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Bale is throwing Zidane off balance


Slavia came away from the Camp Nou with a draw and, judging by their celebrations, you would have thought they had just qualified for the next phase of the competition. Such is Barcelona’s prestige, although on this occasion they walked off the pitch disgruntled because, despite topping the group and the LaLiga table, they are not happy with themselves. This lack of satisfaction also stretches to their fans, to people who are used to greater things. Slavia’s collective play was commendable and they looked dangerous in the first half, before Barcelona at least found some rhythm in the second and Slavia’s keeper Kopar became a key figure in the final outcome. This was a minor slip for Barça, but one that confirms that all is not quite right.

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Valencia come back to thrash Lille

We move from disappointment at the Camp Nou to delight at Mestalla, where a night of catharsis played out and should be a watershed moment for Valencia’s season after so much unease at the beginning. After going into the break 1-0 down and with things looking ominous (partly self-inflicted after a lack of commitment and passion), they came out firing and shone in the second, scoring four goals in front of an enraptured crowd. Four goals which came through flowing attacking football and which marked Valencia’s second successive win – for the first time in 16 games. Now the mouth-watering visit of Chelsea awaits, a game which promises extravagance.    

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Real Madrid welcome Galatasaray

Madrid host Galatasaray with an air of Bale’s facetiousness hanging over it. Bale has been called up by Wales, despite being injured, as Zidane drags around a burden that is undermining him. Now he says they are on good terms and acknowledge each other and claims the whole not wanting Bale at the club was just nonsense. The “it’s better if he leaves tomorrow” business has been forgotten, but, after the first kick of the ball tonight, we will forget about Bale and Madrid are expected to seal a much-needed win. Atlético, meanwhile, travel to Leverkusen with Simeone going to great lengths to get back Diego Costa, whom he expects to make up a front three with Morata and Correa, given that João Félix is still out injured.