Benzema Delivers Again As Real Beat Espanyol

Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match against RCD Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on December 7, 2019.PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

 

Real Madrid were without Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale on Saturday but Karim Benzema stepped up again to ensure they beat struggling Espanyol in La Liga.

Benzema scored one and set up another in a 2-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Real wore an all-green kit to show support for this week’s Climate Summit in the city.

Victory means Zinedine Zidane’s side move to the top of the table, for a few hours at least, before Barcelona play later at home to Real Mallorca.

Espanyol, who have not won in six league games, stay 19th.

An ankle injury is likely to rule Hazard out of the season’s first Clasico on December 18 while Bale has a thigh problem and is also a concern ahead of that crunch game at Camp Nou.

But another excellent Benzema display will at least be of some consolation after he teed up Raphael Varane before scoring his 15th goal this term to put Espanyol out of sight.

“We’re talking about Karim a lot recently, in a good way,” said Zidane. “He’s getting older and that’s made a difference, his maturity.

“None of us are perfect. But he’s asked to chase and he does it. He’s asked to score and he does it. I can’t ask for more, only that he keeps doing it.”

Increasingly it looks like the winner of the Clasico will spend the Christmas break first in the table, with the top two pulling away from the likes of Atletico Madrid, who drew away at Villarreal on Friday.

Sevilla, in third, are four points behind Zidane’s side before they travel to Osasuna on Sunday.

– Vinicius praise –

The absence of Hazard and Bale meant Rodrygo came in on the right of the front three while Vinicius Junior was given a rare chance to stake a claim on the left.

Vinicius’ last start came in the defeat to Mallorca on October 19 and the 19-year-old, who has been out of favour under Zidane, impressed with a daring and dynamic performance.

“He always wants to score goals, that is his job, but we have to highlight everything else he did today,” said Zidane. “He had chances, played well offensively and defensively. And also after playing less recently. He has done well.”

Vinicius may now be given another outing against Club Brugge in the Champions League on Wednesday when Madrid are likely to rest key players given their qualification as runners-up is already guaranteed.

Vinicius looked eager to make an impact as he fired off an early shot from an acute angle and was then booked for a lunge at Espanyol goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

Espanyol had openings on the counter-attack, the best of them presented to Wu Lei, who was making history as the first-ever Chinese player to play at the Bernabeu. His header was saved by Thibaut Courtois.

Madrid’s goal came in the 37th minute and from an unlikely source as Varane stayed up following a corner and Benzema found him in space after bundling through on the edge of the box. With his left foot, Varane stabbed into the far corner.

Vinicius might have made it two after tearing clear on the break but failed to beat Lopez at his near post while shortly after half-time Lopez denied Benzema, who had also broken in behind.

Benzema missed another chance from a Vinicius cross but finally got his goal with 11 minutes left. He threaded in Fede Valverde with a smart reverse pass and then continued his run, before meeting the pull-back and finding the corner.

AFP

Zidane Bemoans Injuries After Bale Joins List Of Real Absentees

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale looks on before the UEFA Champions League group A football match against Paris Saint-Germain FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 26, 2019. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane confirmed on Friday that Gareth Bale has not trained ahead of Real Madrid’s match against Espanyol as injury threatens to rule him out of this month’s Clasico.

Bale is struggling with a minor problem in his thigh although the club remain optimistic he will recover in time for the crunch game against Barcelona at Camp Nou on December 18.

“He did it in the match against Alaves,” said Zidane at a press conference before Saturday’s La Liga match.

“We’ve had a few days off but he has felt some discomfort. He hasn’t trained with us either today or this week.”

Bale has only recently shaken off a calf injury that kept him out for just over a month between October and November, and his latest setback adds to a worrying list of fitness concerns for Zidane.

Eden Hazard could be sidelined for more than a month after suffering a fracture in his ankle while Marcelo might also miss the game against Barcelona, after he sustained a calf strain in training.

Lucas Vazquez (toe), James Rodriguez (knee) and Marco Asensio (cruciate ligament) are also out.

“Injuries are a nightmare. Eden isn’t happy but it is what it is,” said Zidane. “We hope his injury is a little less serious than expected.

“I don’t know what we are going to do, I hope he will be back soon, Marcelo and Gareth the same. It is a major blow but we can’t do anything about it.

“There are other players and that is what we have to focus on. We have to maintain our momentum in the game tomorrow.”

