Bale ‘doesn’t fit’ in Real team

Zinedine Zidane has suggested Gareth Bale simply isn't part of his plan at Real Madrid.

Bale was left on the bench for the duration of Real's final-day defeat to Real Betis in La Liga at the Bernabeu.

The home side were booed off the field at full-time, Loren Moron and Jese having scored second half goals in a 2-0 win for the visitors.

Marco Asensio, Isco and Lucas Vasquez were all sent in off the bench in the second half, while Bale stayed seated. Tellingly, Zidane suggested afterwards that he wouldn't have called on the Welsh ace even if he had a fourth change given to him.

The 29-year-old has struggled to hold down a starting place in the Real side since Zidane returned in March and the manager has consistently refused to offer assurances over his future, though it now seems clearer than ever that Bale's future may be away from the Spanish capital.

When asked about Bale leaving the Bernabeu after the defeat to Betis, Zidane said: "I don't know if it's the last game or not. I don't know what's going to happen.

"I'm sorry he didn't get to play, but no-one knows what will happen. If I think a player doesn't fit in the team I have to do what I think works best.

"No-one can change what Bale has done for the team, but as a coach I have to live in the present. I have counted on other players more in recent weeks, and if I had a fourth substitute today I would not have brought him on.

"I make these decisions when it is right to do so, and I must act in the best interests of the team at all times."

Bale has won four Champions Leagues, La Liga and the Copa del Rey during his six years at Real. His former side Spurs are 14/5 to win the Champions League final against Liverpool on 1st June. The Reds are 19/20 while the draw is 5/2.

Zidane unclear on Bale future

Zinedine Zidane says he is not sure whether Sunday's final La Liga game of the season will be Gareth Bale's last for the club.

With the title long since sealed by Barcelona, Real Madrid host Real Betis on Sunday with little to play for, consigned to finishing third in the table, well behind Barca and Atletico Madrid.

Zidane was not responsible for that relative failure, only returning to the Bernabeu in March and the team starting next season is likely to be somewhat different to the side that ends the current campaign on Sunday.

One player whose future has been the subject of constant speculation in recent months is Bale with the Welshman having not played since a match against Rayo Vallecano last month.

The 29-year-old is back in the squad to face Real Betis but Zidane wasn't prepared to discuss his future at the club beyond that.

In a press conference ahead of the game Zidane said: "He'll be part of the squad tomorrow and that's all I can tell you.

"You'll see the team that we put out. I don't know whether this will be his last game.

"We're at the end of the season and next year there'll be changes, but I don't know whether this will be his last game or not."

Bale has long been linked with a move back to the Premier League with Manchester United and previous club Tottenham likely to be interested if he does become available.

Others in the Real squad including Keylor Navas, Toni Kroos and Isco could also be on the move in the summer as Zidane seeks an improvement after failing to challenge Barcelona in La Liga and also not reaching the finals of the Copa del Rey or the Champions League.

"They always win a lot of things here, and it's very difficult when you're not playing for anything, but we want to have a good game against a good Betis side who will also want to finish the season well," Zidane added.

Real Madrid are 1/2 to sign off with a win on Sunday with Real Betis 17/4 and the draw 4/1.

Barcelona play Valencia in the Copa del Rey final next weekend and are 4/9 to make it a league and cup double while Valencia are priced at 11/2.

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La Liga: Real Madrid Owes it’s Fans a Performance

Real Madrid vs Villarreal

Summer can’t come soon enough for the white half of Madrid, after a forgettable season which is just about to fizzle out.

La Liga Real Madrid vs Villarreal is an attractive fixture for the neutrals, but for the home side, it’s a chance to give the Bernabeu faithful something to cheer as they head towards a welcome break.

The us odds backed a Barca title from the off, but the way Los Blancos’ have meekly surrendered will not have pleased their fans one bit. Crashing out of the Champions League and then losing to Barca in the Copa Del Rey all adds to the pain of watching the Catalans stroll to another La Liga title.

Head coach Zinedine Zidane has a rebuilding job to do.

The mood is quite the opposite in the visitors’ camp as a run of ten points from five games has lifted the Yellow Submarine out of the drop zone, and now five points clear. But their safety isn’t yet guaranteed, so head coach Javier Calleja will have his team right up for this game, which could mean more pain for Los Blancos.

