World Cup Countdown: 8 Weeks to Go – Emilio ‘the Vulture’ Butragueño Picks Apart Denmark

Aged 17 he became a product of the ​Real Madrid youth system, then Emilio “the Vulture” Butragueno was kept on and elevated to the B team in 1982. The hometown boy was leaving his dream, and when he was finally handed his full debut in February 1984, he made sure that his name would be etched upon everyone’s mind. 

Behind 2-0 against Cadiz he scored a brace and set up another to seal a memorable comeback and a quite remarkable debut. From then on, there was no looking back.

In just his second full season, 1984-85, he helped Real Madrid win the UEFA Cup. The signs were there that Madrid were coming back onto the European football map. During that season he earned his first full cap for the Spanish national side, this coming after he went to the previous summer’s European Championship Finals in France, but didn’t get any game time. 

Pedrag Spasic of Yugoslavia pulls the shirt of Emilio Butragueno of Spain

Leading up to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, he had scored 32 goals in 101 appearances for Real, and in helping Spain to the world biggest tournament, he bagged four goals in the warm up games leading to the summer event.

After a disappointing home World Cup in 1982, going on tamely in the second-round group phase, the Spanish were looking to put that behind them with a more positive display in Mexico. 

They had a young squad in terms of experience, 10 players had yet to reach double figures in appearances, but they were led by 30-year-old captain Francisco Jose Camacho, a teammate of Butragueno. In total there were seven Real Madrid players in the squad of 22, the most from any La Liga teams.

In the second pot of seeds they were always going to be handed a tricky group such was the growing strength of the competing nations. They landed in Group 5 with Brazil, then Algeria, and Northern Ireland, who both had very different stories from the last World Cup. Indeed, it was the Irish that upset Spain and caused them to have a harder second phase. The opening game was in Guadalajara under intense sunshine. 

Belgian goalkeeper Jean Marie Pfaff (L)

Brazil were, as always, one of the favourites to lift the cup, so this was to be a good marker. Unfortunately, the Vulture had his wings clipped and couldn’t get any joy from a well organised defence. Socrates scored the only goal of the game to put immediate pressure on Spain, as the Algerians managed a 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland. Brazil then beat Algeria with a single goal, leaving the door open, but next up was a revenge game against the Green Army.

Having been kept at arm’s length by Brazil, Butragueno was determined to get his World Cup started, and in the first minute against the Irish, he did just that. A delightful through ball put him through on the edge of the box and his shot went low into the far corner of the net. A great start got even better on the 20th minute mark when he turned provider with a lovely assist, winning the ball on the corner of the area and sliding a pass to Salinas, who subsequently fired home. 

The ghost of ’82 was being exorcised, and despite getting a goal back just after half time, Ireland couldn’t repeat their upset performance from four years before.

Ambassador for the Madrid final, former

Brazil rattled three goals past Northern Ireland to go through as group winners, meaning Spain faced Algeria in a straight shootout to qualify for the second round. Algeria had good pedigree but couldn’t live with the Spaniards, as Spain won 3-0. With some heavy challenges going in Butragueno was taken off at half time, they couldn’t afford to risk the striker with more important games coming up.

Denmark had blown away their group opposition to make the next round, a 6-1 win over the tough Uruguayans made the world sit up and take note. They followed this up with a 2-0 victory over West Germany. They were exciting and confident. They were everything that Spain needed. The Vulture was ready to strike.

18th June: the last of the second-round knockout games was held at the Estadio La Corregiodora in Queretaro. In the late afternoon sun, it was the Danes who struck first, a very harsh penalty given just after half an hour, which Jesper Olsen coolly dispatched. 

Momentum was clearly with the Scandinavian team but then on the stroke of half time the tide started to turn. With no real danger a sideways no look back pass was swiftly pounced on by Butragueno to slide home. It was a goal from nothing, but showed the strikers great speed and presence of mind. Spain were back in the tie, and after the break played a near faultless half of football.

Ten minutes into the second half, Spain won a corner. It was lofted to the edge of the area and nodded into the danger zone where Butragueno was criminally left unmarked four yards out to steer his header home. 

