Ernesto  Valverde leaves Athletic Bilbao with Barcelona appointment imminent 

Ernesto Valverde has left Athletic Bilbao and could replace Luis Enrique as Barcelona coach.

According to multiple reports, Valverde has already agreed a deal to replace outgoing boss Luis Enrique in the managerial hot seat at the Nou Camp for next season, with the Catalan giants set to reveal their new coach next Monday.

Valverde’s contract with Athletic Club was already set to expire.
A brief club statement read: “Ernesto Valverde will not continue as coach of the first team of Athletic Club in the 2017/18 campaign.

“The coach, accompanied by president Josu Urrutia, will hold a press conference on Wednesday, May 24 at 1200 (local time) at San Mames.”
Valverde, who helped Barca win the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and Copa del Rey during his two-year spell at the club, had impressed since taking charge of Athletic for a second time in 2013.

He led the club to four successive top-seven finishes, a Copa del Rey final and the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

The former Espanyol, Olympiakos, Villarreal and Valencia boss also helped Athletic lift their first silverware in three decades when he masterminded a 5-1 aggregate defeat of Barca to win the 2015 Spanish Super Cup.
Ernesto Valverde’s exit from Athletic Bilbao has been confirmed a week before Barcelona will announce their new head coach.
The confirmation will arrive two days after the team’s Copa del Rey final meeting with Alaves on Saturday.

La Liga results  – Ronaldo nets a brace as Real edge closer to title; Neymar bags a hat trick for Barca to keep up pressure on Real 

​Alaves 3 – 1 Celta Vigo

Athletic Bilbao 1 – 1 Leganes

Eibar 0 – 1 Sporting Gijon

Las Palmas 1 – 4 Barcelona

Real Betis 1 – 1 Atletico  Madrid

Real Madrid 4 – 1 Sevilla

Real Sociedad 2 – 2 Malaga

Villarreal 0 – 0 Deportivo La Coruna

  • Real Madrid 4 – 1 Sevilla

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice, his 400th and 401  goals,for Real Madrid as they took another step towards the La Liga title with victory over Sevilla.

Real led through Nacho’s controversial free-kick before Ronaldo pounced on a rebound to double their lead.

Stevan Jovetic replied after the break, but Ronaldo’s sensational second strike, his 401st for Real Madrid, and Toni Kroos’ late goal sealed victory.

Real Madrid stay in second place behind Barcelona who beat Las Palmas 4-1.

Barcelona, who  beat Las Palmas 4-1on Sunday, keep hold of top spot courtesy of their head-to-head advantage.

But Real have a game in hand and need four points from their final two matches to lift their first title since 2012.

Despite having won just three of their last 11 matches, Sevilla still secured fourth place and a spot in the Champions League play-off next season as Villarreal were held at home to Deportivo La Coruna.

  • Las Palmas 1 – 4 Barcelona

Neymar hit a hat trick as Barcelona kept their hold on top spot — for the time being at least — with a 4-1 victory at Las Palmas.

Neymar broke the deadlock for Luis Enrique’s side after 25 minutes, slotting home from close range after being teed up by Luis Suarez.

And the pair swapped roles just two minutes later, with Neymar this time picking out the run of Suarez, who produced a clever finish to beat Javi Varas.

Pedro Bigas scored for Las Palmas in the 63rd minute, smashing home Kevin-Prince Boateng’s delivery, but Neymar restored Barca’s two-goal advantage just a few minutes later with a far-post header following Ivan Rakitic’s cross.

And Neymar completed his hat trick soon after, tucking the ball home after being found by Jordi Alba, to put the game out of sight.

  • Real Betis 1 – 1 Atletico  Madrid

Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 at Real Betis to secure third spot and qualification for the Champions League group stages next season.

Dani Ceballos scored a 57th-minute opener for the hosts with a strike from the edge of the box following a Betis corner.

However, Stefan Savic found an equaliser for Diego Simeone’s side in the 66th minute with a close-range strike to wrap up third place with one game of the season to spare. Sevilla are assured of fourth spot and will enter next season’s Champions League in the qualifying rounds.

  • Eibar 0 – 1 Sporting Gijon

Sporting Gijon were relegated despite winning 1-0 at Eibar.

Burgui’s 32nd-minute goal gave Sporting only their second away win of the season, but Deportivo La Coruna and Leganes both drew to doom them.

  • Athletic Bilbao 1 – 1 Leganes

Leganes secured their safety with a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao.

Artiz Adruriz’s close-range strike — his 16th league goal of the season — gave Athletic the lead after 13 minutes.

But Alexander Szymanowski equalised on the hour with a header that meant so much for Leganes.

