Barcelona coach Xavi applauded the decision by a court to overrule LaLiga's refusal to register Gavi as a first-team player.

The Blaugrana midfielder, who has been in superb form for the club this term, signed a new contract in September that saw him recognised as a first-team player rather than a member of the B team.

But LaLiga denied the registration of the new deal due to the club's financial situation, with Barca exceeding their salary cap.

While Gavi could continue playing this season for the senior side as a B team player, he would have been registered in LaLiga on a contract that expires in 2024 and has a €50million release clause – the agreement he signed in September is until 2026 with a €1billion release clause.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas warned the club would still be unable to register Gavi and other players such as Ronald Aruajo because they have "a deficit of more than €200m", he claimed on Monday.

But now a court decision has quashed LaLiga's ruling, delighting Xavi and paving the way for the 18-year-old to be fully registered as a member of their senior squad.

"It's great news," Xavi said. "It was one of the objectives we set for this transfer window. Now the ball is in LaLiga's court.

"I'm happy for [Gavi]. We hope he can sign up. It's very good news for us. The priority is that players as important as him are insured. It seems that we can now enrol him.

"I don't see him changing teams, really. He is very happy and happy here. I don't see him leaving."

Asked whether he felt Tebas holds ill feelings towards Barca, Xavi added: "I don't know. Ask him.

"I know him very little. I have greeted him twice. I have no personal dealings with him."

Gavi has made 18 appearances for Barca this season in LaLiga and featured in five of their six Champions League games as the club dropped into the Europa League.

He also played four times at the World Cup last year.

Xavi confirmed Barcelona are keen on bringing in a deadline day signing ahead of Hector Bellerin's exit.

The full-back is poised to join Sporting CP as a replacement for Tottenham-bound Pedro Porro and will be the second departure from Xavi's squad following Memphis Depay's move to Atletico Madrid.

Reinforcements could be on the cards for the LaLiga leaders, who also lost Gerard Pique to retirement, though Xavi's main focus is Wednesday's clash with Real Betis.

"We are aware of fair play. Hector has asked us to leave because he wants to play more," Xavi told reporters.

"With the departure of Hector, Memphis and the loss of Pique, we believe that a reinforcement would be good for us. We are open to a signing.

"I see the squad as competitive despite the three losses. Normally, the logical thing was not to need anyone.

"With Hector's departure, maybe yes. I still see it as very competitive. I'm still happy.

"I'm not looking at the market. I'm keeping an eye on Betis. We can move eight points ahead of second place. That's what I'm concerned with."

If Barcelona do make a late move in the market, Xavi confirmed they would not be available for the trip to face Betis.

"I already thought we wouldn't sign anyone, so don't worry. Whoever comes, he won't play tomorrow," he added.

Carlo Ancelotti hailed a "complete" Real Madrid performance as "one of the best of the season" despite a goalless LaLiga draw with Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Madrid sit five points behind leaders Barcelona after failing to breach Imanol Alguacil's defence in a largely one-sided encounter at Santiago Bernabeu.

La Real goalkeeper Alex Remiro thwarted a dominant Madrid with seven saves, the most he has managed in a LaLiga game this season, including three fine stops against the energetic Vinicius Junior.

Head coach Ancelotti was "satisfied" with his side's showing, though, as third-placed La Real held on for a precious point that kept them just three behind Madrid, having played a game more.

He said: "It was a shame because we played very well and we deserved to win. We played a complete game, one of the best of the season, but we didn't have any luck.

"The team is improving and growing and physically we are much better. Now the injured return and we have confidence for the coming months. 

"We have done very well with and without the ball and all we had to do was score, we came so close but it is a draw. I am satisfied because the team has played very well."

The majority of Madrid's attacking threat came through Vinicius, who attempted 21 dribbles – the most by one player in a single LaLiga match since Opta began recording in the 2005-06 season.

