Real Madrid roundup: Spain, Athletic, Vinicius, Casillas...
In today's roundup: Luis Enrique's Madrid-heavy selection; Vinicius wonder goal; Casillas debut and another ECA award.
Luis Enrique fields six Madrid players against Croatia
Luis Enrique was the first Spain manager to start six players from Real Madrid in 16 years, which is made more interesting by the fact that he is the former coach of Barcelona, who only had one representative in the first 11 in Sergio Busquets. With Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Nacho Fernandez, Dani Ceballos, Isco and Marco Asensio, the new coach got his selection spot on as Spain thrashed Croatia 6-0, thanks mainly to Asensio, who played a part in five of the six goals, scoring one.
As a former Barca coach, it was an inevitable that his Madrid-heavy selection choice would be a talking point, although Luis Enrique did not want anything to be read into it. "I did not know or care,” he said. "They belong to the Spanish national team, nothing more. They're not from one team or another. I see only the shirt of the national team.”
Bale, Kroos and Varane return
After international duty with their respective nations, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Raphael Varane returned to training at Valdebebas yesterday as they prepare for the trip to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. Madrid will have their work cut out to make it four wins from four at the San Memes, a stadium in which Bale has yet to score.
Julen Lopetegui will see 10 more internationals return throughout the week: Luka Modric, Sergio Ramos, Nacho Fernández, Isco Alarcón, Dani Carvajal, Marco Asensio, Thibaut Courtois, Keylor Navas, Casemiro and Dani Ceballos.
Vinicius scores another screamer
Vinicius keeps giving the Real Madrid TV cameramen plenty of fodder at training sessions. This time, he amazed his team-mates with an incredibly acrobatic overhead kick which left Keylor Navas with no chance.
Vinicius continues to play with Castilla and will likely line out at Alfredo Di Stefano stadium for their Second Division B match against Unionistas de Salamanca on Sunday. After watching this goal, Madridistas will be wondering how long more Lopetegui can wait to unleash the young Brazilian starlet on LaLiga.
Iker Casillas made debut 19 years ago today
Madrid play Athletic Bilbao at the San Memes this weekend, which, coincidentally, was the same stadium that a fresh-faced 18-year-old Iker Casillas made his debut 19 years ago today. From that day, Casillas went on to play another 732 games for Madrid, winning five leagues, two Copa del Rey, four Spanish Supercups and three Champions Leagues.
As the end of his career approaches, the World Cup winner recently spoke a future in coaching. And, who knows, maybe he will follow former team-mates Raul, Xabi Alonso and Roberto Carlos by earning his coaching badges at Madrid’s underage setup in the next few years.
Madrid named club of the year
After a third consecutive Champions League title and fourth in five years, the European Club Association (ECA) has chosen Real Madrid as the European Club of the Year 2018 for their “outstanding achievements during the 2017/18 season at European level.” This is the fourth time in five years Madrid has won the award, the first of which was handed out nine years ago.