Diego Simeone believes the period of Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating LaLiga finished with the ends of their respective 'MSN' and 'BBC' eras.

Atletico Madrid battled to a slender 1-0 win at home to Osasuna on Saturday, with Felipe getting the decisive goal in the 87th minute.

The result moved them back to within a point of Real Madrid, though they have a game in hand, while Sevilla and Real Sociedad are just one point better off at the summit.

Osasuna pushed Atletico all the way and Simeone felt this was prime evidence of LaLiga's competitiveness, convinced the day's of the 'big two' are over.

"It demanded a lot from us because LaLiga is very competitive," Simeone told reporters. "There isn't much difference [in quality between all teams].

"The Barca of the MSN era and the Madrid of the BBC era have passed. Now LaLiga is very competitive for everyone."

For a while it looked as though Atletico were going to be frustrated by Osasuna, who almost clung on for a point.

Stealing the win at the end felt good for Mario Hermoso, who believed getting a positive result ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Milan, as Atletico could have their knockout-phase hopes ended if they lose.

"These victories taste different," the defender added. "When you go on and on, insisting on what you believe in, on what the coach wants, on what we trust and work on during the week, sooner or later the time ends.

"What better way than to do it with that goal at that moment with the push of the fans and especially ahead of the 'final' that we have on Wednesday."

Atletico Madrid left it late to take advantage of a slip-up by LaLiga title rivals Sevilla as Felipe's header secured a 1-0 win over Osasuna.

Sevilla went top of LaLiga earlier in the day with a 2-2 draw against Alaves, an injury-time equaliser sending them to the summit.

But they and Real Sociedad are now just two points above Atletico, who claimed victory from their one of only two efforts on target at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Felipe rose to meet Yannick Carrasco's near-post corner and turn it home, providing a dramatic finish to what had otherwise been a dour encounter on Saturday.

 

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti says getting sacked is part of the job after his counterpart Ronald Koeman was dismissed by Barcelona on Wednesday.

Koeman was axed by the Blaugrana following their dismal start to the new season, capped by Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano, leaving them ninth in LaLiga.

Intense speculation and pressure had mounted about the Dutchman's future for the past month and former Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain boss Ancelotti weighed in.

"I've been sacked several times and I'm still here, alive and happy," Ancelotti told reporters after Madrid's 0-0 home draw with Osasuna.

"Getting sacked is part of the job and you have to give it everything you've got until the day you're sacked.

"You have to look forward while keeping a clear conscience. He’s giving everything he has to give."

Madrid's draw with Osasuna moved them into top spot in LaLiga but left them with only four points collected from their past four league games.

Ancelotti's side are also winless from their past three home games, including a 2-1 home defeat to Sheriff in the Champions League.

The stalemate with Osasuna follows a goalless draw with Villarreal in LaLiga, meaning Madrid have recorded back-to-back 0-0 draws in home games in the league for the fourth time, and first since November 1996 under Fabio Capello.

"Of the three games, we deserved to win two of them," Ancelotti said. "We have to understand that they are difficult games for this squad, because in this game we lacked presence in the box.

"But do you want the truth? You can call me crazy, but I liked the performance. Especially in the second half. My players have given everything and we have to keep going."

Ancelotti bemoaned a first-half incident where Los Blancos were denied a penalty after Vinicius Junior was stamped inside the box by Osasuna's Lucas Torro. The Madrid boss also felt aggrieved at a lack of stoppage time in the second half.

"The penalty is a complicated issue. All I saw, was Vinicius asking the referee to take a look at VAR and he didn't get why," Ancelotti said.

"Then I understood why, he stamps on him and I think it's a penalty. Why VAR did not intervene I don't know.

"I told the referee I felt he hadn't added enough injury time given how the game had gone. I asked him for an explanation but it wasn't very convincing."

Vinicius Junior was busy throughout, attempting 71 passes (64 completed), which was his highest in a single game for Madrid in all competitions.

Real Madrid missed the chance to move two points clear at the top of LaLiga as they were held to a 0-0 home draw by a resolute Osasuna.

