Pressure on Zinedine Zidane at its greatest to beat Barcelona

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Zinedine Zidane the magic man is back at Real Madrid and this coming season all of the pressure will be on the Frenchman to deliver the title and usurp Barcelona who have been completely dominant.

When Zidane came back to Real in March the club hardly exploded and indeed didn’t really improve under him but at the end of the day he was brought back earlier to just stabilise the ship. Zidane will know as will the fans that the real business with the club will commence when the league season kicks off in August. And you can forget about the Champions League. Whilst they will fight to be champions of Europe once again the priority will be about winning La Liga. Incredibly Madrid have only won 1 La Liga title in the past 7 years.

Madrid have spent big and the purchase of Eden Hazard from Chelsea is their star signing. He is the one that is supposed to bring the balance back to the team. But Hazard as great as he is, can go missing in games. It will be Zidane’s task to guide the Belgian through the season where consistency becomes key to success.

Paul Pogba has been hinted at but he will have to fall into place and one wonders if his signing will be good for such a sensitive player. Even Ronaldo got booed at the Bernabeu.

The truth is that Zidane is about to undergo the biggest challenge of his career. Not only does he have to perform well on his return, and remember they say never go back to your old clubs. But he has to stop Barcelona from winning the league which is easier said than done. And of course Barca will not be the only threat to Madrid this season with their city rivals Atletico Madrid making huge progress and buying Joao Felix who is supposed to be the next big player. They will be in with a shout for the league too.

Zidane will need to find a good balance with his team and they will have to attack and be much more aggressive this season with the ball. One finds that Madrid just aren’t quite there and need a striker that can get them 30 goals a season. Is it simple that the club still haven’t recovered from losing Ronaldo? Benzema is good but he isn’t Ronaldo.

Maybe just maybe Zidane will give another chance to Gareth Bale who in truth has done little wrong. Zidane simply has the greatest season challenge of his career to date.

 

 

Gareth Bale remains main Real Madrid problem

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There appears to have been no movement whatsoever on the outstanding problem issue at Real Madrid this summer: Gareth Bale. All reports indicate the club are desperate to offload the Welsh forward in this window but the player has absolutely no intentions of leaving, and no other clubs are in a position to afford him.

Los Blancos have sanctioned a huge summer spend which has seen five first-team players added worth a total in transfer fees of €300m plus a mass increase in their wage bill. To date, only Marcos Llorente has left the club – joining Atletico Madrid in a €40m move – this summer, with Bale’s massive wages said to be severely restricting the club’s ability to do more business. Continue reading

Why PSG should sell Neymar and get Gareth Bale

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For all his brilliance Neymar is becoming a headache for French champions PSG and perhaps now is the time to sell the Brazilian, and in his place they should get Gareth Bale.

At the moment Neymar is clearly unhappy at PSG and if we are being honest he never wanted to be at the club, his desire was to remain at Barcelona. However two seasons ago even Barca could not resist the 200m euros that PSG were offering for Neymar’s services and the Brazilian soon became the most expensive player in football history.

Neymar has not been able to help PSG with their ultimate dream of winning the Champions League but they have dominated in France and Neymar has been brilliant with only a succession of injuries hampering his time in Paris.

The truth is Neymar is unhappy and there was talk that he could be sold to Real Madrid, however Neymar only has one destination on his mind and that is to play again for Barcelona. The Catalan giants would most probably welcome him back as they look to sell Phillipe Coutinho who has had a terrible time with the club after his 120m move to them from Liverpool. Ousmane Dembele hasn’t adapted well too and he is another player who could be sold. This means that Barcelona would have the funds to buy Neymar back.

But what of PSG, who would rather not lose the services of Neymar? Well you have to question why they would want to keep a player who doesn’t want to play for them anymore. The solution then for PSG is to look around for a quality playmaker that is currently unhappy with his club and situation and Gareth Bale at Real Madrid seems to fit that description perfectly.

Bale has been tremendous at Madrid but it is clear that he is not in coach’s Zinedine Zidane’s future plans. The problem for a move for most clubs is that Bale demands around 14m euros salary a year. Again this is a figure that PSG could most likely afford and if the French club made a bid for Bale one would expect that the Welshman would be happy to join the club.

And that really is the key for both Neymar and Bale, motivation. Both would feel re energised and refreshed with their new clubs, scaling new heights and get their hunger and their mojo back. Could Neymar really go back to Barcelona and could Bale be on his way to PSG? In football you never know but on the face of it the moves would make perfect sense for both players.

