Real Madrid, Julen Lopetegui and the actions of a condemned man | Sid Lowe

Julen Lopetegui’s reign may have been the chronicle of failure foretold; what few imagined was that it would unfold so quickly They’d been there for a while when the call came through to tell them they were standing in the wrong place. Raphaël Varane’s handball had actually been in the area, VAR decided, so instead of a free-kick it was a penalty, which was why just 14 minutes into this weekend’s opening game, Levante were 2-0 up at the Santiago Bernabéu, Real Madrid heading for another defeat and Roger Martí heading for the south-west corner, celebrating. On the opposite touchline Madrid’s manager stood motionless, hands in his pockets, gone. A few rows above, someone tapped the president on the shoulder and gave him a phone. Florentino Pérez took it, looked at the screen, lifted it to his ear, and a million memes were born: bring me the head of Continue reading "Real Madrid, Julen Lopetegui and the actions of a condemned man | Sid Lowe"

If Madrid sack Lopetegui they should sack us all, says Isco – video

Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui has brushed off media reports that he could soon lose his job saying that there is still time to reverse the team’s fortunes. Lopetegui has been at the helm for nine La Liga games, only four of which ended in victory for the club. ‘If you’re wanting to see a wounded coach, don’t look over here,’ the former Spain boss told a news conference before their Champions League tie with Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday. Meanwhile, midfielder Isco was firmly behind his manager, saying the players must take responsibility for the reigning European champions’ slump. Continue reading...

José Mourinho denies interest in taking over at Real Madrid for a second time

• Mourinho linked following Julen Lopetegui’s poor start at Real
• He wants to stay at Manchester United beyond current contractJosé Mourinho has denied any interest in taking over at Real Madrid, stating he wishes to stay as Manchester United manager beyond his current contract, which ends in the summer of 2020. Reports in Spain have claimed Mourinho is seen by Real as a replacement for Julen Lopetegui following the European champions’ disappointing start to the season. They sit seventh in La Liga, four points behind the leaders Barcelona, following Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Levante. Continue reading...

Football transfer rumours: Raheem Sterling to Real Madrid?

Today’s rumours have got the oven gloves out Manchester City will have been delighted to see their man Raheem Sterling silence his England doubters by breaking his international goalscoring drought the other night. The only problem is, having done so in Spain, his superb performance was staged right under the noses of increasingly fidgety Real Madrid officials. And now they’re preparing a £100m bid. How’s that for timing? Related: Next Generation 2018: 60 of the best young talents in world football Continue reading...

Enjoy Eden Hazard while you can lest Real Madrid land their man | Daniel Taylor

Chelsea should try to keep the Belgian but the Spanish giants usually get their targets. At least Hazard is lighting up the Premier League for one more seasonThey don’t bother putting stars on Real Madrid’s shirt to signify all the times they have accumulated the sport’s most coveted trophies. For other clubs, those stars take the form of a status symbol. At Madrid, though, they go by the theory that all they need is their club badge to signify football royalty. No stars necessary – which is just as well because they would need to find space for their own constellation to reflect what makes them different to the rest. In total, there have had the European Cup in their possession on 13 occasions, including four of the previous five seasons. Milan are next on the list with seven wins and then it is Barcelona, Liverpool and Bayern Munich Continue reading "Enjoy Eden Hazard while you can lest Real Madrid land their man | Daniel Taylor"

Real Madrid sue over claims club forced Ronaldo to settle in rape case

• Real claim to have ‘no knowledge’ of newspaper claims
• Correio da Manhã stands by story published on WednesdayReal Madrid have taken legal action against a Portuguese newspaper that reported the club forced Cristiano Ronaldo to settle with the woman who accused him of rape. Real said the information published by Correio da Manhã is “categorically false” and was printed in an effort to “seriously damage the image of this club”. Continue reading...

A host of Europe’s top football clubs are strangely out of sorts

Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona have won 26 European Cups between them. You wouldn’t know it from their form By Martin Laurence for WhoScored It was a weekend of shock results across Europe’s major leagues, with the Bundesliga and La Liga in particular throwing up more surprises. Two titans of the game fell to equally startling defeats on Saturday evening – just as Manchester United were avoiding one of their own at Old Trafford. There was a sense of disbelief from fans at Old Trafford when United went 2-0 down inside 10 minutes to a Newcastle side who had not won all season. It took three players who have been marginalised by José Mourinho this season – Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Alexis Sánchez – to turn the atmosphere from stunned silence to raucous noise and ensure United avoided dropping into the bottom half of the Premier Continue reading "A host of Europe’s top football clubs are strangely out of sorts"

Ballon d’Or 2018: Contenders for football’s global honour revealed

• Fran Kirby and Lucy Bronze battle for inaugural women’s award
• Ronaldo, Kane, Bale and Salah make men’s list Fran Kirby and Lucy Bronze have been nominated for the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or while Gareth Bale, Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo are contenders for the men’s award. Kirby’s nomination arrives after she won the PFA Player’s Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Women’s Footballer of the year for 2017-18 while Bronze added to her list of honours with a Champions League medal as well as a league title with Lyon. For the first time, France Football magazine is awarding the individual award this year to a woman and a man on 3 December in Paris. Continue reading...

