Who do Real Madrid need more: Neymar or Pogba?

Real Madrid's 1-1 draw with Real Valladolid brought up more questions than answers.

One of those questions is whether Los Blancos need Neymar more than they need a strong and quick midfielder like Paul Pogba.

Karim Benzema can't do it all on his own in attack. On several occasions in the first half on Saturday, the Frenchman had to leave his central position to help his teammates.

There isn't another goal-scorer in Zinedine Zidane's squad other than Luka Jovic, who wasn't convincing during his time on the pitch, and that's why Pogba's name is being mentioned.

Neymar has the ability to dribble at speed - something that this current Real Madrid squad lack when Eden Hazard isn't in the team.

The Estadio Santiago Bernabeu continue to call for the Brazilian and they expect to see the former Barcelona forward in the famous white shirt.

Zidane started with James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale and Isco against Valladolid but wasn't able to quicken the pace of the game with his substitutions.

The joy of Vigo hasn't lasted very long and the doubts from fans and club directors have returned.

There are eight days left of the summer transfer window, but what exactly do Real Madrid need?

The audacity of Neymar or the strength of Pogba?

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Who Can Stop Barcelona In 2019-2020 La Liga Season?

The new La Liga campaign starts today (Friday) when reigning Champions, Barcelona kick off their campaign against Atletico Bilbao, while arch-rivals, Real Madrid kick off a day later when they take on Celta Vigo which is just one of the many matches slated for Saturday.

Champions Barcelona have been practicing in a league of their own in the last two seasons and are favourites to win a third consecutive title after making some smart moves in the summer to replenish their squad of serial winners.

All things being equal, the team will flaunt France’s World Cup-winning forward Antoine Griezmann and fresh-faced Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong, signed for a combined 195 million euros while still expecting to sign one or two players before the summer transfer window closes on August 31st.

Without doubt, all eyes will be on Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez to shoulder the goal-scoring responsibilities that will help the team retain the Spanish title this season.

Messi remains the key engine room of Barcelona’s team due to his mesmerizing talents, strength on the ball, sublime set-pieces, creativity and goal-scoring prowess.

How Will New Acquisition Impact Barcelona

Antoine Griezmann

Barca has effectively been pursuing Griezmann for the best part of 18 months, having been turned down by the forward last year, who then informed the world he would be staying at Atletico Madrid via his documentary ‘The Decision’.

Ernesto Valverde would have been forgiven for preferring not to have Griezmann in his side after such a high-profile snubbing of Camp Nou, but a year later – and with his own position under scrutiny after last season’s Champions League failure – it is now imperative he gets the best out of the former Real Sociedad man.

Frenkie de Jong

In Frenkie de Jong, Barcelona have found a versatile football player with Blaugrana DNA and someone who can play in more than one position on the pitch. The 21-year-old enjoys receiving the ball from the defenders and in a box-to-box role, moving forward to the midfield.

He directly attacks the opponents, trying to break the lines of the opposing team, while taking the extra risk that will give a numerical advantage to his teammates up front.

Teams Capable of Stopping Barcelona

Atletico Madrid

This season’s La Liga could see the emergence of a new star on the block, Joa Felix hugging the headlines after an impressive preseason campaign with Atletico Madrid.

If preseason games are used as a yardstick to judge a team, then, Atletico may just be the team to beat in Spain. The team dismantled Real Madrid 7-3 with ease in a preseason game that announced new signing Felix to the world stage before edging MLS All-Stars, Atletic San Luis and star-studed Juventus 2-1.

Atletico have always proved to be a tough side against their eternal rivals, Real Madrid and Barcelona in the league.

Despite losing players such as Antoine Griezmann, Lucas Hernandez, Filipe Luis, Juanfran and Diego Godin this summer, team manager, Diego Simeone has bolstered his squad with the signing of Kieran Trippier, Mario Hermoso, Hector Herrera, and Marcos Llorente.

No to forget that they still have the services of Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata in the attack and could still sign some players before the end of the transfer window.

The spotlight will be on João Félix as the media scramble to anoint an heir-apparent to Messi and Ronaldo.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid have had a busy transfer season, with coach Zinedine Zidane attempting to build a team that can bounce back from two back-to-back embarrassing domestic campaigns. Even though Zidane’s return as the manager has not been able to ensure the side a decent pre-season, the club has no option but to put their faith in the man who led them to three successive Champions League titles.

