Jose: Bale’s future in Real Madrid’s hands

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho says Real Madrid will decide whether Gareth Bale spends another season on loan in north London.

Bale put his Madrid nightmare behind him to rejoin Spurs on a year-long loan in September.

The Wales international’s recent return to form makes him an exciting proposition after a difficult first few months back at the club where he became the world’s most expensive player.

But Mourinho insists any chance of Bale, 31, staying at Spurs for next season is in Madrid’s hands.

Gareth Bale


Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho discusses why it has taken Bale six months to find his rhythm following his loan move from Real Madrid and says the forward will feature against Fulham on Thursday

Asked whether he would like to keep him next term, Mourinho said ahead of Thursday’s game at Fulham: “In relation to that you should contact your colleagues in Madrid and they should ask (Zinedine) Zidane as he is a Real Madrid player.

“He is not a Tottenham player so Real Madrid have everything in their hands. They have a player with one year of contract and have the power in their hands.

“I just have a player on loan and I am trying to take the best out of the player for Tottenham Hotspur.

“We try to take care of the player we have on loan for us but also for the respect we have for the club who loans the player.

“If you want to ask anything about Gareth’s future ask your colleagues in Madrid to ask Zidane.”

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Bale was an outcast under Zidane for much of his last two years in Spain and that impacted on his return to Spurs.

It did not help that he arrived in September injured and the following few months saw him battling regular fitness issues, which left him on the bench for a large number of games.

Mourinho says that the injuries took a mental toll on Bale, who is now happy in an environment he enjoys.

“It is a very personal thing when a player has injuries, I believe that a player always has scars,” he added.

“And many times the scars are not just the physical scars they are the emotional scars. A player who has injuries until he gets free and clean emotionally takes some time.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham’s win against Burnley in the Premier League

“You just have to be patient and in his case we did nothing. We took care of him the best we could and we will until the last day.

“So we put everything around him at his disposal. Coaching staff, medical staff, sports science. And I believe that the friends he has in the dressing room play a role in his happiness.

“So he is happy but of course he is missing that happiness related to performing at a high level. At this moment he is there, he is happy and clean and hopefully we can manage his minutes, his matches and his feelings.

“And I repeat he is responsible, we give him that responsibility as he is the one who has the knowledge of his body and of course our communication is very, very good. And we are managing the situation as best we can.”

Jose won’t rest Bale against Fulham


Mourinho is reluctant to put Tottenham back in the battle for the top four despite his side being six points behind fourth-placed West Ham

Mourinho confirmed Bale will play his third game in nine days when Tottenham face Fulham on Thursday.

Bale produced his best display of the season by scoring two goals and grabbing an assist in the 4-0 win over Burnley and also made a scoring impact off the bench in the midweek Europa League win over Wolfsberger.

“Start the game, being on the bench, I don’t know. We have to decide,” Mourinho said.

“He’s such an experienced guy so of course his opinion is very important. But good reaction, good recovering session and he will be involved.

“I repeat: bench or starting but he’ll be there.”


Vinicius Jr rescues point as Real lose ground

Vinicius Junior struck a late equaliser for Real Madrid on his 100th appearance for the club in a 1-1 home draw against La Liga rivals Real Sociedad.

The Brazilian substitute salvaged a point for Real Madrid by firing home from close range in the 89th minute after Portu had given the visitors a second-half lead.

But it was not enough for Zinedine Zidane’s side to leapfrog Barcelona into second place and they are five points adrift of leaders and city rivals Atletico Madrid, who have a game in hand.

The hosts dominated the first half and twice hit the woodwork, but could not force that elusive first goal.

Mariano’s close-range header from Lucas Vazquez’s excellent cross and Raphael Varane’s looping header from the subsequent corner both struck the crossbar.

Casemiro flashed a 25-yard shot just wide and Toni Kroos’ effort was blocked after the German had ghosted past two defenders.

Luka Modric then forced Real Sociedad goalkeeper Remiro into a reaction save after the Croatian had nutmegged a defender on the edge of the penalty area.

David Silva congratulates Portu after he fired Real Sociedad ahead against Real Madrid
David Silva congratulates Portu after he fired Real Sociedad ahead against Real Madrid

But Real Sociedad were transformed at the start of the second period and – after forcing three-successive corners – they took the lead through Portu.

Former Manchester City winger David Silva orchestrated the move and from Nacho Monreal’s cross, Portu rose highest to send a superb header in off the woodwork in the 55th minute.

The visitors spurned a chance to extend their lead when Portu failed to pick out the unmarked Alexander Isak in the area.

Casemiro headed Vazquez’s cross narrowly off target and Rodrygo fired wide as Real Madrid chased an equaliser.

Vinicius Junior marked his 100th Real Madrid appearance with a deflected late equaliser
Vinicius Junior marked his 100th Real Madrid appearance with a deflected late equaliser

The hosts threatened again through Casemiro following substitute Hugo Duro’s cutback and with time running out they finally hauled themselves level.

Federico Valverde’s backheel sent Vazquez free down the wing and Vinicius Junior, a 61st-minute replacement for Isco, finished into the bottom corner.

Real Madrid poured forward in the closing stages, but Real Sociedad held firm to halt the home side’s five-game winning run.


Real Madrid edge past 10-man Atalanta

Real Madrid struggled to break down 10-man Atalanta before Ferland Mendy scored an 86th-minute winner for a 1-0 win in the first leg of the round of 16.

