we're behind," Valverde said.

"I started running, I saw the red shirts and I tried to get round them so I could keep going. When I saw they were showing me inside, I took advantage of that and shot with my left. It was a team goal.

"I tried my luck often last season with my right and I would always hit the post or see it go just wide. 

"Now they're going in, and I'm really enjoying this spell. I try to make the most of my qualities, running with the ball is one of those. 

"When things come off, it's great. After the team has worked so hard, these things bring you real joy."

Madrid have claimed six points from losing positions in LaLiga already this season. Only Southampton and Milan (both seven) have picked up more across Europe's top five leagues this campaign.

Carlo Ancelotti says he empathises with Marco Asensio following his angry reaction to being left on the bench during Real Madrid's 4-1 win over Mallorca.

Los Blancos returned to the LaLiga summit after coming from behind to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season, while remaining the only team in the big five European leagues with a perfect record still intact.

Federico Valverde's marvellous individual effort cancelled out Vedat Muqiri's earlier header, while goals from Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Antonio Rudiger completed the turnaround after the break.

Asensio, who was repeatedly linked with a move away from Santiago Bernabeu during the transfer window, has played just 17 minutes for Madrid across all competitions this season.

His frustration at the lack of playing time boiled over when he was overlooked by Ancelotti after Dani Carvajal replaced the injured Lucas Vazquez in the 71st minute; the winger throwing his bib to the ground while kicking a water bottle.

When asked about the incident, the Italian said: "We were preparing if we didn't make it 2-1 to put Mariano and Asensio in. Lucas has been injured, and we only had one window, and I didn't think about making that change.

"If he is angry, I agree with him. It's normal, it means you want to play, feel important. In this period, he has been the most affected player in the squad and I take that into account. I totally agree with his anger, nothing happens."

Ancelotti also praised the leadership qualities of Valverde after the Uruguay international's wonderful solo goal that saw him pick up the ball from deep inside his own half, before firing into the top corner from 20 yards.

"You are a leader when you are an example, and Federico is very, very important to us," the head coach said of the midfielder, who netted his first Madrid goal in nearly two years. 

"He is doing very well, he is still very humble and this can help him to be a leader in the future. Here, we have many leaders who are leaders with examples, not with language. This is very important."
 

Real Madrid returned to the LaLiga summit after coming from behind to beat Mallorca 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The hosts fell behind as the in-form Vedat Muriqi headed Mallorca into the lead, but Federico Valverde equalised before half-time with a marvellous individual effort.

Carlo Ancelotti's side completed the turnaround 18 minutes from time with Vinicius Junior finding the net for a fourth successive LaLiga game, before another impressive solo goal from Rodrygo and Antonio Rudiger's first strike for the club late on tied things up.

Los Blancos remain the only team in the big five European leagues to boast a 100 per cent record this season, having won their opening five league matches for the first time since 2009-10.

Mallorca had not won at Madrid since May 2009 but Muriqi sounded a warning for the visitors inside the opening minute.

Latching onto Martin Valjent's long ball, the striker cleverly escaped the advancing Antonio Rudiger before his powerful volley was beaten away by Thibaut Courtois. 

Dani Ceballos and Rodrygo tested Predrag Rajkovic at the other end, but Mallorca took a surprise lead in the 25th minute as an unmarked Muriqi headed home Lee Kang-In's free-kick for his third goal of the season.

Madrid equalised in emphatic fashion in first-half stoppage time; Valverde embarking on a wonderful run from deep inside his own half, before firing into the top corner from 20 yards.

Lucas Vazquez curled a 25-yard effort narrowly wide just after the hour mark before Mallorca squandered a glorious opportunity to regain the lead; substitute Antonio Sanchez shooting wide with only Courtois to beat.

It proved costly as Madrid edged their noses ahead in the 72nd minute. Rodrygo burst into the heart of the visitors' defence before feeding Vinicius, who neatly clipped the ball beyond the advancing Rajkovic.

Rodrygo then sealed the points with a minute remaining as he embarked on a strong, jinking run into the box, evading several challenges before slotting home, which was followed by Rudiger volleying home a Toni Kroos free-kick at the far post in stoppage time.

Luka Modric believes Real Madrid are well-equipped to thrive in the aftermath of Casemiro's move to Manchester United, as he praised Los Blancos' midfield options.

Casemiro left Madrid to join United in a £60million (€70m) move last month, but his departure has not stopped Carlo Ancelotti's men from making a strong start to the new season.

