Real Madrid travel to Warsaw

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Zinedine Zidane’s side ran out 5-1 winners in the reverse fixture two weeks ago after Gareth Bale – who this week signed a new contract at club – ran the Legia Warsaw defence into the ground.

Madrid will be without as many six key starters through injury, with Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and Casemiro among those.

Watch as the Los Blancos squad travelled from Madrid and arrived to cameras in the Polish capital.














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New deal for Bale - Real star's Bernabeu career in pics

Sport360 staff 31/10/2016
Bale has penned a lucrative deal at the Bernabeu.

The Wales international put pen to paper on Monday on a deal which ties him to Real until June 30, 2022, which expires just before he turns 33.

Bale has been regularly linked with a big-money move back to England, with Manchester United reportedly leading the chase for his services, but the former Tottenham player only has eyes for Real.

Asked if he could envisage ending his top-flight career at the Bernabeu even if it meant not playing in the Premier League again, Bale told a press conference: “Yeah, for sure. The reason I signed here for so long is because I’m very happy here.

“I feel more comfortable every year that I’m here as well. I’m improving my Spanish, my family’s more settled. I fully intend to see out my contract here.

“Obviously in the future, I don’t know when I’m going to retire, but I’m very happy here at the moment and for the next six years I’m not looking past that really.”

United have long been linked with a move for Bale, even before the Welshman left Spurs to join Real in 2013 for a then-world record fee of £85.3million.

As recently as last month there was speculation of a possible attempt by the Red Devils to sign the flying forward, but Bale himself insists he knows nothing about any transfer talk.

He said: “I couldn’t tell you if anyone’s been interested. Since I’ve been here I’ve been fully concentrated on playing for Real Madrid.

“I’m very happy here which shows why I’ve signed another six-year deal and we never really speak about these things. If (United) have (shown an interest) they have, I don’t know about it. The main thing for me is to concentrate on my football and everything else is dealt with behind the scenes.”

Bale was also giving nothing away about the finances behind his new contract.

Media reports have suggested the 27-year-old will now be earning in the region of £18million a year – £350,000 per week after tax – and is in the top three best-paid players in the world, along with Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Real team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

When asked about his wages on Monday, Bale simply said: “That’s for me to know and no-one else to find out, sorry.”

Bale left White Hart Lane without winning a major trophy with Spurs, but he has helped Real lift five pieces of silverware in three years, including the Champions League in 2014 and 2016.

He has also scored 62 goals and recorded 34 assists in 135 official games for the Spanish giants, forming part of the team’s much-vaunted ‘BBC’ strikeforce alongside Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Bale is now hoping for more of the same in the coming years after committing his future to the 11-time European champions.

He said: “Obviously I’m very very happy today. When I first came here I wanted so succeed here, wanted to win trophies here.

And sitting here now having renewed my contract is another dream come true and hopefully there’s more trophies and titles to win here again.

“It’s Real Madrid, the biggest club in the world I think. When an opportunity comes up to play for Real Madrid you don’t turn it down. I’ve loved every minute of it out here.

“I definitely made the best decision. It matches all my ambitions.”

Bale concedes it has not all been plain-sailing for him in Spain, with the former Southampton youngster having had to deal with injuries and criticism.

But he insists all that has helped him develop as a player and a person.

He said: “It’s been a difficult journey. It’s very difficult for British players to come over to any European club. I’ve had my difficult times and I’ve had good times. I think it’s all a learning curve.

“I’ve really grown up as a person and I’ve enjoyed every experience, whether it’s been good or bad.

“I feel happy here, I feel loved by the fans here and want to give everything for the shirt to win try and win as many trophies as I can.”

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#360view: Ronaldo appears to be lacking confidence

Andy West 24/10/2016
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Ronaldo struggle? The legend is going through a rough patch.

This might sound like a strange thing to say about Cristiano Ronaldo, but he appears to be lacking in confidence.

Lacking in confidence? The self-styled ‘CR7’, a man who has scored more goals for Real Madrid than anyone else, who never knowingly passes up an opportunity to shoot on goal, flex his muscles or parade his underwear collection…how can that be?

Quite easily, in fact.

External displays of ostentatious self-regard are often merely a mask for deep insecurities, and Ronaldo’s high esteem for personal accolades such as the Ballon d’Or suggest a man who, despite appearances to the contrary, has a desperate need for affirmation and approval from the outside world.

Whether that’s true or not, Ronaldo is certainly playing like he is low on confidence right now, illustrated by moments at the end of each half in his team’s sluggish victory over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday night.

Firstly, he bore down on goal unmarked from a narrow angle, with the option of either shooting or cutting the ball back for Karim Benzema or Gareth Bale in the middle.

Unsurprisingly, he chose the former option, but did so in a hesitant and uncertain manner, taking too long to make his decision and then half-heartedly stabbing the ball straight at Athletic keeper Gorka Iraizoz. And then, with the very last kick of an extremely frustrating game, Ronaldo was again sent clean through on goal, with no defenders anywhere near him and all the time in the world.

This time he snatched at the chance, hitting his shot too early and without power or direction, straight at Iraizoz for another straightforward save to prompt disgruntled muted jeers from the home fans.

On both occasions, Ronaldo struck his shots without conviction, with hope rather than expectation, tentatively rather than authoritatively. And on both occasions Iraizoz saved them without great effort – although they were more challenging than Ronaldo’s nine other efforts during the game, all of which were off target.

This, clearly, is not the Ronaldo we know. This is not the Ronaldo who has scored 368 goals for Real Madrid at a rate of more than one per game, registering at least 50 goals for the last six consecutive seasons.

This is a Ronaldo who is looking mortal – an ordinary, normal footballer rather than an awe-inspiring unstoppable goal machine who appeared to have been manufactured in a hi-tech laboratory.

Whether the issue is confidence or not, it is giving Zinedine Zidane a problem. Ronaldo has now scored just two league goals in six games this season – the same tally as Gerard Pique – and he has failed to register in four consecutive outings at the Bernabeu for the first time ever.

Any other Madrid player producing those statistics, there is no doubt, would have already been benched by now – especially with in-form replacements Lucas Vazquez, Alvaro Morata, James Rodriguez and Marco Asensio all waiting in the wings.

Ronaldo is different, of course, and his reputation is so big that Zidane can justify continuing to pick him on the basis of that reputation alone. But that can’t be the case forever and, for the first time, Ronaldo is being doubted. His place in the starting eleven is being seriously questioned, and he has to rise to the challenge.

Yet despite his recent slump, would you really back against him?

What are your thoughts on Ronaldo?

Share with us your views by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

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