Giggs praises team’s composure

Wales manager Ryan Giggs said his team showed good composure to beat Slovakia and get their Euro 2020 qualifying off to a winning start.

They won 1-0 at Cardiff City Stadium with a fifth minute goal from Daniel James separating the sides.

Slovakia got their campaign in Group E underway on Friday night, beating Hungary 2-0, Croatia beating Azerbaijan at the same time.

So Wales were made to wait for their own kick-off but reduced the pressure with the early goal.

With Gareth Bale in their line-up they missed chances to extend their lead and the visitors created opportunities of their own, Albert Rusnak and Robert Mak both forcing Wayne Hennessey into saves.

However Wales held on to collect the three points that got them up and running. They, Croatia and Slovakia all have three points at the top of the group.

Afterwards Giggs was delighted with the way his team showed character and composure to get the win.

He said: "It's not easy. I tried to play it down because I knew other teams played first but you do feel the pressure. There were so many outstanding performances and we dug in at the end to get that clean sheet.

"In the first half we showed real composure. We rode our luck a little bit in the second half and I thought we could have scored a few more in the first but some of the play was fantastic, paired with great determination."

Wales have a tough task in their next Euro 2020 qualifying game, playing World Cup 2018 finalists Croatia away in June.

Wales were semi-finalists at the last European Championships, in 2016 and will hope to feature next year when the tournament is being held throughout Europe rather than in one host country.

However, England's Wembley Stadium will be used for the semi-finals and final. England got their own campaign off to a winning start, beating the Czech Republic 5-0 on Friday night.

They travel to Montenegro for their second game on Monday and are 1/3 for the win with the hosts 10/1 and the draw 7/2.

Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick against the Czech Republic and is 15/8 to score at any time on Monday while England are 7/1 to win the game 3-0.

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Giggs confirms Ramsey absence

Wales will be without star midfielder Aaron Ramsey for their opening European Championship qualifier against Slovakia in Cardiff on Sunday.

The 28-year-old sat out the 1-0 friendly victory over Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday, with Dragons head coach Ryan Giggs having hoped the Arsenal ace would recover in time to feature at the Cardiff City Stadium this weekend.

However, Ramsey has now been ruled out and has returned to his club for treatment.

Giggs told reporters: "It's a blow, especially the form he's been in, but it gives a chance for somebody else.

"We made sure we had a Plan B and we've worked on that during the week. We're going to miss someone like Aaron, but we've prepared for it as well.

"It's important for us to get off to a good start, but it's not going to be easy. They're coming here with three points and we'll have to be up for it.

"We want to be competitive in every qualifying campaign, that's the level we need to be at consistently.

"It's difficult because we don't always have the same players available, but we want to get to a consistent level in terms of partnerships across the pitch."

Wales last faced Slovakia at the European Championship finals of 2016, with the Dragons winning the group game in Bordeaux 2-1 thanks to goals from Gareth Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu.

They can be backed at 11/10 to win the game on Sunday and are 8/1 to triumph by a 2-1 scoreline, with Real Madrid ace Bale – who is expected to feature after an injury of his own – 11/10 to score at any time.

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Bale agent explains Zidane dispute

Gareth Bale's agent has explained the previous fall-out with manager Zinedine Zidane but expects the Wales star to have clear-the-air talks with the returning Real Madrid boss.

Zidane finds himself back at the Santiago Bernabeu after Santiago Solari's spell at the helm of Los Blancos was brought to an abrupt end this week.

The return of Zidane to the Spanish capital has been reported as bad news for Bale, who is thought to have had a frosty relationship previously with the former France international.

Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett has shed some light on the situation and is hoping any dispute can be settled that will see the Wales international remain with the La Liga giants.

"Gareth wanted to play one way and Zidane wanted to play another. That was the cause of it and over a period of time it got worse," he said.

"If you let Gareth play the way he wants to play, having a run of games in a row not in and out, he can be right up there with Cristiano Ronaldo. He still has a great talent.

"Gareth is very strong. He is a very strong-willed person and does not care what the press say. The jeering is not something that bothers him, he does not understand what he has to do.

