Xabi Alonso is set to leave Real Sociedad after a three-year spell in charge of the club's B team.

Alonso has built a reputation as a highly rated young coach since returning to his first club.

He took La Real's youngsters – often known as Sanse – to a fifth-placed finish in Segunda B2 in his debut campaign, before surpassing expectations the following year.

Alonso secured Sanse's first ever promotion to the second tier in the 2020-21 season as they finished top of Subgroup 2A and Promotion Group 2C in the reformatted Segunda B.

Their relegation back to the third tier has already been confirmed despite having one match left, but Alonso's spell in charge has largely been considered a success.

According to local reports, La Real wanted Alonso to take charge of the senior team for the upcoming 2022-23 season, such is the regard president Jokin Aperribay holds the former Spain international in.

But incumbent head coach Imanol Alguacil is said to have rejected the offer of a promotion to a directorial position as head of the club's academy in a suggested management reshuffle.

Alonso's departure was announced soon after such rumours began to surface.

"Xabi Alonso will not continue at Real Sociedad once the 21-22 season is over," a statement read. "The coach from Tolosa, coach of Sanse for the last three years, will leave the txuri urdin club having completed a brilliant stage, in which he achieved historic promotion to [the second tier] and enriching, thanks to his knowledge and involvement, the training and progress of the players of our subsidiary, many of them having debuted during this time with the first team.

"Xabi Alonso will not continue at Real Sociedad next year, but the doors of the txuri urdin club will always remain open to be able to join their paths again.

"Real Sociedad wishes to thank Xabi Alonso for the dedication, effort, commitment and involvement shown in the three years in which he has remained at the club in this stage as a coach and wishes him the best for his personal and professional future."

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is satisfied but expects more after his side's season ended with a 2-1 win away to Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Having already confirmed Champions League football next season, Atleti secured third spot over Sevilla with the win through second-half goals from Argentine duo Rodrigo de Paul and Angel Correa.

After holding out against Real Madrid to win the LaLiga title last season, Simeone's side were considered favourites to repeat after strengthening the squad with De Paul, Matheus Cunha and Antoine Griezmann's arrivals, but finished 15 points adrift of their title-winning city rivals.

Securing Champions League qualification is satisfactory according to Simeone, but this season has been a reality check for Atleti.

"As we were champions last year, this always seems little," he said post-match. "In the end we ended up rounding off an important season, a good one, and one that leaves us in a privileged place," he said post-game.

"I'm not going to lie, because I always expected more and I always want to be the champion. It's not easy because we live in a league with Barcelona and Real Madrid and it's difficult for both of them to fail, but on two occasions since I've been coach of Atletico we've achieved it.

"This season has given us a wake-up call."

Four consecutive LaLiga losses in December put the Rojiblancos in a difficult position, 14 points off Real Madrid by Christmas and out of the Champions League places with a resurgent Barcelona gaining ground under Xavi.

They were eventually able to turn around a nine-point deficit to Sevilla, while pushing Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League, in what was a positive second half to the season.

Following a solid performance to end the season, Atleti's strong run home gives Simeone confidence going into the next campaign, despite the Spanish league's natural order.

"It's not a problem of improving positions, although it's clear how we can strengthen ourselves, but the team is already there and it has very good players who have won 10 in the last 14 games, which are numbers of a champion," he said.

"We were very close to not making it [Champions League]," Simeone said. " This season leaves us with a lot of things, it was hard. We need to rest, since it started it wasn't easy. It cost a lot. It would be great to be able to generate hope, reverse how the end of the season was done. The rebelliousness of the players give us hope."

Rodrigo de Paul and Angel Correa struck as Atletico Madrid secured third in LaLiga with a 2-1 victory over Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Diego Simeone's side qualified for the Champions League before the final matchday, but were fortunate to not fall behind in the first half at Reale Arena as Rafinha spurned multiple chances.

Atletico punished La Real for not making their dominance pay when De Paul thumped a wonderful strike home after 50 minutes, before Correa sealed victory.

The hosts pulled a goal back in the 93rd minute through substitute Jon Guridi, but it proved too late to mount a comeback; defeat leaving La Real sixth, having already sealed Europa League qualification.