Hazard had been getting closer to his exhilarating best in recent weeks, following a slow start at Madrid that was made more difficult by a thigh injury at the beginning of the season.

“He was playing very well, looked in great shape and showed his qualities as he has showed them before all over the world,” Zidane said. “It’s just a setback and I hope it won’t last long.”

Rodrygo and Isco could fill in up front either side of Karim Benzema while Ferland Mendy is likely to replace Marcelo at left-back.

Zidane was asked about Bale’s personal habits, following reports the 30-year-old will be banned from playing golf by Wales during Euro 2020 next summer.

“I can only tell you about Real Madrid and I’m not going to impose rules on Gareth or any other player,” Zidane said. “They’re old enough to know what to do.”

Real Madrid are second in La Liga, behind Barcelona only on goal difference. They have won six and drawn two of their last eight games in all competitions.

AFP

Real Madrid Go Top After Alaves Win

Real Madrid’s players celebrate after Spanish defender Sergio Ramos (2ndL) scored a goal during the Spanish league football match between Deportivo Alaves and Real Madrid CF at the Mendizorroza stadium in Vitoria on November 30, 2019.
ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

 

Sergio Ramos scored a goal and conceded a penalty as Real Madrid battled past Alaves on Saturday to go top of La Liga before Sunday’s game between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. 

Barca and Atletico face off at the Wanda Metropolitano and Madrid did all they could to take advantage, with Dani Carvajal the unlikely matchwinner in a gritty 2-1 victory over Alaves.

“We know at these grounds that teams give everything against Madrid,” said Marcelo. “It’s in these matches that leagues are won.”

“We fought until the end,” added Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

READ ALSO: Arsenal Interim Boss Ljungberg Unsure About Managing Full-Time

Ramos had headed them in front shortly after half-time only to concede a needless penalty for throwing his arm across Joselu, which Lucas Perez converted before Carvajal poked in.

Madrid pull three points clear of Barcelona and six ahead of Atletico, who have played a game more than the top two. Sevilla, in third, host Leganes on Sunday. Alaves stay 13th.

A 1-0 defeat at Mendizorrotza 13 months ago came three weeks before Julen Lopetegui was sacked as a coach but this time Madrid showed the kind of steel that was so painfully lacking last season.

On a wet and windy afternoon in the Basque country, Zidane’s side never showed the verve and creativity that was so impressive in the draw against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.

But this was a gutsy performance that means they have now won six and drawn two of their last eight matches in all competitions, with the Clasico against Barcelona next month fast approaching.

“A few weeks ago people were saying a lot about this team,” said Zidane. “But we have to stay the same, stay calm and keep working because this is just the start.”

Gareth Bale made his first Madrid start since October 5 after recovering from a calf injury and his first too since his controversial celebration with Wales earlier this month, which sparked anger among his club’s supporters.

Bale hit the post in the first half but faded and was replaced by Rodrygo after Alaves’ equaliser.

With Eden Hazard out injured, Isco also kept his place while Alphonse Areola was given a rare outing in goal ahead of the rested Thibaut Courtois.

Kroos The Provider

Madrid were lucky not to concede another penalty early on as Aleix Vidal slalomed inside Ramos and then Eder Militao, whose dangling leg caught Vidal’s foot. Referee Guillermo Cuadra felt the fall was exaggerated.

At the other end, Bale hit the post with a header and Karim Benzema latched onto a quick throw but instead of shooting, hooked the ball back for Isco whose effort was saved.

Alaves grew in confidence as the rain grew heavier yet Madrid regrouped at half-time and took the lead soon after as Ramos was given a free header to glance in Toni Kroos’ crossed free-kick.

But after scoring his sixth goal of the season, Ramos gifted Alaves an equaliser in the 66th minute by outmuscling Joselu in the penalty area, only to throw an arm across the forward’s chest. Perez made no mistake.

Bale went off for Rodrygo and Alaves might have been able to build on their momentum if they had consolidated.

Instead, parity lasted three minutes as Isco met Luka Modric’s cross at the back post and while Pacheco did brilliantly to save, Carvajal reacted faster than Victor Laguardia to the rebound.

Perez almost drove in a late equaliser but Marcelo made a diving block and Ximo Navarro’s header had to be clawed away by Areola as Madrid held on.