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Talking Points

ZZ’s Summer Plans

Two wins, two draws and two defeats in the last six league games rather sums up a patchy season for Real Madrid, who have lost ten games in total. That’s some number for a team touted to challenge at the start of the campaign. But a poor start to the season under the newly installed Julen Lopetegui set the tone for nine months of disappointment for the Real fans.

Zidane was drafted in to sort things out, and I expect he will with a summer spending spree. Premier League stars Eden Hazard and David de Gea are already in his sights.

But with three games still to play to see out this campaign, Real Madrid owes their fans a decent finish. Los Blancos’ striker Karim Benzema has been in superb form, scoring each of his side’s last eight goals, a club record, but a hamstring injury is keeping him sidelined, and that has meant two games without a goal and a shocking 1-0 defeat to relegation threatened Rayo Vallecano in midweek.

Gareth Bale prepare for La Liga clash vs Villarreal

Gareth Bale has come under fire after scoring just eight goals

The spotlight is on Gareth Bale again, for much of the season the target of the fans anger. The Welshman has only scored eight league goals and often cut a disgruntled figure, but he’s the second top scorer at the Bernabeu, with the next highest scorer being centre back Sergio Ramos.

The Rayo result was a disaster, but it was no real surprise that Los Blancos played out a 0-0 draw away to Getafe last week, the minnows are in fourth place and chasing a Champions League spot.

How times have changed!

Yellow Submarine is ready to surface

Villarreal fans have had a torrid time for much if this season too. Languishing in and around the drop zone is unchartered territory for the Yellow Submarine in recent years; and when you look at the talent in their squad it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

But head coach Javier Calleja has turned things around, just in time, as his team has played with a combination of incisive attacking and steely defence. Calleja has plenty of creative talent in his squad with top scorer Karl Toko Ekambi outscoring respected marksmen Carlos Bacca and Gerard Moreno. Meanwhile, former Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla has made ten assists.

Defensive trio Alvaro Gonzalez, Mario Gaspar and Ramiro Funes Mori have accumulated a whopping 39 yellow cards and three red cards between them this season, so Bale and company can expect a rough ride.

History

The head to head Real Madrid vs Villarreal results are no surprise. In the 37 games played over the past two decades Los Blancos have had the lion’s share of the wins with 21 to Villarreal’s four, and there have been ten draws.

But Santi Cazorla scored a brace as the Yellow Submarine held Los Blancos to a 2-2 draw earlier in the season, and Villarreal hasn’t lost in the last three meetings.

The visitors will try to keep things tight and unsettle the home crowd, if the hosts do get an early goal they should go on to win, having accumulated four home victories on the bounce.

Betting Tip

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Real Madrid vs Villarreal Under 3.25 goals @ 1.84
May 05, 22:15 (GMT+8)

So for the hosts this game is as much about pride as anything, while the in form visitors still have plenty to play for.

The latest Real Madrid vs Villarreal betting odds suggest this will not be a walkover; with the home side at 1.70, Villarreal at 5.00 and 3.55 the draw.

Los Blancos have failed to score in the last two games, and with Karim Benzema sidelined the Villarreal defence will be set up to frustrate.

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

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Zidane demands better from Real

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has told his team in no uncertain terms that they must finish what has been a difficult season with some improved displays.

Zidane was speaking after seeing Los Merengues lose 1-0 at Rayo Vallecano, with Real having now won just two of their last six La Liga matches.

That run has left them a massive 18 points adrift of champions Barcelona, with second place now all but certain to go to city rivals Atletico

Real also crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage in losing to Ajax, while their Copa del Rey campaign ended in a semi-final defeat to Barca, who are 1/5 to lift the trophy and 2/5 to defeat Valencia in normal time in the final.

That has left Zidane demanding better from his star-studded squad, while he also made it clear that France defender Raphael Varane will not be leaving the Bernabeu in the summer.

He told the Spanish media: "The season has to end, because it's true that we have complications and there's nothing at stake. We have to think about the future and finish the last three games well.

"It would be better for the season to end as soon as possible, but we have three games left and we have to play them and we cannot finish like that, giving that image.

"We have to respect the game of football, respect this club and we have to finish these three games, because we are going to have to play better than this. What we saw was unacceptable.

"The positive point of this season finale is that Varane will stay."

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Zidane talks up Hazard admiration

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has once again spoken of his admiration for Chelsea forward Eden Hazard ahead of the summer window.

