Ronaldinho Inspires Real Madrid Wonderkid Vinicius Junior’s Hopes Of Shock World Cup Call Up

Brazilian youngster Vinicius Junior has discussed his desire to go to Russia this summer. The soon-to-be Real Madrid forward has spoken to footballing legend Ronaldinho on his chances, and claims that the words from the former Barcelona man has made him dream of making it to the World Cup.

The attacker is set to make a ​£38.7m move to Los Blancos in the summer, and many seem to believe that Vinicius is the ‘next Neymar’, and possesses the potential to be amongst the world’s elite in the coming years.

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And after a chat with Barcelona legend Ronaldinho, the 2018 World Cup is on the mind of Flamengos latest talent:

“​I dream yes [of going to World Cup],” The 17-year-old admitted, as quoted by Globoesporte.

“These days I was with Ronaldinho and he told me that they always take a younger player. To always concentrate. 

Flamengo v Independiente - Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana 2017 Final

“I have this dream of wearing the shirt of the Brazilian team. I do not know if it’s going to be this year or next year, but I’m evolving every day at Flamengo to get to the right moment and represent Brazil.”

At 17, simply being at the World Cup would prove to be a massive amount of experience gained, regardless of playing time – if any at all. 

However, with the attacking threat that Brazil hold on the international scale (Neymar being the obvious first choice in Vinicius’ position), he probably won’t be holding his breath just yet.


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Influential Duo Add to Real Madrid’s Injury Woes Ahead of Crucial Champions League Clash With PSG

Real Madrid have confirmed that influential pair Luka Modric and Marcelo have both suffered thigh injuries, with the club unable to offer a time frame on either player’s recovery.

For the time being at least, it makes both Modric and Marcelo doubts for games in the coming weeks, including the Champions League last 16 return leg against Paris Saint-Germain.

Marcelo was forced off inside half an hour during the weekend’s La Liga win over Real Betis, while Modric was left on the bench for the game.

It is not clear how long the pair will be sidelined for, but there are now only two weeks before the UEFA Champions League trip to Paris where a place in the quarter finals is at stake.

Los Blancos have four other games before then to contest as well, all in La Liga, with Leganes (A), Alaves (H), Espanyol (A) and Getafe (H) to play in the space of just 12 days.

Given that Toni Kroos is also considered a doubt for the PSG game as a result of a knee problem suffered in the first leg, Real may have genuine problems despite holding a 3-1 aggregate lead.

Adrien Rabiot’s early away goal from the first leg at the Bernabeu ensures that the runaway Ligue 1 leaders are definitely still in the tie, even after Cristiano Ronaldo (2) and Marcelo gave Real a promising 3-1 advantage at the halfway stage.

However, as things stand, a 2-0 win for PSG in Parc des Princes would see Real eliminated on away goals. Potentially without three key players in Modric, Marceo and Kroos, the reigning European champions suddenly look vulnerable despite their aggregate lead.


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Picking the Best Potential Real Madrid Lineup to Face Leganes on Wednesday

​The last time Real Madrid faced Leganes they were shockingly dumped out of the Copa del Rey when Leganes scored twice at the Santiago Bernabeu to go through on away goals. 

Madrid will be sure not the make the same mistake again, as they travel to Leganes for this midweek La Liga tie.

Here’s how Madrid could lineup on the night:

Torhüter

  • Navas

    Navas1

​Keylor Navas keeps his place in goal.

Verteidigung

  • Carvajal

    Carvajal2

  • S. Ramos

    S. Ramos4

  • Varane

    Varane5

  • Theo

    Theo15

​Marcelo picked up an hamstring injury in Madrid’s last game against Real Betis and could be a doubt for Wednesday’s fixture. Theo Hernandez was the man brought on the replace the Brazilian against Betis, and could start here. 

Raphael Varane was rested against Betis but could be brought back in to play alongside Sergio Ramos in central defence. First choice right-back Dani Carvajal will likely complete Madrid’s defence.

Mittelfeld

  • Vázquez

    Vázquez17

  • Casemiro

    Casemiro14

  • Kovacic

    Kovacic23

  • Asensio

    Asensio20

​Marco Asensio scored twice for Madrid as they fought back to a victory against Betis. He could be rewarded with another start on Wednesday. 

With Toni Kroos still unavailable due to a sprained knee, Madrid could name an unchanged midfield from the one that eventually won at Real Betis. Mateo Kovacic could continue to fill-in for Kroos alongside Casemiro. Lucas Vazquez could start again on the right of midfield.

