FIFA 20: 8 Legends We Want to See in This Year’s Game

​FIFA 19 was the latest instalment of the popular gaming franchise that allows users to play as their favourite players, and subsequently launch their controllers when they concede in the 90th minute, as it brought enjoyment and pain in equal measure. 

With it being April however, attention will begin to turn to latest release, FIFA 20, which is likely to drop in the autumn.

One of the best parts of the game is being able to play with a host of ‘icons’ that are part of each game, with FIFA 20 likely to be no different. 

So without further ado, here are eight legends we want to see in the next game. 


Gordon Banks – Goalkeeper


Arguably the greatest goalkeeper to ever play for England, surely there’s a space in FIFA 20 for one Gordon Banks.

With reflexes that most keepers could only dream of, the prospect of having the 1966 World Cup winner between the sticks for your Ultimate Team would be one that strikes fear into the hearts of your opponents.

Following his tragic passing, his inclusion into the next game would be a nice touch; giving people who didn’t have the fortune of seeing the former ​Leicester City and ​Stoke City shot-stopper play why he’s regarded so highly. 


Alan Hansen – Centre-Back 

If it’s a ball-playing centre-back with genuine pace that you’re after, then there are few better to have played than Alan Hansen. 

His time at ​Liverpool between 1977-1991 was awash with silverware, as the talented Scot won eight league titles, three European Cups and two FA Cups in what was the most successful period in the club’s history. 

Hansen was a joy to watch, as he married a confident and composed exterior with an astute reading of the game, making him one hell of a central defender. 


Philipp Lahm – Full-Back


A more recent addition to the list now, having only retired in 2017, but one that’s no less deserving is that of former ​Bayern Munich and Germany full-back Philipp Lahm.

The defender, who was equally adept as playing at either right or left-back, was a terrific servant for both club and country, winning eight ​Bundesliga titles – captaining Die Roten to the treble in 2013/14. 

Lahm also lifted the World Cup in 2014 for Die Mannschaft – earning 113 caps for the national team – and is recognised as one of the best full-backs to ever grace the game.


Cafu – Right-Back 


​​While the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos and Rivaldo were rewarded with cards on FIFA 19, one player that seemed to be missing was right-back Cafu.

The Brazilian defined a new approach to the position, with him often appearing in the oppositions half rather than his own over the course of the game, but it resulted in what was a glorious career for the defender.

A World Cup win in 2002 was the pinnacle of his career, having also won two Serie A titles with AS Roma and ​Milan, and the ​Champions League with the latter, so he’s certainly a player deserving of an icon card in FIFA 20. 


Kaka – Central Midfield 

The 2007 Ballon d’Or winner was shockingly omitted from FIFA 19, so it would be great to see the Brazil legend back in FIFA 20.

A terrific option as a central attacking midfielder, Kaka has everything you want​​ for that position: size, quality on both feet, genuine pace, and the ability to score a sackful of goals when in and around the area. 

With a World Cup, Champions League, ​Serie A and ​La Liga title also on his resume, few could argue with the former Milan and ​Real Madrid man’s inclusion in the next instalment. 


David Beckham – Right Midfield 

One of the very few players to actually transcend the world of football and become an established name as a celebrity, it’s easy to forget how good of a footballer he actually was.

Famed for his trademark free-kick technique, Beckham also had incredible quality when crossing the ball into the box from open play. 

Although his crowning glory was the treble with ​Manchester United in 1999, the former England international also won a further five league titles in England, while winning league titles in Spain, USA and France, and would certainly be an asset to any team, especially those reliant on set-pieces.


John Barnes – Left Midfield 

Ask any Liverpool fan and John Barnes gets into their top five in terms of best players to play for the club, and for good reason, as his pace and dribbling ability to still talked about to this day.

Barnes was part of the title-winning sides of 1987/88 and 1989/90, winning the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award on both occasions, while winning the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award after his first title triumph.

Internationally, Barnes was part of the England squad that reached the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup, with five of his 79 England caps coming during that tournament.


Didier Drogba – Striker 

Just uttering his name sends a shiver down the spine of most central defenders, as Didier Drogba was a bully of a striker that had it all, and could decide a game on his own.

The Ivorian became one of the revered strikers in ​Premier League history following his move to ​Chelsea in 2004, winning four league titles over two spells, while scoring an impressive 164 goals during his time at Stamford Bridge.