Mikel Merino headed narrowly wide in the opening exchanges, before Rafinha inexplicably hit the post from point-blank range after Jan Oblak's parry from a low Alexander Sorloth drive.

Rafinha wasted another great opportunity as he curled wide when one-on-one with Oblak following Sortloth's offload, before the midfielder arrowed just off target on the stroke of half-time.

Alex Remiro thwarted a swerving De Paul effort from the edge of the area after the interval, while Matheus Cunha cannoned a deflected strike against the crossbar.

But De Paul broke the deadlock soon after when he drilled a fizzing right-footed attempt into the top-left corner.

Remiro rushed out to ensure Antoine Griezmann's goal drought continued, before Correa doubled Atletico's advantage with a curling finish in the 68th minute.

Guridi headed home from close range after Oblak parried Adnan Januzaj's free-kick, but Atleti held on for victory.

What does it mean? Atleti's sizeable task to compete at the top

Atletico's chances of defending their title ended months ago as runaways leaders Real Madrid coasted towards their 35th LaLiga crown, finishing 15 points clear of their neighbours.

While Simeone's side made it six games unbeaten in LaLiga against La Real, their timid first-half outing only served to display the difference in quality between Atleti and the champions. With Barcelona somewhat reviving under Xavi as well, Simeone will need to address these issues in the close season to compete next campaign.

 

Griezmann selfless but cannot get a goal

Griezmann may not have scored for 15 LaLiga games, his longest run without a goal in the competition, but the forward's unselfish link-up play should be credited.

The France international opted to play back to De Paul for the opener, registering his fourth top-flight assist this term, but will hope to rediscover his scoring prowess for the next campaign.

Rubbish Rafinha finishing

Rafinha could have had La Real three goals to the good before half-time, but failed to find the target with any of the presentable openings.

The Paris Saint-Germain loanee accounted for 0.72 of La Real's 1.01 expected goals total in the opening 45 minutes, highlighting the quality of the chances he spurned with his profligacy.

Diego Simeone is targeting some new signings to reinvigorate an Atletico Madrid squad that "needs new energy". 

Atletico were disappointing in the defence of their LaLiga title and have lost nine games and conceded 42 goals – both their worst totals since the 2011-12 campaign, when they appointed Simeone midway through the season. 

A strong finish to this term, in which they went on a run of nine wins in 12 outings, enabled them to secure a top-four finish and a place in next season's Champions League. 

Simeone still has faith in the ability of his squad but feels it would be wise for Atleti to try to conduct some galvanising transfers. 

"We have a strong squad. In almost all areas, we have players who can give us what we want. We don't need many players, but we do need some to reinforce a team that needs new energy," said Simeone. 

The Atleti boss took responsibility for the team's shortcomings because he felt he did not do enough to solve the issues they faced. 

"I'm not happy with this season at all. After winning LaLiga, I always had the hope of being closer to defending it. It's a good lesson in life to keep learning," said Simeone. 

"The 4-4-2 and 5-3-2 that we were using – that also made me feel a bit dizzy. There is not much difference between the two but I could have done more than I did. 

"We have to refine things. We suffered with the absence of [Kieran] Trippier and were not able to solve it as I would have liked. [Marcos] Llorente played a whole year in a position where he couldn't show what he showed last season. 

"We suffered a lot with the central defenders – [Stefan] Savic and [Jose] Gimenez have had injuries and setbacks. They seem like excuses, but they are realities. I couldn't solve it in the best way. 

"There's always a lot of self-criticism and it's harsher than what the media says. We want to win. The club's goal is to get in the Champions League, but ours is to win. 

"It was an unusual season. We're not used to conceding so many goals and we lost many games. But with all the difficulties we qualified for the Champions League with two games to spare." 

Atleti will hope to finish the season by defeating Real Sociedad on Sunday and claiming back-to-back away LaLiga wins for the first time since June 2022. 

Los Colchoneros have won six of their 10 away games against Sociedad under Simeone, having won only six of the previous 28 such encounters.

David Silva has signed a one-year contract extension with Real Sociedad, the club announced on Friday. 

