Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos scored directly from a corner kick as his side booked their place in the final of the revamped Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
They won 3-1 by outclassing Valencia in the competition’s semi-final match.
Isco and Luka Modric scored either side of half-time to put Zinedine Zidane’s side further at ease.
Then, Dani Parejo converted a consolation penalty kick for last year’s Copa del Rey winners in added time.
Real Madrid will meet the winners of Thursday’s semi-final match between FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in Sunday’s showpiece at the King Abdullah Sport City Stadium in Jeddah.
Germany international Kroos caught Valencia’s Jaume Domenech out to open the scoring in the 15th minute.
He curled a cross towards goal while the goalkeeper was still organising his defence and the ball flew over the line before Domenech could recover.
The soft manner of the goal appeared to hit Valencia hard after an even start to the game and Isco put Real Madrid further ahead by volleying home in the 39th minute.
His goal came after a sweeping move involving Federico Valverde and Dani Carvajal.
Modric buried Valencia’s faint hopes of a second half revival, providing a classy finish with the outside of his boot in the 65th minute to completing another incisive Real Madrid counter-attack.
“We were in complete control throughout the game. We came out with the intention of getting hold of the ball. That’s what we did and our plan worked perfectly,” Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro told reporters.
The 62,000-capacity arena was around two-thirds full for the first game of the competition.
It used to be a two-legged season curtain raiser between the Spanish league champions and the Cup winners but has been given a radical facelift.
Spanish football federation chief Luis Rubiales spearheaded the changes to the format.
Rubiale increased the number of teams to four and signed a three-year deal to move it to Saudi Arabia which media reports say is worth 40 million euros annually.
(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)
“El Clasico’’ may have finished goalless, but Real Madrid were left emboldened by their superb performance at Barcelona and will hope to build on the momentum now.
They want to start this when they host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday in their final La Liga game of 2019.
Zinedine Zidane’s side became the first team to take points off Barca at the Camp Nou this season but were left feeling short-changed by the draw.
That was after dominating the play and having two strong penalty kick appeals turned down.
Real Madrid are now unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions and have come into their own against the toughest opponents.
Wednesday’s performance ranks alongside their 2-2 draw with Paris St-Germain (PSG) as their best of the season.
“We are in great form and we are also in good shape physically. It’s a shame that the year is about to end, we would like it to not stop,” said Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.
Barca, meanwhile, gave an uncharacteristically shy account of themselves.
The onus will now be on them to produce an emphatic response at home to Alaves on Saturday after a match which has further harmed coach Ernesto Valverde’s reputation.
Newspaper Marca said the match, the first “Clasico’’ to finish goalless in 17 years, had “caused a lot of damage” to Valverde.
He is in his third season in charge and is struggling to get his immensely talented side to play as they know how.
Even though Barca are still top of the standings, leading Real Madrid only by goal difference, this has been a difficult season for them.
They are on a downward trend after looking utterly superior to their rivals in the previous two campaigns.
Valverde’s defence of his side’s uninspiring display indicated he might not be capable of giving the team the shake-up they need to win the title race.
“Barca-Real Madrid matches should be evenly matched. They (Real Madrid) are a great team, a powerful force. So, it’s normal that they made life tough for us,” said the coach, who saw his side thrash Real Madrid 5-1 last year and beat them 3-0 away in his debut season.
“It’s not normal that we put five goals past them or finish 17 points above them, even though that’s what has happened in recent years.”
(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)
Real Madrid outplayed FC Barcelona for large parts of Wednesday’s La Liga clash but were unable to make their dominance count and the ‘Clasico’ ended goalless.
The result though left the Catalans top of the standings on goal difference.
Both sides had shots cleared off the line and Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale did put the ball in the net after the interval.
But his strike was narrowly ruled out for offside for the fixture to end scoreless for the first time since November 2002.
The draw left Barca top on 36 points after 17 games with Real Madrid also on 36, five clear of third-placed Sevilla.
The game was rescheduled from Oct. 26 due to the political turmoil that gripped Catalonia after separatist leaders were given lengthy jail sentences two months ago.
It was played amid a protest in favour of independence near the stadium.
Loud chants of “independence” and “freedom” greeted kick-off, while many supporters held up flags reading “Spain Sit and Talk”.
The flags were distributed by protest organisers in a call for dialogue between the central government and Catalonia.
Local police reported confrontations between officers and protesters outside the ground.
Also, play was briefly stopped in the second half when a number of beach balls were thrown on to the pitch amid more chants for freedom for the jailed leaders.