"Look at his record, what he has won and how he has played. In years to come, these people who are booing him, their children will be looking at the goals he scored and will be saying, 'what a wonderful player'."

Real are 50/1 to win La Liga this season, while rivals Barcelona are 1/50 to claim the title.

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Giggs gives Bale backing

Ryan Giggs says that Gareth Bale remains crucial to Welsh hopes as they prepare to begin their Euro 2020 qualification campaign.

The Real Madrid player had a starring role as Wales surpassed expectations in reaching the sem-finals of the last European Championships in 2016.

However, he has had problems with his club side this season with Real appointing Zinedine Zidane for his second spell as manager.

Bale's long-term future in Spain remains uncertain but, with international football set to resume later this month, the Welsh manager expects Bale to perform as he always has for his country.

Giggs said: "I expect Gareth to turn up and do what he always does, give everyone a lift. When he plays for Wales he gives 100% and more often than not he performs well.

"You have to take the rough with the smooth. He always turns up and is always brilliant around the camp."

Giggs hopes that Bale will be fully fit for the internationals despite hurting his ankle in Real's Champions League defeat to Ajax and missing their La Liga game at Valladolid on Sunday.

Giggs named a 31-man squad, including Bale, for a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago on 20th March which is closely followed by the first game of Wales' Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, at home to Slovakia.

As well as Slovakia, Wales will also face Hungary, Azerbaijan and World Cup finalists Croatia in Group E with the top two qualifying for Euro 2020 which will, for the first time, be staged throughout Europe rather than having a host country.

The semi-finals and final will be played at Wembley Stadium.

Wales are 7/2 to qualify from Group E with Croatia 2/5 and Slovakia 9/1.

James Chester and Andy King are out of the Welsh squad due to injury while Rotherham's Will Vaulks is included for the first time.

Wales are 66/1 to win Euro 2020 with England 7/1 and France 4/1.

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Bale the Hero, Cards Flew in Big La Liga Show

Levante 1-2 Real Madrid

It was a tough 90 minutes to watch at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia if you are a Levante UD supporter.

This La Liga duel between Levante and Real Madrid was already booked as a one-sided affair. Plenty of La Liga 2019 predictions talking about this match saw this as an easy win for Real Madrid. However, history pointed to this being a tighter affair than what is usually expected.

It thus comes as a surprise for some that Bale emerged as the lead man while Los Blancos walked away as 1-2 winners in Valencia. Levante would feel that they were robbed of the three points while the visiting Madrid fans would point to the stat sheet and weave a story of deserved dominance.

Whether you would believe the home or visiting fans would be up to the us football punter, but this game definitely has its share of La Liga 2019 highlights that will be talked about until the next match day.

Highlights of the game

To the delight of their fans, Levante's Roger Marti scores against Real Madrid in their La Liga game

Levante’s Roger Marti celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s opening goal against Real Madrid

One thing a lot of Spanish football fans would agree on is that Madrid lacked attacking prowess ever since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure. They may have taken Atletico Madrid’s name through the mud at the Wanda Metropolitano, but that doesn’t hide the fact that they struggle to score goals.

That struggle was expressed in detail during the first twenty minutes of the match. Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior did what they could to get themselves ahead of their mid-table opponents, but they weren’t able to do much against Granotas‘ 3-5-2 formation.

In fact, the hosts were pressing for much of the first half. The first real scoring threat of the match came from them as Roger Marti met a 23rd-minute corner to power it towards the goal. His goal was denied by the right post, unfortunately.

Vinicius Junior finally had a crack at the goal on 31 minutes when the Levante backline gave him all the space he needed to kick a beautiful effort to the bottom-right corner. Aitor Fernandez rose to the occasion and pushed out the ball for a corner that went nowhere.

Some of the Madrid fans definitely grew frustrated as Madrid began ramping up their attacks without much success. I bet that they were already pining for a certain Belgian star to make the jump from London.

However, they would finally luck out as a VAR review confirmed that a Levante defender committed a handball violation just inside the box. Karim Benzema was tasked with the spot-kick, and the French striker duly delivered after sending Aitor Fernandez the wrong way.