Ahead of Sunday's home clash with Mallorca, Madrid have won all four of their games in LaLiga and began their Champions League defence with a 3-0 thrashing of Celtic on Tuesday.

Madrid are the only team with a 100 per cent record in the top five European leagues this season, and are now bidding to win their opening five league matches for just the second time in the 21st century, having also done so in 2009-10.

The likes of Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde have stepped up in Casemiro's absence. 

Of Madrid's midfielders, new signing Tchouameni leads the way for minutes played in LaLiga this season (328), followed by Valverde (265), Modric (260) and Camavinga (222). All four have made more starts than the two managed by Toni Kroos, who has played 173 minutes.

Modric believes the strength of Madrid's options means Casemiro will not be missed, telling the club's website: "We've started really well this year and we have a strong team. 

"In midfield, we lost an important player in Casemiro, but we've got a lot of other good players to replace him and do a good job. 

"Tchouameni has adapted really well. This is Camavinga's second year and he had a great first year.

"Kroos has been here for a long time. Valverde is also doing really well in any position. [Dani] Ceballos is helping the team a lot, so we're well-equipped in this position."

Meanwhile, Eden Hazard capped Madrid's trip to Celtic by finishing off a 33-pass move for their third goal. Since Opta data began in 2003-04, that is the longest uninterrupted build-up to any of Madrid's 434 goals in the competition.

But speaking on Saturday, Ancelotti insisted the Belgium forward's strike was not representative of a change in Madrid's style of play.

"Madrid deserves the credit it gets but scoring a goal from a 33-pass play doesn't mean that's our whole identity," the Madrid boss said.

"The game was almost over and we wanted to finish it out with a long spell of possession, but the stats say it's easier to score in under 10 passes. The numbers show very few goals come from over 10 passes.

"You could say that playing a possession-based game has been fashionable and has seen success in recent years, but football is changing and it's more direct.

"Possession football is less popular than it has been recently in every country."

Karim Benzema will miss Real Madrid's next two games, but could return for the derby with Atletico Madrid, according to Carlo Ancelotti.

Benzema came off with a knee injury during Madrid's 3-0 win at Celtic in the opening group game of the Champions League on Tuesday, and it had been feared he would miss a significant period as a result.

However, Ancelotti appeared to allay those fears at a press conference on Saturday ahead of Los Blancos' game with Real Mallorca, saying the France international might even be back in just over a week.

After Mallorca, Madrid host RB Leipzig in the Champions League before making the short trip to face rivals Atletico next Sunday.

"We will not force Benzema," Madrid coach Ancelotti said. "He will certainly not play against Leipzig, but then we will see for the derby.

"If he can't play then [against Atletico], he won't go to France [for the international break]."

Benzema was replaced after 30 minutes at Parkhead by Eden Hazard, who went on to score the third goal in the victory, and it is likely the Belgian will be tasked with filling the centre-forward spot against Mallorca.

Ancelotti does not want him to play like Benzema, though, saying: "Hazard did well coming on against Celtic. I'm going to put him in again on Sunday. Hopefully he can repeat a great game.

"I don't expect [Hazard] to play like Benzema, but I want him to play well and to connect with the other forwards."

Ancelotti has made it clear that there is no replacement for Benzema, with alternative options providing different strengths in the final third, and singled out Vinicius Jr. - who has scored in each of his last four Madrid appearances - for praise.

He said: "We don't have Karim and because he is the best striker in the world, there is no substitute for him on the market.

"But he can be replaced with other players with different characteristics.

"Vinicius is getting more consistent in finishing, in scoring goals. It is difficult for him to fail in front of the goal, there he has improved a lot. 

"I want to emphasise that he continues to maintain a good attitude, with a lot of humility, work - he wants to improve every day."

LaLiga, home to the European champions, returns on Friday for another season.

Real Madrid ended the previous campaign by winning the Champions League, the prize they covet most, but it was also a successful year in domestic action.

Carlo Ancelotti's men eased to a record-extending 35th league title by 13 points – that is the gap Barcelona have sought to bridge in the transfer market during the close season. So, just how successfully have they done that?

Stats Perform AI has predicted the outcome of the coming campaign, estimating the likelihood of teams finishing in each position informed by their expected results in each match.

These are calculated using betting odds and Stats Perform's team rankings – based on historical and recent team performances – and have thrown up some interesting results, with Barca seemingly left still with plenty to do.