As he celebrated in front of the large number of Spanish fans behind the goal, you could sense the Danes wilting in the heat. Just a dozen minutes later it was 3-1. A long ball played from just inside their own half had the striker on his way again, he was goal side of the defender and was unceremoniously brought down. With the referee pointing to the spot he grabbed the ball and wanted to complete his hat-trick. Andoni Goikoetxia had other ideas however, and duly smashed the spot kick home. The Vultures day was far from done, and the Spanish were now flying.

With ten minutes to go another flowing move down the right, the Vulture now in his element swept into the middle unmarked to knock in his third and the fourth for Spain, it was as easy as it was sublime. Still, there was time for one more goal. Butragueno was now toying with the Danish defence, turning and jinking. Then with the ball at his feet, on the left side of the area he performed his own Cruyff style turn and was too quick for his marker who hacked him down. 

This time he was literally handed the ball by his colleagues. Rewarded for his hard work and to become only the sixth player to score four goals in one World Cup finals game, the first since 1966. The ball was put firmly to the left of the keeper and history was made. Butragueno had halted the remarkable Danes, and in doing so put himself in the spotlight as well as making his team a favourite to win it all.

Sadly, for him and the passionate Spanish fans, the euphoria was short lived. They went out to a well organised Belgium team on penalties, and it was another case of what might have been. 

Emilio Butragueno went on to become a legend at Real Madrid scoring 123 goals in 341 appearances, helping to establish the team as one of the giants of the game in Europe, winning six league titles 95 consecutive from 1986-90) and a couple of Copa del Rey trophies. His International career ended in 1992 after netting 26 times in 69 games. 

Gary Jordan is the author of ‘Out of the Shadows: the Story of the 1982 England World Cup Team’ published by Pitch Publishing. You can follow him on Twitter at @gazjor1.

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Real Madrid 2-1 Leganes: Heavily Rotated Los Blancos Scrape Bragging Rights Despite Shaky Showing

A heavily rotated Real Madrid forced Barcelona to wait 24 hours longer before having the opportunity to be crowned LaLiga champions after securing a 2-1 win over Leganes on Saturday evening.

Despite Los Blancos’ first half supremacy and two-goal cushion at half-time courtesy of Gareth Bale and Borja Mayoral, Los Legionarios were by far the better side during the second 45. But the visitors were unable to capitalise on Darko Brasanac’s simple finish shortly after the hour-mark to take anything away from the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. 


The results places the Champions League semi-finalists one point behind city rivals Atletico Madrid and means Barcelona must leave Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday evening with something to clinch the title this weekend. 

The hosts assumed complete dominance from the outset, with Leganes struggling to put their foot on the ball for any extended period.

And Los Blancos’ overriding supremacy provided a deserved tangible reward after just eight minutes as Bale found himself in the right place at the right time to toe home his 15th goal of the season. 

Karim Benzema’s initial effort was well blocked by an outstretched defensive boot before possession bounced into the path of the Welshman, whose acrobatic strike had just enough purchase to beat the advancing Ivan Cuellar to give Zinedine Zidane’s outfit the perfect start. 

After going ahead, Real Madrid continued to find themselves in the ascendency; however, from the resulting free-kick of a pacy Nordin Amrabat break, Miguel Ángel Guerrero flashed inches wide of Kiko Casilla’s right-hand post; offering the hosts a warning that despite their dominance, Asier Garitano’s men can punish sloppy defending. 

But moments later, it was the hosts’ turn to spurn a glorious opportunity as Mayoral found the ball at his feet with Leganes goalkeeper Cuellar wildly out of position, only for the young Spanish striker to see his effort cleared off the line by Unai Bustinza to keep his side’s deficit to one.

And the difference on the scoreline came the width of the crossbar away from being reduced to nothing, as Amrabat, undoubtedly the player who had troubled Real Madrid most during the opening half-hour, clipped the top of the woodwork from a sneaky poke on the edge of the area. 