Madrid turned in a fine performance to defeat Barcelona at Camp Nou last time out, but Carlo Ancelotti's side lacked any spark on Wednesday.

It is the third successive home game that Madrid have failed to win in all competitions, and Los Blancos were fortunate Jon Moncayola did not make matters worse when he struck the post early in the second half.

With Sevilla only able to draw at Mallorca, and Atletico Madrid and Sevilla not in action until Thursday, Madrid – who went closest to scoring when Karim Benzema hit the woodwork – must consider it as an opportunity missed to open up a slight gap on their title rivals.

The little action that did occur happened mostly after the break, with Eduardo Camavinga's effort into the side-netting the highlight of a drab first half.

Madrid out-thought Barca in Sunday's Clasico victory, but the slack nature of their performance should have been punished in the 50th minute.

Toni Kroos' tame cross resulted in Osasuna breaking at pace, with Chimy Avila sliding it across for Moncayola, who could only hit the upright.

Madrid were hardly sparked into life by that chance, with the pedestrian pace continuing until Benzema engineered space for a shot that clipped off the crossbar.

Unusually profligate against Barca, Benzema sent another presentable opportunity off target soon after, with Casemiro's effort from in his own half and a wayward Marcelo chip the closest Madrid came to scoring from then on as their recent issues at Santiago Bernabeu continued.

Carlo Ancelotti does not believe he deserves credit for Vinicius Junior's improvement, while the Real Madrid coach is backing Eden Hazard to find his best level again this season.

Karim Benzema has undoubtedly been Madrid's standout player this season, with the Frenchman's 19 goal involvements across all competitions bettered by only Mohamed Salah (20) in Europe's top five leagues, but Vinicius' form has also provided a real positive.

In each of his previous three seasons at Madrid, Vinicius had underperformed in relation to his expected goals (xG) value, backing up the idea he was wasteful and lacked the ability to be decisive.

This season, however, Vinicius has seven goals across all competitions from an xG value of 5.2, suggesting he is proving more reliable when presented with chances and also sniffing out greater opportunities in the first place.

With 10 goal involvements, Vinicius has already reached his total from last season and is just two behind his personal best of 12 for an entire campaign (2018-19).

Many have praised Ancelotti's influence for this, but the Italian insists he has not done "anything special".

"What I like the most is that he tries," Ancelotti told reporters ahead of Wednesday's clash with Osasuna. "He tries, whenever he can, and he does it with intensity.

"Regardless of quality, he works a lot. He has to improve without the ball, but he's humble, and he likes to work.

"What I do is work on motivation and less on the offensive aspect of his game, where I leave a lot to creativity. What stands out is his creativity with the ball.

"He is focused as a player. He's young, and at times he loses concentration with the fans – I tell him that he has to focus on the game and not on the surroundings.

"It is not a father-son relationship, I already have two children! It is the relationship you want to have with all the players. I try to keep him motivated, focused, but I don't do anything special."

 

On the other hand, one Madrid wide player who is not thriving currently is Eden Hazard.

The Belgium forward's Madrid career has been devastated by injuries so far and, although he has mostly stayed fit this season, he has a lot of work on his hands to convince Ancelotti.

Hazard has made four LaLiga starts this term, but none of those have come in the past month, and he was an unused substitute for the weekend's Clasico win over Barcelona.

Ancelotti insists the former Chelsea star can get back to his best, however.

Asked if Hazard still had "star status", the coach replied: "He does not have this status because he has had many injuries. Little by little, he will have his best version.

"I am sure that this season we will see his best version and that he will play more than he is doing now. Hazard has it, everything: quality, motivation... He just has to wait. What happens is that sometimes the coach prefers other players.

"He can play 4-3-3 on the left, or 4-4-2 he can play wide, or behind the striker. He is ready to play, but the problem is that there is a coach who is betting on other players."

Gareth Bale will increase the competition for Hazard when he returns, though the Wales winger is still a couple of weeks away from making his comeback, as Ancelotti has earmarked the visit of Rayo Vallecano on November 6.

