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Real Madrid round-up: Ceballos, Champions League, Espanyol

Real Madrid round-up: Ceballos, Champions League, Espanyol

PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU

AFP

A round-up of all the latest news in and around the Santiago Bernabeu as Lopetegui's men prepare for their debut in the Champions League 18/19 group stage.

A key week ahead for Real Madrid as "Los Blancos" begin the defence of their Champions League throne with the start of the 2018/19 season group stage at the Bernabeu where they face Roma.

Champions League favourites

Tonight sees the group stage for the 2018/19 Champions League get underway with Madrid opening their campaign tomorrow against Roma. Despite winning the past three competitions, Lopetegui's side are considered only fifth or sixth favourites with the bookies to lift the trophy on June 1st. with Manchester City the unanimous favourite. 

Dutch UCL official  

Bjorn Kuipers has been designated by UEFA to oversee tomorrow's Champions League tie at the Santiago Bernabeu as Madrid welcome Serie A side AS Roma to the Spanish capital. The Dutch official was the man in the middle when Real Madrid lifted their tenth European cup in Lisbon back in May 2014.

'Say cheese'

It was smiles all round at Valdebebas as Real Madrid posed for the annual first team squad photo. Both Vinicius Junior and Luca Zidane were included in the photo alongside the likes of club favourites such as Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos. 

Valdano defends Ceballos

Former Real Madrid player and manager Jorge Valdano jumped to Dani Ceballos' defence after the former Betis was subbed at San Mames by Lopetegui and has yet to impress at his new club despite a solid display for Spain last week in Elche. The Argentine claimed on the "El Transistor" radio show that: "It's crazy to think that Ceballos can go from being a great player to mediocre from a Wednesday to Saturday". 

Real Madrid's Spanish midfielder Daniel Ceballos

Mateu Lahoz

LaLiga have confirmed that veteran whistler Mateu Lahoz will take charge on Sunday night as Real Madrid face Espanyol at the Bernabeu anxious to make amends after dropping two points in the 1-1 draw away to Athletic Club in Bilbao last weekend. Kick-off on Sunday night is 20:45 CEST in the Spanish capital. 

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