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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Zidane quits as Real Madrid coach after 3rd Champions League

Zinedine Zidane quit as Real Madrid coach on Thursday, less than a week after leading the team to its third straight Champions League title, saying the club needed a change in command.

The 45-year-old Zidane, who was coach for two and half seasons, said he felt it was the right moment — for him and for the team — to make the move.

"This club needs a change to keep winning," Zidane said. "With me it would have been complicated to keep winning."

It was a surprising announcement by Zidane, who won nine titles as Madrid coach, including the three Champions League titles, one Spanish league title, one Spanish Super Cup, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cups.

"It was a completely unexpected decision," Madrid president Florentino Perez said. "Today is a sad day for me, for the fans and for all the people who work at the club. I wish we could always have Zidane by our side, but we know that when Zizou makes a decision, the only thing we can do is to accept it and respect it."

Zidane said there wasn't a specific reason that led him to his decision.

"You have to know when to quit," he said. "After three years, (the club) needs a change in speech, a new work methodology."

Zidane mentioned the struggles the team faced this season, including in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey. Madrid finished third in the league — 17 points behind champion Barcelona — and was eliminated at home by Leganes in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey, a moment which Zidane said was the worst of his coaching career with the club.

"We went through good moments but also complicated ones, and I don't forget them," Zidane said. "I want to leave when everything is going well. This is a good moment to end it well."

Zidane spoke little about his future but said he is not immediately looking to coach another club. Perez also didn't talk much about the club's search for a new coach.

Zidane said his best moment with Madrid was when he was signed to play for the club in 2001.

"As a coach, there were a lot things, like winning the Champions League, but if there was one specific moment, it was to win La Liga (in 2017). It was the greatest thing," the Frenchman said.

Zidane's decision to quit came after Cristiano Ronaldo hinted he could be leaving the club. The star forward said after the Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev that "it was very beautiful" to have played with Madrid. He has yet to make any announcements about his future since then.

Zidane was hired in January 2016 for what was his first major head-coaching job. The former star player arrived surrounded by doubts because of his lack of coaching experience but quickly surpassed expectations.

Zidane replaced Rafa Benitez after a stint with Madrid's "B'' team. He had been an assistant to Carlo Ancelotti when Madrid won the Champions League in 2014.

As a player, Zidane was in two consecutive Champions League finals with Juventus, losing both times, including to Madrid in 1998. He finally won the European title as a Madrid player in 2002, scoring an amazing volley in the final against Bayer Leverkusen.

With France, he won the 1998 World Cup. In the 2006 final, he was sent off for headbutting Italy defender Marco Materazzi.

"It could be a 'see you soon,' because Madrid has given me everything and I'll be linked to this club my entire life," Zidane said. "The decision may not make a lot of sense to many, but it does to me. It was time to make a change."

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Zinedine Zidane credits Real Madrid for 'perfect game' against PSG

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane hailed a "perfect game" from his side as they won 2-1 at Paris Saint-Germain in Tuesday's Champions League round-of-16 second leg to ease through to the quarterfinals 5-2 on aggregate.

After a goalless first half, Cristiano Ronaldo headed Madrid in front soon after half-time, with the Portuguese matching former Manchester United teammate Ruud Van Nistelrooy's record of scoring in nine consecutive UCL matches.

Marco Verratti left PSG with 10 men after picking up a second yellow card for dissent, before Edinson Cavani got one back for the French side during a goalmouth scramble. But Casemiro's deflected 20 yarder ended any doubt over who was progressing, with Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez also hitting the woodwork as the Ligue 1 side ended the game well beaten.

Zidane told the postgame news conference that his team's plan for how the game had gone just as he hoped, while maintaining that his players deserved most of the praise.

"It went well for us, we played a very good game, serious from the start, pressing them high." Zidane said. "We played a perfect game. I am very happy, as you can see that whoever starts, and the substitutes, they all played a good game.

"This is a not an easy place to play a good game, but we did it. So I can only be happy. Tactically we played the game we expected. But in the end it is the players convinced in what we [coaches] do, that is the most important."

Zidane denied that the expensively-assembled PSG side, who have still not made it past the UCL quarterfinals despite over €1 billion invested by their Qatari owners, had been weaker than expected opponents.

"I don't believe PSG have been weak or easy to beat," he said. "They played very well in the first leg, maybe not as good tonight, but also because we played very well. It started 50-50 and was until the end. Maybe the sending off changed things, and then when we scored the second it was more difficult for them."

Madrid's XI had included Vazquez and Asensio as wingers in a 4-4-2, with the higher-profile Gareth Bale and Isco left on the bench.

"Playing Lucas and Marco, today it was important to have two lines of four," Zidane explained. "To defend well against their wide players. We did that very well. Lucas is in very good form, Marco too. So they played, and did very well. I must choose an XI every three days, and today the plan was to start these players."

