Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid: Los Blancos Settle for Point After Spurning Lead Ahead of UCL Final

?Real Madrid capped off their La Liga season with a 2-2 draw away to Villarreal despite having a two goal lead ahead of their Champions League final in a weeks time. First half goals from Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo but Zinedine Zidane’s side in a commanding position, but Roger Martinez and Samu Castillejo goals in the second half meant both sides had a share of the spoils. 

Chances fell for either side inside the opening 10 minutes at the Estadio de la Ceramica, as Villarreal’s Enes Unal narrowly dragged his effort wide, while Andres Fernandez was called into action at the other end to beat away speculative efforts from Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Madrid, however, would find the breakthrough not long after thanks to Gareth Bale’s 16th La Liga goal of the season. Played in by some quick thinking from Luca Modric, the Welshman’s cute step-over gave himself the room before firing hard and low down to Fernandez’s right and open the scoring after 11 minutes. 

Villarreal v Real Madrid - La Liga

Despite seeing more of the ball after Bale’s strike, Villarreal’s only real effort of note after conceding was a Pablo Fornals strike that drifted wide a debuting Luca Zidane’s post, before Javi Calleja’s side were soon two goals behind. 

Found in space on the left after a lovely ball from Isco, Marcelo was afforded too much time to cross, picking out an unmarked Ronaldo who simply nodded home his 26th league goal of the season and double Madrid’s lead. 

It could’ve been even more for Los Blancos as chances began to fall much more frequently towards the end of the half, with Isco, Ronaldo and Toni Kroos all coming close to adding a much-deserved gloss to the scoreline before the half time interval. 


With fifth place and Europa League football secured, Villarreal looked to make a game of it in the second half, as Nicola Sansone’s free kick brought a fine save from Zidane, while Unal’s set piece effort curled agonisingly wide soon after. 

Sergio Ramos then had to be alert to clear Unal’s header off the line after some brilliant skill from Sansone in the buildup, before a stunning strike from Roger Martinez pulled a goal back for The Yellow Submarine to set up an interesting final 20 minutes. 


Villarreal’s improved performance caused Madrid problems throughout the second half, and were deserving of their equaliser five minutes from time. Beating the offside trap, Samu Castillejo kept his composure to round Zidane and slot the leveller home. 

There was even time for Karim Benzema and Lucas Vasquez to go close late on, but their failure to find a winner meant both sides finished the season with a point. 


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Zinedine Zidane Admits He Faces Selection Headache Ahead of Champions League Final Against Liverpool

Zinedine Zidane has admitted he faces a huge selection dilemma ahead of Real Madrid’s Champions League final meeting with Liverpool.

?The Spaniards secured their passage through to the final after beating Bayern Munich ?4-3 over two legs, as they look to become the first side to win three consecutive Champions Leagues since Bayern Munich in 1976. The only thing standing between them and the trophy is a Liverpool side who will be looking to secure their sixth European Cup.

Real Madrid v Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg

Speaking to ?the Mirror ahead of the final at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev on Saturday, Zidane admitted he faces a huge selection headache having all 24 members of his squad full fit and wanting to play. He said: “I have 24 players available and I’m f*****.

?“Sorry, but I can’t find a better word, because there are players that will stay in Madrid and not come with us for the last two games. That’s the hardest part for me.”

Real Madrid v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg

It’s been a difficult domestic season for Madrid having lost out on the league title to rivals Barcelona and currently sit a hefty 15 points behind them, putting more emphasis on the need for Madrid to win the Champions League. Zidane went onto state how important he believes winning the competition for a third consecutive year would be and that his players are ready.

?He added: “It’s huge. It means a lot, above all that the work we’re doing here is good and we’ve got through to the players as we wanted. The players are very hungry to go on winning and they’ve shown that.

Zidane will be hoping he can win his ninth trophy since his arrival at the club in January 2016 as Real look to cap off what has been a disappointing season by their standard with a major piece of silverware. 

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Kylian Mbappe Casts Doubt Over PSG Future But Insists? He’ll Remain in Paris Next Season

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappé has admitted that it is unlikely he will see out the entirety of his five-year contract in the French capital.

The 19-year-old only moved to PSG last summer following a brilliant breakthrough season with surprise Ligue 1 champions, AS Monaco. Despite initially joining the club on loan, the Parisians will have to fork out €145m to sign Mbappé permanently this summer – where his contract will run until 2022.

FBL-WC-2018-QUALIFIER-BUL-FRA

But the France international has admitted that he is unlikely to remain at the Parc des Princes for the entirety of his contract, even suggesting that he could be out the exit door as early as next summer.

I have a five-year contract and I am happy here,” Mbappé said, quoted by ESPN. “PSG have given me the opportunity to play and develop. Next year, I will be here, but all five years of my contract? I do not know. We will see – that is football. 

