Great players win games. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.In Lionel Messi, Barcelona have the greatest of all time, and his strike partner Luis Suarez is no slouch either.The duo both produced magic moments to help the team earn a 2-1 win at Jose Bordelas’s impressive Getafe on Sunday to take control of La Liga. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? After Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, second and third respectively, tied in Andalusia earlier on, the win leaves Barcelona five points clear at the top. Ten points clear of arch-rivals Real Madrid.With Cristiano Ronaldo gone, Luka Modric and Marcelo ageing, Gareth Bale injured and nobody else on form, Los Blancos had nobody on the pitch who could produce the same magic as Messi and Suarez.That’s why they’re fifth, languishing in the dust while Santiago Solari waves his hands helplessly on the touchline, falling to a 2-0 defeat by Real Sociedad.Quality told at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, in a match where Getafe exhibited their strengths during an intense start to the game.They might have had a penalty for a foul by Arturo Vidal on Angel Rodriguez, scored a brilliant goal which was disallowed for a foul on Clement Lenglet, and generally had Barcelona under the cosh in the opening stages.With the second tightest defence in La Liga, Getafe were gearing up to give the champions an extremely tricky evening in the chilly Spanish capital.However Bordelas’s well-drilled troops don’t have to face players of Messi’s calibre every week.The Argentine undid the defence with a quick burst which saw him beat two defenders and the goalkeeper to a ball dropping from the sky, maintaining his balance and composure to knock it through the legs of onrushing stopper David Soria before touching it home from a tight angle. It was a mixture of speed, skill and opportunism and few other players in the world would be able to manage such a goal.The same goes for the second, scored by Suarez. Getafe were ceding few clear chances to Barcelona, so the Uruguayan decided to try something different. Suarez sent a screaming volley into the top corner from outside the area, a brutal goal that left Getafe facing a scoreline they didn’t deserve.The hosts pulled one back before the interval, with Jaime Mata tapping home a few moments after his team struck the post, with their punchy attacks making Barcelona extremely uncomfortable.On another day they might have equalised, with Mata somehow blazing over after rounding Marc-Andre ter Stegen, an open goal beckoning.But Barcelona’s world-class stars were enough to carry the day for the reigning champions and see them tighten their grip on the title.What Madrid were lacking was this same quality, from top to almost bottom – goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois emerged unscathed – but the rest need to improve.Perhaps the exception to Madrid’s struggles against Sociedad was Vinicius Junior, whose running and skill up front was the only bright spot for supporters at the Santiago Bernabeu. However, relying on an unpredictable 18-year-old is not a viable strategy.Speaking of which, there weren’t that many. Swathes of empty seats were visible, fans turned off by recent performances and the dark cloud over the club this season.“We will try to get them back again,” said Solari when asked about the supporters. The ones who did turn up weren’t happy, whistling the players and in some patches chanting for president Florentino Perez to resign.This is what crisis looks like for Madrid, but it is not a dramatic one, because, really, it wasn’t that hard to see coming.Last season they finished a mile behind Barcelona in La Liga and that was when they still had Ronaldo.Even if the Portuguese was never quite the equal of his Argentine counterpart, he was close enough to be spoken of in the same breath, to win the Ballon d’Or the same number of times.Brahim Diaz has arrived, with Madrid announcing his signing in the aftermath of the defeat, but the former Manchester City playmaker has only potential, not the power to instantly transform the club’s title bid, which can now be considered over.
“In recent months, there has been progress on several commitments under the Framework. The capacity of armed groups to attack civilians in eastern DRC has been impaired, particularly after the defeat of the former M23 at the end of 2013. This has improved security in the region,” said Mr. Ban at a Headquarters meeting of the signatories of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region, who wrapped up their work with the approval of a Communiqué.On 24 February 2013, recognizing the recurring cycles of conflict and violence that permeate the eastern DRC, 11 African countries Framework, which represents an avenue of hope for the region’s people to build stability by addressing the root causes of the conflict and fostering trust between neighbours.At today’s fourth meeting reviewing the progress of the Framework, Mr. Ban was joined by several high-level officials including President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Vice-President Manuel Domingos Vincente of Angola. Several officials from the African Union and the South African Development Community (SADC) were also in attendance. “Over the next few years, several countries of the Great Lakes region will be holding pivotal elections. This should strengthen the democratic culture in the region. I hope these countries will emerge from the elections stronger, more united and more stable,” said Mr. Ban. But several armed groups continue to hamper these efforts. The Nairobi Declarations of the Kampala process have been implemented too slowly. And there remains a lack of trust among some countries of the region. “We must speed up the implementation of the Nairobi Declarations of the Kampala Process, including the repatriation of eligible former M23 elements to the DRC. And we must continue building trust and confidence among countries of the region,” Mr. Ban added.He recalled that at the third meeting, held at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa in January, participants endorsed the regional Plan of Action and 15 priority activities for implementation of the Framework. They also requested that the Technical Support Committee submit a progress report on the implementation of the regional Plan of Action. Presented by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy and the Special Representative of the African Union Chairperson, the report documents progress and offers recommendations. “I welcome the collective and unequivocal message to the FDLR that they should voluntarily surrender and disarm before the 2nd of January 2015,” the UN chief said.The Secretary-General also underscored the need for donors, especially the African Development Bank, the European Union, the World Bank and bilateral partners, to remain committed to supporting initiatives for peace, security and cooperation in the region.“We should spare no effort to end the instability that has affected millions of people and impeded development and prosperity in the region for far too long,” Mr. Ban reiterated. In their remarks, the regional leaders expressed their appreciation to former Special Envoy Mary Robinson for her valuable efforts to achieve peace and stability in eastern DRC and the region, and welcomed Mr. Said Djinnit as the new Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region. Speaking to the leaders for the first time, Special Envoy Djinnit noted: “The Great Lakes region is at a crossroads. It can only realize its vast potential once sensitive security concerns are fully resolved and relations between neighbouring countries improve.” He pledged to work closely with all key stakeholders to ensure that the regional accord, which has become known as the “Framework of Hope”, delivers on its promises.