Juventus Boss ​Max Allegri Reveals the Teams He Wants to Avoid in Friday’s UCL Quarter Final Draw

​Massimiliano Allegri has explained why he considers Real Madrid to be the favourites for this season’s UEFA Champions League.

The Juventus boss was speaking in the wake of his club’s 2-0 Serie A triumph over Udinese at the Allianz stadium on Sunday (h/t ​Goal) and was asked about who he would tip to win UEFA’s continental club tournament.

Real have struggled for consistency throughout this season, but have shown signs of recovery in recent weeks to ease the pressure on under fire manager Zinedine Zidane.

Eibar v Real Madrid - La Liga

And, despite their form both domestically and in the Champions League, Allegri stated his belief that Real – alongside La Liga rivals Barcelona – were the teams he wished to avoid in the quarter final draw on Friday as he revealed why Los Blancos were favourites to retain the crown they won last term.

He said: “I hope to avoid both Barcelona and Real Madrid.

“I think Madrid are the favourites to win the competition. They’re focusing solely on the Champions League and there’s nobody else that deals with games in this competition like they do.”

(You may also be interested in ​Juventus Chief Admits There Is Competition to Sign Emre Can As European Giants Circle)

Barcelona are yet to book their passage into the last eight of the competition, and are currently being held 1-1 by Chelsea in their last 16 tie ahead of the return leg at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Real, meanwhile, saw off Paris Saint-Germain over two legs with a 5-2 aggregate scoreline and Juventus stunned Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley 2-1 last week to secure a 4-3 victory over their two legged affair.

Allegri is right to want to avoid the Spanish and Catalan heavyweights after the duo were the teams his Juventus side faced in their last two UEFA Champions League final appearances.

I Bianconeri were beaten 3-1 by La Blaugrana during the 2015 edition of the final in Berlin, Germany before succumbing to a 4-1 defeat to Real last season at Cardiff’s Municipality Stadium.

Allegri and Juventus will be hoping for a kinder draw on the eve of this weekend as they look to win the title at the third time of asking.


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Marcelo Insists Real Aren’t Affected by Critics As Los Blancos Bank on UCL to Save Season

Real Madrid and Brazil full-back Marcelo has claimed that Los Blancos’ players are not affected by the criticism they’ve been getting this season.

The Champions League holders and defending La Liga champions are having a difficult campaign domestically, but look to be well up to the task of defending their European crown for a second season running after dispatching Paris Saint-Germain last week in the last 16 of the competition.

They have had many detractors this season, due to their position in La Liga, yet the Brazilian insists that Real’s squad members hardly care about the stick they’ve received so far.

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“We have talked about this always, there are games that we played not so well and we won, and others that we played better than the rival and we did not win,” he said via Marca on the weekend.

“Soccer is like that, today it was very difficult, they squeeze a lot and we got the three points Until the end we have to win and try to make good matches.”

“Criticism does not affect us at all, as when we do new things they praise us, we do not have to look at that, we do what we have to do and we are focused on what the coach asks us to do.”

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(You may also be interested in PSG Owners Determined to Keep Hold of Neymar As Matter of ‘Pride’ While Real Madrid Rumours Persist)

The 29-year-old was also full of encouragement for compatriot and former Barcelona attacker Neymar, who is likely to miss the rest of the season with a foot injury.

“It is tough for him and I know what he’s going through because I went through a very difficult injury myself,” he pointed out.

“Things will be frustrating and hard for him but I know that he’s going to come back stronger than ever.”

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Spanish Report Claims Liverpool & Arsenal Have Entered Race Alongside Spurs for Real Madrid Star

​Liverpool have entered the race for Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric but face a battle to secure the playmaker’s signature, according to reports in Spain. 

Los Blancos president Florentino Perez is keen to rebuild the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium squad this summer following a disappointing domestic campaign which has left them 15 points behind Primera Division leaders Barcelona with only 10 games remaining. 

