​Real Madrid Set to Reward Historic Double-Winning Side With Whopping €70m in Bonuses

​Real Madrid president Florentino Perez may not have followed the crowd and splashed an absurd amount of cash in the summer transfer window, but he is still set to fork out over €70m this month to reward those involved in the club’s triumphant 2016/17 season. 

Zinedine Zidane’s side made history last season by securing a league and Champions League double – in which the latter was secured for the second time in a row for the first time in the ‘modern’ competition’s history.  

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As a result of their unforgettable season, Perez is understood to have set €70m aside from the €80m received from their European glory to reward both the players, the manager and coaching staff, according to ​Diario Gol.

The report has suggested that Perez sat down with the club’s captain, Sergio Ramos, and fellow leadership players to agree on premiums for a title winning season, with the economic enticement seemingly having worked a treat.

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The historic double is set to see each player earn an extra €2m on top of their salary as a reward for their feat which saw the club return to the top of both domestic and European football.

It could be said that Real Madrid did not throw their weight around in the transfer window as they were aware of the bonuses and potential contract renewals that were on the horizon, as well as the fact that their squad is in fine form, as even Perez said: “What goes well is not touched.”


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Real Madrid start the defence of their Champions League titles on Wednesday when they face Apoel Nicosia, could they make it a historic third?

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Real Madrid 1-1 Levante: Marcelo Sees Red for Moment of Madness as Levante Hold Frustrated Madrid

​Real Madrid faced newly promoted Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga’s noon kick-off, hoping to establish dominance against one of the Spanish top flight’s minnows.  

Zinedine Zidane’s side was a rotated one, taking advantage of the depth that his side now has with Kiko Casilla, Theo Hernandez, Lucas Vasquez, and Marcos Llorente coming in for Keylor Navas, Luka Modric, and the still-suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, with Casemiro and Gareth Bale making the bench. 

Madrid set about exerting a near-total authority on the game from an early stage, with their visitors happy to let them keep the ball, and content to sit very deep in their own half. 

However, a spanner was (literally) thrown into the works after 12 minutes, after a static Madrid failed to defend Ivan Lopez’s monstrous long throw, with Ivi pouncing to give the visitors a shock lead and make Dani Carvajal look rather silly in the process. 

Things then went from bad to worse for Los Blancos as starting striker Karim Benzema had to be withdrawn through injury, with Gareth Bale taking his place in the central role. 

Madrid forced a way back into the game ten minutes before the interval, with Sergio Ramos providing a – you guessed it – towering header from a corner, which Raul managed to keep parry, but only as far as Lucas Vasquez, who restored parity for Zidane’s side. 

Real Madrid v Levante - La Liga

With Bale up front, Madrid had a far more imposing outlet up front, and the Welsh talisman could have given his side the lead before the break, choosing to shoot with the outside of his left foot, rather than his weaker right, when through on Raul’s goal. 

Things began to get a little tetchy in the second half, as Levante continued to make life hard for their hosts, countering efficiently, tackling robustly, but not able to regain their lead. Madrid still looked a little disjointed in their unfamiliar line-up, and looked more to be relying on the qualities of their individuals than their shape and system.

Isco was thrown on at the hour mark to attempt to help Zidane’s side find more space, but the resolute discipline and concentration shown by Levante meant that they were worthy contenders to Los Blancos, stifling them excellently. 

After a rare foray into Madrid’s half for a corner, Levante were almost caught cold by Los Blancos’ ruthless counter attack, with Raul saving wonderkid Marcos Asensio’s left-footed shot superbly, reminding everyone watching that Madrid only need one chance to punish any team. 

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A frustrated Bernabeu was left near silent on 87 minutes, as Gareth Bale hung superbly in the air, but could only angle Isco’s cross wide. Seconds later, Marcelo was denied once again by Raul, after Kroos played him in.

Chaos then ensued as Marcelo then received a straight red card for lashing out at a Levante defender, whom he collided with after taking his shot. The incident happened right in front of the referee and epitomised the frustration shown by Madrid fans and players alike. 

