MADRID – Real Madrid showed it can still compete in the Champions League even without Cristiano Ronaldo. KHARKIV, Ukraine – Cristiano Ronaldo’s smile and swagger were back, and so was his scoring touch. In addition to Ronaldo’s departure, coach Zinedine Zidane quit and was replaced by former Spain manager Julen Lopetegui. England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain are the heavyweights to watch out for, according to Oddschecker. That came after Ronaldo said “in the next few days I will give an answer” on whether he prolongs his nine-year stay in Spain. Ronaldo led Portugal to its first major title at the European Championship two years ago in France. But Les Bleus sat two points ahead come the end of qualifying and led the group. With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War sports activities were suspended from 1936 to 1939. After the end of the political turmoil in Spain, the club regained its title of “Royal”.
The veteran hit double figures in Serie A by the end of the campaign, finishing as the club’s second-top scorer, one goal behind Ante Rebic’s 11 strikes. Liverpool, with 76 points after 31 games, would have led the table outright at the same stage in eight of the past 11 seasons, and another year would have led on goal difference. Yet Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi did it twice in the same breath last summer. This is the man who once said he’s ‘just a human in the same way a great white shark is just a fish’. England are the favourites ahead of this summer’s tournament, according to Oddschecker, who have them at 9/2. Taking the golden generation out of the equation, this is possibly the strongest side in quite some time. Hakan Calhanoglu, who misses the trip to Glasgow through injury, has thrived in his favoured No 10 role after being shunted out to the wing by previous coaches, while Franck Kessie has rediscovered his best form as a holding midfielder.
Will battle it out for a place in the final at London’s Wembley Stadium. Southgate’s men bulldozed Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo in their final qualification games and bagged 17 goals while keeping a clean sheet across 180 minutes. Highest average points per game (2.63), most wins (13), most goals (44) and most clean sheets (6) in Serie A since football’s return. Although Ibrahimovic has never struggled with self-esteem issues, even he can’t have expected his Rossoneri return to be such a triumph. European fans may have struggled to make it to the Champions League final in Kyiv, but Liverpool and Real Madrid supporters from elsewhere in the world are making their presence felt. The 21-year-old Portuguese forward initially struggled following his £32million move from Lille last summer, but has shown steady improvement and has two goals and a match-winning derby assist in three Serie A appearances so far this term.
Di Stefano was booed and jeered at every turn in their next home game against Athletic Club, but his two goals went a long way towards silencing his critics. Without him, the club won two league games in 13 – since he has come back they have a 100 per cent record across four games and have been propelled into the play-off places. Martin Torrijos 12th Grade English November 21, 2012 Real Madrid FC Real Madrid Football Club is one of the oldest, most successful clubs in the world. Mane’s 55th-minute goal levelled Karim Benzema’s 51st-minute opener for Madrid. A strike rate of 3.20 goals per game – 397 in 124 games so far at one goal every 28 minutes – has beaten the record of 3.04 set last season. Pioli hasn’t discouraged Hernandez’s trademark bombing runs, which saw him score seven goals from left back last season, instead tweaking his tactics to ensure the defence and midfield can cover for the ex-Real Madrid man when he surges upfield. It left Stefano Pioli’s side alone at the top of the table for the first time since 2011-2012, with four wins from their opening four games. But there was at least substance to his boast this time.
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