Bale missing for Wales

Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wales' Nations League match against the Republic of Ireland and is returning to Read Madrid for treatment.

Bale has a groin injury which has ruled him out of recent Real Madrid games and also caused him to miss Wales' 4-1 defeat to Spain on Thursday.

Manager Ryan Giggs said after that game that Bale remained a doubt for Tuesday's match in Dublin and now the Football Association of Wales have confirmed that he will miss the game and return to his club.

Speaking after the Spain defeat Giggs confirmed he wanted to make a decision quickly on whether Bale would be available to face Martin O'Neill's side.

He said: "We'll make a decision in the next couple of days because then we have to prepare for the game.

"If Gareth is not available we have to prepare to see what team we're going to play, so we'll make it sooner rather than on the day."

Wales are 11/5 to win the game with the Republic of Ireland 6/4 and the draw is 19/10.

Ipswich winger Gwion Edwards has already been called up by the Welsh as possible cover for Bale.

He could make his first appearance for the Welsh senior side on Tuesday as could Sheffield United defender Kieron Freeman who has also been drafted in by Giggs with injury doubts surrounding Ethan Ampadu and Chris Mepham.

Tuesday night's game is the third for the Welsh in the Nations League. They are currently second in Group B after beating the Irish 4-1 at home but then losing 2-0 to Denmark.

Real meanwhile will hope to have Bale available as soon as possible after the international break as they face three big games in eight days; La Liga clashes against Levante and Barcelona with a Champions League clash against Viktoria Plzen in between.

Real Madrid are 11/4 to win La Liga with Barcelona 4/6.

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Batshuayi still committed to Blues

Valencia loan striker Michy Batshuayi says he remains committed to trying to forge a successful future with his parent club Chelsea.

The 24-year-old Belgium international forward marked his first La Liga start for Los Che with a goal in the 1-1 midweek draw with Celta Vigo, ensuring that he kept his place for the 1-0 victory at Real Sociedad on Saturday.

However, Batshuayi, who impressed while on loan at Borussia Dortmund last season, still has his sights set on becoming an important first-team player at Stamford Bridge.

He told The Times: "I've so much respect for Chelsea and I love them. This loan is important for my development, to show how good I am so that I can go back to Chelsea a better player.

"Everyone knows there's a real emphasis on technique in La Liga and I'm a technical player – in that sense it's a good fit. But all leagues are a good fit for me, I can play anywhere."

Meanwhile, AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso has rubbished talk that he forced Andre Silva to move on in the summer, with the Portugal frontman having scored seven times in seven La Liga outings since joining Sevilla on a season-long loan.

Gattuso told reporters: "Andre Silva was the one who decided to leave, nobody here threw him out. Now he is scoring goals, (but) we did everything we could to make him stay."

Sevilla are currently available at 6/4 to finish in the top four in La Liga this season, with Valencia priced at 3/1 and Villarreal 10/1.

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Batshuayi remains committed to Blues

Valencia loan striker Michy Batshuayi says he remains committed to trying to forge a successful future with his parent club Chelsea.

The 24-year-old Belgium international forward marked his first La Liga start for Los Che with a goal in the 1-1 midweek draw with Celta Vigo, ensuring that he kept his place for the 1-0 victory at Real Sociedad on Saturday.

However, Batshuayi, who impressed while on loan at Borussia Dortmund last season, still has his sights set on becoming an important first-team player at Stamford Bridge.

He told The Times: "I've so much respect for Chelsea and I love them. This loan is important for my development, to show how good I am so that I can go back to Chelsea a better player.

"Everyone knows there's a real emphasis on technique in La Liga and I'm a technical player – in that sense it's a good fit. But all leagues are a good fit for me, I can play anywhere."

Meanwhile, AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso has rubbished talk that he forced Andre Silva to move on in the summer, with the Portugal frontman having scored seven times in seven La Liga outings since joining Sevilla on a season-long loan.

Gattuso told reporters: "Andre Silva was the one who decided to leave, nobody here threw him out. Now he is scoring goals, (but) we did everything we could to make him stay."

Sevilla are currently available at 6/4 to finish in the top four in La Liga this season, with Valencia priced at 3/1 and Villarreal 10/1.

