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    Apr 16
    In his weekly column, Sky Sports Spanish football expert Guillem Balague reflects on the competitiveness of La Liga after the top two slip up, what happened in Atletico Madrids shock defeat and Reals best performance of the season. David Beckham Jersey ... La Liga as competitive as any, Barcelona are just extraordinarily goodA lot of people think the Spanish league is not competitive because they see the likes of Barcelona nine points ahead of Atletico Madrid, and 10 points ahead of Real Madrid. The problem is that if Barcelona were in the Premier League there would be that difference or even more, and it would be the same in the German league or the Italian league as well. We are seeing something extraordinary from Barcelona. It hasnt been seen before, certainly not this consistency at this level for that long. However, when you see a team like Villarreal, who are fourth in the table, doing well in Europe, in fact the top six teams in La Liga are still in Europe, that should kill any suggestion the league is not competitive.Sporting Gijons energy was too much for over-confident Atletico Celebrations for Sporting Gijon after surprise win over Atletico Madrid In the last 15 years the difference between top and bottom in England and Spain is shorter. That may surprise some but it is the case. These kind of games like the one between Villarreal, who only made one change from the game against Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday, and Barcelona where the visitors went 2-0 up before being pegged back to 2-2, suggests the teams in Spain are very sophisticated. Tactically they work very hard without the ball, they run a lot, they are more aggressive than people think, but what makes them difference is the variation of what they do with the ball.People say that doesnt happen in La Liga but it happens more than you think, and Sporting Gijon were proof of it. Atletico were too conservative after scoring the first goal. They were partly tired and they thought they had the job done, and Sporting with their youth, exuberance and the fans managed to turn it around. Atletico Madrids hopes of winning La Liga were dealt a huge blow as they were beaten 2-1 by Sporting Gijon Real Madrid produced best performance of the season, thanks to the reformation of their deadly front three Real Madrids Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale celebrate It was interesting to see what happened at the Bernabeu. It was the best Real Madrid of the season. They had the BBC [Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo] up front and that has only happened 11 times this season in the league. Imagine if Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar had only joined forces 11 times this season, we may be seeing a story!It feels like a good point in the season for Real. Everybody is fit and they are all playing well, especially Karim Benzema, Keylor Navas and Casemiro. It is a more balanced team and that is what Rafael Benitez was working towards, but he had everyone working against him. Ronaldo fluffed his lines as he tried to extend Real Madrids lead against Sevilla from the penalty spot Zinedine Zidane has found the same need to balance the team with Casemiro, the same need to get rid of Isco and James Rodriguez from his line-up and what you saw against Sevilla is the team he is going to use more often with Sergio Ramos and Pepe, who were absent at the weekend, at the back.They are too far away to win the league, but they seem to have been lifted by the fact Wolfsburg is the next team they have to face in the Champions League. It probably means they will be in the semi-finals and then they are getting closer and closer to glory. Karim Benzema scored a stunning volley as Real Madrid opened the scoring against Sevilla When that happens it seems everyone has shaken off their injury problems and are ready for battle. Real Madrid certainly looked that way against a Sevilla side that could have got something from the match at the Bernabeu, if Kevin Gameiro had scored the penalty they had missed, and then there was the disallowed goal that should have counted after Gameiro fired past Navas.However, Real also had decisions go against them with Gareth Bale also have a goal wrongly chalked off. Sevilla caused Real problems for a while but the home side were playing at a very high level with key performances from Benzema, Navas, Casemiro and also Marcelo, who makes the team tick. For me he is as important as any forward in the team. Also See: Real win as Bale makes history Barca throw away lead to draw Zidane ready for El Clasico Guillem Balague Ashley Young Jersey . The recently retired Stern was elected Friday to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and will be enshrined with the class of 2014 on Aug. Custom Manchester United Jerseys . 10 VCU 85-67 on Thursday night at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Seminoles (4-0) have scored at least 80 points in each of their games. http:///...ester-united-jersey/ . A big centre with all the tools to be an elite player, Johansen paced the Blue Jackets with a standout game Saturday night. He had a goal and two assists for a career-high three points as Columbus beat the New York Islanders 5-2 to snap a five-game losing streak.Paris, France (Sports Network) - Reigning champion Maria Sharapova and fellow former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka were a pair of third-round winners on a sunny, breezy Saturday at the French Open. The second-seeded Sharapova overcame some sloppy play in order to get past Chinas Zheng Jie 6-1, 7-5, while the third-seeded Australian Open titlist Azarenka needed all three sets to hold off 31st-seeded French crowd favorite Alize Cornet 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 on the famed red clay at Roland Garros. Cornet was fresh off her clay-court title in Strasbourg last week. "Shes a machine, a juggernaut," Cornet said of Azarenka. "She plays the same from the first to the last point." Sharapova, who overcame a 1-4 deficit in the second set against Zheng, completed a career Grand Slam by beating gritty Italian Sara Errani in last years French Open finale. Up next for the Russian superstar Sharapova will be 17th-seeded American Sloane Stephens, while Azarenkas fourth-round opponent will be French Open- loving Italian Francesca Schiavone, who blasted 13th-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli 6-2, 6-1 on Day 7 of the fortnight. The 32-year-old Schiavone titled here in 2010, was the Roland Garros runner-up in 2011, and is now 18-2 in Paris in her last four trips. Surprising 23-year-old, 54th-ranked American Jamie Hampton reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam event for the first time in her career by stunning seventh-seeded former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-1, 7-6 (9-7). The Czech left-hander Kvitova, who was a French Open semifinalist a year ago, committed 33 unforced errors in the setback. Another top-10 upset came when 18th-seeded former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia upended ninth-seeded Aussie Sam Sttosur 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Ander Herrera Jersey. The 2011 U.S. Open champion Stosur was the French Open runner-up three years ago. The former U.S. Open runner-up Jankovic is a three-time French Open semifinalist and her fourth-round opponent will be the upstart Hampton. Two other Americans, the aforementioned Stephens and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, reached the round of 16, as the 20-year-old Stephens landed in the fourth round in Paris for a second straight year by outlasting New Zealands Marina Erakovic 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, while Mattek-Sands overcame Argentine Paula Ormaechea 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. Stephens is now 8-1 at the Grand Slams this year, having reached the Aussie semifinals in January. Stephens, the 28-year-old Mattek-Sands and Hampton joined Serena Williams in the fourth round, giving the United States its best womens fourth-round showing in Paris in nine years. Also on Saturday, 12th-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko topped Swiss Stefanie Voegele 7-6 (7-3), 7-5. Kirilenko will meet Mattek-Sands in her next outing. The fourth round will commence Sunday, including a match for the current world No. 1 and reigning Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Williams. The red-hot American, riding a career-best 27-match winning streak, will face 15th-seeded Italian veteran Roberta Vinci on Day 8. The 15-time Grand Slam singles champ Williams captured her lone French Open title back in 2002. Also on Sunday, fourth-seeded Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska will battle 14th-seeded former world No. 1 and former French Open winner Ana Ivanovic, a fifth-seeded Errani will take on 20th-seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, and eighth-seeded German Angelique Kerber will encounter former Roland Garros titlist Svetlana Kuznetsova. 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