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February 2, 2023

La Liga PREVIEW | Real Madrid v Valencia

After failing to score a goal in their last league match, Real Madrid will look to close the gap with Barcelona to 5 points when they face managerless Valencia today at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The draw with Real Sociedad in their outing meant further extending the gap with league leaders Barcelona. The goalless stalemate was marked by a lack of clinical finishing from Los Blancos who created a lot of chances but didn’t have the firepower to finish them.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men cannot afford to drop points anymore when they have an in-form Barcelona to catch up with. Surely, it stands now as an uphill task but the league is not over yet for the chasers.

Real Madrid have already beaten Valencia once this season, in the semi-finals of the Supercopa de Espana by edging past Los Che 4-3 in the penalty shootout.

Meanwhile, the Valencians approach this fixture after parting ways with their former first-team manager Gennaro Gattuso.

Currently sitting 14th in the league standings, Los Che are just one point adrift of the relegation zone in a season where they have seen hit new lows.

They have one of the worst away records in the league from the last year, during which they have won only three of their 16 outings on the road.

Valencia’s run in the Copa Del Rey also came to an end last Friday when they were by Athletic Club in a thrilling 3-1 encounter. Their fans have endured tough times because of their management for the past few years and this is set to continue for the future if they don’t have reshuffle.

Results from their last five matches in all competitions

Real Madrid:

D W W W L

Valencia:

L L D W L

Predicted XIs

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Courtois; Nacho, Militao, Rudiger, Camavinga; Kroos, Tchouameni, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr

Valencia (4-3-3): Mamardashvili; Foulquier, Comert, Diakhaby, Gaya; Musah, Guillamon, Moriba; Kluivert, Cavani, Lino

January 11, 2023

Real Madrid vs Valencia: Preview

Real Madrid and Valencia face each other in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for a spot in the Supercopa de Espana final.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid will aim to secure the title for a second consecutive year as a win on Wednesday would make them face either Barcelona or Real Betis in the final.

Los Blancos approach this match on the back of a frustrating 2-1 defeat away at Estadio de La Ceramica to Villarreal. Not many positives could be taken by Ancelotti and his managerial team in that match as his team lost ground against Barcelona in the La Liga title race.

Yeremy Pino opened the scoring for the Yellow Submarines just a few minutes into the second half, and the goal was equalised by Karim Benzema’s penalty strike in the 60th minute. Villarreal forward Gerrard Moreno’s penalty goal stood as the difference between the two sides.

Like their opposition, Valencia also suffered a defeat to Cadiz in the previous Laliga fixture. They are still carrying on their woes from last season, and while new manager Rino Gattuso have attempted to solve things there, the process is expected to be quite slow.

While it is tilted to be a close affair between these two old-school rivals, both teams will be looking to get ome above their opponents and set themselves up well for some early season silverware.

January 10, 2023

What does Didier Deschamps’ contract renewal with France mean for Zinedine Zidane?

The new year has brought in new surprises. When France national team manager Didier Deschamps seemed to have made his final appearance from the sidelines for Les Bleus in the 2022 FIFA World Cup final, much to the surprise of football fans, he renewed his contract with the two-time World champions recently. Former Real Madrid manager and a legend of French football, Zinedine Zidane was tipped to replace Deschamps after the World Cup but now, there is a twist to the tale. 

Some minor yet noticeable events during the World Cup now make sense as we can connect the dots quite well after France went with Deschamps to head the group till 2026. Zinedine Zidane is well associated with Real Madrid as he led them to glory for three consecutive years in the Champions League while making immense progress in internal matters. Apart from the silverware, the revenue generated by Los Blancos during those three years is something worth keeping a club afloat for ten years without any major prize money. All was because of the French legend who not only with his tactical genius rallied Real Madrid in staying the best club in Europe but also edged his name in gold during his time as a player with the club.

Indeed, Zidane won the World Cup with France, but that didn’t stop him from supporting players who received undeserved treatment from the national team. Such was the case of striker Karim Benzema. Taking into account recent chatter, it was aired by numerous reliable media outlets that Benzema’s injury was ‘welcomed’ by some of his French teammates like Antoine Griezmann and Hugo Lloris who were reportedly ‘happy’ seeing one of their own going out of the team because of an injury. Real Madrid’s number 9 has always been a favourite of Zinedine Zidane, even in his bad times, the bond between the two Frenchman didn’t stain. We can be sure that such news about the unprofessional behaviour of some French players and their manager’s favouritism didn’t go well with the 1998 World Cup winner.

