european champions

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Tarnished Modric key to Croatia World Cup hopes

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Zagreb (AFP) – Croatia will hope Real Madrid star Luka Modric can carry the nation to the World Cup finals as they go into the first leg of a tricky play-off with Greece on Thursday.

The 32-year-old captain has faced a tumultuous year, with his shining reputation tarnished by a scandal in June over allegedly false testimony he gave at a major corruption trial.

Written-off Real Madrid will rebel, says Ramos

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos warned those writing off the European champions will be “put in their place” despite an alarming slump in form that has left them eight points off Barcelona at the top of La Liga after just 10 games.

A 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on Wednesday followed hot on the heels of a shock 2-1 reverse at promoted Girona as for only the second time in his short managerial career, Zinedine Zidane’s side have lost back-to-back matches.

Written-off Real Madrid will rebel, says Ramos

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos warned those writing off the European champions will be “put in their place” despite an alarming slump in form that has left them eight points off Barcelona at the top of La Liga after just 10 games.

A 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on Wednesday followed hot on the heels of a shock 2-1 reverse at promoted Girona as for only the second time in his short managerial career, Zinedine Zidane’s side have lost back-to-back matches.

Real Madrid travel to Girona in eye of political storm

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Madrid (AFP) – After watching Barcelona cope ably with the distraction of political tension sweeping across Spain in recent weeks, it is Real Madrid’s turn to head into the eye of the storm on Sunday when they travel to Girona.

It is the European champions’ first trip to Catalonia since violence marred a separatist called independence referendum for the region on October 1 that has sparked weeks of political chaos.

Ronaldo, Portugal lock down World Cup berth

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Lisbon (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal defeated Switzerland 2-0 in Lisbon on Tuesday to earn a place at the 2018 World Cup and consign their opponents to next month’s play-offs.

An own goal from Johan Djourou handed the European champions the lead on 41 minutes and Andre Silva netted a second before the hour as Portugal finished top of Group B ahead of Switzerland on goal difference.

Bale strikes in vital Madrid win at Sociedad

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Madrid (AFP) – Gareth Bale responded in style to his critics with a fine finish as Real Madrid got back to winning ways with a 3-1 win at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Borja Mayoral rewarded a bright start by Real with his first Madrid goal before Sociedad’s Kevin Rodrigues scored at both ends to give the visitors a 2-1 half-time lead.

Real Madrid post higher revenues but profits drop

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid’s revenue grew by almost nine percent last season to 674.6 million euros ($897.2 million), the European champions said on Friday.

The results for the 2016/17 financial year, which Real said were without taking into account capital gains from player transfers, were up 8.

Isco signs four-year Real contract extension

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid attacking midfielder Isco has signed a four-year contract extension which will keep him with the European champions until 2022, the La Liga club announced on Thursday.

The 25-year-old has become a key part of Zinedine Zidane’s side in recent months, scoring 11 goals in all competitions last season as Real won the Champions League and La Liga titles.

Ronaldo return eases Zidane’s striker shortage

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has underlined the importance of welcoming back World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo for the holders Champions League opener against APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday.

Ronaldo has been suspended for Real’s last four games after pushing a referee in the Spanish Super Cup and has been badly missed as the European champions have been held at home by Valencia and Levante in their last two outings.

Ronaldo return eases Zidane’s striker shortage

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has underlined the importance of welcoming back World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo for the holders Champions League opener against APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday.

Ronaldo has been suspended for Real’s last four games after pushing a referee in the Spanish Super Cup and has been badly missed as the European champions have been held at home by Valencia and Levante in their last two outings.

Prudent Real Madrid remain Champions League favourites

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Madrid (AFP) – Such is Real Madrid’s confidence in creating more Champions League history that while others have spent hundreds of millions trying to catch up, the back-to-back European champions were happy to cash in.

Real made a profit of over 75 million euros ($90 million) in the transfer market thanks to the departures of Alvaro Morata, James Rodriguez and Danilo.

El Clasico switched to December 23

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Madrid (AFP) – La Liga president Javier Tebas confirmed on Monday that the first El Clasico of the season between Real Madrid and Barcelona will be played on December 23 at 1:00 pm (1200GMT).

The clash was expected to take place on December 20 as part of a full midweek round of fixtures before Spain’s winter break.

Real Madrid held by Levante as Marcelo sees red

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid paid for the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and a series of missed chances by Gareth Bale as they were held 1-1 at home by Levante on Saturday.

A slow start by a much-changed Real team was punished when Ivi Lopez fired newly-promoted Levante into a shock lead after just 12 minutes.

Portugal replace injured Pizzi with Bruno Fernandes

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Lisbon (AFP) – Bruno Fernandes of Sporting Lisbon has been called up to the Portugal squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Hungary after the withdrawal of Pizzi, the Portuguese Football Federation announced Monday.

Benfica midfielder Pizzi, 27, was there as the European champions gathered near the capital Lisbon on Monday but was later released and allowed to go back to his club.