Zinedine Zidane showed a lack of class not playing Gareth Bale in final Real Madrid game

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Is it simply a clash of styles that Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane and Gareth Bale have never got on? At the weekend in the final La Liga game of the season and what appears to be Bale’s final game for the club, Zidane did not start the Welshman, and then didn’t even bring him on as Real Madrid lost at home to Real Betis 2-0.

It was an act of cold power from the French legend and a final reminder that Zidane never really cared for Bale. The same Bale who scored countless goals for the club including single handily beating Liverpool in the last seasons Champions League final that saw an incredible bicycle kick. Even then Zidane did not start Bale and it is evident that the game changed the moment he came on.

It’s a shame that the relationship between the two has had to end like this, but it’s even a greater loss that Bale did not start the game and then get substituted late on and get one final proper applause from the home crowd. Please let’s not forget Bale’s six seasons at the club which included 102 goals and 13 trophies, 4 of those Champions League titles.

Zidane mind numbingly played it down, but we’ve been here before with Madrid and their politics and it is blindingly obvious that Bale has played his last game with the club.

It is how business seems to be done at Real Madrid and at the same time Zidane might be right to want Bale out of the club if they need to go forward. Bale in that sense is a reminder of a team from a few years ago and not now. At the same time Bale does have a contract for another 3 years and a huge salary reported to be 14m a season, so selling Bale might be harder than the club think.

At 29 Madrid will be hoping to get the 100m money back that they spent on the player when they signed him from Tottenham at the start of the 2013/14 season. While Bale still has the quality and still has at least 4-5 seasons at the top of his game he is one for picking up injuries and Madrid not always playing him this season has meant that he hasn’t been in the shop window so to speak. Plus it doesn’t help that this is unquestionably the clubs worst season in a decade.

Bale doesn’t have to walk, his contract is legit, but the most likely outcome will be a loan or swap deal and money perhaps to a club like PSG who would be able to afford hi wages, we will wait and see. But Zidane created his own faux pas at the weekend and really should have allowed Bale to say goodbye properly.

 

Zinedine Zidane’s biggest season is coming up at Real Madrid

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They say never go back, but in the case of Zinedine Zidane that is what he did at Real Madrid. Walking away after the 2018 Champions League final win over Liverpool, Madrid went into meltdown. Not only did Zidane leave but so did Cristiano Ronaldo and president Florentino Perez went through two managers before Zidane waltzed his way back into the Bernabeu 10 months after leaving.

Truth is though results have not improved since he took over from the beleaguered and unfortunate Santiago Solari. Zidane holds just a 50% win rate compared to a near 70% from his first spell. One wonders if the appointment of Zidane should have been delayed until the end of the season, because at the moment everything looks so deflated even with Zidane in charge.

Real Madrid’s latest defeat came at the hands of Real Sociedad in a 3-1 loss, though to be fair Madrid have never travelled well up to Basque Country. And it does feel that players have switched onto holiday mode and the league still has one more game to go. Real will finish 3rd whatever happens and that guarantees Champions League football for next season, and next season is what it’s really all about for the club.

There will be huge change at the club in the summer and this is when Zidane will be making some sweeping changes to the club. Gareth Bale is almost certain to leave the club. The Welshman still boasts superb quality and would be a fantastic addition to any club in the world, but he needs change, a refresher course so to speak and Madrid still know that he is worth at least 70 million euros to buyers. Toni Kroos seems to have let the season pass him by and could leave also.

But one wonders if Zidane is really ready to shake the apple tree up. Is it time for Sergio Ramos and Marcelo to depart, staple players of the team in the 2010s, but one has to question if their hunger and desire is really there at the club anymore. If they can convince Zidane that it is then maybe they will stay. Karim Benzema who has actually had a decent personal season with the club may have played his last only because of the players that could be coming in.

Madrid have been linked to the likes of Eden Hazard, Neymar and even Kylian Mbappe. It will be interesting to see who the club bring in, but for sure they will have to sell first and at least 6 first team players will be playing their last games for the club next weekend.

For Zidane his 2nd term at Madrid really starts at the end of this season and it could be a career defining one. This will be the season targeted as the comeback one, Barcelon beware.

Real Madrid must ease reliance on Karim Benzema next season

Almost from the moment Zinedine Zidane’s return to Real Madrid was confirmed, the Santiago Bernabeu outfit have embarked on the longest pre-season programme in football history. Indeed, with Real Madrid out of the Liga title race, out of the Copa del Rey and out of the Champions League, the final couple months of the season became about preparing for the next one.