MADRID MAINTAIN BUFFER TO BARCA

Given their 35 titles, given their 13-point gap, given their status as European champions, it is surely no surprise Madrid are considered the clear favourites to scoop Spanish football's top prize once again.

The data makes Ancelotti's side 58.75 per cent favourites to retain their crown.

Barca recovered from a dismal start last season to finish second, and they are forecast for the same result again after investing hugely in Robert Lewandowski and Co.

But there is only a 17.0 per cent chance of the title heading to Camp Nou, with Atletico Madrid a predictable third in the rankings and rated as a 12.3 per cent shot.

Those three clubs have accounted for the past 18 championships since Valencia finished top in 2003-04. Now, under Gennaro Gattuso, Valencia have a mere 0.08 per cent chance of returning to the summit, deemed ninth favourites among 11 teams with any hope at all.

Sevilla (4.74 per cent) and Villarreal (4.66 per cent) are the sides most likely to upset the established order.

 

PRECIOUS FOURTH PLACE UP FOR GRABS

There realistically remains only one of the four Champions League places on offer after taking into account Madrid (95.68 per cent), Barca (79.31 per cent) and Atletico (71.56 per cent). Last season, that belonged to Sevilla.

Yet despite Sevilla's high ceiling seeing them fourth favourites for the title, Stats Perform AI expects them to be pushed out of the top four.

After losing defensive duo Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos, Sevilla are given a 47.45 per cent of qualifying for the Champions League, just behind former coach Unai Emery's Villarreal (48.66 per cent), who were seventh last season but reached the semi-finals of Europe's elite club competition.

Real Sociedad (24.79 per cent) and Real Betis (20.39 per cent) are both firmly in the mix, too, although every team in the league have at least a 0.04 per cent hope of contending for Champions League glory.

Athletic Bilbao are expected to be on the outside looking in from eighth place (7.48 per cent for Champions League, 7.42 per cent for Europa League and 10.51 per cent for Europa Conference League).

 

NO ESCAPE THIS TIME FOR MALLORCA

The fight against the drop went right to the wire last term, with three teams still in the mix on the final day.

Granada were the surprise victims of a dramatic scrap, relegated just two weeks after winning 6-2 at Mallorca. Mallorca then earned seven points from their next three games to stay up alongside Cadiz at Granada's expense.

That late recovery may have rescued Mallorca for another year, but Stats Perform AI predicts their LaLiga stay will last no longer than that.

They are 41.27 per cent favourites to go down, even considered more likely for demotion than Girona (39.95), who were promoted via the play-offs.

Real Valladolid, another promoted side, are ranked as the third relegated team (32.74 per cent), yet there is very little to choose between a clutch of clubs, with Cadiz (31.8 per cent) again at risk alongside Elche (31.48 per cent), second-tier champions Almeria (28.86 per cent) and Rayo Vallecano (27.46 per cent).

Barcelona head coach Xavi labelled Ansu Fati a "special player" after handing the 19-year-old his first league appearance since November in a 2-1 win over Real Mallorca.

Fati entered the fray as a 75th-minute substitute as the Blaugrana recorded a crucial win in their bid to secure Champions League qualification, as goals from Memphis Depay and Sergio Busquets moved Barca into second place in LaLiga, nine points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis.

Fati has recorded 14 goals and one assist in 37 appearances in LaLiga since making his Barca debut in 2019, but he has suffered an injury-plagued campaign and went over five months without making a league appearance prior to his comeback.

Speaking after the youngster's return to the pitch, Xavi lauded Fati's ability and said it was a "shame" the Catalan giants had been without him for the majority of the season.

"He is very happy to be with the group," Xavi said. "Little by little, he needs competition rhythm. Training is not the same as participating in a match and he needs time. 

"Ansu is a special player. You see him in training. He has made an effort to be with us.

"I have tried him as a number nine [in this match] so that he was close to the area, and because he is not yet ready to do many one-on-ones. 

"It's a shame that we haven't had him these months because I'm sure he would have helped us. I'm very happy for him."

Although Fati's 15-minute cameo in Barcelona's fifth win in seven LaLiga games (two defeats) was welcome news, the Blaugrana lost defender Gerard Pique to injury in the first-half, and Xavi said his former team-mate had been playing through the pain barrier to help Barca's push for a top-four finish.

"Today he told me that he was very well, but in the 10th minute he felt discomfort again. He is making a super effort for the team, he is super involved but the pain is there," Xavi added.

"In the 25th minute, he told me that he couldn't give any more and it was difficult for him to run. 