His crowning moment however came in 2012, as a late header sent the Champions League final to extra-time, before he scored the deciding penalty in the shootout against Bayern Munich; signing off his first spell at the club in sublime style.


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Martin Odegaard Insists He Will Make Decision About Real Madrid Future at the End of the Season

Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard has insisted that he will make a decision about his future at the end of the season, amidst rumours linking with a move to Ajax.

Odegaard is currently on loan at Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie where he has impressed, registering eight goals and six assists thus far. His contract with Real Madrid is set to expire this summer and there has been no word over a potential extension, sparking plenty of speculation surrounding his future.

Norway Training Session and Press Conference

Ajax have been touted as a potential suitor for Odegaard but, in an interview with ​De Telegraaf, the ​Real midfielder claimed that he is still weighing up his options.

“I want to take a step every year,” he said. “I have scored more goals and given assists than last season thanks to [Leonid] Slutsky, who gave me a lot of freedom.

“After the season I will make a decision, see where I can best develop. But first I want to end the season as well as possible with Vitesse.”

Martin Odegaard

Whilst he kept quiet over a potential move, Odegaard did go on to reveal his ambition to play in the Champions League as soon as possible – a competition Ajax are likely to feature in for the second consecutive season.

“I don’t skip a Champions League evening. It is the stage on which I hope to play quickly,” he confirmed. “I would also like to play football in a big competition. But I don’t have to run too fast either, I’m only twenty. I still have a few years to go.”

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20 New Football Stadiums to Look Forward to

For fans of state-of-the-art football stadiums, there’s never been a better time to be alive. 

Not only did Tottenham finally open their brand new ground (which it must be said is absolutely gorgeous), but on 2 April Real Madrid ​unveiled their renderings for the €525m renovation of the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, Los Blancos aren’t the only side who have plans to improve their ground, with a host of clubs announcing their own renovation designs, or even plans to build new stadia altogether

We’ll cover all of them below – enjoy!


Real Madrid (Santiago Bernabeu)​

We begin with the aforementioned plans from Real Madrid to improve their famous home, which will cost between €525m and €575m to complete.

​​With an estimated completion date of 2022, the new plans include a retractable roof, encasing the entire ground in stainless steel, and a new commercial space will help bring in €150m in additional annual revenue for the club.

See a full article on the ​Bernabeu’s redevelopment here.


Barcelona (Camp Nou)

Barcelona’s ambitious ‘Espai Barça’ redevelopment project will see Camp Nou’s capacity increase to 105,000 (which will make the venue the second biggest football stadium in the world), the addition of a roof, as well as the incorporation of 5g mobile technology (the first stadium in the world to do so).

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The remodelling – which will occur between 2020 and 2023 – will be done without Barcelona having to find a new home, and will incur an estimated cost of €360m.

See a full article on ​Camp Nou’s redevelopment here.


Everton (Bramley-Moore Dock Stadium)

Plans for Everton’s new 52,000 seater stadium were ‘leaked’ in February by Everton fan group Everton Aren’t We, who released the concept pictures after the supporter site received a PDF document with plans for the new ground.

The plans predict the Toffees will move into their new stadium in 2023 – finally saying goodbye to Goodison Park, their home ground since 1892 – though the club’s chief executive Robert Elstone said last year that the project will cost ‘significantly more’ than the initial £300m projected cost.


Crystal Palace (Selhurst Park)

The Eagles have already been granted the green light (in principle) to expand Selhurst Park’s capacity from 26,000 to over 34,000.

​​However, the club are still in talks with Croydon Council and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, with approval from both needed before final planning permission is issued.

If that all goes to plan, then Palace will start work on the main stand this summer to have it ready by the beginning of the 2020/21 season.


Napoli (Stadio San Paolo)

When the owner of your club calls your stadium a ‘cesspool’, its probably time to find a new home. 

Such is the case for Napoli, with president Aurelio De Laurentiis currently looking at options to finance the building of a new stadium (including a McDonald’s backed venue as one possibility). Good thing too, since the third tier of the ground is currently off limits to the public.

SSC Napoli v Manchester City - UEFA Champions League

The Stadio San Paolo is currently going through a €23m redevelopment phase in preparation for the 2019 Universiade (international student and youth competition), but De Laurentiis is pushing hard for a new stadium altogether. However, obtaining building permits and financial investment from the city is proving difficult.


