Valencia 1-4 Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo Penalty Double Inspires Los Blancos to Crucial Victory

Cristiano Ronaldo’s two penalties inspired Real Madrid to get back to winning ways following their midweek loss, as they claimed three vital points in a 1-4 win against Villarreal at the Mestalla Stadium on Saturday.

Martin Montoya was Valencia’s main culprit as his two defensive mistakes virtually cost his side the game. He brought down Ronaldo for the first spot-kick – after a devastating Real counter-attack – before clattering into Karim Benzema for the second. Ronaldo was cool enough to beat Valencia keeper Neto from 12-yard out on each occasion.

The home side halved the deficit just before the hour mark as Santi Mina rose in the box to head Parejo’s deflected cross at goal, steering his effort beyond the reach of Navas into the bottom corner.

Marcelo and Toni Kroos put the game beyond doubt in the dying minutes when their goals put Real into an unassailable 4-1 lead.

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane came into this game knowing he was under intense scrutiny after his side crashed out of the Copa del Rey to Leganes.

They came into the game in fourth place in the Primera División, five points behind opponents Valencia and a further 19 points (with a game in hand) behind leaders Barcelona.

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The first ten minutes of the game were tense exchanges and there were signs of nervousness in Los Blancos’ play as Valencia looked assured in possession. Valencia’s set up looked as though they were the away side, as they sat deep, looking to counteract and press Madrid’s potency with their attacking front three.

Real should have taken the lead when they had the first clear-cut chance of the game when Garay clattered into his goalkeeper Neto as he attempted to clear a cross into the box, Bale found the ball fall to his feet and he drilled a strike which was smartly saved by Neto.

Just minutes later Madrid were awarded a penalty after a devastating box-to-box counter attack, which came from a Valencia corner, Ronaldo was fouled by Montoya in the box following a nice passing exchange between Marcelo and Karim Benzema.

Ronaldo stepped up and held his nerve from 12 yards, as he slotted calmly to the keepers left, sending Neto the wrong way. Real were rewarded for their clinical counter.

Valencia v Real Madrid - La Liga

Valencia seemed to have grown in confidence since falling behind, however, their continuous pressure on the Real goal wasn’t much to savour.

Instead, it was Los Blancos who doubled their lead seven minutes before half-time as Ronaldo scored his second penalty of the game. The penalty came when Martin Montoya clattered into the back of Karim Benzema as he went up for a header in the box. Ronaldo dispatched – this time to the goalkeeper’s right.

A brace from the penalty spot from Cristiano Ronaldo handed Real Madrid a 2-0 lead at the break, although the scoreline was not a fair reflection of the match as Valencia have been active in the final third, but just couldn’t find that vital breakthrough.

The hosts came out with a bit between their teeth as they followed the incentive that Madrid hadn’t won at their ground since 2013. They were finally rewarded for their efforts before the hour when Santi Mina got up well to head in from Parejo’s corner, steering his effort beyond the reach of Navas.

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The noise levels in the Mestalla grew as Valencia upped the ante in the final third, constantly putting pressure on the Real defence.

However, it was Madrid left-back Marcelo who put the game to bed when the Brazilian played a one-two with Marco Asensio down the left before sliding his shot under Neto.

Toni Kroos decided to rub salt into the Valencia wounds as the German drilled a low effort into the bottom corner, leaving Neto with no chance.

Real Madrid remain fourth in La Liga but move just two points behind Valencia. The result may not change their league position, but it certainly eases a bit of pressure off Zidane after the dominant display at the Mestalla.

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Real Madrid Told to Pay at Least £88m in Ambitious Move for Liverpool Star Mohamed Salah

​La Liga giants Real Madrid have again been linked with an ambitious move to bring Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Notorious Spanish rumourmongers ​Don Balon report that Los Blancos are desperate to bring name in a bid to appease fans in what has been a terrible season for the reigning Primera League and Champions League winners, with Zinedine Zidane’s side sat fourth in the league and recently booted out the Copa del Rey by Leganes. 

Spanish journalist Edu Aguirre believes the move could happen however, with Salah’s agent reportedly seen with Real Madrid chiefs as recently as this month.

He said: “Real Madrid have received a visit from the representative of Liverpool player Mohamed Salah. I’m not saying that they’re going to sign him, I’m just saying that his agent – Ramy Abbas Issa – has been at the Bernabeu.”

Salah only made the move to Anfield this summer, leaving AS Roma for £34.3m and his since gone on the flourish under Jurgen Klopp.