"Let's see how it is this week. Pique is very important because of his ball output, his size, his set piece [threat] and the leadership he gives to the group."

Barcelona face top-four rivals Real Betis in their next league outing on Saturday, and could mathematically confirm Champions League qualification with a win in that contest if Betis fail to win at Getafe on Monday.

Xavi said Barcelona's 2-1 win over Real Mallorca gives them "peace of mind" in their hunt for Champions League qualification, and hailed Memphis Depay's attitude after he opened the scoring with a stunning volley.

Having lost three consecutive matches at Camp Nou for just the second time in their illustrious history, the Blaugrana bounced back through excellent goals from Depay and Sergio Busquets, holding on for the win after Antonio Raillo pulled a goal back late on.

The Catalan giants have now won five of their last seven games in LaLiga to open up a nine-point lead over fifth-placed Real Betis in the race for Champions League football, moving up to second in the table.

Although Xavi insisted his team should have won the match more comfortably, he was pleased after picking up a crucial win in their quest to wrap up a top-four finish.

"It was a 3-0 match and we have to finish more satisfied, we have committed an unnecessary foul and they have scored the goal. It is a game to win [more] comfortably," he said after the victory.

"[But] the three points give us peace of mind. Now we have a league of five teams to enter the Champions League, which we have to win."

Depay's fantastic volleyed opener represented his 11th goal of the season in LaLiga – more than any other Barcelona player, and while Xavi was not willing to discuss whether the attacker had a future at Camp Nou, he insisted the 28-year-old deserved to play after showing great application in training.

"There is no talk of the future. Memphis has played because he trains very well, and maybe because another player had lowered his arms," he added. "We had worked on the play for the first goal.

"We want players with his attitude. I'm happy for him because it's possible that we were unfair at times with him. But if he trains like this, he has to participate."

Depay's Netherlands team-mate Frenkie de Jong, meanwhile, played the full 90 minutes after reacting angrily to being substituted in Barca's defeat to Rayo Vallecano last time out.

But the 24-year-old, who has been linked with a move away from Catalonia in recent weeks, said he has had positive discussions with Xavi since that incident and hopes Barcelona can compete with newly-crowned champions Real Madrid for the league title next term.

"The conversation with Xavi went well," De Jong said. "I have confidence in myself and the coach has told me that he also has confidence in me. I don't think too much is demanded of me, the pressure is always good and it's never too much.

"We were better and we deserved the victory. We played quite well, although we can always improve a lot. But it was important to win after defeats and we are happy with that.

"We are second, the first objective is to qualify for the Champions League, and then to be second to play in the [Spanish] Super Cup.

"It is frustrating, not fighting for the league, but we have not been good this year and that is why we have not been able to compete with them [Madrid]. We hope to do so next year."

Barcelona took another big step towards Champions League qualification as Memphis Depay and Sergio Busquets scored superb goals in a 2-1 LaLiga win over Real Mallorca.

Looking to avoid a fourth consecutive home defeat, the Blaugrana calmed a nervous Camp Nou crowd through Depay's excellent first-half volley on Sunday.

Busquets then fired a low effort beyond Sergio Rico and the Catalan giants held on for the win despite Antonio Raillo's 79th minute goal.

After being forced to watch rivals Real Madrid win the title on Saturday, Xavi's side at least look likely to join them in next season's Champions League after moving back into second place.

Rico was forced into an excellent save after five minutes, diving to his right to turn away Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal-bound header, before Fer Nino squandered a fantastic opportunity for the visitors when firing over at the back post from close range.

Ronald Araujo saw a powerful 22nd-minute header ruled out for offside, but the Blaugrana did take the lead three minutes later when Depay expertly volleyed into the bottom-left corner after controlling Jordi Alba's ball over the top.

The hosts lost Gerard Pique to injury before the break, but doubled their advantage after 54 minutes when Busquets drilled a left-footed effort into the bottom-right corner after striding onto a loose ball on the edge of the area.

Depay went close to another brilliant goal when he shot narrowly wide from range after dancing through the visiting midfield, before Barca had another goal ruled out by VAR after Ferran Torres's shot deflected in off Aubameyang in an offside position.

Xavi handed Ansu Fati his first appearance since November from the bench, as the hosts clung on for a vital win despite Raillo prodding home from Salva Sevilla's cross. 

What does it mean? Blaugrana end Camp Nou misery 

Barcelona had seen much of the positivity surrounding the club dissipate after suffering three consecutive home defeats for just the second time in their history, but bounced back to secure three precious points.

