Another week another chance to shine for Barça players around the world. Here is a glance at Barça main prospects (on-loan players and buy-back transfer options) and at how they performed this weekend.
Alex Song - West Ham - On Loan
Did not play
Premier League - Day 33 - West Ham 3-3 Arsenal (9/4)
West Ham is a spectacular side this season, there is no doubt about it. Going to the Boleyn ground is almost a guarantee to see goals, sometimes a lot of them, and sometimes very pretty ones, right Dimitri Payet? On the weekend, the Hammers were hosting the Gunners of Arsenal. Wenger's men seem out of the title race and now their Champion's League spot is in jeopardy, threatened by Manchester City and Manchester United, respectively 2 and 6 points behind Arsenal (59 points). Saturday's game was once again a great Premier League show. After leading 0-2, thanks to Özil and Alexis, Arsenal lost their advantage and saw West Ham come back before to take the lead, thanks to Andy Carroll's triple. Eventually, Laurent Koscielny drew the game for the visitors, that only got a point out of a must-win game. One player didn't attend this show: it was Alex Song. On a bench for several weeks, the Barça player wasn't even called by Bilic this time. West Ham haven't communicated on any injuries, diplomatic or not, and Song keeps on waiting for the Croatian coach to trust him. According to Sky Sports, it might never be the case, as West Ham are considering not paying Song's buyout clause and let him go back to Barcelona.
Adama Traoré - Aston Villa - Buy-Back Transfer
Played 19 minutes
Premier League - Day 33 - Aston Villa 1-2 Bournemouth (9/4)
It's not official yet, but it is very close to being so: Aston Villa are falling down the English football ladder and will most likely start next season in the Championship. Another weekend another loss for the Villains, now coached by Scottish manager Eric Black. The only good news was Adama's return, as we were predicting last week. The Catalan player went on the pitch to play the last 19 minutes of yet another nightmare at Villa Park, against newly promoted Bournemouth. He replaced Scott Sinclair. Maybe it was the Cherries quietly waiting for the end of the game with their 0-2 lead (Cook 45+2', King 74') or maybe it was Adama already boosting his team, three months after his last game, but Villa reacted a bit when the winger was on the pitch. Jordan Ayew eventually scored (85') to make the loss less painful. However, it isn't worth more points, as Villa are still stuck at 16, 15 points away from salvation. If Norwich City manage to not lose one of their 5 last games, Villa will be officially relegated. It might be next week as the Canaries host Sunderland, 18th in the table, in what looks like a salvation final.
Gerard Deulofeu - Everton - Buy-Back Transfer
Played 62 minutes
Premier League - Day 33 - Watford 1-1 Everton (9/4)
Everton's crazy dream of getting a last minute ticket for a European competition next season seems far away. The Toffees have had a few tough weeks recently, and it doesn't seem to get much better. The best sign of that slippery road Roberto Martinez are on is the comparison with rival Liverpool. While the Reds have come back just 5 points behind Manchester United that are 5th in the league, Everton have lost a lot of ground and now sit at 14th place with 39 points, after their draw of last weekend at Watford. Gerard Deulofeu couldn't do much to help his teammates defeat the newly promoted side. James McCarthy had opened the score just before half time (45+1') but Holebas equalised in the same stoppage time (45+3'). The second half didn't offer more goals and both teams left Vicarage Road unsatisfied. Everton keep their advance of one point above their host, but the season's end is most likely to be a boring one.
Martín Montoya - Real Betis - On Loan
Liga BBVA - Day 32 - Real Betis 1-0 Levante (9/4)
Played 90 minutes
Easier opponent for Real Betis on the weekend. After the lesson they were given at Vicente Calderón by Atlético, the Verdiblancos faced Levante, in the relegation zone, at Benito Villamarín's stadium. It is never easy to beat a team fighting for its survival, especially in such a tight league at the bottom as Liga BBVA. Only 6 points separate 16th place Rayo Vallecano (31) from Levante (25). The game was probably not the best of the season, but it is still a game Betis managed to win. The goal scored by Rubén Castro came up late (81th minute) but it freed the whole stadium, delighted to see their team win and taking some more distance (9 points) with the relegation zone, 6 games before the end of the season. Starting on the left side of the defence once again, Martín Montoya didn't especially stand out, not negatively nor positively.
Alen Halilovic – Sporting Gijón – On Loan
Liga BBVA - Day 31 - Levante 0-0 Sporting (4/4) & Liga BBVA - Day 32 - Sporting 0-1 Celta (10/4)
Played 31 + 21 minutes
IAs usual in must-win games, the tension is very high and both teams feel it intensely. It was the case for the Levante - Sporting game last Monday. A goalless draw that didn't suit any of the two clubs. Last weekend was an opportunity then to make an improvement on this result and get three precious points. The only bummer for Sporting was their opponent: Celta Vigo. The Galician players are hoping to get European football next season and they also plan on taking as many points as possible until the end of the season. In El Molinón stadium, Nolito's teammates took the win thanks to a goal from one of Barça's main prospects in the winter (64th minute). Coming in just a few minutes afterwards, Croatian Halilovic couldn't impact the game enough to get the score to change. Sporting are still only 2 points away from 17th place Granada but time is running out and it would be a good thing to grab a few points here and there before it is too late...
Cristian Tello – Fiorentina – On Loan
Played 90 minutes
Serie A - Day 32 - Empoli 2-0 Fiorentina (10/4)
Series are sometimes very hard to deal with, especially when they are negative ones. Fiorentina, once credible candidate for an unexpected title, has completely collapsed and nearly said goodbye to Champion's League football. If they should play some European football next season, as they still have a comfortable 7-point margin on 6th place AC Milan, they now sit 7 points behind Roma, who have a game in hand against a weaker side of Bologna. The reason for that farewell is Empoli. The Blues are not doing a bad season, and proved very competitive at home, giving a hard time to some of the top clubs in Serie A. Sunday was no exception and Fiorentina learnt it the hard way. Two goals, from Pucciarelli (41') and Zielinski (88') decided the game in favour of the locals. Cristian Tello, who played the full game, was helpless and his team looked the same way. Reaction is expected in Florence, in order to end the season on a good note.
Denis Suárez - Villarreal CF - Buy-Back Transfer
Played 90 + 77 minutes
Europa League - Quarter-finals 1st leg - Villarreal 2-1 Sparta Praha (7/4) & Liga BBVA - Day 32 - Villarreal 2-0 Getafe (10/4)
Spring is in the air and Villarreal are getting stronger again. The Yellow Submarine had a pretty busy week, with two receptions in El Madrigal. The first one was on the European stage, with the arrival of Czech side Sparta Praha. Villarreal won the game 2-1, with Denis Suárez giving the assist to Bakambu for the winning goal in the 63rd minute. It was a double for the French striker, and a relief for all Villarreal fans, who were already thinking of the second leg, very tough in Czech Republic. It won't be so hard after all but still, Marcelino's players should be careful, as they conceded at home and only have a one-goal advantage.
As for La Liga, it was a quiet and easy win on the weekend against Getafe. Things started off really well (15th minute) as Denis Suárez ended his great week with a goal. A very quick execution inside the box, with a control and a shot from the right foot into the lower-left corner of the goal, a powerful strike that left Guaita completely helpless. Late in the game (88th minute), Cédric Bakambu scored his third goal of the week and sealed the deal, to get Villarreal three more points and keep the good margin they have on Celta, as the Galician also won. 8 points above, the Yellow Submarine can really think about Champion's League football next season, at least the Playoffs. It would be a fair reward for a very good team, very regular and surprising this season.