According to rumour merchants Diario Gol, as quoted by the ​Liverpool Echo, the 71-year-old Spaniard sees the Croatia international as one who could free up some cash for their planned overhaul, and Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are keen to pounce. 

However, Liverpool are supposedly expected to face fierce competition in their pursuit from both Arsenal and former club Tottenham Hotspur, who are also said to be monitoring Modric’s situation. 

Despite the obvious affiliation to the Gunners’ north London rivals Tottenham – having featured at White Hart Lane for four successful years before switching to Real Madrid – the player’s past allegiances would (at least according to the speculative report) not be enough to stop him joining the Emirates Stadium outfit.

The creative midfielder would not be the first to feature for both Spurs and Arsene Wenger’s men – following the likes of Pat Jennings and Sol Campbell – however, it would be interesting to see where such a physically slight player would fit into Klopp’s high tempo and demanding engine room. 

Liverpool are already expecting RB Leipzig ace Naby Keita to join the Anfield ranks this summer – most likely in replacement for Emre Can who is out of contract at the end of this season – and the Reds already boast the likes of captain Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner and Adam Lallana; meaning they are not short in the centre of the park. 

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Real Madrid & Monaco Reportedly Leading Race to Sign Shunned Arsenal Wonderkid Reiss Nelson

Arsenal prodigy Reiss Nelson has been linked with a move away from north London after being overlooked as a second half substitute in the Gunners’ 3-0 win over Watford on Sunday.

The 18-year-old has broken into Arsenal’s first team this season and has impressed fans with a number of cameo performances, most of which have come in unnatural positions for the exciting forward.

Nottingham Forest v Arsenal - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round

However, less than one year after his good friend Jadon Sancho ditched Manchester City in favour of playing football on the continent, Nelson could be convinced to follow suit with Real Madrid and AS Monaco among the clubs fighting for his signature, according to the Evening Standard.

One factor that is hindering Arsenal in trying to keep Nelson at the Emirates is his current contract with the club – an all too regular problem the Gunners find themselves in.

Nelson will become a free agent in 2019 and could be convinced that a move away is best for his development. 

(You may also like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Reveals Frustration Surrounding Bizarre Europa League Rules)

Former youth teammates Chris Willock, Kaylen Hinds and most recently Marcus McGuane have already ended their short careers with Arsenal in search of furthering their development abroad.

However, one glimmer of hope that Arsenal fans will have is that Nelson, who was born just the other side of the River Thames in Elephant and Castle, is a Gooner through and through.


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8 Players Real Madrid Could Sign to Replace Casemiro This Summer

Real Madrid may have advanced at the expense of Paris Saint Germain in the knockout stage of the Champions League, but Los Blancos’ season and Zinedine Zidane’s job are still in danger.

Despite lifting the historic trophy back to back and snaring La Liga from the grasps of rivals Barcelona last year, the Spanish giants have failed to replicate similar form this season. With Cristiano Ronaldo struggling for goals early on and Gareth Bale forever on the side-lines, Real Madrid needed the same defensive resilience that made Zidane such a hit.

Casemiro has not been on his game so far, venturing too far forwards while getting in the referee’s book too often. With that in mind, a fresh pair of legs and greater tactical protection is needed to stop leaking in goals in La Liga, having let in more than a goal a game so far, with 27 conceded.   

Here’s the pick of the bunch to sit behind Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.  

8. Moussa Dembele

Finally earning the plaudits since his move across London to Tottenham in 2012, the Belgian star has improved continuously for the Lilywhites. 

So strong driving with the ball at his feet and a great retainer of possession, his authority in midfield would keep the ball away from Madrid’s porous defence.

7. Paul Pogba

An outside shot but considering the friction that has been building between boss Mourinho and Pogba, who has been played frequently out of his favoured position, this makes more sense than you’d think. 

Linking up with Zidane could be a dream move for the ex-Juventus star.  

