Inside Spain: Lionel Messi’s brother sets media on fire, Leeds come back empty handed from Madrid

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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.

There was plenty of good football in Spain this week, but you’d have barely heard about that due the several incidents of hysteria. All of the top seven sides in La Liga played teams from 10th down last weekend, only Barcelona and Athletic Club would win. Aside from Real Madrid, the biggest shock was Elche beating Villarreal – gaining their first win in 20 attempts this season.

Los Blancos for their part, fell to an ugly and costly defeat to Real Mallorca. Marco Asensio missed a penalty, Nacho Fernandez scored past his own ‘keeper, and leaft them on the ropes in the La Liga title race, trailing Barcelona by a sizable eight points. That was barely the biggest story, as Vinicius Junior was brought down repeatedly. It took a matter of minutes after the final whistle for the Madrid media to highlight that not only has Vinicius been fouled more times already this season than last, but he is by far the most fouled player in Europe. Running parallel, he once again suffered from racial abuse, a depressing fourth incident this season. The noise surrounding the Brazilian is at fever pitch, with Spain split down the middle on him.

Rayo Vallecano coach Andoni Iraola is a rising star.

Back in the Spanish capital, Leeds United Sporting Director Victor Orta came to Madrid to replace Jesse Marsch, but went straight back without managing to do so. Raul Gonzalez, mounting a promotion push with Real Madrid’s B team (Castilla), turned down an approach, before Andoni Iraola of Rayo Vallecano did. Despite reports from SkySports in the United Kingdom saying that Rayo blocked a move, they could quite easily have unblocked it themselves if they just paid his €10m release clause.

Iraola is one of the rising stars in Spanish management, arguably doing the best job of any coach in Spain. With his contract up in four months, he could well be in the Premier League sooner rather than later though. Find out why he is likely to have a number of teams buzzing his phone in June here.

It was relatively tranquil in Barcelona until midway through the week, when Matias Messi, brother of little known Lionel, placed dynamite on the tracks. His statements on Twitch have since been followed by an apology, but the damage from his scathing attack, also ruling out a Barcelona return for Lionel Messi, was well and truly done.

On the pitch at least, things are as smooth as they have been, with Barcelona cruising into an eight-point lead with their 3-0 victory over Sevilla. The big questions in Catalonia are over the summer. President Joan Laporta says they are close to being able to act normally and without restrictions in the summer transfer window. That would allow them to register the players signing new contracts, and perhaps retain Ansu Fati – most recently linked with Manchester United.


More Stories Andoni Iraola FC Barcelona Inside Spain La Liga Leeds United FC Lionel Messi Matias Messi Paris Saint Germain Rayo Vallecano FC Real Madrid CF Vinicius Junior