Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale Claims Mohamed Salah’s Win ‘Diminishes’ Puskas Award

Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale has claimed that his overhead kick in the Champions League final should have secured him the Puskas Award over Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

This year’s award, handed to the scorer of the year’s best goal in world football, was presented to Salah for his winding run and finish in last season’s Merseyside derby.

Other notable nominees included Cristiano Ronaldo’s overhead kick against Juventus and Bale’s comparable effort in the Champions League final.

Bale, though chivalrous in his protestations, said he was surprised that Mo Salah’s derby goal won him the prize, stating it has “diminished” the award.

“Yeah, I was surprised by that, to be honest,” ​Madrid forward Bale told FourFourTwo, on the award going the way of ​Salah.

“What can you say? It makes the award look a little diminished, although it was obviously a great goal by Salah.”

Bale’s goal of the season submission was scored on the grandest stage of club football which arguably added to the brilliance of his strike.

It took the Welshman just three minutes after entering the fray in Kiev to stamp his mark on the Champions League final, and ​Bale admits it was the best goal of his career.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

“I think you’d have to say that [it was my best goal],” he said. “It was instinctive. I got my body positioned correctly, got my footwork right, and caught it perfectly. When you catch the ball perfectly, you know it’s on target.

“You just have to hope the keeper doesn’t make an unbelievable save. So as soon as I hit it, I knew it had a chance of going in. If you watch it, you see my head turn straight away. I knew where the ball was going.”

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

Bale’s goal wasn’t even voted in the top three, ranking behind Ronaldo’s similar strike against ​Juventus in the same competition. The Serie A striker also claimed his goal was worthy of the title saying in a Q&A session on Instagram reported by ​Goal: “My goal was the most beautiful.”

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James Rodriguez Admits He Will Leave Bayern Munich if He Fails to Get Back in to First Team

​James Rodriguez has admitted that he will look for a way out of Bayern Munich, if he fails to win back his place in the starting lineup once he returns from injury.

The Colombian midfielder, whose season has been interrupted with a ruptured knee ligament, is expected to be out of action until at least the end of December. 

He has only been able to make 11 appearances in all competitions so far this season and has had to watch from the sidelines for the past month as Bayern have flattered to deceive in the Bundesliga. 

FC Bayern Muenchen v Sport-Club Freiburg - Bundesliga

There have been ​reports that it is now no sure thing that the German champions will look to make Rodriguez’s two-year loan deal permanent.

Rodriguez, whose deal with Bayern includes an option to buy from ​Real Madrid, has claimed that he would like to stay in Germany – as long as he sees enough minutes on the pitch.

“If I have to go because I am not playing then I will go. You know that I want to stay because I feel the love of the fans and all the ​Bayern family.” Rodriguez said, as quoted by ​Marca.

“I feel good right now, I want to be fully recovered in one or two weeks. We are working hard to get better results.”

SV Werder Bremen v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga

Bayern currently sit in fourth place in the Bundesliga table and are eight points off of Borussia Dortmund in first p. Manager Niko Kovac is coming under increasing pressure, but Rodriguez insisted that this season should be considered in isolation rather than compared to the glories of the past.

“It is a different situation to last season, we are not competing for as much with the new coach and so we cannot promise as much,” he added.

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Why Real Madrid & Croatia Midfielder Luka Modric Deserved to Win the 2018 Ballon d’Or

​If France Football has any integrity, and wishes to continue its longstanding tradition of reputability and merit, then it had to give Luka Modric the Ballon d’Or at Monday night’s ceremony in Paris. 

It’s as simple as that. The Croat had already picked up FIFA’s precursory ‘The Best’ award and was the prevailing favourite for the award. But, as Francis Ford Coppola found out at the 1973 Academy Awards, or Orson Welles in 1941, or Wesley Sneijder in 2010, this doesn’t guarantee anything.

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But, just as those three varying figures of sporting and film history had hands in historic feats, ​Modric has been this year’s outstanding figure. Unsurprisingly, it was that final name that probably rang the truest, yet also provided the most cause for concern. 

That’s because Sneijder’s 2010 was almost a carbon copy of Modric’s 2018. Both led their team to Champions League glory in May, somewhat against the odds (though they were a bit less stacked for Luka, it must be said), before hauling their countries to an unlikely World Cup final, and so nearly tasting glory. 