The Spanish press have already been piling the pressure on Zinedine Zidane before a ball’s even been kicked, and it’s strange not to see more optimism surrounding a team that’s splashed out over £200m this summer and brought in one of the best players in the world in Eden Hazard.

Luka Jovic, Rodrygo, Eder Militao and Ferland Mendy have all arrived, but it is lack of movement in two specific areas that has some fans concerned, notably the failure to complete Gareth Bale’s departure and to bring in Paul Pogba. Pogba was said to be Zidane’s top summer target and the fact they’ve been unable or unwilling to bring to the club is cause for concern in some quarters, with Bale’s situation unsettling too.

Madrid host easy fixtures against Valladolid, Levante, Osasuna, and Granada at the start of the season. Wins in these games could help restore some lost confidence before they start their European campaign, where they have a reputation of upping their game.

Turning their backs on Christian Eriksen looks like a mistake, and what they can do with Bale and Rodriguez could be pivotal to their chances this season. We must remember this is Real Madrid so they have to be respected – but this season is already shaping up to be another soap opera at Santiago Bernabeu.

Valencia

If Valencia feat in the Copa Del Rey is anything to go by against Barcelona, then the team have the outside chance of causing an upset in the Spanish League this season.

Valencia defeated Barcelona 2-1 to win the Cup last season despite the Catalans featuring Lionel Messi and Suarez in the squad.

They have also shown that they can hold on to their own against any big teams in the Spanish League after successfully qualifying for the UEFA Champions League last season.

Valencia have signed Jorge, Jasper Cillessen, Salva Ruiz, David Remeseiro Salgueiro, Manuel Javier Vallejo Galvan, Denis Cheryshev, Maxi Gomez and Eliaquim Mangala.

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Hazard: I will try to be the best in the world at Real Madrid

Eden Hazard has revealed his ambition to become the best player in the world during his time at Real Madrid after completing his move from Chelsea.Hazard was presented in front of 50,000 fans at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu as he appeared in the famous white kit for the first time.

Before speaking to the media in the press room, Hazard and Florentino Perez made speeches to the crowd inside the Bernabeu, with the president speaking first."Today is a very special day for Real Madrid," Perez said."A marvellous player who is capable of doing amazing things is coming."

The legend of Madrid must continue with the best players in the world and we've wanted to say these words for a long time: today Eden Hazard joins Real Madrid. This is where you have to be."Cheers erupted from the crowd as Hazard took to the microphone and waved around the stadium."Thank you so much president, thank you so much to my family," Hazard said."

I'm really excited to start playing for Madrid in the next month and win lots of trophies."It was my dream to play for Madrid since I was a kid, thank you all.

"After being paraded around the pitch in his Real Madrid kit, Hazard suited up again to speak to the media alongside Emilio Butragueno.Hazard's long-term affiliation with Los Blancos isn't a secret, while he has always been an admirer of Zinedine Zidane."I've dreamt about this since I was little, I always supported Real Madrid," Hazard said.

"Then I went to France and England and wearing this shirt now is a true honour."This is good for me and my family because, we're all emotional to come to Real Madrid, maybe my mother a little bit more [than us]. I'm really looking forward to starting the new season."Everyone knows that Zidane was my idol and now he's my coach, he's been an important factor.

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But I've always wanted to play for this club."With Hazard now in the squad, Zidane now has an array of options to choose from in attack, so where would the Belgian want to play?"I've always liked playing on the left or as a number 10, but it's not my decision," he said."When you play for Real Madrid, there isn't just one star, I'm the new guy in the team and I will try to bring my best."

My goal is to enjoy myself, win games and win trophies. I want to create history with Real Madrid."Hazard has taken penalties for the majority of his career, whether with Chelsea or Belgium, but he's not expecting Sergio Ramos to hand over the spot-kick duties to him at Real Madrid."The captain takes a very good penalty.

If he asks me, which I don't think he will, I will take them," the forward said.Having worn the number 10 shirt at Chelsea and Belgium, Hazard admitted that he has asked Luka Modric if he can where it at the Bernabeu."I've been lucky enough to speak to Modric through [Mateo] Kovacic. I asked him if he would let me have his number 10 as a joke and he said no," he smiled. "The number isn't important to me, the badge is."