"Gareth Bale was discharged yesterday and I think that in a week he will be able to train with the team," Ancelotti said. "Maybe he can be involved against Rayo Vallecano."

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has criticised a group of Barcelona supporters who mobbed Ronald Koeman's car after Sunday's Clasico.

Ancelotti claimed his first managerial victory at Camp Nou on Sunday, as goals from David Alaba and Lucas Vazquez secured a 2-1 victory. 

Struggling Barca boss Koeman was then subjected to unsavoury scenes as he left the ground, with the Dutchman's vehicle surrounded by fans as he attempted to depart.

Barca released a statement to condemn those actions and in his news conference on Tuesday, Koeman suggested the incident reflected wider problems in society.

Ancelotti, who Koeman also revealed offered his support, echoed his counterpart's sentiment.

"It is a lack of respect for the person, not for the coach. Koeman is not a coach, he is a person who works as a coach," Ancelotti told the media ahead of Madrid's LaLiga meeting with Osasuna on Wednesday.

"It is not a problem of football, but of society, of rudeness.

"A friend who is also a coach told me that the best life for a coach is when there are no games. It is a beautiful life, we like to train. Criticism is normal, but disrespect is annoying on a personal level.

"When you are a child they teach you, at least to me, if you want to be respected you have to [show] respect."

 

Despite the victory, some sections of Madrid's support were seemingly unhappy with how Los Blancos played at Camp Nou.

Barca shaded the possession (51.6 per cent) and had more shots (12) than Madrid's 10, though the hosts only managed to get two on target - one of those being Sergio Aguero's last-gasp consolation - and were constantly exposed on the counter-attack.

"I understand the criticism because everyone can have an opinion," reflected Ancelotti.

"I said that we had not played perfectly, but that we played a smart game, which was what we had asked for."

Ancelotti has not lost as Madrid coach against Osasuna in all competitions (W3 D1), though Wednesday's match will not be simple, with Jagoba Arrasate's side sitting in sixth, just two points back from Los Blancos.

"Osasuna are a good team that play intense football, that defend well," Ancelotti said. "They are dangerous and their [league position] speaks clearly. It will be a difficult game."

Luis Suarez praised the character shown by Atletico Madrid to dig deep and clinch a dramatic 2-1 win over Osasuna that keeps them top of LaLiga.

Atleti's hopes of landing a first top-flight title in seven years seemed to be dealt a blow in Sunday's clash at the Wanda Metropolitano when Ante Budimir put mid-table Osasuna in front.

It was the Croatia international's seventh headed goal of the season – no player in LaLiga has more – but Diego Simeone's side turned the game around in the final eight minutes.

Substitute Renan Lodi fired in an equaliser and Suarez, who had earlier hit the post and missed a couple of other good chances, guided in a dramatic late winner.

The win ensures Simeone's side head to Real Valladolid on the final day of the season only needing to match Real Madrid's result against Villarreal to finish top.

Suarez's strike came from his seventh shot of the game and the Uruguay international admitted his side were made to suffer for their 25th win of the campaign.

"These are moments of happiness, we did not deserve to suffer as much as we suffered," he told Movistar. 

"We missed many chances – me in particular. But to win the league you have to suffer, as today showed. I knew we would suffer here, but not that much.

"The effort and sacrifice of the team was great, with many people working so that the club can achieve its objectives. Now we have a chance to rest and prepare for the next game."

Had Suarez not found a way through late on – ending a five-game scoreless run in the process – Atleti would have entered the final matchday second to Madrid in the table.

The ex-Barcelona striker has now earned 19 points for Atletico with his 20 goals – only Sevilla's Youssef En-Nesyri has helped his team to more points in LaLiga this term.

"Luis has not scored for a bit, but he's always been involved," Simeone said at his post-match news conference. "He gives us leadership – who better than him to win the game.

"During the drinks break near the end, I told the players we had to look for the draw. The goal soon arrived and then Suarez showed why he is an important player."

Atletico have spent 29 matchdays at the top of LaLiga, despite some inconsistent results since the end of January, and are now one game from winning the title.

