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Real Madrid 3-4 (5-4) Schalke: Reigning champs survive huge scare to make quarterfinals

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Real Madrid lost 4-3 to Schalke at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday, as the reigning European champions stumbled into the last eight of the UEFA Champions League after winning 5-4 on aggregate.

In what was supposed to be a routine home win, Schalke twice took the lead in the first half through Christian Fuchs and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar but Cristiano Ronaldo equalized twice with his head to make it 2-2 at the break as a below-par Real struggled to contain the Bundesliga outfit.

After the interval Karim Benzema put Real 3-2 up, but Schalke scored through youngster Leroy Sane to make it 3-3 and Huntelaar added another late on to set up a thrilling finish. Real held on, but Schalke gave them an almighty scare as the pressure continues to mount on Carlo Ancelotti and Los Blancos.

[ RELATED: Ancelotti feeling pressure at Real ]

After good work by Max Meyer on the left Cameroon international Eric Choupo-Moting side-footed a decent effort wide inside the first 10 minutes as Schalke started brightly at the Bernabeu.

Teenage winger Meyer then ran at Real’s defense but scuffed a shot wide as the hosts continued to slumber in the early stages. Schalke deservedly took the lead in the 20th minute, as Austrian international Fuchs slammed home at the back post but his strike should have been stopped by Iker Casillas. 1-0 to the Bundesliga outfit as whistles started to surface from the home fans.

However Schalke’s lead was short-lived, as Ronaldo headed home Toni Kroos’ corner in the 25th minute, as the Portuguese international glanced an effort into the net for his 77th goal in European competitions. 1-1.

source: Getty Images
Real were given an almighty scare by Schalke at the Bernabeu.

Real were buoyed by that goal and Schalke lost their early impetus, but just before the break Raphael Varane’s slack back pass put Casillas in trouble and former Real forward Huntelaar almost capitalized. Following that Huntelaar smashes the crossbar from distance and then in the 40th minute he slammed home after Casillas spilled Meyer’s shot. 2-1 to Schalke and it was no more than they deserved. However right on half time, that man Ronaldo headed up Fabio Coentrao’s perfect cross at the back post to score his and Real’s second, as the sides were level at 2-2 at the interval.

[ RELATED: Benzema, Bale, Ronaldo under pressure ]

In the second half Schalke continued to press but Real Madrid took the lead for the first time in the game in the 52nd minute as Benzema picked up a loose ball and ran past three players and the goalkeeper before slotting home. 3-2 to Real as their passage to the quarterfinals was all but secured. Schalke, to their credit, did not give up and Sane curled in a wonderful goal, his first in the UCL, to make it 3-3 in the 57th minute as Schalke needed two more goals in the final 30 minutes to advance.

Tranquillo Barnetta drilled an effort into the box which flashed across goal and Meyer dragged another shot wide, as Schalke pinned Real back late on. Huntelaar made it 4-3 with five minutes to go as he smashed home after Sane and Luka Modric got in a tangle. With Schalke needing just one more goal, Sane curled a great shot on target which Casillas palmed away and then Howedes volleyed on goal late on but Casillas saved with Real holding on to make their fifth-straight UCL quarterfinals. Just.

LINEUPS

Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa (Nacho, 83′), Varane, Pepe, Coentrao (Marcelo, 58′), Kroos, Khedira (Modric, 58′), Isco, Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema.

Goals: Ronaldo (25′, 44′), Benzema (52′)

Schalke: Wellenreuther; Howedes, Fuchs, Nastasic, Matip; Meyer, Hoger (Goretzka, 57′), Barnetta (Uchida, 81′), Neustadter; Choupo-Moting (Sane, 29′), Huntelaar

Goals: Fuchs (20′), Hunetlaar (40′, 84′), Sane (57′)

ProSoccerTalk’s Top 50 winter transfer targets: #50 – 26

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With the January transfer window now open and in full swing, we take a look at the top targets that could potentially move in the transfer window.

This list is a rough ranking of top players that we are watching the most, and have made noise in reports recently. The rankings are determined by skill, star power, potential impact for a new team, and chance to move in the window.

So who could be on the move? Let’s find out! And stay tuned for numbers 25-1 coming up.

TOP 50 WINTER TRANSFER TARGETS: #50-26

50. Dani Alves (RB)
Current club:
Barcelona            Potential price: Free

49. Fabian Frei (CM)
Current club:
Basel                    Potential price: $6 million
Signed through 2017 at Basel, but he impressed in Champions League matches against Liverpool and he himself claimed LFC may be interested, even though he also said he is “skeptical” of winter transfers in general.

48. Marko Vejinovic (CM)
Current club:
Vitesse Arnhem  Potential price: $8 million

47. Fabian Delph (CM)
Current club:
Aston Villa           Potential price: $4.5 million

46. Peter Crouch (ST)
Current club:
Stoke City            Potential price: $2 million
West Brom and former Crouch boss Tony Pulis wants to sign his favorite long-ball target, but it seems odd as to why Crouch would accept a lateral move (at best) when he’s got a good thing going at Stoke. Unless West Brom pony up the cash, it seems this one is just for the papers. And would management want to pay for a 33-year-old? Crouch is out of contract at the end of the season, but in talks for a new one.

45. Cheick Tiote (DCM)
Current club:
Newcastle            Potential price: $17 million

44. Danny Ings (ST)
Current club:
Burnley                Potential price: $7 million

43. Virgil van Djik (CB)
Current club:
Celtic                     Potential price: $12 million

42. Jozy Altidore (ST)
Current club:
Sunderland           Potential price: $3 million
It’s been U-G-L-Y for Jozy in the Premier League, and it seems like that could come to a merciful end this month. He could benefit from Liverpool’s striker emergency, with Altidore rumored to be a replacement for Divock Origi at Lille if the Belgian youngster does end his loan and come back to LFC. He sure isn’t playing at Sunderland, so a move would be a positive for him, especially out of England.

41. Andrej Kramaric (ST)
Current club:
Dinamo Zagreb     Potential price: $14 million

40. Jay Rodriguez (LW)
Current club:
Southampton         Potential price: $22 million

39. Jermain Defoe (ST)
Current club: Toronto FC         Potential price:
$7 million
Defoe has flown out to London, and while it’s been a complete mystery who’s interested and who’s not, Defoe is very likely to leave MLS for a return to England. He could price a few teams out with wage demands, but he will likely move. Another sticking point for some teams could be loan vs transfer. Toronto wants to sell, while few teams are interested in anything more than a loan this window.

38. Seamus Coleman (RB)
Current club:
Everton                    Potential price: $15 million

37. Mauro Icardi (ST)
Current club:
Inter Milan                     Potential price: $30 million

36. Marek Hamsik (CM)
Current club:
Napoli                         Potential price: $30 million
Hamsik has seriously regressed from his near-world-class form two years ago (82% passing this season, yuck), but he remains a quality chance creator who may just need a change of scenery. However, with news that Hamsik is “happy” at Napoli, it’s unlikely he moves in January. Can Rafa Benitez get Hamsik back to his best, or will he have to leave to attain a return to form?

35. Bruno Martins Indi (CB)
Current club:
Porto                         Potential price: $10 million

34. Mesut Ozil (CAM)
Current club:
Arsenal                      Potential price: $48 million

33. Fabio Coentrao (LB)
Current club:
Real Madrid              Potential price: $22 million

32. Kevin Mirallas (RW)
Current club:
Everton                      Potential price: $17 million
With Everton mightily, could Kevin Mirallas become an all-time traitor and move across town to Liverpool? Reports at the beginning of December said Liverpool made contact with the lightning rod’s agent, but things have gone quiet since. Roberto Martinez also vehemently denied any potential sale, but we all saw how that worked out for Wenger and Podolski…

31. Winston Reid (CB)
Current club:
West Ham                  Potential price: $7 million
The New Zealand captain is a favorite to sign for Arsenal, and while Reid is one of the main reasons why West Ham is near the top of the table, Sam Allardyce has reportedly said he wants to be rid of the 26-year-old. He’s out of contract at the end of the year, and Allardyce did say he’s rejected a lucrative new deal.

30. Christoph Kramer (CB)
Current club:
Borussia Monchengladbach       Potential price: $14 million

29. Guillermo Ochoa (GK)
Current club:
Malaga                         Potential price: $4.5 million

28. Karim Benzema (ST)
Current club:
Real Madrid                Potential price: $45 million
Karim’s in the rumor mill every year, so he has to get a mention, but he’s nice and low on the list because – while he’s supremely talented and would be a program talisman if signed – he’s not going anywhere.

27. Saido Berahino (ST)
Current club:
West Brom                   Potential price: $30 million

26. Thiago Motta (DCM)
Current club:
PSG                                Potential price: $10 million
With his agent claiming he could leave if unwanted, reports that the Brazilian is unhappy with management have been set alight. Although, the 32-year-old’s agent also claimed “he’s not just another old player” soooo……(spoiler alert, he won’t be the only PSG player on this list when it’s all revealed).

Monday’s transfer rumor roundup: Canada youngster to West Ham, 3-team fight for Coentrao

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The gossip is heating up ahead of the transfer window reopening in 10 days time. Here’s your latest dose of rumors…

Former Chelsea winger Kevin De Bruyne could be on his way back to the Premier League, with Manchester City said to be in the hunt for the $30 million Belgian winger. De Bruyne, 23, joined Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg 11 months ago but his performances have already generated plenty of interest according to the Daily Star. De Bruyne has scored seven goals in 28 games for Belgium and bagged the opener against the USA in their 2-1 win in the last 16 of the World Cup this summer.

