Zinedine Zidane

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Report: Real Madrid weighing up summer move for Wolves’ Raul Jimenez

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Raul Jimenez may be on his way back to Madrid, Spain this summer.

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ star striker is reportedly garnering interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid ahead of the summer transfer window, according to Spanish outlet Don Balón.

With Luka Jovic, who may be loaned out this summer in order to get minutes, and Mariano struggling to make wholesale impact as secondary options to Karim Benzema, Zinedine Zidane and company are reportedly weighing up a lucrative summer bid for the the former Atletico Madrid striker.

The 28-year-old Mexican has proven to be indispensable for Nuno Espirito Santo this season, scoring 22 goals and recording 10 assists in 44 matches across all competitions. In the 2018-2019 season, Jimenez registered 13 Premier League goals and eight assists, prompting Wolves to shell out a club-record $42 million purchase option via a loan agreement with Benfica.

Featuring 27 times for Los Colchoneros from 2014 to 2015, Jimenez, if a move to the Santiago Bernabeu were to materialize, would be the second Mexican to play for both Madrid giants, with Hugo Sanchez being the other. The striker would become the third Mexican to play for Los Blancos, joining Sanchez and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who was on loan with the La Liga side during the 2014-15 season.

Last December, the Mexico international told Marca that he wouldn’t rule out a return to Spain’s top-flight, if the option were to arise: “No, never. I had a good experience there and I would like to go back at some point and try things again in La Liga. It is not something to rule out.”

Real Madrid loses 2-1 at Betis as Barcelona stays top in Spain

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BARCELONA, Spain — Real Madrid lost 2-1 at Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday and wasted its chance to reclaim the lead from Barcelona.

Barcelona, which beat Real Sociedad 1-0 on Saturday, was left two points ahead of Madrid at the top, one week after the Catalan club had lost the “clasico” to its rival.

Led by France forward Nabil Fekir, Betis outplayed Madrid for long stretches of the match in Seville.

Betis defender Sidnei scored one goal and unintentionally helped Madrid claw back an equalizer just before halftime.

Sidnei rifled in Betis’ goal in the 40th minute before he committed a foul that Karim Benzema converted to level the score in first-half stoppage time.

Zinedine Zidane sent on more attacking players to seek the winner, but Betis substitute Cristian Tello scored the hosts’ second goal in the 82nd after a passing mistake by Benzema that led to a quick counterattack.

Betis was winless in six games before taking down Madrid.

La Liga roundup: Celta spoil Hazard’s return in Real Madrid draw

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Real Madrid’s draw against relegation-battling Celta Vigo highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Real Madrid 2-2 Celta Vigo 

Celta’s Santi Mina scored in 85th minute to give a depleted Celta Vigo a precious point at the Santiago Bernabeu, spoiling Eden Hazard‘s return to Real Madrid’s lineup after a notable absence.

Madrid’s eighth draw of the season moves champions Barcelona just one point behind Zinedine Zidane’s side.

Returning from ankle injury that kept his out of action for three months, Hazard returned to the pitch in fine style, leading all players on the field in chances created with three and earning a penalty that Sergio Ramos converted to put Real Madrid ahead.

Hazard – and all of his flair – left the field in the 70th minute, granting Vinicius Junior the final 20 minutes of the match.

Ramos’ sixth goal of the season builded on Toni Kroos’ left-footed strike early in the latter half of the match. Real Madrid, more or less, were cruising against Celta, who had a goal to their name following Fyodor Smolov’s early opener.

Celta, who had arrived in Madrid in 18th place and had lost their last seven at the host’s home, were destined to do the unthinkable. Denis Suarez and Mina – both utilized as substitutes – paired up for the equalizer with five minutes to go, spoiling Hazard’s return.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Sevilla 2-2 Espanyol

Leganes 0-0 Real Betis 

Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Osasuna

Hazard back in Real Madrid squad after long injury layoff

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MADRID (AP) Eden Hazard has returned to Real Madrid’s squad after being sidelined since November with an ankle injury.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane on Saturday included the Belgium forward in his squad ahead of Sunday’s Spanish league match against Celta Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Hazard hasn’t played since injuring his ankle on Nov. 26 in a match against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. He had been practicing with the rest of the team for the last two weeks but was yet to be included in the squad.

“We know what Hazard can add to the team,” Zidane said. “It was time to get him back.”

Madrid enters Sunday’s game tied on points with Barcelona, which edged Getafe 2-1 on Saturday.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

La Liga roundup: Nacho header powers Real Madrid to top of table (video)

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Real Madrid’s close win at the Estadio Jose Zorilla to go atop of Spain’s top-flight highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Real Valladolid 0-1 Real Madrid

Real Madrid is three points clear at the top of La Liga after Nacho Fernandez’s header in the 78th minute against Real Valladolid on Sunday.

With defending champions Barcelona dropping three, crucial points against Valencia on Saturday, Zinedine Zidane and company take a giant leap in the tight title race. Los Blancos’ 46 points are the most within La Liga with less than a half a season to go.

But even then, the French manager was reluctant to accept that his team did enough against Valladolid to claim league triumph.

“For us, nothing changes,” Zidane said. “We are happy with the victory, the work done having fought until the end, but nothing changes. There are 17 games left and we will continue fighting until the end.

“I don’t want to talk about being champions because there is still a lot left to play. It changes nothing to be leaders, they are three important points but nothing more.

“There are a lot of league games left and it will be difficult for all teams, including us.”

Madrid’s defense shined all 90 minutes, denying the hosts from registering a shot on target and producing the match-winning goal via Nacho.

“Defensively, what we are doing, we are doing well. It is our strength,” Zidane also told reporters. “We defend all and when we lose the ball we recover it very high, and if we keep it we have a good chance of scoring.”

“Nacho scored and that is part of football. We know that we can improve in this aspect,” he added. “Nacho is a professional. When he has to compete he does well. I’m glad for his goal; he doesn’t usually score them but from time-to-time we can also create chances for defenders.”

Debuting for Madrid in 2011, Nacho has made 133 appearances and scored seven goals. His goal on Sunday perhaps the most important, earning his team what is arguably their most crucial league win this season.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Leganes

Celta Vigo 0-0 Eibar

Getafe 1-0 Real Betis

Real Sociedad 3-0 Mallorca