"We will prepare for the last game with the same enthusiasm to when I arrived at this club in 2011," Simeone said. "The team will be fierce. I hope the fans will be proud of us.

"We chose this profession trying to do the best we can to reach this moment. You have to prepare in the best way. I don't understand any other way."

Luis Suarez scored an 88th-minute winner to earn Atletico Madrid a dramatic 2-1 comeback win over Osasuna that keeps their LaLiga title hopes in their own hands heading into the final matchday.

Their dreams of a first title since the 2013-14 season appeared to have suffered a damaging blow 15 minutes from full-time when Ante Budimir struck completely against the run of play in Sunday's clash at Wanda Metropolitano.

Diego Simeone's side had earlier wasted a string of opportunities, twice hit the post and had strikes from Stefan Savic and Yannick Carrasco ruled out, though they dug deep to turn the game around in the final eight minutes.

Substitute Renan Lodi equalised and Suarez atoned for some earlier misses by firing in a winner for Atleti, the result moving them two points above Real Madrid – the only side that can now catch them – with one game left in the season.

Diego Simeone says Atletico Madrid are entering the "Luis Suarez zone" as they edge closer to securing a first LaLiga title since the 2013-14 season.

Atleti hold a two-point advantage over city rivals and reigning champions Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga, and face Osasuna in their penultimate game of the season at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday.

Should they claim three points against Jagoba Arrasate's side and Los Blancos fail to beat Athletic Bilbao, in a game which kicks off at the same time, Atletico will be crowned champions with a game remaining.

Leading the charge up front will be Uruguay international Suarez, who has scored 19 goals in his first season at the club since joining from Barcelona.

Suarez, 34, won four LaLiga titles during his time at Barca and Simeone is expecting him to use all that experience to ensure Atleti do not slip up in their final two games.

"As for Luis, we have entered the Suarez zone," Simeone told a news conference.

"It is an ideal moment for a footballer like him to find and solve game situations that the team will need. He is used to games like this and has the experience to do it."

Atleti are red-hot favourites to beat Osasuna, who have lost eight of their last 10 away games against Los Rojiblancos.

Despite this, Simeone is expecting a tough game and wants maximum focus from his side, who are aiming to score two or more goals in four consecutive home league games for the first time since April 2016.

"In football you cannot choose a rival," Simeone added. "There are no small enemies. Football is day to day and you have to play according to the game that you play.

"We continue in the same way as always. We are dealing with Osasuna, a team that has competed very well historically and will do so tomorrow as well. 

"Osasuna is changing. Lately he [Arrasate] uses 4-3-3 more, although he may return to 4-4-2 that has been in the essence of his game.

"He works much more across the game, with fast people on the outside, with people from the second row to accompany his striker and a very strong collective work.

"We seek to play a good game, take it to where we can hurt Osasuna and know that the rival will come to play with enthusiasm."

Raphael Varane only has a minor injury, according to Zinedine Zidane, who is hoping the centre-back will be fit to face Chelsea in midweek.

Varane was taken off at half-time against Osasuna on Saturday, with Madrid going on to win 2-0 thanks to late goals from Eder Militao and Casemiro.

The victory took Madrid back to within two points of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid, who beat Elche earlier on.

With Los Blancos facing fourth-placed Sevilla next week, and Barca hosting Atleti, the title race is firmly in the balance heading into the final few games of the campaign.

However, Varane's substitution was a cause for concern. Prior to facing Sevilla, Madrid will visit Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea on Wednesday, with their Champions League semi-final tie level at 1-1 after a tightly contested first leg.

Zidane is hopeful Varane's issue will not keep him out for long.

"I do not know, we have to wait," he told reporters. "He has told me that it is a small thing. I hope that is the case."

Madrid attempted 13 shots in the opening 45 minutes against Osasuna, more than they have managed in any other first half of a game this season in all competitions, though it took them until the 76th minute to find an opening – Isco's corner headed in by Militao for the centre-back's first LaLiga goal.

Casemiro's inadvertent finish subsequently put Madrid 2-0 up with 10 minutes remaining, and Zidane was pleased with the patience his team showed to make it 11 successive home wins against Osasuna in LaLiga – having last dropped points in this fixture when held 1-1 in December 2005.