Hazard has also had the opportunity to speak to Real Madrid's Thibaut Courtois and is a close friend of the goalkeeper."He told me that I couldn't have any doubts, he's a friend to me," Hazard said of Courtois' advice.

"He told me that it's the best club in the world."After his stellar performances in Russia last summer, there were rumours that Real Madrid would move for him last summer and Hazard admitted that there was contact made."It all started after the World Cup, but I stayed another year at Chelsea," he said. "It was a great year for us. This was the best moment to sign for Real Madrid."I spoke with Florentino at a gala in London and he told me that now was the best time to play for Real Madrid."When asked whether he thought he could become the best player on the planet at his new club, Hazard admitted that it is part of his aspirations."I will try to be the best in the world, yes," he said.

"But first, I want us to be the best team and winning titles. It's a new challenge for me and I'm prepared for it."The Ballon d'Or is at Real Madrid this year with Luka Modric. I don't know if it's easier to win it at Real Madrid, even though lots of Real Madrid players have won it.

But I'm focussing on the collective aspect. If all goes well, why not? It's in my head, but I'm not obsessed with it."I'm not a Galactico, but I will try to be. For now, I'm Eden Hazard."I'm coming here to support the group with my experience, my dribbles, my goals...

I'm going to try to do everything to win every game."In football, I've always been told that you can improve. There are always ways in which you can improve, whether that's individually or collectively. Everyone hopes to improve their performances. I am at a great moment in my career, I can improve and this team will allow me to go up a level."Hazard has been seen as someone to bring back the glory days to Real Madrid after a poor campaign saw them finish without a trophy."I focused a lot on Chelsea," Hazard said.

"I know that there were bad moments, but the club has won so much in the last five years. Every club has their ups and downs."Real Madrid have won lots of trophies recently and I hope to start a new era of winning lots of titles."

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Official: Luka Jovic signs for Real Madrid

Real Madrid's busy summer of transfer activity is well underway, with the signing of Luka Jovic officially announced this Tuesday.

The player arrives on a six-year deal and moves from Eintracht Frankfurt, where he played on loan from Benfica last season before the German side acquired his rights for six million euros.

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His latest transfer to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu is worth around 60m euros and 30 percent of the fee being paid by Real Madrid will go to Benfica as well.MARCA reported on April 14 that Real Madrid wanted the Serbian striker and now Zinedine Zidane has his man.

Although just 21 years of age, he took Germany and Europe by storm last season with 27 goals and seven assists.Many other clubs were interested, but Real Madrid moved ahead of the pack.

He is a goalscorer who can help out Benzema, as he is a great finisher and is also great in the air even if he's not especially tall at 1.81 metres.

With Eder Militao and Rodrygo already signed and Eden Hazard and Ferland Mendy on the way, Real Madrid's summer has started well.

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Salah spot on as Liverpool down Spurs in Champions League final

A controversial penalty just two minutes into the game and a late strike from Divock Origi gave Liverpool a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in an underwhelming Champions League final on Saturday in Madrid.

Mohamed Salah rammed home the spot-kick after Moussa Sissoko was harshly deemed to have handled Sadio Mane's cross after only 23 seconds to make Liverpool continental champions for the sixth time.

Spurs, appearing in their first elite final, seemed overawed by the occasion and a late snapshot from substitute Lucas Moura was their only sight of an equalizer.

Liverpool sealed the contest three minutes from time when Origi drove home from an angle to start the celebrations for a first title for under manager Juergen Klopp.

Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino made the difficult decision to drop semi-final hat-trick hero Moura for England striker Harry Kane, who had not played since early April with an ankle injury.

It was Moura, with a poked effort inside the box, who had Spurs' only real opportunity in the closing stages after Liverpool keeper Alisson palmed away a long shot from Son Heung Min.

Kane looked sluggish but was not the only one off pace in a game played in the distinctly un-English conditions of 30-degree Celsius heat.

The slow tempo was in contrast to a furious start when Mane latched onto a long ball from Virgil van Dijk and took on Sissoko. The French midfielder blocked the cross with his chest but a deflection took the ball onto his raised arm and Damir Skomina pointed to the spot.

