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5 Talking Points From The Weekend: El Clasico, Mourinho & More

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The war of words between Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Tottenham caught everybody’s attention this weekend.

Elsewhere, Real Madrid beat Barcelona in an entertaining El Clasico and Inter Milan moved a step closer to ending Juventus’ nine-year stranglehold of the Serie A title.

We’ve rounded up the best of the action on and off the field.

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Real Madrid Retains El Classico Bragging Rights

Real Madrid have won 3 consecutive El Clasico

Real Madrid and Barcelona played out an El Clasico for the ages, with Los Blancos triumphing 2-1 at the end. The result leaves Real Madrid just one point behind table-toppers Atletico Madrid, while Barcelona is a point behind Real and two points behind Atleti.

Real Madrid and Barcelona began the match in an even fashion before Los Blancos drew first blood in the 13th minute.

Fede Valverde produced a storming run up the pitch, squaring it wide for Lucas Vazquez – who responded with a low cross which Karim Benzema impudently backheeled into the net, finally ending his El Clasico drought.

Zinedine Zidane’s side doubled their lead in the 28th minute, with Toni Kroos watching his free-kick cannon off Sergino Dest’s back into the net, with Jordi Alba’s attempted clearance off the line going in vain.

Los Blancos came close multiple times as the half wore on. Vinicius Jr. was devastating on the counter, with Fede Valverde hitting the post while Lucas Vazquez forced Marc-Andre Ter Stegen into a great save.

Barca Continues To Misfire

Barcelona players protesting a foul during El Clasico

Leo Messi nearly scored directly from a corner late in the first half, hitting the far post with Thibaut Courtois stranded. The Belgian keeper was on hand to make a point-blank save from Messi moments later, ensuring Real Madrid went into the break with a 2-0 lead.

Antoine Griezmann came on at half-time and nearly made an impact as the rain came pouring down, shooting wide from an offside position. The Uruguayan made an important contribution without touching the ball, as his dummy allowed Oscar Mingueza to score from Jordi Alba’s cross on the hour mark.

With the game heading into the final moments, Barca was left incensed after Martin Brathwaite went down in the box under the close attention of Ferland Mendy, but the referee deemed it a fair challenge.

Youngster Ilaix Moriba gave Barca some positives despite the loss, he had a solid performance off the bench once again. He was certainly not intimidated by the occasion, coming agonizingly close to snatching a last-gasp equalizer too. The midfielder struck the crossbar with a shot from inside the penalty area in the dying seconds.

Barca complained long and hard after the final whistle with Ronald Koeman and Gerard Pique leading the way. The Dutchman felt his team was denied a “crystal clear” penalty, while Pique moaned that only four minutes of stoppage time had been added.

The penalty decision was debatable, then too (in my opinion) was the decision to award Vinicius a free-kick from which Toni Kroos scored, but Barca can only blame themselves for Saturday’s defeat.

Inter Milan Continue To March Towards Scudetto

Inter Milan on track to win the Serie A title

Matteo Darmian proved the unlikely hero as Inter continued their 10 game winning streak with a hard-fought victory over Cagliari on Sunday afternoon, as they took another step closer towards the Serie A title.

Inter came up against debutant Guglielmo Vicario in the Sardinians’ goal and he did well early on, denying a handful of chances that fell the hosts’ way.

Casteddu did relatively well for the most part, but they were always unlikely to make it through 90 minutes without Vicario’s goal being seriously tested.

Christian Eriksen had a couple of cracks at goal, but the hosts struggled to break down a stubborn Cagliari side, and the two teams went into the break all square. The Nerazzurri continued to knock on the door in the second half, with Eriksen once again at the heart of their play.

The Dane forced Guglielmo Vicario into a fine stop early on, while Romelu Lukaku also headed wide. Stefan de Vrij hit the crossbar with a header from a corner.

Achraf was introduced in the second half to offer more in attack, with Ashley Young going off and Darmian switching to the left. That change proved decisive, as the ex-Real Madrid man charged forward on the right and rolled across goal for his fellow wing-back Darmian to tap into a near open goal.

Inter needed to win to maintain their 11-point lead at Serie A’s summit, as AC Milan had closed the gap earlier to 8 points. Inter are on the brink of their first Serie A title since 2010.

Lionel Messi’s El Clasico Drought Continues

A frustrated Messi leaving the pitch after his side’s loss to Real Madrid

There was plenty of focus on Lionel Messi again on Saturday with many wondering if the game was the captain’s last Clasico. It’s been eight straight El Clasico since Messi has scored, he surely would have loved to have scored on Saturday.

Although, he did come within a whisker of scoring another memorable goal when he hit the post from a corner in the first half. Yet that’s about as close as Messi came as his curious Clasico drought continues.

It was emblematic of Lionel Messi’s game that his final El Clasico contribution was inadvertently blocking Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s goal-bound shot in the final moments. The Argentinian was shackled by multiple Real Madrid players.

The fixture’s all-time leading goalscorer has now gone seven games without a goal or an assist against Los Blancos in all competitions – the longest drought of his career. He failed to score with his last 25 shots against Real Madrid, including seven shots on Saturday night.

Jose Mourinho vs Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Rivalry

Ole and Mourinho rivalry may continue off the pitch as season end draws near

Following some controversial calls made by the officiating referee on Sunday afternoon in the EPL, Jose and Solskjaer were drawn into a war of words over an incident involving Son Heung-min.

The incident occurred in the first half, with Son going down after receiving slight contact to his face from the Scot. United went on to score, only for Edinson Cavani’s finish to be ruled out for the foul. Soon after, Son got on the scoresheet himself.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hit out at Son Heung-min saying “If my son stays down like this for three minutes…… and needs 10 mates to help him up, he won’t get any food”

Jose Mourinho’s response was “Sonny is very lucky that his father is a better person than Ole. Because I think a father, I am a father, I think as a father you always have to feed your kids, doesn’t matter what they do”.

Although United went on to earn the three points with a 3-1 win, Solskjaer was still angered by Son’s actions, criticising the South Korean after the game.

Jesse Lingard In His Best Form

Lingard has eight goals in nine games for West Ham

Jesse Lingard is loving life at West Ham at the moment, he got his first league minutes on February 3rd and has already scored  8 goals for the Hammers.

At Manchester United, he was an undisputed flop who didn’t play a single minute of Premier League football in the first half of the season, but he has been rejuvenated since joining West Ham United on loan in January.

With eight goals and four assists in just nine games, he has given hope to the Hammers to hunt for Champions League football.

With this new lease of life and good form, Jesse Lingard has put himself on the radar of European giants like Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Milan, and Arsenal. United is said to be ready to sell and West Ham is eager to buy.

The transfer is expected to be straightforward but with some of the Premier League’s top six keens on Lingard’s signature, this might be a long transfer saga.