Kroos reveals top-four target

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos believes his side have to ensure they finish in the top four in La Liga, having endured a tough league season to date.

Los Blancos suffered their latest setback on Saturday as they were beaten 1-0 at home by Villarreal, who closed to within a point of Real, who currently occupy fourth place in the standings.

And Kroos accepts that all hopes of retaining the league title are gone, with Barcelona already 16 points clear of their deadly rivals.

The Germany international told BeIN Sports: "First of all, we have to think about our position at the moment.

"We have to focus on qualifying for the Champions League next season. I think that should be the objective for the rest of the season.

"That's because 16 points (to Barcelona) is very big. It's not the time to think about anything that isn't the next game and picking up points in order to get closer to our objective, which is to be among the top four."

Meanwhile, head coach Zinedine Zidane remains confident that Real will be able to turn their fortunes around as soon as they improve on a run of one win in five games since they lifted the FIFA Club World Cup.

He added: "Once we win a game it will change things. We have to keep thinking that we're going to change them. After we win a match, we must keep working hard so we can win the next one.

"I don't think we're predictable and the team haven't hit rock bottom. We're in a bad way and losing was a blow, but we'll keep going."

Real are 8/1 to win a third consecutive Champions League title this season, with Barcelona 13/2 and Manchester City 3/1.

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Marcelo: We are sinking

Marcelo accepts that the current situation at Real Madrid is the worst he has known since he joined the club more than a decade ago.

Real are 16 points behind leaders Barcelona after being held to a 2-2 draw by Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Zinedine Zidane's team were leading with eight minutes to go thanks to Gareth Bale's brace after Daniel Wass had given Celta the lead.

However, Maxi Gomez's late header ensured the match finished as a draw and 29-year-old Brazilian Marcelo admitted afterwards: "It is how it looks from the outside – we are sad, angry and we feel like we are sinking.

"It is one of the worst situations I've experienced here. We'll try to work hard and fight so we can win our next game but we don't like this situation at all. It's difficult because the more games you draw or lose the more pressure you are under."

Marcelo has won four La Liga and three Champions League titles since joining Real in 2007.

Real Madrid can be backed at 8/1 to win the Champions League again this season while they are available at 1/12 to win their next match against Numancia on 10th January.

Zidane's side have failed to win any of their last four away matches and are fourth in the table while Atletico Madrid are second and Valencia third.

Zidane rules out January arrivals

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he doesn't want any January arrivals despite his side having 'no room for error left this season'.

Zidane believes Real can get their season back on track without any new signings and insisted he would prefer to do his business in the summer transfer market.

The La Liga champions fell 14 points behind Barcelona in the title race following their 3-0 El Clasico defeat at the Bernabeu before the winter break.

In Europe, two-time defending champions Real Madrid face big-spending Paris St-Germain in the last-16 of the Champions League next month, prompting speculation in the Spanish press that Zidane might be tempted to bring in some January reinforcements.

That is not part of his plan, insists the French coach.

"As we all know, until 31st January, someone can come in – this is the market – but I do not want anyone as I am happy with my squad," Zidane said.

"I remember last year there were no problems like this, as Madrid was doing well, playing well, but when a team is going a bit bad, as can happen sometimes, there is talk of transfers but I am not that type of coach."

Real are 8/1 to win a third successive Champions League this season while they are 1/2 to reopen their domestic campaign with a win at Celta Vigo on Sunday evening.

With PSG looming and a big gap to bridge in the league, Zidane admits they cannot afford any more mistakes.

"We are still in three competitions and will give our best until the end of the season," he added.

"We must hit our level now and show what we can do. We are very motivated. We have no room for error left this season, but we are very excited about that."

Real Madrid are 11/10 to eliminate Paris St-Germain in their Champions League last-16 tie.

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History for Barca at Bernabeu

Barcelona crushed ten-man Real Madrid with a three-goal second half salvo at the Bernabeu to move 14 points clear of the champions in La Liga.

It is the first time Barca have won three consecutive away league matches at the home of Real Madrid and the result leaves Zinedine Zidane's side fourth in the table.

Barcelona produced a controlled performance and they hit the front when Luis Suarez was on hand at the end of a flowing move on 54 minutes.

Real were left to rue Karim Benzema hitting the post and Cristiano Ronaldo passing up two good chances in the first half when Dani Carvajal was sent off for handball just after the hour, leaving Lionel Messi to convert from the penalty spot.

Late substitute Aleix Vidal poured on the misery in stoppage time when his shot made it through a crowd on the Madrid goal line to make it three and easy for Barcelona.