The Daily Mirror says Arsenal is set to tempt Newcastle’s resolve with a $25 million bid for brilliant midfielder Moussa Sissoko, who has been the engine the Magpies have needed since Yohan Cabaye skipped town last January. It’s hard to imagine Newcastle would be willing to sell him at that price, but Sissoko is said to want UEFA Champions League soccer and teams that lose 1-0 to Sunderland don’t often provide that chance.

[ MORE: Freddy Adu released yet again ]

Arsenal and Liverpool have joined Manchester United in the chase for Real Madrid’s versatile Fabio Coentrao. It’s going to cost a lot of dough, though. Coentrao’s fee is approaching $40 million, and pitting giants against each other will make it go up. Who leads the fight for his skill set? Who needs him more? Three debatable answers to each question, to be sure.

And how about this, TFC fans? West Ham is looking to bring Doneil Henry into the mix on the recommendation of your ex-boss, Ryan Nelsen. Toronto was reportedly interested in extending the 21-year-old’s loan from Apollon Limassol, but when the Premier League comes calling, it often gets the answer it wants. Henry would join QPR’s Junior Hoilett as the only Canadians playing in the Premier League (though Michael Petrasso is also on the books for QPR).

The Tom Cleverley to Aston Villa loan experiment is about to get permanent. The 25-year-old has been one of Paul Lambert’s most efficient players and, after a 1-1 draw against his parent club at Villa Park this weekend, the midfielder looks set for an $11.7 final move to the Birmingham club.

And he’s not the only big club man set to make his loan move a permanent one. Ryan Bertrand is going to be a full-time Southampton man in either January or this summer, and will not return to Chelsea.

Portugal excludes Cristiano Ronaldo from roster of Euro 2016 qualifier

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Cristiano Ronaldo can be the best player in the world, extremely important to both La Liga giant Real Madrid and his country side, Portugal.

Nonetheless, in the past few months, he’s not been at full fitness consistently.

And his absence in manager Paulo Bento’s final 24-man roster for the 2016 European Championship qualifier against Albania on Sep. 7 may fuel speculation that he’s still not fully recovered from his leg injury.

Bento briefly spoke about the Ronaldo situation in Lisbon: “Regardless of whether he has been playing more or less regularly, at the moment he can’t play.”

Here’s Portugal’s squad without Ronaldo, via the Associated Press.

Goalkeepers: Eduardo (Dynamo Zagreb), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Anthony Lopes (Lyon).

Defenders: Joao Pereira (Valencia), Ruben Vezo (Valencia), Andre Almeida (Benfica), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Pepe (Real Madrid), Antunes (Malaga), Ricardo Costa (Al-Sailiya), Neto (Zenit St. Petersburg).

Midfielders: William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon), Adrien Silva (Sporting Lisbon), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Andre Gomes (Valencia), Pedro Tiba (Braga).

Forwards: Nani (Sporting Lisbon), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Bruma (Galatasaray), Eder (Braga), Ivan Cavaleiro (Depeortivo la Coruna), Ricardo Horta (Malaga).

A list of Manchester United-linked names to consider in silly season

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When Lazio snapped up Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij, he became the latest in a long list of silly season targets headed to Manchester United that, well, didn’t.

So we thought it would be a fun trip down memory lane to dip through the vault for names linked, tipped and all-but-delivered to Old Trafford since David Moyes took over in the Summer of 2013.

[ RELATED: Shaw agrees with van Gaal’s fitness criticism ]

Stefan de Vrij
Arturo Vidal
Luke Shaw
Ander Herrera
Juan Cuadrado
James Rodriguez
Edinson Cavani
Angel Di Maria
Arjen Robben
Cesc Fabregas
Fredy Guarin
Fabio Coentrao
Juan Mata
Andros Townsend
Toni Kroos
Yohan Cabaye
Dante
Claudio Marchisio
Ilkay Gundogan
Mario Mandzukic
Ravel Morrison
Marco Reus
Ever Banega
Paul Pogba
Andrea Pirlo
Marouane Fellaini
Leighton Baines
Gareth Bale
Luka Modric
Mats Hummels
Dries Mertens
Kevin Strootman
Ross Barkley
Joao Miranda
Wesley Sneijder
Alexis Sanchez
Cristiano Ronaldo
Memphis Depay
Ashley Cole
Thomas Vermaelen

This took all of 15 minutes and involved a very easy swoop through the transfer trail. Four of the 40 names actually found their way to Old Trafford. Four. That’s 10 percent success and there are only so many big names in the world. Essentially, if someone is unsettled or at a smaller club, they are coming to a bigger club.

And this isn’t a Manchester United thing alone. Pick a giant club and they have been linked with a bevy of players who never came to town. Actually, it’s not even giant clubs, as Newcastle has seen links for everyone from Chicharito to Bafetimbi Gomis to Clint Dempsey.

It’s what makes transfer season incredibly frustrating but also limitless amounts of fun. Who’s coming to your team today? Maybe no one, but we can dare-to-dream.