Real Madrid Beat Manchester City 1-o to set up an all Spanish final for the second time in three seasons after a first-half own goal from Fernando was enough to secure a narrow win that barely reflected Real’s dominant display.
City had made a bright start but their early momentum was halted in its tracks as captain and centre back, Vincent Kompany, was forced off with a muscle injury after nine minutes, handing the initiative to the hosts, who quickly went on the offensive.
City looked slightly overawed as they handed territory to Real Madrid who punished them when Bale picked up Dani Carvajal’s pass and aimed a cross towards the far post that was deflected by Fernando past Joe Hart into the top corner.
The linesman’s flag prevented City falling further behind when Pepe stabbed into the net only for his effort to be ruled out for offside, while City’s only glimpse of goal in the first half came when Fernandinho’s effort clipped the post.
Madrid continued to dominate after the break, but found a second goal elusive as Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo failed to convert chances, while Bale’s header hit the crossbar.
Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho both scored to hand Manchester City a 2-2 first-leg draw at Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
The two away goals give the English side the edge in their Champions League quarter-final tie.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had his penalty saved by City goalkeeper Joe Hart as the Premier League side twice punished defensive mistakes by their hosts to get the two goals.
De Bruyne put City ahead on 38 minutes, only for Ibrahimovic to level after an embarrassing mix-up in the visitors’ defence soon after.
Adrien Rabiot then put PSG ahead just before the hour, but Fernandinho made it 2-2 on 72 minutes and ensured the French giants will be chasing the tie in next Tuesday’s second leg.
In Germany, Ricardo Rodriguez and Maximilian Arnold were the goal scorers as German side Wolfsburg dealt a 2-0 blow to Real Madrid’s hopes of taking the Champions League crown this season.
Playing in their first quarterfinal in the competition, Wolfsburg bullied the Spanish giant to earn a good chance of making the last four.
Ricardo Rodriguez had converted a penalty in the 18th minute after Casemiro was adjudged to have fouled Andre Schurrle inside the area.
Arnold then added the second in the 25th minute as the home side used counterattacks to devastating effect at the Volkswagen Arena.
Madrid created a number of chances to pull one back, with Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo all threatening, but they were unable to beat goalkeeper Diego Benaglio for an important away goal.
An injury to Karim Benzema added to a poor night for the visitors who came into the match following a 2-1 win over Barcelona in the Spanish league “clasico”.
Ironically, Wolfsburg have been struggling in the Bundesliga.
Both sides meet again at the Santiago Bernabeu on April 12 for the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.
Real Madrid has said they will take legal action against any fans found to have attacked players’ cars, including that of Wales international, Gareth Bale.
The club, in a statement on Monday, said that they would take any applicable legal action against the individuals responsible for the attack.
Real Madrid noted that one club member had been suspended pending an investigation.
The club added it had already identified the individuals responsible for what it called “aggressive and violent actions against several of our players”.
Real Madrid players Gareth Bale and Jesé Rodríguez were allegedly attacked by their own fans outside the club’s training base, following their 2-1 El Classico defeat to FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
After the team arrived back in Madrid on Sunday night, two fans repeatedly struck the cars of the two forwards as they refused to stop their cars to speak to them outside the Valdebebas training complex, according to images captured by Spanish television channel, Cuatro.
After looking threatening in the first half, in which he scored a correctly-disallowed goal, Bale was largely anonymous after the break, touching the ball just 16 times, including a shot that he dragged badly wide.
Jesé came on as a substitute in the 80th minute and was unable to help Madrid score a late equaliser.
Shortly after the fans vented their anger at Bale and Jesé, Sergio Ramos confronted the supporters asking “What’s the matter? Do you think that’s the right attitude?” The Spanish also commented that Real Madrid’s players had “left everything on the pitch”.
The defeat has left Real Madrid four points behind FC Barcelona at the top of La Liga with just ten league games left.
With Luis Suárez back from his ban, Barcelona Coach, Luis Enrique, can finally choose from a full pack of strikers for Saturday’s El Clasico against Real Madrid.
Leo Messi, Neymar Jr, Luis Suárez, Pedro Rodríguez, Sandro Ramírez and Munir El Haddadi are all available.