6. Steven N’Zonzi

Another player entering the twilight of his career, the former Blackburn and Stoke man has excelled at Sevilla. Impressing in both the Champions League and La Liga, N’Zonzi has been keen for a move away from the Andalusian club for some time. 

With that lanky stride, he covers a lot of the ground in a nonchalant way similar to Patrick Vieira. 

5. Nemanja Matic

Real Madrid should have gone for the cultured left footed holding midfielder last summer. At 29, the Serbian brings a calm presence to any side and would be a fine fit for Los Blancos. 

Tidy on the ball, strong in the tackle and good in the air, Matic would bring balance to a very attack-minded side. 

4. Arturo Vidal

For pure tenacity, Chilean superstar Vidal would be a solid addition in the Spanish capital. Although he is now 30, the experienced box-to-box midfielder would add steel in front of the defence. 

A leader and tireless runner is needed for Los Blancos this season after a number of shrinking performances. 

3. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Earning rave reviews in Serie A under Simone Inzaghi, the rangey central midfielder Milinkovic-Savic could be a great purchase for Real Madrid, who are someway behind rivals Barcelona in the league. 

Known not just for his strength but also his flair on the ball, the Serbia international would fit in well at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

2. Emre Can

Considering he would be a free transfer, the Spanish champions could do a lot worse than the German powerhouse. 

Linking up with fellow international Kroos and using his imposing presence in the centre of the park could be a fantastic bargain option for Los Merengues. 

1. N’Golo Kante

Should Zidane avoid the chopping board and keep his job, the Frenchmen might decide his compatriot could do the job in midfield. 

Quick in the tackle and usually playing two positions at once such is his energy, Real Madrid may move for the 26-year-old, who could leave if Antonio Conte is sacked.

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PSG Owners Determined to Keep Hold of Neymar As Matter of ‘Pride’ While Real Madrid Rumours Persist

​Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al Khelaifi has been implored to keep a hold of superstar Neymar at all costs by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani out of personal pride, according to a report.

The Brazilian, who is currently recuperating for the rest of the season after breaking his fifth metatarsal against Marseille, ​is continually being linked with a move to Real Madrid and reports are now intensifying following the French club’s Champions League failure.

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The Parisians were defeated 5-2 by holders Madrid at the last 16 stage, which was hugely disappointing for them and particularly for the owner, who covets the European title more than anything else.

As reported by ​Mundo Deportivo, Neymar’s future is now a ‘matter of the Qatari state’. The report claims a source close to Sheikh Al Thani, the owner of PSG and Emir of Qatar, explained that he sees keeping Neymar as a matter of personal pride and not about money.

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However, ABC (via ​Marca) reckon Neymar Snr will attempt to use the time Neymar Jr is sidelined for to apply as much pressure to the situation as he can to force a move. It is thought that he will play master puppeteer and try to negotiate with Al Khelaifi and Real president Florentino Perez. The publication do state that his stay in France ‘cannot be guaranteed’, but he will certainly have difficulty leaving given the Sheikh’s stance on the matter.

Recent reports have suggested it could take as much as €400m to take Neymar back to Spain in any deal and ​AS have suggested that Real Madrid could go about raising at least part of the required funds by off loading the likes of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Keylor Navas, Borja Mayoral, Isco, Dani Ceballos and James Rodriguez, in order to land their man.

Before his injury, Neymar was having a fine season on a personal note, scoring 28 goals in 30 appearances across all competitions.

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Jupp Heynckes Takes Sly Dig at Dortmund As He Rubbishes Robert Lewandowski Transfer Rumours

​Jupp Heynckes has dismissed rumours that ​Bayern Munich could lose star striker Robert Lewandowski this summer, claiming that it is not in the club’s nature to sell their best players.

The Polish striker scored his first hat-trick of the season on Saturday, taking his total for the campaign to 32, as Bayern demolished Hamburg 6-0 to move closer to a sixth consecutive ​Bundesliga title.

​Real Madrid and ​Chelsea are among the clubs rumoured to be interested in Lewandowski, but Heynckes insisted that the Pole would remain at the Allianz Arena for the foreseeable future.

