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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Bale’s ‘anger’ over Kiev snub

Gareth Bale has talked of a feeling of anger that he was overlooked by Zinedine Zidane for last season's Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev.

The European champions begin their quest for four successive titles when they host Roma in the Bernabeu on Wednesday evening, with Real Madrid now under the tutelage of Julen Lopetegui.

With Cristiano Ronaldo departed to Juventus this summer, the Welshman is getting his share of chances but Bale was angered to be omitted from the starting line-up for the clash with Liverpool.

Bale helped turn the match around with a second-half double after coming off the bench on the hour-mark.

Within three minutes of his introduction, he had converted an acrobatic bicycle kick from Marcelo's floated cross to put Madrid ahead and he added a long-range second past Loris Karius to help seal a 3-1 victory.

Bale reflected on the emotions he felt when learning he had not made the starting side, despite having shown positive form in the run up to Kiev.

"Angry. Quite angry, to be honest," Bale told the Daily Mail.

"Obviously, I felt I deserved to start the game. I'd been scoring goals. So yeah, I suppose it was hard to put the anger aside."

On his stunning opening goal, Bale said it was a risk worth taking. Taking on the spectacular is not something he fears.

"You certainly don't really think about looking stupid. If you don't try things, things never happen," he added.

"If you have time to think about it, it doesn't come off. It's when you have to make those reaction decisions that you normally tend to get the best results.

"I knew exactly where the ball went and you can see in the video my head turns to look exactly where the ball is going. As soon as I hit it I knew it was good."

Real Madrid are 4/11 to start with a win over Roma on Wednesday, with Bale priced at 3/1 to score the opening goal. The Serie A side are 15/2 to stun the European champions by winning in the Spanish capital.

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Real confirm Lopetegui appointment

Real Madrid have confirmed that Julen Lopetegui will become their new head coach once he has completed his World Cup 2018 duties with Spain.

Lopetegui has agreed a three-year contract to succeed Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu, with the latter having opted to step aside after winning a third consecutive Champions League title.

Fifty-one-year-old Lopetegui, who made one senior appearance for the club, worked with Real as coach of their B team between 2008 and 2009, before moving into the national team set-up, where he coached at three different levels.

In the summer of 2014 he was tempted back into club management with Portuguese powerhouses FC Porto, where he lasted around 18 months before being sacked.

However, within a matter of months Lopetegui was handed the top job back in his homeland, taking over in July 2016 on the retirement of Vicente del Bosque.

Since then he has led La Roja in 20 matches, of which they have won 16, drawn four and lost none.

In World Cup qualifying they dropped just two points from ten games played in finishing top of Group G, five points ahead of Italy – who went on to lose to Sweden in the play-offs.

For the finals in Russia, which start on Thursday, Spain have been drawn in Group B alongside neighbours and European champions Portugal, as well as Morocco and Iran.

Spain can be backed at 8/15 to top Group B, while they are 9/2 to be eliminated at the semi-final stage of the tournament and are 11/2 to lose in the final.

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Newsflash: Neuer’s Return, Cleveland’s Yips, Zizou’s Adieu

Sports fans love June because a lot of fun things are happening this month! The Roland Garros is raging on, the NBA Finals has begun, and the FIFA World Cup is only two weeks away! And multiple head-turning sports news and updates popped up while we soak ourselves in the midst of the action!

The biggest shocker of the day is Zinedine Zidane’s departure from Real Madrid. Zizou had a very successful two-and-a-half year stint at the Santiago Bernabeu but he still felt that his third consecutive Champions League victory is the apt time to draw the curtains on his stint.

Meanwhile, Germany saw the timely return of their guardian deity in Manuel Neuer, further boosting the form of an already-terrifying team that will be defending their 2014 World Cup title. The Cleveland Cavaliers also finished like expected during Season Four of their yearly show with the Golden State Warriors.

Zizou shocks Real Madrid, football world with surprise resignation

Zinedine Zidane shocked online betting fans by resigning on Thursday

Zinedine Zidane steps down as Real Madrid coach

If you tell any club owner that a manager can win the Champions League three years in a row and finish second in a league chock-full of talented squads, they will no doubt hire that man and extend his contract for 20 years.

However, we are talking about Real Madrid here.

Zinedine Zidane steps down as Los Blancos boss five days after his team took down a challenging Liverpool side to win the Champions League title. The former Galactico explained that now is the time for the club to find a new voice in the dressing room.

“I love this club,” Zizou said during the press conference of his resignation. “What I think is that this team needs to continue winning but I think it needs a change, a different voice, another methodology. This is the right moment for all involved — for me, for the squad, for the club.”

Some may speculate that Zizou’s failure to win this season’s La Liga title was what urged the Frenchman to call it a day at the Bernabeu. Some might even claim that he was made to leave the club the same way Arsene Wenger was reportedly treated at Arsenal.

However, none of that matters now and the search is on for the new man to take the hot seat. Some of the more favoured names running through the mouths of Madrid supporters include Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri, Napoli’s Maurizio Sarri and Tottenham Hotspur gaffer Mauricio Pochettino.