Feyenoord (Feyenoord Stadium)

We all love a stadium next to a body of water – they just look better. Don’t believe me? Take a gander at the renderings of Feyenoord’s new home in Rotterdam below.

Feyenoord’s ground – which will replace the historic but ageing Stadium de Kuip – will sit on the banks of the river Maas, and with a capacity of 63,000, will be the largest football ground in the Netherlands when it opens in 2023.


AS Roma (Stadio della Roma)

The Serie A giants will be moving into their new ground in 2022 (scheduled), saying goodbye to the Stadio Olimpico, which they currently share with rivals Lazio.

​​The inspiration for the Stadio della Roma is the Colosseum, which will be reflected in the stone “scrim” that envelops the outside of the stadium. The seating capacity will be 52,000, though this can be extended to 60,000.

While the designs and concept of the new venue are amazing, construction hasn’t actually begun yet. In March, Football Italia reported that Marcello De Vito – President of Rome city council’s assembly – was arrested after he allegedly took bribes from Luca Parnasi, contractor for the Stadio della Roma before he was detained himself last year. Despite the news, the club have insisted that construction on the new ground will go ahead as planned.


Liverpool (Anfield)

In 2016 the Reds completed the expansion of the new Main Stand at their historic ground to increase Anfield’s capacity to just over 54,000. 

Liverpool v Leicester City - Premier League

But Liverpool aren’t quite finished tinkering just yet. In October, club chief executive Peter Moore revealed that the Merseyside outfit were considering adding a further 6,000 seats to the Anfield Road End, taking the ground’s total capacity to over 60,000.

However, the clock’s ticking, as Liverpool must submit detailed blueprints for the next stage of the expansion by September 2019 – yet Moore has indicated that the club are still reviewing their options and plans.


Celta Vigo (Abanca Balaídos)

O Celtiña have been in their home ground since 1982, and has undergone several redevelopments over the years – including in 2002/03 when the club qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history.

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Since 2015 Balaídos has been undergoing major renovations, which will become a fully covered stadium with capacity for 31,000 spectators (current capacity is 29,000), and, according to ​Marca, will include: 

“A new facade where images can be projected, the flights of stairs on the exterior will be removed and the press room and changing rooms will be relocated to the central part. In addition, the stands will be nearer to the pitch – eight metres away instead of 35.”


Inter Miami CF (Inter Miami CF Stadium)

David Beckham’s new MLS expansion team will kick off in 2020, with its permanent home due to open in Miami a season or two later (pending financial and location decisions).

Beckham’s ownership group negotiated a real estate deal with the city of Miami to redevelop the city’s only golf course into a 25,000 seat capacity ground, mall and office park.


Forest Green Rovers (Eco Park)

Forest Green Rovers of League Two are doing a solid for the planet by building a new venue which they claim will be the ‘greenest football stadium in the world’.

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A statement on the club’s website reads: “Designed by world renowned architects Zaha Hadid and made almost entirely out of wood, it’ll be the first of its kind in the world. With a capacity of 5,000, Eco Park, would be sited in parkland where some five hundred trees and 1.8km of new hedgerows would be planted.”

The plans for the stadium are yet to be approved by Stroud District Council, and fire safety might be an obvious concern, but if the Green do pull it off they will be playing in the most unique ground in world football (and one perfectly suited to their name).


Manchester United (Old Trafford)

The Theatre of Dreams is one of the most iconic grounds in sports, but club officials at United have decided Old Trafford needs a lick of paint and greater capacity.

Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League

Plans have been drawn up three times in the last 10 years to expand the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, which would take the stadium’s capacity to just over 80,000.

Those plans keep getting delayed, adjusted or cancelled because of the logistical issues with redeveloping Old Trafford (there’s a railway line behind the stadium with houses just beyond), as well as the cost (over £200m for around 10,000 extra seats with limited additional corporate facilities). Furthermore, the Red Devils would likely have to vacate the ground whilst work is being done, so it may be some time before Old Trafford gets redeveloped


AC Milan & Inter​ (San Siro)

Reports earlier this year suggested that AC Milan were ‘fully embracing’ the idea of moving to a new stadium after almost 100 years at the San Siro.

Previews - UEFA Champions League Final

The news suggested that Milan are sold on the idea of investing €600m in a ‘new San Siro’ just a few hundred yards from their current location, and the only thing missing is confirmation from the city of Milan.

AC Milan v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg

It’s not clarified whether Inter are on board with the idea, but if plans go ahead, it’s expected that they will continue to share, as the report details plans for separate entrances for the two sides.

