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isco-real-madrid‘I’m not a magician,’ said Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane before the game. But his team played like they had been touched by a magic wand, ending their run of four consecutive draws in spectacular fashion, with Real Betis the victims.

They had dropped points against Villarreal, Las Palmas, Borussia Dortmund and Eibar in their most recent matches, with pressure mounting on Zidane to stop the rot and bring Madrid back to winning ways.

The coach himself had lamented how his team never seemed to start games well, believing it to be a psychological issue, but they began this match at the Benito Villamarin as they meant to go on.

atleti-fans-champions-leagueAtletico Madrid maintained top spot in La Liga after hammering Granada 7-1 at the Estadio Vicente Calderon on Saturday.

They lead city rivals Real, who ended a run of four successive draws by beating Real Betis 6-1 in Seville, on goal difference, while Barcelona sit two points further back after they were 4-0 winners at home to Deportivo La Coruna.

It started badly for Diego Simeone’s Atletico side as Isaac Cuenca gave rock-bottom Granada a shock lead with a smart 18th-minute volley.

Messi-PricelessIt took three minutes and three touches, and substitute Lionel Messi was back in the old routine a month after his last game and just in time to take on Manchester City on Wednesday.

Barcelona’s fit again No 10 got their fourth goal in a 4-0 win over Deportivo in which Luis Suarez also scored. While City had to roll their sleeves up against Everton, Barca strolled through this one.

Messi came on at minute 55 to the loudest cheer of the afternoon. He took a couple of easy touches deep in midfield and then ventured into the area for the first time. Neymar played him into space and he shot past German Lux. It was as simple as the victory itself.

new-bernebeuReal Madrid’s famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium will finally get its much-anticipated €400m makeover when work begins at the end of this season.

The retractable roof and state-of-the-art encasing of the stadium have been retained from original plans. The proposed hotel and commercial area are still to be negotiated. What is clear is that Madrid will look for a sponsor to part fund the project and with the sponsor having their name tagged on the end of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium name.

pique-world-cupBarcelona star Gerard Pique has stunned fans in Spain by announcing that he will stop playing for his country after the 2018 World Cup in Russia because he feels he is not wanted in the national team by some.

The Barcelona defender made the announcement after Spain’s 2-0 win at Albania on Sunday in European qualifying for the World Cup. Spain currently top Group G, with only first place giving automatic qualification.

“I always give everything I have on the field, but there are people who think it’s better if I’m not here,” Pique said.

barcelona-la-liga-titleSpanish football clubs have slashed their tax debts to around a third of their 650 million euros ($720 million) apex from three years ago, La Liga officials said on Tuesday.

First and second division clubs have a cumulative 230-million-euro debt to the Spanish government, with six clubs — Atletico Madrid and Espanyol of La Liga and Valladolid, Mallorca, Zaragoza and Elche of the second tier — responsible for over 70 percent of that sum.

In addition to aiming at shortening the deficit in 79m euros more by the end of the 2016/17 season, the professional football clubs in Spain are targeting 2020 as the date to be debt-free as a whole.

diego-costa-spainSpain’s Diego Costa and Nolito scored second-half goals to seal a battling 2-0 win away to Albania on Sunday that moved them top of World Cup qualifying Group G on goal difference.

Chelsea striker Costa took advantage of a horrendous error by Albania goalkeeper Etrit Berisha in the 56th minute to break the deadlock in a tight game on a rainswept night in Shkoder before substitute Nolito finished off a slick team move in the 63rd.

Spain dominated possession but struggled to find a way through until Atalanta goalkeeper Berisha’s misplaced pass landed at the feet of Vitolo, who quickly found David Silva to tee up Costa for an easy tap into an empty net.

zidane1After four consecutive draws in all competitions, Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is facing the first crisis of his short managerial career.

Zidane is under no illusions that if he does not get the problems at Real Madrid sorted out that he will be out of a job, despite leading Real to their 11th European Cup title last summer.

“I’m not afraid of being fired,” Zidane told RMC. “Anyway, it will happen.

“I thoroughly enjoy what I do. I have an incredible opportunity, I am happy wth what I do. I enjoy my job, which is not always easy.

Arda and VidalBarcelona full-back Aleix Vidal has reportedly told team-mates within the dressing room at the Nou Camp that he wants to leave the club.

Vidal was signed from Sevilla for €18million in the summer of 2015, but, like Turkish playmaker Arda Turan, was forced to wait some six months until January 2016 before he was allowed to make his Barca debut due to a FIFA transfer embargo.

As such, Vidal made just 9 league appearances for Luis Enrique’s side in the second half of last season.

cr7-awardAccording to former Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello, the Champions League winners biggest problem during their current slump is Cristiano Ronaldo’s lack of form and fitness.

After getting injured in 2016 EURO final for Portugal, Ronaldo missed all of Real Madrid’s pre-season and the opening month o of the season. As a result he has only played in four games this season, with just a goal and an assist to his name.

And Capello feels that the Portugal captain’s lack of fitness is what is costing Madrid, insisting that he is “not well physically”.