This has seen Zidane experiment with a number of options in essentially dead rubber games. He has tried different options in goals – Thibaut Courtois, Keylor Navas and even his own son, Luca Zidane. He has alternated between Marcelo and Sergio Reguilon at left back. Alvaro Odriozola and Dani Carvajal have taken it game about at right back. Jesus Vallejo has earned the Frenchman’s trust while even the forgotten man Mariano Diaz has been given a chance up front.

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Of course, Mariano has only been given a run in the first team due to the injury suffered by Karim Benzema. Questions were asked of the Frenchman last season, to the extent where his exit from the Santiago Bernabeu looked probable. However, the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo last summer changed things and Benzema has delivered, crossing the 30-goal mark.

However, Real Madrid have become too dependent on the goals of Benzema. With Mariano’s goal in the win over Villarreal last weekend, he became the first player that isn’t Benzema to find the back of the net in 568 minutes. While they were once reliant on Ronaldo to provide a cutting edge in the final third, now it’s Benzema they lean on.

This is arguably the most pressing of all the concerns Zidane must have in his mind ahead of next season. Real Madrid will undergo a summer overhaul, with the squad almost certain to be replenished. It is in the final third where their efforts will be focused most acutely and they must find goals.

Quite simply, the likes of Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale, Isco and Lucas Vazquez haven’t contributed enough in front of goal this season. Even Vinicius Junior, the breakout star of the 2018/19 La Liga season, needs to sharpen up his finishing. The addition of players like Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic, both expected to join Real Madrid this summer, should held, but Zidane knows what he must find ahead of next season – goals.

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Who will still be at Real Madrid this season?

From the moment Zinedine Zidane walked through the door into the press conference deep in the bowels of the Santiago Bernabeu to signal his return to Real Madrid, the gossip column has been full of speculation linking the Spanish capital club with countless elite players.

Indeed, Real Madrid are supposedly set to make moves for Eden Hazard, Christian Eriksen, David De Gea and Paul Pogba, although it seems unlikely that all four targets will make the move to the Spanish capital this summer. Nonetheless, Zidane is expected to shuffle the pack at the Santiago Bernebeu before the start of next season.

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As part of this overhaul, there will be departures. This explains why Zidane has rotated his squad on a week-to-week basis since returning to the club. Real Madrid have long been out of the Spanish title race and suffered a round of 16 exit from the Champions League. Subsequently, Real Madrid have embarked on the longest pre-season in football history, all in order to make sure they don’t face the same struggles next season.

Zidane has experimented in every area of the pitch. Against Getafe on Thursday night, he handed Brahim Diaz, signed from Manchester City in January, his first La Liga start. There have also been starts for Sergio Reguilon over Marcelo and Fede Valverde over the likes of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. On one occasion, a home game against Huesca, Zidane even gave his son, Luca Zidane, a start in goals.

The Real Madrid manager is testing his players before deciding on who will stay and who will go over the summer. Thibaut Courtois is one who looks almost certain to leave, with Zidane favouring Keylor Navas over the Belgian, who was signed from Chelsea just a year ago. Marcelo is another who looks likely to leave.

It’s in midfield where the greatest turnover could be, though. Casemiro, Kroos and Modric have delivered great success for Real Madrid over the years, but rejuvenation is required and so all three could be up for sale this summer. Karim Benzema, who has hit the 30-goal mark, will be kept, but the Frenchman needs help.

Then there’s Gareth Bale, who is widely expected to be available this summer, but which club would be willing to spend upwards of £60 million on a player who hasn’t shown his best form for years? It might not just be about identifying players to push out the door for Real Madrid, but finding clubs to take them off their hands. That might be the difficult part.

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Zidane pushing for Real Madrid summer clear out

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Zinedine Zidane will push ahead with plans for a squad overhaul this summer, as he pledges to challenge Barcelona for the La Liga title in 2019-20.

The Frenchman has been clear in his desire to make changes at the club he led to three Champions League title between 2014 and 2017, and that means moving on some big names from the Santiago Bernabeu.

Club President Florentino Perez will fund certain transfer targets, but Zidane will have to clear out players to fund extra moves.

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Week 33: Best Players of the Weekend in Fantasy La Liga

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It was a weekend that saw the top 5 clubs in Spain win and Barcelona edging nearer to the league title once more and their 4th championship in five years. In the big match to help progress a top 4 position Getafe and Sevilla, 4th v 5th and it was Getafe who won the game 3-0 and the club moved into 4th place. Indeed another contender for a top 4 placed emerged in Valencia as Sevilla dropped down to 6th place.