AFP

Real Madrid Qualify For Champions League Last 16

Real Madrid’s Belgian forward Eden Hazard (L) celebrates with Ramos after scoring his team’s second goal during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Granada FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on October 5, 2019. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

 

Real Madrid booked their spot in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday after Club Brugge drew 1-1 at Galatasaray.

Record 13-time European champions Real, who host Paris Saint-Germain in Group A later on Tuesday, knew their 23rd straight qualification for the knockout stages would be confirmed if Brugge failed to win in Turkey.

 

UEFA Champions League standings after Tuesday’s early Groups A and D matches (played, won drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):

Group A

Paris Saint-Germain 4 4 0 0 10 0 12 — qualified

Real Madrid 4 2 1 1 9 5 7 — qualified

Club Brugge 5 0 3 2 3 9 3

Galatasaray 5 0 2 3 1 9 2

Group B

Bayern Munich 4 4 0 0 15 4 12 — qualified

Tottenham 4 2 1 1 13 9 7

Red Star Belgrade 4 1 0 3 3 13 3

Olympiakos 4 0 1 3 5 10 1

Group C

Manchester City 4 3 1 0 11 2 10

Shakhtar Donetsk 4 1 2 1 7 9 5

Dinamo Zagreb 4 1 2 1 9 7 5

Atalanta 4 0 1 3 3 12 1

Group D

Juventus 4 3 1 0 9 4 10 — qualified

Atletico Madrid 4 2 1 1 6 4 7

Bayer Leverkusen 5 2 0 3 5 7 6

Lokomotiv Moscow 5 1 0 4 4 9 3

Group E

Liverpool 4 3 0 1 10 7 9

Napoli 4 2 2 0 6 3 8

Salzburg 4 1 1 2 12 10 4

Genk 4 0 1 3 4 12 1

Group F

Barcelona 4 2 2 0 4 2 8

Borussia Dortmund 4 2 1 1 5 4 7

Inter Milan 4 1 1 2 6 6 4

Slavia Prague 4 0 2 2 2 5 2

Group G

RB Leipzig 4 3 0 1 6 4 9

Lyon 4 2 1 1 7 4 7

Zenit St Petersburg 4 1 1 2 5 6 4

Benfica 4 1 0 3 5 9 3

Group H

Ajax 4 2 1 1 10 5 7

Chelsea 4 2 1 1 7 6 7

Valencia 4 2 1 1 6 5 7

Lille 4 0 1 3 3 10 1

 

UEFA Champions League results on Tuesday:

Group A

At Istanbul, Turkey

Galatasaray (TUR) 1 (Buyuk 11) Club Brugge (BEL) 1 (Diatta 90+2)

Group D

At Moscow

Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS) 0 Bayer Leverkusen (GER) 2 (Zhemaletdinov 11-og, Bender 54)

Playing later (2000 GMT unless stated)

Group A

At Madrid

Real Madrid (ESP) v Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)

Group B

At Belgrade

Red Star Belgrade (SRB) v Bayern Munich (GER)

At London

Tottenham (ENG) v Olympiakos (GRE)

Group C

At Milan, Italy

Atalanta (ITA) v Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)

At Manchester, England

Manchester City (ENG) v Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)

Group D

At Turin, Italy

Juventus (ITA) v Atletico Madrid (ESP)

Playing Wednesday

Group E

At Genk, Belgium

Genk (BEL) v Salzburg (AUT)

At Liverpool, England

Liverpool (ENG) v Napoli (ITA)

Group F

At Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona (ESP) v Borussia Dortmund (GER)

At Prague

Slavia Prague (CZE) v Inter Milan (ITA)

Group G

At Leipzig, Germany

RB Leipzig (GER) v Benfica (POR)

At Saint Petersburg, Russia

Zenit Saint Petersburg (RUS) v Lyon (FRA) (1755)

Group H

At Lille, France

Lille (FRA) v Ajax (NED)

At Valencia, Spain

Valencia (ESP) v Chelsea (ENG) (1755)

AFP

Neymar Left On Bench For PSG Against Madrid

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar reacts during the French L1 football match against Lille at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on November 22, 2019. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

 

Neymar has been left on the bench for Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League game away at Real Madrid on Tuesday.

The Brazilian played 65 minutes against Lille on Friday after spending six weeks out with a hamstring injury.

Neymar came close to a return to Spain last summer but neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid were able to agree a transfer with PSG.