Fortunately, Luka did have one edge over his Dutch counterpart – he was rightly recognised as the best player of the tournament in Russia, while Wesley was inexplicably cast aside for the admirable, but incomparable exploits of Diego Forlan. He’d scored the same amount of goals as Forlan from midfield, and gone one stage further, FFS

Perhaps what went against the Oranje and Inter player on that occasion was his age – he was only 26 at the time. Indeed, it’s remarkable, considering Sneijder’s dip in the proceeding years, to consider that the ​Real Madrid man is only one year younger than him now, at 33. 

Inter Milan's Dutch midfielder Wesley Sn

Thankfully, this great maturing has lend him more weight, as it should. He was utterly phenomenal throughout this year, nurturing a disjointed Los Blancos team to European glory once more with his otherworldly passing and majestic majesty on the ball. 

Yet he’s far from being simply a pass-master. As Cesc Fabregas seems to have found out the hard way, in today’s game it is getting harder and harder to exist as such. No, Modric is an industrious, no-nonsense, combative midfielder when he wants to be, and his energy levels at his age seem second to none. 

Think of those three consecutive extra time periods in the knockout round of the World Cup, and the way in which the midfielder always retained his composure and tenacity despite the inevitable fatigue. 

He’s certainly fitter than ​Cristiano Ronaldo, who despite an unrivalled physique and athleticism, doesn’t get around nearly as much as the Croat, and therefore can only produce big moments, rather than sustained excellence across 90 minutes.

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And that, ultimately, is what the Ballon d’Or should be about, sustained excellence on a personal level, that clearly translated to success and superiority for a team. Of course, Lionel Messi is a better player than Luka Modric – he always will be, even when he’s 86. But he hasn’t had a better year than him. Few people have – ​and that’s why he’s a deserving winner.

Sure, Raphael Varane was great, and went one step further than Modric by winning in Russia, but he also had Samuel Umtiti alongside him, plus N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi and a Jose Mourinho-free Paul Pogba ahead of him, playing in a system designed by Monsieur Water Carrier himself, Didier Deschamps. 

Yes, Modric had Rakitic next to him, but he had Dejan Lovren behind him, and some bloke with a ridiculous ponytail alongside him. In light of the recent circumstances in the French capital, as well as Buenos Aires, we definitely shouldn’t have rioted if Modric didn’t win – you shouldn’t care that much.

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Real Madrid’s Luka Modric Beats Ronaldo & Messi to Golden Ball

​Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric has ended the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly on the Ballon d’Or, becoming the first player since Kaka in 2007 to beat either to the prestigious award. 

Modric had a stellar season with Real Madrid in 2017/18, winning the Champions League for the third successive year, before being awarded the World Cup Golden Ball in the summer for his efforts in Croatia’s run to the final.


The 33-year-old topped a 30 player shortlist that included Manchester City’s ​Kevin de Bruyne and Liverpool’s ​Mohamed Salah, as well as Messi and last year’s winner Ronaldo among others, to claim the prize

Ballon D'Or Ceremony At Le Grand Palais In Paris

He was presented with the award at France Football’s ceremony in Paris, and leaves Ronaldo and Messi tied at five awards apiece after impressive individual seasons.

Elsewhere at the ceremony, Lyon’s Ada Hegerberg won the first ever Women’s Ballon d’Or while PSG’s Kylian Mbappe picked up the Kopa award for best U-21 player.

You can see the list of nominees, and how they placed, below.

​1 ​​Luka Modric – Real Madrid
​2 ​Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus
3​ ​Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid
​4 ​Kylian Mbappe – PSG
​5 ​Lionel Messi – Barcelona
​6 ​Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
​7 ​Raphael Varane – Real Madrid
​8 ​Eden Hazard – Chelsea
​9 ​Kevin de Bruyne – Manchester City
​10 ​Harry Kane – Tottenham
​11 ​N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
​12 ​Neymar – PSG
​13 ​Luis Suarez – Barcelona
​14 ​Thibaut Courtois – Real Madrid
​15 ​Paul Pogba – Manchester United
​16 ​Sergio Aguero – Manchester City
​17 = ​Gareth Bale – Real Madrid
Karim Benzema – Real Madrid
​19 = Ivan Rakitic – Barcelona
Roberto Firmino – Liverpool
Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid​
​22 = ​Sadio Mane – Liverpool
Edinson Cavani – PSG
Marcelo – Real Madrid
​25 = ​Alisson – Liverpool
Jan Oblak – Atletico Madrid
Mario Manzukic – Juventus
​28 ​Diego Godin – Atletico Madrid
​29 = ​Isco – Real Madrid
Hugo Lloris – Tottenham​

