Can Neymar and Bale follow suit? Check out three stars who scored on El Clasico debut

Leave a comment

As El Clasico approaches, Gareth Bale and Neymar will both be hoping to add their names to an illustrious list of debutants who’ve hit the back of the net in their first Barcelona vs. Real Madrid match.

It always helps to score goals on big occasions to acquaint yourself with the fans, but scoring a goal in this game will help you reach legendary status very quickly.

(MORE: Gareth Bale vs. Neymar – New boys highlight El Clasico between Real Madrid, Barcelona)

Some big players have delivered in their first El Clasico match up… hopefully Bale and Neymar can follow in their footsteps with tremendous displays this evening.

Let’s take a quick trip back in El Clasico history. Vamos.

Ruud van Nistlerooy – Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona, October 22, 2006

A fantastic counter-attacking move saw legendary striker van Nistelrooy ingratiate himself with Madrid fans as he scored in their win over Barca following his move from Manchester United. A superb sweeping counter-attacking move from Madrid saw Brazilian winger clip in a perfect ball for Ruud to attack, and the clinical finisher tapped home with his left foot just before being clattered by Victor Valdes. But van Nistlerooy was fine, as he dusted himself off and wheeled away to celebrate with his new fans. Magic.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Barcelona 1-0 Real Madrid, November 19, 2009

After being on the pitch for barely five minutes, new signing from Inter Milan Ibrahimovic popped up at the back post to smash home Dani Alves’ searching cross with his right foot. The Swedish international, who wouldn’t stay at the Nou Camp for long after falling out with pretty much everyone at the club following his monster move, ran towards the bench and screamed aloud as he instantly became a hit with the Barca fans. Not sure we can say that today, though.

Raphael Verane – Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona, January 30, 2013

Last season Madrid’s brightest young defender marked his first appearance in El Clasico with a flicked header to grab Madrid a point at the Santiago Bernabeu. The French teenager was given a huge change to shine in La Liga by Jose Mourinho, and the composed defender looked at ease in his El Clasico debut. He went from clearing one of the line in the second half, to equalizing in the 81st minute to grab a point.

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
Leave a comment

Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

Adam Davy/PA via AP
Leave a comment

Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Leave a comment

France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE