Real Madrid’s Odriozola Signs Bayern Loan Deal

New recruit of German first division Bundesliga football club Bayern Munich, Alvaro Odriozola, speaks during a press conference for his official presentation on January 22, 2020 in Munich, Germany.   AFP

 

Bayern Munich have signed Real Madrid right-back Alvaro Odriozola on loan until the end of the season, the two clubs confirmed on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old Spain international will bolster Bayern’s defence, which has been left short on the cover with centre-backs Niklas Suele and Lucas Hernandez sidelined by knee injuries.

“We decided to comply with the request of our head coach Hansi Flick for reinforcements in defence and together we decided on Alvaro Odriozola,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in a statement.

“We are very happy about his signing and would like to thank those in charge at Real Madrid for their very friendly and cooperative discussions.”

Alvaro Odriozola smiles during a press conference for his official presentation on January 22, 2020 in Munich, Germany. AFP

The move helps both parties as Odriozola, who was signed from Real Sociedad for 35 million euros ($39 million) in 2018, has struggled for game time in Madrid, where Dani Carvajal is preferred in the right-back role.

Basque-born Odriozola, who has won four caps for Spain, was sent off in a 1-0 away defeat to Mallorca in mid-October and has not played in La Liga since.

AFP

Zidane Confirms Bale’s Fitness For Copa Del Rey

 

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said Gareth Bale is fit and ready to play against Unionistas de Salamanca on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey. 

Bale was left out of the squad for Madrid’s win over Sevilla on Saturday and Zidane said after the match he had picked up a knock.

The Welshman trained with his teammates last week, after also missing the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia through illness.

It means Bale has not played for Real Madrid since January 4, when he started their 3-0 win away Getafe. He has not scored for his club since September 1.

Asked why Bale and James Rodriguez, who has hardly featured in the last two months, have “disappeared”, Zidane said: “They haven’t disappeared. They were both injured the other day. They are both ready to play.”

Real Madrid play in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey against Unionistas de Salamanca, the fan-owned club launched in 2013 after UD Salamanca went out of business.

Unionistas, who now play in Spain’s third tier, have faced problems preparing for the tie given their stadium at Las Pistas del Helmantico can hold 3,000 spectators, with only one stand and insufficient lighting.

The pitch is surrounded by an athletics track.

“All the players have started playing on pitches like this, me as well,” said Zidane, when it was suggested the pitch could cause Real Madrid problems.

“We are prepared both mentally and in a sporting sense as well because we know where we are going to play and we know what to expect.

“Perhaps it was 10 or 15 years ago but we have all played on pitches like this, in difficult situations. It will not be a problem for us.”

Zidane is likely to rest key players, with a trip to Real Valladolid to come in La Liga on Sunday and the Madrid derby against Atletico scheduled for the following weekend.

AFP

Real Madrid Complete Reinier’s Move From Flamengo

Reinier Flamengo player celebrates his goal during a match against Avai at Maracana stadium for the Brazilian A 2019 championship. AFP

 

Real Madrid have completed the signing of teenage Brazilian prospect Reinier from Flamengo on a six-and-a-half-year deal, the Spanish giants announced on Monday.

According to reports in Spain and in Brazil, Madrid will pay the player’s buyout clause, amounting to around 30 million euros ($33.3m), with 80 per cent going to Flamengo and the remainder to his representatives and his family.

The attacking midfielder — whose contract will run until June 2026 — celebrated his 18th birthday on Sunday.

In a statement, Real said Reinier will team up with Castilla, the club’s second team who play in Spain’s third tier, after competing in South American Olympic qualifying with Brazil’s under-23 team. That tournament is currently taking place in Colombia.

Reinier helped Flamengo win last year’s Brazilian league and Copa Libertadores double and has chosen Real Madrid despite reported interest from Barcelona and other leading European clubs.

An unused substitute when Flamengo lost to Liverpool in last month’s Club World Cup final in Qatar, he is just the latest exciting young Brazilian talent to move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Vinicius Junior followed the same path from Flamengo in 2018, while his fellow 19-year-old forward, Rodrygo, arrived from Santos prior to the start of this season.