But which players were the best performing of the past weekend, and who has earned you the most points in your team- look at these players and perhaps if you don’t have them, get them quick, as the season draws ever closer.

Formation: 4-4-2.

Goalkeeper: David Soria- Getafe

In truth there were a few goalkeepers that earned 7 points at the weekend including Jan Oblak for Atletico Madrid. But David Soria of Getafe gets the nod given that his side won 3-0 and kept a clean sheet in such a big game as playing Sevilla, it could be a turning point in his career and for the club this season. Soria is 6m and is currently the 3rd best ranked keeper in La Liga Fantasy.

Defender: Diego Godin- Atletico Madrid

All of Atletico Madrid’s back four put in a super shift as the club conquered over Eibar 1-0 away from home. This was Godin’s 4th clean sheet in the last five games, and his tactical awareness and tackles was pivotal to keeping another clean sheet. He is valued at 9m and is currently ranked as the best defender in La Liga- this performance simply underlined that.

Defender: Ignasi Miquel- Getafe

Miquel has started just 2 games for Getafe this season but was drafted into the team because of injuries and considering his lack of first team football put in a memorable display in the heart of a defence that stopped Sevilla from scoring. His value is 2.5m.

Defender: Gimenez- Atletico Madrid

We often talk about the more recognisable players of this brilliant Atletico Madrid defence, but Gimenez has put in his great displays too and did so well alongside Godin. He earned 5 points as Atletico beat tricky Eibar away from home 1-0 and his value to buy is 6m.

Defender: Raphael Varane- Real Madrid

Varane has not had a great season with Madrid but the hope is with Zinedine Zidane back with the team that will change. Varane has just 32 points this season but 5 were earned at the weekend as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0. Varane is valued at 8.5m.

Midfielder: Thomas Lemar- Atletico Madrid

Thomas Lemar not only scored the goal that won Atletico Madrid the match against Eibar but he put in a brave performance and looked very dangerous on the ball to earn 6 points this past weekend. Lemar has played 18 times and looks good value at 6m.

Midfielder: Sofiane Boufal- Celta Vigo

Sofiane Boufal has earned just 25 points this season and 20% of those points came in just one weekend as his club Celta Vigo rose to victory over Girona. Boufal was excellent as he assisted in the first goal and scored the 2nd, in a 2-1 win. However he dropped points for a yellow card. Boufal can be bought for 6.5m.

Midfielder: Marc Roca- Espanyol

Marc Roca seldom earns point but he got 4 at the weekend as Espanyol drew 2-2 against Levante away from home. Roca got his clubs 2nd goal which put them in the lead and played one of his best matches of the season. Roca is just 5m to buy.

Midfielder: Gareth Bale- Real Madrid

Earning 4 points was enough to get Gareth Bale into the team of the week. But the Real Madrid play maker had a good, solid and determined game. This culminated in the Welshman setting up Karim Benzema for the clubs 3rd goal at the end of the game. Bale has started 19 games this season and is valued at 11m.

Striker: Karim Benzema- Real Madrid

Karim Benzema has been in our team of the week quite a few times this season and he was simply sensational at the weekend, where he earned a massive 14 points after scoring a hat trick. Real Madrid beat Atlethic Bilbao 3-0 and Benzema got all of his goals in the 2nd half of play. He is valued at 10m and is ranked in fantasy La Liga as the 2nd best striker in the league.

Striker: Jorge Molina- Getafe

Jorge Molina and Getafe were playing perhaps the biggest and most important game of their season so far as Getafe played Sevilla a direct top 4 rival for Champions League qualification. Molina scored a penalty and a great goal in a match that ended 3-0. He has 9 goals this season and his value is rated at 6m. He is ranked 8th in Fantasy La Liga standings.

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Real Madrid must sell before they can buy

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Real Madrid are hopeful of radically overhauling their squad this summer, but much depends upon the sale of several star players. Media outlets always go into overdrive when it comes to talking about transfers in and out of the club, but this summer looks set to be even busier than usual.

Los Blancos currently sit a whopping 13 points off the summit of La Liga and suffered traumatic exits in both the Champions League and Copa del Rey. They are going to finish the season trophyless, and even worse they are going to finish it with two months of fixtures which, by all intents and purposes, are meaningless. Continue reading