“We worked all year towards an objective, so if there is a black mark, it was the Champions League. However, our entire season should not be judged on Europe. Even if everybody assumed we had already won everything domestically, we still had to go and do that.”

??Mbappé was linked with moves across Europe last summer, with interest in the teenage striker high in both the Premier League and La Liga. The 2017 Golden Boy winner opted to stay in France last season, but these latest comments suggest that his mind is already on a move away from Ligue 1.

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Report Claims Arsenal Have Held Talks With Real Madrid Forward’s Agent Over Potential Summer Switch

??Arsenal representatives have met with the agent of ?Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema to hold talks over a potential summer move to the Emirates.

That is according to Spanish source Diario Gol, who have given just about everyone reason to question their transfer claims in the past. But per their report, the Gunners recently had their people meet with the Frenchman’s agent at a Madrid hotel.

Real Madrid v Celta de Vigo - La Liga

They are also claiming that the London side are prepared to offer £52.4m (€60m) to secure a deal for the player.

Benzema is said to be upset over his exclusion from France’s World Cup squad. And after scoring just 11 goals during the season, Los Blancos are also looking to offload him.

Real president Florentino Perez is rumoured to be keen on a deal for Bayern Munich and Poland forward Robert Lewandowski. But the club are also heavily linked with Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Arsenal, though, are understood to be facing a lot of competition for the 30-year-old, with Serie A outfits AC Milan and Inter also having sent their representatives to Spain for negotiations.

Benzema, who is contracted to Madrid until 2021, has already rejected a lucrative move to China as he wants to keep playing high-level football, and it will be interesting to see what unfolds over the summer.

Arsenal v Burnley - Premier League

From a realistic standpoint, Arsenal spending over £50m on a 30-year-old forward who has had a poor season, especially when they already have both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in attack, just doesn’t seem likely.

They are also in a transitional period and are yet to announce a manager, something which could leave transfer negotiations on hold for a while.

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Picking the Best Potential Real Madrid Lineup to Face Villarreal on Sunday

?Real Madrid go into Sunday’s clash with Villarreal on the back of a 6-0 home win against Celta Vigo last weekend.

However, with one eye on the Champions League final on the 26th of May, Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane may be looking to rest his key players in preparation for their biggest game of the season. 

Here’s how Zidane might set up for this one. 

Torhüter

  • Navas

    Navas1

While Kiko Casilla may be disappointed not to get a run out against Villarreal at the weekend, it is unlikely that Zidane will feel it necessary to rotate his goalkeepers and Keylor Navas should start ahead of the Spaniard.  ?

Verteidigung

  • Hakimi

    Hakimi19

  • S. Ramos

    S. Ramos4

  • Vallejo

    Vallejo3

  • Theo

    Theo15

Real Madrid have a full clean bill of health ahead of the weekend, meaning Zidane has the luxury of options across his backline.

It is unlikely though that Real Madrid will field a full strength defensive lineup. Daniel Carvajal has only recently recovered from a hamstring injury that saw him out for 21 days meaning Hakimi should get the nod at right back. Theo Hernandez should also come into the starting lineup to give Marcelo a rest ahead of the Champions League final. 

Whether Sergio Ramos keeps his place is the biggest question in defence. Nacho is fit and many will expect him to start ahead of his more experienced teammate. But Ramos was rested against Celta Vigo last weekend, and it may be detrimental to his Champions League performance if he starts having not played for two weeks. Ramos will also add experience to a very young backline. 

Mittelfeld

  • Vázquez

    Vázquez17

  • Kovacic

    Kovacic23

  • Llorente

    Llorente18

  • Asensio

    Asensio20

Both Kovacic and Marco Llorente should start as a midfield pair. Real Madrid’s normal midfield starters Kroos and Modric are ageing and a rest ahead of the Champions League will be extremely beneficial for Madrid’s chances against ?Liverpool. Casemiro will also likely be rested.

Vasquez and Asensio typically occupy the positions on the wing when Zidane sets up in a 4-4-2. The two wingers and pace and creativity to the Real Madrid midfield, and both will want to give Zidane something to think about when he selects his team for the Champions League. This game could dictate whether Zidane selects Asensio or Isco for the big game in Kiev.  

Sturm

  • Mayoral

    Mayoral21

  • Bale

    Bale11

Mayoral should come into the starting lineup in order to continue his progression. The young Spaniard has scored just one this season, but has featured off the bench eleven times indicating that Zidane has faith in his ability. 

His strike partner should be Gareth Bale who has been in scintillating form in Ronaldo’s absence, having scored seven in his last nine games. 

The Welshman has staked a claim to be a part of the Real Madrid eleven that faces Liverpool on May 26, and a good performance against Villarreal? could add fuel to the debate on whether he should start or not. ?Zidane himself admitted after Bale’s man-of-the-match performance against Celta Vigo last weekend that he now faces a selection dilemma for the match in Kiev. 

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