However, on the stroke of half-time, mass confusion surrounded the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu as Mayoral flicked home what he thought was Los Blancos’ second of the afternoon, only for the linesman to rule it out for offside. 

But after a spell of deliberation while on opposite sides of the pitch, the officials elected that the 21-year-old was indeed onside, and referee Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva brought an end to the opening 45 minutes with the score at 2-0, much to the bemusement of the Leganes bench. 

After the break, Real Madrid’s tempo dropped considerably compared to that of the first half, and their lackadaisical approach proved costly shortly after the hour mark as Brasanac brought the visitors back into the contest. 

The hosts’ patched together defensive line seemed to switch off as Amrabat found space on the right-hand side of the area before the Watford loanee squared a simple ball across the face of Casilla’s goal into the path of the unmarked 26-year-old Serb, who slotted home into an unguarded net from six yards. 

After grabbing a goal back, Leganes looked the most likely side to find the net again, with the outfit from Madrid’s outskirts seeing the majority of possession in the attacking third. 

However, Los Legionarios were unable to take advantage of their ascendancy, and much to the dismay of captain Gabriel, who was shown a red card after the final whistle following an altercation with the referee, the clash ended with Los Blancos claiming all three points. 

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Soon-to-Be Real Madrid Star Admits Fears About Moving to Europe With Threat of Terrorism

​Real Madrid’s imminent signing Vinicius Junior has admitted his fear of terrorism in Europe, as he prepares to move to the Spanish capital.

The 17-year-old will officially join Madrid after his 18th birthday in July 2018 – with the minimum age for an international transfer being 18 – but will then likely return to his current club Flamengo on loan for the rest of the Brazilian footballing season.

Whilst it may appear to be a dream move for a young Brazilian being brought up in the suburbs, Vinicius has admitted he fears for his own personal safety once he moves to Madrid, alarmed by the increase in recent number of terrorist attacks across Europe.

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Speaking to ​the Guardian, he admitted: “I am concerned about terrorism because I don’t know what to do, where to run. This isn’t a problem I can predict. It’s very hard.”

The youngster also spoke about growing up with the threat of violence in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. However after signing for Madrid, the youngster’s first move was in fact to move his family out of the suburb and into a safer part of the city.

He added: “This is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I lived for 13 years in São Gonçalo. I know how hard it is to live there. I saw a lot of shootings because I lived close to a favela.”


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“I feared for my brother and what could happen to him. The dream of many people like me, who live in a poor city, is moving to a better place with better conditions.”

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Unhappy Endings: 5 Legendary Football Careers That Finished in Tears

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was sent off in the dying moments of an enthralling but ultimately unsuccessful fightback against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final. It may well turn out to be the 40-year-old’s last ever act in European football.

To me, this just feels all wrong. It was no way for one of the undisputed legends of the modern game to end his European club football career – especially not after his Italy career had ended in such heartbreaking fashion when the Azzurri failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

It’s probably scant consolation for Gigi, but if this season really is his last as a professional footballer, he won’t be the first football legend whose career didn’t get the glorious ending it deserved.

Here are five other stars who discovered just how cruel the beautiful game can be.

1. Gary Lineker – Thwarted by Taylor in Swedish Debacle

Incredible as it seems to someone of my generation, many football fans may not realise that Gary Lineker – the cheerful, unassuming bloke who presents Match of the Day and makes terrible puns – is also one of England’s greatest ever strikers.

As well as winning the Golden Boot at the 1986 FIFA World Cup – mostly thanks to a magnificent hat trick against Poland – the former Leicester, Everton and Spurs man was one of few British players to excel in continental club football, scoring 52 goals in three seasons at Barcelona.

Time and again, Lineker rescued England with his opportunistic goals – so who better to dig the Three Lions out of a hole against host nation Sweden at the 1992 European Championships?

Well, according to manager Graham Taylor, the answer was Arsenal’s Alan Smith (total England goal tally: two), not Lineker – who had scored 48 international goals, just one short of what was then the all-time record set by Bobby Charlton.