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Real Madrid Ace Sergio Ramos Makes Another Dig at Mohamed Salah With Twitter Photo

​It has been suggested that Real Madrid ace Sergio Ramos made a sly dig at Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah on Twitter, after uploading a picture of his shoulder injury alongside a cheeky caption.

The veteran defender famously dislocated the Reds talisman’s shoulder in last season’s Champions League Final – a match in which Ramos’ side went on to win 3-1. The Spain international became a loathed figure at Anfield following his performance, and is unlikely to be greeted warmly in the Merseyside city any time soon.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

​Ramos, who injured his shoulder during Sunday’s 2-0 win over Valencia, posted a picture to Twitter on Monday afternoon, seemingly jibing ​Salah with the caption ‘No days off’. The ​Liverpool man was sidelined for 18 days with his injury, and looked a shadow of his former self when appearing at the 2018 World Cup in Russia last summer.

While the Spain international doesn’t directly reference Salah, his caption does suggest that he believes himself to be a more sturdy footballer than the Reds’ sensation. Liverpool will be desperate for revenge against ​Los Blancos, and it will be a fascinating spectacle should the two sides meet in the latter stages of this season’s Champions League in the new year.

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Meanwhile, ​Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has been charged by the FA for running onto the field of play following Divock Origi’s last gasp winner for his side against Everton on Sunday. The late goal saw the Reds earn a 1-0 win at the death, which saw Klopp charge onto the field to celebrate with his goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

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Isco’s Alienation at Real Madrid Puts the Premier League Elite on High Alert

Since Santiago Solari’s appointment as Real Madrid manager, Isco has struggled for game time leading to interest from some of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.

Isco has made 14 appearances thus far this season but most of his minutes came in the truncated reign of Julen Lopetegui. Since Solari has been in charge, the Spanish playmaker has yet to start a game for Real Madrid.

Isco’s situation has interested the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Manchester City, as reported by the Mirror. 


Should Real Madrid make their move for Chelsea’s Eden Hazard in January, there is a chance that Isco will be used as a makeweight in the deal. This may well interest the Blues if they have resigned themselves to losing the Belgian talent.

However, Manchester City have been keen admirers of the Spanish international and Pep Guardiola may well see Isco as the perfect replacement for an ageing David Silva. Nevertheless, with the multitude of world class attackers at City Isco may well find himself on the bench again.

Interestingly​, it’s Tottenham who have come the closest to signing Isco in the past as it was revealed that he nearly joined Spurs two years ago. 

Real Madrid CF v Valencia CF - La Liga

Since joining Real Madrid in 2013, Isco has made 254 appearances for the club and has won a remarkable four Champions League titles. The former Malaga player may feel that he has done all he can for the Spanish giants and his lack of playing time may well force his hand in looking for a move away.

Isco would undoubtably improve any of the clubs linked to the Spaniard and, at just 26-years-old, he is approaching the peak years of his career. However, Madrid are unlikely to let one of their star assets leave cheaply and he will likely try to fetch a premium price.

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Real Madrid have struggled this season following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane in the summer. However, they returned to winning ways on Saturday with a 2-0 victory against Valencia. They next face a home fixture against Melilla in the Copa del Rey. 

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Real Madrid Set to Blow European Clubs Away With January Transfer Offer for Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey

​With Aaron Ramsey’s Arsenal contract set to expire in the summer, Real Madrid are plotting to approach the Welshman on a pre-contract agreement in January. 

The Gunners have thus far been unwilling to sanction Ramsey’s wage demands and their stance has been resolute. The decision not to renew the midfielder’s contract has attracted interest from some of Europe’s elite sides.

However, it is Real Madrid who have now thrown their hat into the ring, according to the Daily Mail. The Spanish giants will look to beat the likes of Bayern Munich and Juventus to the Welshman’s signature.