The French champions have already qualified for the knockout stages and sit top of Group A, five points clear of Madrid, whom they beat 3-0 in Paris in September.

AFP

Zidane Says Real ‘Not Looking For Revenge’ Against PSG

Zidane Downplays Reported Madrid's Move For Pogba
Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane. AFP

Zinedine Zidane said that his Real Madrid side are “not looking to get revenge” when they host Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday after a 3-0 defeat in France earlier in the group stage.

Pressure mounted on Zidane after that loss at the Parc des Princes in September, but the 13-time European champions have since enjoyed an upturn in fortunes and sit behind leaders Barcelona only on goal difference in La Liga.

Real can join PSG in securing a last-16 place with victory at the Santiago Bernabeu, or if Club Brugge fail to win at Galatasaray in the other Group A match.

“We aren’t looking to get revenge after what happened earlier in the group,” Zidane said on Monday.

“But we want to play a good game of course and maintain our form.

“It’s the kind of game where you can confirm you’re on a good run. We want to win because we’re at home and we want to play good football.

“I want to see my side play 90 minutes at their best.”

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Frenchman Zidane was rebuked by PSG sporting director Leonardo earlier this month for comments about a possible move for his compatriot Kylian Mbappe, when he said the Paris forward’s “dream is to play for Real Madrid”.

The 47-year-old made clear again his admiration for Mbappe ahead of Tuesday’s encounter.

“You know that I’ve known Mbappe for a long time and that I’m in love with him as a person because of when he came here on trial a long time ago,” said Zidane.

“Having said that, he’s our opponent and there’s no more to it.”

Real have recovered in the Champions League after also being held to a 2-2 home draw by Brugge in their second game, beating Galatasaray home and away including a 6-0 thrashing in Madrid last time out.

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is hoping the Spanish giants can show how far they have come since the loss in Paris.

“The first meeting with them helped us learn a lot — it wasn’t a good game but we’ve improved a lot lately,” said the Belgian.

“It’s not revenge, more wanting to get one over on another big team who have aspirations to win the Champions League and we need to show how good we are.”

PSG ready for ‘big challenge’

PSG lead Real, who knocked them out of the tournament in the last 16 two years ago, by five points with two matches remaining and can secure top spot in the group by avoiding defeat.

“They have great qualities and a great mentality, it is a big challenge,” said Paris coach Thomas Tuchel.

“The match will be different from the first leg. The Bernabeu is a very hard venue to play. Madrid are in good form, they score a lot and barely concede.

“But we have a balanced and dangerous team. We are ready for this challenge, I am sure of that. We have to work together and suffer together.”

The French champions are still without injured duo Ander Herrera and Thilo Kehrer, but have Neymar back after the world’s most expensive player returned for his first appearance since October 5 against Lille on Friday.

Rodrygo Makes History As Madrid Thump Galatasaray

Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Rodrygo celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League Group A football match between Real Madrid and Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on November 6, 2019.
PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

Rodrygo scored a sensational hat-trick and the fastest two goals in Champions League history on Wednesday as Real Madrid humiliated Galatasaray 6-0.

The 18-year-old had his double after just six minutes and 14 seconds at the Santiago Bernabeu before teeing up Karim Benzema to make it four, after Sergio Ramos had chipped in a penalty.

Benzema then added a fifth late in the second half, leaving Rodrygo to complete his incredible treble in injury-time.

Madrid’s emphatic victory means they are virtually qualified from Group A, sitting five points ahead of Club Brugge, even if Paris Saint-Germain who are top look certain to claim first place.

READ ALSO: Atletico’s Round Of 16 Qualification Delayed After Loss To Leverkusen

It means Zinedine Zidane’s side will likely be at the mercy of the draw when it comes to the last 16 but that is their punishment for a miserable opening defeat in Paris and an equally dispiriting draw at home to Brugge.

Yet the knock-out stages are far away and Rodrygo is the man of the moment.

After scoring the fastest ever league goal by a Real debutant in September – a sumptuous control and finish after 94 seconds – he now has his name etched into the European record books too.

Benzema made his own piece of history by equalling and then surpassing Alfred di Stefano’s 49 European Cup goals but the way he hoisted Rodrygo to celebrate his first suggested he knew this was the teenager’s night.

When club president Florentino Perez presented Rodrygo to the fans last summer, he said they had signed one of the world’s “great prodigies”, a year after Vinicius Junior had also arrived from Flamengo.

