Cristiano Ronaldo grabs UEFA POTY, first to win three titles

Real Madrid ace Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed his second consecutive UEFA Player of the Year and became the first person to win the award three times in the UEFA Champions League draw held at Nyon on Thursday. Ronaldo tipped bitter rival Lionel Messi and Gianluigi Buffon for the award.

Cristiano scored 12 goals in the competition including his brace in the final and led Real Madrid to their record 12th title as well as the first team in the Champions League era to retain their title. Ronaldo leads the UEFA POTY tally now with three, ahead of Leo Messi’s two and one apiece by Andres Iniesta and Frank Ribery.

The Portuguese were also adjudged as UEFA forward of the year joining Luka Modric as best midfielder and Sergio Ramos as the best defender of the tournament. Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon won the top goalkeeper award.

Elsewhere, Lieke Martens of Barcelona won the UEFA Women’s POTY. The striker was instrumental in Netherland’s European Championship victory this summer, where she was named player of the tournament.

News Source: BBC, Goal

Image Source: Tribune

Bale and Co. dominate Deportivo as Ramos sees red

Estadio Riazor was brought down to its knees, as Real Madrid ousted Deportivo 3-0 as Bale, Casemiro and Kroos were on target in the season opener for the reigning champions. The only blotch in their performance was the red card shown to captain Sergio Ramos just seconds before the final whistle.

Madrid shot stopper, Keylor Navas denied Florin Andone not once but twice in the opening 15 minutes, as the visitors took time to settle down their nerves.

But the attacking class of Zinedine Zidane’s men were too much for the hosts as Gareth Bale tapped into an open goal after being squared off by Karim Benzema.

The second goal was the result of an exquisite build up when 44 passes were exchanged, before Marcelo put in an inch perfect cross for Casemiro at the second post.

The second half turned out to be more fiesty in nature as Ramos clashed numerous times with Andone. The Andalusian defender was lucky to continue after he pushed Schar with a smack in the face.

The hosts were weaving attack after attack but Madrid clamped down on any hope of a comeback when Bale produced some quality hold up play before laying it up for Kroos, who simply passed the ball into the net.

Navas continued his fine form as he denied Andone from the spot after Carvajal brought down  Bruno Gama at the edge of the box. At the last minute, Ramos was sent off with a second yellow after he elbowed Borja Valle in the air.

Real Madrid will be back in action next Sunday when they take on Valencia at the Santiago Bernabeu.

News Sources- Marca.com, As.com 

Asensio fires Madrid to fourth trophy of the year

Real Madrid defeated Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeau, in a late-night kick-off on Wednesday winning 2-0 (5-1 agg.) to become the Spanish Super Cup Champions for the tenth time.

It was one-way traffic right from the start, and Madrid drew first blood as early as the fourth minute when Marco Asensio pierced the net from 35 yards out with a screamer that left Barcelona goal keeper Ter Stegn glued to his feet. Karim Benzema heaped misery on the Cules as he slotted home a left footed finish around the 40th minute.

When the team sheet was drawn cynics raised their brows over Zinedine Zidane’s team selection, as he chose to rest Gareth Bale, Isco and Casemiro, while only Luka Modric returned to the thick of things. Lucas Vasquez along with Asensio were put in to stretch and inject pace in midfield while Mateo Kovacic along with Toni Kroos anchored at the centre of the park.

Ernesto Valverde’s decision to go with a three-man back line with Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique and Umtiti backfired and soon Sergi Roberto was pushed back from his midfield role.

Madrid pressed high, which unsettled a midfield without Iniesta and the defense was too brittle and disorganized to contain the attacking prowess of the Whites.

Messi was the only live wire for Barcelona, but lack of support from his partner Luis Suarez did not help the cause. There was intent to get on the score-sheet but Keylor Navas pulled off two fantastic saves, one from Messi and the other from Suarez to maintain a clean-sheet.

Both teams start their league campaign on Sunday as Madrid will travel to Deportivo whereas, Barcelona would host Betis at Camp Nou.

News Sources- Marca.com, The Guardian 

Alvaro Morata joins the Blues

Chelsea Football Club has confirmed the signing of 24-year-old Spanish striker Alvaro Morata on a 5-year deal from Real Madrid. The deal is estimated to be worth an initial £58 million, with add-ons that could increase the figure to a sum of £70 million.

Chelsea announced on Wednesday that a deal with Real Madrid had been successfully negotiated, thus ending their month-long quest for a striker. Morata was just one of several names, including the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Gonzalo Higuain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Andrea Belotti, touted to replace Diego Costa at Chelsea.