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The Egyptian international had formed a lethal front four with Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho, before the latter departed for Barcelona, with Salah scoring 18 league goals and providing six assists in just 23 league games.

It seems unlikely that the Reds will let the 25-year-old leave this summer, never mind in January, although ​Don Balon believe Liverpool have placed an £88m price-tag on his head, ​who has even been linked with a potential swap deal involving Gareth Bale going to other way. 

The outlet reports that club president Florentino Perez wants to replace the misfiring trio of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema with the Egyptian, Harry Kane and Neymar, although the fees involved and financial fair-play considerations, a transfer dealing of this magnitude does seem improbable. 


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Cristiano Ronaldo Admits He May Retire Earlier Than Planned But Dismisses Real Exit Rumours

​Cristiano Ronaldo has insisted he wants to stay at Real Madrid despite fresh rumours linking him back to his former club Manchester United.

The 32-year-old is having what is being well documented as one of his worst years at the club compared with the standards he’s set himself – scoring six goals in 15 La Liga appearances so far this season.

Real Madrid v Villarreal - La Liga

To add to this poor run of form, fresh reports have claimed there were distributed contact negotiations between Ronaldo and the club – saying Ronaldo asked for a deal worth around €50m-a-year which Madrid refused to meet – adding further momentum to the reports the Portuguese international would soon be departing the club.

However, speaking to Chinese football app Dongqiudi (via the ​Metro) Ronaldo has squashed all reports claiming he’s unhappy at the Santiago Bernabeu by declaring his ‘love’ for the club.

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He said: “Of course I want to stay here, I love this club. ‘I like living here. I’ve lived in this city since 2009 and I love the weather and the people. It’s close to Portugal and you can get there by car. Spain is a great country, I love it.”

Speaking about his plans for the future in Madrid, he added: “Now, my plan to retire at 41 will probably be a bit more difficult to achieve, and now we live in the moment. 

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“Being a coach is not part of my plan, but you also know that people change their minds. For the moment I don’t want to be a coach.”

Ronaldo joined Madrid in 2009 for a then-world record fee of £80m, and has had an immensely successful career in the Spanish capital, winning two La Liga titles, three UEFA Champions Leagues and five Ballon d’Ors.

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Speaking on behalf of the other party involved in the speculation, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was also quick to dismiss the rumours, saying: “I think with the moment Real Madrid is having now I think I should be the last one to add some fuel to the fire. 

“Madrid is on fire, the results are not good and it’s a club where I worked three years, I cared about the club, I am the last one to add fire to put some water on the fire.”

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Real Madrid will face Valencia on ​Saturday as they look to narrow the gap on league leaders Barcelona 16 points temporarily, and Ronaldo will be looking to regain the kind of form that won his his fifth Ballon d’or title last year.

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Real Madrid Set to Be Without Two Key Men for Crunch La Liga Trip to Valencia

Real Madrid have issued two brief statements on the fitness of two key players ahead of this weekend’s ​trip to Valencia.

Sergio Ramos and Isco will both stay in Madrid this weekend, report ​Marca, as Los Blancos travel to Valencia.

The news comes as a surprise, as Marca report that both players took part in part of Friday’s training session, which was filmed by the media.

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The duo are not the only two injury doubts for Madrid, as youngster Dani Ceballos is still sidelined by a recent ankle injury, while centre-back Jesus Vallejo’s hamstring injury will keep him out for a further month.

Ramos and Vallejo’s absences mean it looks likely that Zidane will opt for a centre-back pairing of Raphaël Varane and Nacho, the latter of whom has impressed in training this week.

Valencia will also be without two key defenders for this weekend’s tie. Gabriel Paulista is suspended after he collected his fifth yellow of the season against Las Palmas, while fellow centre-back Ruben Vezo picked up a red card in the same game and is also suspended.

The timing of Ramos’ injury is unfortunate, as he only returned from a hip injury on Wednesday to make his first appearance of the calendar year in their midweek loss to CD Leganés.

Regarding Ramos, Real Madrid said: “Following tests carried out on our player Sergio Ramos, he has been diagnosed with a strain with an oedema in the soleus muscle of his left calf. His recovery will continue to be assessed.”

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A very similar statement was also released regarding Isco, saying: “Following tests carried out on our player Isco Alarcón, he has been diagnosed with an impingement in his left hip. His recovery will continue to be assessed.

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Spanish Football Expert Claims Real Madrid Have Only One Man on Shortlist to Replace Zinedine Zidane

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has Mauricio Pochettino – and nobody else – on his shortlist to replace current manager Zinedine Zidane.