The veteran playmaker arrived in San Sebastian on a free transfer in August 2020 after leaving Manchester City, where he won 11 major titles – including four Premier League crowns. 

In April of last year, Silva helped La Real overcome local rivals Athletic Bilbao in the delayed 2019-20 Copa del Rey final and lift their first piece of major silverware since 1987. 

His contract was due to expire at the end of the season, but the 36-year-old World Cup winner has signed on for another campaign with the club. 

"I'm very happy. The truth is that I've been here for two very good years. Let's hope it ends up like last year with us getting into Europe," Silva said in a club interview. 

"We are playing great games and it's good to continue for another year. Before signing I knew the team was playing well and I was playing good football. 

"It is good the club is growing and being there every year to fight for Europe." 

Silva has scored three goals and supplied eight assists in 56 games across all competitions for La Real, with injuries limiting his playing time. 

La Real sit sixth in LaLiga, six points adrift of the top four with five games remaining.

A statement from La Real said: "He is necessary both on the field and in the dressing room and a role model for the younger players. 

"David Silva will continue to wear the txuri urdin colours that suit him so well. His control, dribbling, vision and assists will continue to amaze the Real Sociedad family. 

"His football and magic will continue for at least one more season." 

Dani Alves says Real Madrid are lucky they already hold a double-digit margin atop LaLiga following Barcelona's 1-0 win away to Real Sociedad on Thursday.

Barca have lost only two LaLiga games since Xavi took over from Ronald Koeman but they have been playing an almost impossible game of catch up, winning only four of the opening 12 games and allowing Real Madrid to streak ahead.

Madrid are 15 points up on second-placed Barcelona, who have a game in hand, but even with six games to go for the latter the title race is effectively over.

Claiming eight of their last 10 domestic games, including a 4-0 demolition of the soon-to-be champions at the Santiago Bernabeu, the 38-year-old believes Real Madrid are fortunate Barcelona did not get their act together earlier.

"Lucky for them [Real Madrid] we haven't arrived earlier," Alves told Movistar+ post-match. "We always plan to compete differently but in the end, life is like that. We arrived late and had to make a tremendous effort to take the advantage over them.

"We already knew it was very difficult due to the state of the rival and the situation, but I insist, lucky for them that we have not arrived earlier."

The Anoeta had been a traditionally tricky venue for Barcelona, but they have now not lost there in LaLiga since renovations on the stadium were completed in 2019.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal in the 11th minute ultimately proved the difference, but the Brazilian defender believes claiming the three points from San Sebastian was not a simple task.

"We knew it was going to be difficult, because it's always very difficult here," Alves said. "The stadium is very tight, we controlled a little more in the first half and then we lowered the intensity but you have to know how to suffer. In football it's hard to win, but you win.

"We wanted to balance the team a little more and the goal came and decided the game. You have to know how to suffer to win games."

Barcelona's victory over Real Sociedad at Reale Arena on Thursday was "crucial for the future of the club", according to coach Xavi. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the only goal of the game as Barca defeated La Real 1-0, moving up to second in LaLiga increasing their advantage over fifth-placed Real Betis to six points. 

It was the Blaugrana's only attempt on target across the entire game and they had 44.3 per cent possession – their second-lowest amount since 2005-06 – with poor finishing from Alexander Sorloth and Alexander Isak letting the visitors off the hook. 

Barca are now unbeaten in their past 13 LaLiga away games, which is their best such run since April 2019. 

Xavi was pleased with the fact their win came against a top-four rival, even if their performance was far from what he would have wanted. 

"I am satisfied with the three points. They are vital and crucial for the future to the team and the club. It's a golden victory," Xavi said. 

"But I'm not satisfied with the game. The first half, yes, but in the second half we suffered. We have to be honest and self-critical. We haven't been good. 

"We have to improve. This is not the way. It's not been our ideal game. These are three crucial points against a direct rival for the Champions League. 

"It's the game in which I've suffered the most, along with the one against Villarreal. We noticed the fatigue." 

Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba played on after appearing to sustain muscle injuries and signal for substitutions, while Ronald Araujo was withdrawn with a knee problem and Dani Alves also appeared to struggling with an issue. 

"Jordi, Ronald, Pique – we are suffering a lot. There's a lot of fatigue because the calendar is demanding," said Xavi. 

"It's not that we don't train well, it's the way the game is played. And the calendar is demanding. But the effort is spectacular. 

"[Pique] has been playing with discomfort for two or three months … at 35 years old, he is in shape. It's vital." 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was on target again as Barcelona scored an important 1-0 victory over top-four rivals Real Sociedad in LaLiga on Thursday. 

A close-range header in the first half was Aubameyang's 11th goal in his past 14 games for Barca – as many as he scored in his 34 prior outings in all competitions. 

It proved to be enough to end La Real's seven-game unbeaten league run at Reale Arena, with Alexander Isak and Alexander Sorloth wasting the opportunities that came their way. 

Barca moved up to second while La Real were left six points adrift of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid with five games to play, casting doubt on their credentials for achieving Champions League qualification. 

La Real conceded their first goal at home in eight league matches in the 11th minute. Gavi kept the ball alive after Ousmane Dembele hit the post and picked out Ferran Torres, who lifted a cross for Aubameyang to nod home. 

Frenkie de Jong, Torres and Aubameyang all narrowly missed the target before Isak miscued when presented with a glorious chance to equalise on the stroke of half-time. 

Barca were again let off the hook within two minutes of the restart when Sorloth blazed over from inside the six-yard box after a wonderful delivery from Adnan Januzaj. 

There was a brief interruption due to objects being thrown in the direction of Gerard Pique from the stands, with the centre-back the subject of their ire after controversial audio clips of him negotiating a deal to move the Supercopa de Espana to Saudi Arabia were released. 

Pique played on after appearing to request a substitution in the first half but Barca lost Ronald Araujo to a knee injury in the 55th minute. 

Sorloth and Januzaj were kept at bay by Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Gavi missed a chance to put the game to bed, but Xavi's team were able to hold on for an important three points. 

What does it mean? Barca back on track 

Barca followed Europa League elimination at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt with a loss to Cadiz last weekend, but they got back to winning ways in San Sebastian. 

The Blaugrana are now undefeated in 12 LaLiga matches against La Real, while coach Imanol Alguacil has now faced them eight times without recording a win – he has not overseen more games without winning against any other opponent in the competition. 

De Jong pulls the strings

Barca's best moments came when they attacked at pace, and De Jong was key to ensuring they moved the ball quickly. No one on the pitch had more than his three key passes, while he also had the joint-most attempts on goal for the Blaugrana. 

One mix-up proves costly 

Joseba Zaldua and Mikel Merino were well-positioned to clear the ball after Dembele hit the post, but they hesitated and Gavi nipped in and fed Torres for the assist on the only goal of the game. 

What's next? 

Barca entertain Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, with La Real not in action until a meeting with the same side a week later. 

Xavi has full confidence that Gerard Pique will not let off-field matters impact his performances, as he suggested the Barcelona defender will be motivated by the criticism coming his way.

Pique has had to defend himself in recent days after it emerged he had negotiated a €24million commission when the Supercopa de Espana was moved to Saudi Arabia in 2020.

The 35-year-old's sports entertainment company Kosmos was behind the deal, and leaked audio recordings led El Confidencial to report they would benefit to the tune of €4m per tournament over the six-year agreement with Saudi Arabia.

Luis Rubiales, the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), defended himself in a news conference on Wednesday, two days after Pique told a Twitch stream: "I have nothing to hide, everything we have done is legal."

Another leaked discussion between Pique and Rubiales surrounded the centre-back potentially going to the Tokyo Olympics as part of Spain's squad.

While Xavi conceded the situation is difficult, he insists he trusts Pique's intentions around the Supercopa, while claiming his former team-mate will be motivated to perform better by the controversy.

"He is outgoing and likes to be on people's lips," Xavi told a news conference ahead of Barca's LaLiga meeting with Real Sociedad.

"I am more diplomatic. I know him. If he wasn't focused, I would warn him, but it [attention] gives him fuel. It's adrenaline for him. It's like a drug, in a good sense of the word. He's focused.