Madrid entered the game as the big favourites despite a host of injuries, and Atalanta’s chances diminished further when midfielder Remo Freuler was sent off in the 17th minute after being adjudged to have denied a goalscoring opportunity.

But Madrid, who were missing Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard and captain Sergio Ramos, still found it difficult to test Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini until the end of the first half, when he pulled off a great reaction save to keep out Casemiro’s header from a Toni Kroos’ free-kick.

Just as it looked as if Atalanta would hold on for a draw, Mendy received the ball outside the area after a corner and curled a shot into the right side of the net from 20 yards.

The second leg will be on March 16 in Madrid.

The match was played in an empty stadium because of coronavirus restrictions but approximately 5,000 fans were waiting outside the stadium in Bergamo before the game, despite the local health authority urging supporters to stay away. They set off fireworks and flares as they welcomed the team bus.

Atalanta’s chances of beating its more illustrious opponent diminished when Freuler was sent off for barging over Mendy on the edge of his own penalty area.

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini immediately told midfielder Mario Paalic to start warming up and a decision on who to take off was made for him on the half hour, with forward Duvn Zapata limping after an earlier challenge.

Despite the numerical advantage, Madrid struggled to create goalscoring opportunities until the closing stages of the half when they had a couple of shots deflected off target and Gollini denied Casemiro.

Atalanta forward Luis Muriel almost gave Atalanta the lead instead but fired wide of the left upright. It was left to Mendy to curl home his first Champions League goal.


What Has Gone Wrong with Eden Hazard at Madrid?

A marquee signing reminiscent of the Galactico era, the signing of Eden Hazard was lauded as potentially one of the greatest in the club’s history. The Belgian produced week-in, week-out for Chelsea in the hardest and most competitive league in the world, leaving defenders in his wake as he went about his business with the guile resonant of some of the great players in the league’s history. 

Appearance after appearance, assist after assist, completed dribble after completed dribble, and goal after goal – the path to Madrid was a clear one. And when Ronaldo moved on, the Belgian wizard seemed like the perfect replacement coming in off the left wing akin to the great Portuguese master. In an easier, less-competitive, and les physical league – the transition was supposed to be a smooth one. It was far from that. 

When he turned up in his first pre-season, he looked a fraction of the athlete he was at Chelsea. The lean, mean athlete was all of a sudden somebody who looked like they were out of shape, physically challenged, and unfit in general. He struggled with his pace, and in a league that is half the pace of the premier league, the Belgian looked off the pace in most games he played in. 

Given they were expected to challenge for honours on all fronts – 6/4 joint favourites with Barcelona for the title with most bookies here, the Madristas find themselves of the strong pace set by the relentless and defensively brilliant Atletico Madrid. Hazard has turned out not to be the solution, but the problem. 

Struggling with injuries, he has had restricted game time. And to add to his injury woes, the issue of the global Covid-19 outbreak has further stalled his season. 

Once a genius, an unplayable one at that, Hazard looks a fraction of his once brilliant self. Age isn’t on his side either – and Madrid fans don’t take poor performances lightly. 

Atletico loss lets in Real; Bayern shocked

Atletico Madrid’s recent wobble in form continued as they fell to a first defeat in 12 league games after losing 2-0 at home to Levante.

The La Liga leaders have taken only five points from four games in February and Real Madrid will close the gap at the top to just three points if they beat Real Valladolid later on Saturday.

Jose Luis Morales gave the visitors the lead on the half-hour mark with a deflected strike from just inside the area to deceive ‘keeper Jan Oblak.

Jorge de Frutos knocked into an empty net to score the second in added time after Oblak had ventured forward for a corner.

Atletico came out fighting in the second half as they sought to avoid a first league defeat since December but Levante goalkeeper Daniel Cardenas made a total of 10 saves including an outstanding late stop to deny substitute Thomas Lemar.

Luis Suarez hit the post with a vicious free-kick, Angel Correa saw a goal ruled out for a foul by Suarez and Joao Felix missed two gilt-edged chances for an Atletico side that had 28 shots on goal.

Real Madrid can move within three points of Diego Simeone’s side – though will have played a game more – while Barcelona will move six points behind Atletico if they beat Cadiz on Sunday.

In La Liga’s early game, Elche gave their survival hopes a shot in the arm with a 1-0 win over Eibar. Dani Calvo’s 33rd-minute goal settled a game that saw the winners move level on points down at the bottom with their opponents.

Bundesliga: Bayern beaten

Robert Lewandowski reacts after defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt
Robert Lewandowski reacts after defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt

Amin Younes scored a superb goal and helped create another as Eintracht Frankfurt beat Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich 2-1 on Saturday to stay on course for a Champions League spot.

Former Germany international Younes, on loan from Napoli, helped set up Daichi Kamada for the first goal after 12 minutes as Frankfurt stretched their unbeaten run to 11 league games.

With Germany coach Joachim Low watching in the stands ahead of international matches in March, Younes, who won the last of five Germany caps in 2017, thundered in a shot from the edge of the box in the 31st minute after taking on the entire Bayern defence.

Bayern, who were missing several players, including Thomas Muller and Benjamin Pavard, remain on 49 points, with second-placed RB Leipzig – who have 44 – in action at Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

Fourth-placed Frankfurt are level on 42 points with VfL Wolfsburg, who are third and won 3-0 at Arminia Bielefeld on Friday.

Elsewhere, Borussia Monchengladbach’s European aspirations suffered a big blow with a 2-1 loss at Mainz 05 after Kevin Stoeger’s 86th-minute winner saw them drop to eighth place on 33.