Tag Archives: Real Madrid

Champions League last 16 draw – mixed results for English sides

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The Champions League draw for the knockout phase has been made, and will see some of the five English teams come up against some of the favourites for the title.

Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have arguably the hardest draws, facing Barcelona and Juventus respectively.

The three remaining English teams have, on paper, less tricky ties. Liverpool will play Portugese side Porto, Manchester United have drawn Sevilla, and Manchester City come up against Basel of Switzerland.

Of the other ties, the most eye-catching sees two of the tournament favourites face off as Real Madrid take on Paris St-Germain.

The draw in full – dates ties will be played in brackets:

• Juventus v Tottenham (13 February and 7 March)
• Basel v Manchester City (13 February and 7 March)
• Porto v Liverpool (14 February and 6 March)
• Sevilla v Manchester United (21 February and 13 March)
• Real Madrid v PSG (14 February and 6 March)
• Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma (21 February and 13 March)
• Chelsea v Barcelona (20 February and 14 March)
• Bayern Munich v Besiktas (20 February and 14 March)

Cristiano Ronaldo claims fifth Balon d’Or and is proclaimed best ever by Zinedine Zidane

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Zinedine Zidane has claimed that Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest player of all time, after the Real Madrid star picked up his 5th Balon d’Or.

Ronaldo’s win in the annual poll – his second in successive years – takes him level with his great rival Lionel Messi in most wins. He also won the award in 2008, 2013 and 2014.

The Ballon d’Or is voted for by 173 journalists from around the world, and has been awarded by France Football every year since 1956.

But Ronaldo’s record makes him the best ever, according to Zidane, who won the Balon d’Or himself in 1998.

“The stats speak for themselves,” he said. “He’s the best player in the history of football.

“He’ll always be up here for me. Many things have been said about him, and what he does out on the field every match is phenomenal.

“The other day I said that a player could come here and stay for 15 or 20 years and he’ll never do what he’s done. He’s made history at the club and will continue to do so and I hope he’ll retire here.”

Ronaldo, 32, has scored 418 goals in 412 games for Real, winning three Champions Leagues and two La Liga titles. He also captained Portugal to the Euro 2016 title. While his league form has been patchy this season, in the Champions League he became the first player to score in all 6 group games.

After winning the award, Ronaldo posted a message on Instagram saying: “Another dream come true. Unbelievable feeling. Thanks to my family, friends, teammates, coaches and everyone that stood by my side throughout the years.”

Real Madrid line up summer bid for Chelsea star Eden Hazard

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Spanish giants are reportedly lining up a bid for Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard in the summer, as manager Zinedine Zidane’s marquee signing.

Hazard has been in sparkling form for Chelsea this season, with 5 goals in 12 games, and Zidane believes that pairing the Belgian with Cristiano Ronaldo could bring out the best in the latter, according to Spanish news outlet Dario Gol.

Ronaldo has struggled for form this season, with just 2 goals to his name so far in La Liga – well below his usual high standards.

Hazard would not come cheap: the 25-year-old is approaching his peak as a player and, if he has a good showing at the World Cup in Russia, it could push his value even higher. It would certainly take a British record fee for Madrid to entice Chelsea into selling – the current record involving an English club is £89 million, which Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba – and probably north of £100 million.

However, in Madrid’s favour is that Hazard is a known fan of Zidane, as he told Belgian TV channel RTL recently. “Everyone knows the respect I have for Zidane as a player, but also as a manager. He was my idol. “To play under Zidane would be a dream.”

But Hazard did add that he was happy at Chelsea and is focused on playing for them.

Manchester City, Real Madrid and PSG chase summer deal for Alexis Sanchez

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While it has been pretty much accepted that Alexis Sanchez will leave Arsenal in the summer – if not earlier – his destination remains unclear, and there are several clubs said to be chasing his signature.

Chile international Sanchez is seeking a new challenge away from the Emirates and, while he could move in January for a cut-price fee, it is expected clubs will wait until June when he will be available for nothing.

Manchester City retain their interest in him, having tried in the summer to sign him – even so far as agreeing a transfer price for him.
But others are interested in the 28-year-old. Real Madrid also have a long-standing interest in Sanchez, which dates back to him time in Spain with Barcelona. Don Balon report that Madrid are prepared to hijack any deal City are preparing.

Should that happen, it could also hasten the departure of Gareth Bale from the Bernabeau – as previously reported, several English clubs would be interested in bringing him back to the Premier League.

Meanwhile, reports in France suggest Paris St-Germain are also keen on signing the forward – and could seek to sign him in January.
Sanchez would be eligible to play in the Champions League knockout phase too, having only played once in the Europa League group phase, so that could be an incentive to sign him in January – and Arsenal would be willing to listen to bids, rather than let him go on a free.

This is setting up nicely to be one of the sagas of the upcoming transfer window – and maybe even the next one.

Manchester United keen on double swoop for two La Liga stars for combined £130 million plus

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Manchester United are keen on signing two major La Liga stars – Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann, according to reports.

As Jose Mourinho continues to build his United squad, he is looking at making two marquee signings and talks have already been held with their representatives, according to the Sun on Sunday.

It has been previously reported that Real bosses are considering selling Bale, having become frustrated with his increasingly injury-prone nature. He’s also not a big favourite with some of the Bernabeu faithful.

Meanwhile, United tried to sign Griezmann in the summer, but he opted to stay at Atletico. Whether he would be tempted to move to Manchester in the future is open to question.

Neither play is likely to be cheap. Real would want to recoup the majority – if not all – of the £85 million they paid for Bale, although the Sun on Sunday’s report said they may take £50 million.

Meanwhile, £85 million was touted as a potential price for Griezmann in the summer, and Atletico would be looking for at least that much to part with one of their stars.

In addition, United would likely face competition for their signatures. Tottenham Hotspur have first refusal on Bale, while rivals Manchester City would also likely be interested. Meanwhile Griezmann is one of Europe’s most coveted strikers, with Spanish giants Real Madrid and Paris St-Germain also keen on his signature – and with the financial muscle to do it.