Jordi Alba Does Not Like Seeing Spain Teammate Isco Playing So Well at Real Madrid

The historic rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona usually pauses when members of both teams play together for their nations. 

This especially happens with Spain, whose manager Julen Lopetegui normally calls up for duty several aces from both the Catalan and Madrid sides. 

However, even when on international breaks, the two clubs’ healthy competitiveness sometimes emerges. Such has happened between Spain teammates Isco and Jordi Alba, as the Barcelona star made some bitter-sweet comments about his Real Madrid friend.

“Isco is one of the best in world, even if I don’t like seeing him at that level (for Real Madrid)”, Alba said in a press conference ahead of La Roja’s match against Costa Rica.

“He’s always played the same way, but now he’s at an incredible level. He’s one of the best in the world.”

He continued: “I don’t mind admitting it, even if he’s an eternal rival of mine and I don’t like seeing him at that level for his club. I know him from my time at Valencia.”

Alba was asked about what has changed since Spain’s unfortunate elimination from the 2014 World Cup at the group stage. He replied: “The introduction of several new faces and the new coaching team have injected new life into us.

“Different things are being done, with all due respect to Vicente del Bosque, who gave me life. There’s a lot of talent in this group and we hope to do well.”

He concluded: “We weren’t up to scratch in Brazil, but we now have a national team worthy of winning the World Cup.”

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Last summer’s controversial departure of long-term teammate Neymar from Barcelona to join Paris-St-Germain was another topic: “At no time did I say that I played better without Neymar. It’s quite the opposite.

“We won many trophies together and he’s a great friend of mine. I enjoy having the left flank to myself much more now, but I never wanted to belittle Neymar. I’d be stupid if I did.

“Every player goes through delicate moments. Now I find myself in a very good way and I want to keep going like this.”

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Real Madrid Reportedly Eyeing January Approach for PSG Star in Bid to Save Season

Real Madrid are reportedly ready to reignite their interest in Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Marquinhos in a bid to strengthen their struggling defensive ranks.

Real have had issues at both right-back and at the heart of the defence this season and Marquinhos’ versatility makes him a player that could help solve each problem.

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According to Diario Gol (DG), Marquinhos has emerged as the choice for Real president Florentino Perez, with the Spanish gossip outlet claiming the club were actually interested in pursuing a deal last summer.

PSG were not interested in doing business at the time. But that seemingly hasn’t deterred Real and DG talk of a possible €80m bid that would make 23-year-old Marquinhos, occasionally linked with Barcelona in the past, the most expensive defender in history.

Teenage Moroccan international Achraf Hakimi has been filling in at right-back in Dani Carvajal’s absence, but at 18 years of age is still incredibly raw and inexperienced.

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In the middle, Sergio Ramos is struggling to find his best form, while Raphael Varane is often injured. Los Blancos chiefs apparently don’t have enough faith in Jesus Vallejo or Nacho either.

Perez is said to have doubts that Real will be able to retain their La Liga and Champions League titles with the defence in its current condition, suggesting that it will be a January approach if the gossip of serious interest is found to hold any truth.

International Champions Cup 2017 - AS Roma v Paris Saint-Germain

With a leakier defence than Leganes, Real currently sit third in La Liga and already trail leaders Barcelona by as many as eight points. In Europe, meanwhile, a 3-1 defeat against Tottenham in their last Champions League outing is likely to mean finishing second in the group and an unseeded place in the draw for the first knockout round.

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Gareth Bale Could Miss Rest of 2017 as Real Madrid Reveal New Injury Blow

​Real Madrid have reported that Welsh star Gareth Bale has suffered an injury setback, following an issue that has kept him out since early last month.

The former Tottenham Hotspur man tore a muscle in his calf at the beginning of October, leaving him ineligible to compete in important matches for both club and country; and it’s looking like he could miss several more games.

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The Spanish side announced that Bale was taken for further testing after complaining with pain in his leg on Thursday, and it was discovered that certain skeletal muscle in his thigh had been ruptured.

A statement on Real’s ​official website reads: “Our player Gareth Bale, who felt some discomfort in his left leg at the end of training last Thursday, has been subjected to different tests today by the Real Madrid Sanitas Medical Services.

