The Hard Tackle brings you a roundup of some of the major news stories regarding European Champions Real Madrid CF.
The current La Liga leaders have featured quite a bit in the rumour mills recently, with Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois, goalkeeper Keylor Navas and Paulo Dybala all featuring in some of the prominent news stories regarding Real Madrid.
Casemiro Says Sevilla Defeat ‘Hurt’
Real Madrid’s glorious 40 match unbeaten streak came to an abrupt halt at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan against Sevilla. In what was the 3rd clash between the sides in the space of 11 days, an own goal from Sergio Ramos and a late winner from Jovetic was enough to see the Andalusians through.
Speaking immediately after their loss to Celta Vigo at the Bernabeu, Casemiro insisted that these results were unacceptable. He was quoted by MARCA, saying, “Yes, it’s worrying to lose again. Real Madrid aren’t ever allowed to lose. The defeat against Sevilla has hurt us.”
That loss to Sevilla seemed to have shaken them as they succumbed to their second consecutive defeat in four days. Two consecutive losses for a club of Real Madrid’s stature will be seen as a mini crisis and there will likely be an air of desperation at the Valdebebas to get back to winning ways.
Marcelo also was equally frustrated his 69th minute equalizer didn’t help Real Madrid avoid their second consecutive loss in all competitions, but it does help Los Blancos take something to the Balaidos as they look to mend matters and turn the tie in their favour.
Speaking after the game, Marcelo admitted that the result complicated matters. “We will continue to work, doing our thing and we will give it everything to progress in the return-leg,” he said. “The game was back and forth, we have to know how to play them. Maybe at the beginning we lacked intensity.”
Former Liverpool man Iago Aspas gave the visitors the lead in the 64th minute and Marcelo equalized in the 69th. But Real barely had any time to get their act together and try to build on that goal, as Aspas set up Castro for an easy finish only a minute later.
He said, “The second goal hurt us after the equaliser. Maybe we could have scored more goals, but we do not know what could have happened. That’s football for you and we have 90 minutes to win and progress past this stage.”
It was by no means a convincing performance from Real Madrid. They weren’t their dominating self and seemed shaken and fatigued. The return leg is on the 26th of January and Zidane & Co will hope to be back to their best as they look to continue their title charge.
Manchester City Set Sights On Keylor Navas
According to a report in the Manchester Evening News, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is looking to replace his under-fire goalkeeper Claudio Bravo with Real Madrid’s current first choice shot-stopper, Keylor Navas in the summer transfer window.
Bravo, who moved from Barcelona in the summer for around £17 million, has struggled to adjust to the English game and has been one of City’s worst players this season. He has conceded 14 goals out of the last 22 shots he faced and has saved only 42.6% of all the shots directed at him this term.
So it would come as no surprise if Guardiola was looking to get a head start in the summer and shortlist his targets. While Navas has proved to be a superb bargain for Real Madrid since his arrival in 2014 for €10 million, he isn’t seen as the true successor to Iker Casillas.
Willy Caballero’s current contract ends in the summer and it is unlikely he will be offered a new contract and Joe Hart, who is currently enjoying life on loan at Torino, doesn’t look like he will be called back to the Etihad Stadium as long as Guardiola is in charge.
Los Blancos Likely To Miss Out On Dybala
According to a report in The Sun, Dybala’s agent is set to meet with the Juventus hierarchy in order to discuss a new, long term contract with the club. The new deal will see him pocket £6.5 million-a-year and make him the club’s joint top earner alongside Gonzalo Higuain.
Dybala has been in superb form for Juventus since joining in the summer of 2015 for €32 million and his performances haven’t gone unnoticed by Europe’s top clubs, with Barcelona and Real Madrid heavily linked with the 23-year-old Argentine.
Recently it was reported that Los Blancos were willing to make an enormous £77 million bid for the former Palermo striker and the deal would also see former player Alvaro Morata return to the Juventus Stadium after failing to make the desired impact at the Bernabeu this season.
However, the Argentinian international recently revealed there were no offers for him from either of the Spanish giants and that he was completely focused on Juventus at the moment. He said:,”Barcelona or Real Madrid? There’s no offers, for me there are no problems for the renewal.”
“I’m fine at Juventus, my agent will be in Turin in the coming days for the renewal,” he said. “Arrigo Sacchi told Florentino Perez to sign me? I’m thinking only about Juventus.”
Courtois Confident Of Real Madrid Bid
One of the reasons why Keylor Navas may leave the Spanish capital for Manchester City or any other club in the summer is that Real Madrid are being heavily linked with younger keepers like Gianluigi Donnarumma, David De Gea and most recently Thibaut Courtois.
The Chelsea shot stopper has been touted to make switch Stamford Bridge for the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer and according to The Sun, Cadena Cope have claimed that the Belgian international has already told his friends and family of his desire to move back to Madrid.
Signing David De Gea has proved to be too difficult, which is why Los Blancos have set their sights on Courtois. The former Atletico keeper has also previously stated his love for the Spanish Capital and that he doesn’t plan on spending the rest of his career at Chelsea.
The report claim that the 24-year-old is ‘crazy’ for a move back to Spain and is confident that the European Champions will make a move for him in the summer. The fact that his wife and daughter also currently reside in Madrid is also a big deciding factor for making the move.
Zidane Defends Ronaldo
The Portuguese Captain has come under fire for his recent performances for the club, despite netting 18 goals in a mere 22 appearances so far this season. The 31-year-old had a bad outing against Celta Vigo and couldn’t help his side avoid their second consecutive defeat in 4 days.
His manager has defended him and in his pre-match press conference insisted that his and the team’s focus was only on tomorrow’s game. According to ESPN, he said, “I also won [personal awards] and the team then lost games.”
“(Ronaldo) always wins and wins and wins,” he said. “He remains the player who makes the difference for this team. Maybe, in one game, you can play worse. If you have not played football you cannot understand this happens sometimes, but I have. It’s not important. What is important is to keep working on the pitch.”
Ronaldo played that match at center forward and Zidane was questioned about whether he was best suited for that position, to which he said: “Cristiano knows how he has played all his life. He can play sometimes up front, or as one of two forwards, but he has his favorite position, on the left, and that will not change.”