Dani Ceballos impressed in a rare start in the Madrid midfield, while Eduardo Camavinga showed his versatility in a fine performance at left-back.

"We pushed the 90 minutes to the fullest with great intensity, Real Sociedad has not played as they like because we pressed well up top," Ancelotti added.

"The extra time of the Copa del Rey [a 3-1 quarter-final win over Atletico Madrid on Thursday] was not noticed, we have had a high intensity for the 90 minutes.

"It was difficult to make changes because nobody deserved to leave the field, the team was playing well and I did not want to change the dynamics. 

"Ceballos and [Federico] Valverde played very well. [Camavinga] did well, he is an option because of his quality and his energy. He is not used to playing there and with Vinicius they created many chances.

"The game was good but if you don't score... now we are five points behind and we have to chase."

Madrid will hope to make up ground on Xavi's Barca when they host top-four chasers Valencia on Thursday.

Real Madrid missed the chance to move back to within three points of LaLiga leaders Barcelona after being held to a goalless draw by unlikely title challengers Real Sociedad.

Carlo Ancelotti's side dominated for large parts but drew a blank at Santiago Bernabeu just three days after downing rivals Atletico Madrid in Thursday's Copa del Rey quarter-final.

Goalkeeper Alex Remiro starred with numerous fine stops amid a somewhat one-sided encounter, with Madrid unable to break the impressive resistance of Imanol Alguacil's team.

The stalemate left Los Blancos trailing fierce rivals Barca by five points, with third-placed La Real three behind Ancelotti's men after Sunday's clash.

Chances were plentiful amid a frantic and free-flowing opening between two in-form sides.

A stretching Alexander Sorloth could not reach Aihen Munoz's pinpoint left-wing cross with the goal gaping, while Vinicius Junior and Asier Illarramendi went close at either end.

Remiro repelled a fizzing Toni Kroos drive and Dani Ceballos curled just wide as Madrid failed to find deserved reward for an enterprising first half.

Vinicius saw another low strike denied by Remiro's feet and Thibaut Courtois thwarted a precise Takefusa Kubo attempt after the interval.

Remiro stood tall to parry from Vinicius when one-on-one with a save that proved pivotal as La Real held on for a precious point.

What does it mean? Los Blancos dominance goes unrewarded

Madrid extended their unbeaten LaLiga run to seven games against La Real but leaving this fixture without three points may feel like an opportunity missed for Ancelotti.

Los Blancos have already secured Supercopa de Espana success and remain in the hunt for the Copa and Champions League, but chances like this in the league cannot go begging if they are to catch Barca.

However, nothing should be taken away from the impressive La Real, who continue to prove they can compete with Madrid and Barca amid a fine season under Alguacil.

Lively Vinicius blunted by Remiro

Vinicius continues to deliver for Ancelotti and Madrid this season, producing another energetic display in this game – albeit without just reward.

The Brazil winger was denied on three occasions by the resolute Remiro – who made seven saves, the most he has produced in LaLiga this term – and created two chances.

Super Sorloth run ends

Norway international Erling Haaland has repeatedly hit the headlines with Manchester City, but international team-mate Sorloth has been almost as impressive in recent weeks.

The striker was aiming to become just the third La Real player this century to score in six straight LaLiga games – after Darko Kovacevic (in 2002) and Aleksander Isak (in 2021) – but failed to threaten Madrid.

What's next?

Madrid host top-four chasers Valencia on Thursday, with La Real at home to Real Valladolid three days later.

A defiant Diego Simeone declared "there is no greater motivation" than playing for Atletico Madrid after his side boosted their LaLiga top-four hopes with a narrow victory at Osasuna.

Head coach Simeone cast doubt over his future before the 1-0 win over Osasuna, suggesting how Atletico finish the season will dictate whether he stays in Madrid.