Wales v Denmark - UEFA Nations League B

Whilst English clubs would have to wait until the summer to ensure Ramsey’s free transfer, foreign sides are allowed to approach the Welshman in the winter window in an attempt to strike up a pre-contract deal. If this deal can be formulated in January, then it would guarantee Ramsey’s move to that particular club in the summer.

Despite their 2-0 victory over Valencia on Saturday, Real Madrid have been poor this season and are currently sat in fifth place in La Liga. Los Blancos have often found themselves overrun in midfield this campaign and the signing of Ramsey would provide them with extra legs in the middle of the park. 

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A move to Real Madrid would allow Ramsey to link up with fellow Welshman Gareth Bale, which could well sweeten the deal for the Arsenal midfielder. The reigning Champions League winners would also be able to offer higher wages than most clubs. 

Nevertheless, Real Madrid will face stern competition for Ramsey’s signature. In addition to a host of foreign clubs, there could well be interest from Premier League clubs such as Manchester United. Whilst selling to a Premier League rival may not be an attractive prospect for Arsenal, they would at least get some money in January rather than losing the Welshman for free in the summer. 

Ramsey has been at Arsenal for a decade after he joined the club from Cardiff City in 2008. In that time he has scored 60 goals for the Gunners and many believe that his goal-threat from midfield will be sorely missed by the north London side. 

The Gunners next face a north London derby against their bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur. A victory for Unai Emery’s side would propel them above Spurs and into the top four once again. 

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Santiago Solari Hails Real Madrid’s First Half Masterclass During Hard-Fought Win Over Valencia

Santiago Solari praised his side’s first half performance whilst conceding they were put under heavy pressure in the second during their 2-0 win over Valencia at the Santiago Bernabeu.

After their embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Eibar in their previous La Liga match, Real Madrid were keen to get back to winning ways against a Valencia side who had only lost two of their opening 13 games of the season, and they began very well.

Real Madrid CF v Valencia CF - La Liga

They took the lead after just eight minutes after some neat play from Dani Carvajal kept the ball alive after Karim Benzema had miscontrolled the ball in the box. The Spaniard then crossed the ball which Valencia defender Daniel Wass headed into his own net to gift the home side the lead.

​Madrid dominated the rest of the half and it looked as though they would run out comfortable winners, but Valencia emerged for the second half a rejuvenated side. They squandered a number of golden opportunities to equalise and they were ultimately made to pay with seven minutes remaining. 

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Lucas Vazquez slotted home from 12 yards out to secure what was a vital ​2-0 win for Madrid. Speaking with the club’s ​official website after the game, Solari admitted he’s looking for performances similar to his side’s first half showing in their coming games whilst also praising the impact of his younger players.

He said: “I’d like us to repeat what we did in the first half. In general, the game was good but we were really impressive in the first 45 minutes. The second half was different, Valencia had chances to draw level and really piled the pressure on.

“The younger players brought some energy, but there needs to be a balance of that and the experience that the older players give. Players who combine both can compete in this squad, but we want to open the doors to those young players who can feature in the future. 

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“Llorente, Odriozola, Ceballos, Reguilón, Vinicius are young talented players who we hope to still have at the club in the next five years. They’re the future of Real Madrid and they need to be part of the present. We’re happy as a club because we have had players who have come up through the system and they’re now getting minutes in the first team.”

It wasn’t a convincing win, however it’s a win that will be welcomed by everyone at the club. TReal will be looking to make it back-to-back wins in ​La Liga when they take on the league’s bottom side SD Huesca on Sunday afternoon.

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Real Madrid 2-0 Valencia: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Real Get Back to Winning Ways in La Liga

Real Madrid recovered from their embarrassing defeat to Eibar in their last league outing with a hard fought 2-0 win over Valencia at the Santiago Bernabeu.

There was a weight of expectation at the Bernabeu prior to kick off given Madrid’s recent run of results, but a lot of that pressure was lifted just eight minutes in. After Karim Benzema miscontrolled the ball in the box, some neat play from Dani Carvajal kept the ball alive before the Spaniard’s inviting cross was headed into the Valencia goal by their own defender Daniel Weiss.