The action on the pitch did not quite live up to the billing or the tense atmosphere in the stands.
This was because Barca failed to get going throughout the game and Real Madrid bossed the first half.
Zinedine Zidane’s side fired 12 shots at the hosts’ goal before the interval, coming closest with a Casemiro header which Gerard Pique scrambled off the goalline.
They also had two penalty kick appeals waved away for challenges on Raphael Varane.
Ramos said his side were unfortunate not to earn a spot-kick.
“Today we saw a great Real Madrid side with a lot of character which is exactly the image we wanted to give. We went out to try and
take the ball off them and we created a lot of chances,” he told reporters.
“We watched the penalty kick appeals at half-time and they seemed pretty clear. They are both penalty kicks, but we can’t change that.
“VAR is there to help but today we didn’t get that bit of luck.”
Barca looked short of ideas, with Lionel Messi being their only source of inspiration.
The Argentine could have broken the deadlock in the first half but Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos slid to the floor to block his goal-bound shot.
Messi later teed up Jordi Alba with a scooped pass but the defender fired just wide.
Barca’s all-time top goalscorer was uncharacteristically sloppy at times and miscontrolled a clear opportunity to strike at goal in the second half.
Midfielder Ivan Rakitic admitted Barca had struggled for parts of the match.
“Real Madrid had a lot of chances in the first half. It was tough for us, but then we had a few opportunities.
“It was a game that could have been decided by the odd goal, but it wasn’t to be,” said the Croatian.
“We’re happy with how we played, but we just lacked that final touch of quality.”
(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)
Thirteen-times winners Real Madrid were drawn against English champions Manchester City while title-holders Liverpool must face Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 following Monday’s draw.
Real Madrid ended up in pot two after finishing second in their group behind Paris St-Germain (PSG).
Manchester City were the unlucky side to be paired with them when their name was pulled out at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
The English Premier League (EPL) title-holders, who will be at home in the second leg, have yet to beat the Spanish side.
They have had two draws and two defeats in their previous four meetings.
However, their manager Pep Guardiola has a much more encouraging record with nine wins, four draws and four defeats in 17 meetings as coach of FC Barcelona and then Bayern Munich.
“It’s a difficult one,” said Manchester City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain. “Real Madrid are the best. We want to be the best, and so we have to try and beat them. It’s always a pleasure to play against Real Madrid. We know them very well. They know our manager.”
Liverpool and Atletico Madrid’s previous meetings have produced one win for each team and two draws with both teams scoring four goals.
Only Europe’s biggest five leagues —- England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain —- were represented in the draw and 11 of the 16 teams also reached the knockout stages last season.
Both England and Spain managed to get all four of their teams into knockout stages.
Elsewhere, Serie A champions Juventus will face French side Olympique Lyonnais and PSG will play Borussia Dortmund.
FC Barcelona were pitted against an unpredictable Napoli, the first time the two sides have ever met.
Napoli fired coach Carlo Ancelotti immediately after beating Genk to make sure of their place in the last 16.
They replaced him with Gennaro Gattuso, who has never coached in the UEFA Champions League before.
“A great team, a great challenge, two fascinating races. We will face them without fear,” he said.
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur side, who reached the final last season, will play RB Leipzig, who are in the knockout stages for the first time.
Chelsea were drawn against Bayern Munich who, in spite of their erratic domestic form, were the only team to complete the group stage with a 100 per cent record.
Serie A side Atalanta, who reached the last 16 on their first participation in the UEFA Champions League in spite of losing their first three group matches, were drawn against Valencia.
(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)
Security measures being prepared for FC Barcelona’s La Liga clash with rivals Real Madrid on Dec. 18 will guarantee a hitch-free match, police said on Friday.
They said the match in the Catalan city would not be disrupted in any way by a pro-independence protest on the same day.
“About 3,000 public and private security officers will be dispatched inside and outside FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium to protect both teams, fans and match officials for the game, known as `El
Clasico’,’’ Catalan regional police head Eduard Sallent told reporters.
Police are prepared for every eventuality but believe that protesters are unlikely to try to access the pitch during the game, he added.
The match was originally scheduled for Oct. 26 but it was postponed at the request of the league’s organisers over security concerns.
This had followed demonstrations in Catalonia after the jailing of nine Catalan separatist leaders.
“It was a wrong decision,” said the Catalan regional government’s interior councillor Miquel Buch, who argued that there was no reason to postpone the game because police would have guaranteed its security.