AFP

Madrid Go Top Of La Liga After Sevilla Win

Real Madrid's Brazilian midfielder Casemiro (C) vies with Sevilla's French defender Jules Kounde (L) during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Sevilla FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on January 18, 2020. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Real Madrid’s Brazilian midfielder Casemiro (C) vies with Sevilla’s French defender Jules Kounde (L) during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Sevilla FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on January 18, 2020. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Real Madrid climbed above Barcelona to top La Liga on Saturday as Casemiro scored twice in a gritty 2-1 win over Sevilla. 

Casemiro’s double proved the difference amid a three-goal flurry early in the second half, with Luuk de Jong briefly drawing Sevilla level.

Madrid were underwhelming at the Santiago Bernabeu, at times reverting back to the stodgy days of last season when the team struggled for goals under Julen Lopetegui, who is now in charge of Sevilla.

Yet with Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos all missing from their starting line-up, this might be the kind of victory that could prove crucial to their hopes of winning the title in May.

Sevilla stay fourth, eight points off the top.

Barca can reclaim first place on Sunday when they face Granada at Camp Nou, where Quique Setien will be overseeing his first game since being appointed early last week.

Setien has said he will not be happy if his team win while playing badly but Zinedine Zidane is likely to be less choosy.

His Madrid side are now 17 games unbeaten, a streak that has included them winning the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia last weekend. Ramos, who is still recovering from an ankle injury, paraded the club’s latest trophy on the pitch before kick-off.

Benzema came on in the second half after shaking off a dead leg but Bale’s absence was more mysterious. The Welshman missed the trip to Jeddah through illness but had returned to training on Tuesday.

Lopetegui was back at the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time since he was sacked by Madrid last season, 138 days after they appointed him, and his Sevilla side arguably deserved more.

Converting impetus into goals has been their problem all season, and so it proved again.

After an even start, they gradually took charge and as the home crowd grew frustrated, Sevilla grew in confidence too.

De Jong thought he had scored when he was given a suspicious amount of space in the area to head in from a corner and VAR showed his marker Eder Militao had been blocked albeit only by a small, but seemingly deliberate, step from Nemanja Gudelj.

Marcelo was lucky not to concede a penalty for a shirt-pull.

Sevilla were controlling the midfield and denying their opponents routes through to the front three. Yet 12 minutes into the second half, some creative brilliance saw Madrid take the lead.

Sergio Reguilon, bought by Sevilla from Madrid last summer, scuffed his clearance and after Casemiro muscled through on the edge of the area, Jovic found him again with a deft backheel. Casemiro chipped the ball in and pointed at Jovic in celebration.

Sevilla could have wilted but instead they equalised, only to concede again five minutes later.

First, Raphael Varane, Casemiro and Marcelo all missed tackles and after Munir El Haddadi stumbled, De Jong took over, banging the ball into the far, bottom corner.

Yet parity was short-lived as Casemiro nodded in Lucas Vazquez’s cross from a standing start after being given too much space by Jules Kounde.

Toni Kroos might have added a third for Madrid late on after a racing run by Vinicius Junior but Vazquez almost gifted Sevilla an equaliser after a dreadful backpass. Youssef En-Nesyri, signed from Leganes on Friday, flashed wide.

 

AFP

Real Beat Atletico On Penalties To Win Spanish Super Cup

Real Madrid players celebrate winning the Spanish Super Cup final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid on January 12, 2020, at the King Abdullah Sports City in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah.
Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

Thibaut Courtois proved the hero in a penalty shoot-out on Sunday as Real Madrid beat city rivals Atletico Madrid in Saudi Arabia to win their 11th Spanish Super Cup.

Two imperious goalkeepers came out on top during a goalless final in Jeddah but Courtois proved decisive, saving Thomas Partey’s penalty after Saul Niguez had already hit the post.

