UCL: Madrid Draw Bayern In Semis, Liverpool To Face Roma

Holders Real Madrid will face Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of this season’s UEFA Champions League.

The other semi-final tie will see Liverpool do battle with surprise team AS Roma who stunned Barcelona in the quarter-final.

The draw was confirmed in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday.

Five-time winners of the Champions League Bayern will welcome Madrid to the Alianz Arena for the first leg before travelling to Spain for the return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu a week later.

Liverpool, who have also won Europe’s elite club competition five times, will be at home to Roma at Anfield for the first leg.

At last season’s quarter-final tie, Madrid eliminated Bayern 6-3 on aggregate to progress into the last four.

The first legs will be played on 24 and 25 April, and the second legs will be played on 1 and 2 May.

Ronaldo: I Was Surprised Juventus Protested A Correct Penalty Decision

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed that referee Michael Oliver was correct to have awarded his team a late penalty against Juventus in their Champions League quarter-final second leg clash at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Zinedine Zidane’s men saw their 3-0 first leg advantage cancelled out as Juventus repaid their three goals deficit almost forcing the game into extra time.

However, the English referee awarded Real a penalty after Lucas Vazquez was brought down in stoppage time by Medhi Benatia, a penalty which many regarded as controversial.

Juventus goalkeeper Giannluigi Buffon was then sent off for remonstrating with the English referee, which led to protests from his teammates.

Ronaldo then  stepped up and duly slotted the penalty past substitute goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny with his team moving into the semi-finals 4-3 on aggregate.

“I don’t understand the protest by Juventus,” Ronaldo told reporters after the game.

“Lucas was pushed from behind and if the penalty was given, it’s a goal.

“We suffered and this will help us to learn. The game should serve as a lesson. Nothing is handed to you in football, you have to fight until the end.

“Real Madrid could have scored more goals today, but Juventus and Buffon were great.”

Real Madrid  join Liverpool, Roma and Bayern Munich in the last-four draw, which takes place in Nyon on Friday.

I Don’t Think Of Playing Without Ronaldo – Zidane

Zinedine Zidane believes Cristiano Ronaldo will be remembered at Real Madrid in the same glowing terms as Alfredo Di Stefano.

Di Stefano was the face of Real´s domination during the 1950s and 1960s when they won five European Cups and he scored more than 300 goals.

Ronaldo is now trying to lead another prolonged period of European success, with Real gunning for their third consecutive Champions League triumph, and fourth in five years.

They take a 3-0 lead into Wednesday´s quarter-final second leg at home to Juventus after the Portuguese scored twice last week in Turin, a double that included a sensational bicycle kick.

Ronaldo already has 14 goals in this year´s tournament, three short of his best ever 17, which he posted when Real were crowned champions in 2014.

“I do not think of playing without Cristian, we have him and we are happy,” Zidane said on Tuesday.

“There are many people who remember Di Stefano, it is normal – many people, and I am one of them, will now remember Cristiano with this club.

“We have him and it is necessary to take advantage of this. All the teams in the world would be happy to have this player.”

Barring a huge collapse at the Santiago Bernabeu, Real will take their place in next month´s semi-finals but their domestic season has been far less impressive.

Real sit fourth in La Liga, 15 points behind Barcelona, while a shock defeat to Leganes in the Copa del Rey means they have only one chance of a major trophy.

“The explanation I do not have,” Zidane said. “Sometimes this year our consistency has not been very good.

“We have had moments of difficulty, now we are better, but there is no explanation. If you ask me, I have more motivation than I can ever remember to win the league. It is the hardest thing to do, it is what the player wants.

“There are difficult times but in the Champions League, when you look at the trajectory of this club, it is impressive and nobody has reached this level. It is what this club has.”

Real have hit a golden patch in recent weeks, losing only one of their last 15 matches and scoring 20 goals in their last seven.

