By Tim Stannard
A chastened Barcelona return to training looking to reboot a season going off the rails as Real Madrid may miss Benzema
Well, at least one of Sports Burst's big questions of the week has been answered - did a glum Lionel Messi hand Mauricio Pochettino his resume after Barcelona's 4-1 defeat to PSG on Tuesday night?
The answer appears to be 'no' - and that's from Poch himself.
The binary soccer stars of both Messi and Kylian Mbappe are the talk of the town on Friday and their respective futures. On the topic of Messi, Poch revealed to radio show 'Tot Costa' that the post-match chat between the pair was perfunctory - "we only said hello and goodbye. We didn't talk about his future." More from Poch a little later on.
Messi and the rest of the Barcelona players are back in training after two days of navel-gazing. The mental approach for the Argentinean ace might be that he looks set to stay on at Barca, so he might as well make the best of it. Her Majesty's BBC are reporting that Manchester City have made no offers for Messi in the past and are holding no talks.
This, along with Arsene Wenger's suggestion that PSG's future focus should be on Neymar and Mbappe and not Messi, are strong indications that he will remain at Barca for life. Whether he likes it or not.
The first of three fight-backs for Barcelona begins on Sunday with a home match against Cadiz at the coffee-requiring time of 8AM ET. The situation is looking a little grim in LaLiga with Barcelona currently nine points behind Atletico Madrid at the top, but the form has been holding in that competition with seven straight wins.
The Sports Burst show is set to be a bickering special with our Andres Cordero and Eric Krakauer leading the way on Facebook live at 12PM ET.
Real Madrid with Benzema scare ahead of return to LaLiga
Atletico Madrid start the proceedings in the title race on Saturday with another clash against Levante. This time, the Rojiblancos are at home after Wednesday's 1-1 draw on the road. This means that Diego Simeone's side gets the chance to pile more pressure on Real Madrid and Barcelona if they win - or allow some extra hope to their rivals with any other result.
Atletico are still set to be without the trio of Tomas Lemar, Hector Herrera and Moussa Dembele due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. Atletico Madrid vs. Levante is live on beIN SPORTS from 10:05AM ET.
While Atletico are without three players, Real Madrid are probably having to manage once again without their injured eight - Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Rodrygo, Fede Valverde, Alvaro Odriozola, Eden Hazard, Marcelo and Eder Militao.
Scratch that - it could well be nine with reports that Karim Benzema was not in training on Friday ahead of Saturday's match at Valladolid. The Frenchman has notched up 12 goals in LaLiga this season. If the forward is absent then the next best in the scoring rankings is defensive midfielder, Casemiro.
Fight out if the free-scoring Brazilian ends up leading the line for Real Madrid at Valladolid live on beIN SPORTS from 2:30PM ET on Saturday.
Poch hopeful of Mbappe contract resolution
As promised, back to Pochettino and Mbappe.
One of the other revelations from Poch's late-night chat with a radio station was that "PSG can give Mbappe all the tools he needs to be happy." And not just plenty of hugs from the Argentinean coach.
Mbappe's current contract with PSG runs until 2022 and the race is on to renew it with Poch promising that "it'll be clarified soon."
Pochettino's immediate concern is the Ligue 1 title race which sees four teams in the running. Two of those are PSG and fourth-placed Monaco who go head-to-head live on beIN SPORTS on Sunday from 2:30PM ET.
Lille are the current front runners and will need to shake up a home defeat in the Europa League to Ajax with a win at Lorient on Sunday, live on beIN SPORTS at 11AM ET.
The fourth of that quartet are in action on Friday to start the weekend off. If Lyon get three points from Brest, OL will move equal top of the standings. That game is live on beIN SPORTS at 2:50PM ET.