Sergio Ramos tucked away the winning spot-kick to ensure Real Madrid clinched their first trophy of the season, with La Liga and the Champions League now next in their sights.

Kroos Stunner Helps Real Madrid Through To Spanish Super Cup Final

Real Madrid’s Spanish midfielder Isco (R) scores past Valencia’s Spanish goalkeeper Jaume Domenech (L) during the Spanish Super Cup semi final between Valencia and Real Madrid on January 8, 2020, at the King Abdullah Sport City in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah. AFP

 

Toni Kroos scored a wonder goal straight from a corner as Real Madrid beat Valencia 3-1 on Wednesday to reach the final of the controversial Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. 

Kroos caught Valencia goalkeeper Jaume Domenech napping with a brilliant, instinctive strike before Isco made it two and Luka Modric added a classy third from a curling finish with the outside of his foot.

After two superb goals, the only shame was more fans were not there to see them given the King Abdullah Sports City stadium appeared only a little more than half full.

Dani Parejo scored a late Valencia penalty but Madrid advance to Sunday’s final where they will meet the winner of the second semi-final between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid on Thursday.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde had said earlier on Wednesday that he preferred the traditional format of this competition, that pitted the La Liga champions against the winners of the Copa del Rey in a match in Spain in August.

Under those rules, Real Madrid, who finished third in the league last term and failed to reach the final of the cup would not even have qualified but they now have the chance to win their first trophy of the season, possibly against Barca in a Clasico final.

But it is the new location that has grated most, because of the lack of consideration for Spanish fans and the implications of associating with a country that has been heavily criticised for its treatment of women and record over human rights.

In one of the more unusual aspects of the night, a giant banner of the King and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia were hung in the centre of the pitch during half-time.

 Long unbeaten run 

Either side of the interval, Real Madrid were too strong, extending their unbeaten run to 15 matches with another performance to suggest they are La Liga’s form team ahead of the second half of the season.

For long spells, they outplayed Valencia, who have been on a strong run themselves, even if they had to cope without star player Rodrigo Moreno due to a knee injury.

Madrid were also without their own top scorer in Karim Benzema, who has a hamstring strain, as well as Gareth Bale, who has a throat infection.

In their absence, Kroos stepped up with a goal of which both Benzema and Bale would have been proud.

Madrid won the corner in the 15th minute and with Domenech out of his goal, instructing Francis Coquelin, Kroos nipped around the flag and bent the ball towards the net.

Domenech saw it coming but too late, and he could only succeed in punching the ball into the inside of his own side-netting.

Valencia wanted a penalty when Casemiro nudged Carlos Soler in the back and Kevin Gameiro should have done better than blast over after he did well to wriggle through.

But Madrid were the dominant force and Isco doubled the lead before the break. Fede Valverde pulled back for Modric and while his shot was blocked, Isco fired in the follow-up.

Luka Jovic’s struggles continued as he struck the post from close range before Modric added a final flourish, selling Gabriel Paulista with a stepover left before guiding the ball into the far corner with the ouside of his right foot.

Sergio Ramos handballed late on and Parejo scored the penalty but for Valencia the game was already up.

AFP

‘Ruthless’ Real Madrid Thrash Getafe

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale (TOP) vies with Getafe’s Spanish goalkeeper David Soria during the Spanish league football match between Getafe CF and Real Madrid CF at the Col. Alfonso Perez stadium in Getafe on January 4, 2020. OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP

 

Real Madrid made an impressive start to the year as they picked apart a robust Getafe side to win 3-0 in La Liga on Saturday. 

Raphael Varane was the instigator of two goals at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, first pressuring Getafe David Soria into a missed punch and an own-goal before himself heading home a cross from Toni Kroos.

“I’m happy with his performance but it’s especially important when Sergio Ramos isn’t there, to have another leader,” said Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

Luka Modric then added a third deep into injury-time after a brilliant first-time pass by Gareth Bale had set Madrid away on the counter-attack.

Victory sends Zidane’s side top of the table briefly at least, one point above Barcelona, who play later on Saturday against Catalan rivals Espanyol.