Paco Lopez had to make some adjustments after that penalty, and his talk translated well onto the pitch as Roger Marti almost scored a nice shot at the start of the second half. The Levante boss probably reminded them that they managed to pull this off last time they played Madrid.

It took some bit of a struggle, but they finally managed to put the game on level terms. Jose Morales launched a quick lob from the left, and Roger Marti was quick to fire the ball past Thibaut Courtois. The ball got a friendly tap from the right post and went straight to the net. The Estadi Ciutat roared to life, and the game was afoot again.

What followed the goal was a series of battles to get the winning goal as both sides need the three points. However, the entire stadium was about to be rattled by the controversial foul that happened in the 77th minute.

In an attempt to clear the ball from the corner, Cheick Doukoure apparently fouled Casemiro. The referee didn’t hesitate to point to the spot without as much as a VAR review. Gareth Bale took and converted the spot-kick after quite an eccentric run-up to catch Aitor Fernandez unawares.

The second penalty definitely took the wind out of Levante, and there was too little time to try and win this match. The official then got busy as he took out his yellow card two more times. Moreover, his last two yellow cards send Nacho and Ruben Rochina to the locker rooms early.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for the home fans as they felt that they played well against Madrid. Moreover, they would protest the foul made against Casemiro as a dive.

They would argue that this wasn’t the first time VAR (or lack thereof) saved Real Madrid’s hide, after all.

Key statistics

The stat sheets would tell you that Madrid completely dominated the game. They had more time with the football, made more goal attempts, and saw more of their attempts go on target. They also had a lot more free kicks and corner attempts than their hosts.

However, it was more of a story of two halves than it was total domination by Madrid. Levante had nine attempts despite none of them were on target. Their hard-nosed approach to the game also stopped Los Blancos from finding their groove.

It was a busy day in the office for the referee as he had to take out his yellow card eight times and his red card twice.

What’s next?

With their win over Levante, Real Madrid successfully nab additional three points to remain third in La Liga standings

Real Madrid celebrate after Karim Benzema’s goal during their La Liga match versus Levante at Ciutat de València

Levante are still far from relegation danger, but defeats in the next couple of games would see them edge closer to the drop. They must get positive results against Leganes, Villarreal, and Real Sociedad to secure their spot in the league.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid have a nine-point gap to cover. They have a chance on closing in when they welcome Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu for the Copa del Rey and the league. If Los Blancos manage to win both of those games, they would then be full of confidence when they face Ajax in the second leg of their Champions League match.

 

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Champions League: Real Madrid Ready To Show Why They Are Champs!

Ajax vs Real Madrid

“A fourth consecutive Champions League? Nothing is impossible for Real Madrid.”

That’s what Los Blancos manager Santiago Solari said ahead of their last-16 match-up with Ajax, and those words send a clear message to the rest of the Champions League playing field: the Madrid giants are back to stake their claim as the best in Europe.

The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and the shock exit of manager Zinedine Zidane were massive blows to the La Liga side; but make no mistake, they remain confident about their title chances even if the odds are stacked against them.

Ajax know very well they are the underdogs in this showdown; however, they will be motivated playing at Amsterdam, in front of a passionate home crowd in Johan Cruyff Arena.

Talking Points

Real Madrid finding their groove

Ronaldo and Zidane led Real Madrid to a record three straight Champions League titles, and after the two left the club in the summer, the team was thrust into the unknown.

Julen Lopetegui’s hiring as manager was supposed to keep Real in contention. Nonetheless, that proved to be a disaster instead, as they found themselves winning just six of their first 13 contests in all competitions.

They lost to CSKA Moscow in a Champions League tie in October, and things didn’t get any better for them. They succumbed to Barcelona 5-1 in El Clasico, a match which sealed the fate of Lopetegui at the Bernabeu.

Fortunately for Madrid, they were able to recover in time with the arrival of Solari. The Argentine manager has guided Los Blancos back to title contention in La Liga, all after spending some time outside the top three.