“He has been diagnosed with a fibrillar rupture in the middle third of the adductor longus muscle of the mentioned leg. Update pending.”

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Earlier reports suggested that Zinedine Zidane was set to rest Bale for another two weeks before thrusting him back into the first team – but given this latest development, it could be for much longer than that.

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PSG Star Angel di Maria Admits He Was ‘Close’ to Barcelona Move & Reveals Club He Would Never Join

​Paris Saint-Germain star Ángel di María has claimed that the speculation was true and that he did almost join Barcelona this summer, despite having played previously for rivals Real Madrid.

Di María left los Blancos in 2014, after helping them to ‘La Décima’ – their tenth European Cup – but soon after fell out of favour and a unsuccessful move to Manchester United ensued, before PSG bought him a year later.

Despite several reports linking him to Barcelona, in the fallout of the Neymar move, however, a deal never materialised.

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Speaking to ESPN (as quoted by ​Football España) di María said: “I was close and, at the same time, far away from reaching a deal with Barca. I never lost hope over the chance. I was calm about it, but it never happened.

“For sure, life takes many twists and turns and one never knows what the future might hold.”

The Argentine has found game time harder to come by due to the arrival of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, starting just six times in Ligue 1 and not once in the Champions League.

The 29-year-old revealed his Real Madrid past would not stand in the way of him crossing the divide, but did state there was one club in particular he would not join.

“I always say the same thing. The Real [Madrid] players may laugh at me, but I am a fan of [Rosario] Central, and that is why I could never play for Newell’s [Old Boys].

“So, I tell the Central fans to keep up their hope for me – I have always wanted to retire there. But, as for any other club, I have always said I will give my all for the team I am playing for.”

Ecuador v Argentina - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers

The PSG winger is currently in Russia ahead of Argentina’s clash with the World Cup hosts on Saturday afternoon, whilst also in contention for the friendly against Nigeria in South America.

“PSG are in good form right now. We have strengthened well and we have a team capable of going all the way in the Champions League.

“Sometimes, though, having the best [players] does not guarantee you Champions League success. I am working hard to keep making progress, to always improve.”

Di María’s last outing was the 5-0 win over Anderlecht in which came off the bench to get an assist. PSG’s next matches, after the international break, are Nantes and European Cup winners Celtic at home, before a trip to reigning French champions Monaco. 

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Zinedine Zidane Planning to Delay Gareth Bale’s Return Following Injury Lay-Off

​Real Madrid Boss Zinedine Zidane is in no rush to return Gareth Bale to his squad, and plans to delay his comeback by two weeks, per ​Marca.

Bale has appeared nine times for Madrid this season, but has only played for them 20 times since last November after rupturing tendons in his ankle. He was expected to be rushed back in time to face Atletico Madrid after the international break, but the hopes of that are now looking slim. 

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The Welshman suffered a muscle tear in his calf last month, and was unable to suit up for his country, who have failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup, possibly as a result of his absence.

Marca report that Zidane wants the player to get some extra rest in order to ensure that there is no risk of aggravating his calf and will keep him away from the first team for a further two weeks.

Bale has been linked with a move away from the Bernabeu, but Wales legend Ian Rush reckons that it will be more beneficial if he stays at Madrid – although he would love to see him at Liverpool.

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“Gareth Bale is a world class player – every club in the world would want him,” Rush told the Mirror earlier this week. “From a Welsh point of view, I’d like him to stay, to get more European experience; that will benefit Wales. 

“Any English club would want Gareth Bale. Maybe Tottenham have first offer [to bring Bale back to the Premier League],” Rush added. “Man United has been talked about, maybe because the goalkeeper [David De Gea] could go the other way?

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“I’d love to see him at Liverpool though. A world class player. We don’t know what will happen, but it would be great to see him back here [in the Premier League] and at Liverpool.”

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Former Liverpool Misfit Describes Himself as a ‘VW Golf’ in Comparison to ‘Lamborghini’ Messi

​A less than flattering Liverpool career that spanned two seasons and a poor return of zero goals means Iago Aspas is not greeted with fond memories from his time at Anfield. 

After picking up his career at Celta Vigo, where a mini-renaissance has led to a Spanish international call-up, the 30-year-old striker apparently still doesn’t think much of his own footballing abilities.

