Should Zinedine Zidane give Alphonse Areola a chance?

There was a symbolism to Wednesday’s Champions League clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. These were two giants of the European game who have somewhat lost their way over the past year or so. Are there two more volatile footballing arenas than the Parc des Princes and Santiago Bernabeu right now?

There were subplots everywhere, but perhaps the most compelling one concerned the two mean in goals. Of course, until a few weeks ago Keylor Navas was a Real Madrid player. The Costa Rican won three Champions League titles during his time in the Spanish capital, but lost his starting place to Thibaut Courtois after the Belgian’s arrival last summer.

Navas was subsequently sold to PSG in the final few days of the summer transfer window and started against his former team on Wednesday night. The Costa Rican must have drawn great satisfaction from the clean sheet he kept and the emphatic 3-0 win he helped his team to.

On the flip side, Courtois looked shaky throughout. There were no glaring errors from the Belgian, but he might have done a little more to stop both of Angel di Maria’s two goals and looked unsure of himself from the first whistle until the last. This wasn’t an isolated case either. Courtois has been suspect for a number of months.

Courtois has now gone 15 games in all competitions without keeping a clean sheet. Real Madrid’s defence looked much steadier with Navas behind them, but that didn’t stop the Costa Rican from being cast aside. The suspicion is that Florentino Perez never saw Navas as befitting of a club of Real Madrid’s size and stature.

Alphonse Areola headed in the opposite direction to Navas in the summer window and so Zinedine Zidane does have another option between the sticks. Could Areola be given an early chance to prove himself at his new club? The poor form of Courtois might well be opening the door for the 26-year-old.

Despite being signed for over £30 million, Courtois has never really proved himself at Real Madrid. The Belgian certainly isn’t to blame for the issues his team have faced over the past year, but his influence at the back hasn’t done anything to help steady the ship. Zidane could be forgiven for looking at his new second choice goalkeeper and pondering if he might give him something Navas took when he left for France.

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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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Zidane open to Courtios exit this summer

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With attention turning to next season, Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has made it very clear that he expects to challenge for the La Liga title in 2019-20.

The Frenchman has been widely reported to be keen on bringing in a number of new faces to inject some life into his ageing side in the coming months.

However, despite club president Florentino Perez confirming he would be backing Zidane in the transfer market, he will have to make some space in his squad with some high profile departures – with goal keeper Thibaut Courtois the latest name to be linked with an exit.

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Barca could end Solari’s Real Madrid career

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Earlier this season, Julen Lopetegui knew definitively that his Real Madrid coaching tenure was over when Los Blancos were hammered 5-1 at the Camp Nou.

The manner of the defeat left Florentino Perez no other option, notwithstanding that the president needs no excuse to exercise his trigger finger. Continue reading

Real Madrid all but surrender late title bid with shock defeat to Girona

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Last Sunday morning, the Santiago Bernabeu bore witness to what may well have been the end of Real Madrid’s thin hopes of a late La Liga title challenge.

The Spanish giants and current Champions League holders stumbled to a 2-1 defeat to bottom-half side Girona in front of their disillusioned fans.

Girona are enjoying only their third season in the top flight of Spanish football having been promoted to La Liga for the first time in 2016.

Let’s take a look at the fantasy football heroes and zeroes after this surprise win for the Catalonian club.

Goalkeeper crisis at Real Madrid ahead of Sevilla clash

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Real Madrid are facing an injury crisis between the sticks as they prepare to host Sevilla tomorrow night, with both of their first choice La Liga net minders potentially sidelined through injury.

Santiago Solari’s side will be desperate to beat Los Rojiblancos, with Pablo Machin’s currently in third, and Real in fourth, separated only by goal difference.

However, the hosts have been hit with a succession of injuries in their squad, and fourth choice goal keeper Luca Zidane could be in line to step in for only his second ever senior appearance.

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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #27 – Asif Norat on Man Utd

EuroFantasyPodCover700x300Jamie welcomes Asif Norat along for the Premier League section of the show before later being joined by Dave for Serie A & La Liga.

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Courtois no replacement for Navas based on recent form at Real Madrid

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All eyes are on Real Madrid who have imploded since the beginning of the season. Strange for a club who of course are current European champions and have won that competition for the past 3 years. This was another season that was supposed to go smoothly but it hasn’t been that way at all.

For no other reason than to bring in another star, Real Madrid president sanctioned the deal to bring Thibaut Courtois to the club from Chelsea in the summer. It was no secret that Madrid had been after the former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper for the past couple of seasons. Chelsea understandably would not budge, which financially ended up working in Madrid’s favour as they got him for a cut price deal. Make no mistake Courtois is a top 10 goalkeeper in the world. However his start to the season where he has played 7 of the first 9 games has not suggested so.

This past weekend Real Madrid lost again in the league, this time at home to Levante and Courtois looked to blame for at least one of the goals. Whilst it is easy to point the finger at Courtois, one needs to be reminded that he has been one of the best and most consistent goal keepers of the past few years. He will get better at the club and grow stronger because the reality is that the whole team are not performing as they should and he is just one cog in the machine. But the attention has been focused on the keeper and boos could be heard from the infamous difficult fans towards him.

Of course they have a soft spot for Keylar Navas the man behind the sticks who led Madrid to so many European titles. To be fair Navas has done very little wrong at the club and his only wrongdoing seems to be that he is five years older than Courtois. One senses that there could be a rift between the two goalkeepers, where Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui has opted to drop Navas from the league games but play him in the Champions League.

This is a massive week for Real Madrid who should beat Viktoria Plzen at home in the Champions League, but it is a result they need to win after losing in Russia last time out. And then following that is the Barcelona match away from home. Which goalkeeper will be ruling the roost then? And you have to wonder if Courtois felt happier in the confines of Stamford Bridge rather than Santiago Bernabeu, where the circus seems to be just beginning.

Casemiro- The Next Makelele

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14962557423749The Santiago Bernabeu wore a festive look with the club supporters in a state of excitement. It seemed as if Christmas had come early. There was every reason to believe so with their beloved team Real Madrid all set to battle it out against fierce rivals Barcelona at home, trailing the latter by just 3 points. A win at home had every chance of generating the momentum necessary for a league challenge.

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique had opted to rest Argentine superstar Lionel Messi who had been a major threat in previous fixtures scoring goals and assists with great splendour which was nothing short of music to the ears. At the same time, Spanish manager Rafa Benitez had fielded a lineup consisting of some of the most attacking minded midfielders in the business like Luka Modric, James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos.

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Dani Ceballos’s Coming of Age Season

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992139-01-02There was an unnatural sense of excitement in the air as journalists whispered furiously amongst themselves at the end of an emphatic 3-1 win for Spain against Italy in the semifinals of the UEFA European U-21 Championship conducted in 2017. While the hero of the night undoubtedly was Atletico midfielder Saul who smashed a hat-trick under pressure, there was another youngster who had caught the eye with his spectacular performance, bewitching the audience with his tricks and mesmerising gameplay.

It was none other than 20-year-old Real Betis midfielder Dani Ceballos who made heads turn with his patience, vision and a perfectly weighted assist for Saul’s opener despite the presence of established players like Gerard Deulofeu, Héctor Bellerín. Italian midfielder Roberto Gagliardini lost his mind completely when nutmegged by Ceballos, going to the extent of knocking him to the ground in a desperate attempt to salvage some pride earning him a red card.

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