See a full article on ​AC Milan building a new stadium here.


Empoli (Stadio Carlo Castellani)

The fantastically named Stadio Carlo Castellani has been home to Empoli since 1965, but in 2018 the Serie A outfit announced that it would be launching a complete overhaul of the ground in a project financed through a public-private partnership – the first of its kind in Italy.

Empoli v Bologna FC - Serie A

The new ground – well, almost new (three of the four stands will be rebuilt) – will accommodate 20,000 fans, and Empoli have stated that the ground will be “be sustainable from a social, economic and environmental perspective thanks to a configuration that will make it a zero emissions facility.”


Valencia (Nou Mestalla)

If you thought Tottenham took a while to build and move into their new ground, you haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on with Valencia.

Nou Mestalla stadium - Valencia

In 2007 – yes, 2007 – Valencia began construction on Nou Mestalla, a 54,000-seat stadium intended to replace Estadio Mestalla. Work carried on for two years, but was then halted for financial reasons, and Valencia has continued to play in their old ground since.

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However, Los Ches signed an agreement with Deloitte last year to help their transfer to the new ground, and the club are expected to finally move into their new home ahead of the 2020/21 La Liga season.


Bologna (Stadio Renato Dall’Ara)

In January this year Serie A outfit Bologna announced plans to completely redevelop the Dall’Ara, which first opened in 1927.


The work will involve reducing the stadium’s capacity to 27,000 (from 31,000), with room for expansion to 29,000, as well as the installation of a new roof and stands closer to the pitch. The project is expected to take five years to complete.


Real Sociedad (Anoeta Stadium)

La Real’s stadium has undergone significant work since 2017, which involved enlarging the ground and removing the running track around the pitch.


The first phase of redevelopment – including the removal of the track and a new south end stand – was finished just after the start of the 2018/19 season,

the removal of the track and insertion of lower rows of seats on the side stands, and a completely new south end stand. When work is finally completed on the north stand, the stadium will hold 42,300 spectators. 


Atalanta (Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia)

Atalanta will begin renovation work on their ancient stadium this year, after the club bought the ground from the local council for €11.2m.

The project will boost the stadium’s capacity from 21,300 to 24,000, and, according to the ​Stadium BusinessAtalanta has previously outlined that other key features of the initiative include, “‘squaring off’ the two end stands of the stadium to connect them with other sections of the venue, as well as building a commercial area in the underground part of the stadium.”


Fiorentina (Nuovo Stadio Fiorentina)

Fiorentina currently play their football at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, though the club have been looking to leave the ancient ground (opened in 1931) since 2008.

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Though construction has not yet begun on the ground – thanks to a corruption scandal and difficulties in securing a new site for the stadium – Florence’s mayor has said that the arena could be ready for use by 2023.

The stadium would be built on the Mercafir site in Florence, and would cost around €420m. And holy heck, if the video is anything to go by, it’s going to look absolutely stunning.


Raja Casablanca & Wydad Casablanca (Grand Stade de Casablanca)

This stadium was meant to be part of Morocco’s World Cup in 2010 (had they won the bid instead of South Africa), and then again for the 2026 tournament, but unsuccessful bids meant that it will just have to be used by the city’s two club sides, as well as the Moroccan national team.


Undeterred, Morocco now plan to use the stadium – which will have a capacity of 93,000 once it’s completed in 2025 – for the 2030 World Cup. Third time’s the charm lads


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Leganes 1-1 Real Madrid: Report, Ratings and Reaction as Los Blancos Continue to Underwhelm

Zinedine Zidane rang the changes once again as his Real Madrid side came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw away at city rivals Leganes on Monday night.

The away side were looking to end the La Liga season on a high following a largely disappointing campaign, but this game provided nothing more than a reminder of the issues facing the three-time Champions League winners.

An uninspired first half performance from Madrid saw them duly punished, as Jonathan Silva passed the ball into the far corner of the Real net on the stroke of half time. On the five previous occasions this season that Madrid have gone into the break behind, they had salvaged just one point.

This illustrated the difficult task Madrid had ahead of them, but six minutes into the second half, ​Los Blancos looked as though they had turned things around as Karim Benzema followed up his initial shot to stroke home an equaliser for Zidane’s men.

