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Spanish Primera División

Corrigan: Madrid extend Liga lead

La Liga

Pedro could be out at Barcelona

 By Rob Train

Modric return could see Ancelotti deploy 4-2-3-1 formation at Real

Our panel examine Real Madrid's lead over its archrivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

Good news leaps immediately to mind when reports suggest that Luka Modric may be in with an outside chance of making the Real Madrid squad against Villarreal. Obviously the Croatia midfielder isn't going to start, but the fact that manager Carlo Ancelotti is considering including him in the list on Sunday is, on the face of it, good news for Real Madrid.

If Modric is named -- the midfielder has been out for over three months, 22 games in total -- it would be purely to give him a whiff of the...

Barcelona and Lionel Messi need mental toughness for La Liga, UCL

Relive the most memorable moments from Tuesday's Champions League round of 16 action, highlighted by Barcelona's 2-1 triumph at the Etihad.
Barcelona's Luis Suarez notched a brace, but Sergio Aguero's second-half strike gave Manchester City a lifeline heading into the second leg.
Barcelona's Luis Suarez notched a brace, but Sergio Aguero's second-half strike gave Manchester City a lifeline heading into the second leg.
ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno breaks down just how Barcelona were able to exploit Manchester City's defense on their sublime second goal.
ESPN FC's Craig Burley assesses Barcelona's 2-1 victory at the Etihad over Manchester City.

Barcelona's valuable 2-1 away against Manchester City was proof that they have what it takes to go all the way in this season's Champions League if fully focused on the task in hand. Reassuringly, the Blaugranas looked like a completely different team from the one that struggled to break Malaga's back-line and walked away with a deserved 1-0 home defeat in their last La Liga game.

While the return of Javier Mascherano and Ivan Rakitic to Luis Enrique's starting 11 brought back much-needed muscle,...

Isco's rise complicates Ancelotti's starting lineup at Real Madrid

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti praises his team's defensive improvements following their 2-nil victory over Elche.
Isco has proved his impact at Real Madrid with six goals and eight assists in La Liga this season.

There's a saying in Spain that footballers can "reparte los caramelos", or hand out the sweets. It's a saying that relates to Three Kings Day, when Christmas presents are traditionally handed out to children on Jan. 6 and where sweets are dished out in abundance at public festivals and parades up and down the country.

In footballing terms, players who can "reparte los caramelos" are players that provide luxuries. They treat their teammates, through clever passes and assists, and entertain the paying...

 By Rob Train

Isco's Real Madrid rise a good lesson for frustrated Jese

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti praises his team's defensive improvements following their 2-nil victory over Elche.

The jury is back in the room, and the verdict is unanimous: Isco is a Real Madrid heavyweight. The fans, the coaching staff and his teammates are running out of adjectives to describe the midfielder, who receives ovations at opposition stadiums. The ball has always bent to his will and now he has his manager firmly onside as well: Carlo Ancelotti stated recently that Isco is a key member of his first 11. Even the return to fitness of Luka Modric shouldn't unduly concern Isco, who through hard work...

Atletico Madrid visiting Bayer Leverkusen at opportune time

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone expressed his delight at the way his side managed to beat Almeria 3-0.

After getting back to winning ways in La Liga, the Champions League comes at a good time for Atletico Madrid, who travel to Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday in the last 16 of the competition they came so close to winning last season.

Having put the horror showing against Celta behind them with a comfortable 3-0 win over Almeria on Saturday, Los Rojiblancos take on a side currently sitting sixth in the Bundesliga and suffering a bit of a blip in form. The German outfit came second in Group C, and have...

How Malaga beat Barcelona and what Manchester City can learn from it

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno believes this year's clash between City and Barca will be similar to last year when Barcelona won 4-1 on aggregate.
Malaga head coach Javi Gracia says his side produced a complete performance as they edged past Barcelona 1-0.
Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique admits his side deserved to lose following their 1-0 defeat to Malaga.

MALAGA, Spain -- As he prepares to face Barcelona in the Champions League, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini would do well to look to the example of his Malaga predecessor.

On Saturday, Javi Gracia's side stunned the Catalan giants, winning 1-0 off the back of an early Juanmi goal.

Speaking exclusively to ESPN FC at Malaga's training ground on Monday morning, Gracia said the game had gone more or less as planned.

"We tried to make it a game like this," Gracia said. "To have control not through...