Marco Asensio

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Real Madrid dealing with growing injury list ahead of new season

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If this season is meant to be a revival for Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane has his work cut out for him as the campaign nears a triumphant beginning.

After a third-place finish in La Liga last season plus elimination in the Champions League Round of 16, Real Madrid has spent big this summer looking to refresh the squad with young and prime talent. Yet things have not gone entirely to plan.

New signing Luka Jovic was withdrawn in the 28th minute of Real Madrid’s somewhat embarrassing 7-3 preseason defeat to rivals Atletico Madrid, and while the club would not elaborate on any potential injury, he looked in pain as he was taken off the field after colliding with Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak, appearing to have an ankle issue.

A potential problem for Jovic would make the 21-year-old the fourth player injured this preseason tour. The most serious of the medical issues befell Marco Asensio, who tore his ACL against Arsenal on Tuesday just minutes after scoring a wonderful goal. His injury has caused a trickle-down effect as the club looks to prepare for a lengthy absence, seeing the club reportedly about-face on the sale of James Rodriguez, instead wishing for the Columbian to stay and help replace Asensio.

Brahim Diaz was also injured in an International Champions Cup match against Bayern Munich, although he is reportedly expected to recover in time for Real Madrid’s first league match against Celta Vigo on August 18. Ferland Mendy, another new signing, was not so lucky as he went down with a thigh injury in the Arsenal game and is likely to miss the start of the campaign.

While none of these injuries directly affects the starting lineup aside from Asensio’s gut-wrenching fate (the glittering 23-year-old was finally ready to make the leap as a regular starter, having failed to reach 2,000 league minutes in each of his first three seasons with the club), it poses a problem for Zidane who built his previous success at the club on squad rotation and keeping players fresh. Jovic was brought in as a challenge for Karim Benzema, while Mendy represents direct competition for Marcelo who struggled at times last season but could only be spelled by the since-departed Sergio Regulion. Clearly, as the James Rodriguez situation shows, the injuries have already affected transfer strategy and therefore has a direct impact on squad makeup.

Zidane overcame plenty of bouts with adversity in his three Champions League winning seasons last time he led Los Blancos, so there is plenty of reason to believe he can work around these blips, but the club can ill-afford any more trips to the trainer’s office as the season nears its opening.

Ceballos close to Arsenal move; Asensio suffers serious injury

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Arsenal look set to add a top class central midfielder.

According to our partners Sky Sports, Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos is in London to have a medical ahead of a season-long loan move to the Gunners.

Ceballos, 22, shone for Spain’s U21 side as they won the European Championships this summer and the former Real Betis star had previously fallen out with former, and now current, Real boss Zinedine Zidane.

A mercurial talent who is able to play as a box-to-box central midfielder or a playmaker, Ceballos’ impending arrival seems to be a like-for-like replacement for Aaron Ramsey who departed for Juventus on a free transfer this summer.

Unai Emery spoke highly of Ceballos during Arsenal’s preseason tour of the USA.

“Ceballos is a very good player,” Emery said. “I know him from [Real] Betis at the beginning and Real Madrid. He played very well in the under-21s [for Spain], his national team won the [2019 European Championship] competition. He can play as a No. 8 or a No. 10.”

Ceballos’ arrival could suggest that Lucas Torreira or maybe even Mesut Ozil could move on this summer, but neither seems likely, as things stand, and this deal makes financial sense for Arsenal who have just $60 million in their transfer kitty as they chase $100 million-rated Wilfried Zaha.

But the move for Ceballos was in some doubt after fellow Real Madrid attacker Marco Asensio suffered a serious knee injury during their friendly win against Arsenal in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.

Asensio went down in the second half clutching his knee after turning on the pitch at FedEx Field and Real have since confirmed the Spanish international has suffered a ruptured ACL and meniscus in his left knee. That injury is likely to keep Asensio out for the entire season.

Even if Ceballos’ move to Arsenal remains on, Asensio’s injury could have an impact for Zinedine Zidane and who he allows to leave this summer.

Zidane continues to want Gareth Bale to leave but with the Welshman playing and scoring in his 45 minute cameo against Arsenal on Tuesday, perhaps the situation will change, even if Zizou remains adamant that Bale should exit the Santiago Bernabeu this summer.

10-man Real Madrid comes back to draw 10-man Arsenal

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Maybe Zinedine Zidane ought to rethink his stance on Gareth Bale?