Real Madrid CF v Valencia CF - La Liga

There was a hint of fortune about the goal, however nobody could take anything away from the superb skill shown by Carvajal to set up the goal. Madrid saw out the rest of the first half unscathed and it looked as though it would be a routine victory for Santiago Solari’s men heading into the break, but it proved to be anything but that.

Valencia came out for the second half fired up and created a number of golden opportunities to get themselves back on level terms. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t take any of them and they were ultimately made to pay when Lucas Vazquez tucked the ball home from 12 yards out with seven minutes left to wrap up the win for ​Real Madrid.

Real Madrid CF v Valencia CF - La Liga


REAL MADRID

Key Talking Point

It was a very important win for Real Madrid, however it was far from convincing in what proved to be a tale of two halves. They were very impressive in the first half, looking comfortable in possession and well organised in defence whilst also posing a big threat going forward. However in the second half, they faced a rejuvenated Valencia side.

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Madrid were on the back foot for much of the second half with visitors piling the pressure on, creating a number of golden opportunities. It was always going to be a tough game for Real given the fact Valencia hadn’t conceded in any of their previous four away games whilst losing just two games all season, but the Madrid defence stayed strong and saw out the game. 

There are still a lot of questions to be answered by Solari’s team, but he’ll just be delighted his side were able to earn all three points and stay within touching distance of the top four in ​La Liga.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Courtois (8); Carvajal (8*), Varane (7), Ramos (7), Reguilon (7); Modric (7), Llorente (8), Ceballos (7); Vazquez (8), Benzema (7), Bale (6).

Substitutes: Asensio (7), Valverde (6), Isco (6).


STAR MAN – There were a number of heroic displays at the back for Madrid, but Carvajal was the star man on the night. It was his neat play which set up the opening goal of the game to put his side in command and he continued to be a big threat going forward down the right hand side.

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Not only was he effective going forward, he provided some much needed defensive support to his team when they were on the ropes. A good all-round performance from the Spaniard, who will be very satisfied with his work on the night.

WORST PLAYER – Whilst Madrid will be delighted with the win, ​Gareth Bale will be disappointed with his performance on the night. His place in the starting lineup has been called into question in recent weeks given the team’s poor form coinciding with Bale’s lack of goals in La Liga in recent weeks.

Real Madrid CF v Valencia CF - La Liga

He more than anyone would’ve been determined to prove to Solari he deserves to start, however he struggled to make an impact when his team needed it, and his poor night was ultimately ended early in the second half after he was subbed off to whistles from his own fans. He did himself no favours, and will be determined to put in a better showing next time around.


VALENCIA

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Neto (5); Wass (4), Garay (5), Gabriel (6), Gaya (6); Soler (6), Parejo (7*), Coquelin (6), Guedes (6); Mina (7), Gameiro (6).

Substitutes: Kondogbia (7), Piccini (6), Batshuayi (7).


Looking Ahead

Madrid will look to continue their surge up the La Liga table when they travel to face the league’s bottom side SD Huesca next Sunday afternoon, whilst Valencia will be looking to bounce back after the loss when they host Sevilla on Saturday afternoon.

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River Plate Register Protest as CONMEBOL Change Copa Libertadores Venue to Bernabeu

​River Plate have released a statement protesting CONMEBOL’s decision to change the venue of the Copa Libertadores final second leg to Real Madrid’s Bernabeu stadium.

The first leg finished 2-2 at Boca’s ground and the two teams were due to face off again last Saturday for the return fixture. 

However, three Boca players, including former Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez, needed medical attention when River fans attacked Boca’s bus as it approached the stadium. The game was delayed until Sunday and then postponed indefinitely.

River Plate v Boca Juniors - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2018

CONMEBOL announced the second leg would be played at Los Blancos’ home on December 9, but River have now protested the governing body’s decree.

One part of the statement, released on the club’s ​website, reads: “It is incomprehensible that the most important classic of Argentine football can not develop normally in the same country that in the days that run a G20 develops. 

“Argentine football as a whole and the Argentine Football Association (AFA) can not and should not allow a handful of violent ones to impede the development of the Superclásico in our country.”

River gave two other reasons for their objection to the venue swap. Firstly, River state ‘the failure of the security operation’, which they sympathised with ‘in a timely manner’, was not the failure of the club.


​Secondly, the club highlighted the 66,000 fans who would not be able to watch the match if it took place in Spain. 

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