Speaking in a recent interview with ​A La Contra, the former Sevilla forward joked about himself as a player in comparison with superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

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When asked by the journalist what car Barcelona genius Messi would represent, the ex-Liverpool man responded with tongue in cheek: “a Lamborghini.”

Later pressed by the interviewer what current world player of the year Ronaldo resembles out on the football pitch, Aspas replied: “Definitely a Porsche.”

However, when pressed by the journalist what car Aspas himself would represent, the Celta Vigo star, who bagged 26 goals in all competitions last season replied – perhaps with his Liverpool days in mind: “a Golf.”

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Needless to say most Liverpool supporters and spectators of Premier League football might find that self-deprecating assessment fairly on point.

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Eden Hazard Reveals Which of His Childhood Idols it Would Be a ‘Dream’ to Work With

​Eden Hazard has admitted that it would be a dream come true to work with ‘idol’ Zinedine Zidane at some point in his career.

The Chelsea star did little to placate rumours of a possible move to Real Madrid when he was asked about being coached by the current Los Blancos head coach.

Hazard spoke to Belgian TV station RTL (h/t the ​London Evening Standard) about the man he grew up idolising, and the forward revealed that it would special to link up with Zidane before he hangs up his boots in the future.

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The 26-year-old remarked: “Everyone knows the respect I have for Zidane as a player, but also as a manager. He was my idol.

“I do not know what will happen in my career in the future. However, for sure, to play under Zidane would be a dream.

“I am enjoying life at Chelsea. I still have a lot of things to achieve with them. I am focused on playing for Chelsea.”

The Belgium international has been touted as a potential future Real player, but talk of a move to Santiago Bernabeu have gone cold in recent months.

Hazard moved to west London from Lille in the summer of 2012, and during his five seasons with Chelsea has been tutored by no fewer than seven first-team managers.

One of that septuplet was current Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho, who returned for a second spell at Stamford Bridge to guide the Blues to a Premier League title before being sacked less than six months later with the Londoners dangerously close to the relegation zone.

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Hazard added that the first half of the 2014/15 campaign proved to be a torrid time for Chelsea, but refused to blame the Portuguese gaffer for being the major reason behind the club’s terrible form before he was let go in December 2015.

He said: “There have been a few [bad times in my career]. We have had a few managers over time, which is not great.

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“Mourinho was sacked the year after we won the league. In terms of selection I have known some highs and lows too. It wasn’t always great.”

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Man Utd Boss Jose Mourinho Gives Up Chase for Raphael Varane and Turns to Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti

​​Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is reportedly still looking for defensive reinforcements for his squad, despite already making a number of additions to United’s defence.

£30m summer signing from Benfica, Victor Lindelof, has seemingly failed to impress Mourinho so far this this term and has played just 68 minutes in the Premier League since his move to Manchester.  

Eric Bailly, who moved to United from Villarreal in 2016, has become first choice in Mourinho’s defence. But it would seem that the manager does not see Chris Smalling nor Phil Jones as the long term partners to Bailly at the back. 

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After chasing Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, Jose Mourinho has reportedly conceded defeat and turned his attention to Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti. The ​Mirror are reporting that the French international has become Mourinho’s number one target. 

Umtiti moved to Barcelona from Lyon in 2016, in a move reported to cost around £22m. Since then Umtiti has seamlessly moved into Barca’s first choice back four and looks set to become the successor to the ageing Gerard Pique as Barca’s leader in defence. 

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Supercopa de Espana: 1st Leg

(You may also be interested in – ​Man Utd ‘Consider’ De Gea Departure in Varane-Plus-Cash Deal With Real Madrid)

Umtiti still have four years left on his current Barcelona contract, which includes a £53m release clause. Mourinho will therefore have to pay a high price if he wants to land his target. 

Manchester United have only conceded five Premier League goals this season and have looked strong defensively. But with two league defeats in their last three games, and three goals conceded in that time, Mourinho may feel that he still needs to strengthen his defence.

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7 Real Madrid Players for Fans to Look Out for During the November International Break

Real Madrid have not had the greatest start to the season so far, they are already eight points behind league leaders Barcelona in La Liga, after just 11 games. 

They also trail in their Champions League group as Tottenham have a three point advantage over second place Real, with only two games to go. So the international break may be a welcome rest stop for may fans of the club. 