So off went Lineker in his final game for England; on came Smith; and out went England, deservedly beaten 2-1 by the Swedes. Oh, and Smith didn’t score.

2. Diego Maradona – From Glory in Mexico to Disgrace in the USA

Some would say that Maradona’s compatriot Lionel Messi has already surpassed him in the ‘GOAT’ stakes.

That’s not what Messi thinks. He once said of the man who inspired Argentina’s second World Cup win in 1986: “Even if I played for a million years, I’d never come close to Maradona. Not that I’d want to anyway. He’s the greatest there’s ever been.”

Anyone who’s seen Maradona’s mesmerising solo goal against England in the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico would be hard pushed to disagree.

Surely a man of such prodigious talent would go out in a blaze of glory when his time came?

Er, no. Not exactly. He was expelled from the 1994 World Cup in the USA after testing positive for the banned stimulant ephedrine.

He never played for Argentina again.

3. Zinedine Zidane – Hero of France’s World Cup Triumph Loses His Head in Germany

Sometimes, you can only really tell how influential a great player is when he isn’t playing.

Midfield maestro Zinedine Zidane was the best of an extremely talented bunch in the all-conquering France sides who won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championships.

Yet it was only in 2002 that we truly realised how important he was, as holders France suffered a shock defeat against Senegal and could only draw 0-0 against Uruguay without their injured talisman.

Out of sheer desperation, France manager Roger Lemerre fielded Zidane in Les Bleus’ last group match against Denmark, but he obviously wasn’t match-fit and France crashed out after a 2-0 defeat.

France fared far better in the next World Cup – which would be Zidane’s last – eliminating Spain, Brazil and Portugal en route to their second final in three World Cups, where they faced Italy. The stage was set for Zizou to become one of just a handful of players in history to have won more than one World Cup, and to end his glorious career on a high.

For most of the game, it was all going according to the script, with Zidane scoring France’s only goal in a cagey match which went to extra time, with the two sides deadlocked at 1-1.

Then, in the second half of extra time, Italy’s goalscorer Marco Materazzi said something disparaging about Zizou’s sister, and the Frenchman both lost his head and used it to butt the Italian in the chest.

It could hardly have been a more obvious red card offence, and the referee had no hesitation in sending him off.

That moment of madness in Berlin was the last act of Zidane’s playing career – such an ignominious end for such a wonderful player.

To add injury to insult, the Azzurri went on to beat France on penalties and lift their fourth World Cup.

4. Iker Casillas – Spurned & Humiliated by the Love of His Life

Hardly any players have more international trophies to their name than Zidane. Former Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas is one of them.

Casillas won two European Championships and the 2010 World Cup in an international career which saw him earn a staggering 167 caps for his country.

He is also a Real Madrid legend, who won everything there was to win – including three Champions Leagues – with Los Blancos, whom he represented at every level over 25 years.

Well, I say Casillas is a Real Madrid legend. I should say that he was one – before his relationship with the club he’d always loved deteriorated beyond repair. He was unceremoniously booted out in 2015, moving to FC Porto.

Various reasons have been given for this – his declining performances, his barely-concealed resentment of being reduced to a bit-part role at the club, along with allegations that he leaked dressing room secrets to the press.

Even so, his final goodbye to Real Madrid still feels like one of the gravest injustices I’ve ever witnessed in football.

In an empty Bernabéu – the scene of so many of Casillas’ greatest exploits, only now without a single fan, teammate or director to thank him for more than two decades of service – the goalkeeper read out a terse prepared statement, broke down in tears and left through the back door.

Of course, football can be a callous business, and it seems likely that Casillas’ conduct did fall short of the highest standards of professionalism.

But still, a player of his calibre – who had lived and breathed Real Madrid all his life – deserved much, much better than that miserably low-key farewell.

5. Steven Gerrard – Tragedy & Farce Rolled Into One for Liverpool Legend

Ah yes. Poor Stevie G. His career definitely deserved a more fitting end.

One of England’s much-vaunted Golden Generation, midfield dynamo Steven Gerrard never shone quite as brightly for his country as for his beloved Liverpool. But boy, did he excel for the Reds.

