Tag Archives: Cristiano Ronaldo

Where next for gareth bale?

On Thursday the footballing world was treated to a lesser seen phenomenon, Gareth Bale played football, on an actual football pitch.

The 31 year old perhaps now ex-superstar appeared in the first-half for Wales during their 1-0 victory over Finland. In truth it wasn’t Bale’s finest 45 minutes and his manager Ryan Giggs said the amount of time was all he was fit for given his lack of match fitness, having not played for months on end.

With a CV that matches some of the greats of the game Bale has found himself very much of the periphery of things at Real Madrid for around two seasons now. Having almost secured a move to China last summer, the former Tottenham man could be looking for a way out of the Bernabau once more.

In a recent, honest, interview with Sky Sports, the Welsh forward said Real Madrid: ”make things very difficult” when asked abut his desire to leave the club.

Surely the time has come for the four times Champions League winner to find himself a new club, and with it regular football once more.

Success at Madrid?

There can be no doubt prior to the fallout Bale’s time in the Spanish capital has ultimately been a success, however, fans of the club would perhaps suggest otherwise.

Since completing his £90 million move the forward has won two La Liga titles, one Copa Del Rey, three FIFA Club World Cups, and the aforementioned four UEFA Champions League crowns.

Individually the Cardiff born star has the incredible record of 105 Madrid goals in 251 appearances in all competitions, including one of the greatest goals to ever grace a Champions League final.

Despite falling dramatically out of favour with Zinedine Zidane and the fans, although in truth the fans always seemed to struggle to warm to the Welshman, seemingly because he wasn’t Cristiano Ronaldo and occasionally took the limelight off their darling, nobody can deny Bale still has something to offer at the highest level.

His fleeting international outings have proven his quality remains, often the go to man for a Welsh side which has reached higher than usual heights in recent times.

So where could, and should he end up…

Having been on the verge of a move to the Chinese Premier League last summer many may seem a repeat of that move as the logical switch,. Given his current wages and the two years left on his deal, it is going to take a club with deep pockets as well as some bargaining from all parties to make this move happen.

Without one aspect of the move forgoing some financial loss, Bale could continue to earn his money sitting on the bench and playing golf in his free time.

The romantics and Spurs fans will be dreaming of a return to White Hart Lane where he made his name, having been a struggling left-back before moving up the pitch and setting the Premier League alight.

In truth the powers that be and the wage structure in place is unlikely to see Bale back at Spurs. It is much more likely the Welshman heads to one of the other top six Premier League clubs, Manchester United have often been touted as potential suitors.

Opinion

Simply seeing Bale back playing football is the preferable option, however, not at one of Liverpool’s main rivals as adding a player of his abilltiy would enhance any squad, even if his days of playing two matches a week are behind him.

Whilst there is very little chance of it happening, given his wage demands and the type of player Liverpool sign. I would love to see Bale in the red of Liverpool, although I can’t foresee him being delighted with Jurgen Klopp’s running demands. A player of his immense quality would be beneficially to every team in world football, they simply need to let him play.

What would Lionel Messi bring to the Premier League?

In our latest 24-7 football podcast we discuss the big story surrounding Lionel Messi and his potential move from FC Barcelona.

What would Messi bring to a club? How much would you pay? And more…

You listen to the podcast by clicking on the links below:

https://soundcloud.com/adam-stephens-425096853/24-7-football-episode-4

You can also watch the webcast here:

Lewandowski on the verge of overhauling Ronaldo’s European record

To think that a 31-year-old Pole is on the verge of overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo’s record haul of Champions League goals in one season.

Yes, it is true and let’s be honest, very few people would have predicted that Robert Lewandowski would have the honour of getting one over the great Ronaldo.

As it stands, Lewandowski is only four behind the great man’s total after picking up a brace as the German Champions beat Chelsea 4-1 on Saturday for a 7-1 aggregate victory.