Kroos still found time to bend a low shot against the Levante woodwork, before the final whilste sounded. This capped off a truly infuriating afternoon for Los Merengues, who have dropped further points early in the season, after being frustrated by Valencia in a 2-2 draw in their last match.

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Guillem Balague Makes Shock Revelation About Real Madrid Messi Interest in Twitter Q&A

​Most football fans allowed themselves a brief snigger when Florentino Perez suggested that Real Madrid had tried to sign Lionel Messi many moons ago.

The fact that Barcelona would have sanctioned a transfer of their most prized superstar to their bitter La Liga rivals is the most unlikely story to emerge in recent times – and yet there is some truth to it.

In fact, according to Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague, Los Blancos tried to poach Messi from Barcelona – twice.

Balague conducted a Twitter Q&A with Sky Sports’s Spanish division recently and, coupled with the above tweeted answer to one query about Real’s interest in Messi, elaborated on his story.

He revealed: “Florentino did not tell the full story. He actually tried. Twice. Jorge Valdano was a football director at the club, with a great relationship with the Messi family. There were tensions with the Messi’s and the club for many reasons and Valdano & Madrid tried to take advantage of it. It did not go very far!”

Blimey. Imagine how different things would have been if Messi had signed for Real. We imagine Ronaldo wouldn’t have joined them, for starters.

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Could we have seen Ronaldo at Barcelona instead then, given the rivalry between the pair? We’ll never know.

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Former Real Madrid Defender Pepe Takes Thinly-Veiled Swipe at Los Blancos Fans

Former Real Madrid centre-back Pepe has criticised Spanish champions’ fans, juxtaposing them with the supporters of his new side Besiktas, who he claims show more passion.

The Portugal international left the Bernabeu to join Besiktas after spending 10 years with the Champions League holders, and insists that he is very happy with the move.

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Pepe’s transfer came about after Madrid refused him a requested two-year extension, offering one year instead. There was also interest from the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Inter, yet the 34-year-old opted to sign a two-year deal with the Turkish side.

“I spent ten marvelous years in Madrid winning both domestic and Champions League titles and my two daughters were born in the Spanish capital too,” he said after his exit back in June.

But speaking to La Sexta, a Spanish television network (via AS), he was quite critical of Los Blancos’ supporters.

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“Besiktas fans are fantastic,” he declared. “At times when playing for Real Madrid we had to motivate ourselves as the fans were not so passionate. Here at Besiktas, every player heads onto the pitch fully motivated to perform well with the aid of great support.”

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Real Madrid vs Levante Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battles, Team News & More

​Real Madrid host Levante in La Liga’s midday kick-off on Saturday, and Zinedine Zidane will be adamant that his side respond to their recent draw with Valencia by claiming all three points.

With the return of Sergio Ramos amongst their starting line-up, Los Blancos head into their home tie as sure fire favourites to come away with a win after an underwhelming performance before the international break.

However, Levante have had a good start to their season, unbeaten in their opening two matches against Villareal and Deportivo. Currently sat on equal points with their Madrid based opponents, the visitors will be hoping to shock the masses with a win, and kick on with a very impressive opening few weeks.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s clash at the Santiago Bernabeu:


Classic Encounter: Levante 2-3 Real Madrid (October 2013)

Levante UD v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

It’s rare that Madrid fans are ever sat desperately hoping for their team to find a last minute winner, but that’s exactly what they had to endure in October 2013. 

A game that started out as a tedious affair suddenly burst into life on 57 minutes when the home side found an unlikely opener. Baba Diawara kicked off what would finish an intense match with a beautifully timed half-volley.

However, the lead didn’t even last five minutes. Madrid’s goal-scoring centre-back Sergio Ramos managed an equaliser in the 61st, only for Nabil El Zhar to seemingly seal the winner four minutes before time – which would’ve handed Levante an incredible victory.