In doing so, Xavi's side stretched their lead over fifth-placed Real Betis - who have a game in hand - to nine points with four matches to play, taking a huge step towards sealing a Champions League spot.

Alba assumes creative role again

Having teed up Depay's goal, Alba has recorded nine assists in La Liga this season, the best such record managed by a defender in the competition since Real Madrid's Marcelo registered 10 in 2016-17.

Alba's return also represents the best managed by a Barca defender since Dani Alves teed up 11 goals in the 2011-12 campaign.

Depay shows his worth

Although Barcelona's push for Champions League football has seen January arrivals Aubameyang and Torres star in the attacking positions, Depay provided a reminder of his quality by striking a terrific opener.

The Dutchman has now scored 11 goals in LaLiga this season, more than any other Blaugrana player.

What's next? 

Barcelona's next outing sees them travel to Betis for a huge contest on Saturday, while Mallorca host fellow strugglers Granada on the same day.

Ansu Fati will be available for selection for Barcelona when they play Real Mallorca at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

Barca sit third in LaLiga, a point behind second-placed Sevilla – who have played a game more – and 18 adrift of newly crowned champions Real Madrid.

Fati has not featured for the Blaugrana since sustaining a hamstring injury in January, but head coach Xavi revealed on Saturday that the 19-year-old could return this weekend.

"We will give the squad list and Ansu will be there," he told reporters at a pre-match news conference.

"He feels very comfortable and is making efforts to return. He will play at least a few minutes. He is happy, he is smiling, a special player.

"We take great care of him, we know he is a special player. For now the feelings are very good, peaks of speed, physically very good."

The club then confirmed Fati's presence in the squad on Sunday via their Twitter page.

Barca go into the match having lost three successive home games in all competitions for just the second time in history, last doing so under Louis van Gaal between the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons.

Defeat last time out against Rayo Vallecano, who became the first promoted team to complete a LaLiga double over Barca since Salamanca in 1997-98, left Xavi's side in third, and they will look to bounce back when they welcome Mallorca to Camp Nou.

Barcelona coach Xavi expressed his gratitude for the support from former boss Ronald Koeman as he implored the Blaugrana to respond against Real Mallorca.

Xavi's side sit third in LaLiga, a point behind second-placed Sevilla – who have played a game more – and 15 behind runaway leaders Real Madrid.

However, Barca have fallen to three straight home defeats in all competitions for just the second time in their history, last doing so under Louis van Gaal between the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons.

That torrid run culminated in their elimination from the Europa League and placed slight doubt over Champions League qualification, though they are six points ahead of fifth-placed Real Betis.

Koeman suggested on Thursday that Xavi deserves more support than he received when at Barca, with the Spaniard lifting the Blaugrana from ninth to third following the Dutchman's dismissal last October.

While Xavi welcomed the support of a fellow coach and revealed his admiration for Koeman, the 42-year-old urged Barca to improve against Mallorca on Sunday.

"I'm not going to change the feelings that Ronald has. I wasn't there and I'm not going to give my opinion," he told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Saturday.

"I have tremendous respect and admiration for him. Everyone has to support Barca. I have the utmost respect for Ronald for the work and effort he made. Thank him, nothing more.

"We are here and I do feel the support of the club and of Barcelona in general. It seemed that we had hit the key, but suddenly there were three defeats in a row.

"Now we have to see to the coach, the players, show our faces."

Barca have never lost four home games in a row in their history, and Xavi reiterated his calls for his side to respond against Mallorca, who have lost their last eight league meetings with the Blaugrana.

"It is time to take a step forward," he added. "You have to make more of a team than ever and bring out your personality. It's not because of a bad attitude.

"It's because of situations that have weighed us down. We have to improve. It's time to push it forward and bring out the personality. I have a winning team and that's the reality.

"You have to set challenges. Those who have the most desire will enter the Champions League. This is a club made to win titles. The second is the minimum required.

"On Monday we were angry, on Tuesday less and on Wednesday we were already working.

"It is a reality and you have to prepare yourself for that. You have to have faith to achieve the minimum objective."

Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid will be crowned champions if they avoid defeat against Espanyol the day before Barca are in action.

"If they are champions, we will congratulate them," he said of Madrid.

"They have been better because this is a long competition and usually the one who deserves it wins. We will congratulate them and next year we will compete better."

Ansu Fati will feature for Barcelona against Real Mallorca for the first time in three months after sustaining a hamstring injury, Blaugrana coach Xavi confirmed.