Sturm

  • Bale

    Bale11

  • Ronaldo

    Ronaldo7

​Gareth Bale has been in the picture once again after being injured for the majority of the first hal of the season. The Welshman has not scored in any of his last five matches, but will hope to change that this midweek. 

Cristiano Ronaldo is, of course, sure to start for Madrid. Ronaldo has scored six times in his last three matches which included a brace to see off Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League.

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

Leganes will play host to Real Madrid on Wednesday night, in what is a repeat of last month’s historic ​Copa del Rey quarter final tie. 

While the hosts remain comfortable in 13th in La Liga table, Real Madrid are still lagging behind the leaders at the top.

Despite a run of games without defeat, Los Blancos remain fourth in La Liga and 17 points behind leaders Barcelona. While the title may be out of reach, they still have it all to do to ensure they have a respectable finish to the season. 

Here’s the run down of this Wednesday night’s fixture:


​Classic Encounter

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While this match only took place last month, it certainly is a classic for Leganes fans, and a night to forget for Madrid.

Los Blancos were heading into the second leg of their Copa Del Rey quarter-final draw with Leganes with the advantage. Marco Asensio had scored a late-winner at Butarque, leaving Leganes will it all to do in at the Santiago Bernabeu in the second-leg. 

Leganes shocked the home side when Javier Eraso scored a wonderful curling effort in the first half to draw his side level on aggregate. Karim Benzema responded with a goal early in the second-half to restore Madrid’s advantage. 

Gabriel Appelt Pires’ towering header soon after tipped the advantage in Leganes’ favour for the first time. The side just 13th in La Liga managed to hold on to win the tie on away goals. Leganes had reached the Cope del Rey semi finals for the first time in their history. 


Key Battle

Gabriel Appelt Pires vs Casemiro

The hero for Leganes against Madrid back in January was midfielder Gabriel Appelt Pires. The Brazilian headed the winner on the night to send Leganes through to their first ever Copa del Rey semi-final.

To ensure that no heroics by Gabriel again on Wednesday, midfield general Casemiro will be on hand to dominate the middle of the park. The Brazilian was an unused substitute in the defeat to Leganes, and may be brought in to ensure that there are no surprises on Wednesday.


Team News

The home side have no fresh injury concerns heading into this tie. Defender Mauro dos Santos has been unavailable since January due to a muscle complaint, and is likely to miss out again on Wednesday. Winger Alexander Szymanowski has been missing since December, but has returned to training.

Madrid could be without Marcelo for Wednesday’s clash after he was forced off against Real Betis with a hamstring njury. Toni Kroos will also miss this game, as he continues to recover from a knee strain. 

Potential Leganes Starting Lineup: Cuellar; Tito, Bustinza, Siovas, Salguero; Brasanac, Pires; El Zhar, Goni, Amrabat; Beauvue

Potential Real Madrid Starting Lineup: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Hernandez; Vazquez, Casemiro, Kovacic, Asensio; Bale, Ronaldo


Prediction

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Real Madrid have responded well since their shock defeat to Leganes back in January. They have won four of their last fives games in all competitions, including a 3-1 victory of Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. 

Leganes have maintained their respectable La Liga position of 13th, but have not fared well since their historic win over Los Blancos. Leganes have since failed to win a game, and lost their Copa del Rey semi-final to Sevilla. 

While they got the better of Madrid last time, they will have to play incredibly well to get the better of them twice. 

Prediction: Leganes 0 – 2 Real Madrid


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Hipster Galacticos: 7 Alternative Options to Replace Karim Benzema at Real Madrid

As we all know, the Real Madrid board, alongside their fans, are very demanding and expect success at the snap of their fingers. 

Therefore, with their main striker Karim Benzema currently scoring a goal every 583 minutes, something needs to change. 

With the high profile suggestions aside, here is a list of players who could potential succeed at the Santiago Bernabeu:

1. Roberto Firmino

The Brazilian forward who is a member of the impressive attacking trio at Liverpool has had an incredible season in Merseyside. 

The striker has scored 12 goals and assisted a further six this season but the statistics aren’t what make the Brazilian such a catch. 

The 26-year-old stands at only 5″9 but has demonstrated his incredible strength and ability to shield the ball this season, which would bode well for Real Madrid’s style of play – allowing their fast wingers time to make runs up the pitch. 