The team has also experienced a significant turnaround, particularly in the past month. Real are unbeaten in seven consecutive games now, winning six and drawing one in the process. Most recently, they took down city rivals Atletico Madrid, with Gareth Bale scoring his 100th Real goal.

Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari is confident that his side will beat Ajax in the upcoming Champions League battle

Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari stands on the pitch during their training ahead of the Champions League battle with Ajax

Real Madrid have undoubtedly regained their confidence, and that’s something Ajax will be wary of. Sure enough, they are not the same force they once were without Ronaldo and Zidane, but that also comes with fewer expectations—something which Real could well take advantage.

A bad omen for Ajax

Ajax shouldn’t be written off. After all, they are a great attacking team and undoubtedly deserve to be on this stage.

The Dutch side has already scored a league-leading 72 goals in the Dutch Eredivisie, and they know very well they can score against any team. Besides, they never failed to score in their unbeaten run in the group stage of the Champions League this year.

They gave Bayern Munich a run for their money in the battle for the top spot in Group E, proving they belong among Europe’s elite.

However, in an unusual turn of events, Ajax lost 1-0 to eighth-placed Heracles in the build-up to this game. One could argue that they are just preparing for their encounter with Real, but the fact that they didn’t find the back of the net is a cause for concern.

That was the first time Ajax failed to score since their 3-0 defeat to PSV Eindhoven last September—that’s a 25-match scoring streak!

The timing of the defeat couldn’t get any worse, and it doesn’t help the team that they received more bad news with an injury to Frenkie de Jong.

De Jong, considered as the heart of the Ajax midfield, is doubtful to play against Real Madrid due to a thigh problem. He picked up the injury in their defeat to Heracles, forcing him to be substituted in the 79th minute.

The 21-year-old De Jong said earlier last week that Ajax need just a ‘little luck’ to get past Real Madrid, but it seems lady luck isn’t smiling on them.

History

Real Madrid will look to grab the Champions League 2019 highlights as they try to re-establish their dominance in the UCL. And Ajax could be the perfect opponents for them considering their recent head-to-head record.

The Spanish outfit have won their past six games in European competition against Ajax, though their last meeting was way back in 2012.

Real Madrid have scored a total of 20 goals against Ajax during that stretch, highlighted by a 1-4 drubbing in October 2012 when Ronaldo hit a hat-trick. In contrast, the Dutch team has only scored two over that period.

Betting Tip

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Ajax vs Real Madrid Correct Score Real Madrid 1-3 @ 12.50
February 13, 04:00 (GMT+8)

Although both teams are strong offensively, there’s no doubt Real Madrid have the advantage. The Champions League 2019 odds at us point to a relatively tight affair, but I don’t think that will be the case.

I predict the two clubs to find the back of the net. Nevertheless, Ajax’s defence is suspect—having lost 6-2 to Feyenoord late last month—and I think that will doom them.

With that said, I’m putting the smart money on Real Madrid to dominate and take a commanding lead heading to the return fixture at home.

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?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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La Liga: Real Reclaim ‘City Kings’ Title

Atletico Madrid 1-3 Real Madrid

If this was only about playing for pride, as far as this season’s La Liga title is concerned, then it showed just how important victory was to both sides.

The title of best club in the city is one both crave with a passion, irrespective of whether there is a championship to contest, and no quarter was duly given on or off the pitch.

Pride and loyalty counts for a lot in the Spanish capital as Thibaut Courtois, formerly of Atletico (during a three-year loan spell), found out.

He was showered with toy rats as he entered the field of play with many Atletico supporters naturally bitter towards the Belgian for what they deem as a betrayal.

A plaque that bears his name outside the stadium was also vandalised.

Yet Courtois and his team-mates had the last laugh.

Highlights of the game

There had been time for reflection with a minute’s silence observed before the match in memory of Isacio Calleja, one of the greatest players in Atletico’s history over 14 successful seasons.

It would have been interesting to find out what Real fans made of Alvaro Morata starting for Atletico against his former club, too.

Coach Diego Simeone handed the on-loan Chelsea man a starting berth as he partnered Antoine Griezmann on the attack.

Chasing victory which would overtake Atletico and put them into second spot, Real started in the ascendancy.

