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.
Martín Montoya - Real Betis - On Loan
Liga BBVA - Day 34 - Real Betis 1-0 Las Palmas (19/4) & Liga BBVA - Day 35 - Sevilla 2-0 Betis (24/4)
Played 0+90 minutes
It is now official. Real Betis will remain in the Liga BBVA next season, thanks to their short but precious win against Las Palmas last Tuesday, and despite their loss in the derby at Sánchez Pizjuán against Sevilla on the weekend. Martin Montoya's teammates have completed their challenge. In difficulty at the end of the first half of the season, the Andalusans have made a much better run after January's nightmare (5 losses out of 7 games, 2 draws) and can now relax, knowing the objective has been achieved. The winner against Las Palmas (1-0) arrived late as former Norwich and Saint-Etienne striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel freed the Benito Villamarin stadium in the 83rd minute. It was his first goal of the season.
The outcome wasn't so pleasing during the very hot derby of Sevilla, against Kevin Gameiro's teammates. The Frenchman scored the opener in the second half (67th minute) with an assist of his fellow countryman Steven N'Zonzi. Right-back Coke secured the final result (2-0) in the 80th minute. For this second game of the week, Martín Montoya had retrieved his starting position, after missing the Las Palmas game. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to stop Sevilla's attacks and could not avoid defeat. Yet, this result combined to Sporting's large defeat at Camp Nou assured Betis' future in La Liga. With a 9-point margin on the Asturians and only 3 games to play, they can not be relegated, since it is the particular goal difference that counts, and Real Betis had drawn the game at home (1-1) before to win on Sporting's ground (1-2).
Alex Song - West Ham - On Loan
Did not play
Premier League - Day 30 (postponed) - West Ham 3-1 Watford (20/4)
The Hammers haven't given up on European football, and are still fighting to get the best position possible to offer the best inauguration to their fans next season at the Olympic Stadium of London. The Champion's League seems too far away, as Arsenal won their postponed game against West Bromwich and have an 8-point margin over West Ham, with one game in hand for Bilic's men. Yet, the crucial clash against Manchester United will be very interesting and could be the decider of which of the two teams participate to next season's Europa League. The Hammers have made it possible by winning against Watford, quite easily. Thanks to Andy Carroll, assisted by the inevitable Dimitri Payet, West Ham were already 1-0 up after just 10 minutes. Mark Noble converted a penalty just before half-time (45', 2-0) and another one in the second half (53', 3-0). Prödl initiated the revolt for the Watford players (64', 1-3) but his teammates were unable to follow. The end of the season will be very exciting in London.
Cristian Tello – Fiorentina – On Loan
Played 71+61 minutes
Serie A - Day 34 - Udinese 2-1 Fiorentina (20/4) & Serie A - Day 35 - Fiorentina 1-2 Juventus (24/4)
Before entering the last third of the season, Milan were surely not expecting to be back in the race for Europe. But thanks to Fiorentina's series of bad results, it is now the case. La Viola has struggled in the past two months to find back the rhythm that had driven them to the top of the table at the start of the season. Since then, the fluid, entertaining style of Paulo Souza has vanished. Just like Fiorentina's margin on Brocchi's side. With one game in hand, Milan could come back 3 points behind Fio. The defeat on the weekend against future Serie A champions Juventus was not surprising, although it could have been otherwise as Kalinic had the opportunity to draw the game but missed his penalty kick. It was Juventus that scored first thanks to Spanish striker Morata, 38 minutes in. Fiorentina reacted and Kalinic brought back his team in the game (1-1, 81') but Mandzukic scored the second for Juventus just 2 minutes after (83', 1-2), giving Juve the three points.
The defeat at Udinese was way more surprising. It is true that Antonio Di Natale's teammates are fighting to stay in Serie A. And the stadium of Friuli pushed to exhort the players to get the win, which they did. Zapata scored the opener in the second minute, taking Fiorentina by surprise. Mauro Zárate equalised quite quickly (23rd minute) but De Canio's men finally scored the winner, early in the second half, thanks to French striker Cyril Théreau. With 9 points less than Roma, 3rd in the table, Fiorentina can rule out Champion's League next season. They should be careful not to lose their ticket for Europa League either.
Alen Halilovic – Sporting Gijón – On Loan
Liga BBVA - Day 34 - Sporting 2-1 Sevilla (20/4) & Liga BBVA - Day 35 - Barça 6-0 Sporting (23/4)
Played 81+90 minutes
Abelardo and his players are still into the fight for salvation in Liga BBVA. Their huge win against Sevilla, two-time holders of the Europa League trophy has been a great boost for the Asturians. The scenario of the game was partly responsible for that as well. After Iborra's quick opener (8th minute, 0-1), Sporting reacted through Krychowiak's own goal, which put them back in the game. The tension was high and eventually, in the added time of the second half, Sporting took the three points thanks to their left-back Isma López (90+1st minute). They could go on to face Barça at the Camp Nou with more ease.
