Rodrygo snatches Real chance

Real Madrid's Rodrygo is making the most of his opportunities. Against Galatasaray, he bagged the quickest brace from the opening whistle (6:14) in tournament history and became the youngest Brazilian to ever score in the competition.

The hat-trick hero's efforts in the 6-0 win should help the teen vault an abundance of right-sided players on Zinedine Zidane's bench. Gareth Bale remains persona non grata, and Lucas Vazquez and the oft-injured James Rodriguez haven't exactly impressed.

In four starts in all competitions, Rodrygo has five goals and has scored once every 74 minutes. Vazquez has one goal in 364 minutes, and Rodriguez has the same total in 422 minutes. It's no coincidence that Real doubled their group-stage haul in a stellar first half galvanized by Rodrygo's influence. His ability to switch to the left like he did when Isco came on for Eden Hazard doesn't hurt either.

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Zidane dismisses speculation over Bale's future at Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane insists Gareth Bale was given permission by Real Madrid to travel to London on Monday, and claims the Welshman never talks about leaving the club.

Bale has not played since injuring his calf during a game for Wales on October 13 and his trip to England has prompted speculation he will seek an exit from Madrid in January.

But Zidane insists Bale had permission to be absent on Monday and Tuesday morning and that he is not aware the 30-year-old wants to be sold.

"It was a personal issue and he had permission yesterday to go," Zidane said in a press conference on Tuesday.

"It was a personal issue and he went, that's it, no story. He also went because he's not available to play.

"But I don't think he ever speaks about leaving. When he is available he plays, that's all there is to it."

Bale came close to a move to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning last summer after Zidane said it would be "best for everyone" if he left Real Madrid.

But the deal fell through at the last minute due to a disagreement over the transfer fee and Zidane is not expecting any fresh offers in January.

- Unimpressed -

"I don't think there will be an offer and I haven't thought about it either. Gareth is a Real Madrid player," said Zidane.

"What happened in the summer was the situation at the time and in the end Gareth stayed and all the better for everyone.

"It's true what was said didn't help but for me the result is the most important thing. He's an important player and it's important he plays and he plays well.

"If in January he says he'll stay, there will be talk about the transfer window in the summer. Unfortunately people will always speak about these things but he's here and everyone is happy he's here."

Zidane claimed he has a "good relationship" with Bale but sources have told AFP the forward remains on bad terms with the Frenchman.

Bale was particularly unimpressed by his omission from Madrid's squad to face Club Brugge in the Champions League earlier this month.

After the match, Zidane put his absence down to a fitness issue but those close to Bale insist he was fully fit.

"I spoke to him and I spoke to James (Rodriguez). Both of them weren't available to play against Brugge and they didn't play," said Zidane. "There's nothing else to say about that."

Bale will miss Madrid's La Liga game at home to Leganes on Wednesday, along with Nacho, who has a knee problem, and Marco Asensio, who is recovering from a anterior cruciate ligament injury.

James Rodriguez is also unlikely to be involved as he missed training on Tuesday due to the birth of his child.

Real Madrid are sixth in the table but only two points off the top, with a game in hand.

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El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid rearranged for December 18

The first El Clasico of the season between Barcelona and Real Madrid has been rescheduled for December 18.

Barca were initially due to host their arch-rivals at the Nou Camp on Saturday, but the game was postponed by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) last week because of security issues in Catalonia.

Both clubs rejected a suggestion that the game could be played at Real’s Bernabeu Stadium instead and offered December 18 as their preferred option.

A Spanish Football Federation statement read: “The competition committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation has agreed today to set December 18 as the date of the FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF match… which was to be held on October 26 and was postponed due to exceptional causes.

“The decision of the competition committee has come after analysing in recent days the proposals of both clubs, which were invited to agree on a date and which have agreed on December 18 for the celebration of the postponed match.”

The original fixture was postponed following mass protests in Barcelona after nine Catalan political leaders were given lengthy prison sentences for their roles in the 2017 Catalan independence referendum.