Another event which might have influenced France’s decision to renew with Deschamps is when Zizou couldn’t be present in World Cup final to back his nation. It is certain that something was going on in the background because former stars generally don’t miss such an occasion with their teams involved. There are a lot of theories going on regarding this with some siding with Zizou saying he was informed of France’s decision to stay with their manager for now while breaking a former ‘promise’ made by the latter to the former midfield maestro and some have sided with France saying Zizou backed out because France won’t be giving him full autonomy over decisions.

Now, after things have settled down, it is time to think about what remains for the 50-year-old in the future. 

There was nothing official from any parties, nor from any representatives about who’s going to be the next coach of France after 2022, but Zidane was the man clearly expecting an offer from the NT after all that talk going on since he left Real Madrid. There are now several indications, but Madridistas should be excited that there might be a mutual agreement with Los Blancos and their former manager. Zidane doesn’t want to go into tough matters right now and that is the reason he was the man tipped for the French NT job. We cannot rule out a managerial role in Real Madrid, that’s certainly there but he could take other vital decision-making roles at the club. Former club legends like Iker Casillas, Ronaldo, and Roberto Carlos have already gone into such ventures with Florentino Perez’s side. A similar arrangement could or may well be in place for Zinedine Zidane. 

Despite all the gossip, Real Madrid never ever disrespects their legends and an example of the same was yet again shown by their response to FFF president Noel Le Graet’s comments about Zinedine Zidane and Karim Benzema. It would be a wonderful reunion for Zidane at Real Madrid if he can work for the club in any capacity. Real Madrid is great but Zidane’s character once again in the club premises will bring back the nostalgic days for us, fans.

January 7, 2023

Match Report: Villarreal 2-1 Real Madrid

Gerrard Moreno’s penalty strike seals the victory for Villarreal as lacklustre Real Madrid goes down fighting.

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti started an interesting lineup against Villarreal with Eder Militao replacing Dani Carvajal who’s out injured. The lineup came out as a historical one as this was the first time a Spanish player wasn’t featuring the starting XI for Real Madrid.

Real Madrid would consider themselves lucky to not concede in the first half after Villarreal had them on their heels. Quique Setien’s side dominated possession and made the most chances but lacked the finishing edge to their stride. Real Madrid mustered a few chances on their part but carried on with their goalscoring woes.

Villarreal just took two minutes into the second half to open the scoring as Ferland Mendy gave the ball away near the box to Dani  Parejo, he latched on a perfect pass to Yeremi Pino and while Mendy looked to redeem himself by blocking Pino’s shot, it diverted off him into the net.

Real Madrid equalised the scores in the 60th minute through a Karim Benzema penalty. Juan Foyth was analysed for a handball inside the box and the penalty was awarded to Real Madrid before the French striker finds the net with ease.

Just after 3 minutes of Los Blancos’s equaliser, the Yellow Submarine came forward swiftly and Foyth’s pass inadvertently found the hand of a falling David Alaba. Gerrard Moreno kept his composure and replicated Benzema’s previous penalty by sending Courtois the wrong way and the ball into the net.

Goalkeeper Courtois came forward for the corner in the last minute of added time to head an equaliser but it backlashed soon after Asensio’s miskick. Villarreal came breaking but Danjuma missed an open goal from long range.

It’s back on the drawing board for Carlo Ancelotti and his men who hope that Barcelona drop points tomorrow against rivals Atletico Madrid.

January 6, 2023

La Liga Preview | Villarreal vs Real Madrid

Current La Liga title holders Real Madrid aims to stretch their winning run to three consecutive league games in a row when they face Villarreal away from home on Saturday at El Madrigal stadium.

Real Madrid went to level points (38) with Barcelona at table-top after scraping past Valladolid in the previous matchday while the Blaugrana dropped points in the Catalan derby. Meanwhile, Villarreal occupies the 7th position in the league table after coming out with the bragging rights in Derbi de la Comunitat and moving to 24 points total.

MATCH PREVIEW

Villarreal lost their Europa League-winning coach Unai Emery this season to Aston Villa but the Yellow Submarine have kept themselves in the run, despite their problems.

Their recent action was in the Copa Del Rey where they routed FC Cartagena 5-1 courtesy of goals from Alex Baena, Arnaut Danjuma, Luis Morales, Samuel Chukwueze and Etienne Capoue.