“When we scored again, with three or four goals, you cheer up, you feel better, you have your confidence back,” Zidane said.

“But it annoys me when people say we are favourites in the Champions League. We are a great team but we have won nothing yet.”

Real will be without the suspended Sergio Ramos for the return game against Juve, meaning 21-year-old defender Jesus Vallejo could come in alongside the more experienced Raphael Varane.

Varane insists he will not look to make up for the loss of Ramos´ leadership at the back.

“My preparation for the match does not change,” Varane said. “I have my personality, I know how to guide my partners, to speak to the team.

“But I will not transform into someone who will bark orders. I will do it with personality, as usual, and the important thing is that the team can rely on me.”

AFP

Ronaldo’s Stunner Puts Madrid One Leg In Champions League Semis

Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of the Champions League’s great goals as his incredible bicycle kick helped Real Madrid demolish Juventus in the quarter-final first leg.

The Real forward made history with the first of his two goals, prodding home Isco’s cross to become the first player to score in 10 consecutive Champions League games.

The Italian side had chances to equalise in a decent first half, although Toni Kroos went close to doubling Real’s lead when he hit the crossbar with a 25-yard effort.

Then came one of the great Champions League moments. Dani Carvajal lifted a cross to the Portuguese, who soared in the air and sent a flying acrobatic kick past Gianluigi Buffon, who had no chance.

Such was the brilliance of the strike that Juventus fans stood up to applaud the goal that probably ended their hopes of going through.

It got even worse for the Turin side, who lost last year’s final to Real, as Paulo Dybala was shown a second yellow card for a high boot in the chest of Carvajal.

And Marcelo effectively booked Real’s place in the last four when he played a one-two with Ronaldo before scoring from close range.

Ronaldo defies all logic with another masterclass

At the age of 33, Ronaldo no longer has great pace or much impact minute to minute in a match.

But, reinvented as an orthodox striker, he is in one of the greatest goalscoring streaks in football history – 19 goals in his last nine games for Real.

He has now scored 16 goals in his past 10 Champions League games – 14 goals this season and a double in last year’s final against Juventus.

It took him only two minutes and 47 seconds to open the scoring in Turin, when he poked home Isco’s low left-wing cross from six yards out.

He almost had a second when he smashed a ball across goal after good work from Karim Benzema.

His magic moment came in a move which he helped create himself. Giorgio Chiellini prodded a ball past his own keeper Buffon, which Ronaldo kept in play. He found Lucas Vazquez, whose shot was saved by Buffon. Unfortunately for Juventus the ball ran to Carvajal, whose cross was dramatically converted by Ronaldo.

The Portuguese, who only touched the ball 49 times in 90 minutes, had two chances for a hat-trick, first when he forced a save from Buffon from 16 yards and then when he shot over when totally unmarked 10 yards out from Vazquez’s cross.

He is not just a goalscorer though, and set up Marcelo’s goal – as well as laying the ball off to Mateo Kovacic, who hit the post.

‘Nothing Is Impossible’, Says Neymar After PSG Lose To Real

Neymar insisted that Paris Saint-Germain can still qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals despite losing 3-1 to Real Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday.

He was in the Barcelona side that lost 4-0 away to PSG in the first leg of the last 16 last season, before a stunning 6-1 victory in the return.

On PSG’s chances of beating Real in the return leg on March 6, he said: “I think it is difficult, but nothing is impossible. Last year I was in a much worse situation and we managed to get through. I hope we will be able to play better.”

AFP

Ronaldo Inspires 3-1 Comeback Victory Over  PSG

Cristiano Ronaldo’s brace was an inspiration that stunned PSG in the Madrid’s comeback victory. The most anticipated Champions League game of the night  ended 3-1.

Ronaldo recorded  his 100th Champions League goal for title-holders Real after he scored from the penalty spot late in the first half to cancel out Adrien Rabiot’s opener for the French side at the Santiago Bernabeu, skillfully set up by Neymar.