Barca had urged the federation to allow the game to go ahead, saying it had “the utmost confidence in the civilised and pacifist attitude of its members and fans who always express themselves in exemplary fashion at Camp Nou”.

The Catalan club confirmed the rearranged date in a statement on their official website.

It said: “We have a date for El Clasico. The Spanish Football Federation’s competition committee has officially announced on Wednesday that the first game between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid this season, originally scheduled for October 26, will now be taking place on Wednesday 18 December at Camp Nou, the date that FC Barcelona originally proposed a week ago.”

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Galatasaray vs Real Madrid preview: Zidane plays his first final

Real Madrid will play for their Champions League lives when they face Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday.Zinedine Zidane knows the importance of the game for his team and for himself as the pressure begins to mount on the Los Blancos boss."

It's always an important match, I've been here for 18 years, I know where we are and pressure is always going to be there," Zidane said in his pre-match press conference.If Real Madrid don't get a result in Istanbul, they'll be staring Champions League elimination in the face just three games into the group stage.

On top of that, Zidane's side lost their place at the top of the LaLiga Santander table with defeat at Real Mallorca on Saturday.Florentino Perez and the rest of the club's board remain confident that both players and coach can turn this situation around, but they reiterate that something must change quickly."I don't know if I have a lot to lose against Galatasaray," Zidane said on Monday."I want to be at Real Madrid forever.

"We know the situation, but you'll have to ask someone else [about my future].""Football is about results. The memory is very short," Zidane's former teammate Luis Figo said recently."Another thing is if the decisions are fair or not, but it's of little importance at times. I always hope that things work out for the best, but [Zidane] knows that the world is like this."

He knows what it's like to coach Real Madrid better than anyone. I hope the critics go away soon and the team has the results that we expect and wins lots of games."

A defeat against Galatasaray wouldn't spell the end for Zidane, but it would for the team. History shows that teams rarely progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League having picked up just one point from their opening three games.Tottenham were the last team to do it, with their run finishing with the final at the Wanda Metropolitano last season.

Los Blancos have progressed from the Champions League group stages with 10 points just twice before.The first time that happened came during the 1995/96 season when they finished in second behind Ajax, who won 19 points, and the second time came during the 2005/06 campaign when they finished in second behind Lyon, who won 16 points.

Zidane will go into the crunch fixture without the likes of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, but at least he'll have Toni Kroos available for selection again.

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Real Madrid suffers shock defeat; Cristiano Ronaldo just keeps scoring

Real Madrid lost its first league game of the season as coach Zinedine Zidane's reboot of the club continues to malfunction.

Despite missing a number of star players, his side was the heavy favorite going into Saturday's match against newly-promoted Mallorca, but was given a rude awakening as the league minnows held on for a shock 1-0 win.

Lago Junior scored the game's only goal as Real Madrid was forced to play the closing stages with 10 men after Alvaro Odriozola was sent off for two bookable offenses.

New signing Eden Hazard missed the match after the birth of his child and the likes of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale were absent through injury.

Despite this being Real's first domestic loss, Zinedine's team has failed to impress this season and is yet to win a game in this year's UEFA Champions League group stages.
"The problem is that we have to show every three days that we're good. That's the difficulty. We don't do it," Zidane said after the match.

"I won't say that I'm worried because I don't like the word, but if we want to win something this season, we need consistency."

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El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid postponed amid Catalan protests

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has postponed El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid later this month due to the ongoing Catalan protests.

The lengthy jail sentences handed to pro-independence politicians earlier this week sparked furious protests across the region, which continued into a fourth day Thursday.

El Clasico is one of the most highly anticipated fixtures on the football calendar, with the bitter rivalry drawing in millions of viewers worldwide.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have been given until October 21 to rearrange the fixture. Should they fail to do so, the RFEF will decide on a new date.

