Zinedine Zidane Looks to Star Duo Ronaldo & Bale to Turn Real Madrid’s Season Around

Zinedine Zidane has pinpointed star duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale as the players who will be key in turning Real Madrid’s disappointing season around in the final months of the campaign. 

The highs of last season remain a distant memory for Madrid as they currently languish 19 points behind rivals and league leaders Barcelona, whilst an embarrassing exit from the Copa del Rey at the hands of Leganes has left Madrid’s trophy hopes resting solely on the Champions League. 

Real Madrid v Deportivo La Coruna - La Liga

Los Blancos have stemmed the tide following back-to-back La Liga victories, a resurgence in form including the pummelling of Deportivo La Coruna and a comfortable win over Valencia, both of which Ronaldo starred in. 

The 32-year-old has struggled to reach the heights of previous seasons this term but his unquestionable ability has left his manager optimistic that Ronaldo can spearhead a dominant end to the season.

Zidane said, via Goal: “It’s the same as always, he’s always there. We are always going to ask more from Cristiano because he is the reference point for this team.

“When you finish a game, people can always say Cristiano could have done more. I’m happy with him and the others the same. 

“When there are difficult moments that’s part of a season. We have to be positive and, in the end, I don’t look at the past. I look at the last game that we did in Valencia. That’s positive and at Levante we have another game to show that we want more.”

Valencia v Real Madrid - La Liga

Madrid have not only been buoyed by Ronaldo’s form as Bale’s spectacular return from a calf injury has injected a renewed belief within the club, a star player who Zidane claims is capable of making a difference unlike any other member of his squad. 

“The important thing to start with is that he has consistency, he’s in the team and he can train with his team-mates every day,” he added.

“Most importantly, he needs the rhythm of the match. If he plays well and recovers well, with everything he can bring to the team he is a different player.

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“When he is at his best, he is the player who makes the difference, quite simply. He’s scored goals recently and we know when he gets the ball something is going to happen.”

Real Madrid will be hoping to see their star players shine and continue in their winning ways when they face Levante on Saturday evening.

(You may also be interested in  Zinedine Zidane ‘Not Thinking’ About His Future as Mauricio Pochettino Rumours Emerge


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VIDEO: New Documentary Gives Fascinating Insight into Zidane’s Champions League Final Team Talk

Special footage of Zinedine Zidane’s half-time team talk during last year’s Champions League final has emerged, as part of a new special documentary.

The access-all-areas documentary, called ‘In the heart of the Twelfth’ was produced by Real Madrid TV and follows Los Blancos’ journey to their twelfth Champions League crown. It follows the team from their journey to Wales and their pre-match preparation, through to the post-match celebrations.

The video below shows the Real Madrid players entering the dressing room in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium at half-time. The score was 1-1 at the time, with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Madžukić sending the sides in level.

Ahead of this team talk, arguably the biggest in his managerial career, Zidane waits for all his players to sit in their positions and stands and addresses them. Strip away the circumstances, the fancy fittings and large logo on the floor, this could easily be a non-league environment.

In a rather low-key team talk, Zidane told his players: “We are the best, we just have to prove it. Fight and endure together! Play as one complete team! Always play as one complete team!

“It’s a final. We know that it’s a difficult game for them as well.”

Real Madrid Training Session - UEFA Champions League Final

A simple yet inspired team talk from Zidane saw Los Blancos run out 4-1 winners, with Casemiro, Ronaldo and Marco Asensio scoring in the second half to clinch European glory.

The Frenchman delivered his team talk in respectable (but not perfect) Spanish, moving on to a simple tactical briefing after opening with those passionate words of encouragement.

With this being the most high-profile game in club football, many would have expected Zidane to issue a highly-detailed tactical analysis with complex instructions to follow.

Juventus v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final

Instead, he keeps it simple. Making short, simple statements such as ‘we have to be more aggressive’ and ‘when we have the ball we need to be more patient, play fast out wide.’

“The most important thing is that we defend with aggression but more aggressive not only literally…Not being aggressive just to get a yellow card,” Zidane told his players.