They are in firm contention to qualify for Europa League football for next season as they are only three points behind 4th placed Atletico Madrid and a point off Athletic club who for now settle on 5th place.

As for Real Madrid, they will look to continue their stellar run over the home team, against whom Los Blancos have not lost since 2015 in away performances.

Although Real Madrid grabbed the three points at Valladolid, the performance was a lack-lustre one until Karim Benzema thumped home the penalty to sway the momentum in his side’s favour. Their recent clash was also in the Copa Del Rey where they again faced goalscoring issues to 4th tier Cacareno but a Rodrygo worldie helped them scrape past a shock.

Currently tied at the top with Barcelona, Carlo Ancelotti will need to rally his men in the right way to brush off the post-World Cup blues and stack themselves for an exciting title race. Three points at Villarreal will set the team’s tone perfectly before they gear up for a quick game run within a few days.

LAST FIVE RESULTS IN ALL COMPETITIONS

Villarreal:

W W W W W

Real Madrid:

W W W L W

TEAM NEWS

For Villarreal, star man Giovanni Lo Celso is set to be out of this fixture due to a hamstring problem.

Geronimo Rulli’s recent agreement with Ajax means he’s out of the team sheet. Pepe Reina is set to replace the Argentine in between the sticks.

Juan Foyth, Yeremi Pino, Dani Parejo are expected to start.

For Real Madrid, Dani Carvajal is out with a minor muscle issue. Lucas Vasquez is the man to cover for him in the right-back.

David Alaba. Ferland Mendy, Toni Kroos, Fede Valverde and Luka Modric are all set to return for this game.

PREDICTED XIs

Villarreal (4-3-2-1): Reina; Femenia, Foyth, P Torres, Moreno; Capoue, Parejo; Chukwueze, Baena, Pino; Danjuma

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Courtois; Vazquez, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Tchouameni, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius

October 20, 2022

Elche 0-3 Real Madrid | Player Ratings

Real Madrid put up a show of their abilities against Elche as goals from Fede Valverde, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio steered Los Blancos to grab the 3 points from Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero.

Here are the Real Madrid player ratings from the match:

Andriy Lunin — 8: Was sound in front of the goal. Made 3 crucial saves throughout the game. Good with his claims but most of the times left unthreatened by Elche.

Dani Carvajal —8: The Spaniard continues his stellar run from right-back. Combined well with Valverde and Rodrygo to unlock the Elche defence several times from the right. He could have been entitled an assist for the third goal which was ruled out for offside.

Eder Militao —8.5: A colossal presence in defence. Used his strength and stature correctly to neutralise any imminent threats from Elche attackers.

Antonio Rudiger —7: Got a cheap yellow card for creating an unnecessary disturbance inside the box during a corner at the end. His recovery has gone well and he showed that by winning aerial duels as well as helping the team build from the back.

David Alaba —8: Played in his natural position as a left-back and gave a considerable attacking edge to Real Madrid’s gameplay. Could have gotten his name on the score list but his goal was ruled out following an offside from Benzema who was involved in the gameplay.

Fede Valverde —8.5: The Uruguayan continues his goalscoring run as he scored the opener from a volley outside the box. His work-rate helped him cover ground both in the right and in midfield.

Luka Modric —7: Contributed to connecting passes and unlocking the opposition throughout his time during the game. Was subbed off in the 62nd minute.

Toni Kroos —7: Was involved in defensive gameplay most of the time and he fared well. Like always, synced well with everyone to give Elche a hard time.

Rodrygo —9: Another stupendous performance from the Brazilian who is improving day-by-day this season. Made two assists during the game — one was from Benzema’s goal in which he fed the ball to the Frenchman with a back heel and the second for Asensio’s goal as he threw in a precisive cross from the left.

Vinicius Jr —7: Gave Elche defenders a hard time with his menacing forward runs. Attracted a few fouls but couldn’t get himself involved in a goal after some wonderful displays.

Karim Benzema —8: Got two goals cancelled out for offside on the night by fine margins. Instead of getting disappointed, Benzema enjoyed the game with his exemplary passing and found the net after combining with Rodrygo. Ballon d’Or winner for a reason.

Substitutes

Aurelien Tchouameni —5: Since coming on from the bench, he kept the Elche attackers at bay. His passing game looked improved, just like the team.