Video assistance did not come to Spurs rescue - unlike in their quarter-final win over Manchester City - and Salah's powerful kick flew over diving keeper Hugo Lloris.

It proved sweet redemption for Egyptian star Salah, who suffered an injury in last season's final defeat to Real Madrid which also impacted his performances at the World Cup.

Spurs laboured in search of an equalizer before their dreams were finally ended by substitute Origi. A corner was not cleared and the forward found the bottom corner from Joel Matip's pass.

Premier League runners-up Liverpool finished 26 points ahead of Spurs but such a difference was not to be seen at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. The three week break from the end of the Premier League seemed to have stiffened rather than loosened muscles.

Liverpool manager Klopp had lost six consecutive finals, including two in the Champions League, going into the game, and would have been anxious at his team sitting back and inviting pressure.

Kane finally showed himself with a neat flick to release Dele Alli but he was easily crowded out, a fate all too often shared by fellow winger Son. Matip was a particular rock in the Liverpool defence, though man of the match went to his partner van Dijk.

Spurs emerged early from the break only marginally more energized and Alli's half chance was blocked by the ever-present Matip. The introduction of Moura for midfielder Harry Winks, in the 65th minute, finally offered the lumbering Kane some assistance.

 Origi replaced Roberto Firmino, another who had overcome fitness doubts to start, and James Milner came on for Georginio Wijnaldum either side of the Spurs switch.

 Milner flashed a shot just wide before Tottenham had their only spell of slight pressure. It ended when Alisson turned Christian Erikson's free kick wide and Origi sealed their fate soon after.

Spurs were the 40th club to reach the European Cup final and would have become the 23rd side to lift the trophy. They never looked like doing so; Klopp, and Liverpool, could celebrate.

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Zinedine Zidane’s Last Move

To the people, bread and circuses. Truth is that throughout centuries on the face of a crisis regardless of its nature, creating a distraction or deviating the attention toward another thing has always been a smart move.  

We reach today and more than half of the world turned their heads toward the return of the "magician" Zinedine Zidane to lead Real Madrid, just at a moment when the club undergoes one of its darkest periods. We are speaking of a 12-point difference to leader Barcelona in the Spanish League, besides early dismissals from the UEFA Champions League and the Copa del Rey.  

But we also speak of 12 million Euros per season plus bonuses upon reaching objectives during the year.  

From my perspective another clever move from Florentino Pérez, when stanch fans of Real Madrid, always thirsty of watching their club delight in the sublime universal arena, the press, even interests of other natures that always hover the most famous club in the world became convulsively against them.  

We speak of the French star who pulling the strings of Real Madrid in 149 games accumulated 104 wins, three Champion Leagues in a row, one La Liga Championship, two FIFA Club World Cups, a Spanish Super Cup, and two UEFA Super Cups. An outstanding record sheet.  

Now, regardless starting on the right foot Zizou after beating Real Madrid 2-0 to Celta de Vigo, a déjà vu since he started coaching Real Madrid in his first stage on January 9th, 2016 with a bulk score at the Bernabéu against Deportivo la Coruña (5-0), and last Saturday, in his return, his team won over Celta de Vigo 2-0, both teams are Galician.

Since then, despite 1.162 days later, eight players in his line-up repeated: Keylor Navas, Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric, Isco, Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema. All that sounds harmonic, even worthy of praise, but there is a strong variable that blows up right in front of our faces in this second turn of the saga: money.  

I am almost certain that even when the French coach makes real along with Florentino and the Club Board of Directors some of the five deluxe signing he’s prepared beforehand (Paul Pogba, Lucas Hernández, Kylian Mbappé, Sadio Mané and Eden Hazard), it will be very hard to rival the list achievements he won in his first stage coaching the merengues.  

Zidane decided to terminate his contract with the club while he was at his best, and now he takes back the reigns almost 290 days later, in a state of total darkness.  

However, beyond the delay, and challenges as coach, nostalgia for the club and the adrenaline that pumps stepping onto the turf of the Santiago Bernabéu, the field that immortalized him, it was for Zidane extremely attractive amount that Florentino and his board will pay for his services.  