However, in a side which included some new faces, it was the Madrid of old who were left to drive them on for the remainder of the game. Despite the efforts of Benzema, Luka Modric and Marcelo, the away side rarely threatened the Leganes goal, as the two sides eventually played out a stalemate.

Here’s 90min’s breakdown of the game.


Leganes

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Cuellar (7); Nyom (7), Bustinza (7), Umeruo (6), Siovas (5), Silva (7); Vesga Arruti (7), Perez (6), Eraso Goni (6); Carrillo (6), Braithwaite (7)

Substitutes: En-Nasyri (6), El Zhar (6), Recio (N/A)


Real Madrid

Key Talking Point

Real Madrid flattered to deceive against Leganes on Monday evening, as Zidane fielded an unfamiliar starting eleven. In a side without Sergio Ramos, Thibaut Courtois, Vinicius Junior and Gareth Bale, Los Blancos delivered a far from impressive performance.

Their drab first half display was punished by Jonathan Silva on half time as the home side took a 1-0 lead into the break. Despite grabbing an equaliser straight after the break, Madrid failed to find the next gear as they appeared to lack any zip to their play.

With rumours circulating that the French manager will be given significant funding to improve his squad in the summer, his side’s performance on Monday night will not have done anything to dissuade him from doing so.

Despite game time being given to a few of their newer faces, Madrid found themselves relying on the contributions of veterans Modric and Benzema. Aged 33 and 31 respectively, Zidane will know these players cannot be counted upon for too much longer and may have been convinced that significant improvements are needed to his squad.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Navas (6); Carvajal (5), Varane (6), Nacho (6), Marcelo (5); Valverde (7), Casemiro (6), Modric (8*); Isco (6), Benzema (7), Asensio (5)

Substitues: Vasquez (6), Bale (N/A)


Star Man – Luka Modric

The Ballon d’Or winner showed his class on Monday night as he took control of the game for Real Madrid. After a lacklustre first half from the away side, Modric grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and drove his side on. 

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The effect of the Croatian’s play in the second half was felt immediately as his neat turn gave him the space to play the ball into the path of Benzema who, at the second attempt, forced the ball past Cuellar in the Leganes goal.

From then on, everything Los Blancos created went through the former Tottenham midfielder as he looked to penetrate a compact home defence. However, Modric may bemoan the lack of movement in front of him as Isco and Marco Asensio turned in disappointing performances, which prevented Madrid from finding the elusive winning goal.


Looking Ahead

​Leganes face Villareal at the weekend before coming up against Athletic Bilbao a few days later in a game which could propel them towards the European places. While their chances look slim, the European hopefuls could be hitting form at the perfect point in the season.

Real Madrid will continue their bid to end the season on a high, but tricky games against Bilbao and Getafe stand in their way. The remaining six games will be this squad’s final opportunity to impress manager Zidane before this summer’s transfer window.

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Chelsea to Battle Real Madrid for Borussia Dortmund Wonderkid Alexander Isak

​Chelsea are set to compete with Real Madrid for the signing of Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Alexander Isak, who has been compared to Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The 19-year-old has forged a reputation as one of Europe’s most exciting young strikers, and has enjoyed an impressive loan spell with Willem II in the Eredivisie this season.

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Isak has managed 12 goals in as many games for the Dutch side, and ​The Mirror claim his form has attracted interest from​ Chelsea, who have sent scouts to watch him on several occasions this season.

Comparisons to Ibrahimovic are fairly obvious for the young Swede, who boasts similar agility and control to the former ​Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain forward.

Chelsea are on the lookout for a new striker as their goalscoring woes continue to hamper the team. On-loan forward ​Gonzalo Higuain has failed to impress since his January move, whilst there are doubts over the long-term future of 32-year-old ​Olivier Giroud.

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That search has led them to Isak, although the Blues face competition for his signature from ​​Real, who have been tracking the 19-year-old ever since he exploded onto the scene with Swedish side AIK in 2016.

​Dortmund fought off competition from Los Blancos to sign Isak for around £7m in 2017, but it is thought that Real will look to reignite their interest as Isak has grown frustrated with his situation with the ​Bundesliga side.

He failed to make a single appearance under Lucien Favre for the first half of the season, before making the switch to the Eredivisie in January, although Isak was not happy about the move initially. 

However, this has not proven to be a problem on the pitch, as Isak has managed to find the back of the net against the likes of Feyenoord and Ajax on his way to racking up 12 league goals.