With Atletico out of Europe and eliminated from the Copa del Rey in midweek by Real Madrid, Saul Niguez's second-half strike at Osasuna may have somewhat eased the mounting pressure on the Colchoneros boss.

Simeone acknowledged the blow of Thursday's defeat to fierce rivals Madrid, but he says his players should need little inspiration to finish the season strong.

He said: "We have a way of thinking and the club has a way of living. Do not lower your shoulders, always go forward and get up in adverse situations. 

"We will focus on the league. There is no greater motivation than playing for Atletico. 

"We are out of the Copa and out of Europe, but we play for Atletico, and for Atletico you have to play until the last game."

Victory over Osasuna moved Atletico three points clear of Villarreal and Real Betis in fifth and sixth respectively, having played a game more, while Simeone's side trail Real Sociedad – who play Madrid on Sunday – by four.

Simeone's visitors were largely indebted to some fine goalkeeping from Jan Oblak before a calm 74th-minute finish from substitute Saul.

The Spain international has had to wait for his chance after the World Cup, but Simeone believes Saul, who Valencia are reportedly interested in signing on loan, is beginning to find form.

"He has been working very well since the return of the World Cup, with good consistency," the coach said. "He is becoming more and more identified with the patterns that we are looking for. 

"It's a pity that we couldn't increase the score after with the counter-attack situations we had, because Osasuna, at home, are very strong, and the last minutes were difficult."

Inaki Williams missed Athletic Bilbao's game at Celta Vigo on Sunday due to injury, ending the forward's astonishing record run of 251 consecutive LaLiga appearances.

Before his omission was confirmed by the club, Ghana international Williams had not missed a league game since the 2015-16 season.

The 28-year-old was suffering an unspecified physical problem that meant head coach Ernesto Valverde had to cope without the team's mainstay.

Williams surpassed the previous record of 202 consecutive games when he featured in the win over Alaves in October 2021, going past the mark set by former Real Sociedad stalwart Jon Andoni Larranaga.

The marathon ever-present spell began for Williams on April 20, 2016, when he appeared as a substitute in a 1-0 defeat against Atletico Madrid.

During the 251 games, Williams scored 50 goals and had 31 assists, from totals of 456 shots and 207 chances created.

Athletic won 89 of those games, losing 84 and drawing 78.

Since Williams' run of games began, up to and including Sunday, Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak made the second-most appearances in LaLiga, featuring in 240 games.

Williams started 212 matches and appeared as a substitute 39 times across his marathon stint for Athletic.

Saul Niguez scored the only goal of the game as Atletico Madrid responded to their Copa del Rey elimination with an unconvincing 1-0 victory over Osasuna that maintained their grip on LaLiga's top four.

Diego Simeone's side suffered a 3-1 extra-time loss to Real Madrid in the Copa quarter-finals on Thursday and were far from their best three days later at El Sadar.

Jan Oblak had to keep Osasuna at bay in the second half, before substitute Saul's calm 74th-minute finish proved the difference as Atletico recorded a much-needed triumph.

Victory moved Atletico three points clear of Villarreal and Real Betis in fifth and sixth respectively, while Simeone's side trail Real Sociedad – who play Real Madrid later on Sunday – by four.

An offside flag rendered Oblak's impressive 23rd-minute save against Chimy Avila redundant before Jose Gimenez headed over a presentable chance from Antoine Griezmann's in-swinging corner at the other end.

Aitor Fernandez repelled Griezmann from close range after a scramble inside the area, though neither side impressed during an otherwise drab first half.

Griezmann forced another smart Fernandez stop with a low drive immediately after the interval, while Avila headed David Garcia's deep right-wing cross narrowly over.

Oblak expertly denied Moi Gomez's back-post half-volley just past the hour, and that save proved pivotal when Saul raced onto Rodrigo De Paul's throughball to find the bottom-right corner and secure victory.

Pedri is already one of the best players in the world in his position, according to Barcelona boss Xavi.