Let’s highlight that when Zidane came up from Castilla Team to Real Madrid, his wage was 2.5 million Euros per season. After winning the first UEFA Champion League, the Madrid renovated his contract with 5.5 million per season; and when the French decided to leave the "White House", his salary was fixed at 7.5 million per season.

For starters he will earn almost 5 millions more, despite the fact that his salary, nothing modest I dare say for a coach, can’t be compared with that of the Argentinean Diego Someone with Atlético de Madrid who earns 24 million per season.

All in all, his return wasn’t that expensive for the club. If it had been the Portuguese José Moreno, the only free candidate in the market, we would be speaking that he charged 20 million Euros to his last club, Manchester United.  

The amounts have gone rocket high not just those earned by elite players, but also coaches of prestige in that lucrative market in which has become soccer. It’s not just the most universal, but rather it’s also the one that more money moves around.  

Zizou knows it, and feelings aside, he didn't turn his back to the 12 as possible lucky number in his return. We’ll have to wait to see if Florentino decides to pay large amounts for the players the French is having in mind to revolutionize the achievements of the Club for season 2019-2020.

Real Madrid Midfielder Luka Modric Fined for Tax Evasion

Madrid Sep 14 (Prensa Latina) Croatian midfielder Luka Modric was fined just over a million Euros by the Spanish tax authorities for the crime of tax evasion, the daily El Mundo reported today. Modric, 33, is blamed for not paying the entire tribute in the Iberian nation for 2012, to which his lawyers respond by placing their responsibility with the Spanish agency only from August 31 when he signed with Real Madrid.

The world runner-up already paid the 1.2 million Euros required by the tax entity and, at the same time, filed an appeal against this sanction.

The case of Modric is one more on the list of players of Real Madrid FC with penalties for different tax crimes.

Iker Casillas, Jose Mourinho, Xabi Alonso, Fabio Coentrao, Angel Di Maria, Ricardo Carvalho, Messut Ã-zil, Cristiano Ronaldo and in recent days the Brazilian Marcelo Vieira are some of the most important cases in recent years.

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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 3 - 1 AC Milan, Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu

Real Madrid beat AC Milan 3-1 to win the Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu in what was their last tune-up game before the start of the 2018/19 season. Below are some thoughts on what transpired:

  • -Despite some positional rotations between Casemiro and Kroos, it was the latter that mainly played as the DM in possession. Casemiro generally operated as the RCM and was largely uninvolved in proceedings. He mainly looked to regain match fitness as Kroos dictated play through the left and dominated the ball. On defense, Casemiro looked to take Kroos’ place in order to make a couple of nice interventions before coming off at the half. It will be interesting to see how Lopetegui uses the Brazilian going forward, as the Spaniard seems intrigued by the idea of Kroos in the single-pivot defensive midfield position. Additionally, I find it hard to believe that Casemiro will simply be cast aside given the positive relationship he had with Julen at FC Porto. Watch this space.
  • -As mentioned above, Real Madrid’s possession play mainly flowed through the left, something that was likely influenced by the presence of Isco, Asensio, and Marcelo on that flank and Kroos’ affinity for controlling things from the left half space. While AC Milan mostly dealt with Real’s attacks from that wing, they were unable to handle accurate switches of play that shifted the Italian defense from side-to-side. Having said that, Real’s flow in possession still seemed a bit sluggish.
  • -Los Blancos’ front three was very fluid. Bale and Asensio constantly switched flanks while sometimes filling in up front went Benzema spread wide to receive the ball.
  • -Madrid’s pressing regressed following some impressive performances on that front in the United States. The commitment to marking AC Milan’s build-up triangle was lackluster and questions over Casemiro’s position seemed to create enough momentary confusion for Milan to periodically break into Real’s defensive third.
  • -Real also looked vulnerable on the counter-attack, something that was probably related to their fluidity on offense and the slow way in which Madrid tried to regain their shape.
  • Bale continues to show flashes of quality and looks like he’s raring to go as soon as the real season begins.
  • -Keylor Navas put in a magnificent performance, something that was likely motivated by the signing of Thibaut Courtois.
  • -The Bernabéu clearly has big expectations for Vinícius, given that they chanted the youngster’s name when he came on in the second half.
  • -Real Madrid’s tactical system is still very much a work in progress and will require the fans to be extra patient early on.
  • Higuaín’s goal was nice.
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