There is no indication as to whether Dortmund want to part ways with Isak just two years after he joined the club, but a sizeable offer from either Chelsea or Real could prove too good to turn down.

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Leganes vs Real Madrid: Zinedine Zidane’s Best Available Los Blancos Lineup

​Real Madrid travel to face Leganes at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque on Monday as Los Blancos’ revival under Zinedine Zidane faces another test in La Liga.

Madrid have recovered from being eliminated from both the Copa del Rey and Champions League in quick succession with four wins in their last five games, though their recent defeat away to Valencia proved that Los Blancos are still vulnerable.

Leganes are enjoying a strong season in which they have climbed to 12th in La Liga and have gone unbeaten in their last three games.

Here is a selection of ​Real Madrid’s strongest potential lineup to face Leganes in a tricky test on Monday.


Goalkeeper & Defenders

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Keylor Navas (GK) – ​Thibaut Courtois’ continued absence will provide another opportunity for Navas to regain his place on a regular basis, having impressed since returning to the side under Zidane in place of his Belgian counterpart.

Alvaro Odriozola (RB) – With long-serving first choice Dani Carvajal still a long-term absentee, Odriozola has enjoyed increased game time of late and is likely to get another chance to stake his claim to nail down his place at right back.

Raphael Varane (CB) – Despite suggestions that he could be on the move in the summer, ​Varane remains a key figure at the back for Madrid and seems crucial to Zidane’s plans at the Bernabeu.

Nacho Fernandez (CB) – With captain Sergio Ramos ruled out for up to three weeks, Madrid have had to dip into their defensive reserves. Nacho has been something of a regular at right back in recent years as a stand-in for Carvajal, but is likely to fill in for Ramos on Monday.

Marcelo (LB) – Sergio Reguilon had assumed first choice status at left back under Santiago Solari but Zidane has appeared keen to rotate between the youngster and ​Marcelo since taking the reins once more, and the Brazilian should get the nod for a tough away game at Leganes.


Midfielders

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Luka Modric (CM) – Zidane has tended to rotate his side from game to game since taking charge at the Bernabeu, but ​Modric has remained the one ever-present in Los Blancos’ engine room under the Frenchman and is a hugely influential figure for Madrid.

Casemiro (CM) – Having been an indispensable figure in midfield in recent years, ​Casemiro has found himself less of a staple at the heart of Madrid’s midfield recently. Zidane opted to start Federico Valverde ahead of the Brazilian last time out against Eibar, but Casemiro should return on Monday.

Isco (CM) – Arguably the player enjoying the greatest renaissance under Zidane, ​Isco appeared virtually out of the picture earlier in the season under Solari, but has since repaid Zidane’s show of faith with some strong performances. Los Blancos play with far greater fluidity and purpose in midfield when Isco is in the side.


Forwards

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Gareth Bale (RW) – Another player who has regained favour under Zidane, ​Bale remains one of Madrid’s biggest goalscoring threats and Los Blancos appear far more dangerous with the Welshman in attack. Lucas Vazquez started ahead of Bale last time out, but offered less of an outlet in front of goal and Bale should be restored on Monday.

Karim Benzema (ST) – Despite having endured a less prolific season than he is generally accustomed to, ​Benzema remains an important figure as the spearhead of Madrid’s attack, with Zidane lacking an adequate alternative at centre forward. The Frenchman scored a match-winning brace in Madrid’s previous game against Eibar.

Marco Asensio (LW) – The long-term injury sustained by rising star Vinicius Junior came as a blow to Los Blancos, but it also provided an opportunity for ​Asensio to regain his place in Madrid’s attack, and the Spaniard has begun to regain his form under Zidane.

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Leganes vs Real Madrid Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

​Real Madrid travel to face Leganes in La Liga on Monday, a match which Los Blancos will look to gain all three points in order to keep pace with the top two.

Zinedine Zidane’s side head into the game a whopping 14 points adrift of leaders Barcelona and comfortably displaced from the title race, but can close the gap to local rivals Atletico Madrid in second to just two points with a win at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque.


​Madrid are in the midst of a patchy recent run of form, having won one and lost one in their last two outings, and with Los Blancos yet to really hit top form under Zidane, victory on Monday could be a much-needed boost.

Check out 90min’s breakdown of this one.