Secretive Catalan protest group Democratic Tsunami has called a protest four hours before the game’s kickoff at several areas surrounding the stadium.
It said it was part of its effort to call for dialogue between Spanish and Catalan authorities on the north-eastern region’s independence drive.
The group has not officially called on people to block supporters’ access to the stadium nor to interrupt the game.
But it said it has given instructions to fans who would be inside the stadium.
Catalan separatist politicians have encouraged people to protest, while Democratic Tsunami said on Tuesday that more than 18,000 people had registered to attend the protest.
The group previously organised a mass protest at Barcelona’s airport and blocked a major highway between Spain and France.
(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)
FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are level on points at the Spanish La Liga summit and both face stern tests this weekend ahead of their rearranged Clasico clash next Wednesday.
Barca travel to the Basque country to take on fourth-placed Real Sociedad on Saturday, while Real Madrid visit a resurgent Valencia side 24 hours later.
The Catalans, who sit ahead of their great rivals on goal difference with both on 34 points.
They were able to rest a number of first-team regulars including Lionel Messi in Tuesday’s 2-1 UEFA Champions League victory over Inter Milan, having already qualified for the knockout stages.
After a difficult start to the season, Barca have lost just one of their last 16 matches in all competitions.
Coach Ernesto Valverde feels they are clicking into gear at the right time.
“We’re in a good way. It’s good to see this kind of consistency. We had to come through a difficult spell to get to where we are now.
We had difficulties, with a number of forwards injured and they had to try and get back into form on the hoof, with little time.
“We always have to win at this club, the players know and feel it. We are really happy with how things are going and we’ve shown once again that we always want to win, whoever we play ,” he said.
Saturday’s opponents Real Sociedad have stumbled slightly of late after topping La Liga at the start of November.
They have won just two of their last six matches to slip to fourth, seven points off the table-toppers.
Meanwhile Real Madrid, who have won eight of their last 10 in all competitions, travel to a buoyant Valencia.
Valencia secured an unlikely berth in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League with an impressive victory away to Ajax Amsterdam in midweek despite missing nine first-team regulars through injury.
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane faces a difficult decision on whether or not to rest midfield general Casemiro for the trip to Mestalla.
The Brazilian has started in all of the club’s La Liga matches this season.
But he is a yellow card away from missing Wednesday’s Clasico through suspension having picked up four bookings already this campaign.
He’s played (in the UEFA Champions League) and we’ll have a look into it for the next game, and see what we do in Valencia. He hasn’t got much rest, but I’m not going to say what my plan is.
Third-placed Sevilla will hope to take advantage if either of the top two slip up when they host Villarreal.
Atletico Madrid will host Osasuna and Eibar also visit Athletic Bilbao in a Basque derby.
(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)
Real Madrid underlined their return to top form with a spectacular Champions League display at home to Paris St Germain on Tuesday but they still had to settle for a 2-2 draw.
This was after two late strikes secured top spot in Group A for the French side.
Real had sealed their place in the knockout stages for a record-extending 23rd successive year thanks to Club Bruges’ 1-1 draw at Galatasaray earlier, while PSG had also already qualified.
Yet with top spot on the line, as well as pride after PSG had crushed Real 3-0 back in September, both sides played with the passion, skill and commitment of a blockbuster knockout tie, serving up a thrilling game at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Karim Benzema knocked into an empty net to give Real the lead in the 17th minute of his 100th Champions League start and the French forward doubled the advantage with a 79th minute header.
Yet Kylian Mbappe immediately reduced the deficit in the 81st minute, capitalising on a mistake from Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois before Pablo Sarabia equalised in the 82nd.
PSG’s fightback added to concern in the stands after Real winger Eden Hazard hobbled off in the second half with an ankle injury, although substitute Gareth Bale almost snatched a winner when he struck the post in added time from a free kick.
Real coach Zinedine Zidane was annoyed that his side could not toast their sizzling display with a victory but paid tribute to his players.
“I liked everything we did and the performance of every player. They all showed attitude and played superbly. The game was a true spectacle,” he told reporters.
“The players deserved to win. I wouldn’t normally say that because a match is about the whole 90 minutes but after playing as well as we did I believe it.”
Zidane added that Hazard, who has burst into a form after a slow start to life at Real, had twisted his ankle but did not give any more details on the injury.
PSG midfielder Marco Veratti admitted his side had been outplayed for sections of the game but praised them for their reaction.
“In the first half, we didn’t play our game and suffered too much but it’s hard to avoid suffering away to Madrid. Few teams win here,” he said.
