Ricard Puig comes on as a substitute to replace Anssumane Fati

La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona v Levante - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - February 2, 2020 Barcelona's Ricard Puig comes on as a substitute to replace Anssumane Fati REUTERS/Albert Gea

02-02-2020REUTERS/Albert Gea

Ansu stakes his claim

Barcelona winger Ansu Fati burst onto the scene in September with two goals and an assist in his first three matches but the well ran dry after that.

The 17-year-old sensation only managed one goal, in a cameo appearance against Inter Milan, in the next 14 games after that.

With Ousmane Dembele’s return around the corner and coach Quique Setien lavishing praise on the Frenchman’s determination in training, Ansu needed to prove to his new boss that he is worthy of maintaining his place in the team.

The forward scored twice in under two minutes in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Levante on Sunday, one goal with each foot.

Ansu has burst into form at the right time, especially as Lionel Messi, who set up both of the teenager’s strikes, is still searching to end a goal drought of his own in La Liga.

The Argentine took another 10 shots against Levante, to add to the 11 he attempted against Valencia the week before, but the division’s top scorer could not find the net.

Best defence in Europe

Real Madrid beat city rivals Atletico 1-0 on Saturday in a performance that epitomises the way they are operating under Zinedine Zidane this season.

After years of defensive inadequacy, suddenly the 13-time European champions have a backline worthy of respect, conceding just 13 league goals this season, better than any other team in the continent’s top five leagues.

It was their 11th clean sheet of the campaign and helped them open up a 13 point gap on Atletico, leaving their rivals at their lowest ebb since Diego Simeone took over in 2011.

Madrid, who finished 19 points behind title winners Barcelona last season are a serious force again.

Give him an Oscar

Leganes have been battling relegation all season and on Sunday earned a crucial win over high-flying Real Sociedad thanks to Oscar Rodriguez’s special stoppage-time free kick.

The substitute curled the ball brilliantly into the top corner to bring the Madrid minnows, 18th, level on points with Real Mallorca, one place above them.

“I knew it would be dangerous but it came off in the best way, it was like the ending of a film,” said Leganes coach Aguirre, pun most likely unintended.

The hallowed film awards ceremony takes place next weekend but Leganes will only get their prize in May at the end of the season, if Oscar’s strike kick-starts their survival bid.

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