Cavs begins on schedule, lose Game 1 to Dubs

NBA betting fans disappointed as JR Smith wastes Cavs' chance to steal Game 1 from the Warriors

J.R. Smith’s play ruins everything for LeBron and the Cavaliers

The NBA Finals is becoming like a good sitcom wherein the writers left after the third season: things just get repetitive.

I am in no way saying that the NBA Finals has become boring. After all, these two giants pulled off an incredible feat of meeting at the biggest party for four consecutive years. This year was especially difficult for the two teams after overcoming incredible obstacles in the Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics. The NBA Finals is always exciting with these two ball clubs at the helm.

Nevertheless, the two met in the NBA Finals to set up a fourth knot in this long-running rivalry. And just like what was placed in the script, the Cavaliers got themselves on the back foot again.

For the fourth consecutive year, the 2018 Finals began with a loss for the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, this was a bizarre loss unlike any other. At the dying seconds of regulation, the Cavaliers got the ball with less than five seconds on the clock and the game tied at 107. The ball fell at the hands of JR Smith, who held on the ball too long.

His odd actions caused the game to head to overtime, where the Dubs won 124-114. LeBron James’ eye-popping 51-point performance was put to waste. Stephen Curry and friends were definitely happy that Smith helped them win a game that seemed a lot closer than it was on paper.

Many believe that Smith thought they were leading, which prompted him to hold onto the ball. While Smith denied those claims immediately, he cannot deny that his actions put them on a giant ditch.

LeBron would have to pull out his cape and toughen up. The series is going to get harder from here on out.

He Neuer left: Germany’s first-choice keeper is back

Germany's online betting fans delighted to see Neuer back in training

Manuel Neuer will be Germany’s first-choice goalkeeper

This bit of news will make a lot of supporters in Group F tremble with fear.

Manuel Neuer has reportedly returned to training with the German national football team. Reports say his form is as top-notch as ever despite missing most of the regular season due to a surgery on a broken bone in his foot.

Team manager Oliver Bierhoff included Neuer to the preliminary squad despite not playing for most of the past season. He also said that the No 1 position is all his should he make a full recovery to the team.

“Manuel will go to the World Cup as our No. 1,” said Bierhoff. “If he makes the squad then Marc-Andre [ter Stegen] will be No. 2.

“Manuel is already full on track. He does not need to get back on it. All the players have left a big impression here and it is a very difficult decision.”

The thought of Neuer and Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen taking turns in front of goal is something many of the strikers in Group F are not happy about. Their gargantuan task of taking Germany down got a lot harder.



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Zidane makes shock Real call

Zinedine Zidane has announced his shock decision to step down as Real Madrid boss, less than a week after leading the club to a third straight Champions League title.

The Frenchman was appointed as Rafael Benitez's successor in early 2016 and guided the club to European glory in each of his three attempts, as well as the 2016-17 La Liga title.

Despite his continental success, Zidane had been criticised for Los Blancos' inconsistent form in defending their league crown, as they eventually finished third in this season's standings, 17 points behind Barcelona.

The 45-year-old only signed a new contract until 2020 in January and president Florentino Perez has described the news as "totally unexpected" after a meeting with the manager on Wednesday.

Despite Saturday's 3-1 victory over Liverpool in Kiev, Real have been the centre of specualtion over the futures of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Zidane, who also played for the club between 2001 and 2006, was applauded out of his final press conference.

The former France captain says the time has come for fresh input at the Bernabeu, insisting the call is the right one for the club.

"I love this club," Zidane said. "What I think is that this team needs to continue winning but I think it needs a change, a different voice, another methodology. And that's why I took this decision.

"It's a strange moment to do so, I know, but an important one to. I had to do this for everyone."

Real are 6/1 to retain their Champions League title, while they can be backed at 5/4 to win next season's La Liga.

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Bale breaks Reds resistance

Gareth Bale scored one of the all-time great Champions League final goals as Real Madrid overcame gallant Liverpool 3-1 in Kiev.

The La Liga giants became the first team since Bayern Munich in the mid-1970's to be crowned champions of Europe three seasons running as manager Zinedine Zidane extended his flawless record in the competition.

Welsh wizard Bale came off the bench to replace Isco on the hour-mark and within two minutes he scored a true wonder-goal.

Marcelo's cross from the left was acrobatically volleyed into the roof of the net by Bale from 16-yards.

Bale extended Madrid's advantage eight minutes from full-time when his long-distance shot was somehow fumbled over the goal line by Loris Karius, capping a nightmare evening for the Liverpool goalkeeper.

Karius was also culpable as Karim Benzema opened the scoring six minutes into the second half.

He saw his attempt to throw the ball out to his full-back cannon off Benzema's outstretched foot and spin away into an unguarded goal.

To their credit, Liverpool responded in kind as Sadio Mane stabbed home from close range following a well worked corner just four minutes later.