"Pique's Twitch didn't bother me, it [would] bother me if he didn't give it his all or didn't follow the rules. It's Gerard and I know him. I know how to manage him and he needs it. He's doing well to compete, he needs this stimulus. 

"It's very difficult, my opinion doesn't change anything. There are two people involved. I know Rubiales well, he's a noble guy.

"I trust his honesty. He must explain himself, and [so must] Pique. I think they looked for the good of the great majority. I want to think that. If it is ethical or not? There are opinions of all kinds."

 

Away from Pique, Xavi has his own problems to think about. Barca have lost their last two games, suffering successive home defeats across all competitions for the first time since April 2003 after reverses in the Europa League against Eintracht Frankfurt and LaLiga against Cadiz.

The latter defeat left Barca 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid, who can move 18 points clear with a win over Osasuna before the Blaugrana's meeting with La Real the following day.

"There was no anger, but I told them things clearly," Xavi said when asked what he told his players following the loss to Cadiz. "You have to be better, the game had to be won.

"I feel bad, I like to win, but I have to face reality. I will not change what I believe. In the league we had a good run until Cadiz."

Barca did have a good run, going unbeaten in 15 LaLiga matches before that 1-0 loss at Camp Nou on Monday.

They are level with Sevilla and Atletico Madrid on 60 points, but sit just five ahead of sixth-placed La Real.

Barca, though, are unbeaten in their last 11 league meetings with the Basque team and have not lost any of their last 12 LaLiga away games.

After a disappointing few seasons in LaLiga, Eden Hazard may be heading back to the Premier League next term.

Hazard has made 65 appearances for Real Madrid since arriving ahead of the 2019-20 season, but has not played more than 25 minutes in a league game since a late-January fixture against Elche.

Battling poor form and injury, Real Madrid are reportedly planning to loan the Belgian winger out for next season, and one Premier League club has jumped to the front of the line.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL HOPE TO LAND HAZARD ON LOAN

If Real Madrid are to loan out Hazard, Foot Mercato is reporting that Arsenal are the team most aggressively seeking his services.

According to the report, Real Madrid's plan is to loan the former Chelsea star for the 2022-23 season, with the goal of increasing his value enough to sell him ahead of the 2023-24 season, when one year remains on his deal.

Arsenal used a similar tactic to land Martin Odegaard last season, securing him on loan from the Meringues in January before signing him with a €35million transfer seven months later.

It is worth noting that the Foot Mercato report also stated that Hazard has no interest in leaving the Spanish side after this season, and may be willing to ride out the rest of his contract.

 

ROUND-UP

Newcastle United are set to challenge Manchester United for the signature of Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips, according to i News.

Newcastle and Borussia Dortmund are reportedly interested in Real Sociedad star Mikel Merino, per Fichajes.

– El Nacional is reporting that Barcelona believe Ousmane Dembele will leave the club and head to Paris Saint-Germain if the French giants do not retain Kylian Mbappe.

– According to ESPN's report, Erling Haaland fears Manchester United would not be able to match his competitive ambitions on the pitch.

– Benfica's Darwin Nunez is signing with a new agent as Arsenal and Manchester United circle the striker who has five goals in nine Champions League games this campaign, per Metro.

Manchester City's search for a permanent striker appears to be ramping up, with a deal for Erling Haaland reportedly in the works.

City have not been able to properly replace Sergio Aguero despite leading the Premier League, and Haaland looks to be their primary target.

Details and discussion of the deal already appear to be in advanced stages, and City look to be best placed to sign the Norwegian.


TOP STORY – HAALAND SET FOR MAN CITY SWITCH

According to the Daily Mail, Haaland is set to move to Manchester City at the end of season, with personal terms already discussed and the framework for the deal already green-lit by City decision makers.

Haaland's father Alf-Inge played for the club but more importantly, City appear willing to meet Borussia Dortmund's release clause of £63million (€75.1million). 

The 21-year-old's agent, Mino Raiola, would also be set to earn a significant portion of the transfer fee per reports, meaning the total outlay will reach nine figures.

Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid have shown keen interest in the Norwegian striker, but the Premier League leaders look to be in pole position.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are looking at Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak as an alternative in the event they don't manage to sign Haaland from Dortmund . According to El Nacional, Xavi is an admirer of the 22-year-old Swedish striker, but they would face competition from the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal .

- Milan are set to make an offer for Mamadou Coulibaly from Monaco. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Rossoneri scout Geoffrey Moncada is particularly keen on the 17-year-old, who will be leaving Monaco at the end of the season.

- According to reports from Calciomercato, Napoli will look to begin talks with Sassuolo for talented attacker Hamed Junior Traore soon. Following the expiry of Juventus' right of first refusal clause, reports also say the Partenopei will want to move quickly.

- Real Madrid are close to confirming a contract extension for Luka Modric, per Marca reports, but are unwavering in their plans to offload Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Isco at the end of the season.

Paris Saint-Germain's latest quest to win the Champions League was ended by Real Madrid on Wednesday.

The Ligue 1 leaders squandered a 2-0 aggregate lead with just half an hour of the tie remaining, losing 3-1 in the second leg and 3-2 on aggregate thanks to Karim Benzema's hat-trick.

It means head coach Mauricio Pochettino could already be looking ahead to a change of scenery.

 

TOP STORY – POCHETTINO SET FOR PSG SACK AND COULD TURN TO MAN UTD

Mauricio Pochettino's job is "hanging by a thread" at PSG, according to the Telegraph.

It is claimed the Argentine can expect to leave the club at the end of the season following their Champions League collapse against Real Madrid.

Pochettino has long been linked with the Manchester United manager job and could now start to prepare for the prospect of taking over at Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

Cristiano Ronaldo has spoken with agent Jorge Mendes over his future at Manchester United, claims the Sun. Meanwhile, Bild reports the Red Devils are interested in signing Robert Lewandowski.

Paul Pogba is another who could be leaving Old Trafford this year, but Juventus are not yet certain whether to try to re-sign him on a free transfer or offer a new contract to Paulo Dybala, Tuttosport claims.

Barcelona are close to concluding an agreement with Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen, according to Sport.

Arsenal want to sign two new strikers and a midfielder as part of a major squad overhaul, the Standard says. Alexander Isak, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jonathan David and Darwin Nunez are among the forwards being tracked.

- A consortium led by British businessman Nick Candy is working on a £2.5billion bid to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich, the Guardian reports.

Carlo Ancelotti feels Real Madrid will have a great chance of beating Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League if they maintain the standard they set in a thrashing of Real Sociedad.

Los Blancos came from behind to thrash sixth-placed La Real 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday and go eight points clear of Sevilla at the top of LaLiga.

Mikel Oyarzabal gave La Real an early lead from the penalty spot after Dani Carvajal upended David Silva, but sublime long-range strikes from Eduardo Camavinga and Luka Modric gave Madrid a half-time advantage.

Karim Benzema scored his 20th LaLiga goal of the season from the penalty spot after having two strikes ruled out for offside and Marco Asensio added a fourth 11 minutes from time.

Madrid now turn their attention to overturning a 1-0 deficit when they face PSG in the second leg of their round-of-16 tie on Wednesday.

Ancelotti's side will have home advantage and the Italian wants to see the same tempo from his team when they take on the Ligue 1 leaders, who will come into the game on the back of a 1-0 loss to Nice.

He said: "We played really well from the beginning. The plan was to press up front, to stop Real Sociedad building attacks from the area. It worked.

"The physical effort was huge, we did well. If we play like this on Wednesday, we have a bigger chance of going through."

The Basques could not live with Madrid's intensity as they swept forward time and again at pace.

They zipped the ball around with great passing and movement in a dominant display, affording La Real just one shot, which gave Ancelotti great optimism heading into a huge European showdown against his former club.

"It was an important match because we had the opportunity to take advantage in LaLiga," he added, alluding to Sevilla's 0-0 draw with Deportivo Alaves on Friday. "The team has understood very well the importance of the match. It is a match that gives us great hope.