Not counting Suarez, the other five have bagged more than 80% of the team’s goals this season.
There’s plenty of focus on what Suarez’s role is going to be on Saturday, but the presence of Messi and Neymar upfront would also be giving the Madrid defence headaches – the two of them have managed more than 19 out of 28 of the team’s goals this season.
Sandro (3), Pedro (1) and Munir (1) have also scored, with the combined goals from the front men representing more than 80% of the total.
Messi and Pedro have plenty of experience against Real Madrid, whilst Neymar made his El Clasico debut last season with a goal at the Camp Nou.
For Luis Suárez, Sandro and Munir, Saturday would be their first appearance in the El Clasico.
Luis Enrique, confirmed that Suarez would indeed get some time on the pitch against Real Madrid in the match better known as “El Clasico.”
“(Suarez) will have some minutes for sure, how many I cannot say,” Enrique told his pregame news conference on Friday (via ESPN). “It is a big thing for him, to join up finally with the team, and get some minutes.”
Manchester City’s defence of their English Premier League title is firmly in the back of striker, Edin Dzeko’s mind.
The new Bosnia-Herzegovina captain, who scored a sublime solo goal for his country in their 3-0 win over Liechtenstein on Thursday, has continued his impressive start to the 2014/15 season.
As well as discussing his new role as national team skipper, the 28-year old has also been weighing up chances of winning a third Barclay’s Premier League title in four seasons, with City’s trip to Arsenal just days away.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Dzeko declared, “It will be difficult, but I’m an optimist.
“As with every season, there are several teams that will battle for the title of champions in England.
“This season Chelsea might be the most serious challenger, but we mustn’t ignore Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, or United, who will certainly be much stronger than last year.
“After all, everyone has gotten stronger, and everyone wants to be first.”
Edin’s role in City landing a second title in three years last season can hardly be overestimated, given his five goals in the last four games of the league run-in.
The striker penned a new deal which will keep him at the Etihad Stadium until at least 2018, following a season which he described as one of his best-ever.
“The past season was one of the best in my career, and in the end we reached the title of champions of England, the second in the past three seasons,” the 28-year old said.
“We succeeded in winning the Capital One Cup and I am really happy how everything played out in the past season, both for the club and for myself.
“As far as the contract, in general I had no dilemma around an extension.
“I am happy at City, the manager believes in me, which is certainly important, and I give my all on the pitch and altogether it means quite a lot to me, because Manchester is a club with great ambitions and I easily decided to stay put.”
Edin succeeded Emir Spahic as national team captain in the summer, following Bosnia’s unfortunate group stage exit from the World Cup in Brazil.
On the captaincy, Edin said: “I would be lying when I say that it isn’t the dream of every player, including me.
“I will give my all to replace Spahic in an adequate manner. I am aware that with the captain’s armband comes greater responsibility, and I will work hard to prove in the best way that I didn’t become captain by accident.
“I believe I can fulfil all expectations, both of the manager and of fans, my teammates, the media, and my own. I wouldn’t be here today if I doubted myself.
“Together with the Belgians, we are the favorites, but Israel should not be forgotten and certainly not underestimated, as they are known to be very unpleasant on their home field, nor Wales, who in their ranks have players like Bale and Ramsey.
“We were at the World Cup, we saw what it means, and it is great experience for us that will help us in the future.
“Our goal is France, and it should be taken seriously.”
World footballer of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo, scored twice as Real Madrid claimed the UEFA Super Cup with a 2-0 victory over La Liga rivals, Sevilla, at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The European Champion were hot favourites to claim the first silverware of the European season and were always too strong for the Europa League winners.
Ronaldo, who started alongside new recruits James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, tapped in a cross from Cardiff-born Gareth Bale to give Real the lead.
It was 2-0 to Real early in the second period when Karim Benzema played in Ronaldo on the left of the box and he drilled a powerful shot beyond Beto, which the goalkeeper got both hands to but could not keep out.
Real boss, Carlo Ancelotti, paraded his wealth of playing talent, with major summer signings; Rodriguez and Kroos, joining Bale and Ronaldo in a team captained by goalkeeper, Iker Casillas.
James and Kroos both had their moments, with the electric speed of the Colombia international’s passing a regular highlight, while Bale’s former Spurs colleague, Luka Modric worked tirelessly in midfield.
