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Ramos 4/10 as red card caps off Real Madrid's misery vs. Girona

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 05:20:00 GMT

Real Madrid appeared to be easing to a straightforward win against Girona in Sunday's La Liga clash at the Bernabeu -- but the Catalans turned the game around in the second half to take a deserved 2-1 victory. Positives It is difficult to take many positives from a performance which recalled many of the problems Madrid have faced all season. One bright spot was club captain Ramos' latest sending off means he will serve a suspension next week in La Liga, leaving him free for the following week's Clasico...

Vinicius and Real Madrid could win Champions League without Ronaldo

Wed, 13 Feb 2019 05:16:00 GMT

As the dust from that dust-up in Amsterdam settles there's a statistic that tells a very big story about Real Madrid after their 2-1 win against Ajax in the Champions League. I only recur to dry numbers because in such a dramatic, picturesque, history-evoking football match there are a myriad of people stories which, I think, will obscure something important. In Madrid's last 10 matches, across the Copa del Rey, La Liga and now the Champions League, five hugely important goals for Santi Solari's...

Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior look sharp while Gareth Bale fails to fire for Real Madrid

Wed, 13 Feb 2019 02:42:00 GMT

Craig Burley compared Vinicius Junior to Kylian Mbappe following Real Madrid's 2-1 win at Ajax in the UEFA Champions League. ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop believes Ajax's attacking mentality may have been to their detriment after Real Madrid beat them on the counter. Real Madrid rode their luck at times but came out on top 2-1 in Wednesday's Champions League last 16 first leg at Ajax, with Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio and Hakim Ziyech the scorers. Positives The UCL winners of the last three seasons responded with character and skill to Ajax's spirited challenge, and are in full control of the tie ahead of the return at the Bernabeu on March 5. Benzema's goalscoring run continued with a well-taken opener while, on the flanks, Vinicius Junior now has eight assists...

Real Madrid's resurgence owes a lot to the 'new' Karim Benzema

Tue, 12 Feb 2019 06:38:00 GMT

Real Madrid's resurgence under Santi Solari has been due to many factors, but the efforts of Karim Benzema have been central. He's in the form of his life at the moment, and just in time for Saturday's Derbi with Atletico, with his superb all-round performances serving as proof of his changed mindset on and off the pitch. Those closest to the player speak of a "new Benzema," scoring goals, always smiling, taking on a leadership role and increased responsibility within the team over recent months. His...

LIVE Transfer Talk: Madrid look to pounce on Dybala's unhappiness at Juve

Mon, 11 Feb 2019 04:57:00 GMT

In an exclusive to ESPN FC, former Liverpool and Juve striker Ian Rush says Aaron Ramsey must go into Juventus thinking he's the best player in the world to succeed. Wales manager Ryan Giggs expects to see an improved Aaron Ramsey if he seals a move from Arsenal to Juventus. The transfer window for Europe's biggest clubs is closed, but click here for all the deals and keep track of who has joined the big boys. And Transfer Talk will continue to scour the world's media and set correspondents loose to see what's on the agenda for the summer. TOP STORY: Madrid monitor Dybala situation Transfers How a transfer works With help from former Tottenham and Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli, we show you a step-by-step guide to a transfer. What's a medical like? Can a 44-year-old man cut it in the Premier League? Our writer suffers -- and suffers some more -- through a medical at Everton. Watch live games, ESPN FC TV and MLS Rewind on ESPN+ in the U.S. LIVE: Latest from Transfer Talk FC Exclusives - Real, United tracking 'new Ronaldo' - Bayern, Juve eye Henderson - United open talks with Rashford - Tottenham to move for £30m Soler All is not well in Turin. After deserting his teammates for an early shower after being an unused substitute against Parma, Paulo Dybala played a meagre seven minutes at Sassuolo. The Argentina...

ESPN FC writers' Champions League round-of-16 predictions

Mon, 11 Feb 2019 01:24:00 GMT

France legend Frank Leboeuf joins ESPN FC to talk the ramifications for PSG should they fail to progress in the Champions League for yet another season. Bayern Munich great Bastian Schweinsteiger throws his support behind Niko Kovac and tells ESPN FC they can get back to the Champions League final this season. Which eight clubs will make it through to the Champions League quarterfinals? Here are our writers' predictions. The lineup is set for the Champions League Round of 16. Gab Marcotti Man United, Roma, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, Barcelona, Juventus, Man City Mark Ogden Man United, Roma, Real Madrid, Tottenham, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Man City (function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);;js.src='';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}(document,'script','playbuzz-sdk')); Graham Hunter Man United, Porto, Real Madrid, Tottenham, Liverpool, Barcelona, Juventus, Man City Raphael Honigstein PSG, Porto, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, Barcelona,...