Where to Watch

When Is Kick Off? ​Monday 15 April
What Time Is Kick Off? ​20:00 (BST)
Where Is it Played? ​Estadio Municipal de Butarque
TV Channel/Live Stream? ​Eleven Sports 1
Referee? ​TBC

Team News

Leganes have selection issues in both defence and attack. Centre back duo Ezequiel Munoz and Kenneth Omeruo remain absent with a groin problem and a muscle injury respectively.

Forwards Alexander Szymanowski and Youssef En-Nesyri are also set to miss Monday’s clash against the European champions.


Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is set to miss out on the game on Monday due to a first grade injury to his left calf which is set to keep the Spaniard out for up to three weeks.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is also likely to remain absent with a knock which has forced the Belgian to miss each of the last three games, whilst defender Dani Carvajal and forward Vinicius Junior remain long-term absentees.


Predicted Lineups

Leganes ​Cuellar; Bustinza, Tarinm, Siovas; Nyom, Eraso, Perez, Gumbau, Silva; Santos, Carillo
Real Madrid ​Navas; Odriozola, Varane, Nacho, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Isco; Bale, Benzema, Asensio

Head to Head Record

​Leganes are unbeaten in their last three games and are enjoying a solid season which has seen Mauricio Pellegrino’s side rise to 12th in La Liga ahead of Monday’s clash, and can take further encouragement ahead of their clash with Madrid from the previous encounter between the two.

A 1-0 victory in the last meeting with Los Blancos in January was not enough for Leganes to advance from the last 16 of the Copa del Rey, as Madrid won the tie 3-1 on aggregate, but it proved that Pellegrino’s side are capable of beating the European champions on home soil.

Vinicius Junior,Jonathan Silva

However, Madrid have won all of the other four of the last five meetings between the two sides, and will be confident of a positive result once more with Zidane now at the helm.


Recent Form

Leganes are on a strong run of form, having gone unbeaten in each of their last three games, and have not lost since a 2-0 defeat to Girona in March.

Two victories in their last three games have set Pellegrino’s side up in good shape ahead of Monday’s clash with Madrid.


Meanwhile, Los Blancos have recovered from their quick-fire eliminations from the Copa del Rey and the Champions League at the hands of Barcelona and Ajax respectively with four wins in their last five games.

However, defeat to Valencia in their previous away game showed that Madrid have plenty of work still to do under Zidane, particularly on the road, and Los Blancos will require an improved performance when they head to Leganes on Monday.

Here is a look at how both sides have fared in their previous five outings:

Leganes Real Madrid
​Alaves 1-1 Leganes
(07/04)
Real Madrid 2-1 Eibar
(06/04)
Leganes 1-0 Valladolid
(04/04)
​Valencia 2-1 Real Madrid
(03/04)
​Getafe 0-2 Leganes
(30/03)
Real Madrid 3-2 Huesca
(31/03)
Leganes 0-2 Girona
(16/03)
Real Madrid 2-0 Celta Vigo
(16/03)
​Atletico Madrid 1-0 Leganes
(09/03)
​Valladolid 1-4 Real Madrid
(10/03)

Prediction

Leganes are in good form and have proved to be a tough side to beat at home, whilst Real Madrid have continued to struggle to hit their usual heights so far under Zidane.

A recent defeat away to Valencia proved that Los Blancos are still vulnerable, particularly away from home, and Leganes have attacking players capable of causing problems for a Madrid backline which is currently hit with injuries.

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However, after nine days since their previous game, Madrid should be fresh and able to impose their superior quality against the home side on Monday.

Prediction: Leganes 1-3 Real Madrid

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Mauro Icardi to Refuse Inter Contract Extension & Pursue €60m Switch to Real Madrid

​Mauro Icardi will reportedly reject Inter’s attempts to renew his contract and demand a cut-price move to Real Madrid.

Initial contract talks stalled in January, and Icardi was ultimately stripped of the club captaincy shortly after. He then missed the next ten games with what was described as a knee injury, before making his long-awaited return to the first team in early April.

Mauro Emanuel Icardi,Ibrahima Mbaye

​Inter wanted to increase his release clause to a whopping €220m but, according to ​AS, ​Icardi was unhappy with that as it would obstruct a dream move to ​Real. He may have returned to action, but he still wants out.

In order to get his move, Icardi will reject any of Inter’s attempts to renew his contract, which expires in 2021, in the hope of forcing the Nerazzurri to grant him his wish. By doing so, sources close to the player believe he could be available for just €60m.