Bale was again a substitute, but Zidane denied the Wales international had lost any status at the Bernabeu.

"For sure Bale would prefer to play more," he said. "But we have many games, we will keep going as we have all been doing. All the players are important here, which is what I look at. Gareth is one of them, he did not start the home or away [against PSG], but he will play games. He is an important player for us."

Madrid had come through some difficult moments this season, said Zidane, but their immediate focus should now be on trying to improve their third place position in La Liga.

"We have had difficult moments, La Liga a bit, and the Copa [del Rey elimination]," he said. "But that is part of football. We finished my two years here winning a lot, and before that too. It is difficult to always maintain that level every three days.

"You must accept difficult moments during a season, and keep working. Because you cannot always win everything. Now we must think about our next La Liga game on Saturday at Eibar, and try and put in the same performance there."

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Cuba: Soccer Fans and Where to Find Them

Let’s imagine for a moment, only for a moment that the city is a jungle that there are trees instead of buildings and for the chirping of birds we have the honking of old American cars.

This jungle, of course, has its own animal species: beautiful, exotic, colorful and dangerous. But out of the entire urban biosphere there’s a particular specimen, a new one that little by little has earned its place among the noisiest beasts in the environment. In Cuba, where globalization seems to have sunk in like a roof leak, there are already these extraordinary beings who live match after match and feed of goals. Soccer addicts are undeniable part of our social fauna and, although in the world they are called "fans", "hooligans" and "ultra", those here prefer to call themselves fanatics.


Soccer fans in Cuba are not on the brink of extinction at all; they are rather in their peak, although they are far from being a plague yet. Just like there are different species of cats or spiders there are also different classes of soccer fanatics, which usually divide in Barcelona Fans, Real Madrid Fans, followers of the Bayern Múnich and those who support a team from the Premier League or the Italian Calcio. Nevertheless, it’s the Barcelona Fans and Real Madrid Fans who proliferate around these days.

The unstoppable growing number of fans of both teams is a limitless phenomenon. In the last years, specialists worldwide have noticed a huge growth in the ranks of these two packs in detriment of others. For many, the origin of this overpopulation is due to the majestic presence of two male alphas: Christian Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. In the jungle, as everyone should know, the male alphas usually impose by the "survival of the strongest". But as soccer must not be of violence (unless the faults committed in the field), we could assure that this law is translated for these born leaders in talent, skill, elegance and omnipresence in the media.

Natural Habitat

At least in Cuba, soccer fanatics are easily identifiable. Their natural habitat is usually corners, parks or any field, may that be grass or pavement, as long as the ball can roll without problems. Certainly there is nothing more appealing for them than a television broadcasting a soccer match.

To better understand these fanatics you must study them in full action, in their ideal ecosystem, where they express their wildest nature. If we talk about an important match, one that defines a tournament or that pits historical rivals. Previous the television broadcast, the Cuban soccer animal bet all kinds of things, review shortly the times his team has won over the other one and, lastly, he uses his premonitory skills to predict the result of the match. During the game they just jump off their chairs to scream, and fruitlessly speak to the TV screen. Once the whistle indicates the end of the match, if he wins, his main duty is humiliating the opposing fanatic. In the event of losing, then there will be the warning of a sure revenge.

Physical characteristics

The physical characteristics of this species are quite variable, to the point that they can sometimes be mistaken with the rest of the human kind. However, there is a small detail that gives them away: the outfit. The fanatics walk around wearing their soccer T-shirt and the crest of the team on their chests. But T-shirt are expensive and, wear out in the end. A few lucky ones ask their relatives or friends to bring them a t-shirt from abroad. Other more radical decide to turn their colors permanent and tattoo their skin. The crest is something sacred for them which they respect and love, as if it were a religious symbol. They pray to it in search of goals and, when the goal is scored, it’s mandatory to kiss it feverishly, to thank it, to tighten the muscles and raise his arms to the sky.

Wild Behavior

Warning! in the event of facing a soccer fanatic you should know, first of all he doesn't have a “favorite team”. No. The beast in question has "a team", or better, HIS TEAM. In his head he believes that the club (or national team) is his property and he will refer to it as HIS. This behavior leads him to assume an entire bunch of responsibilities: to defend against detractors and enemies, to suffer the defeats, to sing the victories and tell them among friends like epic battles that for their historical accuracy and detail would rival Homer himself.

There are few things in this world compared to a goal, or at least that believes a soccer fanatic. In his mind the goal is like an orgasm, a spasm with heart arrhythmia included, the glorious culmination of comings and goings of fulfilled expectations and disappointments. He celebrates it as if he had scored and with the burning desire of being in the skin of players. So don't be scared if you see some rapture of ecstasy in some specimen, because that could be his less harmless behavior. Of course, if his team scores.