The 20-year-old midfielder marked his 100th appearance for the club on Saturday with the only goal as Barca edged past Girona to claim an eighth win in nine LaLiga games.

The result moved Barca six points clear at the league summit, although Real Madrid can reduce the deficit back to three when they host third-placed Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Pedri has scored with 72.7 per cent of his shots on target (8/11) since Xavi was appointed – the highest ratio of anyone who has scored at least six goals in this period – and the Barca boss was full of praise for the Spain international. 

 

"He's already a big difference maker in games and if you also add assists and goals, we're talking about one of the best in the world in his position at just 20 years of age," he said.

"And he still has to do more in the last pass. But not only Pedri; also Gavi, [Frenkie] De Jong, [Sergio] Busquets, and [Franck] Kessie when he plays."

Barca were far from their fluid best against Girona, who have now failed to win any of their five LaLiga matches against the Blaugrana, and Xavi wants his players to be more daring in attacking situations.

"We still don't fully dare," he added. "We give the correct pass, but not the decisive pass. We have to shoot from outside the area, look for good balls, make a cross.

"Girona put pressure on us and they surprised us, but sometimes we need to get out of the box and generate more. 

"The first half-hour of the second half is what we want; the victory and the goal come thanks to high pressure.

"I am satisfied with the victory, but we must be self-critical and we must improve in attacking situations."

Pedri replaced the injured Ousmane Dembele in the 26th minute and Xavi confirmed the France international will be tested to determine the severity of the issue. 

"In a match like this it is even more important not to lose Dembele as he is the most important player in one-on-one situations and, of course, it upset our plans.

"They will test him and we will see, but he has noticed something and it seems that there is a quadriceps injury. It's a shame because he is an important player."

Barca are next in action on Wednesday when they visit Real Betis. 

Leaders Barcelona made it eight wins in nine LaLiga matches as Pedri's second-half goal secured a slender 1-0 victory over Girona on Saturday.

Xavi's side struggled in the first half at Estadi Montilivi, with their frustration compounded by the loss of Ousmane Dembele to injury before the break.

They improved after half-time and sealed three points just past the hour when Pedri marked his 100th appearance for the club with his fifth league goal of the season.

The result moved Barca six points clear at the league summit, although Real Madrid can reduce the deficit back to three when they host third-placed Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Barca suffered a blow in the 26th minute when Dembele pulled up holding his left leg, with the France international replaced by Pedri.

The 20-year-old midfielder initially did little to spark life into Xavi's spluttering side, who went in at the break having mustered just two tame efforts on target. 

He came to the fore following the interval, though, tapping in from close range in the 61st minute after Paulo Gazzaniga failed to deal with Jordi Alba's low cross from the left.

Girona responded well to that setback, with Michel's side putting significant pressure on the Barca backline in the closing stages.  

An unmarked Ivan Martin inexplicably fired wide from six yards late on, with the visitors ultimately scraping maximum points as they bid to win their first title since the 2018-19 season. 

Xavi believes it will be a "catastrophe" if Barcelona do not beat Girona on Saturday as they look to keep up their LaLiga title charge.

A run of seven wins in eight league matches has put Xavi's men top of the table, holding a three-point lead over rivals Real Madrid in second.

They continue their bid to win their first LaLiga title since the 2018-19 season on Saturday at home to Girona, who sit 11th and just four points above the relegation zone.

Xavi hopes his team can pick up another three points amid the pressure of a title race, telling reporters: "You have to beat Girona. This is Barca.

"This is the Barca environment, I know it very well. If we don't win tomorrow, it will be a catastrophe.

"Try to win it because it will be a difficult match. Michel [Girona head coach] has said that they have nothing to lose and we will come out with pressure because we want to win LaLiga."

Xavi is hoping Ousmane Dembele will extend his Barcelona contract amid rumours of a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Dembele scored Barca's winner as they beat Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Wednesday, continuing his excellent form this season after a tough 2021-22 campaign.

