Rival watch: FC Barcelona rise to third while next opponents Granada stay winless

Rival watch: FC Barcelona rise to third while next opponents Granada stay winless

Atlético Madrid drop from first to fifth following defeat at Sevilla, while Real Madrid leave it late to beat Athletic Bilbao. Plus a look at how Barça's other direct rivals got on at home and abroad

Wow, Messi’s last minute penalty at Mestalla made a huge difference! Had the game with Valencia ended 2-2, Barça would now be fifth in the Liga table. But instead, the 3-2 win means that after the remaining fixtures were played on Sunday, the Catalans have moved up to third, just two points off the lead.

Close race in LaLiga

It’s tight at the top. Testament of that is the way that the leaders going into this weekend’s programme, Atlético Madrid, are now fifth after losing at Sevilla. N'Zonzi scored for the triple Europa League champions after 71 minutes and they are now second.

Real Madrid are now top of the pile with 21 points after they were saved from a 1-1 draw at home to Athletic Bilbao by a Morata goal seven minutes from the end. Barcelona are matched on 19 points by Villarreal, who came from behind to beat Las Palmas 2-1, Bakambu snatching the winner after the regulation 90 minutes were already up.

With Atlético just behind on 18, just three points separate the top five in what’s proving to be a grippingly close championship race.

Granada struggling

Next up for Barça in La Liga is Granada at the Camp Nou on Saturday at 8.45pm CET. The Andalusians are still rock bottom of the table and without a win to their name after drawing 0-0 with Sporting on Saturday. That result would have been even worse had Cop inexplicably missed a sitter for the Asturians right at the very end.

Before that game, Barça also have the Catalan Super Cup on Tuesday night in Tarragona, where they’ll be facing an Espanyol side that was losing 3-0 at home to Eibar on Saturday but managed to pull back to salvage a 3-3 draw.

It wasn’t a happy weekend for Barça’s Copa del Rey opponents Hercules, who have dropped out of the playoff zone in Division 2B Group III after losing 2-0 at home to Prat.

Mixed fortunes for Euro-rivals

Turning to Barça’s Champions League opponents, Manchester City are still top of the Premiership despite being held 1-1 by Southampton on Sunday. A defensive error from John Stones allowed Nathan Redmond to put the Saints into a 1-0 lead at the Etihad, and substitute Kelechi Iheanacho levelled for City ten minutes after the break. If La Liga is tight, the EPL is tighter still, with just one point separating the top five teams.

In Germany, Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa scored the goals as leaders Bayern Munich made light work of Borussia Monchengladbach.

And finally, it was League Cup weekend in Scotland, with Celtic securing a place in the final against Aberdeen after Moussa Dembele secured a late 1-0 victory for the Hoops against Glasgow rivals Rangers. 

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