Determined to avoid a repeat of losing out on Neymar to Barcelona, Madrid flooded Brazil with scouts, each of them instructed to find the next young gems.

They found Vinicius, who excelled last season but has struggled since the arrival of Eden Hazard, and Rodrygo, who stayed at Santos for a year before finally joining in June.

He was supposed to be introduced gradually to the senior team by playing first for Castilla, the club’s B team, and there was confusion earlier this season when one weekend he turned out for neither.

“He is a first-team player,” Zidane said. “We know exactly what we’re doing with him.”

Rodrygo replaced Vinicius to make his debut against Osasuna but his four consecutive starts have come in the absence of Gareth Bale, who is recovering from a calf injury and may struggle to regain his place when he returns.

There will be sturdier opponents than Galatasaray, who offered Madrid a way back into this group by losing 1-0 at home last month and put up precious little resistance here.

But Rodrygo’s two early finishes were ruthless, both set up by Marcelo crosses from the left. The first he cushioned and steered back inside, leaving Mario Lemina on the floor, before guiding a shot into the far corner.

The second was more simple, a leap and a well-timed header past Galatasaray’s goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

In the 14th minute, it was three. Prompted by VAR, referee Felix Zwayer decided Steven Nzonzi had caught the foot of Toni Kroos inside the area and Ramos lifted his penalty down the middle.

There was still time for Benzema to add a fourth before half-time as Rodrygo capitalised on an error from Yuto Nagatomo and played a perfect pass for the Frenchman to score.

The rest of the match was a procession, with Casemiro and Hazard both taken off, rested for the trip to Eibar on Saturday.

Benzema scored his second late on, tapping in from close range to make it five, before Rodrygo raced in from the left, exchanged passes with the Frenchman, and poked in.

After the final whistle, he kissed the match ball as he left, while the fans chanted his name.

AFP

Bale Returns To Real Squad, To Miss Betis Clash

A file photo of Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

 

Zinedine Zidane said on Friday Gareth Bale has resumed light training but will not be available for Real Madrid’s La Liga game at home to Real Betis. 

Madrid can register their third consecutive victory by beating struggling Betis on Saturday but Bale remains on the sidelines, as he continues his recovery from a calf problem.

Bale caused a stir this week by taking the day off on Monday to meet his agent in London, prompting reports in Spain he was discussing a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu in January.

READ ALSO: Arsenal’s Xhaka To Miss Wolves Clash

But Zidane has insisted Bale had permission to be absent from the club and he is now back in training.

The Welshman was not with the rest of the squad for Friday’s early session but did some running alone with a team physio.

“He is here with us, he is training and working hard,” said Zidane in a press conference on Friday.

“He is back from his trip and he is getting better. He is not available yet but he is recovering bit by bit.

“It seems we should bring him out here to speak to you because I don’t know anything more.”

Real Madrid sit second in La Liga, a point behind Barcelona and one ahead of Atletico Madrid and surprise high-fliers Granada, both of whom have played a game more.

James Rodriguez returned to Madrid on Friday from Colombia after the birth of his second child, but he is not expected to be involved this weekend.

Centre-back Nacho is struggling with a knee problem and Marco Asensio is a long-term absentee with a cruciate ligament injury.

AFP

Zidane Dismisses Speculation Over Bale’s Future At Real Madrid

 

Zinedine Zidane insists Gareth Bale was given permission by Real Madrid to travel to London on Monday, and claims the Welshman never talks about leaving the club. 

Bale has not played since injuring his calf during a game for Wales on October 13 and his trip to England has prompted speculation he will seek an exit from Madrid in January.

But Zidane insists Bale had permission to be absent on Monday and Tuesday morning and that he is not aware the 30-year-old wants to be sold.

“It was a personal issue and he had permission yesterday to go,” Zidane said in a press conference on Tuesday.

“It was a personal issue and he went, that’s it, no story. He also went because he’s not available to play.

“But I don’t think he ever speaks about leaving. When he is available he plays, that’s all there is to it.”

Bale came close to a move to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning last summer after Zidane said it would be “best for everyone” if he left Real Madrid.

But the deal fell through at the last minute due to a disagreement over the transfer fee and Zidane is not expecting any fresh offers in January.

 Unimpressed 

“I don’t think there will be an offer and I haven’t thought about it either. Gareth is a Real Madrid player,” said Zidane.

