Inside Spain: Real Madrid fans given fresh Jude Bellingham hope, Barcelona scandal deepens

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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.

Real Madrid might be the Kings of Europe, but increasingly it looks as if they will not be ruling in Spain. Having caught a break with Barcelona’s defeat to Almeria two weeks ago, an El Clasico defeat in the Copa del Rey (0-1) to an understrength Barcelona, followed by more dropped points against Real Betis (0-0) mean that the focus is shifting to the Champions League. Whether they have their star forward is another matter – Karim Benzema has missed two training sessions ahead of Espanyol on Saturday. In this season of constant setbacks, his presence has to now be a doubt for Liverpool next week.

Off the pitch at least, Los Blancos have received a boost. Borussia Dortmund star and chief transfer target Jude Bellingham has told his teammates that he wants to the play for Real Madrid one day, and fresh details about Zinedine Zidane’s relationship with his father have also emerged.

Meanwhile across Madrid, Atletico Madrid thumped Sevilla 6-1 with another stellar performance from Antoine Griezmann. It was an incredible way to mark Diego Simeone’s 613th game in charge, taking him one beyond legend Luis Aragones, making him the manager to have taken charge of the most games in their history. Remarkably, he is outdoing Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger so far.

Antoine Griezmann dedicated his stunner to Diego Simeone – Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in La Liga since Joao Felix left.

Barcelona’s excellent results on the pitch (now nine points clear) are contrasted by their troubles off it. This week further revelations were leaked about the Negreira Case, with messages featuring the words ‘I can help you with VAR, contact me if you’re interested’ being sent to the club from a former referee.

President Joan Laporta has strenuously denied that the Blaugrana have ever bought off referees, between declaring that Xavi Hernandez was likely to get a renewal, and that they would be looking for a new forward in the summer – but also that one would be leaving.

Elsewhere in Spain, Jorge Sampaoli’s future at Sevilla is looking precarious once again after Sevilla slumped back down to 17th, only out of the relegation zone on goal difference. At the very least it isn’t getting to Ronaldo Nazario, Real Valladolid’s chairman, who has been cracking X-rated jokes in the dressing room.


More Stories Arsenal FC Atletico Madrid CF Champions League FC Barcelona Inside Spain Joan Laporta Jude Bellingham Karim Benzema Liverpool FC Manchester United FC Real Madrid CF Real Valladolid Ronaldo Nazario Sevilla FC