Although the Spanish domestic season does not start for almost another fortnight, Real already look in good form, suggesting they would not only challenge for another European crown but also seriously threaten Atletico Madrid’s reign as La Liga champions.
Real Madrid started the 2014/15 season with a draw against Inter Milanat the University of Berkeley’s California Memorial Stadium.
The first half belonged to the Whites, who demonstrated the hallmarks that made them champions of Europe: a possession game and suffocating pressure to recover the ball in front of a crowd that were right behind Ancelotti’s team.
The match took a turn very early, on 10 minutes, although the first goal could have come even earlier. A cross from Carvajal from the right and a headed shot from Bale hit the crossbar. It was a warning of what was to come.
The Welshman controlled the ball in the midfield, went forward with it stuck to his foot and surprised Handanovic with an unstoppable missile from 30 metres. There was little the Italian team’s goalkeeper could do against the surprising effect that the Welshman achieved with his strike.
Bale was showing that he is starting the season in exceptional form and came close to bagging a brace after half an hour’s play. His long-distance free kick was deflected for a corner by Handanovic. It was the last dangerous play of the first half, in which the Whites showed great solidity on the field and their opponents barely threatened their goal.
At half time Ancelotti decided to bring on Jesús and Marcos Llorente for Diego López and Bale, who was the most outstanding player in the first half. The match took a turn for the worse in the 68th minute when the referee gave a penalty for a Sobrino push on Vidic, who was about to shoot following a cross from Jonathan from the right. Icardi converted it to equalise the game.
The match opened up. It was end-to-end stuff. Jesús showed off his reflexes with an impressive double save in the 78th minute, stopping shots from Juan Jesús and Andreolli, but six minutes later it was the Whites’ turn and Omar forced Carrizo to make a great save with a shot from in front of the box. The time was up and the penalty shoot-out was won by the Italian side.
Real Madrid will be without Karim Benzema for Tuesday’s Champions League game at home to Schalke 04 but he should be fit for Sunday’s La Liga “Clasico” against Barcelona, Coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Monday (March 17).
France forward, Benzema took a knock to the thigh in a collision with team mate Cristiano Ronaldo in Saturday’s 1-0 La Liga win at Malaga and had to be replaced by Angel Di Maria in the 32nd minute.
“He (Karim Benzema) is doing well this year. Not only because he is scoring. He had a knock. We will wait to see if tomorrow he recovers. We are lucky to have the possibility, if he cannot play, to play another good player,” Ancelotti told a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s last 16, second leg, when Real will start with a 6-1 advantage from the first leg in Gelsenkirchen.
Ancelotti said he would be resting some of his regulars at the Bernabeu on Tuesday (March 18) and Alvaro Morata and Jese would start up front alongside competition top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo, Benzema and Gareth Bale each scored twice in the first leg victory in Germany and Real are virtually assured of their place in the draw for the last eight of Europe’s elite club competition, which takes place on Friday.
With the ticket almost booked, Real look to focus on Sunday’s (March 23) league match against Barcelona.
Ancelotti said it was important to play a good match against the Germans to prepare for Barca’s visit.
“The best way to prepare Sunday’s game (against Barcelona) is to play a good match (against Schalke). It would give us confidence,” he said.
Ancelotti’s side are still alive in all three competitions they are contesting and have a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid at the top of the La Liga ahead of third-placed Barca’s visit to the Bernabeu.
After the good results in the last months, Ancelotti was asked if Real Madrid’s squad was the best he has ever had.
“This squad has a bit of everything. It has experience, it has youth, it has quality, it has personality. Perhaps it’s the most complete squad,” the Italian coach said.
A league win for Real would put them seven points clear of their arch rivals with nine games left and deal a huge blow to Barca’s chances of a fifth domestic league title in six years.
In form young striker, Jese Rodriguez said that they had to focus on their Champions League match to gain confidence ahead their league clash.
“It is a match that we must to play well and try to win. What we have in our minds is to win alongside our crowd so we can be well before the weekend’s league match,” he said.
The King’s Cup final in Valencia on April 16 is also between Spain’s big two, a repeat of the 2011 showpiece which Real won 1-0.