2. Maxi Gomez

Maxi Gomez is another strong candidate to fill Benzema’s position at Real Madrid. The Celta Vigo forward is a very strong and physical player who has been likened to Luis Suarez of Barcelona. 

The Uruguayan striker has scored 12 goals this season and on average wins 2.1 of his aerial duels per match, demonstrating his aerial ability and physical presence in the opponents penalty area. 

3. Circo Immobile

Although Immobile doesn’t fit the ‘physical forward’ description, the Italian forward has been in  scintillating form this season. 

The 27-year-old forward has impeccable finishing, scoring 20 goals in 21 appearances for Lazio this season and currently leads the goal scoring charts in Serie A. 

However, what does set Immobile apart from other strikers is his ability to create chances single handedly, something that current Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema struggles with. 

4. Timo Werner

Timo Werner is a young German striker who has made a name for himself at infamous Bundesliga side, RB Leipzig. 

The 21-year-old forward is renowned for his physical play, ability to beat the offside trap and pinpoint finishing – making him the perfect all-round striker. 

The German prodigy has averaged a goal every 120 minutes this season, whilst scoring 21 league goals last campaign. Therefore, Real Madrid will certainly expect goals from this forward. 

5. Dries Mertens

Much like Immobile, not the typical Real Madrid striker but what a wonderful few years the little Belgian has had. 

The Napoli striker has contributed to a goal every 102 minutes this season which is simply ridiculous. Furthermore, the 5″5 Belgian consists of a few trait which may come as a surprise. 

Alongside his impressive dribbling and finishing, the Belgian has an incredible ability of using his strength to hold up the ball, which would certainly benefit Real Madrid’s style of play. 

6. Anthony Martial

An outside shout with Anthony Martial but the statistics show that the Frenchmen would succeed given the opportunity at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Martial has scored a goal every 133 minutes on average and has featured on the Manchester United sideline a lot this season. Therefore, a move away may benefit his career and his ability is undeniable – just asked the terrified defenders across the Premier League. 

Although Martial now operates as a winger, the Frenchmen has consistently expressed his desire to play as a central forward and this may be his opportunity. 

Real Madrid are renowned to sign the most expensive players in the world in order to fix their issues, which sometimes doesn’t work. If they were to sign one of these players, how successful would they be? 

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Spanish Report Claims Madrid Star ‘Ready to Leave’ Bernabeu Amid Offers From Chelsea & Liverpool

Real Madrid starlet Marco Asensio could be open to leaving La Liga champions at the end of the season, if he does not get more game time.

That is according to Spanish rumours outlet Diario Gol, who have made the sensational claims that Asensio is displeased with his current role under Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Betis v Real Madrid - La Liga

While he would undoubtedly prefer to get his regular minutes with Los Blancos, Asensio, who rose to prominence last season, has supposedly told president Florentino Perez that he is prepared to leave if circumstances fail to change.

The 22-year-old has made just 11 starts so far this season, scoring six goals and assisting four more, and would have no shortage of offers from other clubs.

Real Betis v Real Madrid - La Liga

(You may also be interested in: Lewandowski Insists He Isn’t Worried About Madrid Speculation & Wants to Remain Focused on Bayern)

Premier League sides Chelsea and Liverpool are believed to have made approaches for the Spanish player last summer, with Arsenal said to be keen on signing him as well.

There’s also interest from German giants Bayern Munich and Serie A champions Juventus; and if the report is to be believed, then the player could spark an all-out war when the current season comes to a close.

However, any club willing to sign the player may have to cough up a sum that could build them a whole new stadium. Asensio’s buyout clause is set at €700m, and Perez is bent on seeing it paid out if the star is to leave Madrid.

“If someone wants the Mallorcan, he is worth €700 million,” the Real president is quoted as saying. 


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Man Utd Make Real Madrid Star ‘Main Summer Target’ in Bid to Replace Long-Serving Midfielder

Manchester United are reportedly looking to sign Real Madrid central midfielder Toni Kroos this summer, after Jose Mourinho admitted to the media that he is actively searching for a new man in the engine room.

While many have been under the impression that a rift has occured between manager Mourinho and Paul Pogba, ​crunch talks between the two have ironed out any suspected differences that the pair have – and it is believed that any new arrival will not be Pogba’s replacement.

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Instead, the Independent claim that Kroos is being looked at to play in a midfield trio with Pogba and Nemanja Matic, with Michael Carrick retiring in the summer.