“We were a little more courageous in the second half. Even though we gave away a lot of chances, we played like we know how.”
PSG top Group A with 13 points from five games while Real are second on eight. Club Bruges, who Real visit in their final game next month, are third on three points, while Galatasaray, who will travel to PSG, are bottom with two.
Real were cruising in the first half but the game looked set to be shaken up when PSG were awarded a penalty and Courtois was shown a red card for hauling down Mauro Icardi in the area.
But the referee overturned both decisions following a VAR review, and awarded Real a free kick instead for a foul on Marcelo in the build-up.
Madrid, who had won five of their previous six games, produced a dominant display but were let down by slack defending in the closing stages.
They should have killed the game off long before Benzema’s second but were repeatedly denied by their former, much-loved keeper Keylor Navas.
The Costa Rican, who won three consecutive Champions League crowns with Real before moving to Paris at the start of the season, made 10 saves, including a stunning block to deny Benzema from point-blank range.
Edited & Vetted By: Sadiya Hamza
Real Madrid blow chance to go top after frustrating draw with Betis
Madrid, Nov.2,2019 Real Madrid passed up the chance to go clear at the top of La Liga after slip-ups from title rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, when they could only draw 0-0 at home to struggling Real Betis on a difficult Saturday for Spain’s top three sides.
Real were full of confidence after hammering Leganes 5-0 in mid-week for their biggest win of a stop-start season and appeared to get off to a great start when Eden Hazard struck early but the goal was ruled out for offside after a VAR review.
Madrid’s clearest opening came in the second half when French left back Ferland Mendy surged forward towards goal but despite having plenty of time to shoot he missed the target, prompting howls of frustration from the fans behind the goal.
Real are second in the standings on 22 points after 11 games, level with leaders Barcelona who slid to a shock 3-1 loss at Levante earlier in the day.
Atletico Madrid, who have played one game more, are third on 21 points after drawing 1-1 at Sevilla, who are fourth with the same number of points. Betis are 14th with 13.
Karim Benzema saw a shot well saved in a bright opening spell while Toni Kroos came close to scoring from a free kick but Betis, who were victorious on their last two visits to the Santiago Bernabeu, were not shy down the other end.
French midfielder Nabil Fekir flashed a shot just wide in the first half and Loren Moron tried in vain to lob Thibaut Courtois, who had to make a smart save to deny Fekir late in the game.
Madrid had a penalty appeal for handball turned down in the closing stages while Vinicius Jr. and Dani Carvajal were both thwarted in stoppage time by Betis goalkeeper Joel Robles.
Edited by Felix Ajide
A goal from German midfielder Toni Kroos gave Real Madrid their first win of this season’s Champions League with a 1-0 victory at Galatasaray on Tuesday.
Eden Hazard cut the ball back to Kroos in the 18th minute, whose side-footed effort found its way into the roof of the net via a deflection.
The win means Madrid climb up to second in Group A, but behind leaders Paris St-Germain by five points.
“It was an end-to-end encounter with both teams able to create many chances.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had to deny the home side twice in the first half.
Zinedine Zidane’s side were without Gareth Bale and Luka Modric.
However, Galatasaray were also missing a talisman of their own as Colombian striker Radamel Falcao did not feature due to an ongoing injury.
The Turkish champions are bottom of the group with one point from three games, while Real Madrid have four.
The two sides meet again in Spain on Nov. 6.
(Edited by Olamide Alabi)
(Edited by Olamide Alabi)
Real Madrid have left Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Lucas Vazquez out of their squad for Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League clash away to Turkish side Galatasaray.
It is a match manager Zinedine Zidane has since described as a “must-win game”.
None of them — Modric, Bale and Vazquez — played in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Real Mallorca, Real Madrid’s first La Liga loss of the season.
Modric and Bale both picked up knocks on international duty while Vazquez has been out since the start of the month.
Toni Kroos, Eden Hazard and Dani Carvajal, all of whom also missed the Real Mallorca defeat, return to the squad.
Kroos has been carrying an injury while Hazard missed the Real Mallorca trip because of the birth of his fourth child, and Carvajal was rested.
Real Madrid have managed only one point from their first two Group A games in this season’s UEFA Champions League.
“We know what we’re playing for,” Zidane said of Tuesday’s trip. “We need to play to win because there’s no other option there. We need to focus on winning on Tuesday.”
(Edited by Joseph Edeh and Olawale Alabi)
(Edited by Joseph Edeh and Olawale Alabi)