Of course it’s just preseason, but the on-the-market Real Match forward subbed into Tuesday’s match in Maryland on Tuesday and spearheaded a comeback 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

Real won in penalties, as all International Champions Cup matches must have a winner.

[ MORE: Rich new deal for Hudson-Odoi ]

Real was down a man after 10 minutes when Nacho Fernandez handled a ball on the goal line, and Arsenal also went down a man when Sokratis Papastathopoulos saw his second yellow of the contest in the 40th minute.

Alexandre Lacazette converted a penalty, then set-up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a goal 14 minutes later as the Gunners handled their business early.

The chemistry between two remains very real.

Real started new boys Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy, and Luka Jovic in addition to Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema, and Sergio Ramos.

Bale came in for Hazard at halftime and poked a 57th minute rebound home and Marcelo set up Marco Asensio two minutes later to complete the comeback.

Asensio, sadly, would only last a few more minutes, needing to be stretchered off with injury.

Solari shares blame for Real Madrid debacle with players

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MADRID (AP) Amid speculation that his days are numbered, Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari dished out some of the blame for the team’s disastrous season to his players.

“The majority (of my players) have honored this club’s emblem, and those who haven’t have been told so personally by me,” Solari said on Saturday, four days after Madrid was humiliated by Ajax in the Champions League, following devastating defeats to Barcelona in the Spanish league and Copa del Rey.

The usually tight-lipped Solari did not name which players he thought had failed to meet his standards. But since taking over from Julen Lopetegui in late October, Solari has clearly not been pleased with either the attitude or performances of several once-important players.

Defender Marcelo has been sent to the bench, Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio are no longer starters, and Spain midfielder Francisco “Isco” Alarcon has seen several matches from the stands after being dropped from Solari’s squad.

Asked about Isco, Solari responded: “Disciplinary questions are handled internally. (But) to play you have to first be in shape and ready to play competitively.”

Rumors are rife in Spanish media that Madrid may not wait until the end of the season to fire Solari after back-to-back homes losses to Barcelona and a stunning 4-1 defeat to Ajax on Tuesday that ended Madrid’s campaign for a fourth consecutive Champions League title. Former Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, who has been without a job since being fired by Manchester United, leads the list of potential replacements.

Solari, who has a contract through 2021, said he was still committed to seeing out the remaining 12 matches of the campaign but struck a philosophical note.

“All of us here, we are just passing through,” Solari said. “And in this job that is even truer. But the most important thing for a team and a coach is the next match. It has always been an honor to serve this club.”

That next game comes on Sunday at Valladolid, with Madrid a distant third place to league leader Barcelona.

Ajax ends Real’s Champions League reign

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  • Real’s reign as 3-time champions ends at home
  • Schone scores wonder goal (video)
  • Vinicius Junior injured (MORE)
  • Nacho shown late red card

Ajax put an end to Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League reign with a 4-1 second leg at the Bernabeu on Tuesday, sending the Dutch side into the quarterfinals with a 5-3 win over two legs.

Hakim Ziyech, David Neres, Dusan Tadic, and Lasse Schone scored in the win, which reversed with ease a 2-1 first leg loss in the Netherlands.

Marco Asensio scored Real Madrid’s lone goal.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

After an early Real header off the cross bar from Raphael Varane, Ajax struck gold.

Dusan Tadic dribbled down the right before side-footing a pass to Ziyech for a shot a across goal and past Thibaut Courtois.

Neres made it 3-2 on aggregate, leveling the tie on away goals when Tadic set him up for a neatly-dinked goal.

And he nearly added another with a chip across goal that missed the upper 90.

Andre Onana stopped Lucas Vazquez’s bid to bring the tie level in the 24th.

Enter Gareth Bale. The out-of-favor Welsh star entered the game after just a half-hour, though his arrival was met by a long Vinicius dribble that cause amplification of an earlier injury.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Benzema came close to bringing the tie even at 3 when he dribbled past Ziyech to shoot across goal and wide in the 59th minute.

Ajax looked to have clinched the tie in the 63rd minute via a Tadic wonder strike, and a first replay via VAR looked like the ball had gone out of play in the build-up. A second angle, however, seemed to show it just touching the white paint, and it was ruled inconclusive.

Real got one back in the 70th minute, with substitute Marco Asensio rolling a low shot past Onana and inside the far post.

Then came Lasse Schone. What else can you say about this free kick, other than a remarkable effort accompanies a mistake from Courtois.