Getafe remain seventh and very much in the race for Champions League qualification. Another excellent season under coach Jose Bordalas is proving last year’s remarkable top-four challenge was far from a fluke.

But their usually stubborn defence was overly-generous as Soria’s mistake and then a free header put Madrid in charge before Modric completed what was, in the end, a comfortable win.

“We did it and we did it by fighting,” Zidane said.

Without either Ramos, who was suspended, or Eden Hazard, who continues to nurse an ankle injury, this looked an awkward fixture for Zidane’s team on the back of a two-week winter break.

Instead, they keep the pressure on Barcelona before travelling to Saudi Arabia next week, where they could face a Clasico final in the Spanish Super Cup, with Valencia up first on Wednesday in the last four.

Hazard will stay at home after Zidane confirmed on Friday the Belgian will not return until later this month at the earliest.

His worryingly extended absence has offered a reprieve for Isco, who started again, and Bale, who twice should have scored in the second half, only to tee up Modric via substitute Fede Valverde.

At the other end, Thibaut Courtois appears finally to be finding his best form after a rocky start since his summer move from Chelsea. Courtois made three strong saves before Varane’s second gave Madrid breathing space.

“He saves us two or three times in the first half, he was key,” said Zidane.

Getafe’s success under Bordalas has been built upon tenacity as well as discipline and hard work, with right-back Allan Nyom particularly eager to make his presence felt on Bale early on.

Yet one late challenge too many earned Nyom a yellow card and Madrid a dangerous free-kick that led to the opener shortly after the half-hour mark.

Kroos’ cross was put back in by Ferland Mendy on the opposite side and while Soria sprung out to punch, he failed to connect and only succeeded in sending the ball bobbling into his own net.

Karim Benzema tested Soria at his near post but Courtois was the busier of the two keepers. He palmed away a stinging volley from Mauro Arambarri, pushed out a drive from Faycal Fajr and then blocked a close-range header from Leandro Cabrera.

Getafe’s frustration was compounded eight minutes into the second half when an unmarked Varane nodded in Kroos’ whipped cross and the home side never looked like being revived thereafter.

Bale tried to chip Soria and then go round him but made amends for his misses in injury-time.

Mendy twisted free before feeding Bale, who curled the ball beautifully, first time and on the turn, into the path of the sprinting Valverde. He could have scored himself but instead set up Modric, who finished into an open net.

AFP

Hazard To Miss Spanish Super Cup Over Ankle Injury

Real Madrid’s Belgian forward Eden Hazard gestures in pain during the UEFA Champions League group A football match Real Madrid against Paris Saint-Germain FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 26, 2019. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Eden Hazard’s injury-plagued start at Real Madrid will continue this month after Zinedine Zidane said on Friday the Belgian will not play in the Spanish Super Cup next week. 

Hazard suffered an ankle fracture during Madrid’s draw against Paris Saint-Germain on November 26 and was expected to be out for around four to six weeks.

But Zidane has confirmed Hazard will miss Madrid’s La Liga game against Getafe on Saturday and will not travel to Saudi Arabia, where his team face Valencia in the Spanish Super Cup semi-finals on Wednesday before a potential final against either Barcelona or Atletico Madrid four days later.

“He is 100 per cent out of the Super Cup,” said Zidane in a press conference. “He is not travelling, he is recovering and we hope that just after the Super Cup, little by little, we could see him with us again.”

If Hazard returns against Sevilla in La Liga on January 18 he will have been out for almost eight weeks.

The 28-year-old, who joined Real Madrid for 100 million euros from Chelsea last summer, also missed three matches at the start of the season with a thigh strain.

He has scored one goal in 13 appearances for his new club so far.

Madrid found form without him before Christmas but trail Barcelona by two points in the table after consecutive draws in the Clasico at Camp Nou and then at home to Athletic Bilbao.

They play sixth-placed Getafe this weekend at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, where Zidane’s team were held to a goalless draw in April.

Marcelo and Lucas Vazquez are available again after recovering from injuries but Sergio Ramos is suspended, meaning Eder Militao is likely to play in central defence.