Eden Hazard torn between new Chelsea contract and ‘dream’ Real Madrid move

• Chelsea forward says Real are ‘the best club in the world’
• ‘Sometimes I wake and want to go, sometimes I want to stay’Eden Hazard has cast fresh doubt over his future after revealing he is torn between signing a new contract at Chelsea and pursuing his dream of playing for Real Madrid. Related: Ross Barkley scores his first Chelsea goal in easy win over Southampton Continue reading...

Alavés revel in beautiful madness and pile pressure on Lopetegui’s Madrid | Sid Lowe

Manu García’s last-gasp goal gave Alavés their first home win over Real since 1931 as the visitors lost their third game in four “I was crapping myself,” admitted Alavés coach Abelardo Fernández. A few metres to his right, so was Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui. When the board went up, a red five glistening in the rain, he shot wild, pained looks, head swivelling from side to side, performed that classic Italian fingertips-to-the-face gesture that says “what the …?!”, some baffling injustice served – artichoke hand, it’s called – and pleaded for more. “Five?!” he shouted, “por favor! por favor!” It was 0-0, Mendizorroza was bouncing, holding on for an historic draw and Lopetegui’s team were approaching seven hours without scoring. He was under pressure, desperate for one last shot at salvation, and five more minutes didn’t feel like long to get a goal. As it Continue reading "Alavés revel in beautiful madness and pile pressure on Lopetegui’s Madrid | Sid Lowe"

Champions League roundup: Real Madrid stunned by CSKA Moscow

• Nikola Vlasic scores only goal before Akinfeev’s late red
• Bayern Munich held to 1-1 draw at home by AjaxReal Madrid slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat at CSKA Moscow in their Champions League Group G tie – after falling behind inside two minutes. Nikola Vlasic, on loan at CSKA from Everton, fired the Russians in front after only 65 seconds. Real Madrid hit the crossbar in the first half through Casemiro, but, despite plenty of second-half pressure, the visitors, now winless in three games, could not find a way back into the match. Continue reading...

La Liga: boring, uncompetitive and all that. Hang on … | Sid Lowe

Just seven weeks in, no one is winless in Spain and no one is unbeaten either. Is this season competitive rather than cheap? On Saturday afternoon, leaders Barcelona only managed a 1-1 home draw against 15th-placed Athletic Club Bilbao and had to come from behind for that; without a win in three, they dropped their seventh point in six days. On Saturday night, Real Madrid failed to score for the second game running, drawing 0-0 with Atlético Madrid; they’ve won just one in four now, while their city rivals left the Bernabéu unbeaten for a sixth successive season but have only won three from seven. And in between those matches, Sevilla beat Eibar at Ipurua, taking them third and on to 17 goals in 10 days, including three against Madrid. Before that, they hadn’t won in three, collecting a solitary point. They hadn’t even scored. On Sunday evening, Alavés Continue reading "La Liga: boring, uncompetitive and all that. Hang on … | Sid Lowe"

Gareth Bale injured as Real and Atlético play out Madrid derby stalemate

For all the talent on the pitch, in the end it was the men wearing gloves who decided the derby. For the sixth successive year, Atlético Madrid left the Santiago Bernabéu unbeaten in the league. Jan Oblak and Thibaut Courtois departed undefeated too: there were three one-on-ones, two for the visitors, one for the home side, but these two goalkeepers, arguably the finest in the world, stood tall. And so a game that Atlético edged in the first half and Real edged in the second, Gareth Bale having been withdrawn injured at half-time, ended even. Atlético started brightly too, Saúl Ñíguez bringing a save from Courtois after just two minutes and Antoine Griezmann’s overhead kick slicing wide three minutes later. The Frenchman probably should have put Atlético ahead on 18 minutes. Released by Koke, dashing through on the left behind the Madrid defence, he ran into the area, where Courtois Continue reading "Gareth Bale injured as Real and Atlético play out Madrid derby stalemate"

Real Madrid ‘up for the fight’ in derby with Atlético, says Julen Lopetegui

• Real Madrid looking to bounce back after Sevilla defeat
• Marcelo and Isco missing for European championsJulen Lopetegui has said Real Madrid will be “up for the fight” when they take on city rivals Atlético in La Liga on Saturday. Real suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat against Sevilla on Wednesday and are desperate to bounce back against Diego Simeone’s team, who beat them on penalties in the European Super Cup in August. Related: ‘Barça bad, Madrid worse’ – the night the underdogs bit back in La Liga Continue reading...

Fifa must do more to highlight the quality in the women’s game | Eni Aluko

Fifa got the Luka Modric decision right at the Best awards but naming Marta as the women’s best sends the wrong signals Fifa’s annual Best awards were held in London on Monday and it is fair to say they have created much debate. I can see why and no more so, in my opinion, than in regards to the women’s prize. Marta is one of my favourite players, and one of the best players I’ve had the privilege of coming up against, so I say this with the greatest respect: there are other players who were in a much stronger position to be named the best female player of 2018. Related: Luka Modric and Marta win Fifa player of the year awards in London Continue reading...