Madrid are believed to be ready to part with high value assets in order to build funds for a squad overhaul, and the signing of a huge marquee signing. And United are set to test Los Blancos’ resolve.

Mourinho spoke on the matter on Friday, saying: “We need to sign a midfield player. Because we are going to lose Michael Carrick. Of course, we need balance in the team.

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“Some of you [the media] keep saying that we are going to buy that striker, that winger, that left winger, that right winger.

“You can accuse me of many things, but you cannot say that I lied to you. When I don’t want to say things, I don’t say [them]. But I don’t take you in other directions. We are looking and we are going to try to sign a midfield player.”

Kroos has been a long time target of the Red Devils, and was close to moving to Old Trafford before he went to Madrid in 2014.


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Real Betis 3-5 Real Madrid: Marco Asensio Nets Landmark Goal as Los Blancos Edge Eight-Goal Thriller

Real Madrid rounded off a high-scoring and successful week with a 5-3 away win over Real Betis on Sunday evening which truly portrayed the bipolar campaign the Spanish capital side are enduring this year. 

After Marco Asensio headed his side into the lead during the opening exchanges, Los Blancos’ defensive frailties were thrown into the spotlight once again, as Aissa Mandi squared things up before Nacho Fernandez bundled the ball into his own net just four minutes later. 

However, after the break, Sergio Ramos quickly brought his side level before Asensio netted the famous all-whites’ 6000th league goal with a delicious first-time finish, completing the 15-minute comeback. 

The clash looked all but a formality after Cristiano Ronaldo netted Real Madrid’s fourth of the evening shortly after the hour-mark, however, substitute Sergio Leon gave Betis a glimmer of hope going into the final five minutes of normal time after turning home from a tight angle. 

But, while pushing for the equaliser, a misplaced Cristian Tello pass allowed Karim Benzema to grab a much-needed goal and secure an equally important three points, extending the buffer over Sevilla in fourth place to six once again. 

Inside the highly charged, almost over spilling Estadio Benito Villamarin, both sides were afforded spells of expansive football during the opening exchanges, but it was the visitors who drew first blood on the 10-minute mark as Asensio nodded home from 12 yards.

The hosts’ lack of defensive action could certainly be called into question, as Cristiano Ronaldo was allowed to trot into the area before unleashing a stinging effort which was parried back into the path of the Spaniard by Beticos’ goalkeeper Antonio Adan, allowing the 22-year-old to direct his attempt into the corner of the net unopposed.

After finding themselves behind, Quique Setien’s men began to assert their style of play which has made them such an admirable outfit this term, and their spell of dominance almost proved fruitful shortly before the midway point of the first-half as Mandi latched onto Joaquin’s fizzed corner, but the defender could only flash his header wide.

As the first 45 ticked on, Real Betis maintained their grip on the contest, despite remaining behind on the scoreboard, and Joaquin, who has been a revelation in Seville so far this campaign, looked certain to pull his side level with a sweetly struck 25-yard free-kick, only for Los Blancos custodian Keylor Navas to produce, undoubtedly, one of his stops of the season and retain the capital club’s advantage.

However, shortly after the half-hour mark the Costa Rica international could do nothing to deny Mandi levelling things up, as the 26-year-old rose above Casemiro inside the six-yard box and latched on to yet another sensationally delivered cross from Joaquin before powering his header home sparking absolute bedlam behind the Real Madrid goal.

But, those images of supporters clambering over one another were nothing compared to that of four minutes later when Nacho turned the ball into his own net to give the hosts the lead.

Again, Joaquin catalysed the attack by finding young left-back Junior, who was enjoying only his second senior contest, in acres of space on the left-hand side before the 21-year-old burst into the area unchallenged and attempted to fire his shot across Navas.

The 31-year-old was able to get two hands to it, however, not for the first time this campaign, his parry was less than convincing, and the stop ended up arrowing into the path of Nacho, who could not react quick enough to evade deflecting the ball into his own unguarded goal and sending his side in a one down at the break. 

After a half-time filled with the buoyant Betis diehards in fine voice, the masses were subdued within just five minutes, as Ramos, who started his career just three miles away from the Estadio Benito Villamarin with bitter rivals Sevilla, powered a trademark headed effort which kissed the underside of the crossbar before nestling in the back of Adan’s net.

Whatever orders Zidane barked at his outfit during the break following their underwhelming opening 45 minutes certainly appeared to hold an impact, as shortly after his side drew level, Gareth Bale was smartly denied twice in quick succession after the Welshman was able to overcome the opposition’s high defensive line, but during the reigning Premier Division champions’ next attack, Asensio had no such issue.

