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Bale, Benzema injuries deepen Real Madrid’s struggles

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MADRID (AP) Real Madrid’s injuries keep mounting after Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema had to be substituted on Saturday in the 1-0 loss at Alaves.

Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui says both forwards needed to leave the match because of unspecified injuries.

Benzema did not start the second half, while Bale was replaced late after appearing to ask to be substituted.

Lopetegui says “the injuries to Karim and Gareth greatly limited what we could do.”

Madrid was already without injured backs Marcelo and Dani Carvajal, while Francisco “Isco” Alarcon is unavailable while he recovers from surgery for appendicitis.

The loss was Madrid’s fourth match in a row without scoring a goal.

After an international break, Madrid’s next game is at home against Levante on Oct. 20. It then hosts Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League before visiting Barcelona on Oct. 28.

Best FIFA Awards 2018: Who won the hardware, made Best XI?

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Luka Modric won the Men’s Best Player award at Monday’s Best FIFA Football Awards show in London, capping off an extraordinary 2018 (a bit early, granted) for the Croatian who helped Real Madrid to a third straight Champions League title and guided his country to the 2018 World Cup final in the calendar year.

[ EFL CUP: Liverpool vs. Chelsea highlights this week’s 3rd round ]

“It is a great honor and a beautiful feeling to stand here with this amazing trophy,” he said in his acceptance speech. “First of all, I would like to congratulate Mohamed [Salah] and Cristiano [Ronaldo]. I am sure in the future you will have another opportunity to fight for this trophy.

“This award is not just mine. It is my teammates from Real Madrid and Croatia. Without my coaches I would not have won this. Without my family I would not be the player I am today.”


Marta won the Women’s Best Player award, for the first time in her legendary career, after leading Brazil to glory at the 2018 Copa America and scoring 13 goals to go with six assists for her NWSL side, Orlando Pride.

“This means so much. It is not only about Marta but it is about my teammates and women’s football.

“It is amazing. For me, it is most important to see women’s soccer grow up each year. If I keep doing well and that can help outside of the field too then I am happy.”


Didier Deschamps, who guided France to its second World Cup title this summer, won the Men’s Best Coach award.


Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah won the 2018 Puskas award for the best goal scored, upsetting Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale who each scored a stunning bicycle kick for Madrid in Champions League play last season.


FIFPro Best XI

Goalkeeper: David De Gea (Manchester United)

Defenders: Dani Alves (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Eden Hazard (Chelsea)


London-born actor — and apparent England superfan — Idris Elba took home the award for best- (or worst-, depending on personal preference) dressed.

Angry Bale lifts lid on Ronaldo-less Real Madrid

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Gareth Bale seemed more than a little fired up when he spoke to the media ahead of the UEFA Champions League group stages kicking off this week.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

The Wales and Real Madrid star, who scored twice in the UCL final victory over Liverpool (including this stunner) in May revealed that he couldn’t believe that goal wasn’t on the shortlist for UEFA’s Goal of the Season.

He also spoke about Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Real over the summer and the impact it has had on the Santiago Bernabeu club.

“Obviously it’s going to be a little different from having such a big player there,” Bale told the Daily Mail. “It’s maybe a bit more relaxed, yes. I suppose there is more of a team, more working as one unit rather than one player.”

Bale carried on his forthright views when it came to the panel who failed to select his stunning overhead kick goal (Ronaldo’s overhead kick versus Juventus in the UCL quarterfinal won the award) among the finalists for the Goal of the Season.

“I don’t know how it wasn’t on that list!” Bale said. “I want to know who is on the panel because they want to be sacked.”

Bale is somewhat relaxed when it comes to his image off the pitch and he doesn’t give many interviews.

With Ronaldo no longer at Real Madrid, it appears more of the spotlight can now be cast on Bale as he aims to replace the Portuguese superstar.

Let’s see if he can get anywhere close to the number of goals Ronaldo scored (450 in 438 appearances in all competitions), but there’s no denying that Bale, and Real’s other attackers will have a greater lease of life this season and there will be extra pressure on them to deliver.

He’s talked the talk. Now he must walk the walk.