Ronaldo’s haul of 17 Champions League goals happened in 2013-14 when he featured for Real Madrid. With the strong possibility of Bayern Munich reaching the final in Lisbon, that amounts to three more games for Lewandowski to surpass Ronaldo’s total.

However, he still has a long way to go to get anywhere near Ronaldo as Champions League top scorer. The Portuguese striker tops the list with 130 with Messi in second on 115. Lewandowski stands in fourth place with 66 so far but that aside one has to marvel at just how well the Pole has been playing this season.

Lewandoski’s incredible season can be summed up by his numbers this season. Over the two legs against Chelsea he played a part in all seven Bayern goals in the tie.

His 53 goals in all competitions this season have come in 36 out of 44 matches. Lewandowski’s haul for both club and country this campaign includes four in a Champions League game away at Red Star Belgrade, a hat trick against Schalke in the Bundesliga and another hat trick- this time for Poland away at Latvia- in a European qualifier.

If you add up his total goals and assists in domestic games over the past two seasons, his tally is an impressive 67, only surpassed by the legend called Messi with 95 for Barcelona.

Already the likes of Tammy Abraham have gone on record to say that Lewandowski is the best striker in the world at the moment. Only today, German legend Lothar Matthaus came out and said that he felt the Pole is not only the best striker in the world but best footballer also.

No doubt the likes of Ronaldo and Messi will have something to say about that but you can’t deny that Lewandowski is a world class player, who one day will become a Bayern all time club legend.

As the champions league enters the final 8 stage George Clayton talks about the who co on our YouTube channel Now by clicking the link below

https://youtu.be/lCbgefVH2W0

Are Real Madrid now La Liga favourites?

Due to Liverpool’s Premier League dominance this season, many fans have cast an eye over European football in the search of a title race. It looked like a fantastic one was forming in Germany, with Bayern Munich stumbling through the campaign and all of Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Borussia Mönchengladbach showing impressive form.

Unfortunately, the appointment of Hansi Flick by the Bavarians turned out to be a stroke of genius, as they put together an incredible run only losing twice in the Bundesliga between 9th November and the end of season. The 1-0 win over Dortmund after the season’s restart all-but-killed the title race with six games to go.

Serie A was also shaping up very nicely, with Inter Milan and Lazio giving Maurizio Sarri’s ailing Juventus side a run for their money. Juve have since improved slightly but that tile race is very much still on. It’s Juve’s to lose, however, as they’re now four points ahead of Lazio with 10 games to go and eight points ahead of Inter.

The closest major title race now appears to be in La Liga. Unfortunately, it’s only a two-horse race and it’s between two of the biggest teams in the world. In a similar style to Bayern, Real Madrid started the season horrendously but now appear to have found some impressive form.

They sit two points ahead of Barcelona having played the same amount of games. Los Blancos have won their last five La Liga fixtures and put themselves in a great position to win their first title since 2016/17. It would also serve to keep Barcelona at arms-length in the fight to have the most La Liga titles in the history. If Zinedine Zidane’s men can deliver the title this season, they’ll have 34 titles in comparison to Barcelona’s 26.

In terms of the run-in, Barcelona have a very tough couple of games coming up. They’re home to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night and then have an away trip to sixth place Villarreal. After that, however, the fixture list looks more desirable. They have the derby vs bottom-side Espanyol at the Camp Nou, followed by a trip to 14th place Real Valladolid. Next up is a home game vs Osasuna who sit in 11th and they round off the campaign away at 16th placed Alaves.

Real probably have the toughest fixture list out the two sides but not by a clear margin. They have three games that could be very difficult. The first is at home to fifth placed Getafe. That game is followed by a trip to San Mames to play Athletic Bilbao. A more appealing home match against Alaves is followed by the visit of Villarreal to the Santiago Bernabeu. They finish the season away at Leganes.

Barcelona have made a stuttering restart to the season, with draws against Sevilla and Celta Vigo allowing Real to claim top spot. Quique Setien’s inability to get the best out of Antione Griezmann is starting to cause fractions at the club. As well as this, the recent swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic now means that one of Barca’s key midfielders is likely disgruntled at being forced out the club that he had no initial interest in leaving.