Portugal replace injured Pizzi with Bruno Fernandes

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Lisbon (AFP) – Bruno Fernandes of Sporting Lisbon has been called up to the Portugal squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Hungary after the withdrawal of Pizzi, the Portuguese Football Federation announced Monday.

Benfica midfielder Pizzi, 27, was there as the European champions gathered near the capital Lisbon on Monday but was later released and allowed to go back to his club.

Real Madrid ready to go without Ronaldo against United in Super Cup

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Skopje (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo has finally returned to training with Real Madrid but the defending European champions are set to be without the Portuguese superstar in Tuesday’s UEFA Super Cup clash with Manchester United in Skopje.

Ronaldo’s summer has been overshadowed by accusations of tax evasion in Spain, which led to him being charged in a court near Madrid last week, while he was handed an extended summer break by his club after playing for Portugal at the Confederations Cup.

Real Madrid ready to go without Ronaldo against United in Super Cup

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Skopje (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo has finally returned to training with Real Madrid but the defending European champions are set to be without the Portuguese superstar in Tuesday’s UEFA Super Cup clash with Manchester United in Skopje.

Ronaldo’s summer has been overshadowed by accusations of tax evasion in Spain, which led to him being charged in a court near Madrid last week, while he was handed an extended summer break by his club after playing for Portugal at the Confederations Cup.

Portugal beat Mexico to finish third at the Confederations Cup

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Moscow (AFP) – Adrien Silva scored an extra-time penalty as Portugal recovered from a goal down to beat Mexico 2-1 in Sunday’s third-place play-off at the Confederations Cup in Moscow.

Luis Neto bundled into his own net to hand Mexico a 54th-minute lead, but Pepe stabbed home a stoppage-time equaliser to force an extra 30 minutes at Spartak Stadium.

Ronaldo hits milestone as Portugal sink New Zealand

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Saint Petersburg (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 75th international goal as Portugal trounced New Zealand 4-0 in Saint Petersburg on Saturday to advance to the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup.

The Real Madrid star struck from the penalty spot on 33 minutes to fire the European champions in front before Bernardo Silva turned in a second goal four minutes later.

Ronaldo hits milestone as Portugal sink New Zealand

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Saint Petersburg (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 75th international goal as Portugal trounced New Zealand 4-0 in Saint Petersburg on Saturday to advance to the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup.

The Real Madrid star struck from the penalty spot on 33 minutes to fire the European champions in front before Bernardo Silva turned in a second goal four minutes later.

New Zealand face Mexico battle to stay alive in Confederations Cup

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Sochi (Russia) (AFP) – New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson says the All Whites must be brave against Mexico, knowing defeat on Wednesday will effectively end their Confederations Cup hopes.

Their 2-0 loss to hosts Russia in Saturday’s opening Group A match means Oceania champions New Zealand have now gone a record 10 games without a win at the Confederations Cup having left the 1999, 2003 and 2009 editions empty-handed.

New Zealand face Mexico battle to stay alive in Confederations Cup

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Sochi (Russia) (AFP) – New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson says the All Whites must be brave against Mexico, knowing defeat on Wednesday will effectively end their Confederations Cup hopes.

Their 2-0 loss to hosts Russia in Saturday’s opening Group A match means Oceania champions New Zealand have now gone a record 10 games without a win at the Confederations Cup having left the 1999, 2003 and 2009 editions empty-handed.

Ronaldo’s Real rage genuine or a cunning ploy?

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Madrid (AFP) – Enraged by Spanish tax authorities and a perceived lack of support from Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo is threatening to leave the European champions, but is it genuine or part of a greater ploy?

Ronaldo’s departure from Real, reportedly a given according to a Portuguese newspaper, triggered an avalanche of speculation over the potential destination of the world’s highest-paid athlete.

Ronaldo’s Real rage genuine or a cunning ploy?

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Madrid (AFP) – Enraged by Spanish tax authorities and a perceived lack of support from Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo is threatening to leave the European champions, but is it genuine or part of a greater ploy?

Ronaldo’s departure from Real, reportedly a given according to a Portuguese newspaper, triggered an avalanche of speculation over the potential destination of the world’s highest-paid athlete.

Troubled Ronaldo eyes more silverware at Confederations Cup

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Kazan (Russia) (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo will put speculation over his club future firmly to one side as he leads European champions Portugal into their Confederations Cup opener against Mexico in Kazan on Sunday.

The 32-year-old Real Madrid superstar’s build-up to the tournament in Russia has been overshadowed after he was this week accused by prosecutors in Spain of defrauding the authorities of 14.

Troubled Ronaldo eyes more silverware at Confederations Cup

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Kazan (Russia) (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo will put speculation over his club future firmly to one side as he leads European champions Portugal into their Confederations Cup opener against Mexico in Kazan on Sunday.

The 32-year-old Real Madrid superstar’s build-up to the tournament in Russia has been overshadowed after he was this week accused by prosecutors in Spain of defrauding the authorities of 14.