"This is the intensity that we have to have and that the fans like. It can be repeated on Wednesday against PSG.

"All of Madrid believes more after this game. The idea of ​​going out [to show their appreciation for the supporters] at the end of the game came from the players, because on Wednesday the help of the fans is essential."

Eduardo Camavinga and Luka Modric scored stunning long-range goals as ruthless Real Madrid beat Real Sociedad 4-1 to go eight points clear at the top of LaLiga.

Mikel Oyarzabal's early penalty put the sixth-placed Basques in front at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, but Madrid fought back to stay on course for the title.

Two brilliant strikes in the space of three minutes late in the first half from Camavinga and Modric put Carlo Ancelotti's side ahead.

Karim Benzema was on target from the penalty spot after having two goals disallowed and Marco Asensio added a fourth goal to cap a hugely impressive performance from Los Blancos.

Oyarzabal drilled La Real into a 10th-minute lead from the spot, firing into the bottom-right corner after Dani Carvajal had upended David Silva.

The leaders ramped up the pressure after that early setback and were level four minutes before half-time, when Camavinga let fly from 30 yards out with his left foot and gave Alex Remiro no chance with a thunderous drive.

Benzema had a goal ruled out for offside moments later, but Modric put Madrid in front by bending a sublime left-foot strike into the top-far corner after creating space for himself with his quick feet.

Los Blancos carried on where they left off after the break.

Benzema had another goal chalked off for offside but slotted home from the spot after a VAR check ruled Vinicius Junior had been fouled by Aritz Elustondo just inside the box.

Asensio put the icing on the cake, tucking in after the marauding Carvajal cut the ball back into his path as La Real were swept aside.

Carlo Ancelotti has no doubt over the motivation of his Real Madrid side as he stressed Los Blancos are "where they want to be".

LaLiga leaders Madrid sat six points clear of second-placed Sevilla at the time of Ancelotti's news conference on Friday, though the Andalusian team might have narrowed that gap down to three before Los Blancos take on Real Sociedad on Saturday.

After seven consecutive wins over Sociedad in LaLiga between 2015 and 2018, Madrid have won just three of their past seven meetings with the Basque side in the top flight and Ancelotti is expecting a tough test.

However, the Italian insisted he is happy with the progress Madrid have made so far during his second spell in charge. While they are out of the Copa del Rey, Madrid are still favourites for the title and are in with a chance of Champions League progression, albeit they must overcome a 1-0 deficit from the first leg of their last-16 tie when they face Paris Saint-Germain next week.

"We have done really good things this season. It could have been better, but could have been worse as well," Ancelotti said.

"I'm honestly happy with the work we've done, the job we've done throughout the season.

"I think we've handled quite well the situations and now we are where we wanted to be in a very important moment of the season.

"It's true we are disappointed about being eliminated in the Copa del Rey when we didn't have Karim [Benzema] but we are six points clear of Sevilla, we have to fight until the end and we can also overcome PSG, so we are motivated to do it.

"I'd like to highlight it's four [league] games in a row that we didn't concede a goal and that's solidity."

Madrid have won 18, drawn six and lost two of their LaLiga matches this season and sit on 64 points. 

With just 12 games remaining, Ancelotti agreed with the suggestion that a relatively low points tally might be enough to secure the title this season, though he does not believe that is a reflection of LaLiga's declining quality – in fact, he mused that it means quite the opposite.

"It's true that now you don't have to reach that high of an amount of points but you can see from two different sides," he said.

"You can think the biggest teams have reached a level but you could also think that the rest of the teams had an upgrade. Right now there are really good coaches, really good players.

"This just means that LaLiga is better than the previous period."

Federico Valverde and Toni Kroos will be missing against Sociedad, though Ancelotti expects both to return in time to face PSG.

"Valverde will be available to play against PSG and I think also Kroos will be available, it's a small problem, I think both will be available and fit for that game," he said.

"It's not a problem, it's a bit of bad luck. We need to live with these type of things, it's normal at this part of the season. Kroos probably will have to stop for five, six days.

"At this moment of the season, these kinds of injuries means that we have managed the squad and also the physical condition [of the players] quite well."

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