Both clubs have proposed that the rescheduled fixture takes place on December 18.

Earlier this week, La Liga had asked the RFEF that the match, originally scheduled for October 26, be moved from Barcelona's Camp Nou to Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu.

Nine of the Catalan independence leaders were given between nine and 13 years for their part in a failed 2017 attempt to split from Spain.

Three other defendants were found guilty of disobedience, fined and banned from public office for 20 months.

In 2017, Barcelona was forced to play its La Liga match against Las Palmas behind closed doors at the Camp Nou after Catalonia's disputed independence referendum descended into violence.

Las Palmas indicated that it opposed the breakup of Spain, sending its players onto the pitch with small Spanish flags sewn onto their jerseys.

Barcelona's players took to the field wearing red and yellow shirts, the colors of Catalonia, before reverting to its normal strip for the match.

Local police in Barcelona told CNN that more than 20 roads in and around Barcelona are closed Friday due to the demonstrations.

According to Barcelona City Council, the three nights' of protests -- Tuesday to Friday -- have caused €1,575,000 ($1,753,000) worth of damage.

Real Madrid currently tops La Liga with 18 points, two ahead of second-place Barcelona.

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Who was the best Champions League player in Matchday 2?

The second round of fixtures from this season's Champions League group stage has come to an end and there were some impressive individual performances.

Serge Gnabry scored four at Tottenham for Bayern Munich, Luis Suarez netted twice as Barcelona came back to beat Inter, Achraf Hakimi shone for Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge's Emmanuel Bonaventure delivered at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

The Nigerian's brace against Real Madrid helped Brugge to a 2-2 draw and Achraf also saw his name on the scoresheet twice in Dortmund's 2-0 defeat of Slavia Prague.

Who did you think was the best of the midweek games? Let us know by voting below!

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Real Madrid’s Champions League fate in balance after draw with Club Brugge

Long after the final whistle had gone here, Club Brugge’s fans were still singing high in the north stand, their players back out on the pitch celebrating with them. This was a big occasion and a big result for the Belgians and yet, while there were no signs of regret, they knew it could have been even bigger. For most of a night their coach, Philippe Clement, described as “historic” they had led with two goals from Emmanuel Bonaventure, but headers from Sergio Ramos and Casemiro, the latter in the 86th minute, had seen it end level.

What Madrid might have expected to be a routine victory became a rescue mission. For a long time, they had been on course for a second defeat in the Champions League that arrived in a way that could have hurt even more than the first: to begin with, this was silly at the Santiago Bernabéu, then it got worse, the home side not so much shooting themselves in the foot as blowing their entire leg off. Then the comeback came, but it remained only half-completed, avoiding defeat but not securing victory. Madrid, who have never been knocked out in the group stages, have a solitary point after two matches.

It could and perhaps should have been nought. Not only were they behind until late on, they were almost caught right at the death, even though Brugge were by then down to 10 and without their captain.

Brugge had been ahead from the ninth minute, although it took a further three for them to know that. Percy Tau was played in up the left and, with Madrid wide open, he put the ball across for Bonaventure who was racing through the middle. What happened next was, frankly, daft. Alone in front of goal, by the six-yard box, Bonaventure failed to control the ball properly, stumbling and watching it bounce off one leg and then the other, the chance apparently wasted. Only, it wasn’t: the ball dribbled past Thibaut Courtois, already on the floor. So slowly did it go that Madrid’s keeper might even have got up in time to prevent it crossing the line.

Courtois, though, couldn’t stop it. The linesman and his referee on the other hand could. Offside was given – and accepted by just about everyone here. Tau had appeared to go unnecessarily early, and so had Bonaventure. On the touchline, Clement literally did a facepalm inspired by how foolishly they had passed up a perfect opportunity. But these are days of video, of routine checks for every goal. And the word came back: onside. Ramos had been the culprit.

