Barca begin new year on a high

LaLiga

FC Barcelona started their new year on a winning note in LaLiga after defeating RCD Mallorca 1-0 on Sunday evening.

Suspensions and Covid-19 restricted the Catalans, as manager Xavi Hernandez started Oscar Mingueza, Nicolas Gonzalez, Riqui Puig, Akhomach Chakkour and Luuk de Jong from their 1-1 draw against Sevilla.

After a passive opening, De Jong nearly handed the Blaugrana the front foot on 28 minutes with a low shot from close-range but he struck the post as the host struggled to clear their lines.

The Dutchman was in it again inside a minute when he unleashed an acrobatic bicycle kick inside the area against the top of the woodwork.

It was third time lucky for the former Sevilla forward in the final minute of the first half when he leaped toweringly in the area to head home Mingueza’s peach of a delivery.

Mallorca seemed revived after halftime with a number of balls in and around the defensive area of the Catalans who managed to keep the home side at bay.

At the other end, the Catalans nearly helped themselves to a second from a header by the skipper Gerard Pique 58 minutes in following a corner-kick but it was cleared off the line.

Barcelona were on the back-foot late on though, as Rodrigo Battaglia headed over from a free-kick before Marc-Andre Ter Stegen produced a stunning one-hand palm to parry Jaume Costa.

The Catalans survived the onslaught in the end to get off to a winning start in the new year whilst edging closer to the top-four.

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LaLiga leaders Real Madrid started the new year with a rare 1-0 loss to Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez on Sunday afternoon.

The Los Blancos suffered a ninth minute blow after a ball around the defensive area saw Enes Unal stole possession from Eder Militao to pull through and fire in from close-range.

There was more nervous defending from Madrid thereafter after a stray pass from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois put Sandro Ramirez in clear sight, but he fluffed his lines.

Los Blancos came to the fore a little before the half-hour mark when Luka Modric slammed a first-time shot from Rodrygo’s teasing pass against the top of the woodwork.

This was moments before the Croatian international had their opposite number David Soria make himself big between the goal-post to parry a curling strike away.

A double substitution from Los Blancos ahead of the second half resulted in Ferland Mendy coming off for Marcelo and Hazard brought on in the place of Asensio.

That though didn’t bring Madrid the desired effect well into the midway stage of the second half, as chances from both sets of outfits filtered through in drips and drabs.

Madrid started to up the ante within the last ten minutes with a half-volley on the edge of the area from Carlos Casemiro bringing Soria to smart reflexes.

Los Blancos continued to probe a comeback as the time started to run out, but the Deep Blues stood firm to secure their first win over Real since the 2012/2013 season.

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