  • Villarreal 0 – 0 Deportivo La Coruna

Deportivo also guaranteed themselves another season in the top flight with a goalless draw at Villarreal, whose failure to win handed Sevilla a ticket to the Champions League.

  • Real Sociedad 2 – 2 Malaga

Real Sociedad failed to take advantage of Villarreal and Athletic, rivals for Europa League qualification, dropping points as they were held 2-2 at home by Malaga.

Xabi Prieto gave Sociedad a 31st-minute lead from the penalty spot but Malaga went ahead through Luis Hernandez (45) and Recio (75) before Jon Bautista equalised five minutes from time.

  • ​Alaves 3 – 1 Celta Vigo

Celta Vigo, fresh from their Europa League semifinal exit to Manchester United, lost 3-1 to Copa del Rey finalists Alaves as they suffered a fifth straight league defeat.

Alaves scored three times in the opening 37 minutes through Manu Garcia, Zouhair Feddal and Deyverson, with Iago Aspas claiming a late Celta consolation from the penalty spot.

On Saturday 
Espanyol 0 – 1 Valencia

Osasuna 2 – 1 Granada

  • Espanyol 0 – 1 Valencia

Jose Gaya’s second-half goal gave Valencia a 1-0 away win at Espanyol.

A game of little goalmouth action and few chances was settled after 75 minutes when 21-year-old defender Gaya scored with a left-foot shot from the left side of the penalty area.

Espanyol could not muster a response and slipped to a third straight home loss, following defeats to city rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, while Valencia secured back-to-back wins.

  • Osasuna 2 – 1 Granada

Osasuna won the battle of the basement clubs with a 2-1 win over Granada.

Jhon Steven Mondragon handed the home side the lead after 24 minutes, before Gustavo Ramos fired an unlikely equaliser for Tony Adams’ men four minutes before the break.

Kenan Kodro then slotted home from close range 15 minutes from time to record a morale-boosting win and condemn Adams to yet another defeat in charge of El Grana.

Spanish Super Cup 1st Leg: Athletic Bilbao 4-0 Barcelona

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Barcelona’ hopes of achieving another sextuple was dented a huge blow as they were thrashed 4-0 by Athletic Bilbao, in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup at the San Mames. Aritz Aduriz scored a hat-trick as Barca’s defence was torn to shreds in what was Barcelona’s biggest loss under Luis Enrique.

The Blaugranas have now conceded four goals in two successive games, four goals to Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup with the opposition having just 10 shots on target in those games.

The 2015-16 campaign may just be getting underway across Europe, but this will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest shocks. Luis Enrique decided to ring the changes following their midweek exertion against Sevilla, a game which went the distance to 120 minutes. Five changes were made by the Barcelona manager with Marc Bartra, Sergi Roberto, Thomas Vermaelen and Adriano. Pedro was also rewarded for scoring the winner by getting a starting berth. Neymar remained sidelined due to mumps while new club captain Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic, Gerard Pique and Busquet all had to settle for places on the bench.

Athletic made a fantastic start to the game when Mikel San Jose opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a wonder strike from almost the centre circle after Ter Stergen had made a poor clearance. The European Champions were largely subdued in the first half and could only muster just a single shot on target through the first 45 minutes. Suarez and Messi were almost completely anonymous, with the exception being a late free kick by Messi that forced a save from Gorka Iraizoz

Luis Enrique looked for inspiration from his bench and promptly sent Iniesta into the field to fix things. However, this did not deter the Basque side as Aduriz made it 2-0 within moments. Ivan Rakitic was then sent on to shore up the midfield before Bilbao delivered a telling blow on Barcelona’s chances with Aduriz getting his second to make it 3-0.

The tie was effectively ended when Alves was penalised for bringing down San Jose in the penalty box in the 67th minutes. Aduriz then stepped up to complete his hattrick further compounding Barcelona’s misery and also sending the home fans into wild jubilation. The four goals eclipsed Athletic’s combined total in their last three match-ups with Barca. Aduriz also become the first player to score a hat trick against Barca in almost a decade.

Luis Enrique took full responsibility for the defeat and stated: “There were a lot of changes but it had to be that way after playing for 120 minutes [on Tuesday],” the manager said. “I have made changes to the side and I accept the responsibility for the loss without hesitation.

With the second leg to be played on Monday in Nou Camp, Barcelona will have to score four goals against Athletic and also have to hope their frail defense can keep a clean sheet. Meanwhile, Athletic Bilbao are just 45 minutes away from their first Super Cup title since 1984-85, the season after they completed a La Liga and Copa del Rey double.