Brugge led. Madrid were stunned, groggy, and almost caught again. Bonaventure was away, the linesman’s flag stopping his run. This decision may have been wrong too, but Bonaventure had already put on the brakes. Madrid struggled to escape their own stupefaction. Lucas Vázquez was having an especially horrible time. So was Nacho, beaten often by Krépin Diatta. Madrid had the ball, but every time Brugge came out, they looked vulnerable. In fact, had the Belgians taken better decisions, they might have done more damage.

They did enough. Luka Modric went down in the area, Toni Kroos’s volley deflected just wide, and Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema got in each other’s way. Benzema’s header was blocked and then Simon Mignolet made a sensational save from Raphaël Varane’s header. But at the other end, the threat always lingered. Courtois had to save from Pau, slipped clean through behind Nacho by Diatta’s measured pass.

Kroos then put a shot fractionally wide. That was the best chance, but it was quickly followed by the second goal for Brugge, and in this too Madrid were complicit in their own demise. Modric lost the ball and Bonaventure rushed through, no one in his way as he headed towards goal. As he approached the area, Bonaventure stumbled, on the verge of falling, but he stayed upright just long enough to dink the ball over Courtois, who was already on his way down.

Madrid were in pieces; the end of the first half was met with furious whistles. Zinedine Zidane acted fast: off went Nacho, replaced by Marcelo. Off too went Courtois, a substitution that some suspected was a statement, cheered by supporters, but that was in fact explained by the goalkeeper’s physical state. During the break, Courtois had been dizzy and vomiting. Alphonse Areola was almost immediately called upon to prevent Bonaventure, clean through and running from deep, from making it three.
Sergio Ramos rose high to score Real Madrid’s first goal, which was awarded after another VAR review.

Relieved, Madrid reacted. Mignolet had made a couple of saves already when, on 55 minutes, Ramos headed in Benzema’s cross. The flag was up and Madrid’s captain looked offside, but the VAR again decided otherwise. Game on, noise up. Brugge had half an hour to hang on. Ruud Vormer flew in to block a shot from Casemiro, Vázquez bent just wide, and Hazard hit past the post from the edge of the box. Vinícius Júnior was introduced. Bonaventure was withdrawn; Brugge’s fans applauded and Madrid’s probably felt like doing the same, relieved to see him go.

The impetus went too, that fury momentarily fizzing out. Vinícius ran but few real chances followed. There were 27 shots from the home side, but not the danger that number suggests. Then a challenge from Vormer, diving in, caught Vinícius on the ankle. Georgi Kabakov sent Vormer off and from the free-kick Casemiro headed Madrid level. They had six minutes to get another.

When Ramos jumped with Mignolet and the ball ran free in the six-yard box, there was a sharp intake of breath, and it felt inevitable that Madrid would score. But they didn’t and in fact, it was Brugge who came closest in those dying minutes. Tau dashed through the middle yet again but did not see the option to pass opening up and was eventually bundled over. From the free-kick, deep into stoppage time, Siebe Schrijvers was suddenly alone deep inside the Madrid area. He had barely been on the pitch a few seconds and he sliced his shot wide.


Lineups

Real Madrid

    13 Courtois
    2 Carvajal
    5 Varane
    4 Sergio Ramos
    6 Nacho
    10 Modric
    14 Casemiro
    8 Kroos
    17 Lucas
    9 Benzema
    7 Hazard

Substitutes

    1 Areola (s 46')
    3 Eder Militao
    12 Marcelo (s 46')
    15 Valverde
    18 Jovic
    22 Isco
    25 Vinicius Junior (s 67')

Club Brugge

    88 Mignolet
    77 Mata
    44 Mechele
    17 Deli
    26 Rits
    11 Diatta
    25 Vormer
    20 Vanaken
    2 Sobol
    42 Bonaventure
    35 Tau

Substitutes

    5 Kossounou
    9 Vossen
    10 Diagne
    16 Schrijvers (s 90')
    21 Cools (s 87')
    22 Horvath
    80 Openda (s 71')

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