However, Carlo Ancelotti’s men were resilient, and a 90th minute equaliser from Alvaro Morata was only bettered by the eventual winning goal from Cristiano Ronaldo in the 94th. Madrid made their fans sweat, but managed to get there in the end of what became a fascinating final half hour.


Key Battles

Sergio Ramos vs Alex Alegria

Deportivo La Coruna v Real Madrid - La Liga

Levante’s biggest hopes in this encounter will come through the performance of Alex Alegria. With Roger Marti and Nano both injured, as well as a suspension to wide man Jose Morales, Alegria’s teammates will be looking for the on-loan Betis man to lead the way.

Though starting both of Levante’s matches this season, the youngster is yet to find the back of the net. However, if the forward can make the most of Ramos’ tendency to dive into tackles, the forward could well kick-off his season with a potentially crucial goal against Zidane’s men.

Marco Asensio vs Ivan Lopez

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This is where Madrid fans will be getting excited. The rapid speed of Asensio against the not-so-fleet-footed Lopez has the potential to cause Levante all sorts of problems.

If the young Spaniard can continue the kind of form he’s been showing since the back end of last season, he’ll be too much for any La Liga defence to handle, let alone Levante’s. In Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence, Asensio is the man to turn to.


Team News

Real Madrid

Real Madrid head into this game with the much appreciated return of previously suspended Sergio Ramos.The same cannot be said for Raphael Varane, though. The Frenchman remains sidelined with muscular problems and his return is so far unknown.

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Cristiano Ronaldo is set to miss two more matches (including Saturday’s) before his suspension is finished, and Los Blancos will be without summer signing Dani Ceballos – who is still recovering from injury.

Levante

The visitors are quite severely weakened in their attacking line this week – missing three players who could make quite a difference to the side. Last season’s star man Roger Marti continues to miss out through his ruptured cruciate ligament – expected to return in January. Meanwhile, Nano misses out with a muscle injury sustained at the beginning of August.

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Left winger Jose Morales will be a big miss for Levante. The wide man had shown a promising start to the season before he received his marching orders in the club’s 2-2 draw with Deportivo before the international break.


Predicted Starting XI’s:

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas, Carvajal, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric, Isco, Asensio, Benzema, Bale

Levante (4-2-3-1): Fernandez, Lopez, Postigo, Chema, Tono, Campana, Lerma, Jason, Bardhi, Ivi, Alegria


Predicted Score: Real Madrid 4-1 Levante

Anything other than a Madrid rout will be a big surprise. With Levante’s depleted attack, the visitors will have little to offer going forward – and Madrid can easily be seen pinning them into their own third like cattle in front of the Bernabeu crowd. 

With Madrid’s ridiculous midfield and attacking threat, it won’t be a question of ‘if’ they score, nor will it be ‘when’ they score – but ‘how many more’ will they score?

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Picking the Best Potential Real Madrid Line Up to Face Levante on Saturday

Saturday afternoon will see Real Madrid host Levante as Los Blancos aim to rectify their failure to pick up three points against Valencia before the international break.

Though star player Cristiano Ronaldo remains absent through suspension for Los Blancos, the return of Sergio Ramos will sit very well with Madrid fans, and the entire home section of the Santiago Bernabeu will expect nothing less than a victory in La Liga’s early kick-off.

Here we take a look at the best possible starting XI that Zinedine Zidane could line his squad up with.​

Goalkeeper

  • Navas

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​Between the sticks for Los Blancos will most likely be Keylor Navas – the preferred choice in goal for Madrid ever since his arrival in 2014.

Defence

  • Carvajal

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  • S. Ramos

    S. Ramos4

  • Nacho

    Nacho6

  • Marcelo

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​The big news for Madrid is the return of the previously suspended Sergio Ramos after his red card against Deportivo – pushing Casemiro out of the starting XI. With Raphael Varane still injured, Nacho Fernandez is the most likely candidate to partner the Madrid captain in the heart of the defence.

Ever present full-backs Dani Carvajal and Marcelo are the obvious choices down the flanks.