Predators and Preys

Some specialists affirm that soccer fanatics is a specie introduced that has altered the domestic ecosystem, becoming natural predators of baseball followers. However, the Cuban sport biosphere has not suffered any change, or at least none associated to the boost of “soccer”. Baseball is and will always be the national sport, the very existence of hot corners, the homelike ritual that brings the family together in front of the television. The recent National Baseball Series has proven that, where soccer fanatics either those of Barcelona or Real Madrid have worn the Industriales, Las Tunas or Granma T-shirt. The scientific community should not be based on groundless fears, since baseball is the Cuban fiber that gives certain qualities to the soccer animal.


Soccer fanatics in Cuba which as every being is victim of evolution would gladly mutate his wild nature of television spectator and neighborhood player for that of the regional "fan". He would not hesitate to wear over his T-shirt of European clubs that of the provincial team and cheer from the bleachers with greater enthusiasm than at home. But reality conspires against the Darwinian designs, because both the stadiums and the national tournaments alike are missing the minimal conditions to start a proper competition. Only a few improvements to those forgotten fields and turned into amazonic jungles, and maybe something promotion, to attract that mass of curious characters among which, with pride, I include myself.

  • Published in Specials

Why British fans will not be able to watch live coverage of El Clasico

La Liga's decision to broadcast the first El Clasico of the season at 3:15 UK time means that fans in Britain will be unable to watch the game live on television.

Barcelona and Real Madrid will meet for the first time in the league at the Nou Camp on December 3, but a long-standing British broadcasting rule means the game will not be shown live on British television.

Barcelona Real Madrid
Barcelona beat Real Madrid home and away last season  Credit: AP 

FA rules prohibit any football being shown on television between 2:45pm and 5:15pm.

As in previous years, the game will be shown, in full, on a delay from 5:15pm on Sky Sports. 

La Liga president Javier Tebas defended the time-slot insisting the decision was made to maximise the match's worldwide audience. 

"The Barcelona and Real Madrid game will be played on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. The game will not be aired in England because of the TV embargo that is placed at that time," Tebas told Spanish radio station, Cadena Ser.

 Lionel Messi 
Barcelona beat Real Madrid 4-0 at the Nou Camp last season  Credit: AP 

The kick-off time means the game will be available to watch in over 100 countries, including the growing audience in America.

"We had three windows we had considered, at 1pm, 4:15 pm and 6:30pm. We analysed those with our audiovisual team and to play at 6 pm is too late in Asia while to play at 1pm is too early for the American market."

"I look at other leagues when setting the timetable," Tebas said. 

Real Madrid 
Real Madrid are level points at the top of La Liga with Atletico Madrid  Credit: Reuters 

"The timetable is a strategy we have been working on in recent years and the results are there. Our international sales have tripled because of that and the quality of the players we have in our league.

"We are continuously looking at ways that we can improve our product. For example, we have installed aerial cameras in seven venues and by the end of the season, we will have that in three more stadiums.

Defending champions Barcelona are currently fourth in La Liga, two points adrift from rivals Real Madrid who are level on points at the top of the table with Atletico Madrid.

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Real Madrid leave it late to win Champions League opener

Real Madrid made a dramatic late comeback to open their Uefa Champions League campaign with a 2-1 win over Sporting Lisbon of Portugal.

The 11 time Champions League winners were trailing until the 89th minute thanks to a 46th minute goal from Sporting’s Bruno Cesar. But Cristiano Ronaldo, making his 350th appearance for the club, scored from a free kick in the 89th minute to level the game.

Madrid won it 5 minutes later when Alvaro Morata headed home from James Rodriguez’ cross, deep into injury time, to give Zinedine Zidane’s men all three points.

Real Madrid will feel lucky to have come away with all three points, as Sporting were lively throughout the game, and came very close to an unlikely victory. However, three points is all that matters for the Champions League holders, especially with tough fixtures against Borussia Dortmund still to come.

Ronaldo, playing his 350th game in a Real Madrid shirt, scored his 94th goal in the Champions League. He also continued his record of scoring on each occasion he has played his former clubs. Ronaldo scored home and away against Sporting Lisbon in 2007 for Manchester United. He also scored in both games against Manchester United for Real Madrid in 2013.

Borussia Dortmund run riot

Real Madrid’s next opponents in the Champions League, Borussia Dortmund got their campaign off to a perfect start with a 6-0 win over Polish side Legia Warsaw. Dortmund’s six different goalscorers helped them equal the record for the most different goalscorers in single Champions League match.

The match was overshadowed by crowd trouble inside Legia Warsaw’s stadium, as the home fans tried to break into the away section in an attempt to get at the visiting fans. They also used pepper spray on security guards who tried to quell them. Legia Warsaw could be in for a fine from Uefa for their actions

  • Published in Sports
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