However, the only stumbling block in Icardi’s plan is that Real do not view him as a major priority for the summer. He is one of many targets currently being considered by Los Blancos, but AS claim they are not planning to make a move at the end of the season.

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Icardi will do all he can to secure a move to Real, but may be forced to settle for a transfer elsewhere. ​Chelsea and ​Atletico Madrid have both been touted as potential suitors of the Argentine, but AS claim ​Juventus are most likely to sign Icardi if Real decline to make an offer.

Juventus have been heavily linked with the 26-year-old in the aftermath of his clash with the club. Sporting director Fabio Paratici has previously ​confirmed that they enquired about Icardi last summer, and they could look to reignite their interest and take advantage of his contract situation.

This season, Icardi has racked up 16 goals in 30 appearances, helping Inter to third in the ​Serie A standings. They are currently locked in a battle for ​Champions League qualification, with ​AC Milan, Roma and Atalanta all close behind Luciano Spalletti’s side.

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Real Madrid Announce €575m Loan Has Been Secured to Fund Redevelopment of Santiago Bernabeu

​The Real Madrid Board of Directors have announced the funding plan put in place for the redevelopment of the Santiago Bernabeu.

Los Blancos’ home currently seats 81,044 supporters when at full capacity, but has failed to undergo any significant renovations for a number of years.

Zinedine Zidane,Florentino Perez

The club announced on their official website that they will loan a total amount of €575m over the next 30 years, at a fixed interest rate of 2.5%.

The key aspect of the agreement for fans of the club is that Real Madrid have completed the deal without having to provide any type of mortgage guarantee or financial limitation on the management or indebtedness of the club, so that it can continue to operate as normal without being affected by the payment of the works.

In simple terms, what this means is that the cost of the redevelopment will not affect Zinedine Zidane’s transfer plans this summer with the manager, along with President Florentino Perez, aware that the club need a major overhaul of their playing squad.

Real Madrid CF v Girona FC - La Liga

With reports that Los Blancos are attempting to sign the likes of Eden Hazard and Paul Pogba this summer, the cost of improving the Bernabeu was always thought to be a potential problem in their ability to finance these mega-money deals.

However, with Real now assured that their operational costs will not be affected, they will be able to continue their pursuits of the two superstars, along with other signings, this summer.

They do not have a limitless budget though and players will be moved on in the upcoming window to create space in the squad, and the club’s bank account, for the new arrivals.

Gareth Bale

Chief among those expected to leave is Gareth Bale, with Real reportedly putting a price tag of £113m on the 29-year-old.

Bale has been linked with multiple clubs across Europe including Manchester UnitedChelsea and Bayern Munich and, with the Welshman not in Zidane’s plans next season, getting a huge transfer fee for him, as well as clearing his €26m-per-year salary from the wage bill, is seen as crucial within the club to allow them to complete their work this summer.

The likes of MarceloToni Kroos and Luka Modric are also due to be available this summer although France centre back Raphael Varane is now expected to stay with Zidane back in charge.

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Lucas Vazquez Opens Door to Real Madrid Summer Exit But Insists He Would Prefer to Stay

Real Madrid winger Lucas Vázquez insists that wants to stay at the Santiago Bernabéu next season but claims that the final decision over his future could be out of his hands.

The Spain international has made 40 appearances across all competitions this season but is facing an uncertain future as Real Madrid are aiming to have a summer makeover following their poor campaign.

Vázquez is one of the players who has question marks surrounding his future as his contract runs out in 2021, but the 27-year-old claims that he would like to stay with his boyhood club beyond this season.

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We will see. Nobody knows. We will have to see,” Vázquez told Radio Gaceta (via Marca). “For sure I want to stay at Real MadridI have a contract until 2021.”

Chelsea winger Eden Hazard has been heavily linked with a move Real Madrid and Vázquez has welcomed the idea of the Belgian’s arrival.

Vázquez also talked up the possibility of bringing Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba to the Santiago Bernabéu at the end of the season, as the Frenchman continues to be linked with a move away from Old Trafford.

Every year there is talk whether this player is coming or another, it is normal,” he added. “The best players have to come to Madrid and Hazard is one of them.

“I think that Pogba would be an interesting signing.”

Real Madrid have just seven games left this season before they can look towards rebuilding this summer, including a crucial match against fourth-place Getafe at the end of the month.

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Los Blancos are currently 10 points clear of the Azulones, but they can’t afford to slip up before the end of the season and end up risking their place in Europe’s elite competition.

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