Dani Carvajal utilised his raw pace and attacking guile on the right-hand side before cleverly pulling a low cross back into the direction of the breaking Spaniard, who dispatched his attempt first time to complete the stunning 15-minute turnaround as well as mark his side’s 6000th La Liga goal – the only club in history to reach that height.

However, while in the first-half Beticos rallied when faced with adversity, the second saw no such thing, as shortly after the hour-mark, Ronaldo doubled Real Madrid’s advantage.

The five-time Ballon d’Or-winner was again afforded too much space by the hosts’ defence, and after taking possession inside the area, switched play to his right foot before dispatching an attempt which carried too much venom for the hands of Adan.

However, with just five minutes remaining, the contest was blown wide open once again as Leon tucked home from a tight angle to reduce the hosts’ deficit to a single goal.

Junior, who had been hugely impressive despite his inexperience at the top level, burst down the left wing before driving a low ball across the face of goal, wrong-footing Navas and allowing the 29-year-old substitute to add an edge to the final moments.

But, while searching for the equaliser, Tello’s lackadaisical pass offered Lucas Vasquez the opportunity to enjoy some intricate play on the edge of the area with Benzema before the Frenchman eventually slotted his effort past Adan to wrap up all three points. 

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Barcelona Legend Xavi Slams Cristiano Ronaldo in Favour of Former Blaugrana Teammate Neymar

Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar came head to head this week in an exciting Champions League tie where ​Real Madrid left victorious. However, ex-Barcelona midfielder Xavi made a few comments following the match in regard to Cristiano’s ability in comparison to Neymar. 

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In a rather heated interview with So Foot, Xavi was quick to say that he believes that his former Brazilian teammate is now a better player than the five time Ballon d’Or winner. 

“I read many articles ​that said that Cristiano (Ronaldo) was still above Neymar. No, no, it’s unfair,” the former Spanish international mentioned. 

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Xavi, who now plays for Al Sadd in Qatar, played with Neymar for just two years before his departure but has backed up the Brazilian within this interview by questioning the ability of Ronaldo. 

Regarding the recent Champions League tie, Xavi mentioned: “What did Ronaldo do? He scored a penalty and a knee goal. But what about the dangerous situations created by Neymar? The problems that he caused Madrid? And the counter attacks that he launched.”.

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Now 33-years-old, Cristiano Ronaldo has struggled within La Liga, scoring 11 goals in 18 games. Although this is still a healthy return, it is nothing compared to what we expect of the Real Madrid star. 

In comparison, Neymar has scored 19 goals in 19 appearances for PSG this season in Ligue 1, demonstrating a clear difference in form between the Brazilian and the Portuguese. 

Nonetheless, the reverse fixture for this Champions League tie will certainly be interesting as the ​Parisians will travel to Madrid to fight for their place in the next round of the competition. 


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Zinedine Zidane Admits Pressure at Real Madrid Is ‘Extremely Tiring’ Amid Speculation Over Future

​Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has admitted the incessant speculation surrounding his future is “extremely tiring”.

The Frenchman remains under pressure with his side enduring a dismal La Liga campaign, although last week’s 3-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 provided some welcome relief.

Zidane, though, is fully aware of the expectation at the Bernabeu, and has set his sights on “getting to the end of the season”.

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

“For me the most important thing is what I’m doing now, the day to day. I’m not looking further than that,” he said – quoted by ​the Daily Mail.

“I want to get to the end of the season. I’m only bothered about what’s at stake and I don’t want to talk about anything else.

“It’s extremely tiring, for sure, and all the more so at Real Madrid. Of course the time could come when a change is needed, but that’s the case for everyone, the players too.

“This profession can wear you out but here more than in other places.”

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After Wednesday night’s win over PSG, Real Madrid now turn their attention back to La Liga. Zidane’s side travel to Real Betis 17 points behind leaders Barcelona and looking to avoid a repeat of the 1-0 defeat suffered at the hands of Quique Setien’s side in September.

“We performed very well the other night and now we’ve got to focus on our bread and butter, which is LaLiga,” said Zidane.

“We haven’t had many days to rest up but that’s just the way it goes. We’re now just thinking about doing a good job tomorrow.

“Betis are a very good side and are very strong on their own patch. We know how tough it’s going to be but we’ve got our own weapons.”

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