Madrid backups beat Getafe, Benzema rested for Champions League decider

AP , Sunday 14 May 2023

Real Madrid’s backups have squeezed past Getafe 1-0 with most of the frontline players saved for next week’s Champions League semifinal decider at Manchester City

Real Madrid
Real Madrid s Marco Asensio, second from right, celebrates scoring his side s opening goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Getafe at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, May 13, 2023. AP

 

Marco Asensio scored the Spanish league game’s only goal in the 70th minute.

Madrid has for several weeks given up on defending the domestic title and instead focused on repeating as Champions League winners and conquering the Copa del Rey. Madrid and City play the second leg poised at 1-1.

Barcelona can clinch the domestic title on Sunday if it wins at crosstown rival Espanyol. It needs only two of the remaining 15 points in play to win its first league since 2019, and its first major title since Lionel Messi left two seasons ago.

Prioritizing the second leg at City, Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti started only four first-choice players in goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga and Éder Militão against relegation-threatened Getafe.

Camavinga exited the match in the final minutes limping, and team doctors looked at his left leg in the dugout. But Ancelotti said “it is only a knock” and he expects the versatile 20-year-old midfielder to be fine.

Karim Benzema, Rodrygo, and David Alaba were left off the squad to ensure they were fully recovered from minor fitness issues, according to Ancelotti. Vinícius Júnior, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos were used as second-half substitutes.

“Preparing for this type of game is not easy, but my players were professionals and showed a serious attitude,” Ancelotti said. “We did lack some intensity in the first half, but we improved a lot in the second half. We didn’t have any other way to prepare for Wednesday’s game, and this result gives us a boost.”

Getafe, which was without suspended top scorer Enes Unal, held an honor guard before kickoff for Madrid winning the Copa del Rey last weekend. The team from a working-class Madrid neighborhood remained in 18th place.

Eden Hazard got a rare start for Madrid. The former Chelsea star had started only one Spanish league game this campaign back in September.

After a dull first half, Ancelotti sent on some of his stars.

Courtois had to parry with one hand a powerful shot by Juan Iglesias in the 67th.

Moments later, Asensio broke the deadlock when his long-range shot took a slight deflection off a Getafe defender and beat David Soria, who denied the forward a second goal in the 79th.

Asensio has 12 goals this season mostly as an impact substitute. He will likely have that role against at City, especially if Madrid needs a late goal.

CHAMPIONS RACE

Alejandro Baena and Nicolas Jackson both scored twice as Villarreal routed Athletic Bilbao 5-1, closing the gap with fourth-placed Real Sociedad after it was held by Girona at home to 2-2.

Villarreal trails Sociedad by five points with four games remaining as both vie to finish fourth and snatch the last Champions League berth.

Midfielder Baena and striker Jackson teamed up with winger Yéremy Pino to undo Bilbao, whose defender Aitor Paredes added an own goal. Baena opened the scoring by bending a free kick over the barrier.

“First, we have to believe, and then we have to work hard for each game, and hope Sociedad slips up,” Pino said about his team's chances to return to the Champions League.

GREAT GIRONA

Girona confirmed its status as the league’s surprise package after yet another strong performance in San Sebastián.

The modest club from northeastern Catalonia, which played in the second division last year, is finishing the season as one of the league's hottest teams after losing just once in its last nine rounds. In seventh place, it is on course to earn a Conference League berth

BOUNCING BACK

Osasuna rebounded from last week’s loss in the Copa del Rey final to Madrid by beating Almeria 3-1. Abde Ezzalzouli, a forward on loan from Barcelona, continued to impress by scoring Osasuna’s second goal.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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