That is according to Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, who told ​Sky Sports News: “Pochettino is top of Real Madrid’s wanted list; he is number one, number two, number three and number four for Florentino Perez.”

Pochettino has received plaudits worldwide for his work in English football, with both Southampton and Tottenham. His efforts to transform Spurs into a side regularly contending for a top four spot have also previously ​attracted interest from Paris Saint-Germain, while the man himself has ruled out ever managing Barcelona.

On Real Madrid’s interest in Pochettino, Balague continued: “He [Florentino Perez] definitely wants Pochettino, there’s no doubt about that. I’m pretty sure Mauricio and Spurs know that themselves, but it doesn’t mean anything.

“Pochettino has often said his future does not depend on him and there’s truth in that.

“Before he signed a contract extension in May 2016 he had a buy-out clause that Real Madrid could have activated.

“Now there is no buy-out clause, so for Pochettino to move to Real Madrid they would have to convince Daniel Levy, something Real won’t be able to do.”

The move is not a certainty by any means, regardless of Daniel Levy’s stubbornness. Pochettino has plenty of incentives to stay at Tottenham Hotspur.

“There are a lot of reasons for Pochettino to stay at Spurs,” added Balague.

“You only have to look at the way he speaks inside the club with Daniel Levy, convincing players to sign new contracts and, of course, there is the new stadium next season.

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“But that doesn’t stop Perez having him as first, second, third or fourth choice for the future.”

This fresh speculation from Balague will undoubtedly add fuel to the fire over Harry Kane’s future. The England striker has been the subject of widely reported interest from Real Madrid in recent months, and that looks unlikely to slow down now that Real Madrid’s interest in Mauricio Pochettino has been reported.


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Inter Finalising €20m Deal For Highly Rated Real Madrid Target Lautaro Martinez

​Italian giants Inter are said to be in advanced talks with in-form Racing Club de Avellaneda forward Laurtaro Martinez. 

Despite Real Madrid and rivals AS Roma showing an interest in exciting Argentinian youngster, Inter look set to wrap up a deal for a fee which is believed to be worth between €15-20m according to reports from ​Football Italia.

A meeting with respective representatives is said to have been arranged for Monday or Tuesday next week, with a verbal agreement already in place between the two parties. 

The 20-year-old has not been an ever-present for Racing Club this season but when he has featured, the forward has shown what all the fuss is about scoring four goals and claiming two assists in six games. 

Martinez is certainly one for the future and has been impressing on the international stage as well, netting seven goals in eleven appearances for Argentina at Under-20 level. 

The Racing Club forward isn’t the only Argentine that Inter are said to be keeping an eye on, with Tottenham Hotspur’s Erik Lamela also said to be on manager Luciano Spalletti’s wishlist. 

Current Inter striker Mauro Icardi has proven that Argentinian forwards can be successful in the Serie A, and will be a good mentor for Martinez once his move to Italy is confirmed.  


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Young Argentinian Striker Boldly Admits He’s Aware of Atletico & Real Madrid Interest

Racing Club striker Lautaro Martinez has surprisingly admitted he is aware of purported interest from Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, after a strong start to the season. 

The Argentinian centre-forward, who is highly coveted by top sides across Europe, has ​four goals in six appearances so far this season, since returning from a metatarsal fracture that had kept him out for the first two months of the campaign.

Speaking to ​TyC Sports, the 20 year old brazenly declared: “I found out about Real Madrid this morning. I read some stuff and then my agent told me he wanted to speak to me”.

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He went on to say in the interview that he was yet to speak to his agent, because he “had a couple of things to do”.

There is also considerable interest from Atletico Madrid in the striker, and Lautaro also recently confirmed this speculation in an interview with another Argentinian publication, ​Clarin.

As quoted by ​AS.com, Lautaro admitted: “Until June, I am here and I don’t plan anything beyond then. If they sell me, I will speak with the club that buys me. 

“President Blanco know what my idea is. With Atletico Madrid, talks are very advanced, but they told me there are other teams interested. I repeat: my objective is to work daily to improve and be able to perform in the Racing jersey.”

He also confirmed that his recent contract extension with his native club was signed to enable the club to recuperate more money than his previous €9m release clause: “I always said that I wasn’t going for the clause. 

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(You may also be interested in: ​Atletico Madrid Striker Lucas Hernandez Facing Possible Jail Time for Getting Married)

“At Racing, I had to leave (for) much more than €9m and because of this I renewed. If possible, I would like to leave (for) even more than I signed up for now.”