The Belgian international has been strongly linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge, with Real thought to be at the front of the queue to land the former Lille star.

Zidane has made no secret of his admiration for Hazard and once again his latest comments will fire up the rumour mill regarding the player's future in west London.

The Frenchman said: "He's a player I have always appreciated. He is fantastic."

During the press conference for Real's home game with Eibar, the Los Blancos boss added: "I will not give my personal opinion about what may happen because the season has not ended.

"He has played in France, I have watched him a lot and I know him personally."

Real are next on action on Saturday when they welcome Eibar to the Santiago Bernebeu in La Liga.

Los Blancos are 3/10 to win, 9/2 to draw and 17/2 to lose in the capital.

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La Liga: Real Madrid Threaten To Snap Valencia’s Unbeaten Run

Valencia vs Real Madrid

Real Madrid don’t have much left to play for in the final nine matches of the season. They are already out of both the Champions League after their shock defeat to Ajax, as well as the Copa del Rey. They also aren’t going to catch Barcelona, who are 12 points ahead of Real in the La Liga table.

On the other hand, Valencia are still fighting on several fronts. Not only are they still in the Europa League and the Copa del Rey final, but they are also eyeing Champions League qualification.

Thanks to their impressive run of La Liga 2019 results, Los Che are now just three points back of Getafe for the fourth and final Champions League spot.

Victory over Real at home would be another huge step for Valencia’s qualification hopes. But despite Los Che’s fine form of late, beating Real will remain a tough task.

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Talking Points

Valencia’s impressive form continues

Valencia’s strong late-season push for that fourth-place finish continued with a massive 1-0 win in their huge showdown against fourth-placed rivals Sevilla at the Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.

After getting only draws for much of the season, Valencia are finally claiming all three points more regularly of late. They have now won three of their last four matches, the first time they’ve done so all season.

They have also extended their unbeaten run in La Liga to 11 matches (five wins, six draws) and 16 in all competitions (nine wins, seven draws).

Valencia’s defence, which has conceded the second-fewest goals behind Atletico Madrid this season, has been quite impressive during their recent stretch. Over their last seven games, they’ve given just four goals. They have also kept five consecutive clean sheets at home.

But of course, Real’s attacking quality will be so much more superior to the opponents Valencia have kept silent. It will take something special to prevent Real from finding the back of the net; only Barcelona have been able to keep Real from scoring in their last 15 matches in all competitions.

As for Valencia’s attack, it remains pretty hit or miss. Dani Parejo and Rodrigo Moreno have combined for 13 of the team’s 31 La Liga goals this season, and they will once again need to provide some much-needed quality against Real.

Real on a roll with Zidane

The start of Zinedine Zidane’s second spell at the Bernabeu has begun well enough, with two home wins out of two. But after handily taking care of Celta 2-0, they laboured against Huesca over the weekend and needed a late Karim Benzema winner to grab the 3-2 win.

Real Madrid are back on track since the return of Zinedine Zidane in La Liga

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane looking focused in the touchline

Zidane made headlines in that match by starting his son, Luca, in goal over Keylor Navas with Thibaut Courtois still sideline with a quad injury.

Although Real technically have nothing of note left to play for this season, the final few games will still be valuable for players to make a good impression on Zidane for next season. Zidane has notably started both Isco and Marcelo in his first two games in charge after the two lost their regular places in the first XI under Santiago Solari.

 Real, who are set to play their first away match with Zidane back, have done pretty well of late on their travels. They’ve won each of their last five La Liga away fixtures, which includes a 3-1 win over Atletico in the Madrid Derby.

Curiously, there have been five red cards in those five matches, including dismissals for Real. But that hasn’t prevented Real from picking up those points.

History

Valencia’s track record against Real in recent years hasn’t been particularly impressive. Madrid have won four out of the last six meetings between the two. That includes their 2-0 win at the Bernabeu back in December.

Moreover, Real have often left their visits to Valencia pretty happy. Over the past 10 years, Real have claimed six wins at the Mestalla, with three defeats and one draw.

Those three home wins have been the only victories Valencia have had over Real in their last 20 La Liga meetings. That stat obviously isn’t too encouraging for anyone interested in Valencia chances of victory, whatever the La Liga 2019 betting odds say.