"Happy with today's game, the three points. I am happy for the effort my players have made," Zidane added.

"In the first half we had four or five chances and we didn't score, it's a bit frustrating for them. At half-time I said [a goal] was going to arrive. With patience and with play.

"I was very happy for them, they are suffering there and when they score, you know it is a liberation."

Eder Militao and Casemiro proved the unlikely heroes as Real Madrid responded to Atletico Madrid's earlier victory by earning a 2-0 win over Osasuna.

A thrilling LaLiga title race looked to be turning in Atleti's favour after a spirited Osasuna display held Madrid at bay for much of Saturday's late game, but Zinedine Zidane's team struck in the 76th minute.

Militao, who had previously been denied by Sergio Herrera, headed home from Isco's delivery to snatch a vital win and pull Los Blancos within two points of leaders Atleti, keeping up the pressure on Barcelona and Sevilla in the meantime.

It was a cruel blow for Osasuna, who had looked in good position to end a 16-year losing streak at Madrid, and Casemiro's fortuitous finish sealed the result.

Making his first start since January, Eden Hazard had an early sighter, curling over the corner of the goal after a driving run from the left.

Hazard went closer still in the 26th minute, drawing a brilliant save from Herrera with a close-range volley.

Herrera pulled off another superb stop from the resulting corner, flicking Militao's goal-bound header over, with Vinicius Junior slamming into the side netting soon after.

Osasuna thought they had pinched the lead on the stroke of half-time, only for Chimy Avila's fine header to be disallowed for offside.

Militao flashed an acrobatic attempt over the bar after the restart, with substitute Rodrygo Goes arrowing a crisp effort just wide in the 67th minute.

Coach Zidane soon turned to Isco, and the playmaker immediately repaid the faith, clipping in a corner from which Militao sent a towering header into the right corner.

The points were sealed four minutes later – Benzema slipping a neat pass through for Casemiro, whose heavy first touch wrong-footed Herrera and rounded off a hard-earned win.

Zinedine Zidane is frustrated by Real Madrid's injury problems and admitted it is not easy rotating his side between matches.

Defender Dani Carvajal suffered another injury setback this week, just three games into his comeback, and is now expected to miss the rest of the season.

Carvajal joins Lucas Vazquez, Ferland Mendy and Federico Valverde on the sidelines, but skipper Sergio Ramos is back in training and could feature against Osasuna on Saturday.

Madrid face another tight turnaround in fixtures, with the LaLiga clash against Osasuna followed four days later by a Champions League semi-final second leg with Chelsea.

Zidane has suggested he will not rest any key players this weekend, though, as draw specialists Madrid seek just a second win in six matches in all competitions.

"As a coach, of course I am very frustrated with the relapses," Zidane said at a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"I want my players healthy. I never want them injured, not even the smallest issue. When one relapses two or three times, I am not happy. But we have to always look forward.

"I can't explain the number of setbacks. All teams have had problems. With the issues we've had, getting to this point and still being in contention means a lot.

"I'm very happy with the players' character and what we have got out of them. We all believe in what we do, each one of us, and that is fundamental.

"It's not easy to manage a squad like Madrid's. Everyone has an opinion but inside it's not easy. It's my job and I do my best. It's a rare year and we will continue to fight.

"Not everyone will be able to play tomorrow, but we cannot think about Wednesday before tomorrow. Whatever happens, in life, you have to think about doing it well tomorrow. 

"This is what we are going to do - go out with the best possible team to win the three points. If you think differently, you don't reach all of your targets."

Madrid's issues could be compounded for their trip to Chelsea next week as Marcelo has been called up to monitor a polling station during local elections a day before the match, which is poised at 1-1.

However, Zidane has indicated that the experienced defender will still be part of Los Blancos' travelling party next week.

"It is what it is," Zidane said. "He is going to fulfil his obligations, but nothing changes. He will still be with us on Wednesday."

Madrid have drawn two of their last three league games, but their hopes of retaining the LaLiga title were boosted on Thursday with Barcelona's shock home loss to Granada.