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Busquets calls for Barca response

Barcelona midfield stalwart Sergio Busquets says he and his colleagues have to find an answer to their recent defensive frailties.

The Blaugrana have not kept a clean sheet in their last four La Liga outings, suffering a shock 2-1 defeat at Leganes on Wednesday, having been held to a 2-2 draw at home to Girona at the weekend.

And Busquets has refused to place blame on any individuals, insisting that the Camp Nou squad need to work together to put things right.

He told El Mundo Deportivo: "We are a team, we lose together as we win together.

"When we lose we must analyse how the team lost, it is not down to individual mistakes, but all eleven players not performing as we should have.

"We cannot speak about individuals and we should be focusing on conceding two quick goals and making it too easy for the opposition to win.

"We could not create chances after falling behind, but the main concern is how many goals we are conceding – we need to rediscover our defensive solidity."

In an evening of surprises in La Liga, Real Madrid also suffered a heavy defeat, going down 3-0 to Sevilla in the Mestalla, with Wissam Ben Yedder on the scoresheet to take his tally to six in his last three games.

Despite their slips, Barca and Real remain in first and second places respectively in La Liga, with Atletico Madrid two points back in third.

Barcelona are available at 8/13 to retain their Spanish league crown this season, with Real priced at 2/1 and Atleti 15/2.

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Barcelona struggles bemuse Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho says Barcelona's lack of success in the Champions League is difficult to understand ahead of the start of another campaign.

The Blaugrana have only been able to watch on as their great rivals Real Madrid have racked up three successive European titles in recent seasons while they have struggled to make it beyond the quarter-finals.

Barca have fallen at the last-eight stage in each of the last three years, while their last success in the competition came in 2015.

Having had the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Xavi and Andres Iniesta on the books for all or part of their barren run, record signing Coutinho is at a loss when trying to explain why the Spaniards haven't done better in Europe.

The Brazilian is determined to help Barcelona right their previous wrong this term with the La Liga side 6/1 to win this year's Champions League.

Ahead of Tuesday's Champions League opener against PSV Eindhoven, Coutinho said: "That's difficult to say. Messi is the best player in the world, perhaps the best in history and it's difficult to explain that.

"I guess there's no explanation to that. Such as all of us he is aiming so much to win big things and the Champions League is one of them."

Barcelona are 1/9 to get off to a winning start in the champions League at home to PSV Eindhoven, with the Dutch outfit 25/1 and the draw 10/1.

Ernesto Valverde's men will need to hit the ground running in Europe this season having been put in a tough group, with Tottenhan Inter Milan the other sides in the pool.

Real will get better – Ramos

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is confident that his side will improve on the performance they gave in a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Los Blancos dropped their first points of the La Liga season as they could only secure a draw at the San Mames, with Spain international midfielder Isco netting an equaliser shortly after the hour mark.

And, while being disappointed at losing ground to Barcelona at this early stage of the campaign, Ramos was upbeat about the potential of a Real side still adjusting to life without Cristiano Ronaldo.

He told the Spanish press: "Perhaps we started the first half with a few more problems due to our lack of movement when receiving the ball.

"In the second half we were able to improve and got a goal back. We would have liked to pick up all three points, but we will keep improving.

"Drawing is never good. When you pick up one point instead of three, it means there are things to improve on.

"We should've moved the ball quicker to create space between the lines, but they retreated well, defended very close together and were very compact.

"In the second half we overcame their first line of pressure better."

Real are 7/4 to be crowned champions of Spain this season, with Barcelona available at 4/7 and Atletico Madrid priced at 14/1.

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Vidal cools injury fears

Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal has played down fears that he faces another spell on the sidelines with a new knee injury.

Reports suggested the 31-year-old had picked up the problem during a training session with Chile in Japan.

Vidal had to endure a knee operation in April, which forced him to miss the closing weeks of Bayern Munich's 2017/18 season, before his summer switch to Barcelona.

However, Vidal insists: "I heard a lot of things and they're all lies. I've [got] nothing wrong with me.

"I left before training for a rest after a long journey. I went to the gym and used the bike, but I did everything as normal in training.

"It was a 24-hour journey and training after that is not easy, but everything is fine."