By the numbers: Chelsea suffer biggest defeat since 1991, Sergio Aguero levels with Alan Shearer

Sun, 10 Feb 2019 03:19:00 GMT

Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid 3-1 to climb up to second in La Liga, and are now -- aided by Barcelona's 0-0 draw at Athletic Bilbao -- just six points off the top. Juventus beat Sassuolo 3-0 -- Cristiano Ronaldo with a goal and an assist -- to go nine points clear of second-placed Napoli. Manchester United continued on their merry way with a 3-0 win at Fulham to climb into the top 4 for the first time since the opening day of the Premier League season, while Liverpool eased the pressure threatening...

Why Atletico, Simeone should be worried by how they lost the Madrid derby

Sat, 9 Feb 2019 01:57:00 GMT

Atletico were out-fought, out-thought and out-played by their Madrid rivals, and it's a defeat that will linger for Simeone & Co. The biggest conclusion from Saturday's 3-1 win isn't that Madrid are back in the title race, that Diego Godin's final La Liga battle with los Blancos finished in a miserable way for such a titan of Atletico's recent history, or even that Gareth Bale's 100th Real Madrid goal is a brilliant "take that" message to his critics. The inescapable sentiment after Atleti were toyed with, and then torn apart, is that something pretty important is wrong with Diego Simeone's side. Perhaps even his regime. Atletico...

Modric, Kroos 8/10 in Real Madrid's derby win over rival Atletico

Sat, 9 Feb 2019 09:43:00 GMT

Real Madrid battled through to a deserved 3-1 victory in Saturday afternoon's derby at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano, with the three points sending them ahead of their neighbours and into second place in the La Liga table. Positives: Santi Solari's side showed good character in soaking up early Atletico pressure to take control of the first half, and also lots of battling qualities throughout to meet the intensity of Diego Simeone's men. The class of midfield duo Luka Modric and Toni Kroos...

Is Marcelo approaching the end at Real Madrid as Solari trusts more in youth?

Fri, 8 Feb 2019 10:30:00 GMT

Spanish correspondent Sid Lowe says that despite his poor cameo in the Clasico and the rise of Vinicius Junior, Gareth Bale might still have an integral part to play at Madrid this season. Marcelo was, until recently, one of the top names on the Real Madrid team sheet. Is that no longer the case? Santi Solari's diplomacy was deadly; there was something eloquent in how evasive he was. At the end of the Copa del Rey clasico on Wednesday night, with a 1-1 draw setting up the second leg, Real Madrid's manager was asked what he made of the way Marcelo had played. "Our second captain, he's 100% Madridista; he only thinks of Madrid. We're working to get the best version of everyone," Solari replied, and then he stopped. Yeah, the questioner insisted, but what about the actual game, the match...

Barcelona, Real Madrid Clasico draw shows Copa del Rey not a priority

Wed, 6 Feb 2019 04:34:00 GMT

Alejandro Moreno says Real Madrid may live to regret not capitalising on numerous chances against Barcelona when Lionel Messi was on the bench. The FC panel speculate if the pressure has gotten to Philippe Coutinho, or if he can recover the confidence needed to make an impact at Barcelona. It's a testimony to how times have changed, not only in football but in the Clasico, that Barcelona will be more than content with a 1-1 draw at home against Real Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. Right now it's not important while reading this column whether Los Blancos or the Cup holders go on to win this trophy. Albeit that will seem a matter of life and death, state and anarchy, when the result comes at the end of this month. What's a fact is that this was a clear litmus...

Vinicius 8/10 in showing he belongs in the Clasico as Madrid draw at Barca

Wed, 6 Feb 2019 02:27:00 GMT

Alejandro Moreno says Real Madrid may live to regret not capitalising on numerous chances against Barcelona when Lionel Messi was on the bench. Wednesday's Clasico Copa del Rey semifinal first leg at the Camp Nou finished 1-1. Lucas Vazquez's close-range finish had Real Madrid deservedly ahead at the break, but Malcom's equaliser was merited as Barcelona were on top in the second half. Positives The first half especially showed Madrid are back at the level that makes them a match for any other team. Youngster Vinicius Junior showed he has the personality and talent for this elevated level. The result makes them very slight...

Footballers' goal celebrations caught in mid-air are a thing of beauty

Wed, 6 Feb 2019 06:30:00 GMT

Gonzalo Higuain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marcus Rashford -- three high-flying Premier League strikers. Gonzalo Higuain and Marcus Rashford both marked scoring in the Premier League this weekend with some serious elevation by leaping as high as they could go. The Chelsea and Manchester United strikers kept up a long tradition of leaping celebrations that are spectacularly caught on camera by match photographers. In reverential tribute to that singular thrill of seeing still images of footballers suspended in that glorious moment in time, here is a whole gallery full of them, accompanied by a suitable...