They were rewarded just after a quarter of an hour when Toni Kroos delivered a corner and the unmarked Casemiro expertly and somewhat acrobatically volleyed past Jan Oblak – one of the early La Liga 2019 highlights.

Moments after being booked, Griezmann continued his fine form with his eighth goal in his last nine games.

Angel Correa slipped the ball through and the Atletico number seven had plenty to do but coolly slipped the ball underneath Courtois.

After a few tense moments and a look at VAR, referee Estrada Fernandez ruled the goal stood. It was his 10th goal of the campaign.

The next goal was always likely to be crucial, and it was skipper Sergio Ramos who restored the visitors’ lead with a penalty.

Jose Gimenez fouled the lively Vinicius Junior in the box, and Ramos made no mistake from the spot.

Thibaut Courtois pelted with rats during Atletico's La Liga game vs Real Madrid

A stuffed mouse lies on the pitch after being thrown by a fan during the Madrid Derby

It took his derby account to six goals in 41 games against Atletico while bringing his tally for the campaign to 11 goals.

Surprisingly though, it was Ramos’ first La Liga goal against Atletico.

Chances came and went and Atletico would have been level again. but for VAR which ruled out a glorious finish from Morata for offside.

It was left to substitute Gareth Bale, on for Vinicius, to wrap up the victory as he converted Luka Modric’s pass to make the game safe and ruin my us prediction of a draw.

He has been under fire of late, but it is hard to argue with Bale’s Real record.

Atletico’s frustrations were compounded when Thomas Partey was shown a second yellow card for lunging in on Kroos and catching him on the ankle.

Real, who are now up to second, are in good form, and this was perhaps the most impressive victory since Santiago Solari took charge. His side absorbed some of Atletico’s heaviest punches but responded with the dangerous playmaking of Karim Benzema, Vinicius and Modric, combined with a stout defence.

It may be premature to speak of a Real renaissance, but this victory will certainly do them the power of good.

The La Liga 2019 betting odds look a bit more favourable for them, even if a title race seems unlikely.

Key statistics

Bale has now scored 100 goals for Real (in 217 games for the club).

Casemiro’s goal was the fastest Atletico have conceded in La Liga since they moved to their new home 18 months ago.

It was also the first time they have conceded two goals at home in the first half in their new stadium in all competitions.

Griezmann is now the highest scorer in Madrid derbies of players currently available with six goals.

Ramos has now equalled Jose Antonio Camacho’s 414 La Liga appearances for Los Blancos. Ramos has also now scored against 26 Spanish top-flight opponents.

No away player has won more times at the Metropolitano than Courtois (one for Chelsea in last season’s Champions League and one today).

What’s next?

Atletico go to Rayo Vallecano next weekend and then host Juventus in a massive Champions League tie four days later (February 20).

Real are in knockout stages action this Wednesday with a trip to Ajax before entertaining Girona in La Liga next Sunday (February 17).

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La Liga: Real Need Quick Return to Winning Ways

Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad

It’s already been a troubled start to 2019 for Real Madrid.

After dropping points in their New Year opener to a side which was in the relegation zone, the European Champions can now ill afford to concede further ground on the title contenders.

With their post-Cristiano Ronaldo form suggesting a fourth successive Champions League title is unlikely, the importance of La Liga for Los Blancos is emphatically clear.

Talking Points

This position is nothing new of course.

us statisticians will tell you Madrid have only been Spanish champions twice in the last decade – with Jose Mourinho in 2011/12 and under Zinedine Zidane in 2016/17 – and it has become a tradition for Madrid to be out of the title race early on.

Yet, of their 17 league games this season, the European and world champions have won just nine, drawing three and losing five, meaning they have failed to win almost every other game this season and have already dropped 21 points.

That needs to be put right quickly if they are to mount a challenge.

Certainly, there is a far greater chance to catch up domestically than in Europe, even if they do trail leaders and arch-rivals Barcelona by seven points as domestic combat resumes after a brief winter hiatus.