“You need to be closer to each other and more aggressive. We have to be more aggressive, right?”

FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-REAL MADRID

Some managers may have buckled under the pressure of a Champions League final, trying to overload their players with too much information in such a short break.

Zidane keeps his cool, and strips the game down to basics when delivering his instructions. He speaks with concision and clarity.

“When we don’t have the ball, then they will play 4-4-2 with Alves in a high position and Madžukić a bit in front. What we need to do is push them back.”

The Real Madrid manager then closed with a summary of his demands and told his players to ‘always think that the goal will come’ before applauding his men and sending them back out for the second half.

“The only thing is showing a little bit more attitude and rhythm,” he added.

“It’s a final, we suffer but always think that the goal will come.”


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Zinedine Zidane ‘Not Thinking’ About His Future as Mauricio Pochettino Rumours Emerge

​Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has brushed off ​rumours linking Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino with his job.

Madrid made it back-to-back victories with a 4-1 win over Valencia last weekend, and Zidane had plenty to say on his future going into his side’s trip to Levante on Saturday.

“It’s like that. Not just here, not just in Madrid. It’s the daily work of any coach,” Zidane told reporters at his pre-match press conference.

“When things are difficult they talk about and a change and those who could come in.

“It doesn’t affect me. It doesn’t stop me doing my work and fighting and looking for what I want to do each day – improving things.

“I am not thinking at all about what will happen next year, I don’t care.”

Tottenham Hotspur v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League

Real Madrid have La Liga games against Levante and Real Sociedad to focus on, before a huge Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain awaits them. Zidane insists his team only focused on what is immediately ahead of them, though.

“If we think about the PSG game that’s a mistake. The players don’t think that,” Los Blancos boss continued.

“The players think that we have to get our confidence back, as we have been doing. We’ve scored 11 goals in two league games, so just keep thinking about that.

Valencia v Real Madrid - La Liga

“If we do things well, we will have a lot of possibilities to win the game. If we don’t then it is going to be tougher.

“We have to do well in the league, finish as high up in the league as possible and think the league isn’t over. That’s all.”

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Picking the Best Potential Real Madrid Lineup to Face Levante on Saturday

​Real Madrid travel to the Ciutat de Valencia to play lowly Levante on Saturday night in their latest La Liga fixture.

With Los Blancos languishing in fourth, 19 points behind runaway league leaders Barcelona, albeit with a game in hand the lead now seems insurmountable. 

However, Zinedine Zidane will see this game as an ideal opportunity for his side to pick up another victory and build some much needed momentum and confidence as they continue their pursuit of their fierce rivals. 

Torhüter

  • Navas

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The underrated Costa Rican international goalkeeper will continue to retain his position in goal. Athletic and decisive, Keylor Navas should feel much more comfortable in his position between the sticks on Saturday now the continued transfer speculation about his future has been dispelled.

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  • Carvajal

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  • Varane

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  • Nacho

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  • Marcelo

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Following the terrific and morale boosting 4-1 midweek result against Valencia at the Mestalla, Zidane will be loathe to change a defence that performed so effectively against a home side that was hungry for victory.

​Sergio Ramos is still unavailable due to injury, which means that Nacho will continue to deputise for his captain alongside Rafael Varane in central defence. Marcelo and Dani Carvajal will continue in their roles as full backs, which gives their back four a compact look.

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  • Kroos

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  • Casemiro

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  • Modric

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​Los Blancos will turn to the ever reliable midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric.

The threesome have a good variety of athleticism, creativity and a resilience which makes them such an effective midfield unit. 

They will make sure that defensive duties are undertaken, but will not neglect the chance to influence the game when in attack, when the opportunity arises.

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  • Bale

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  • Benzema

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  • Ronaldo

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Despite all the continued talk of the impending disbandment of this offensive trio in the Spanish media, all have remained resilient and resurgent since the enforced winter break. 

They seem to be slowly providing Madrid with their attacking edge, creating opportunities and being clinical in their finishing. 

With Gareth Bale now back from injury he has provided that dynamism that had been sorely missing, which in turn has reinvigorated Ronaldo. They are beginning to look formidable again, just at the right time!  