Portugal can win Confederations Cup: Santos

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Lisbon (AFP) – Portugal coach Fernando Santos said on Monday that the European champions are expecting to challenge for the title at the Confederations Cup in Russia.

Powered by four-times world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal kick off their Group A campaign on Sunday against Mexico in Kazan.

Portugal can win Confederations Cup: Santos

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Lisbon (AFP) – Portugal coach Fernando Santos said on Monday that the European champions are expecting to challenge for the title at the Confederations Cup in Russia.

Powered by four-times world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal kick off their Group A campaign on Sunday against Mexico in Kazan.

Future stars on show as wide-open U20 football World Cup kicks off

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Seoul (AFP) – The FIFA Under-20 World Cup kicks off in South Korea on Saturday and looks wide open after the 2015 champions Serbia and beaten finalists Brazil both failed to qualify.

Some of the world’s top young footballing talent will be on display with more than 500 players in 24 teams taking part, but the bookmakers are split on who to make favourites.

Future stars on show as wide-open U20 football World Cup kicks off

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Seoul (AFP) – The FIFA Under-20 World Cup kicks off in South Korea on Saturday and looks wide open after the 2015 champions Serbia and beaten finalists Brazil both failed to qualify.

Some of the world’s top young footballing talent will be on display with more than 500 players in 24 teams taking part, but the bookmakers are split on who to make favourites.

Real seal multi-million Telefonica deal

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid signed a 15-million-euro ($16 million) sponsorship deal with Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica on Thursday, the European champions said.

The two-year agreement will swell Real’s coffers once more - Deloitte’s Football Money League 2017 puts the Champions League winners third only to Manchester United and then great rivals Barcelona for annual revenue.

Real seal multi-million Telefonica deal

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid signed a 15-million-euro ($16 million) sponsorship deal with Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica on Thursday, the European champions said.

The two-year agreement will swell Real’s coffers once more - Deloitte’s Football Money League 2017 puts the Champions League winners third only to Manchester United and then great rivals Barcelona for annual revenue.

Zidane relishes showdown with Ancelotti

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Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists he will be the “pupil” to Carlo Ancelotti’s “master” when the European champions face Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Zidane was Ancelotti’s assistant when Madrid won their 10th European Cup in 2014 before going onto match the Italian’s achievement by winning the Champions League in his debut season as coach last year.

Reina out to stop old Premier League foe Ronaldo

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Milan (AFP) – If Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina reproduces the kind of form that was key to Saturday’s 2-1 win over Roma against Real Madrid in midweek, a Champions League upset could be on the cards.

But the former Barcelona and Liverpool shot-stopper would be forgiven for also hoping Cristiano Ronaldo forgets his shooting boots Tuesday when Napoli bid to overturn a 3-1 first leg, last 16 defeat against the 11-time European champions.

Benzema puts Ronaldo-less Madrid back on top

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Madrid (AFP) – Karim Benzema scored twice as Real Madrid made light of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale’s absence to move back to the top of La Liga with a 4-1 win at Eibar on Saturday.

Benzema proved decisive when he was needed most by the European champions without his usual strike partners as the Frenchman finished twice from close range inside the first 25 minutes.

Benzema puts Ronaldo-less Madrid back on top

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Madrid (AFP) – Karim Benzema scored twice as Real Madrid made light of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale’s absence to move back to the top of La Liga with a 4-1 win at Eibar on Saturday.

Benzema proved decisive when he was needed most by the European champions without his usual strike partners as the Frenchman finished twice from close range inside the first 25 minutes.

Critics part of being at Madrid – Zidane

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insisted there is still plenty for the European champions to be positive about on Saturday despite a run of just one win in five games.

Madrid were dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Celta Vigo on Wednesday and have seen their lead at the top of La Liga cut to just a point from Sevilla after being defeated by their closest challengers for the first time in 40 matches two weeks ago.

“Lucky” Zidane determined to win group

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Madrid (AFP) Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insists the European champions aren't prepared to settle for second place behind Borussia Dortmund in Champions League Group F despite the potential for an easier last 16 tie.

Madrid need to beat the German giants at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday to secure top spot and the second leg of their last 16 clash at home.

The Rest

USA vs. Portugal, live stream: Start time, TV channel, and how to watch International Friendly online

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The memory of Couva is still raw, but it's time to turn over the roster. Watch the youth of the USMNT take on the reigning European Champions.

Author's Note: Yes, we are really doing a gamethread for the Portugal friendly. As much as your author wanted to type {This Space Intentionally Left Blank} under all Three Big Storylines, at some point we need to move on from the disaster that was Couva, Trinidad on October 10th.

Winning el Clasico for Johan Cruyff motivates Barcelona, says Iniesta

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Photo credit: AFP

Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta says the European champions will be extra motivated to honor legendary former player and coach Johan Cruyff when they host Real Madrid in Spain's El Clasico on Saturday.

More than 90,000 fans will take part in a pre-match display reading "thank you Johan" in Barca's first match since the Dutch master died at the age of 68 last week after a five-month battle with lung cancer.