Koke urges Isco to join Atletico Madrid if Real Madrid nightmare continues

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Koke is a big admirer of club rival and international teammate Isco.

Atlético Madrid midfielder Koke says Isco should cross the Madrid derby divide if he is not happy at Real Madrid.

Koke was full of praise for Isco after the latter’s hat-trick for Spain against Argentina, which came despite his struggles for form at club level.

“I think Isco is great, when he plays for us (Spain) he is the best and is playing at a spectacular level,” Koke said.

“I don’t see him on a day to day basis, I don’t know what (Zinedine) Zidane thinks but if he doesn’t play regularly for his club then probably at Atletico he would do.”

Atlético are second in La Liga with their title charge having petered out following their loss to Barcelona this month, and their group-stage exit from the Champions League means the Europa League is the only trophy they’re in contention for.

“La Liga is almost impossible but we have to keep battling,” Koke said.

“If we cannot do it then we want to finish second and this season we want to win a trophy. In the Champions League we were not good enough and we now we want to win the Europa League.”

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'I don't know how to win Zinedine Zidane's confidence', says Isco

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Isco said he felt “alive” after his first career hat-trick helped Spain thrash Argentina 6-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

The Real Madrid playmaker has seen his club football limited in spells under Zinedine Zidane this season.

However, Isco produced a superb display for La Roja against Argentina, whose captain Lionel Messi again watched from the stands because of fitness concerns.

Spain had drawn 1-1 against Germany last week and have now extended their unbeaten run under coach Julen Lopetegui to 18 matches.

“In Madrid I don’t have the confidence a player needs,” Isco said in a post-match interview, as quoted by Spanish media outlet Marca.

“The matches with the national team give me life. Here I have the confidence of the coach.

“I want to show that I’m a good player. Lopetegui shows me confidence with the minutes he gives me.

“Maybe I’m the problem in Madrid. I don’t know how to win Zidane’s confidence.”

After Gonzalo Higuain shot wide early on, Diego Costa fired Spain ahead in the 13th minute, before Isco struck either side of a header from Argentina defender Nicolas Otamendi.

Thiago Alcantara added a fourth, with substitute Iago Aspas also on the scoresheet before Isco netted his third with 16 minutes left.

“Despite the result, this match wasn’t easy,” Isco added. “They made things difficult for us, they were very aggressive.

“We mustn’t forget that this is part of our preparation for the World Cup. The victory can give us a lot.”
Spain coach Lopetegui also looked to play down the final scoreline.

“It is an important victory but it does not give points in the World Cup,” he said at a press conference, as quoted on the Spain football Federation website.

“We are happy, but the World Cup has not started yet.

“Another thing is how we manage this euphoria. We know where we are, which is going calmly because we know what a World Cup is about.”

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Wales star Gareth Bale targeting 'special' victory ahead of clash with Uruguay

Phil Blanche 25/03/2018
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The Welsh winger says any trophies with Wale will be special.

Gareth Bale says winning the China Cup with Wales would be a special trophy to add to his impressive collection.

Bale has been a serial winner at club level with Real Madrid, lifting 10 trophies – including three Champions Leagues, LaLiga and two FIFA Club World Cups – since he joined them in 2013.

Wales tasted success by reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016, but it is 81 years since the nation claimed its last outright title by winning the now-defunct British Home Championship in 1937.

“To win any trophy is always good,” Bale said ahead of Monday’s China Cup final against Uruguay in Nanning.

“But for your country it’s that bit more special, it’s in your heart and your blood and you want to make the whole country proud.

“Whether it’s in a tournament like we are now, or in something like a World Cup, it’s always important to win trophies.

“It’ll be very high up (in his achievements) and we still have a lot of work to come.

“But we believe if we play well we can win the tournament.”

Bale became Wales’ record goalscorer with his hat-trick in the 6-0 semi-final victory over China, moving one clear of Ian Rush on 29 goals.

Bale became Wales' record goal-scorer in the win against China.

Bale became Wales’ record goal-scorer in the win against China.

The second-ever meeting between Wales and Uruguay – the two sides fought out a goalless friendly in 1986 – pits Bale in a high-profile match up with his Barcelona LaLiga adversary Luis Suarez.

But Bale said: “We know Uruguay have some great players, it’s not just Suarez.

“We know it’s going to be a difficult game, but we try not to concentrate too much on our opposition, it’s more about concentrating on us and what we can do.

“They have some fantastic players and that they’re going to be dangerous.

“We have to be wary of them, but they also have to worry about us.”

Wales manager Ryan Giggs is expected to name the team which swept aside China on Thursday.

Bale is set to win his 70th cap and skipper Ashley Williams will join Craig Bellamy on 78 to become the joint fourth most-capped Welshman.

“Even though it was a good performance against China, we will need to play even better to win the China Cup,” Giggs said.

“That’s what we’re preparing for. It won’t be easy because we’re up against a tough, experienced South American team who are very good technically.

“But it’s a great challenge for our players to come up against the best in the world.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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