The France international has been involved in 15 goals with Barcelona in all competitions this season, already equalling his record of last term, but with his contract set to expire in 2024, there had been rumours of a move to PSG.

But Xavi wants Dembele to remain with the Spanish giants, telling reporters: "Ousmane is an important player, someone who makes a difference.

"It's difficult to find these kind of players. For me, he's a key player. Ousmane knows it, the club knows it.

"He has changed his mentality and I hope to have him here for many more years."

Barca overcame wastefulness in front of goal to overcome La Real and reach the Copa del Rey final four, with Dembele's goal enough to secure a narrow 1-0 win despite having 20 shots.

While Xavi is concerned about his side's profligacy in front of goal in tight matches, he believes his team are much improved from last season, saying: "I am worried about not finishing them [close games]. Many things have to be improved

"We have to value how we were last year and how we are now. There are things to improve, obviously, but I think we are in a very good moment of form and it should be valued."

Pablo Barrios signed a new deal with Atletico Madrid running until 2028 and has been promoted to the senior squad.

The 19-year-old made his LaLiga debut off the bench in a 3-2 defeat to Cadiz in October before featuring in the final Champions League group-stage match against Porto just a few days later.

Since the mid-season pause for the World Cup, Barrios has made an impression in Diego Simeone's side with goals in the Copa del Rey victories against Arenteiro and Real Oviedo.

The teenager earned a first LaLiga start in last month's 2-0 victory over Elche and was named in the starting line-up for the 1-0 defeat to Barcelona on January 8.

In total, Barrios has featured in six of Atletico's seven games across all competitions since the World Cup, four of which have come as a starter.

Barrios joined Atletico's academy in 2018 from rivals Real Madrid.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen was described as Barcelona's "life insurance" as the German goalkeeper came to the rescue against Getafe.

Pedri's goal in the 35th minute was enough for Barcelona as they ground out a 1-0 victory at Camp Nou, preserving their three-point cushion over Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga.

Ter Stegen, a sturdy presence throughout, saved brilliantly from Borja Mayoral six minutes after the goal, standing up to the Getafe man and making himself big after Pedri almost undid his earlier good work with a dreadful backpass.

Grateful defender Eric Garcia said: "Marc is life insurance with us. Everything he brings us with his footwork and then his saves, he has shown it again. He is very important for us."

Germany international Ter Stegen said the points were "worth gold" after what he recognised was a sloppy performance from Barcelona, a week on from winning the Supercopa de Espana.

The hosts were without Robert Lewandowski due to the striker's suspension, and it showed, with Ansu Fati not posing the same threat and struggling to impress himself on the game.

Ter Stegen, with 13 clean sheets in 17 LaLiga games this season, said: "What I try to do is always be in the game. I was being attentive and at the right moment I was able to get closer and make it a little more difficult for them."

Quoted in Mundo Deportivo, he said: "I try to give 100 per cent, for myself and for the team. Victories like today's make us stronger.

"It's true that we had opportunities to close the game and we didn't. So you have to suffer until the end.

"Perhaps in some victories you have to suffer, but when we're 2-0 it always benefits you, and you finish the game earlier."

Vinicius Junior deserves more respect than he is afforded, according to Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti. 

The forward endured something of a muted outing in the 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao at San Mames Stadium on Sunday, contributing just one shot and being shown a yellow card.

However, no player won more than his six fouls, with the 22-year-old on the receiving end of some hefty challenges.

Ancelotti went on the defensive when asked for his thoughts on Vinicius and reinforced his affection for the attacker.

"He is a very sensitive person, and [yet], everyone pushes him," he said. "Rival players, rival fans and sometimes even the referees.

"Tonight, as always, he has been kicked around a lot. But he will get better in this regard. Right now, everyone is putting pressure on him.

"It may be that he sometimes loses concentration, but he is a very young boy. I love him very much and I want him to be respected a little more."