Beyond this title race, Barca seem to be a club in turmoil. Their recent transfer dealings have been questionable to say the least. Their wage bill is full of wasted talent that it will be hard to offload in a Covid-19 effected transfer market. Lionel Messi seems to look more unhappy game by game and the majority of the first choice eleven are heading well into their mid-30’s. It’s this ageing squad factor that makes the Arthur and Pjanic swap deal even more unusual. Arthur is 23, and Pjanic is 29.

Less and less players seem to be graduating from La Masia to any great effect in the first team, with Ansu Fati the current exception. Just in the past few days it’s been announced that promising academy full backs, Marc Cucurella and Marc Jurado, will be leaving the club.

Real Madrid seem to be riding the crest of a Karim Benzema’s inspired wave right now. The French forward has come into his own as the club’s main man since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure. The return of Marcos Asensio from a lengthy injury spell has given them a new attacking option, and the youthful Vinicius Junior is starting to fulfill his considerable potential.

If Barcelona were to deliver a third successive title to Catalonia, there’s a very real chance that it would merely paper over some very big cracks at the club. Setien hasn’t settled in as expected, and the squad is in need of a major overhaul.

A title for Real on the other hand may be the springboard for another era of dominance. While their squad still has some players the wrong side of 30, it looks in better shape than their fierce rivals.

Juventus Reach the Coppa Italia Final Despite Ronaldo Penalty Miss

Italian football returned as an underwhelming Juventus side edged into the Coppa Italia final with a 0-0 draw against an AC Milan side who played with 10 men for 75 minutes.

The aggregate score was 1-1, but the away goal that Juve picked up at the San Siro before the extended break due to Covid 19 was enough to see them through. The most notable acts of the game were a missed penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo and a red card for Ante Rebic.

Juve made a very high tempo start to the game, with Douglas Costa flashing a shot just wide of the post in the first minute. Bedlam, however, unfolded 15 minutes later.  Juve were given a penalty following a VAR check for a very soft handball by right back Andrea Conti. Ronaldo stepped up and drilled the penalty into the base of the left-hand post.

Only six seconds later, however, Rebic was sent off after he lunged with his studs showing at head height, and Danilo was very lucky to get away unscathed. Referee Daniele Orsato initially brandished a yellow card, but immediately changed his mind and gave the Croatian his marching orders. The challenge was reminiscent of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic kung-fu-style finish. The Swede missed this fixture through injury.

That meant Milan had to score without reply to reach the final in Rome. The stage looked set for the Bianconeri, who have won the Coppa Italia 13 times, to flex their muscles and put Milan to the sword. Instead, they looked extremely passive, and failed to create many clear-cut chances at all.

Milan were very impressive considering their numerical disadvantage. They defended resolutely, with Simon Kjaer standing out at centre back as a key performer. They lacked the cutting edge going forward though. There was a host of long-range shots, giving the impression that the forwards were trying to win corners via deflections. It was from a corner that the Rossoneri came closest to snatching victory. Kjaer flashed a header just wide of the near post after 78 minutes, and his facial expression suggested he should have scored.

Another impressive performer for Milan was Franck Kessie, who was very busy in the midfield and kept Miralem Pjanic out the game completely. Interestingly, Pjanic was moved out to the right of the midfield three, with Rodrigo Bentancur taking his place in the middle. This may be significant considering how often the Bosnian midfielder is being linked with a move away from Turin.

One major disappointment for Milan is that the winners of the Coppa Italia achieves a place in the group stage of next season’s Europa League. While they are in 7th position in Serie A, European qualification is certainly not guaranteed for Stefano Pioli’s men.

Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus will play either Napoli or Inter Milan in the final, which takes place on the 17th June. The second leg of that tie takes place on Saturday at 20:00 BST. Napoli took a valuable 1-0 win at the San Siro in the first leg and will be looking to seal the deal at the San Paolo.