Midfield

  • Isco

    Isco22

  • Kroos

    Kroos8

  • Modric

    Modric10

The omission of Casemiro from this midfield trio could potentially be a questionable one – after all, every team needs that defensive minded holding midfielder, and the Brazilian fits the bill perfectly.

However, Zidane is an attack minded coach, and in front of his home fans​, the Frenchman will be looking to impress. With Kroos and Modric making up one of the world’s best midfield duos, Isco will be given the freedom to roam and continue to show just how impressive he is against a Levante side that isn’t expected to put up much of a fight.

Forwards

  • Bale

    Bale11

  • Benzema

    Benzema9

  • Asensio

    Asensio20

​However strange it might sound, fans could be forgiven if they’ve forgotten about Cristiano Ronaldo. In the Portuguese legend’s absence, the rising star of Marco Asensio has stepped in and shone as bright as one could expect – scoring both of Madrid’s goals in their draw with Valencia.

Alongside the young Spaniard will stand Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale – with the Frenchman looking to net his first goal of the season. 

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Real Madrid Star Cristiano Ronaldo Predicts Lionel Messi Will Suffer With Barcelona This Season

​Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly confident that he has an edge in the pursuit of individual honours over Lionel Messi this season as his side have a clear advantage over arch-rivals Barcelona – who are seemingly set for a tough year.

Zinedine Zidane’s side secured a La Liga and Champions League double last term and Ronaldo is said to be of the belief that another triumphant season awaits for Real Madrid, whilst Messi is set for anguish on both domestic and international fronts.

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According to Spanish outlet​ Don Balon, Ronaldo is optimistic that his success for Real Madrid will alleviate the pressure he feels on the international stage as he views the World Cup as a game changer for individual honours, which poses as an issue for Messi.

The Barcelona ace has seen Argentina struggle in the World Cup qualifiers, as they currently sit fifth in the South American standings with two games remaining. 

The top four qualify automatically, whilst the fifth-placed side will face a two-leg play-off against New Zealand – which isn’t necessarily a straight forward game. 

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With Ronaldo said to be expecting Barcelona to languish behind his side, the 32-year-old striker expects Messi will need to shine consistently for Argentina if he has any chance of competing for individual honours alongside him. 

As Portugal are continuing their rich vein of form following the Euro 2016 triumph, Ronaldo seemingly has an edge on his rival at this stage of the season, but as we know football can change in a flash and Messi is no ordinary footballer. ​​

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Karim Benzema Waxes Lyrical About Natural Winner Zinedine Zidane & Insists Success Is ‘Not Luck’

Karim Benzema has praised his manager and countryman Zinedine Zidane for his impact at Real Madrid, while dismissing any idea that luck has played a part in Los Blancos’ recent successes.

Since Zidane’s arrival as first team manager in 2016, Benzema and has teammates have won back to back Champions League titles as well as La Liga in 2017/18.

The 29-year-old forward, now in his ninth season in the Spanish capital, has worked under six bosses at the Santiago Bernabeu. However, Zidane’s record speaks for itself.

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Speaking with Spanish site ​Fichajes the striker said: “I would say that Zidane had a great impact because we won titles. We are the best team, the titles prove it.”

Benzema also revealed an insight into the 45-year-old former Ballon d’Or winner’s man management style.

“Zidane conveys a lot of confidence, although I already have a lot,” Benzema explained. 

“He is patient, calm and knows how to give good advice. He is important in the locker room. He has many meetings, talks a lot with the players. Everything he says makes sense. We are always attentive.”

The former Lyon striker, who has scored 122 league goals for Real Madrid, also hinted that being managed by a former ‘Galactico’ had a beneficial effect on the players and that Zidane’s trophy-laden career both on the pitch and off it are well-deserved.

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“You can get lucky once, but you can not always have it. After so many successes, it can not be just luck,” he added.

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Jorge Mendes Part of 3-Man Team Set to Testify in Ongoing Ronaldo Tax Evasion Case

​World renowned football agent Jorge Mendes is set to testify alongside two other advisers in Cristiano Ronaldo’s ongoing tax evasion court case.