Barca have lost their last three home games in all competitions for just the second time in history, last doing so under Louis van Gaal between the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons.

Defeat against Rayo Vallecano, who became the first promoted team to complete a LaLiga double over Barca since Salamanca in 1997-98, left Xavi's side in third – 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid.

While Madrid need just a point against Espanyol on Saturday to secure the title, Barca will be boosted by the return of Fati against Mallorca on Sunday.

The 19-year-old has suffered an injury-hit campaign, last featuring in January – and not at all in LaLiga since November – managing just five league appearances this season for his 213 minutes of action.

"We will give the squad list and Ansu will be there," Xavi told reporters at a pre-match news conference. 

"He feels very comfortable and is making efforts to return. He will play at least a few minutes. He is happy, he is smiling, a special player.

"We take great care of him, we know he is a special player. For now the feelings are very good, peaks of speed, physically very good."

Fati will return to a Barca side that has scored with only one of the last 46 shots they have attempted in LaLiga, and with one of their last 57 at Camp Nou in the competition.

However, Xavi insists his side need to collectively respond instead of relying on the teenager to make things happen when he features.

"The focus has to be on the team. I understand football as a collective game. If it's only one player, when he fails the team doesn't shoot," he added.

"Everyone has to shoot. Ansu is a different player, he has to be very important from now on.

"But there is no specific focus on him or anyone, I have never understood it that way."

Barca will be without midfielder Pedri as the talented youngster continues to recover from a hamstring injury sustained against Eintracht Frankfurt earlier in April.

The Blaugrana have won eight of 10 LaLiga games that Pedri has started, in comparison to just 10 victories in 23 league games without the Spain international in the starting line-up this season.

Xavi provided a positive update on Pedri as he suggested he may be without centre-back Gerard Pique against Mallorca.

"Pedri is training separately and has a good feeling," he added. "Pique has a tendon problem. We'll see tomorrow, today he was more sore.

"Nico [Gonzalez] broke his finger in a collision with Ansu. A shame because we don't have plenty of midfielders, but that's football."

One midfielder that could leave his mark, though, is the out of favour Frenkie de Jong, who was seemingly unhappy after his substitution in Barca's last game.

"We had a very good face-to-face talk," Xavi said of De Jong. 

"It's obvious that this change frustrated him, but I have to look out for the team. He's had excellent games, but he has to be constant.

"He's capable and is here to make a difference. He's a very important player for the present and for the future".

Jan Oblak admitted Atletico Madrid must improve on their performance in defeat to Real Mallorca when they host Manchester City in the Champions League. 

Atletico face City in the second leg of their quarter-final at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday, trailing 1-0 from the first game in Manchester. 

They surprisingly lost by the same scoreline to relegation-threatened Mallorca at the Visit Mallorca Estadi on Saturday, with Vedat Muriqi's penalty settling a contest low on quality. 

LaLiga's reigning champions saw their six-game top-flight winning streak end abruptly but remain fourth – three points behind Sevilla in second. 

Oblak was unhappy with the decision to award the penalty after Reinildo was judged to have fouled Pablo Maffeo but conceded the Rojiblancos did not play well enough to win. 

"Things didn't work out today," the Slovenian goalkeeper said after the game. "Mallorca played a good defensive game. It was a difficult game. 

"In the end, with a dry pitch, with sun, with everything, it's complicated. I'm not looking for excuses. We have to do more and better. Today was not enough for the three points. 

 

"We didn't have [the Champions League game] in mind, but I'm sure the first leg has taken its toll. We've been a bit tired, heavy... We haven't played the game we had to play. Next it's City and we have to do much better to win on Wednesday. 

"Reinildo has also told me that it wasn't [a penalty]. I saw it from behind and it didn't seem like it to me. But if the VAR people don't want to warn him, nothing can be done. I've told the referee that it's not a penalty. Football is a contact sport and it can happen that after clearing the ball you touch someone. 

"The intensity wasn't at the level that it had to be for the whole team. In the end, you lose a game that you didn't have to lose. You can't let the other team play with more enthusiasm. You have to go in wanting to win and take the three points." 

Head coach Diego Simeone also dismissed the notion that his team had one eye on City. 

"We started the game well, but it was costing us," he told reporters. "We were elaborate, generated danger, but defensively they were very good. The penalty made us look to force a draw, but it wasn't to be. 

"It's easy to blame a lack of concentration, but we couldn't break their orderly and correct defense." 

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