The sacking of Julen Lopetegui was as ruthless as the announcement of his appointment was crass. The club is slowly but surely recovering, though, even if there are serious doubts whether replacement Santiago Solari’s tenure will extend beyond this summer.

He’s poised to make his first signing next week, and it’s one for the future with 19-year-old Brahim Diaz. The former Malaga youngster, set to join from Manchester City, is subject to a medical in a deal costing £15.5 million, rising to around £21 million with add-ons.

Madrid certainly need strengthening in the post-Cristiano era.

The trio of Luka Modric, skipper Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema are all over 30 and, in Solari, there is a suggestion the club hasn’t a figurehead established enough to attract top stars.

Gareth Bale will miss out La Liga clash against Real Sociedad after suffering an injury

Gareth Bale picks up an injury during their match against Villareal

With Gareth Bale also out for up to a fortnight after sustaining an injury in the 2-2 draw with Villarreal, Real are definitely lacking some of the star quality which has been sprinkled throughout their starting XI in recent seasons.

On saying all of that, this weekend’s opponents Real Sociedad would love to be in Madrid’s shoes.

Critics say Madrid have gone backwards but remember: this is still a side which claimed a 13th European Cup, the Club World Cup and Modric’s Ballon d’Or in what many perceive to be a troubled 2018.

Sociedad have seen Eusebio Sacristan and Asier Garitano leave the club which also bid an emotional farewell to Xabi Prieto and Imanol Agirretxe.

Meanwhile, Inigo Martinez’s departure for Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao – one of the La Liga 2019 news stories – marked one of the San Sebastian side’s worst moments in recent years.

One-time Arsenal man Carlos Vela was another who set off from La Real as he embarked on a new journey in Major League Soccer, having played in both the Champions League and Europa League at the club.

With Sociedad in 15th place, just three points clear of the drop zone, Madrid’s situation should be put in perspective.

One word of encouragement of Sociedad, though. Madrid have conceded one more goal in the league than them this term so, despite their limited attack – 18 goals scored in 17 league matches – this may be closer than many think.

History

Last season, Madrid secured a league double in comfortable fashion.

They won 3-1 at Sociedad in September, courtesy of goals from Borja Mayoral, Bale and an own goal.

They won this corresponding fixture, 5-2, in the Bernabeu when Ronaldo netted a hat-trick and was joined on the scoresheet by Toni Kroos and Lucas Vazquez.

Sociedad have lost their last seven meetings, last recording a victory in August 2014.

Betting Tip

??
Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad Real Madrid Asian Handicap -1.75 @ 2.26
January 7 01:30 (GMT+8)

The La Liga 2019 betting odds make Real firm favourites.

They are priced 1X2 @ 1.36 with the draw offered @ 4.60, and Sociedad way out @ 8.50.

If there are to be plenty of goals, you can get odds on over 3.50 @ 2.14 and total goal 4-6 @ 2.45.

Sociedad have lost their last three matches while Real have still won six and drew one of their seven home league games this term.

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Bale stars as Real reach final

Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari hopes Gareth Bale can produce the form he showed in the victory against Kashima Antlers on a more regular basis.

The Wales international scored a hat-trick as Real beat the Japanese team 3-1 in the semi-finals of the Club World Cup.

Real Madrid, who are fourth in the La Liga table, five points behind leaders Barcelona, are 1/25 to win the Club World Cup for the third consecutive year.

Bale has been criticised for some of his displays this season as Real have struggled since selling Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus in the summer.

"We are all expecting this kind of performance from him [Bale] every Sunday, every Wednesday – every time we play," Solari said.

"Of course, it is not easy to score three goals every game but I don't just mean the goals, but also the commitment – he has had this commitment in the last games.

"Today everything was perfect for him; but he can achieve this because he was committed before. He's shown what he is and what he's capable of doing. We are happy with him and we hope he can do it in the final, too."

Real can be backed at 9/1 to beat Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates 1-0 in Saturday's final.

Al Ain defeated South American champions River Plate on penalties in the first semi-final.

Meanwhile, Real are 6/1 to win the La Liga title this season and 12/1 to triumph in the Champions League once again.