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Manchester United Hoping to Reinforce Midfield with Real Madrid’s Mateo Kovacic Before Window Closes

​Manchester United have possibly pulled off the signing of the season after bringing Alexis Sanchez in from Arsenal, but as reports stemming from France would have it, the Red Devils are still looking to add another piece to their squad.

​Le10Sport are reporting that Jose Mourinho is keen on signing Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic before the end of the January transfer window.

The Croatian international is way down the pecking order at Madrid, and Mourinho is looking to hand him a way out, with Michael Carrick set to move on to coaching next season and Marouane Fellaini expected to move on from the club.

On Wednesday, Spanish outlet Don Balon reported that Real president Florentino Perez is ​ready to offer Kovacic and Keylor Navas, plus cash, to United in exchange for Spain stopper David de Gea.

It is unlikely Mourinho will sanction such a move, despite De Gea’s contract situation. However, he could propose a loan deal for Kovacic.

With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also gone, the Portuguese tactician will see his midfield options lessen by the end of the season, so snagging Kovacic this month would certainly hand him a boost.

Several sources believe that the 23-year-old is the one who has been identified as a replacement for the departing Carrick, but earlier reports had linked Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred with a move to Old Trafford, branding him the very same.

The Brazilian, though, is also believed to be a target for Premier League leaders Manchester City. So the next few days could be very interesting for both Manchester clubs.


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Statistic Reveals Surprise Real Madrid Player With the Most Minutes Played This Season

A surprising statistic has ​reveal Real Madrid defender Nacho has played more minutes (2257) than any of his teammates this season, as per ​Transfermarkt.

28-year-old Nacho has emerged from the edge of a Bernabeu exit in 2016 to become a mainstay in Zinedine Zidane’s side, where his professionalism and flexibility across the back four has ensured he is one of the most trusted players in the dressing room.

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The defender has made 28 appearances so far this season – just five from the substitutes’ bench – where he has outplayed the likes of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

In the absence of Pepe, Nacho has stepped into the back-line with little fault, consistently offering his presence in vital situations in both attack and defence.  

Nacho’s displays may not result in praise throughout the media, but the 28-year-old’s performance against Deportivo La Coruna last week earned the defender adulation from the home crowd who chanted his name around the Bernabeu following a surprise brace in the club’s 7-1 victory. 

Real Madrid v Deportivo La Coruna - La Liga

His importance to Real Madrid this season was acknowledged by ​WhoScored as they revealed that Zidane’s side have won just twice in the defenders absence in seven league games this season, compared to just one defeat in 12 games with him in the side. 

Whilst Nacho continues to thrive so far this season, the club’s fortunes have not been as fortuitous as Real Madrid currently languish in fourth place in the league – 19 points behind leaders Barcelona, with just one game in hand. 

(You may also be interested in ​Cristiano Ronaldo’s Ex-Teammate Claims Superstar Wants to End Career at Boyhood Club Sporting Lisbon)


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Spanish Report Claims Real Madrid Ready to Offer Man Utd 2 Players Plus Cash in Order to Land De Gea

​Spanish giants Real Madrid are prepared to offer Manchester United two players, as well as cash, in exchange for long-time target David de Gea.

The Spain international has blossomed to the best stopper in all of Europe, arguably, and Madrid still haven’t given up hope in their chase.

(You may also be interested in: ​Roma Director Reveals Chelsea Offer is “Not Interesting” as he Denies Agreeing Edin Dzeko Fee)

That’s according to Spanish source, ​Don Balon, though. The magazine claims that Los Blancos are willing to part with Keylor Navas and Mateo Kovacic, plus cash, to secure a move for De Gea, whose contract is set to expire in 2019.

United boss Jose Mourinho is keen to tie the player down to a new deal, but Madrid are still willing to offer a huge fee despite the possibility of the player becoming a free agent next year.

Mourinho definitely won’t be interested in selling his star stopper unless he feels like time is running out, so it’s unlikely that any negotiations regarding a January deal will take place. However, he could be convinced in the summer if a deal cannot be reached with the player by then.

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De Gea has been one of the Red Devil’s most impressive players in the past few seasons, and his value could go up in spite of his dwindling contract, with half a season left to run and a World Cup coming up after that.

The United boss is said to have shown an interest in signing Kovacic before, and of course anything is possible in today’s game. But it’s highly doubtful such a deal is going to take place this year.


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