Marco Asensio —7: Made an immediate impact after coming on by scoring a goal. Made a few attempts towards the end which ended in corners.

Eduardo Camavinga —5: Attracted a few fouls to keep the momentum flowing for Real Madrid.

Lucas Vasquez and Nacho came on late and couldn’t make a significant impact on the game.

October 16, 2022

Match Report: Real Madrid 3-1 Barcelona

It was the hosts, Real Madrid who found success in this season’s first El Clasico and kept their unbeaten record intact in all competitions. Goals from Ballon D’Or favorite Karim Benzema, Fede Valverde and Rodrygo helped the hosts cruise through the derby while handing Barcelona their first defeat of the season in the league. With this win, Real Madrid have regained the top spot in the LaLiga standings and are now 3 points clear of their Catalan rivals who shifted to 2nd place after coming short at Madrid.

Real Madrid drew first blood in the game as talismanic forward Karim Benzema opened the scoring for Los Blancos in the 12th minute. Toni Kroos unleashed a wonderful through ball for Vinicius to chase who picked and set up a 1v1 situation with Ter Stegen, Vini’s shot was saved by the German goalkeeper but Karim Benzema was on point to smash the ball home from the rebound.

The 35-times LaLiga champions further strengthened their lead in the 35th minute with a tremendous out-of-the-box effort from Fede Valverde. Vini released Ferland Mendy who drove through an unsettled Barca defence and rounded the ball off to Valverde before the Uruguayan smashed it into the goal with a powerful long-range strike.

It was a cautious start for both the teams in the second half as the midfield battle was crucial for either team coming towards goal. A lack of urgency was also noted from the trailers, Barcelona who were clearly showing fatigue after their 3-3 draw with Inter in the Champions League.

It was the substitute Ferran Torres who showed a ray of hope to Blaugrana supporters after scoring Barca’s first from a well-worked move from the Catalan outfit. In spite of a challenge from Valverde on the right side, Ansu Fati drove through uncovered space in the final thirds before sending a low cross for Lewandowski, who flicked it on for Ferran Torres at the far post and the Spaniard thumped the ball home from close range past a diving Andriy Lunin.

The Bernabeu went a little shocked with fears of a Barca comeback on the cards but the hopes of the Blaugrana were shut after Eric Garcia stepped on Rodrygo’s foot inside the box for a clear penalty in the 90+1st minute. After a brief on-field review, referee Hernandez Hernandez pointed to the spot and 21-year-old Rodrygo kept his cool to send the ball in the right corner past a diving Ter Stegen.

Real Madrid next faces Elche at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero on Wednesday.

October 15, 2022

La Liga Preview | Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

One of the most awaited fixtures around the world, El Clasico is set to be played at the Santiago Bernabeu this Sunday evening.

Both Real Madrid and Barcelona have made an unbeaten start to their league campaign this season and quite interestingly at this point with 8 games played, both are tied on points (22) at the top of the table.

Despite being in formidable form last season, Real Madrid suffered a humiliating defeat to a recovering Barcelona side at the Bernabeu. Manager Carlo Ancelotti will need to make sure his tactics and team are on point to avoid such a debacle and come away with the three crucial points from this venerable fixture.

In their last game, Real Madrid managed to continue their unbeaten in all competitions since the start of the season after Antonio Rudiger sacrificed his face to head home the equaliser against Shakhtar in the last minute of added time. Carlo Ancelotti rotated his team and kept the likes of Vinicius, Luka Modric, Dani Carvajal on the bench to rest them for El Clasico.

Despite Real’s woes against the Ukrainian giants, they progressed to the Round of 16 while being top of their group but for Barcelona, the group has been cruel to them like last season.

After drawing 3-3 in a hotly contested match against Inter Milan, Barcelona now face a potential relegation to the Europa League as they are now three points off R16 qualification. The Catalan outfit still has a chance to progress through to the knockout stages but if Inter grabs a win in their next UCL game against Viktoria, Xavi’s men will become a Europa League outfit for this season.

Team News

For Real Madrid, Dani Ceballos is set to remain on the sidelines with a long-term injury.

Race against time as Thibaut Courtois attempts to recover fully for the El Clasico after getting affected by Sciatica. Otherwise, Andriy Lunin is set to continue in between the sticks.

Antonio Rudiger has rejoined the team in training before El Clasico but Eder Militao is likely to get the nod over the German defender alongside David Alaba.

