Rival watch: wins for Man City, Real Madrid and Atlético

Rival watch: wins for Man City, Real Madrid and Atlético

Manchester City prepared for FC Barcelona by trouncing Newcastle 5-0 The two Madrid clubs won their Liga fixtures

Four days before hosting FC Barcelona in the Champions League, Manchester City cruised to a comfortable 5-0 victory over Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium. Coupled with Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Burnley, the result has reduced the gap between City and the leaders to five points.

The game got off to the perfect start for the home side, with Agüero scoring from a penalty in the very first incident of the match. Nasri completed a lightning quick move after 12 minutes to extend that lead and then Dzeko converted a Silva assist to make it three. Shortly after the break, the Spaniard himself scored back-to-back goals in the space of three minutes to establish the definitive scoreline of 5-0.

After the game, manager Manuel Pellegrini was asked about Tuesday’s game with FC Barcelona. “We are going to try from the beginning to be an aggressive team and try to score goals” he said. “I am sure we will see our team trying to play in the same way we did against Newcastle … I think we are better prepared because last season we arrived in February after playing 18 games in December and January. But this year we have played fewer games and I also hope the experience of what happened against Barça last year will help us."

Wins for Madrid, Atlético and Villarreal

In La Liga, and following FC Barcelona’s 1-0 defeat at home to Málaga on Saturday, Real Madrid have moved four points clear at the top of the table thanks to a 2-0 win at Elche. After the first half ended without score, Benzema was gifted the opportunity to tap home the opener after 56 minutes and a quarter of an hour later, Cristiano Ronaldo headed home an Isco cross to make it two.

After last week’s defeat at Celta had distanced Atlético Madrid from the top two, Diego Simeone’s side are back within three points of Barça following a convincing 3-0 defeat of Almería on Saturday evening. Mandzukic put them ahead thanks to a rather dubious penalty and Griezmann then added two more, with all the goals coming in the first half.

Barça’s Spanish Cup semi-final opponents Villarreal won 1-0 against Eibar to stay well poised for a place in Europe next season. The Basques managed to hold out for 71 minutes before Vietto found the target for Villarreal just two minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Heartbreak for Granada

Next week, FC Barcelona travel to Granada (Saturday, 4.00pm CET), whose battle against relegation suffered a cruel blow at Levante on Monday night, just when it looked like an El Arabi penalty would be enough to secure three crucial points. Camarasa equalised for Levante with just two minutes to go and then Barral grabbed a winner for the home side four minutes into injury time. Granada finished with nine men, with both Colunga and El Arabi sent off and set to miss the game with FC Barcelona. The result leaves the Andalusians second from bottom and four points adrift of salvation.

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