Eyes down for kick-off in La Liga, where Barcelona remain the team to beat

Real Madrid are in transition without Zidane and Ronaldo, and Atlético are still the most likely to upset the old duopoly On 16 May Barcelona met Mamelodi Sundowns in a friendly in Johannesburg. The Mandela Centenary Cup was the prize, Barcelona beat South Africa’s champions 3-1 and the highlight for the crowd at Soccer City was seeing Lionel Messi come off the bench in the second half. Related: Could La Liga’s US venture spark a Premier export? | Ed Aarons Continue reading...

Super Cup loss adds to Real Madrid’s post-Ronaldo narrative of negativity | Jonathan Wilson

Julen Lopetegui’s side conceded four goals for the first time since 2015 against Atlético Madrid, and the lack of galáctico signings add to the sense of a downward drift It was only the Uefa Super Cup. It was only a defeat in extra-time. Real Madrid won this competition last year, and that meant very little for a disappointing league season which in turn meant very little for a triumphant Champions League campaign. The needle flickers, form fluctuates, priorities change and when you are a club as stuffed with talent as Real Madrid trophies usually follow. And yet Wednesday’s game in Tallinn was not just another game, not even just another Super Cup. It was Real Madrid’s first competitive game after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo – and it was lost. Perhaps they would have lost with Ronaldo. Perhaps the game would not even have gone to extra-time. Perhaps he Continue reading "Super Cup loss adds to Real Madrid’s post-Ronaldo narrative of negativity | Jonathan Wilson"

Bledisloe Cup classics, a Maradona unveiling and a Barry Chuckle tribute | Classic YouTube

Also featuring Stuart Broad and beans at Trent Bridge, a goose on the pitch and a Nick Kyrgios 115mph forehand winner 1) It’s the first Bledisloe Cup match of 2018 between New Zealand and Australia so let’s begin with this utterly ridiculous Christian Cullen try from 2000, with significant input from Jonah Lomu and Tana Umaga. Cullen, again, this time going it alone in Dunedin in 1997. Stirling Mortlock waltzing through the All Black midfield before popping the ball off to Scott Staniforth at the MCG in 2007. Or two monstrous counterattacks from each side; first, Matt Burke in 1996 and then, Frank Bunce on the end of a move involving seven other players in 1992. 2) Villarreal got all David Copperfield when they unveiled Santi Cazorla as their new signing at El Madrigal. Revisit an age when unveiling signings consisted of Diego Maradona booting a ball high into Continue reading "Bledisloe Cup classics, a Maradona unveiling and a Barry Chuckle tribute | Classic YouTube"

Toni Kroos calls Mesut Özil’s claims of racism around Germany team ‘nonsense’

• Midfielder says Özil’s international retirement ‘not in order’
• Özil claimed he was scapegoated for his Turkish backgroundToni Kroos has criticised former Germany teammate Mesut Özil for the way he announced his international retirement over claims of racism, which the Real Madrid midfielder called “nonsense”. The 29-year-old Özil announced he would no longer be playing for the national in July after Germany crashed out of the World Cup group stage. He said he had faced “racism and disrespect” because of his Turkish roots. Continue reading...

Diego Costa double helps Atlético beat Real Madrid 4-2 in Uefa Super Cup

• Benzema 27, Ramos 63pen; Costa 1 79, Saúl 98, Koke 104
• Saúl Ñíguez scores brilliant volley in extra timeReal Madrid began life without Cristiano Ronaldo with an extra-time defeat to bitter rivals Atlético Madrid in the Uefa Super Cup. Quickfire goals from Saúl Ñíguez and Koke gave Atletico a 4-2 win in Estonia in Real’s first competitive match since their club record goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo was allowed to join Juventus for £99.2m. Continue reading...

Sergio Ramos fires back at Jürgen Klopp in Champions League war of words – video

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has taken a swipe at Jürgen Klopp after the Liverpool manager accused him of having 'a win at all costs mentality' following the Champions League final.  The Spanish giants won 3-1 thanks to two costly errors from goalkeeper Loris Karius, but Liverpool played most of the game without talisman Mohamed Salah. The forward became injured in the opening stages of the game after a clash with Ramos – who also later went on to crash into Karius. Klopp had already branded Ramos 'brutal' and 'ruthless" in the past, and on 10 August he renewed his attack on the Spaniard, saying that he doesn't share Ramos' attitude to football.  But on the eve of the Uefa Super Cup derby against Atlético Madrid in Tallinn, Ramos fired back accusing the German coach of being a bad loser. 'Maybe he wants to justify himself after losing Continue reading "Sergio Ramos fires back at Jürgen Klopp in Champions League war of words – video"

Thibaut Courtois keen for Eden Hazard to join him after Real Madrid unveiling

• Former Chelsea goalkeeper wants to play with fellow Belgian
• Courtois says he turned down more lucrative offers for RealThibaut Courtois signed for Real Madrid on Thursday before revealing he is keen for his former Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard to join him at the Bernabéu. The Belgium international, named best goalkeeper at the World Cup this summer as he helped his country to third-place, has signed a six-year deal after completing a medical on Thursday. Continue reading...