“What happened in the summer was the situation at the time and in the end Gareth stayed and all the better for everyone.

“It’s true what was said didn’t help but for me the result is the most important thing. He’s an important player and it’s important he plays and he plays well.

“If in January he says he’ll stay, there will be talk about the transfer window in the summer. Unfortunately people will always speak about these things but he’s here and everyone is happy he’s here.”

Zidane claimed he has a “good relationship” with Bale but sources have told AFP the forward remains on bad terms with the Frenchman.

Bale was particularly unimpressed by his omission from Madrid’s squad to face Club Brugge in the Champions League earlier this month.

After the match, Zidane put his absence down to a fitness issue but those close to Bale insist he was fully fit.

“I spoke to him and I spoke to James (Rodriguez). Both of them weren’t available to play against Brugge and they didn’t play,” said Zidane. “There’s nothing else to say about that.”

Bale will miss Madrid’s La Liga game at home to Leganes on Wednesday, along with Nacho, who has a knee problem, and Marco Asensio, who is recovering from a anterior cruciate ligament injury.

James Rodriguez is also unlikely to be involved as he missed training on Tuesday due to the birth of his child.

Real Madrid are sixth in the table but only two points off the top, with a game in hand.

AFP

Rivers Govt, Real Madrid Sign Ratification Agreement

 

Rivers State Government and Real Madrid Football Club have signed a ratification agreement for the development of Real Madrid Academy, Port Harcourt into an international football academy.

The agreement signing ceremony took place on Monday at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, home of Real Madrid Football Club. The signature event held at the Presidency Reception Centre of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

The signature of the ratification Protocol was executed by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and the Executive Vice President of Real Madrid Football Club Foundation , Enrique Sanchez.

In an address, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike said that the State Government is preparing the Real Madrid Academy as a veritable pathway for the empowerment of Rivers Children.

He said: “We are preparing the Real Madrid Academy as a veritable pathway for our young stars to be international football talents and for them to realise their dreams.

“We will offer them exposure, nurturing opportunities and mentorship by world renowned professionals at the Real Madrid Academy “.

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He informed the Real Madrid Football Club management that the Rivers State Government has already exhibited seriousness by developing the needed infrastructure at the Real Madrid Academy in Port Harcourt.

He said that in establishing the Real Madrid Academy, the Rivers State Government took into consideration the culture and reality of the state.

“Taking the interest of our youths, the Real Madrid Academy is designed for culture and holistic programmes with a comprehensive package for the acquisition of high level knowledge in a comfortable and inspiring environment “, he said.

He added that the Real Madrid Academy will also serve as an avenue to grow the economy of Rivers State, which is the second largest in the country. Governor Wike urged officials of Real Madrid Football Club to serve as ambassadors of Rivers State to the rest of Europe.

Executive Vice President of Real Madrid Football Club Foundation , Enrique Sanchez commended the Rivers State Government for its commitment to using football as a tool to empower youths.

He assured the Rivers State Government that the Real Madrid Foundation will continue to partner with it for the training and exposure of Rivers Children .

Sanchez said that the partnership with the Rivers State Government will be expanded to include local schools in Rivers State.

The Director of Institutional Relations in Real Madrid Football Club, Mr Emilio Butragueno said that Real Madrid appreciates any authority that promotes the wellbeing of children irrespective of their background.

He thanked Governor Wike for the initiative of using football as a platform to reach out to different categories of Rivers children.

Nigerian Ambassador to Spain, Ambassador Susan Aderonke praised Governor Wike for his investments in the development of football .

“This is a legacy that Governor Wike is leaving for Nigerian Children. We are happy with his investments in developing the future of our Children “, she said.

Earlier, Director of Institutional Relations in Real Madrid Football Club, Mr Emilio Butragueno took Governor Wike and his entourage on a tour of facilities at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Area Manager of Real Madrid Foundation for Africa and Middle East, Mr Inigo Vallejo coordinated the signature event witnessed by official of Interact Sports led by their Chief Executive Officer, Mr Jihad Saade.

On 21st September, 2019, the Rivers State Government unveiled the splendid Real Madrid Football Academy constructed by the Nyesom Ezenwo Wike Administration to promote professional football.