Known for his pace finishing, and intelligence, Morata has become the third high-profile signing of the summer for a Chelsea side who have also acquired the services of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Antonio Rudiger from Monaco and Roma respectively. Morata will meet up with his Chelsea team mates on the Singapore leg of Chelsea’s pre-season tour of Asia. The striker will also be reunited with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who he briefly played under during his time at Juventus in the Serie A.

Morata has a sizeable trophy cabinet in spite of his relatively young age, and has won two Serie A titles with Juventus, two Champions League and La Liga titles apiece with Real Madrid. His experience in Europe’s top competition will be an added bonus as Chelsea return to the Champions League after a season of absence.

 

News Sources- Chelseafc.comThe Guardian

Dani Ceballos joins Real Madrid on a six-year deal

Real Madrid continue their pursuit of young talent as 20-year old Spanish International Dani Ceballos became the latest to join the ranks at the Santiago Bernabeau, after youngster Theo Hernandez completed a controversial cross-town move from Atletico Madrid.

Ceballos was the player of the tournament in the recently concluded U-21 European Championships, and as per AS the player had already undergone medical for Los Blancos on Monday, after Real Betis consented to the move.

Ceballos had a release clause of €15m in his contract but Madrid ended up paying €16.5m to fend off competition from arch rival Barcelona. Negotiations continued for over a week, as disputes emerged over the mode of payment. Madrid wanted to half the amount now, and the rest in installments over the next six months.

The Andalusians stuck to the ground, and both parties agreed to a split up of 10m and 6.5m, the former amount to be paid immediately.

Ceballos, will be formally unveiled in the all-white strip on July 20, preceding a press conference with the club president Florentino Perez.

He made 105 appearances for Betis, scoring seven goals and assisting on nine other occasions.

This is the fifth addition to Zinedine Zidane’s side as Jesus Vallejo, Marcos Llorente and Borja Mayoral were the three other additions.

 

Sources: ESPN, Marca

James Rodriguez joins Bayern Munich on loan for two seasons

The James Rodriguez transfer saga has finally ended, as the Colombian star will leave Real Madrid to join Bayern Munich on a loan-spell for two seasons. Bayern has the option to buy the player at the end of the loan deal for €35 million, as reported by Madrid-based media outlet, AS. But another Spanish media outlet Marca, reported that the amount can skyrocket to €60 million in the summer of 2019.

The UEFA Champions League winners will also pocket €5 million, for the next two years he spends with the Bavarians. Real Madrid wanted a sum of €75 million to offload the player completely, but Bayern stood firm on their offer of €60 million. After the loan deal ends, James can return to Madrid if the principal owner refuses to activate the buy-out clause.

“We’re delighted we’ve been able to complete this transfer. Signing James Rodríguez was our coach Carlo Ancelotti’s biggest wish, following their successful spell working together in Madrid,” commented FC Bayern München AG chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to German media.

The two clubs had already finalized the deal two days and on Monday night Jorge Mendes met with Bayern officials to iron out the finer contract details.

Interestingly, James underwent a full medical test along with other Real Madrid players just yesterday when the team arrived for their pre-season.

James put on the White shirt 111 times, scored 6 goals and assisted 41 more, also winning two Champions League and a LaLiga title in his three years with Real Madrid.

 

Sources: AS, Marca

Pepe joins Besiktas on a free transfer

After spending 10 years at the Spanish capital, Real Madrid defender Pepe, joined Turkish Champions Besiktas in a free deal on Wednesday.

The Portuguese centre back’s current deal with Madrid expired on June 30 and within a week he penned a three year deal with Besiktas.

He successfully completed his medical and shortly after that he put pen to paper. “My goal is to continue to win trophies.”

“I love my job. I love to give my all on the pitch,” said Pepe after completing the formalities.

PSG along with several Premier League outfits were interested in his signature but a concrete offer was not put forth by any other club, allowing Pepe to join Besiktas.

His partnership with Sergio Ramos in the Madrid defense was brilliant as both complemented each other perfectly. In his years at the club, Pepe built up a reputation as a tough, no-nonsense centre-back who often put his body on the line for his club.

In Pepe’s last season with Madrid he raked up 1079 minutes and completing 92 successful defensive actions.

He has put on the Real Madrid shirt 334 times scoring 15 goals and assisting on 19 occasions.

He has tasted considerable success with Los Merengues, lifting three Champions League title in his tenure.

Sources: Squawka, Goal.com