Inside Spain is a weekly instalment brought to you by Football España, providing an insight into all of the major stories coming out of the rich and intense climes of La Liga and beyond.
The big occasion in Spain was of course the first leg of the Champions League semi-final, which saw Real Madrid and Manchester City grind to half-time level, despite plenty of effort. Los Blancos have reasons for pessimism, but there is a positive mood at the Santiago Bernabeu.
For a start, Karim Benzema, Rodrygo Goes and David Alaba all missed training on Friday, and are set to miss their Saturday night clash with Getafe. ‘We hope to get them back’, said Carlo Ancelotti speaking of the Manchester City return leg, and admittedly did not seem overly worried. The Italian manager will have to reckon with beating Pep Guardiola on his own patch, not being able to count on home advantage in the second leg like last year. Yet after their match on Tuesday night, the message coming out of the dressing was one of confidence – this lot are not better than us.
Sevilla will have come away from their 1-1 Europa League draw in Turin thinking the exact same about Juventus, having controlled most of the match until the final attack of the game. Youssef En-Nesyri’s opener was cancelled out by Federico Gatti, but Los Nervionenses can feel content with their chances at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Atletico Madrid are looking to maintain second place, but Jan Oblak continues to be absent with a neck injury that has not yet receded after three weeks. Neighbours Getafe were in the news too this week though. After former Watford coach Quique Sanchez Flores was sacked two weeks ago, he raged against a club and a President that were previously beloved to him, calling them ‘not a serious club’, and hinting they were making decisions based on social media.
Meanwhile Barcelona are preparing for the title celebrations with a summer of discontent ahead. Xavi Hernandez is set to tell Ansu Fati he is no longer needed next season after the title is won – they can do so with a win at rivals Espanyol on Sunday. He also received bad news this week though. On various occasions he has reportedly told Barcelona that he does not want Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, yet President Joan Laporta is forging ahead with negotiations anyway. It appears agent Jorge Mendes, who has very close links with Barcelona and Laporta, has even more power than Xavi.