Chile's match with Japan was cancelled because of an earthquake in Hokkaido, with Vidal adding: "We felt the earthquake but we are fine and a little bored, but that's how things are.

"We felt how strong the earthquake was, we were all sleeping. These are things that happen in life.

"It is important for everyone to know that we are all fine, nothing has happened to us. It was more of a scare than anything else."

Barcelona are 6/1 to win the Champions League this season and 8/13 to clinch the La Liga title.

Marcelo has no desire to move

Brazil international Marcelo has indicated that he will spend the rest of his career at Real Madrid even though he is being linked with a transfer to Juventus.

Cristiano Ronaldo left last season's Champions League winners and moved to Turin in the summer and reports have suggested Marcelo will be following in the Portugal international's footsteps.

The 30-year-old left-back joined Real from Fluminense in 2007 but says he has no intention of leaving the La Liga giants. Real Madrid are 8/1 to win the Champions League for a fourth campaign in a row in 2018/19 and 13/8 to land the La Liga title.

"It's an element which is hardly worth discussing. I'm very happy at Real Madrid, it's my home and I've got many years left on my contract," Marcelo told Real Madrid TV.

"I'm very happy here, it's the best club in the world and I always want to play for the very best. It's good to talk about it because there are always rumours and it's tough for me to have to continually show I want to be here and can play here. I always give it my best to be at the best club in the world.

"I want to be at Madrid for many years. I'm very calm about it all and I want to continue at Real Madrid. I'm as hungry as when I was 18 years old. I'll be here until the end."

Lopetegui backs Real stars

Julen Lopetegui says it would be foolish to write his Real Madrid players off so early in the season.

The 52-year-old was appointed as the new coach at The Bernabeu in June, a move that cost him the chance to coach Spain at the World Cup 2018.

After winning a third Champions League title in three years, Los Blancos saw both boss Zinedine Zidane and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo depart.

Although Thibaut Courtois signed from Chelsea, the board failed to sign any other big names, with Lopetegui's brief believed to be to reinvigorate his squad with young players after seeing some of the club's more experienced stars depart.

Despite losing the UEFA Super Cup to Atletico Madrid, Real have opened their La Liga campaign with three victories, outclassing Getafe, Girona and Leganes.

The coach faces arguably his toughest test on the weekend after the international break, when he takes his side to his home region of the Basque Country to face Athletic Bilbao.

Real are 8/15 to win at San Mames, with the draw 10/3 and Los Leones 9/2.

With their lack of transfer action, the European champions have been written off in some quarters but Lopetegui feels this is foolish.

The former Spain goalkeeper says the attitude of his players has given him plenty of encouragement and is confident they can claim yet more silverware this season.

"It would be a mistake to doubt these Real Madrid players," Lopetegui told Onda Cero. "I love this group of players and the work they have done since I have come in is absolutely fantastic, I could not ask for more."

Real are 13/8 to win La Liga and 9/1 to defend their Champions League crown.

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Rakitic rules out Barca departure

Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic has pledged his future to Barcelona, saying that it was an easy decision to reject offers to head out of the Camp Nou.

The 30-year-old spoke to the Spanish media after helping Barca kick off their La Liga season with a tense 1-0 victory at Real Valladolid, with Rakitic having been the subject of much speculation before the game.

However, the schemer, who helped his country reach the final of World Cup 2018 earlier this summer, was happy to reject any offers on the table and stay put with the Catalan giants.

He told reporters: "There were several clubs that asked about signing me.

"I spoke about everything with my wife and my agent. We reflected on things and, in the end, the decision was an easy one. The most important thing for me is that I want to be here.

"I'm staying at Barcelona. I've had four spectacular years here and it's a privilege to defend this badge. I hope I can keep doing so for many years.

"There wasn't one (particular) thing that convinced me to stay. This is the best club in the world, there's no place in the world where I would be better off."

Rakitic joined Barca in the summer of 2014 from domestic rivals Sevilla, having previously played for FC Basel and Schalke.

He has made well over 200 appearances for the Blaugrana, helping them to three Spanish league titles, four Copa del Rey successes and Champions League glory in 2015.

Barca are priced at 6/1 to win the Champions League again this season, with Real Madrid 8/1 and Juventus available at 6/1.

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