Goals from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos delivered the goods for Madrid on the road, though the latter did not score until the closing stages.

It meant the visitors were forced to protect their slender lead secured through the France international's delightful volley.

The goal took Benzema joint-second on Madrid's all-time LaLiga scorer charts and Ancelotti was keen to pay tribute to his skills too after a tough end to 2022.

“He has returned with all his quality [after his injuries]," he added. "It brings us a lot, and we are very satisfied."

Massimiliano Allegri has no regrets after choosing Juventus over Real Madrid despite the Bianconeri's 15-point penalty in Serie A.

Juve were penalised on Friday after an investigation into past transfer dealings, which the club are expected to appeal, before sharing the spoils in a 3-3 thriller with Atalanta two days later.

The stalemate saw the Bianconeri – who were third before the points deduction – move up to ninth, though they trail fourth-placed Roma by 14 points as they bid for an unlikely Champions League qualification.

Allegri vowed to stay at Juve after the punishment and reiterated his commitment on Sunday as he suggested he made the right choice in rejecting Madrid, who he had agreed a contract with in July 2021 before an approach from the Bianconeri.

"I never regret my choices, when they are made at that moment they are right," the Juve coach told Sky Sport Italia. 

"I am very happy to be at Juventus, in life there are always difficulties that help you grow, I am happy to be part of this club and I have no regrets. 

"When I make choices I am convinced of them, of course, I don't have a crystal ball. We are making young people develop and there are the foundations for a good future."

Juve appointed Francesco Calvo as their new chief football officer in the wake of the points deduction, after former president Andrea Agnelli and the rest of his board resigned in November.

Calvo will report to new chief executive officer Maurizio Scanavino following the latter's appointment earlier this week, though Allegri does not want to be distracted by the off-field ongoings in Turin.

"We have to think only of football and not get distracted by what's happening outside," Allegri said when asked about Calvo. 

"It was important to get a result and we hope to win again on Sunday [at home to Monza]. It's not easy to find yourself tenth in the standings, but everything is still open. 

"The team scored 38 points, it's Napoli who are flying at a difficult level to reach. We have a group that has pride and responsibility, we are Juve and we must bring the most glorious team in Italy to the top. 

"We need a little madness and recklessness, perhaps hoping that the others will start to lose. It's all still to play for."

Xavi thanked goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for coming to Barcelona's rescue as they scrambled a 1-0 win over Getafe.

The German shot-stopper made a string of crunch interventions that meant Pedri's first-half strike was enough to bring three points on Sunday.

Barcelona stretched their league run at Camp Nou to nine games without defeat, but coach Xavi accepted the LaLiga leaders were well short of their best.

"We haven't known how to attack well, and in general we have been quite untidy," Xavi said. "We lacked aggressiveness and the knowledge of how to attack spaces better. We have won without playing well.

"There are times when you are untidy and things don't turn out as you expect, but even so the team believe, defend well, and all the players are generous in their collective work.

"We haven't been too sharp in attack, but we managed to keep a clean sheet again, so without having played well we got the three points."

For that, Xavi said Ter Stegen deserved rich plaudits, with the 30-year-old making three outright saves and commanding his penalty area expertly.

"We are seeing the best Ter Stegen that has been seen in a long time," Xavi said.

"In one-against-ones he has been spectacular. He is a leader for the squad, he is being decisive, and it is important that the goalkeeper also saves points."

Xavi is not overly concerned by his team's so-so performance, and he was thankful they found a way to win while playing beneath their usual level, even if Ter Stegen had to dig them out of trouble.

"I think that in 70 or 80 per cent of games we have been good, so I think that in general we are closer to a good Barca than to an untidy Barca," Xavi said.

"We will surely find ourselves with more games like today's, but there we must be more practical.

"Of course you want to play better, but the opponent also play and make it difficult for you, as happened today."

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