Zidane's side are level on points with Barca and are only two behind leaders Atletico Madrid, with fourth-placed Sevilla just a point further back.

Los Blancos have won their last 10 games against Osasuna in LaLiga, scoring an average of 3.3 goals per game, but Zidane is taking nothing for granted this weekend.

"The league is always complicated," he said. "That will be the case right until the end. We cannot focus only on the defeats of our rivals - we have to look at ourselves.

"We want to win the league and will try until the end, but we can only think about tomorrow.

"We are in the mix, fighting. We are focused on the day-to-day and are preparing for the match. We are near the end of the season and we are concentrating on this.

"There are three points to play for and we are going to do everything to win them."

Ronald Koeman believes the combination between Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba for Barcelona is almost unstoppable.

Messi set up Alba's opener and Ilaix Moriba's sealer as Barca recorded a 2-0 LaLiga win at Osasuna on Saturday.

Of Alba's past 16 goals for Barca in all competitions, Messi has assisted eight.

Koeman, whose side closed to within two points of leaders Atletico Madrid, said the duo's connection was almost impossible to stop.

"You can see in every game our opponents are trying to cover that, trying to block Messi's pass to play the ball in behind to Jordi Alba," the Barcelona coach told a news conference.

"So, at many points of a game that pass between them isn't possible. But I don't think you can stop these two players and that connection that's there between Messi and Jordi Alba because it's something brilliant.

"There are always moments in a game where that pass does appear and those two are calm enough on the ball to pick it out and they can pick it out very easily and they really do it at the right time.

"You can't really stop it because it's just natural instinct."

Atletico have played two fewer games than Barca, with Diego Simeone's side facing Real Madrid in a derby clash on Sunday.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman says he will take an interest in Sunday's Madrid derby but is unfazed by the result as the LaLiga title race heats up.

The Catalans defeated Osasuna 2-0 on Saturday to extend their unbeaten LaLiga run to 16 matches and close to within two points of leaders Atletico Madrid, who have two games in hand.

One of those is Sunday's Madrid derby where third-placed Real Madrid will also look to close within two points of Atletico with victory.

Atletico have wavered in recent matches, dropping points in three of their past five, opening the door for Barca and Madrid, although Koeman said he would be unfazed by the outcome.

"The derby in Madrid? The most important thing is our result," Koeman said.

"But of course we're interested in it. Any result would be good."

Jordi Alba and Guinea-born 18-year-old midfielder Ilaix Moriba netted the goals in Saturday's win at Osasuna.

The teenager was making just his third appearance in LaLiga, having come through Barcelona's famed academy.

"Ilaix is young, but is physically very strong," Koeman said. "He's gaining ground to be with the first team more often."

He added: "Ilaix scored a goal in a difficult match, with 0-2 we killed off the game. Every time Moriba enters the pitch he brings something extra.

"Players like Pedri, Ilaix, Riqui [Puig], [Ronald] Araujo and [Oscar] Mingueza are the future of the club.

"We're proud to be able to bring in young homegrown players. But we are not doing it because the fans want it, we're doing it because they deserve it."

French defender Samuel Umtiti was replaced at half-time by attacker Ousmane Dembele, a switch Koeman clarified.

"The substitution of Umtiti was tactical. We wanted to be in better control," he said.

"It's true he had a card but he wasn't applying pressure well. We improved in the second half."

Lionel Messi provided two assists as goals from Jordi Alba and Ilaix Moriba saw off Osasuna 2-0 to propel Barcelona to within two points of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid.

With Atleti going head-to-head with Real Madrid on Sunday, Barca took the chance to apply pressure to their title rivals by claiming an eighth successive away win in LaLiga.

Messi played an integral role, teeing up Alba to break the deadlock with a sublime pass – eight of the full-back's last 16 club goals have been assisted by Barca's number 10.

His second assist was more subtle, with a gentle lay off setting the stage for Ilaix to thump in his maiden Barca goal, and Koeman can now tune into the Madrid derby with his team in a strong position.

 

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