Another week another occasion 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.
Denis Suárez - Villarreal CF - Buy-Back Transfer
Played 73 minutes
La Liga - Day 20 - Villarreal 0-0 Betis (16/1)
It is never easy to play against teams threatened with relegation. Villarreal, who are having a tremendous season so far, received Betis in what seemed to be a very unbalanced matchup. Betis, who were smashed in Copa del Rey's last 16 round by neighbours FC Sevilla, had to come out strong to get some points in the table. Although there was no real domination, in a very even game, Betis had the most chances and the most of possession (55%) and could have claimed more than a point. In the end, Denis Suarez and his teammates drew 0-0, letting Real Madrid off the hook 3 points ahead, and also losing ground on 5th place Celta Vigo, coming back 6 points behind. The young midfielder was subbed off by Samu Castillejo (minute 74), after a very plain game from his part.
Martín Montoya - FC Internazionale - On Loan
Serie A - Day 19 - Atalanta 1-1 Inter (16/1)
Did not play (on the bench)
Once again Martín Montoya saw his Italian counterpart on the right side of the defence, Danilo D'Ambrosio, start the game. It was not easy for Inter that, a couple of weeks ago, was on top of the table. Pushed by 13th place Atalanta, Roberto Mancini's players struggled to get the three points, but only succeeded in getting a draw (1-1). To Murillo's own goal, giving them the lead, Atalanta replied with an own goal from their Brazilian defender Rafael Tolói. Not a good result for Montoya's teammates, who let Napoli and Gonzalo Higuain escape at the top (44 points, 4 more than Inter). The season is still long and Inter will have opportunities to play a big part in the contest for the league title. That is exactly what Martín Montoya is thinking too.
Adama Traoré - Aston Villa - Buy-Back Transfer
Did not play (broken bone injury)
Premier League - Day 21 - Aston Villa 1-0 Crystal Palace (12/1) & Day 22 - Aston Villa 1-1 Leicester City (16/1)
Still missing, Adama Traoré could only witness his team's first win in the Premier League since Day 1 and win over Bournemouth (0-1). This time, the Villains offered the three points to their fans, in Villa Park, overcoming Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace thanks to captain Joleon Lescott. With a huge boost of confidence, Aston Villa were ready to face surprising second side Leicester, still in the run for the title. Despite having conceeded the first goal (28'), Villa finally equalised thanks to Benin midfield Rudy Gestede (75'). Thanks to this result, and to Sunderland's loss at Tottenham, Remi Garde and his players can still believe in an impossible salvation. They are on the upside, no doubt.
Gerard Deulofeu - Everton - Buy-Back Transfer
Played 70+18 minutes
Premier League - Day 21 - Manchester City 0-0 Everton (13/1) & Day 22 - Chelsea 3-3 Everton (16/1)
The week was intense for Everton. After a logical win in the FA Cup 3rd Round against League Two side Dag & Red (2-0), Everton had to face Manchester City at the Etihad. They were probably fearing a lot more of offensive danger than what there actually was from Sky Blues' part, on Wednesday, after the Toffes beat them in the League Cup semi-finals first leg (2-1 win). Man City don't like to play against Roberto Martinez's side, proof was made at the Etihad after a goalless draw. Thanks to Everton's solide defence and Tim Howard's great performances, Gerard Deulofeu - who played 70 minutes before to be replaced by Arouna Koné - and his teammates obtained one point.
It was a whole different game Saturday at Stamford Bridge. Against a recovering Chelsea, still trying to start a winning streak after José Mourinho's dismissal, the show was immense, and very full of tension. The Toffees thought they had struck hard enough after they took a 2-0 lead away from home, with goals from Terry (own goal, 50') and Mirallas (56'). But in 2016, Chelsea is not feering the Portuguese wrath anymore. The Blues were able to even the score with two goals in just two minutes, from Spanish duo Diego Costa (64') and Fàbregas (66'). The tension went even higher as the two teams struggled to get a winner. Gerard Deulofeu went on at minute 80 and offered ten minutes later an assist to Argentine's Ramiro Funes Mori (90'). Everton thought they had the win, and Deulofeu was already picturing himself as the super-sub hero but after the many injuries that occured during the game, the referee Mike Jones decided to give 7 minutes of stoppage time. It took 8 minutes and an off-side goal from John Terry (90+8') to get an unexpected draw and kill all Tofees' illusions. Both clubs remain at the same position in the table: Everton are 11th and Chelsea are 14th.
Cristian Tello – FC Porto – On Loan
Taça de Portugal (Portuguese Cup) - Quarter-Finals - Boavista 0-1 FC Porto (13/1) & Liga NOS [Portugal] - Day 18 - Victoria Guimaraēs 1-0 FC Porto (17/1)
Did not play (on the bench)
AHis absence in last weekend's clash at Boavista probably led him to think he would have minutes in Taça de Portugal's quarter-final against the same Boavista side. It was not the case. Cristian Tello could only admire Algerian star Yacine Brahimi's goal (24') before to champ at the bit for the remaining of the game. Same thing happened with Sunday's game at Guimaraēs, a game Porto finally lost, after a terrible start (0-1, goal from Bakary Saré, 4'). This means Rui Barros' players are now 3rd in the league (40 points), 3 points behind eternal rival Benfica (2nd, 43 points) and 5 behind Lisbon leaders Sporting CP (1st, 45 points). Cristian, on his part, hopes he will be able to play a bit more.
Alen Halilovic – Sporting Gijón – On Loan
La Liga - Day 20 - Real Madrid 5-1 Sporting (17/1)
Played 45 minutes
It is the kind of game Real Madrid are supposed to win by a large margin. Although it might not be every time as large as when facing Rayo Vallecano (10-2, 20/12), it was still an impressive display from Zinédine Zidane's team. 5 goals in the first half for a comfortable 5-1 win in the end. The game was not flawless from Merengues' part, but the offensive hunger and the spectacular attacking form from Bale, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo gave back their smiles to the Real Madrid fans, in and out of Santiago Bernabeu. Thanks to their win, Madrid take a 3 point-lead over Villarreal at 3rd spot. Sporting, who were not planning on taking three points in Real's home, are still stuck at 19th position, only one point above Levante, at the bottom of the table. However, Sporting have a game in hand, to play against Barça. Not necessarily a must-win. As for Alen Halilovic, who only played in the first half, it was a tough game. When you are a creative player, it is difficult to exist against a powerful team and offensively incredible such as Real Madrid. Gijon's coach Abelardo intented to balance his team a bit more in second half, resulting in a much better production from his players (1 goal, none conceeded). Halilovic was replaced by Cameroonian Daniel N'Di.