The Reds had no answer to Bale's brilliance however and were left flailing in the wake of a second howler from their goalkeeper as Madrid played out time for an historic 13th Champions League title.

Jurgen Klopp will be left to rue the loss of Mohamed Salah after 30 minutes, the Egyptian forward having apparently dislocated his shoulder after crashing into the ground under a challenge from Sergio Ramos.

Real Madrid are 6/1 to win the Champions League again next season, while Liverpool are 10/1. Manchester City meanwhile are 11/2 to be kings of Europe next term.

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Ramos: We’re hungry for trophies

Sergio Ramos says Real Madrid have not lost any of their desire as they attempt to beat Liverpool in Saturday's Champions League final.

Real have won three of the last four finals and are 4/6 to beat Jurgen Klopp's team in Kiev and 3/1 to keep a clean sheet against the free-scoring Reds.

Real captain Ramos said: "There's no lack of motivation. We're hungry and the fact we keep winning it is another reason to want to win it again. The fact we can make history is a unique privilege.

"We have to treat the game as if it's our first Champions League final. We can't look at the past, it's inevitable, but we don't like to. Being in the final is marvellous, we need to enjoy it."

Meanwhile, Real coach Zinedine Zidane has played down his side's chances of winning European club football's top prize for the 13th time in their history.

Liverpool have not been in a Champions League final since losing 2-1 to AC Milan in 2007 but Zidane is certainly not taking another triumph for his team for granted.

"It's another final and we have the same chance of winning it as they do," the former France international said.

"It's 50/50, like every final is and we're going to have to put on a huge display if we are to win. Inside the dressing room we don't feel like we are favourites at all."

Real Madrid beat Juventus 4-1 in last year's final and are 28/1 to triumph against Liverpool by the same scoreline.

Zidane talks up Real desire

Zinedine Zidane is adamant Real Madrid's desire to win a historic third consecutive Champions League final can't be questioned ahead of their battle with Liverpool on Saturday.

Los Blancos have become masters in the competition in recent years and, despite a disappointing La Liga campaign, they find themselves in the final once again.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has spoken of his side's motivation for winning the European crown this term.

However manager Zidane claims his side will not be out-matched in that department and has no doubts about his team's commitment to claim another title.

The French tactician said: "You can't say Liverpool have more hunger than us – it simply isn't true."

He added: "Nobody can take our hunger away from us. We will give our all to get more.

"We always have the same desire as we always do and nobody can say we don't.

"We're in a third final and we have the chance to do something historic."

Real are 4/6 to lift the trophy in the final in Kiev on Saturday, while Liverpool are 5/4 to be crowned Champions of Europe.

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Zidane confirms Ronaldo fitness

Cristiano Ronaldo is "120%" certain to be fit for next Saturday's Champions League final, according to Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

The 33-year-old has been battling to shake off an ankle injury which he suffered after earlier scoring in the 2-2 El Clasico draw against Barcelona at the Camp Nou on 6th May.

However, Zidane has revealed that the Portugal international will be ready to face Liverpool in Kiev and could even play some part in Saturday's La Liga clash at Villarreal which Los Blancos must win in their quest to snatch second place ahead of cross-city rivals Atletico Madrid.

"Right now he is 120%," said Zidane when asked about Ronaldo.

"He is fine. If Cristiano is 120% that's fine with me."

Meanwhile, Zidane refused to be drawn on the possibility of Gareth Bale being handed a starting role in the Champions League final after impressive run of late.

"You can say he's playing better because of the goals he has scored, but he has been training well," the 45-year-old Frenchman added.

"The most important thing is to see everyone in good physical shape. That's what I care about."

Real Madrid are 4/6 to win the Champions League, while Liverpool are priced at 6/5 and Ronaldo is 4/6 to score at any time.

Ronaldo picks up ‘minor’ injury

Zinedine Zidane has played down concerns that Cristiano Ronaldo will miss the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool.

The Portugal international suffered an ankle injury during Sunday's El Clasico and had to be replaced by Marco Asensio at half-time.

Ronaldo was on target for Real before Gareth Bale grabbed a 72nd-minute equaliser with unbeaten champions Barcelona's goals in the 2-2 draw being scored by Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.

"We will look on Monday and see what damage has been done," said Zidane. "Right now it's not good, but it's going to be minor. He seemed to think it wasn't much. It's not a worry for the Champions League final."

Madrid face Liverpool in Kiev in the Champions League final on 26th May and can be backed at 6/5 to beat the Reds while Portugal are 25/1 to win the World Cup final this summer and 11/4 to be eliminated from the competition at the quarter-final stage.

Meanwhile, Andres Iniesta was given a standing ovation in his last game against Real when he was substituted just before the hour mark.

The 33-year-old said afterwards: "Clasicos are like that, they are intense matches. They are different and special. It was nice, we both tried to do what we had to to win. The draw leaves us with a good taste in our mouth."

Iniesta is expected to sign for Chinese outfit Chongqing Lifan this summer.