The Real Madrid player is currently battling against accusations that he has failed to fork over around £13m in tax to the Spanish authorities and, according to ​Marca, has called on Mendes and two others to stand before the courts and talk up his good character.

Mendes, along with Luis Correia and Carlos Osorio, have been referred to by Ronaldo as his “closest team” whom he pays vast sums of cash to in order to prevent “this sort of nonsense” from occurring.

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Correira is reportedly responsible for Ronaldo’s image rights deals that allow the forward to earn extra money from sponsorship deals and the like, while Osorio is the lawyer of Mendes’ ‘Gestifute’ agency and is tasked with running the rule over every conceivable law to make sure they are not being broken.

The judge in charge of the case, Monica Gomez Ferrer, wants to check that the trio’s responsibility and participation in any tax avoidance on Ronaldo’s part.

Mendes, Osorio and Correira will testify when the case is reconvened on Thursday 19th October in the Madrid suburb of Pozuelo de Alarcón.

Ronaldo vociferously denied the charges put towards him when he appeared in court for his prelimiary hearing on 31st July.

The ex-Manchester United and Sporting star is alleged to have only declare around £10.5m, relating to his Spanish income, between 2011 and 2014, when the prosecution claims he made in excess of £39m during those three years.

Further accusations levelled at the Portugal captain also claim that he “voluntarily” refused to include around £26m in income linked to image rights he will receive between 2015 and 2020 – more charges that Ronaldo steadfastly denies.


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This is not the first time that Mendes has been embroiled in supposed tax evasion, with the agent also implicated in other Spanish tax authority queries relating to clients such as United boss Jose Mourinho, Monaco star Radamel Falcao and Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel Di Maria.

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Hazard is Happy at Chelsea But Says “Why Not” to a Potential Future Switch to La Liga

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has admitted that although he is currently ‘happy’ at Chelsea, he would strongly consider a switch to La Liga in the future, a major division which the diminutive winger believes is ‘special’ – according to a report published by Spanish outlet Marca (via Club Call).

Since being rendered sidelined in June after sustaining an ankle injury, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard presumably avoided a summer transfer window frenzy for his signature from some of Europe’s biggest clubs​, including Real Madrid, who have in the past made their interest in the Belgian attacker known.

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Hazard, 26, desires to return to the fray for Antonio Conte’s outfit to help them retain the Premier League title this term and push for success in the Champions League, and despite being touted on Los Blancos’ wish-list in recent windows, he insists that he is already playing for one of the continents ‘best’ clubs, whilst not entirely ruling out a future jump to La Liga.

“At the moment I am happy in England,” he claimed. “I am playing for one of the best teams, but the Spanish league is special. Why not some day? But having said that, at the moment I am here [at Chelsea].”

Galacticos boss Zinedine Zidane is said to be a great admirer of the Blues’ number 10, and Hazard then continued to add that the Frenchman is ‘magic’, both on the pitch in his playing days, and in the technical area at the Santiago Bernabeu in the present.

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“[Zidane] has won everything as a player and a coach. He is a special guy. Everyone knows him as a player. When we think about football we think about Zidane as he could do anything on the pitch. And now, off the pitch, he has achieved great things. He is magic and I am very happy to see him.”

After winning the Champions League back-to-back for the past two seasons, Madrid are considered as the tournament favourites, and Hazard also agrees with the notion of the Spanish giants retaining their title once more.

Real Madrid v FC Barcelona - Supercopa de Espana: 2nd Leg

Zidane’s men may be seen as the ‘best team in the world’ in Hazard’s eyes, but the south west Londoners’ star man knows that the Champions League is a tough prize to win, and Chelsea, supposedly, could themselves challenge for the coveted trophy this year, as you just ‘never know’.

“I believe that, at the moment, Real Madrid are the best team in the world,” he proclaimed. “They have won everything and have good players, a great coach. The Champions League is very difficult to win. It is like the Premier League, anybody can win it. You never know.”


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