By Tim Stannard
Real Madrid's walking wounded return to action on Sunday in local tussle against Getafe
From Anfield to Getafe's Coliseum.
That's the contrast for Real Madrid whose double-chasing road show is back in business on Sunday after shutting up shop for a goalless draw against Liverpool in the Champions League. "We haven’t won anything, but we're alive in both competitions," noted a relieved Coach Zizou after the angst-filled evening in Anfield.
There will be another trip to England to come in the Champions League final four to face Chelsea but at least the traveling for Sunday's road trip is down to just a few miles with the Madrid satellite town of Getafe as the destination.
With just three matches left in the Champions League and eight in LaLiga, a second double-winning season for Zinedine Zidane is definitely on. However, the challenge is keeping a fairly small number of players in Coach Zizou's circle of trust fit and able.
Sergio Ramos is out injured (and with COVID-19) and Raphael Varane is still out having tested positive for the coronavirus. Lucas Vazquez could be out for the rest of the season, Fede Valverde can't be in good shape after his Champions League chase and all the over-thirties in the squad must be walking gingerly on Thursday. And who knows what's going on with Eden Hazard.
Meanwhile, the LaLiga leaders, Atletico Madrid, have had a week of motivational speeches from Diego Simeone to hold the wobbling chins of the Rojiblancos steady. Barcelona are instead in action in the Copa del Rey and miss out on the weekend's fun in LaLiga.
A Super Sunday in Spain gets underway at 10:05AM ET / 7:05AM PT with Atletico Madrid hosting bottom of the table Eibar, while Real Madrid have their mini-Madrid derby from 2:30PM ET / 11:30AM PT.
PSG boosted by more contract hints from Neymar
PSG are another team basking the light of Champions League success during the week but facing the continuation of hostilities in a precarious four-way battle in Ligue 1 at the weekend.
At least the good news rolled into Thursday for PSG with comments from Neymar filtering out having told Brazilian media that there was no issue with the contract talks with PSG and that he feels "very comfortable, at home at PSG." However, this is still far from the Brazilian saying "yes, I will sign the new contract." Blood from a stone sometimes.
The French press now is sensing that Kylian Mbappe might be feeling the same way and also sign a deal past 2022 that the club have being holding in front of the French forward for some time now.
PSG have an early date against a now-for-sale Saint Etienne live on beIN SPORTS on Saturday from 7AM ET / 4AM PT and could be six points off the top of the standings going into the game. That's the scenario if the Mighty Lille win their home match against Montpellier, live on Friday on beIN SPORTS from 2:50PM ET / 11:50AM PT.
Junior and Bolivar fight for final Copa Libertadores ticket
31 teams are all set for the great 2021 Copa Libertadores group stage jamboree which starts on Tuesday - all live and exclusive to beIN SPORTS - but there is one more spot left to grab on Thursday.
The two South American teams tussling in a second-leg qualifying match on Thursday are Junior of Colombia and Bolivar of...er...Bolivia. Bolivar are looking to join compatriots Always Ready and The Strongest in the group stages despite their more conventional team name.
Bolivar hold a 2-1 lead from the first leg but this advantage has not meant a great deal in the past few days of South American soccer action.
Palmeiras were holding a 2-1 lead against Defensa y Justicia in the second-leg of the Recopa Sudamericana final on Wednesday, but lost the game in regular and extra time by the same margin and then lost the subsequent penalty shoot-out.
Libertad were dumped out of the competition by Atletico Nacional yesterday as well, despite holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg. Independiente del Valle were at least able to hold their ground with a 4-2 aggregate win over Gremio to leave the 2017 winners out of the group stages.
Junior vs. Bolivar is live on beIN SPORTS today from 8:20PM ET / 5:20PM PT.