Real Madrid Coach, Carlo Ancelotti, has said that he expects UEFA Champions League opponents, Schalke to pose plenty of attacking threat on Wednesday.
Real would be looking to use the match which would be the first meeting between the sides, to improve on their miserable record of just one victory from 25 trips to face German opposition on home soil.
Schalke have since the Bundesliga’s winter break been in impressive form, taking 13 points from 15 available, and Ancelotti is cautious of the problems they could cause.
Former Real Madrid striker, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who spent half a season at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2009, was particularly singled out as a player his side would need to keep quiet.
“It will be a game with a lot of intensity because Schalke will give it their all,” said Ancelotti.
“Schalke have a lot of quality and are well organised. We have to do our best to win.
“They have young players – (Max) Meyer, (Julian) Draxler – with lot of quality and players with experience like Huntelaar and (Kevin-Prince) Boateng.
“They’re a solid team, not spectacular but well organised defensively and all working together. A team with quality.
“(The match) is not Ronaldo versus Huntelaar, it’s between two teams, but Huntelaar is dangerous.”
Ancelotti also insisted that Sunday’s La Liga clash with title contenders and city rivals Atletico Madrid would not act as a distraction.
“I’m here to do my best in all competitions but the Champions League is the most important and difficult,” he continued.
“All the remaining games are important and that’s why we prepare for each in the same way.
“Arriving to the semi-finals three times (in the last three years) is not easy. We are excited to improve on that.”
Healso confirmed that Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo would start at the Veltins Arena.
The sporting board of Barcelona has made a list of their priority summer transfer target and Gareth Bale is the topmost on their mind so far.
The 22 year old Gareth Bale has been considered to be the perfect long-term replacement for Eric Abidal, who underwent a liver transplant last week by the sporting board of Barcelona.
Scouts for the Spanish club has been following the performances of the 22 year old for a while now but the game that finally sealed the decision to do a follow-up on signing the player was the 3-1 win at Fulham last November, when he set up Aaron Lennon for Spurs’ second goal.
Also on the list of the sporting board is Brazilian Neymar who plays for Santos but is shrinking from meeting the buy-out clause in his contract, which reportedly rose from pounds 37 million when he renewed his deal last November.
However the move on Neymar has been postponed till after the 2014 World Cup.
The heat has been turned on for the signature of Gareth Bale away from Tottenham Hotspur as he is the man Barcelona’s board would most like to see in the blaugrana but the issue surrounding the signing is that of Guardiola’s new contract negotiation which has been tied to that Bale too and there seem to be a fallout between the board and coach Guardiola as the latter kept delaying the contract extension move, therefore the his options open which is why his relationship with the board has been strained this season.
On the close-season transfer movements, Guardiola is yet to make any commitment too as he has the final say on who to buy and why buy who and this will only work if he pledges to stay another one year with Barcelona; still going back to sign his contract extension.
Going back to Bale, he is one the major players Tottenham Hotspur as he was nominated as the 2011 Player of the Year by the Professional Footballers’ Association, he has scored 23 goals over the past two seasons, including a San-Siro hat-trick against Inter in the Champions League 18 months ago and this has made him one the most expensive player for the club and the club management months ago warned potential scouts and clubs to back off their players as a lot of money has been spent to acquire their signature which they also do not intend to let go just yet.
But this has deterred Barcelona from going after the player as he has three years left to lace boots for Tottenham.
The board will be hoping that Guardiola will be moved by the player’s profile to make a quick replacement for the left-back position and also Bale is seen as an added advantage as the attack will be sharper.
The Spanish club is looking to sell one major player in their squad and it was David Villa initially but due to the injury sustained during a game and a surgery afterwards attentions turned to Alves who is presently facing a divorce that is set to cost him millions in alimony, there are hints the Brazilian will make himself available for transfer to generate a big payday.
And in that event Barcelona would replace him with the more defensively minded Martin Montoya and seek to shift their attacking focus to the left flank, explaining the move for Bale, a player who has not been comfortable as an orthodox left-back.
Although English players imported to Spanish clubs proved less their abilities during their stay in the Spanish clubs but Barcelona board are willing to give it a go even though Guardiola may sound his disapproval to the Welshman’s move to Barcelona.