Here is a  look at seven Los Blancos’ players to watch out for during the break:

7. Isco (Spain)

Costa Rica (11th November), Russia (14th November)

With five goals and four assists in 15 games for Real Madrid this season, Isco has been one of their best performers.

With Spain already qualified for the World Cup, their friendlies against Costa Rica and Russia will be a good opportunity for Isco to continue to showcase his ability as his country prepare for next summer’s tournament. 

6. Toni Kroos (Germany)

England (10th November), France (14th November) 

Germany face tough friendlies against England and France as they prepare to defend their World Cup title from their 2014 victory in Brazil. 

Kroos has had a difficult start to the season with Real Madrid, just scoring one goal and getting no assists in 15 games so far this campaign. So the midfielder will probably be hoping to put his troubles behind him on international duty for Germany. 

5. Sergio Ramos (Spain)

Costa Rica (11th November), Russia (14th November) 

Sergio Ramos has been part of a Real Madrid defence that has only kept four clean sheets in 11 matches in La Liga. 

So a change of scenery might be just what he needs as Spain aim to get ready for their bid to win a second World Cup after their 2010 victory, with friendlies against Costa Rica and Russia. 

4. Marcelo (Brazil)

Japan (10th November), England (14th November) 

Marcelo was part of the Brazil side that lost 7-1 to Germany in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They will probably be hoping to bounce back at next summer’s finals after qualifying with ease from their group.

They face away friendlies to Japan and then England as Brazil and Marcelo look to keep sharp for Russia. 

3. Marco Asensio (Spain)

Costa Rica (11th November), Russia (14th November) 

Spain have already booked their place for next summer’s World Cup and now face preparation friendlies against Costa Rica and Russia. 

Asensio has been one of Real Madrid’s bright sparks this season, scoring seven goals in 18 games, and will hope to continue his good form for Spain. 

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Saudi Arabia (10th November), USA (14th November) 

Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is going through a bit of a rough patch right now for his club in La Liga. 

Despite him scoring six goals in the Champions League from their opening four matches, the 32-year-old’s league form has been concerning. He has featured seven times for the Spanish side this season, and scored just one goal.  

With Portugal already through to the World Cup finals, their friendlies against Saudi Arabia and the USA will give Ronaldo the opportunity to try and find his scoring boots. 

1. Luka Modric (Croatia)

Greece (9th November), Greece (12th November) 

Croatia face a key week as they will play Greece twice to decide who will qualify for the World Cup next summer in Russia during their playoff matches.

One of the Croatia’s best players is Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and they will need him to be at his best if they are to secure passage to next summer’s tournament. 

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Welsh Legend Ian Rush Reveals Which Club He’d ‘Love’ to see Real Superstar Gareth Bale Join

​Ian Rush has revealed that he would ‘love’ to see compatriot Gareth Bale join Liverpool if he ever opted to leave Real Madrid.

The Wales superstar has endured a frustrating 18-month spell with a variety of niggling injuries which have put paid to his chances of building upon a superb 2015/16 campaign with the reigning La Liga champions.

That has led to Bale being linked with a return to the Premier League, and Rush told the ​Daily Mirror that his former club Liverpool should go all out to land him if the forward ever became available.

Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League

The legendary Reds striker said: “Gareth Bale is a world class player – every club in the world would want him.

“From a Welsh point of view, I’d like him to stay, to get more European experience. That will benefit Wales.

“Any English club would want Gareth Bale. Maybe Tottenham have first offer [to bring Bale back to the Premier League]. Man United has been talked about, maybe because the goalkeeper [David De Gea] could go the other way?

“I’d love to see him at Liverpool. A world class player. We don’t know what will happen, but it would be great to see him back here [in the Premier League] and at Liverpool.”

Bale has come in for stick from Real’s fan-base due to the manner of his performances when he has been fit to feature. The 27-year-old has only netted 12 goals in his last 36 appearances for Zinedine Zidane’s men – his absence from the first-team fold coming due to hip, ankle and calf injuries.

It is the last of those that has caused consternation from Bale, with the niggling strain causing him to miss 18 matches for Real since March – including eight so far this season.

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The pacy goalscorer will miss Wales’ upcoming international friendlies against France and Panama due to the problem, but is expected to resume full training in mid-November.

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