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PHOTO: Real Madrid Centre Back Sergio Ramos Models Adventurous New Facial Hair on Instagram

​Real Madrid centre-back ​Sergio Ramos has taken to Instagram to model an interesting new style of facial hair.

The Spanish international is renowned for his style on and off the pitch with his days of long hair slicked back in a ponytail forgotten history.

However, his new grooming experiment is adventurous to put it mildly…

​​It’s not quite Hulk Hogan, but this nostril tickler is sure to get a few laughs in the changing rooms at the Bernabeu.

Seemingly unaware that Movember was over two months ago, the club captain used emojis to depict his new facial hair style and appears to have kept it for yesterday’s training session.

Ramos will be hoping the new addition to his upper lip will prove to be a good omen when Real Madrid visit Levante on Saturday hoping to turn their season around after a dire run of form has left them 19 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona.

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Spanish Reports Claim Liverpool Hope to Sign Real Madrid Goalkeeper Keylor Navas in the Summer

​Spanish reports have claimed that ​Liverpool hope to sign ​Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas in the summer, with the hope of finally ending their woes between the posts.

Loris Karius appears to have claimed the no.1 jersey for this season ahead of Simon Mignolet, but there are still doubts over the young German stoppers reliability.

According to ​Diario Gol, Liverpool will compete with Sevilla in the summer for his signature but the Costa Rican hopes to prove his worth at the Bernabeu and stay on instead.

However, he may be surplus to Zinedine Zidane’s requirements if they are to sign one of Thibaut Courtois of Chelsea – ​a move the Belgian is reportedly keen on – or David De Gea of Manchester United.

Navas was signed in 2014 from Levante off the back of a fantastic display at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and has since one back to back Champions League’s with the Spanish giants but his form has seemingly tailed off this season, with Kiko Casilla getting the nod on some occasions.

Netherlands v Costa Rica: Quarter Final - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

The Costa Rican shot stopper almost joined Liverpool’s bitter rivals Manchester United in 2015 and his evident regret at the move falling through won’t please Kopites.

He described it as: “one of the worst days of my career. I cried when the transfer window was closed, near my wife. I’m human and everything exploded. I was waiting in the airport even without suitcases. I was not on the plane, but I was near.”


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Real Madrid Ready Summer Swoop for Liverpool Target Alisson

​Roma goalkeeper Alisson Becker is reportedly top of a shortlist of stoppers lined up by Real Madrid to take over from Keylor Navas at the Bernabeu.

The Brazilian goalkeeper has been a standout performer for Roma this season, with Liverpool among those thought to be interested in the keeper.

According to Spanish publication ​Mundo Deportivo, Alisson could prove an attractive proposition for Los Blancos due to a lower asking price than they would be expected to come up with for Manchester United keeper David De Gea, Chelsea stopper Thibaut Courtois, AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma and even Jan Oblak from Real’s city rivals Atletico.

Alisson has made 28 appearances for Roma in all competitions this season, keeping 12 clean sheets in the process.

By comparison, Real keeper Keylor Navas has kept six clean sheets in 21 appearances across all competitions this season.

Real have had a relatively disappointing season, and they currently sit fourth in La Liga, 19 points adrift of league leaders Barcelona but with a game in hand.

Los Blancos’ poor form this season has also led to speculation surrounding the future of manager Zinedine Zidane, ​with reports suggesting that the Frenchman could be close to leaving the Bernabeu.

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Wales Manager Ryan Giggs Insists Star Man Gareth Bale Is Happy at Real Madrid

Ryan Giggs has said that ‘there is no doubt’ that Gareth Bale wants to stay at Real Madrid.

Last month, reports surfaced that ​Bale had agreed a pre-contract agreement with Manchester United, however Ryan Giggs’ latest quotes seem to have put any possibility of that to bed.

“He’s happy at Real Madrid, he wants to stay, there’s no doubt,” Giggs told ​Marca. “He knows that the coach and the club respect him and he wants to show the fans what he is capable of.