La Liga: No Easy Win For Real Madrid, Valencia

Real Madrid vs Valencia

Last year’s third and fourth-placed La Liga clubs meet this weekend with high hopes of getting back on track and climbing further up the table.

Real Madrid and Valencia are currently out of the top four places, with Los Blancos at sixth with 20 points and Los Che at 11th with 17. Both teams have been up and down this campaign, setting up this highly anticipated and must-win encounter at the Bernabeu.

As usual, the Madrid side is the favourite heading to this match. Besides, they are playing on their turf and in front of a supportive home crowd.

However, make no mistake, Valencia have proven time and time again that they can hold their ground against the best—as they showed in their Champions League draw with Manchester United last month and a narrow defeat to Juventus recently.

Talking Points

The start of the Santiago Solari era at Real Madrid couldn’t get to a better start. Los Blancos have won five of their six games so far under the Argentine, including a 5-0 rout of Vikotira Plzen and a 0-2 drubbing of Italian giants Roma in the Champions League.

While Real Madrid have every reason to be happy, however, they know they are far from perfect. As they learned in their 3-0 defeat to Eibar in La Liga last weekend, they are still prone to going back to their old habits under Julen Lopetegui.

Against Eibar, they were passive and lacked any sense of haste. Conceding three goals in less than one hour was also reminiscent of their poor start under Lopetegui, a spell which saw them keep only three clean sheets and allow 14 goals in ten matches.

If there’s any silver lining for the team, it’s the fact that the duopoly of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema is having some sort of a renaissance.

Of course, fans have seen it (and actually expected it) under Lopetegui, especially with the two players now the primary option for the Cristiano Ronaldo-less Real Madrid. However, it’s telling that they have been involved in seven of the team’s 17 goals under Solari.

La Liga powerhouse Real Madrid are thriving under new boss Santiago Solari

Santiago Solari during Los Blancos’ training session

Bale has recorded two goals and an assist in their last six matches, while Benzema has four markers and two deliveries.

On the other hand, Valencia are almost in the same position as Real Madrid. They entered the season with high expectations after their fourth-placed finish last year, but they flopped big time and were in the front page of most La Liga 2018 news after failing to win in their opening six games.

Fortunately for them, they are on a roll and have won their last two games in the Spanish top flight. They survived 0-1 against a feisty Getafe side before thrashing new boys Rayo Vallecano to the tune of a 3-0 scoreline.

It’s also good news that Santi Mina seems to be rediscovering the form that netted him 15 goals last campaign. The 22-year-old forward scored twice against Young Boys in the Champions League earlier this month and also had a double in Valencia’s victory over Rayo Vallecano.

Valencia midfielder Francis Coquelin admitted that beating Real Madrid at the Bernabeu is one of the most difficult tasks in football, but he is confident that they are capable of pulling off a surprise.

“Real Madrid are always Real Madrid,” Coquelin told Marca.”If they play their best then they are very difficult, especially at home.”

“But we are in a good moment of form and we are going to try to win. I think we can do things, mark our territory and show we can be near the top of the table.”

History

Real Madrid have dominated over Valencia in the past, but recent history suggests that the narrative could be changing.

Sure enough, Los Blancos defeated Valencia 1-4 in their last meeting. However, it should be noted that Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in that game. Their last battle at the Bernabeu ended all square, 2-2—during which Madrid had to fight back after leading by one and then trailing.

Real Madrid have only lost two competitive matches at home this season, but Valencia have been solid on the road as well with only two away defeats. Los Che also have a penchant for pulling of stalemates on away games.

Betting Tip

??
Real Madrid vs Valencia 1X2 Draw @ 4.20
December 02, 03:45 (GMT+8)

Looking at the quality and depth of both teams, it’s easy to see why the La Liga 2018 odds at us have Real Madrid dominating and putting up a one-sided show.

Nonetheless, given their history and Valencia’s current form, I can’t help but disagree. Besides, this is a Valencia team that narrowly lost to Juventus.

Valencia are a pretty stubborn team, and while I think Madrid are the much better team offensively, I can see this game ending in a draw. With that said, it might not be wrong to bet with Asian Handicap too!

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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