Zidane also suggested some fringe players could be allowed to leave in the January transfer window. Striker Mariano Diaz is among those that could depart.

“There are players that have not had minutes and that can be a problem but we speak with them like always,” Zidane said. “Between now and January 31 a lot can happen.”

Barcelona Fined €1,500 Over Clasico Beach Ball Incident

Barcelona’s French forward Antoine Griezmann (L)and Real Madrid’s Spanish defender Sergio Ramos eye the ball during the “El Clasico” Spanish League football match between Barcelona FC and Real Madrid CF at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona on December 18, 2019,
JOSE JORDAN / AFP

 

 

Barcelona have been fined 1,500 euros ($1,660) and warned the Camp Nou could be closed after beach balls were thrown on to the pitch during this week’s Clasico against Real Madrid, the Spanish football federation announced on Friday.

Inflatable balls were tossed on to the field Wednesday in a politically charged fixture which originally had to be postponed due to violent demonstrations across Catalonia.

The match, which finished goalless, was held up for 90 seconds as Barca made a substitution in the 55th minute due to the objects on the field.

After the game, 10 people were arrested and more than 60 injured in clashes between Catalan separatists and police outside the ground.

Some 3,000 police officers and private security agents had been deployed for the match amid calls for separatists to protest outside Camp Nou during the fixture.

AFP

‘Guardiola Best Coach In The World’

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola takes his seat for the English League Cup quarter-final football match between Oxford United and Manchester City at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford, west of London, on December 18, 2019. OLLY GREENWOOD / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane insisted Saturday his key aim this season was to win La Liga with Real Madrid, but admitted they faced a thrilling challenge trying to outwit Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, who they meet in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Zidane, who has won three Champions Leagues as a coach compared to Guardiola’s two, described the Catalan as “the best coach in the world”.

The two sides meet in Madrid on February 26 before heading to Manchester for the second leg on March 17.

“It’ll be fabulous to play against him (Guardiola),” said Zidane, speaking ahead of Real’s game against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, their final Liga match ahead of the winter break.

“I respected him as a player and now as a coach. He’s the top coach in the world and has proved it throughout his career.”

READ ALSO: Zidane Dismisses Speculation Over Bale’s Future At Real Madrid

Guardiola coached Barcelona to the 2009 and 2011 Champions League titles. He went on to win plaudits at Bayern Munich and City with domestic championships but has failed to land a third Champions League title.

“So it’ll be a pleasure for me and a pleasure for all of us to come up against him and his team,” said Zidane.

Real are currently level with Barcelona on 36 points on top of la Liga after their 0-0 draw on Wednesday. Athletic Bilbao are seventh, nine points behind.

“Bilbao is another rival and a different proposition. We will play them with all our energy, it’s the last game of the year.

“The league is our priority and we will fight for it all the way,” he said.

 

AFP

12 Injured As Police Clash With Catalan Protesters Outside Camp Nou Stadium

Catalan regional police ‘Mossos D’Esquadra’ officers clash with demonstrators during a protest called by Catalan separatist movement Democratic Tsunami outside the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 18, 2019, during the “El Clasico” Spanish League football match between Barcelona FC and Real Madrid CF.
Pau Barrena / AFP

 

Masked protesters set bins on fire and threw rocks and glass bottles at police who responded with foam bullets in a street near Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium as Barcelona and Real Madrid faced off Wednesday in the first Clasico of the season.

Twelve people were injured in the clashes, including four who needed to be taken to a medical centre for extra care, local emergency services said.

The protesters, many of them carrying Catalan separatist flags, began setting up barricades in the middle of the street, which they then set on fire, after police arrived in dozens of police vans, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

READ ALSO: Barcelona Hold Real Madrid To Goalless Draw

Demonstrators rocked a police van and took down street signs that they added to the barricades.