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike was accompanied by Rivers State PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah,

Senator Representing Rivers South-east, Senator Barry Mpigi, Deputy Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Ehie Edison, Former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Rt Hon Austin Opara, Senator Olaka Nwogu, Senator Sam Anyanwu, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, Former Commissioner of Sports, Boma Iyaye, Former Rivers Lawmaker, Felix Nwaeke and Former Commissioner, Marcus Nlenji.

El Clasico: Barcelona To Battle Real Madrid In December

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 28, 2018, Barcelona fans hold up banners demanding freedom during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

 

The rearranged Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid will be played on December 18 despite opposition from La Liga, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Tuesday.

Spain’s most prestigious fixture, which was due to take place at Camp Nou on Saturday, was postponed last week because of violent pro-independence protests in Catalonia.

La Liga had proposed December 4 or 7 and may decide to appeal.

READ ALSO: Police Recover 39 Bodies In Container Near London

“The decision of the Competition Committee has taken place after analysing in recent days the proposals of both clubs, who were invited to agree a date and decided on December 18,” an RFEF statement read.

“It has also analysed a report from the RFEF Competitions Area as well as numerous reports submitted by La Liga, which are not binding.

“At today’s meeting, the Committee also analysed the latest reports from both clubs, who maintain their initial proposal to play the match on 18 December.”

It means Barcelona, who insisted the original match should have gone ahead this weekend, will face a testing few weeks before Christmas.

In December, they are already scheduled to play away at Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan in the Champions League and Real Sociedad, who sit fourth in La Liga.

Real Madrid will play away at Club Brugge in the Champions League and then Valencia, just before travelling to Barca.

But both clubs swiftly settled on Wednesday, December 18 last week, hours after being instructed to agree a new date by the RFEF.

La Liga, who originally proposed the postponement, disagreed, claiming December 18 would clash with fixtures in the Copa del Rey and harm the economic interests of the clubs involved.

– Common sense –

“The decision to change the date of the most important La Liga match cannot be left to the decision of the two participating clubs,” La Liga said on Friday, adding that they have a responsibility to “maximise income” from television rights.

La Liga initially suggested swapping the two Clasicos, with the first one being played at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, and then proposed the weekend of December 7, when Barcelona and Madrid already have fixtures.

Their last proposal was Wednesday, December 4, which comes just after Barca play away at Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said on Tuesday he hoped the two clubs would not be drawn into a political “war” between La Liga and the RFEF, who have clashed on various issues in recent years.

“I would like common sense to prevail,” Valverde said “I would like there to be a date settled and for the internal wars between La Liga and the RFEF not to involve us.”

Barcelona, who visit Slavia Prague in the Champions League on Wednesday, moved top of La Liga last weekend, one point ahead of Real Madrid.

AFP

Kroos Stars As Real Madrid Beat Galatasaray In Champions League

Real Madrid’s German midfielder Toni Kroos (R) celebrates with team mates after he scored a goal during the UEFA Champions League group A football match between Galatasaray and Real Madrid on October 22, 2019 at the Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi in Istanbul.
OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Real Madrid came away from Istanbul with three crucial Champions League points on Tuesday with a 1-0 away win at Galatasaray thanks to a first-half Toni Kroos goal and Eden Hazard’s threatening creativity.

Pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane will be alleviated after Madrid had been beaten in their first European game by PSG, before they had to fight back from 2-0 down at home to Club Brugge to snatch a point in their second match of the campaign.

The thirteen-times European champions arrived in Istanbul needing a win against motivated opponents backed by passionate and noisy supporters.

Zidane said on Monday he was ‘bothered’ by rumours of his imminent replacement in the Madrid hot-seat, and he paced the touchline with a haunted look at times in the Turkish capital.

Belgian star Hazard shone and it was a clever cut-back from him that provided Kroos with a shot on goal, and his snap-shot was deflected past goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, who kept the visitors at bay for the rest of the proceedings.

Karim Benzema was also busy but curled two shots wide when he might have done better.

Captain Sergio Ramos was colossal at the heart of the Real defence with an ever present contribution despite his every touch being roundly booed.

Behind him Belgium ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois kept a cool head when stopping several Turkish attempts on his goal notably with efforts from Florin Andone and Younes Belhanda.

Hazard hit the crossbar after cutting round Muslera late on and was swiftly subbed by Zidane.

PSG thrashed Club Brugge 5-0 in the other Group A game and have nine points to Madrid’s four while Brugge have two and Galatasaray one after three games.

AFP