UEFA Nations League: France, Germany scoreless; Bale blitzes Ireland

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A roundup of all of Thursday’s action in UEFA’s new international competition, the UEFA Nations League…

[ MORE: What is the UEFA Nations League, and how does it work? ]

Germany 0-0 France

It’s a true wonder that France were able to score enough any goals en route to winning the 2018 World Cup, given how defensively Didier Deschamps set up his team in Russia, and given how defensively Les Bleus continue to be deployed after conquering the world this summer.

Three defensive midfielders is a setup that few defense in the world require to protect them, let alone a unit which features the likes of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti. But, there we were, and here we are. Deschamps went with the familiar formula in Thursday’s Nations League-opening game against Germany, and the result was a scoreless stalemate that saw the reigning world champions hold just 40 percent of possession and fail to produce a chance that truly threatened Manuel Neuer with anything more than speculative efforts from long range.

[ MORE: Predicting the UEFA Nations League ]

Wales 4-1 Ireland

Real Madrid fans were understandably a bit fearful of life after Cristiano Ronaldo, but perhaps they shouldn’t be as the Portuguese superstar’s departure has apparently given way to the year of Gareth Bale. The Welsh dynamo already has three goals in as many games for Madrid, and on Thursday the 29-year-old ran the entire show during Wales’ 4-1 victory over Ireland.

He had a goal and an assist, but it could have been so much more with a bit more fortune in his favor. Still, Ryan Giggs‘ side was comprehensive in its dominance and should find their way to a first-place finish in League B – Group 4 (Denmark is the other nation in the three-team group). Tom Lawrence, Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts were the other goalscorers for the Dragons.

Czech Republic 1-2 Ukraine

Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko scored the 92nd-minute winner in Ukraine’s 2-1 victory away to the Czech Republic, completing a comeback from 1-0 down after just four minutes. Patrick Schick put the home side ahead early, but Yevhen Konoplyanka drew the visitors level immediately after the halftime intermission.

Friday’s UEFA Nations League schedule

League A – Group 3

Italy vs. Poland — 2:45 p.m. ET

League B – Group 2

Turkey vs. Russia — 2:45 p.m. ET

La Liga: One half of Madrid is happy, the other is not

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Serie A: Cristiano Ronaldo still scoreless, but Juventus still perfect ]

Real Madrid 4-1 Leganes

Julen Lopetegui’s Real Madrid improved to a perfect 3-for-3 record on the season with a mostly comfortable victory over Leganes at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Gareth Bale scored his third goal in as many games to put Los Blancos ahead after just 17 minutes before Guido Carillo converted from the penalty spot to pull the visitors back to level terms in the 24th. The score would remain 1-1 until halftime, but not much longer than that.

Karim Benzema bagged a 13-minute brace — heading home the first in the 48th minute, and finishing off a clever one-two with Luka Modric in the 61st — that would prove to be the difference on the day. Sergio Ramos added the fourth, from the penalty spot, in the 66th minute.

Video review was required to confirm Benzema’s first goal, and while it’s a bit of a buzzkill with regard to post-goal celebrations, Ramos feels it’s a necessary sacrifice for the good of the game.

“It is true that the goal celebration is somewhat muted (after the wait), but I have always said that I am in favor of , because it was a goal that had been disallowed,” he said after the game. “I am sure that one day it will be our turn to be on the other end of things, but it is positive.”

Celta Vigo 2-0 Atletico Madrid

Saturday wasn’t so joyous for the other half of Madrid, as 10-man Atleti suffered a 2-0 defeat away to Celta. The game was well and truly in hand before Stefan Savic’s 70th-minute red card, though, as Maxi Gomez and Iago Aspas hit Los Rojiblancos for a goal each during the first seven minutes of the second half.

Atleti boss Diego Simeone doesn’t see the result as a reason to panic, but more of a wake-up call so early in the season. He also shoulders the blame for his side’s poor start to the second half.

“It is a good wake-up call. Above all for me,” he said after the game. “I am responsible for our start to the second half because the second half depends a lot on what the manager says at halftime.”

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Levante vs. Valencia — 6 a.m. ET
Alaves vs. Espanyol — 10:15 a.m. ET
Barcelona vs. Huesca — 12:30 p.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Sevilla — 2:45 p.m. ET