“Bale has no intention of leaving and Real Madrid won’t sell the player. It’s clear that (Manchester) United would’ve been very good for him, but I don’t think that’s an option at the moment, he’s not going to leave Real Madrid.”

The Wales manager also issued Bale with some advice on managing his injury problems. “I played more than 1,000 games and I didn’t achieve it without managing myself properly, without listening to my body,” said Giggs.

“It is essential that the player knows how far he can go. At the beginning of my career I had hamstring problems and I missed a lot of United games, but I beat them.

“What I have told Gareth is that he must be calm and the rest will come. I know it’s not easy to do it, but you don’t have to be obsessed.

“Bale is a great player, one of the best, and for us [Wales], as has been demonstrated in recent months, he is fundamental. It’s clear that the team comes first, but in that team we need the best players and Bale is the best.

Wales v Austria - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier

“Gareth is a player who unbalances opponents. When he has been able to demonstrate his quality at Real Madrid, he has shown that his style of football is fundamental to winning games.”

The Wales manager, who spent his playing career with Manchester United, could not fault Bale’s work rate and desire to improve. “Gareth works hard to be the best.

“I think that today Messi and Ronaldo are above the rest, as they have been demonstrating for the last ten years.”

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Newcastle United Eye Deadline Day Loan for Real Madrid Outcast Marcos Llorente

Real Madrid starlet Marcos Llorente could leave the Santiago Bernabéu before the January transfer window closes, as Newcastle United look to secure a short-term loan for the 23-year-old.

The Magpies will have to go toe-to-toe with Deportivo La Coruña in the race for Llorente’s signature, with the Los Blancos hierarchy understood to be keen on letting the midfielder leave on loan, according to a report from AS.

However, Llorente is believed to want to stay in the Spanish capital for the second half of the season, with Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane also eager to see the Madrileño stay at the club.

Llorente emerged as one of the most promising defensive midfielders in Europe last season while on loan with La Liga outfit Deportivo Alavés.

Since returning to Real Madrid in the summer, the 23-year-old has been granted six league appearances – completing 90 minutes on just one occasion.

(You may also like Newcastle Increase Bid for Feyenoord Striker Nicolai Jorgensen)

It is no surprise therefore that Llorente has been linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabéu this month. Despite being very much in Real Madrid’s long-term plans, their poor form this season hasn’t allowed much room for rotation in the squad.

Rafa Benítez has also already shown a willingness this season to delve into the Spanish market, with Joselu, Javier Manquillo and Mikel Merino all moving to St James’ Park during the summer.


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Agent of Inter Defender Milan Skriniar Teases News €65m Bid for Slovakian Star From European Giants

​The agent of Internazionale defender Milan Skriniar has confirmed that an unnamed European side made a €65m offer for his client this month.

According to ​Gazzanet, one of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United or Manchester City allegedly made the bid for the Slovakia international, who has starred for the Nerazzurri this season after his £20.7m move from fellow Serie A side Sampdoria in the summer. 

The 22-year-old has earned rave reviews for his performances, although Skriniar’s agent Karol Csonto, confirmed his client wouldn’t be leaving San Siro this month.

FC Internazionale v AC Chievo Verona - Serie A

He said: “I can not be too specific, but one of those clubs that came out, made an offer of €65m. He’s an excellent player and it’s no accident that these clubs are watching him. 

“We already knew yesterday and even the first day that Inter would not have sold Milan in January so it was useless. 

“One of these clubs was very interested as I said, I checked and we spoke with Inter and the answer was clear; at this point they can not afford to lose Milan Skriniar. 

Skriniar has featured in every Serie A game for Inter this season, scoring three goals as they sit fourth in the table. Skriniar also has international pedigree, amassing 14 caps for Slovakia since his debut in 2016. 

Now one of Europe’s most revered centre backs at the age of 22, Csonto did fan the flames of a potential move for his client once the summer rolls around.

FC Internazionale v SS Lazio - Serie A

He stated: “We have to remember one thing, in the summer it will be a completely different situation.

“Until then, it remains for seven months and many things can happen until then. It could be a completely new situation.”


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