By Tim Stannard
Atletico Madrid with chance to turn the screw against Celta Vigo as LaLiga challengers begin to wave the white flag
Real Madrid are running out of players and have lost their captain.
And according to the esteemed panel in Sunday's Soccer XTRA, Ronald Koeman is giving up the ghost in the LaLiga title race with a freight-training Atletico Madrid seven-points ahead with two matches in hand, the first being played today against Celta Vigo.
That was the explanation for why Barcelona started with the fearsome threesome of Lionel Messi, Pedri and Frenkie de Jong on the bench, with the players seemingly being rested for the team's more important Copa del Rey campaign which continues against Sevilla on Wednesday.
All three were eventually called into action to turn around a match that Barcelona were losing 1-0 to eventually squeak home with a 3-2 victory. And that's how it is going to be with Barca said the Mandalorian Ronald Koeman after the match - "this is the way."
Atletico Madrid are at home to Celta Vigo on Monday in the final match of the latest round of LaLiga and Diego Simeone is going to find it a strange experience to share the touchline with another madcap, emotional, arm-waving Argentinean in the form of Celta Vigo coach, Eduardo Coudet. Clone Wars to continue the Star Wars vibe.
Coudet took over Celta in November and seemed to be leading the team from the relegation zone to Europe, however, the wheels have fallen a little off the wagon of late with just two points from 15 picked up.
Atletico Madrid vs. Celta Vigo is live on beIN SPORTS from 2:50PM ET and Monday Night Soccer will break down a big weekend on beIN SPORTS at 9:30PM ET.
Zidane tries to find fit players for Tuesday test against Getafe
Tuesday is probably not the ideal time for Real Madrid to have yet another game in LaLiga to try and keep up with the pace-setters of Atletico Madrid. But Tuesday is the day that Real Madrid finally gets to technically start its season with a very rescheduled match from the opening round of the campaign, that has ended up plonked into the beginning of February.
It's a local derby with Getafe but Coach Zizou is going to spend much of Monday working out who is fit and available for Tuesday's clash at Valdebebas. Sergio Ramos certainly won't be after the news that the Real Madrid captain had surgery on a troublesome knee and will be out for another six weeks at least.
Eden Hazard, Rodrygo, Dani Carvajal and Fede Valverde are definitely sidelined while it's wait and see for defenders Alvaro Odriozola y Eder Militao who are both doubts for Tuesday's match that is live on beIN SPORTS at 3PM ET.
Tuesday will also be a test for whether Coach Zizou's mood has improved since Friday's grumpy display at the media. Our Inaki Angulo has been primed to ask him about Gareth Bale if need to be to set the Frenchman off.
The Sports Burst live show will be on beIN XTRA at the new time of 11AM ET and look out for a special hot-takes version on Facebook at 12PM ET.
Neymar fights for his right to party
For a footballer who once had the Eiffel Tower lit up in honor of his birthday, Neymar's 29th birthday celebrations may have been a little muted on Friday, seeing as the footballer was struggling with a gastroenteritis over the weekend and was only able to play a cameo role in Sunday's Le Classique win over Marseille.
However, there was a chance for Alvaro Gonzalez to renew hostilities with the Brazilian by trying to kick Neymar in the head and injury himself in the process.
Neymar has warned though that there are more parties to come, but only at the right time. "I know when I can go out, when I can and can't. Despite what people think, I'm not immature, that I don't know what I am doing. If you end up 100% focused on only playing football, you end up exploding and this is why I will never stop."
This week could see Neymar penning a new four-year deal with PSG. Kylian Mbappe certainly seems to think so announcing on Sunday "that I hope he will be able to write the history of this club for many years to come."
But that's not all, PSG are also back in action in the return of the Coupe de France, another challenge to go with the fierce four-way fight for the Ligue 1 title - officially Europe's Best Title Race. PSG will need to show a Caen-do spirit live on beIN SPORTS on Wednesday at 3PM ET.