The one major club honour to elude him – and indeed every Liverpool player since 1990 – was the league title.

He never came closer than in the 2013/2014 season, when his seemingly telepathic understanding with Uruguay striker Luis Suárez was a major factor in a scintillating series of performances which saw the Reds destroy everyone in their path.

Then José Mourinho’s Chelsea turned up at Anfield and didn’t so much park the bus as park an entire fleet of them in their own half. The Reds simply couldn’t get behind the Blues’ massed ranks. And then…

Well, most Premier League fans know what happened next. As half time approached, Gerrard fell over to leave Demba Ba clean through on goal, Ba took his chance, Chelsea added a second breakaway goal in the dying moments of the match, and Liverpool’s title challenge never recovered.

To compound Gerrard’s misery, it was his mistake against Uruguay which cost England the game – and indeed their chances of progressing in the 2014 World Cup – when his awful header left Luis Suárez with just the keeper to beat. The striker duly netted his second of the game to send the Three Lions crashing out in Gerrard’s last ever international tournament.

That was the one time Gerrard wouldn’t have wanted to set up his Liverpool teammate and friend – and things only got worse the following season, which would be Gerrard’s last for the Reds.

He was sent off for a brainless challenge almost as soon as he’d come on in his last ever clash with Manchester United; his last ever Anfield game was a 3-1 home defeat to lowly Crystal Palace; and his last ever Liverpool match was a 6-1 drubbing at Stoke, before he saw out what little remained of his playing career at LA Galaxy in the USA.

Still, at least he scored the Reds’ only goal in the Stoke game. I suppose that’s something.

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Jose Mourinho Insists There Is ‘No Chance’ David de Gea Will Leave Old Trafford This Summer

Jose Mourinho has been forced to confront renewed speculation that star goalkeeper David de Gea could leave Manchester United this summer.

The Spanish international has been consistently linked with a return to his native Spain, where he previously played for Atletico Madrid, to join their city rivals and Champions League holders Real Madrid.

​Sky Sports report that Mourinho has, however, been adamant in his desire to keep hold of his goalkeeping superstar, who was recently named in the PFA Team of the Year and has won Manchester United’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award in three of the last four seasons.

The United goalkeeper’s importance to his side has been paramount again this season, and Mourinho has been keen to warn off any suitors for the Spaniard this summer, insisting there is ‘no chance’ of De Gea leaving Old Trafford at the end of the season.

Real Madrid are reported to have switched their attention to Thibaut Courtois as their primary goalkeeping target ahead of the summer transfer window, with United’s stance appearing to be resolute and seemingly immovable under Mourinho.

De Gea apparently believes the current campaign, his seventh at Old Trafford, to have been his best in a United shirt.

He produced one of the outstanding goalkeeping performances of the season when United defeated Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates earlier in the season, keeping out a relentless drive of Arsenal attack to inspire his side to victory in north London.

The Gunners travel to Old Trafford this weekend to once again provide United’s opposition on Sunday afternoon. The added significance of this being Arsene Wenger’s final visit to Old Trafford as Arsenal manager makes this fixture one which United, and Mourinho in particular, will be all the more eager to win.


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Should Arsenal continue with the kind of offensive dominance and relentless attacking play which they displayed both at Old Trafford earlier in the season and against Atletico Madrid in the Europa League on Thursday night, De Gea could once again have a key part to play. 

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Real Madrid vs Leganes Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More

After being dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Leganes on home soil earlier in the season, Real Madrid will be looking to exact revenge when their close rivals visit the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday evening. 

While the opportunity to close the gap to Atletico Madrid until Sunday afternoon to a single point is prominent, and the knowledge that anything but victory will crown Barcelona as champions, Zinedine Zidane will undoubtedly have one eye on Los Blancos’ Champions League semi-final second leg next week. 

Meanwhile, Asier Garitano’s men will make the short trip knowing this weekend is nothing less than a free hit with their La Liga status for next term already all but confirmed. 