Barcelona moved nine points clear of Atletico Madrid in second spot with their win, while Valencia are 11 points adrift in third spot, though both still have to play this weekend.

Gareth Bale, brought on after Barcelona's second goal, almost pulled one back when his close-range effort from Luka Modric's cut-back was saved by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen in the 78th minute but it was a grim afternoon for the champions.

Real Madid are 8/1 to win a third successive Champions League crown this season, while Barcelona are 7/1 for European glory.

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Zidane accepts the need to win

Zinedine Zidane has admitted that his Real Madrid side need to beat Barcelona in El Clasico to reignite their hopes of retaining their La Liga crown.

Los Blancos trail league leaders Barca by 11 points going into the clash at the Santiago Bernabeu at lunchtime on Saturday, with head coach Zidane well aware that a win for the hosts is something of a necessity.

He told the Spanish media: "Everybody thinks about this fixture and they are obviously significant in the season, but we must keep working as Saturday is just another match for us – another three points we can win.

"It is important in the context of the league, we have more to lose due to the league situation that we are a little bit behind.

"This is the most important game of our campaign to date and winning El Clasico is always nice.

"Barcelona are a strong team and you can see that in the standings, but we are confident we can win the match, as we always are."

Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to feature after overcoming a calf injury sustained in the 1-0 Club World Cup final victory against Gremio last weekend.

However, Zidane refused to be drawn on whether Gareth Bale would start the game, having been hampered by injuries for large parts of the current campaign.

He added: "You'll see tomorrow if he plays. As always, I can't tell you, that's for me to think about.

"The good thing is everyone is fit. That's a good thing, but also bad, because I must leave players out."

Wales ace Bale is available at 4/1 to score the first goal of the game in the Bernabeu, with Ronaldo priced at 3/1, while Barca striker Luis Suarez is a 9/2 shot.

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Bale suffers another setback

Real Madrid ace Gareth Bale has suffered yet another injury setback, with a calf problem meaning he will miss the clash with Athletic Bilbao.

The 28-year-old Wales international forward returned to action in midweek in the Cope del Rey match-up with Fuenlabrada, having spent the previous two months on the sidelines.

However, Bale suffered a slight reaction to his return to the fold and Real head coach Zinedine Zidane has ruled his player out of the game at the San Mames on Saturday.

He told the Spanish media: "It is nothing serious, it is just a niggle and we don't want to take any risks.

"Gareth's problem is that he is a very strong, very powerful player and he needs to feel right to play.

"It is a tough time for him right now, but we will come through it and all the people around Gareth have to show him a lot of affection until he is better.

"We can't forget he is an important player for us and, when he is fit, he is phenomenal. We need to be patient."

Bale, who moved to the Bernabeu from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2013, has been limited to eight starts and ten appearances in total in all competitions so far this season, scoring twice in La Liga and once in the Champions League.

In his absence Real are 15/2 to win 2-1 in Bilbao on Saturday, having claimed victory by that scoreline in this fixture in each of the last two seasons.

A 2-2 draw is priced at 14/1, while the men from Madrid are available at 11/8 to keep a clean sheet.

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Hazard dreams of playing for Zidane

Eden Hazard has admitted that it 'would be a dream' to play under Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane in the future.

The Belgian international insists he remains happy at Chelsea for now but revealed that he would crave a link-up with his boyhood idol somewhere down the line.

The Chelsea forward has reportedly been a target for the European and La Liga champions in the past. Hazard also stressed that he would have no problems working again with Jose Mourinho in the future, despite the manner in which the Portuguese left Stamford Bridge.

"Everyone knows the respect I have for Zidane as a player, but also as a manager. He was my idol," Hazard told an interview with Belgian TV.

"I do not know what will happen in my career in the future. However, for sure, to play under Zidane would be a dream.

For now the 26-year-old playmaker insists he remains happy at Chelsea under Antonio Conte. He described his form at the end of Mourinho's second stint at Chelsea as one of the low points in his career but insists he'd have no problem working with his old boss again.

"I am enjoying life at Chelsea. I still have a lot of things to achieve with them. I am focused on playing for Chelsea," Hazard added.

"Of course [I would enjoy working with Mourinho again]. I like facing him also as an opponent. If we were to work together in the future it would be with pleasure."

Hazard is with the Belgian squad ahead of Friday's friendly with Mexico.

The Red Devils are 4/9 to win, Mexico are 6/1 and the draw is 10/3.

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Benzema earns Zidane backing

Zinedine Zidane remains convinced Karim Benzema remains the right man to lead Real Madrid's attack.