“Robert turns 30 this summer,” Heynckes said, quoted in ​Marca. “He has a contract until 2021.

“But football is short lived, unreasonable requests are made. Bayern don’t do things like that.”

Heynckes compared Bayern’s transfer policy with that of Bundesliga rivals ​Borussia Dortmund, from whom Die Roten bought Lewandowski in 2014.

Dortmund recently sold two of their best players, Ousmane Dembele and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, to ​Barcelona and ​Arsenal respectively, with Aubameyang in particular kicking up something of a fuss to get his desired move.

Heynckes said that such a situation could never happen at Bayern.

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“Bayern are an absolutely top European club, incredibly well-run, with a good atmosphere,” Heynckes said. “I cannot imagine an Aubameyang or Dembele case at Bayern.”

Lewandowski’s treble on Saturday made him the club’s ​highest-scoring foreign player ever with 142 goals. Team-mate Thomas Muller, with 171, is the highest-scoring player currently on Bayern’s books.

Lewandowski also the captain of the Polish national side and will lead them at this summer’s World Cup, where they face Colombia, Senegal and Japan in Group H.


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Zidane Reveals Hilarious Reason Why Sergio Ramos ‘Disappeared’ During Real Madrid’s Eibar Win

​Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane revealed defender Sergio Ramos had to remove himself from the pitch during his side’s 2-1 win over Eibar on Saturday afternoon for around 10 second-half minutes after a Gary Lineker-esque trouser incident.

As Los Blancos searched for the winner with the scores tied at 1-1, they were reduced to 10 men for a short stint after using all three substitutes when the club captain mysteriously disappeared. 

Eibar v Real Madrid - La Liga

However, when his French manager was asked about his player’s absence following Cristiano Ronaldo’s late winner, the former midfielder was only too happy to explain the somewhat vomiting-inducing reason behind it. 

“Ramos sh*t himself a little bit”, Zidane explained to his post-match press conference, as quoted by ​Metro. “I think Sergio had to take a s***, he went to the toilet and returned in a minute.”

Not the perfect situation at the best of times; however, Ramos’ plight could have been made even worse in Madrid’s famous all-white dress. 

Los Blancos’ three points over Eibar lifts them four points clear of fourth-placed Valencia having played a game more; a gap which could be reduced to one – with Los Che Els Taronges leading 1-0 at Sevilla at the time of writing. 


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Real Madrid Concerned After Raphael Varane Sustains Head Injury During Eibar Win

Raphael Varane was forced to come off after a clash of heads during Real Madrid’s La Liga clash with Eibar on Saturday.

The Frenchman was substituted in the first half, according to the ​Sun, after a clash of heads with Eibar’s Kike Garcia during an aerial battle with the score still at 0-0. Garcia was able to continue, however Varane required treatment before Zinedine Zidane was forced to make the change.

Leganes v Real Madrid - La Liga

It was a sight Zidane would’ve been dreading after already having a handful of defensive selection issues so far this season. Both Sergio Ramos and Varane himself have missed nine La Liga games each through previous injuries, and it looks as though the latter may be set for another short spell on the sidelines.

It was Nacho Fernandez who replaced Varane following his aerial collision, however only Ramos and Theo Hernandez remain as Madrid’s established central defenders currently available for selection.

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Despite losing Varane, Madrid were able to notch a narrow 2-1 win over Eibar thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo double which included a late strike to earn them the win. 

The win has now temporarily closed the gap between Real and their fierce rivals Atletico Madrid to four points as Zidane’s side look to stay in touching distance of the top two.

Heading closer towards the business end of the season and with Madrid qualifying for the quarter finals of the Champions League, Zidane and the Madrid fans will be hoping to have Varane back sooner rather than later for what could be Real’s only chance at silverware this season. 