Abelardo probably expected a less painful game although he knew it would be very hard to avoid defeat. He wanted the win, but got a large defeat instead. Besides Luis Suárez's festival - the Uruguayan scored 4 goals in the game (63', 74' p.k, 77' p.k and 88') for the second consecutive time after Barça's win against Deportivo - Messi (12th minute) and Neymar (85th minute p.k) completed the score sheet, giving the Catalans a final 6-0 win. It has put Sporting back in the relegation zone, but with three games to go and only one point less than Granada (17th) and 3 less than Rayo Vallecano (16th), everything is still possible.
Denis Suárez - Villarreal CF - Buy-Back Transfer
Played 90+90 minutes
Liga BBVA - Day 34 - Real Madrid 3-0 Villarreal (20/4) & Liga BBVA - Day 35 - Villarreal 0-0 Real Sociedad (24/4)
At some point, Villarreal's European run has tired them out a little. Engaged in the semi-finals of the competition, Marcelino's players had a hard time last week, only getting one point out of the two La Liga games they played. The first one was a big challenge, against a team of Real Madrid revived since Zidane's arrival. The French coach was satisfied by the large win (3-0) thanks to goals from Benzema (41'), Lucas Vazquez (69') and Luka Modric (76'). Without the ball Villarreal are helpless and in the Bernabéu they only had it 37% of the time. But they had the chance to recover from this loss against Real Sociedad, an easier opponent.
Unfortunately, it wasn't the case, and it could have been even worse, had the Basques validated their domination (60% of the ball possession, 7 shots) with a goal. A poor performance from both sides that left the Madrigal with a sad 0-0. In the table, Villarreal are still 4th, but their margin on Sevilla (5th) was reduced to 6 points, with three games remaining. The Champion's League playoffs are near but a win will be necessary, against Valencia, Deportivo or Sporting.
Gerard Deulofeu - Everton - Buy-Back Transfer
Played 0+21 minutes
Premier League - Day 27 - Liverpool 4-0 Everton (20/4) & FA Cup Semi-Finals - Everton 1-2 Manchester United (23/4)
Roberto Martinez's future at the head of Everton's first squad gets more and more blurry as the Toffees get on with bad results. The Merseyside derby was the one opportunity to forget about the poor season Lukaku's teammates are doing and get some pride out of the game. They were absolutely smashed by an enthusiastic team of Liverpool, completely changed by Jürgen Klopp. Everton conceded a severe 4-0 defeat, with goals from Origi (43'), Sakho (45+2'), Sturridge (61') and Coutinho (76'). A debacle they couldn't erase from their memories three days later in the FA Cup semi-finals against Manchester United at Wembley.
Although the game was way more balanced, Manchester United were the stronger side and obtained their ticket for the final thanks to Anthony Martial in the very last minutes of the game (1-2, 90+3'). Everton were back in the game after Smalling's own goal (75'), after former Everton player Marouane Fellaini had scored the opener in the first half (34'), but it wasn't enough and they fell just before the overtime. Albert Deulofeu, as a symbol of this tough period for the Toffees, only played 21 minutes during those two games, all of them being in the semi-final.
Adama Traoré - Aston Villa - Buy-Back Transfer
Did not play
Premier League - Day 35 - Aston Villa 2-4 Southampton (23/4)
Rémi Garde felt like he was trapped in Aston Villa, not knowing exactly what was expeting him, and he got really disappointed to see the club didn't follow his aspirations. The same goes for Adama Traoré. Since Eric Black took over the first team, the Catalan winger hasn't played very much. And he complains about it, feeling like he has been left apart and wondering about his future. The future of his club, Aston Villa, is clear as day. The Villains will be in the Championship next season, after what looks like one of the worst ever seasons in the club's history. Another defeat was conceded on the weekend against Ronald Koeman and Southampton. A severe loss (2-4) that quickly took shape. Shane Long (15') and Tadic (39') put the Saints in front, before Westwood scored in the added time (1-2). In the second half, Southampton players quietly managed their advantage, scoring a third goal by Tadic (71'). Westwood brought Aston Villa in the game once again (85') but Sadio Mané sealed the deal in the stoppage time (2-4, 90+4'). 2016/17 is not too far, thankfully.