The Frenchman has been at the Bernabeu since 2009 and has enjoyed great success with the club, claiming to two La Liga titles and three Champions League winners' medals.

However, Benzema's lack of sharpness in front of goal has often led to criticism and he again came under fire in the press this week.

The 29-year-old spurned a number of chances during Tuesday's 1-1 Champions League draw against Real Madrid and former England and Tottenham forward Gary Lineker was openly critical of his performance.

A number of managers have found themselves in the same position as Zidane but have always argued that the forward's team play is more important than his goals, especially with so much firepower elsewhere in the side.

Sunday sees Real welcome Eibar to the Bernabeu in a game they are 1/11 to win, with the draw 10/1 and the Basques 22/1.

Benzema is again likely to start in attack and Zidane has backed him to continue playing a key role for his team.

"Not only is there criticism of Karim, but of everyone," Zidane said. "I am annoyed because saying that is a shame.

"He [Benzema] isn't going to get you 60 goals but he will get 30 and he will also assist for 40 more and that for me is the most important thing.

"I don't like it when people speak badly of my players, and I want to clarify again that for me Karim is the best [striker] by far."

Real are 6/4 to retain their La Liga title and 9/2 to successfully defend their Champions League crown.

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Football Bets on Los Blancos to Lose…Are You Kidding?

Well, you might need to be brave to make that football prediction but if ever there was a time, this could be it.

It hasn’t been the best start to a season for Real Madrid. They will always be a force but Borussia Dortmund may just be a match for Zinedine Zidane’s stars when they meet mid-week. And that’s where I’m heading for the first of my Champions League Asian Handicap betting picks.

Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid (September 27, 02:45 GMT+8)

It took a Dani Ceballos double to save embarrassment for Los Blancos as they won 1-2 at Alaves at the weekend and seven points behind Barcelona in La Liga, they just don’t look convincing at the moment. In contrast, Dortmund is top of the Bundesliga after hammering Borussia Monchengladbach, 6-1, as Pierre- Emerick Aubameyang scored three.
I’m taking the plunge and going for a Borussia win, Draw no Bet at 2.21 for a 🌟🌟 punt.

Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea (September 28, 02:45 GMT+8)

David Luiz may be fit to play in Madrid on Wednesday, despite a broken wrist, according to Antonio Conte. And defence is likely to triumph over attack in this tussle, although Antoine Griezmann was on target as Atletico had an impressive 2-0 home win over Sevilla.
Chelsea is in good nick too, so for a 🌟 bet, how about a draw at 3.30?

Paris Saint-Germain vs Bayern Munich (September 28, 02:45 GMT+8)

This could be the season when PSG finally breaks through the glass ceiling in Europe and have a proper tilt at the trophy. That the Parisens are favourites to beat Bayern speaks volumes. These are early days but the German giants are in the unusual position of third in their domestic league.
Everyone expects goals in this game so a 🌟🌟 bet on Under 3.50 goals is decent value at 1.92.

A short explanation on how our (🌟) bets are worth:

🌟🌟🌟 = £20
🌟🌟 = £10
🌟 = £5

Head over to the bet picks section and see how our writers perform in their predicted bets.

Click for more football betting options.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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Zidane rues dropped points

Zinedine Zidane felt his Real Madrid players "dropped two points" in Sunday evening's 2-2 home draw against Valencia.

The 45-year-old Frenchman, who guided Los Blancos to the La Liga title last season, was left feeling frustrated after the side dropped their first points of the 2017-18 campaign having been presented with the trophy before the kick-off at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The in-form Asensio put Real Madrid in front after just 10 minutes, before Carlos Soler levelled from close range just eight minutes later.

Geoffrey Kondogbia looked to have put Valencia on course for a shock win with a goal on 77 minutes, but Asensio levelled with a free-kick seven minutes from time.

Karim Benzema almost snatched an injury-time winner when his header was pushed onto the post by Neto as the sides had tos ettle for a share of the spoils.

Afterwards Zidane said on Madrid's official website: "I can't be happy with result, but the performance was excellent. We deserved more but that's the way it goes in football and you can't always win.

"We've dropped two points but I'm really proud of my players. The tough part is to create the chances and today we had seven or eight clear-cut openings.

"We could have won the game, but that's not how things panned out.

"We'll continue to work hard and focus on the next game. It's now time to rest up, although some of the players are heading off with their national teams."

Real are 4/5 to retain their La Liga title this season, while Barcelona are priced at 5/4 after they secured a second successive win of the season with Lionel Messi's brace sealing a 2-0 victory at Alaves on Saturday.