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.
Alen Halilovic – Sporting Gijón – On Loan
Liga BBVA - Day 29 - Málaga 1-0 Sporting (11/3)
Played 27 minutes
It is starting to look seriously bad for Sporting. For the first time of the season, Sporting could go last in the table, if Levante take more points than them next weekend. Giuseppe Rossi and Levante won the Valencia derby against Gary Neville's side, putting Sporting in a very uncomfortable position. Level on points, Gijón will have to recover quick not to fall at the very bottom of the league. Despite a pretty balance game, in which they had the most of the possession, the Asturians could not be threatening enough in front of the opponent's goal. Even Alen Halilovic was helpless when coming into the pitch, a few more than 20 minutes before the end of the game. With 24 points, Sporting are still only 3 points away from safety. This means the last 10 games of the season will be very interesting. Besides the direct opposition with Levante for La Liga's Day 31, Abelardo's men will have to face Atlético, Celta Vigo, Sevilla, Barça and Villarreal. Not easy at all...
Gerard Deulofeu - Everton - Buy-Back Transfer
Did not play (on the bench)
FA Cup - Quarter-Final - Everton 2-0 Chelsea (12/3)
Chelsea's season isn't the greatest of their history, but the Blues are still a tough opponent to beat, especially in a competition like the FA Cup, where the league form is near irrelevant. Except Guus Hiddink's men couldn't do much to prevent Roberto Martinez's Toffees to win the Quarter-final between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park. In the middle of the table in the Premier League, Everton needed a win to get back on tracks after last week dramatic loss to West Ham with to late goals from the London side. This time London didn't win, and Everton made the most of the opportunity to get into the semi-finals, thanks to a Lukaku double in the last 15 minutes of the game (77' and 82'). The former Chelsea forward gave the Blues a bitter taste of his talent. On the other hand, the Blaugrana Gerard Deulofeu once again wasn't selected by Martinez to play during the game, even for a few minutes.
Denis Suárez - Villarreal CF - Buy-Back Transfer
Played 90+90 minutes
Europa League - Last 16 round 1st leg- Villarreal 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen (10/3) & Liga BBVA - Day 29 - Sevilla 4-2 Villarreal (13/3)
It is very hard for a team like Villarreal to compile a successful European journey and a competitive route in the domestic league. After a spectacular first half of the season, Marcelino's players have started to decline slightly. They are still performing on the European stage. Opposed to the very tenacious team of Leverkusen, Villarreal managed to keep a clean sheet and to get halfway into the confrontation with a 2-goal lead (2-0). Thanks to Bakambu (4', 56'), the Spanish side made the most of the few moments in which they had the ball (only 37% of ball possession). Denis Suárez was decisive on the second goal, giving the assist to the French striker. Unfortunately for Villarreal, their performance at Sevilla didn't exactly match the one they had against Leverkusen. The blame is mainly on Sevilla's talent. Revived at the dawn of spring, the Andalusians are always dangerous when the end of the season is near. After a satisfying draw in Switzerland, Ernesto Valverde's men overcome a 1-2 deficit against Marcelino's players to finally win 4-2. Once again, Bakambu was the scorer of Villarreal's two goals (29', 37'), replying to Iborra's opener (23'), but a Victor Ruiz's own goal (51'), and two goals from Konoplyanka (65') and Jose Antonio Reyes (90+1'). Denis Suárez and his teammates are still 4th in the La Liga table, but Sevilla (5th) is now 5 points behind.
Alex Song - West Ham - On Loan
Did not play (on the bench)
FA Cup - Quarter-Final - Manchester United 1-1 West Ham (13/3)
On a beauty criterium only, West Ham would have deserved the win in the FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Dimitri Payet's free-kick was a masterpiece (68th minute). But another Frenchman, Anthony Martial, decided it wasn't quite time for United to let go of yet another objective this season and scored the equaliser in the 83rd minute. While they are struggling to stay in the Champion's League spots in the Premier League, the Red Devils hope to get a piece of silverware this year. It could be the FA Cup, that West Ham also have their eyes on. They obtained a replay game at the Boleyn Ground, at a date to be determined. It is not the best of ways to get some rest and avoid a too busy schedule to stay in the race for a place into next season's Champion's League. Maybe Alex Song will come into play to help secure the Hammers' defence. For this time, he was on the bench.
Adama Traoré - Aston Villa - Buy-Back Transfer
Did not play (broken bone injury)
Premier League - Day 29 - Aston Villa 0-2 Tottenham (13/3)
Aston Villa's end of the season seems like a direct path to hell. While the confidence is far from being seen in Birmingham, the Villains had to face one of the most serious title contenders this season, Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham. Logically, and still without Adama Traoré, in recovery, the Londoners took the three points in one of the few Premier League games played on the weekend, mainly due to the presence of many elite sides in the FA Cup quarter-finals. Overall dominant, Tottenham had the most of the possession and brought the most danger on the opponent's goal. It all came down to Harry Kane deadly efficiency. The English international scored 2 goals, late in the first half (45') and early in the second half (48'). Nothing more was scored and Tottenham could enjoy the win to put pressure on the Foxes of Leicester, who will play tonight to keep their 5-point gap.
Martín Montoya - Real Betis - On Loan
Liga BBVA - Day 29 - Athletic Club 3-1 Real Betis (13/3)
Played 90 minutes
Martin Montoya knew he would be of a great help for Real Betis, who lacked an experienced talented full-back. So much than Montoya played on the left side of the defence on the weekend, proving his versatility and his importance in the group. Sadly, he wasn't able to stop Athletic's offensive force, as Bilbao won the game 3-1, thanks to a Sabin double (34', 50') and a goal from Mikel Rico (44'). Rubén Castro's late goal (85') wasn't enough to make the Basques doubt, and Betis conceded their 11th defeat, letting the opportunity of a 8th place pass. Still, they remain 8 points clear of the relegation zone, which doesn't look so bad after losing to the 6th best club in the country this season.
Cristian Tello – Fiorentina – On Loan
Played 90 minutes
Serie A - Day 29 - Fiorentina 1-1 Hellas Verona (13/3)
Another game another draw for Fiorentina, this time against a weaker opponent. After drawing against Napoli (1-1) and severely losing to Roma last week (1-4), La Viola seemed to have the perfect opportunity to get back on track and win again. Except it was not so simple for Cristian Tello and his teammates. The Catalan winger, who gave an assist to Mauro Zárate on Fiorentina's goal (40'), couldn't do much about Verona's equaliser. It came up late (86th minute) and looked like a terrible conclusion to an okay game from the Tuscan side. Fiorentina are now 5 points behind 3rd place Roma, and level on points at the 4th place with Inter, which beat Bologna on the weekend. There are two tough games left for Paulo Souza's men, against Juventus and at Lazio, that might be decisive for the acquisition of a Champion's League spot. For now, it looks compromised if La Fio doesn't react quick, after 4 games without winning.