Transfer Talk: Chelsea eye Coutinho if Hazard leaves for Real Madrid

Tue, 5 Feb 2019 04:22:00 GMT

The transfer window for Europe's biggest clubs is closed, but click here for all the deals and keep track of who has joined the big boys. And Transfer Talk will continue to scour the world's media and set correspondents loose to see what's on the agenda for the summer. TOP STORY: Chelsea brace for Hazard exit Eden Hazard's on-off departure from West London could be about to reach its apparently inevitable conclusion. The Telegraph reports that the Belgian is ready to tell Chelsea that his...

Valverde and Solari, producing diamonds under pressure of Barca and Madrid, are brothers in arms

Tue, 5 Feb 2019 12:20:00 GMT

In many ways Ernesto Valverde and Santi Solari -- vastly different as men, footballers, in ages, nationalities and experience levels -- are as alike as peas in a pod right now. At Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively, the amount of actual coaching they need to do is in directly inverse proportion to the amount of man management, problem solving and team-spirit building. As the two men prepare to face each other in a Clasico for a first time, try to analyse and outguess what their rival will...

Chelsea should give Sarri time despite Man City thrashing. PLUS: Real's best game of the year

Mon, 4 Feb 2019 08:45:00 GMT

Less than a year ago, Antonio Conte famously said "I am not so stupid to play against Manchester City open and lose 3-0 or 4-0." After the 6-0 beatdown that Pep Guardiola's crew inflicted on Chelsea Sunday, you wonder if it makes Maurizio Sarri "stupid" -- at least on the Conte-meter. And because too many people like simple, ready-made storylines, they jumped on that, as well as the always reliable tropes about N'Golo Kante not playing defensive midfield and Sarri's like-for-like substitutions. Indeed,...

Vinicius Jr. 8/10 as Real rack up fourth straight win, thrashing Alaves

Sun, 3 Feb 2019 03:12:00 GMT

Real Madrid began their biggest week of the season so far with a straightforward 3-0 league win over Alaves at the Bernabeu, the goals coming from Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz. Positives Benzema continued his hot streak with a fifth goal in seven days, while teenager Vinicius was again excellent and deserved his first La Liga goal: surely, his first of many. Fit-again Mariano also showed himself another option in attack. A fifth straight victory in all competitions is Madrid's...

Ex-Man United, Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy models 'mash-up' shirt

Fri, 1 Feb 2019 12:11:00 GMT

Ruud van Nistelrooy has had his 19-year professional career encapsulated in a unique "mash-up" shirt. The retired Dutch striker was presented with the jersey by designers "Blood In Blood Out", who specialise in making artfully spliced football shirts. View this post on Instagram VAN the MAN =¯. . . . #ruudvannistelrooy #7clubs #careermode #fcdenbosch #scheerenveen #psv #manchesterunitedfc #realmadrid #hsv #malagacf #008 #vantheman #vangol #theruuddevil #vantor #footballshirtdesign #bloodinbloodout . . =ø @monquichot =O<ü @ezaane =O<ü A post shared by Blood In Blood Out (@bloodin_blood0ut) on Jan 30, 2019 at 4:58am PST Van Nistelrooy's custom version is constructed from swatches of all seven clubs he represented over the course of his career. Of course, the challenge is to spot them all. From top to bottom, we've got Hamburg, Real Madrid, Manchester United (the badge...

Karim Benzema scores two more, Raphael Varane stands tall as Madrid reach Copa semis

Thu, 31 Jan 2019 03:31:00 GMT

Karim Benzema's brace gave him five goals in his last three games and 15 for the season, three more than he had all of last campaign Real Madrid eased into the Copa del Rey semi-finals with two sweet Karim Benzema strikes setting up a 3-1 win on the night and 7-3 progression on aggregate. Positives Madrid survived Girona's fast start and matched their opponents' intensity. Second, two further pieces of evidence that Benzema is the most in-form No. 9 around at the moment secured passage to the last four. Marcos Llorente's performance and goal in midfield was another big plus. Coach Santiago Solari now has almost a full squad...

Benzema, Modric at their best as Real Madrid continue recent momentum

Sun, 27 Jan 2019 02:28:00 GMT

Red-hot Karim Benzema continued what may be the best spell of his 10-years run at Real Madrid. Real Madrid returned to third place in La Liga after an entertaining 4-2 victory at Espanyol on Sunday evening. Positives Blancos fans who were bored by their team just a few weeks back will have enjoyed a second 4-2 victory in four days. Karim Benzema's opener on 187 seconds was Madrid's quickest goal of the season, with collective intensity from first whistle a big difference to lethargic starts earlier in the campaign. Big players Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric are hitting their best...

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