Real Madrid’s strategy of signing World Cup stars goes back 60 years

Thibaut Courtois, Toni Kroos and Ronaldo are all part of a transfer policy first used by Santiago Bernabéu in 1958
By Craig McCracken for Beyond The Last Man It is a quadrennial tradition that Real Madrid swoop for standout performers from the recent World Cup. West German left-back Paul Breitner was an early and successful example of this policy in action when he joined the club weeks after winning the World Cup on home soil in 1974. Gheorghe Hagi, Predrag Spasić, Fernando Redondo, Robert Jarni, the Brazilian Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro, Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira all arrived on the back of strong World Cup performances. Thibaut Courtois, the golden glove winner in Russia this summer, is just the latest player to turn up in Madrid after impressing at the World Cup. Real Madrid’s two acquisitions after the 2014 World Cup – James Rodríguez and Toni Kroos – provide a Continue reading "Real Madrid’s strategy of signing World Cup stars goes back 60 years"

Football transfer rumours: Luka Modric to join Inter from Real Madrid?

Today’s titbits are hooked on cheese puns Not content with losing Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid could be about to complete an unthinkable treble by selling Luka Modric to Internazionale. Fresh from winning the World Cup Golden Ball after driving Croatia to the final in Russia, Modric has opened the door to a move to Serie A. The move is said to have been worked upon with the utmost secrecy for weeks and Inter’s ‘great dream’ could be about to become a reality. A midfield pairing of Modric and the newly acquired Radja Naingollan would certainly get the juices flowing. The back-up plan isn’t bad either, with Italy’s hibernating giants having lined up the signing of Arturo Vidal from Bayern Munich if Modric falls through. Continue reading...

Manchester United wrap up US tour with win over Real Madrid

  • Manchester United 2-1 Real Madrid
  • Alexis Sànchez and Ander Herrera on target in Miami
It will take much more than a pre-season win to cure José Mourinho’s ever darkening mood. Beating a Real Madrid side who have just begun their own preparations for the new campaign means little in the grand scheme of things yet for Mourinho, who made few friends and even more enemies in Spain during a typically tempestuous three-year spell, it perhaps carried a touch more significance than most of these tune-up encounters. Related: Manchester United 2-1 Real Madrid: International Champions Cup – as it happened Continue reading...

Jürgen Klopp attacks Sergio Ramos over ‘ruthless and brutal’ final display

• Liverpool manager says Ramos tackled Salah ‘like a wrestler’
• Alisson move unrelated to Champions League final outcome Jürgen Klopp has opened up on Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat for the first time and described Sergio Ramos as acting like a brutal wrestler when injuring Mohamed Salah in Kiev. Liverpool would still have signed Alisson for a world-record goalkeeping fee had they beaten Real Madrid in May, Klopp confirmed. Related: Liverpool players must take pressure off Mohamed Salah, says James Milner Continue reading...

Arsenal tailing Real Madrid’s £45m-rated Croatian midfielder

A report published by Daily Star suggests that Arsenal are tailing Real Madrid’s £45m-rated Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who’s is allegedly hungry to leave the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer in order to locate undisputed first-team football next season after flourishing at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Kovacic, alongside Los Blancos teammate Luka Modric […]

Football transfer rumours: are Inter really eyeing a bid for Lionel Messi?

Today’s tittle-tattle is grafting Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus rocked the Mill’s world in more ways than one. For starters, it looked set to give this short, but still oh so long, summer transfer window its headline move in mid-July. Also, it left Ronaldo and Lionel Messi floating around in different leagues, separated after nine long years, free from their constant, suffocating rivalry. It could be quite nice, thought the Mill. And now, this. Internazionale sense that Serie A might finally be back in vogue, and want to get a piece of that action by triggering Messi’s €700m (£622m) Barcelona release clause. That’s according to Tuttosport, whose latest edition ought to come with a sachet of salt attached. It does at least feature a quote from, er, Inter sponsors Pirelli, whose head honcho Marco Tronchetti Provera said: “I hope that Suning [Inter’s owners] can make a huge signing. Messi? How Continue reading "Football transfer rumours: are Inter really eyeing a bid for Lionel Messi?"