BARCELONA: Gerard Pique defended his daily trips to the Davis Cup tennis tournament this week after Barcelona won 2-1 away to Leganes to stay top of the Spanish league.
The Spain defender had been criticised in the media for travelling to Madrid each day to attend the revamped Davis Cup which his Kosmos company had transformed.
Pique said: “I had a friendly conversation with the coach about my plans and how we were going to manage it, I have a phenomenal relationship with the coach and with the club, all this noise is coming from outside.”
Youssef En-Nesyri have Leganes the lead before Barca turned the game around with strikes from Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal.
Gareth Bale was jeered by Real Madrid supporters when he came on as a second-half substitute in their 3-1 win at home against Real Sociedad.
Bale’s reception came at the end of a week when he was seen celebrating Wales’s Euro 2020 qualifying success with a flag that stated: “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order.”
A Sergio Ramos error helped the visitors go in front after two minutes. The Real Madrid captain’s pass back to Thibaut Courtois was cut out by Willian Jose, who went past the former Chelsea goalkeeper and put the ball into the net.
Karim Benzema equalised from Luka Modric’s cross in the 37th minute, then Federico Valverde’s deflected shot gave Madrid the lead early in the second half. Modric scored the third 16 minutes from time.
Atletico Madrid lost ground on leaders Barcelona as they were held 1-1 away to Granada for a seventh draw in 14 La Liga games.
In Italy . . .
Gonzalo Higuain scored twice as league leaders Juventus came from behind to win at Atalanta 3-1 in Serie A.
Robin Gosens opened the scoring for Atalanta early in the second half but Higuain struck twice in eight minutes and set up Paulo Dybala in stoppage time.
Juventus were without Cristiano Ronaldo, having left the forward at home so he is fully fit for the Champions League match against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
Inter Milan remain a point behind Juventus after a comfortable 3-0 win away at Torino. Lautaro Martinez fired Antonio Conte’s side in front after 12 minutes. Stefan de Vrij doubled the lead before half-time, with former Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku scoring the third early in the second period.
Struggling AC Milan and Napoli ground out a 1-1 draw at San Siro.
In Germany . . .
Bayern Munich beat Fortuna Dusseldorf 4-0 to move a point behind Bundesliga leaders Borussia Monchengladbach with a third straight win under interim coach Hansi Flick, while Monchengladbach suffered a shock defeat at Union Berlin.
The champions, who were joined by RB Leipzig on 24 points, have rediscovered winning ways under Flick, getting three victories in all competitions. They looked sharp throughout, although leading striker Robert Lewandowski failed to score, ending his record run of finding the net in the previous 11 league games.
Bayern, who could have scored more, found no resistance in the first half and fired in three by the 34th minute through Benjamin Pavard, Corentin Tolisso and Serge Gnabry. Although Polish striker Lewandowski failed to score despite several golden chances, he did set up Philippe Coutinho for Bayern’s fourth goal in the 70th minute.
Union stunned Gladbach with a 15th-minute goal from Anthony Ujah and completed a memorable win with Sebastian Andersson’s goal in second-half stoppage time. Second-placed Leipzig easily beat Cologne thanks to Emil Forsberg’s double and goals from Timo Werner and Konrad Laimer.
In Holland . . . .
Players in Holland’s top flight paused for the opening minute of their matches in response to a racist incident in the second tier last weekend.
Excelsior winger Ahmad Mendes Moreira was subjected to abuse at Den Bosch, prompting players in the top two divisions to refrain from playing for the first 60 seconds of their fixtures and applaud while the message “Racism? Then we won’t play football!” was displayed in the stadiums.
The action was agreed by the Eredevisie and the Keuken Kampioen Divisie (second tier) in collaboration with 34 professional clubs, the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) – which is investigating last weekend’s incident – and other bodies.