So, ahead of the Primera Division clash, let’s take a look at all you need to know…


Classic Encounter

Real Madrid 1-2 Leganes (January, 2018)

Real Madrid v Leganes - Copa del Rey, Quarter Final Second Leg

Although the two sides have only met five times, the standout fixture was a truly historic moment for Leganes, as they became this season’s giant killers by knocking their Madrid neighbours out of the Copa del Rey on away goals. 

Zidane’s lackadaisical approach to the tie while one goal up from the first leg epitomised Los Blancos’ failings throughout the campaign, with their somewhat woeful attempt at defending La Liga title also evidence of that. 

Javier Eraso gave the January night’s visitors a shock lead midway through the first half before Karim Benzema seemed to restore some normality to the contest.  

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However, Gabriel Appelt Pires’ finish just eight minutes handed victory to the small outfit from the Madrid outskirts and eventually forced Los Blancos to watch on as Barcelona lifted their fourth consecutive King’s Cup. 


Key Battle

Gareth Bale vs Dimitris Siovas

With Cristiano Ronaldo expected to be afforded the evening off in preparation for the Champions League, Gareth Bale will likely spearhead Real Madrid’s attacking line on Saturday evening. 

Although the Welshman continues to be overlooked by Zidane, the forward has 11 goals and two assists to his name from 16 starts, meaning Leganes centre back Dimitris Siovas could be in for a tricking 90 minutes. 

However, with two clean sheets from the last three, admittedly against weaker opposition than this weekend’s task, the Greece international defender will be hoping he can use his experience to get the better of the former Tottenham Hotspur ace. 


Team News

Nacho Fernandez is unlikely to return from injury in time to feature on Saturday, meaning Achraf Hakimi is expected to fill in for the unavailable Dani Carvajal – who picked up a knock against Bayern Munich. 

Isco was another who returned from Germany with an issue, while the aforementioned Ronaldo, Marcelo, Raphael Varane and Toni Kroos could all expect to feature on the substitutes’ bench. 

For Leganes, Alexander Szymanowski (muscle), Martin Mantovani (calf) and Ezequiel Munoz (foot) are all unavailable


Prediction

Despite Real Madrid fielding a weaker side and the distraction of the Champions League semi-final second leg, it would be surprising to see Saturday’s hosts miss out on three points. 


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Leganes have shown already this season they have what it takes to beat the reigning Spanish and European champions; however, with a place in the starting XI up for grabs in midweek, those who are given the opportunity to feature this weekend will want to impress Zidane. 

Score Prediction: Real Madrid 2-0 Leganes

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Joshua Kimmich Slams ‘Naive’ Bayern Performance But Insists Real Madrid Have Big Weaknesses

Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich has admitted that his side were “naive and reckless” during their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Real Madrid in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg.

The 23-year-old opened the scoring for his side at the Allianz Arena, but goals from Marcelo and Asensio gives Real Madrid the advantage going into next week’s return fixture.

“We were completely naive and reckless with our chances. Real shot twice on goal and twice they scored. That’s their quality and that just [must] not happen to us” Kimmich told ​German media after the game.

Bayern Muenchen v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg One

“If a team shoots twice on goal and scores twice, that’s quality. But today they have also clearly shown that they have very big weaknesses.”

The German defender has played 41 times this season in all competitions, and already with the Bundesliga title all wrapped up, will be hoping to turn the game around in the return leg. But, with wasted opportunities in the first leg, Bayern will need to step things up if they are to proceed any further in the competition. 

“Last season we also turned it around, more or less, so that we took the game into extra time. We know that we have to score two goals. It’s possible – Juve showed that, we showed it last year” Kimmich added. 

“I would say the game itself was not a bad one, but such mistakes are simply punished in the Champions League semi final, especially against Real Madrid.

“I did not expect that we would have so many chances, but you just have to take them and kill them in the first half.”

Bayern Munich need to score at least two goals at the Santiago Bernabéu to reach the final of the Champions League.


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Real Madrid will be hoping to become the first team to lift the prestigious trophy three years in a row, since Bayern Munich themselves achieved the feat between 1974 and 1976. 