The Portuguese star from close range found the back of the net again with seven minutes left before Marcelo sealed up the game with what could turn out to be a decisive first-leg lead ahead of the return in Paris on March 6 and sent nearly 80,000 home fans into raptures.

The late collapse for PSG brings back echoes of the way they fell apart to lose 6-1 in Barcelona on their way to a humiliating exit at the same stage of the competition last season.

Neymar, in Barcelona’s ranks then, could not make the difference for PSG, who now have a huge job on their hands to turn the tie around.

Having looked set to come away with a precious draw, the defeat piles the pressure on coach Unai Emery, but for Real the outcome is an enormous boost for their boss Zinedine Zidane.

Under pressure himself with Real flagging domestically, he needed this win, and will earn praise for his substitutions, with Marco Asensio coming off the bench to set up each of the two late goals.

That was after Zidane had taken a risk by leaving out Gareth Bale, a key element in the side that has won three of the last four Champions Leagues. The Welshman’s place in the line-up was taken by Isco.

Emery went even further, dropping his captain Thiago Silva to make way for 22-year-old Presnel Kimpembe in the centre of the PSG defence.

Real supporters chose an image of a famous fan in Rafael Nadal to adorn a display unfurled at the south end of the ground as the sides came out, hoping their team could draw inspiration from someone who has conquered Paris 10 times as French Open champion.

The hosts started well too, while Neymar struggled, slipping when one pass was aimed towards him, complaining as a Luka Modric challenge sent him to the floor and picking up a yellow card for a foul on Nacho.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, saw Alphonse Areola make a fine save from his net-bound shot after he had been released by Marcelo, and not long after that, in the 33rd minute, PSG scored.

Neymar could claim an assist, although it didn’t look like the Brazilian meant to help Kylian Mbappe’s low ball across the box from the right into the path of Rabiot, who swept home unmarked.

PSG had a precious away goal, but they could not hold their lead until the break as Giovani Lo Celso gave away a penalty for a foul on Toni Kroos.

Areola, having just made a superb save from Karim Benzema, could do nothing to keep out Ronaldo’s spot-kick.

The visitors had chances to go ahead again in the second half, Keylor Navas saving well from Mbappe and Sergio Ramos blocking bravely from Rabiot.

Emery then surprisingly took off Edinson Cavani and replaced him with Thomas Meunier, a right-back. But it was Zidane’s decision to send on Asensio that proved crucial.

In the space of three late minutes, Asensio saw one cross palmed out by Areola and then rebound into the net off Ronaldo’s thigh, before another assist was finished off by Marcelo, potentially finishing the tie in the process.

Champions League: Real Madrid’s Season To be Determined by PSG’s Tie – Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted that Real Madrid’s season is now effectively all about their loud Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain as the Spanish giants tare struggling in the LaLiga.

“The tie…is one that could define the whole season,” the Portuguese forward stated on the Real’s website after picking up a prize for best player in the world last season.

“We’re going to come up against a great team with excellent players, whom we respect a lot’’.

“But we’ve already shown that we have a very strong, united and experienced group in this competition.”

Real host PSG at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday in the first leg of their last-16 tie, with the return set for March 6 in the French capital.

Zinedine Zidane’s side have won the Champions League in each of the last two seasons, and it is eight years since Real were eliminated at this stage.

Madrid are currently fourth in La Liga, 17 points behind leaders Barcelona, albeit with a game in hand.

That is despite a big 5-2 win over Real Sociedad at the weekend, a game in which Ronaldo scored a hat-trick.

Champions League: PSG Tie Set To Define Real Madrid Season – Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted that Real Madrid’s season is now effectively all about their looming Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain as the Spanish giants trail off the pace in La Liga.

“The tie…is one that could define the whole season,” the Portuguese forward told Real’s website after picking up a prize for best player in the world last season from the website Goal.com.

“We’re going to come up against a great team with excellent players, whom we respect a lot.