Inside the stadium, thousands of fans held up blue banners with the words ‘Spain, sit and talk’ which were given to supporters outside the grounds and also carried the words, ‘Freedom, rights, self-determination’, as well as the slogan of Democratic Tsunami, the protest group promoting the cause of Catalan independence.

Protestors also blocked traffic after gathering at the four corners of the stadium from 1500 GMT, four hours before kick-off. The match ended in a 0-0 draw.

AFP

Barcelona Hold Real Madrid To Goalless Draw

Barcelona’s French forward Antoine Griezmann (L)and Real Madrid’s Spanish defender Sergio Ramos eye the ball during the “El Clasico” Spanish League football match between Barcelona FC and Real Madrid CF at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona on December 18, 2019,
JOSE JORDAN / AFP

 

Barcelona and Real Madrid could not be separated on Wednesday in a Clasico that was briefly interrupted by Catalan independence protests when dozens of yellow beach balls were thrown onto the pitch at Camp Nou. 

After being postponed in October, there were renewed fears of unrest around Spain’s most famous fixture.

Protestors held banners, waved flags and even threw inflatable beach balls.

However, although serious disruption inside the ground never materialised, there were clashes outside.

Twelve people were injured when police charged hundreds of masked protesters who set garbage bins on fire, according to emergency services.

The protesters, many of them carrying Catalan separatist flags, began setting up barricades in the middle of the street which they then set on fire after police arrived in dozens of police vans.

The match was less eventful than expected, with neither side ever really at their best and both, perhaps in the end, happier not to win than to lose.

A goalless draw means Barcelona stay top of La Liga, ahead of Real on goal difference while the historic score in league meetings between the two rivals remains 72 victories apiece.

Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos both made clearances off the line in the first half but the best chance arguably fell to Lionel Messi, only for the Argentinian to uncharacteristically scuff his finish.

“More than a Clasico”, read the front page of Barcelona daily Mundo Deportivo on Wednesday morning ahead of a fixture that while always politically charged, had assumed even greater significance than usual.

The game was originally due to be played on October 26 and the 53 days since seemed only to swell expectations around what Democratic Tsunami, the Catalan independence protest group, might do to disturb the most-watched club match in the world.

Yet in truth, there was less than expected.

Only in the 55th minute of the second half was the game paused for a minute as stewards ran on to collect dozens of yellow beach balls that had been thrown onto the pitch.

Bale ‘goal’ ruled out

Blue banners bearing the slogan of Democratic Tsunami: ‘Spain, sit and talk’, were also held up.

Four hours before kick-off, thousands had gathered at all four corners of the stadium to hold the same blue banners and wave Catalan flags, while some blocked traffic too.

Both teams had departed from the same hotel and aside from whistles and insults directed at the Madrid team bus, both arrived without incident. Club president Florentino Perez gave a thumbs-up as he walked in.

Gareth Bale was last to get off, by which time he might have known he was starting for the first time in four matches. Ramos played in his 43rd Clasico, a record for any player in history.

For Barcelona, Sergio Busquets was included in the line-up first announced before he was swapped out for Ivan Rakitic. Barca claimed it had been a communication error.

If it was, it was not the first mistake of the night, with a frantic first half full of them.

Real were the better side in the opening half an hour although Luis Suarez might have scored early had he controlled Jordi Alba’s cross at the back post.

There was a goalline clearance at both ends as Casemiro’s header bounced up and had to be hooked away by Pique before Thibaut Courtois punched out to Messi but his shot was blocked by Ramos.

Karim Benzema and Fede Valverde both tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Jordi Alba wanted a penalty for a Dani Carvajal handball but VAR was unmoved. Raphael Varane had a better case at the other end after having his shirt pulled by Alba.

Ten minutes into the second half, stewards ran on to collect the beach balls and shortly after, Barcelona twice should have scored, only for Messi and Suarez both to fluff finishes in quick succession.

Bale grazed the side-netting and the excellent Frenkie de Jong drove at Courtois after a neat one-two.

Bale then did score with 15 minutes left but his provider Ferland Mendy was a fraction offside. Neither team wanted to go for broke in the latter stages.

AFP