In form Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Aurelien Tchouameni are set to retain their places in the starting lineup.

Fede Valverde is expected to start from the right flank replacing Rodrygo.

For Barcelona, Memphis Depay, Hector Bellerin, Andreas Christensen and Ronald Araujo are set to remain sidelined with long-term injuries.

Alejandro Balde is expected to replace Jordi Alba at left-back who is going through a sticky spell at the moment.

Jules Kounde is expected to start over Gerard Pique in defence alongside Eric Garcia.

Predicted XI

Real Madrid: Lunin; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Tchouameni, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Kounde, E Garcia, Balde; Gavi, Busquets, Pedri; Dembele, Lewandowski, Fati

October 10, 2022

Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid | Preview

The current UCL holders, Real Madrid will set themselves up to continue their perfect win record in the Champions League as they visit Poland to face Shakhtar Donetsk in Matchday 4 of the top-flight European competition.

Both sides involved will face other only one week later of their previous matchup — which ended in a 2-1 victory for Real Madrid. In their defeat at the Bernabeu, Shakhtar showed tremendous character after conceding early and kept the scoreline respectable after last season’s debacle.

Real Madrid currently sits at the top spot in Group F of the Champions League with 9 points while Shakhtar secure second place with 4 points.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side will secure their qualification for the knockout stages if they come away with a win against the Ukrainian giants.

Team News

Shakhtar manager Igor Jovicevic is expected to name an unchanged eleven as his team has not been in action after their defeat at the Bernabeu.

Viktor Kornienko is the Ukrainian outfit’s only player to be out of this match with a long-term injury. Mykhailo Mudryk, Taras Stepanenko and the goalscorer in the last matchup between the two sides, Oleksandr Zubkov are expected to retain their places in the starting lineup.

Meanwhile, for Real Madrid, Karim Benzema got his much-needed rest to fully recover from a slight injury in Real’s last match against Getafe.

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is set to be out of this fixture with Sciatica.

Dani Ceballos faces a long-term injury surrounding his hamstring.

Predicted Lineups:

Shakhtar Donetsk: Trubin; Taylor, Bondar, Matviyenko, Konoplya; Stepanenko; Shved, Bondarenko, Sudakov, Mudryk; Zubkov.

Real Madrid: Lunin; Vazquez, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy; Camavinga, Tchouameni, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius.

October 3, 2022

3 observations as Real Madrid shares points with 10-men Osasuna

Real Madrid’s nine-game winning streak in all competitions came to an end after they played out a 1-1 draw with 10 men Osasuna.

It was a day of thrillers as Vinicius’ deceiving cross-like shot found the back of the net and Osasuna’s equaliser came in the form of a no-look header from Kike Garcia who was completely unaware of his header’s direction.

As Real Madrid shared points with the team from Pamplona on the day, they got toppled by Barcelona in the league standings who now occupy first place sending their Madrid rivals to second with points tied.

Here are my three observations from the match:

Weary from the International Break

As predicted, the players did come from the International Break with tiredness and stress. It was evident in the movements of Dani Carvajal, Aurelien Tchouameni and others. The International Break blues not only disrupted the performances of the players called on duty but it also seeped through the players staying at Madrid who didn’t receive any kind of football action.

Of course, Madridistas are gutted to see their team’s winning run falter but it was coming sooner or later. Hopefully, the players will be able to strike off their weariness and be truly back for the mid-week clash against Shakhtar.

Defensive woes continue

It has been another match where Real Madrid failed to keep a clean sheet because of defensive instability. If Antonio Rudiger could predict the incoming cross from Unai Garcia for Kike, Real could have kept their long-awaited clean sheet, such latency to foresee an attacking ball from the opponent will no doubt cost Ancelotti’s men many during the season.

There are more problems existing in the defence and Ancelotti might need to sort them out soon with El Clasico approaching this month.

This defeat doesn’t make the season

Let’s be clear on one thing. Yes, Real Madrid started the season on a high after composing a nine-game win streak but certainly, Madridistas perhaps didn’t expect an ‘invincible’ season from their club.

Optimistically speaking, this defeat was coming sooner or later and it happened early enough to give the team time to compose and restructure themselves.

The standards are always high at Madrid and as Ancelotti states, “We’re competing for everything.” It’s these kinds of games which win you the league at the end of the season but it’s also these kinds of games which brings you back to the roots to sort yourself out.

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