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Eibar 1-2 Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo Brace Snatches Points for Los Blancos From Wasteful Hosts

Real Madrid cut the gap to 2nd-placed Atletico Madrid to four points, after a Ronaldo brace secured Los Blancos a 2-1 win over a spirited ​Eibar at the Estadio Municipal De Ipura. 

Eibar dominated large parts of the first-half but were made to pay for their wastefulness in the 34th minute, when Cristiano Ronaldo collected Luka Modric’s excellent lofted through ball and slotted an effort past Marko Dmitrovic. 

The home side deservedly equalised five minutes into the second-half when Ivan Ramis headed in Joan Jordan’s whipped corner delivery. Eibar pressed for a winner but Ronaldo grabbed his second goal of the game in the 84th minute, when he headed Carvajal’s cross past Dmitrovic. 

The home side had a number of opportunities to take the lead straight from the kick-off in what was a blistering start for Los Armeros. Leon started the move with a bursting run down the right, before he curled a low cross towards the far post which found Jordan. His subsequent shot smashed off Ramos and fell to Capa outside the box on the left, but his powerful cross flashed across goal just beyond the reach of Kike in the middle. 

Eibar continued to pressure the jaded visitors and nearly took the lead in the 5th minute when Ramos’ carless pass was intercepted by Inui on the right. The Japanese international whipped in a cross into Kike, but the striker’s touch was too heavy. 

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Seconds later, the impressive Inui was again afforded the opportunity to cross from the right, but this time he just failed to pick out Kike inside the six-yard box. 

Real were failing to gain any semblance of control over the midfield and Eibar continued to poor forward. 

In the 19th minute Jordan escaped a duo of challenges from Kroos and Modric in the middle of the pitch, before his subsequent pass sent Inui away down the left. The attacking midfielder caught the Real defence by surprise when he unexpectedly back-heeled the ball to Kike 20 yards out on the left edge of the box, but the striker’s low curling effort lacked power and Navas made a comfortable save to his left. 

Eibar v Real Madrid - La Liga

Los Blancos carved out their first real opportunities of the game in the 32nd minute. Bale had the first chance when he was played in by Marcelo inside the box on the left, the Welshman’s shot was superbly smothered by Dmitrovic and the rebound fell to Ronaldo, but the Portuguese forward took far too long to get a shot away and was instead dispossessed on the edge of the box. 

Real Madrid took a somewhat undeserved lead just two minutes later. Arbilla’s attempted pass out from the back was intercepted by Modric midway in the Eibar half, the Croatian curled an excellent outside of the boot pass to the onrushing Ronaldo, who chested the ball down and slammed and effort past Dmitrovic from 12 yards out for the opening goal of the game.  

Los Blancos nearly doubled their lead three minutes from half-time, but Ronaldo was denied his second goal of the game when his deflected shot from just outside the box was excellent tipped over the crossbar by Dmitrovic. 

Eibar found their deserved equaliser just five minutes after the break. Navas had to tip over Escalante’s cross-cum-shot from the right. From the resulting corner, Jordan’s whipped delivery found Ramis, and the centre-back nodded the ball past Navas from six yards out. 

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Real nearly regained their lead in the 60th minute but were again denied by some outstanding goalkeeping. Bale’s cross from the left fell to Ronaldo on the edge of Eibar’s box, the forward side-footed a powerful effort to Dmitrovic’s right but the keeper was equal to it and clawed the ball away for a corner. 

As the half wore on, Eibar started to re-impose themselves and went close to gaining the lead in the 76th minute. Escalante headed a cross back to Inui at the far post on the left, but the winger got his header all wrong from 5 yards out and looped his effort over the bar. 

Eibar v Real Madrid - La Liga

Kike had an even better chance just four minutes later when he was sent through on the left edge of the box, but his touch was heavy and he sliced his effort over the bar from a tight angle. 

Much like in the first half, Eibar were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal and, in the 84th minute, Real regained the lead thanks to Ronaldo’s second goal of the game. Leon lost the ball to Carvajal on the right, and the full-back whipped in a delivery which was met by Ronaldo from five yards out. 

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