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Former Spurs Boss Tips Gareth Bale to Choose London Homecoming Over Bayern Munich Switch

Former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp expects Gareth Bale to leave Real Madrid this summer in favour of a move back to Tottenham ​and not Bayern Munich, as has recently been reported.

The Welsh winger has endured a torrid time in Spain since leaving the north London giants in 2013, picking up a number of injuries which have hindered his expected transition into one of the world’s best.

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The 28-year-old is rarely out of the treatment room, and word from behind the scenes is that Florentino Perez and manager Zinedine Zidane have lost patience with the player.

Speaking to ​talkSPORT, Redknapp, who managed Spurs from 2008-2012, said: “Gareth would be a great signing for Tottenham, it would be fantastic.
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“He’s an amazing player. He can play so many positions and in so many systems, there are so many strings to his bow, he’s such a fantastic talent.

Tottenham's English manager Harry Redkna

“Going back to Tottenham – if he comes back [to the Premier League] he would only go to a top-six club, but it would be nice to see him go back to Spurs.

“I think he’ll come home, he’s a homeboy. I remember giving him four or five days off at Tottenham, we didn’t have a game for two weeks or something, and he went back to Wales to see his mum, he didn’t go abroad or anywhere exotic. He’s quite a Steady Eddie, I think he’d like to be back at home.”


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It was Redknapp’s management at Spurs that allowed Bale to flourish, and a number of fans would surely love to see him return to the Premier League where he initially became a superstar, and avoid the less publicised Bundesliga.

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Spanish Report Claims Real Madrid Have Put Clubs on Alert With Decision to Drop Price for Star Pair

​Clubs including ​Manchester United, ​Chelsea and ​Tottenham have reportedly been put on high alert as Real Madrid are willing to drop their asking price for both Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, according to notorious Spanish outlet Don Balon (via ​TeamTalk).

Both players have been ​strongly linked with the exit door at the Bernabéu Stadium over the last few months.

The report claims that president of Real Florentino Perez has dropped the price of both players, with the two starts now reportedly available for just €70m (£61.1m). 

Although, the report does later claim that the price would be the starting point of any negotiations between clubs over the future of the two stars. 

Bidding wars could see the price for both will see that figure rise to nearer £100m, according to the report. 

If the starting price that has been reported is accurate, it may encourage any clubs that have shown a interest in the players to make the first move. 

​Premier League clubs including Manchester United and Chelsea have been linked with Wales star Gareth Bale, while a return to Tottenham has also been mentioned as a possibility for the 28-year-old.

Bale joined Real from Tottenham in the summer of 2013, and has gone onto score 81 goals in 183 appearances for the Spanish club. 

Team mate Karim Benzma has been at the club for almost ten seasons, making a total of 405 appearance for Los Blancos, scoring 190 goals. 


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However, the reports of a reduced price for both should be taken with caution, as the outlet that has reported the news has a reputation for reporting things that don’t always turn out to be true. 

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Dani Carvajal a Doubt for Bayern Return Leg After Suffering Thigh Strain in UCL Semi Final 1st Leg

Real Madrid were without right back Dani Carvajal in a recovery training session on Thursday following the previous evening’s 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semi final tie.

Carvajal lasted just 67 minutes of the game, with Lucas Vazquez forced to operate as an emergency defender in the closing stages to help keep Bayern at bay in Munich.

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Although there has been no official word from Real, news from Spain suggests that the 26-year-old’s thigh problem means he is likely to be sidelined for a period of two to three weeks.

That would see him miss the return leg against Bayern next week, giving coach Zinedine Zidane a potential defensive headache as he plugs the gap in the defence. Continuing with Vazquez may be the best option, with Nacho still recovering from injury and Achraf Hakimi still very young.

Caravjal should, however, be fit for the Champions League final in Kyiv on 26th May if Real can hold onto their advantage. He has played in each of the club’s three triumphs in the last four years.


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In the recovery session, there was an opportunity for 20-year-old Castilla forward Victor Campuzano to join in with the first team squad. Under-19 goalkeeper Dario was also involved.

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