Title defenders Real Madrid made a huge statement on Wednesday night after a comeback win against Paris-Saint Germain in the first leg of the Champions League round-of-16. Madrid’s talisman Cristiano Ronaldo netted a brace that included his landmark 100th Champions League goal for a single club.
The hosts, fresh from a 5-2 battering of Real Sociedad, unleashed their Champions League mode early in the game as they dominated possession and didn’t shy away from taking the shots. However, their attacking play caught their defence napping as Adrien Rabiot slotted home the all important away goal from close range. Kylian Mbappe’s cross wasn’t handled well as slick Neymar backheel in box meant Rabiot had a free shot from close range.
Cristiano converted from 12 yards to level the score just on the stroke of half-time. The penalty was Cristiano’s 100th Champions League goal in the Madrid shirt. That equaliser also made the Portuguese the first man to score in seven consecutive Champions League matches. He had scored in all the six Group Stage matches.
As for the visitors, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani missed glorious opportunities to put them in front, while Karim Benzema’s worst run of form continued. Both strikers, Cavani and Benzema were taken off early in the second half though. Although he didn’t score, Neymar was tormenting the Madrid defence with his blistering runs in the final third.
Leaving Gareth Bale on the bench and starting Isco was a big call taken by Zidane, but the introduction of Marco Asensio was a masterstroke. His entrance proved to be decisive and pave the way for a Real triumph. The 20-year-old made an instant impact on the wing, bagging two assists within just seven minutes of his introduction. Asensio assisted Cristiano Ronaldo for his second, with a low driving cross in the box and then set up Marcelo for Real’s third and seal the game.
Zidane was pleased with his team’s performance but was wary of the second leg in two weeks’ time. “This club has 12 Champions Leagues and there is a reason for that,” Zidane said. “We can be very happy with what we did against a very good team tonight.”
While Unai Emery lamented the referee’s decisions against PSG. “It was a repeat,” Emery said, when the 6-1 defeat at Barcelona last season was brought up. He was not talking about the result or the collapse but refereeing which he said “damaged” PSG, his focus drawn to the penalty Madrid were given.
The long-standing issue of Real Madrid and star player Cristiano Ronaldo has finally been settled. Being promised a new bumper deal after his match winning brace in the UEFA Champions League Final last season, Ronaldo’s deal was stalled amidst transfer speculations that were given higher priority. Reports surfaced that Ronaldo had felt cheated and also demanded a move back to Premier League with former club Manchester United.
But all of that ended when Cristiano confirmed his stay in Madrid last month. And now was offered a new deal that’ll see him earn a staggering €9 million/year raise in salary. According to Spanish paper ABC, he will earn €30 million a year, an increase of almost €9 million on his current deal. That will see him earn the same as PSG Neymar but less than Barcelona rival Lionel Messi.
However, it has sparked some controversy as well. Despite the massive increase in wages, Real Madrid have not given him a contract extension. Cristiano’s deal still expires in 2021 and is only awarded a pay rise.
No matter the ton of contributions that Ronaldo has provided to Real Madrid, the move can be questioned as the soon to be 33-year-old looks out of his prime. It’s a big question on how can he impact the defending La Liga champions, considering his poor form in front of goal this campaign. That being said, Champions League is another story in itself. The Portuguese became the first ever player to score on every single match-day of the Champions League group stage this season, with his 9 goals in 6 games. Cristiano will be the driving force for Real Madrid if the defending champions want to see of Paris-Saint Germain in the round of 16 this month.
Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo clinched his record 5th Balon D’or on Thursday to equal his rival Lionel Messi’s record. The ceremony, held at the Eiffel Tower, awarded Cristiano his second consecutive Balon D’or. Messi was adjudged the second best, while his ex-Barca team-mate and current Paris St. Germain player Neymar stood third.
Ronaldo’s exploits in the previous year included his club Real Madrid’s record 12th Champions League title, as they became the only club in Champions League era to retain the title; a record 33rd La Liga title and their second FIFA Club World Cup.
On a personal front, Cristiano was the top scorer in the Champions League with 12 goals including the match-winning brace against Juventus in the final. He also netted a match-winning hat-trick as Real Madrid beat Kashima Antlers 4-2 in the FIFA Club World Cup final.
With his 9 goals in 6 games, Ronaldo became the only player in history to have scored in every group stage match of a Champions League season this year. The Portuguese also has a record 114 Champions League goals, a feat that’ll continue for as long as the player retires.
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
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
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
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.com, The Guardian