LONDON: The sense of crisis around Barcelona’s boardroom extended to the pitch after a surprise 1-0 defeat at Valladolid left the Spanish champions fixed in third place.
Coach Gerardo Martino was left trying to find excuses for the club’s poorest display of the season opened an opportunity for Real Madrid to stretch their lead at the top. Concerns have also arisen over the fitness and health of Leo Messi.
Martino said: “We lacked what makes us Barca: good elaboration in our build-up, finding spaces, breaking through on the wings and having depth. We had very few chances of actually running at goal and we almost always had to fight against 10 defenders. A good solution would have been creating more space.”
Atletico de Madrid claimed perhaps temporary leadership of the table after winning 2-0 at Celta Vigo.
In France Zlatan Ibrahimovic scroed one goal and created two for Ezequiel Lavezzi was champions Paris Saint-Germain won 3-0 at Bastia to stay eight points clear.
Edison Cavani missed the game after arriving back later than expected from Uruguay where he had been resolving his divorce.
In Germany Bayern Munich pressed on towards retaining the league title continued with Thomas Mueller and Mario Mandzukic grabbing two goals each as they demolished hosts Wolfsburg 6-1 for a league record 16th consecutive victory. Bayern had Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery both in the lineup for the first time since last October.
In Italy Udinese’s Antonio Di Natale scored his 185th Serie A goal to secure a 1-0 win over Milan. The 36-year-old’s 62nd-minute goal lifted him into 10th spot in the all-time Serie A scorers’ chart.