Betting Tip

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Valencia vs Real Madrid Draw 1X2 @ 3.30
April 04, 03:30 (GMT+8)

The us odds currently have a Valencia win and a draw similarly priced at 3.30 in the 1X2 market. But while Valencia have been playing well of late, a draw might be the more realistic outcome than a rare victory over Real.

The fact that Real aren’t exactly the most motivated bunch at this stage of the season should only help the hosts’ cause. Meanwhile, the Valencia defence has shown it can be resolute enough to at least slow Real down and grab another valuable point.

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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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Jose: Zidane ‘perfect’ for Real

Jose Mourinho says Zinedine Zidane's return to Real Madrid is 'perfect' for the club and will give the Frenchman a chance to prove himself.

Mourinho meanwhile says he was not in the race to return to the Bernabeu himself, despite intense speculation before Zidane's appointment.

Zidane, who won three Champions League trophies and a Liga title in his two-and-a-half-year spell at the Bernabeu previously, is the right man for the job according to Mourinho.

"It seems perfect to me. With the fantastic things he has done in the last years – it seems perfect," he said.

"For Madrid it is perfect, and for him it is a great opportunity to demonstrate how good he is. And now with a new project, it is fantastic."

Real's hopes of a fourth successive Champions League crown were crushed by Ajax recently, the Eredivisie side running out convincing winners of their last-16 tie.

With Madrid currently third in La Liga and 12 points behind Barcelona, Santiago Solari was dismissed from his post.

He had only taken over at the end of October when former Spain boss Julen Lopetegui was shown the door a matter of months after being appointed by Real Madrid.

Mourinho has denied that he wanted to return to the club.

Asked if he was disappointed, Mourinho replied: "I never said I wanted it or not. I just told you Zidane to Madrid is perfect."

Real Madrid are 1/5 to beat Celta Vigo in the Bernabeu on Saturday. The visitors are 12/1 while the draw can be backed at 6/1.

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Zidane back in charge of Real

Real Madrid have re-appointed Zinedine Zidane as their head coach, ten months after he brought an end to his first spell in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The 46-year-old Frenchman was previously at the helm for Los Blancos between January 2016 and the summer of 2018.

Zidane returns in place of Santiago Solari, who took over at the end of October when former Spain boss Julen Lopetegui was shown the door a matter of months after being appointed by Real.

The World Cup winner has agreed a contract running until the summer of 2022, having previously led Real to three consecutive Champions League titles, as well as success in La Liga, the Spanish Super Cup, the Club World Cup and the European Super Cup.

His first task is to try and get Real back on track following recent exits from both the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, while Los Merengues currently lie down in third place in La Liga, some 12 points adrift of leaders Barcelona.

Zidane had earlier spent five seasons at the Bernabeu as a player, helping the club to win La Liga, the Spanish Super Cup, the European Super Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and the Champions League.

The playmaker netted the winning goal in the Champions League final of 2003, as Real defeated Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

His first game back in charge of Real comes on Saturday, when Celta Vigo are the visitors to the Spanish capital.

Los Blancos are 2/9 to win the game and are 13/2 to do so by a 2-0 scoreline, with a 1-1 draw available at 11/1.

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Solari credits Zidane after final win

Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari praised former chief Zinedine Zidane after the side's fourth Club World Cup success on Saturday.

Solari, who took over the reins of Los Blancos after Zidane's successor Julen Lopetegui was sacked earlier in the season, watched as efforts from Luka Modric, Marcos Llorente, Sergio Ramos and an own goal from Yahya Nader sealed a 4-1 win against Abu Dhabi outfit Al Ain.

It was the third successive year Real Madrid had lifted the trophy and a record fourth time overall, while it secured Solari his first piece of silverware at the helm.

When discussing the win, Solari paid tribute to Zidane, who won the trophy in 2016 and 2017 and departed the Santiago Bernabeu after delivering a third successive Champions League title in May.

He told TVE: "We are happy, these players deserve it, they have come here after a lot of work and a lot of wins.

"We put a finishing touch to that third consecutive Champions League, it is a feat of the club, this group and other coaches.

"We are also here thanks to Zidane. It will be difficult to match in the future."

Madrid will now enjoy their winter break but resume La Liga duties at Villarreal on 3rd January in fourth spot in the table and trailing leaders Barcelona by eight points, having played a game less.

Madrid are 7/1 to win La Liga this season,  while they are priced at 12/1 to win the Champions League for a fourth straight year.

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