“But we’ve already shown that we have a very strong, united and experienced group in this competition.”

Real host PSG at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday in the first leg of their last-16 tie, with the return set for March 6 in the French capital.

Zinedine Zidane’s side have won the Champions League in each of the last two seasons, and it is eight years since Real were eliminated at this stage.

Madrid are currently fourth in La Liga, 17 points behind leaders Barcelona, albeit with a game in hand.

That is despite a big 5-2 win over Real Sociedad at the weekend, a game in which Ronaldo scored a hat-trick.

AFP

Champions League: Ronaldo Is Not Finished, PSG Will Pay Particular Attention To Him – Mbappe

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has endured a less than stellar season but Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe has dismissed suggestions the Portugal captain is on the decline.

Speaking after his side’s 4-1 Coupe de France win over Sochaux Tuesday, Mbappe played down claims the 33-year-old’s best was behind him.

“Ronaldo is not on the decline. If he is on the decline, there are many more players on the decline then,” he said.

“He is a great player. But we hope he will remain quiet against us. We will prepare for the game by paying attention to all their strengths. And he is one of their strengths in the team.”

Ronaldo has been below his usual incredible level this season, including scoring just eight goals in 17 LaLiga games but the Portuguese star has netted nine in six Champions League outings heading into his team’s last-16 first leg against PSG.

The first leg of the tie will be played in Madrid February 14.

Real Madrid Without Ronaldo Unimaginable – Zidane

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane on Wednesday dismissed media speculation linking superstar Cristiano Ronaldo with a move away from the Bernabeu.

“I can’t imagine a Madrid without Cristiano,” said the Frenchman, a World Cup winner as a player.

“He’s in his club. Everyone, the club, the fans, want him.

“We know what can be said outside but within, what Cristiano must do is just think about playing as he has been doing, and that’s what I want, to talk only about his attitude and what he can bring us.”

With the January transfer window open, speculation has been rife over a possible exit for Ronaldo from the Spanish capital, with former club Manchester United a rumoured eventual destination.

Some have been trying to read an intent to leave into his attitude but Zidane insists Ronaldo has only one focus.

“I speak with Cristiano about the pitch and when he comes here he only talks about the pitch and that’s best for everyone,” added the coach who has led Real to back-to-back Champions League victories as well as last season’s La Liga title.

Real, though, have struggled this season and are down in fourth in La Liga following Saturday’s shock 1-0 defeat at home to Villarreal.

That left them a mammoth 19 points behind eternal rivals Barcelona. They have a Spanish Cup clash against Leganes on Thursday and having finished second in their Champions League group to Tottenham and with a last 16 clash against Paris Saint-Germain to come, the domestic cup looks their likeliest route to silverware this season.

“It’s not a final but we know that every match we have now is hugely important,” added Zidane.

AFP

Neymar May Make £357m Move To Real Madrif

Neymar could be set to smash his own world-record transfer fee and make a sensational move to Real Madrid.

The former Barcelona star became the most expensive footballer in history when he moved to PSG for £198million in August.

But after less than six months in France, it appears the Brazilian is already eyeing his next big transfer, according to reports in Spain.

Marca’s front page yesterday claims the 25-year-old is the Galactico ‘most craved’ at the Spanish giants, but would cost an eye-watering £357m.

Neymar is believed to want the move, the Brazilian’s camp giving signals of his desire to play at the Bernabeu one day despite his Barcelona background.

The Spanish newspaper claims the Galactico policy is one they are keen to revive, having not made such a purchase since the acquisition of James Rodriguez in 2014.

With Real trailing Barcelona by 16 points in La Liga, club president Florentino Perez is keen to make a statement in the transfer market.

Marca claim that Madrid have also considered other options, including Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and Timo Werner, but have made Neymar the priority.

They are determined not to go behind the backs of PSG, and will not pursue a move without the prior knowledge of the Parisian club.