Real Madrid round-up: Levante, Valverde, Mbappé, Van de Beek
Thursday's round-up of Real Madrid tidbits: Jovic and Bale return; Casemiro on Valvederde; Mbappé and Van de Beek talk; and Silva a doubt for Man City's trip to the Bernabéu.
Madrid train ahead of Levante clash
Real Madrid continued their preparations ahead of a massive eight days of fixtures, which begins with the trip to Levante on Saturday, followed by the Champions League tie with Manchester City and a crunch Clásico clash with Barcelona, on Wednesday and Sunday, respectively.
Gareth Bale and Luka Jovic returned to training with the group after both players missed Wednesday’s session due to gastroenteritis. The only players who weren’t in attendance were Mariano and Marco Asensio, who, of course, has been out all season due to an ACL injury.
Madrid will look to get back to winning ways after the disappointing 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo at the Bernabéu last weekend, where the visitors found an equaliser in the dying minutes. Madrid’s last trip to Levante in February 2019 saw Los Blancos run in 2-1 winners thanks to goals from Bale and Karim Benzema.
Casemiro explains where Valverde’s future lies
Fede Valverde has been one of the unexpected sensations for Real Madrid this season, catapulting himself into the position of regular starter for Zinedine Zidane. The young Uruguayan has been widely considered a defensive midfielder. However speaking to Revista Líbero about his team mate, Casemiro said he believes Valverde has all the hallmarks to become a great number ‘8’ at the Bernabéu rather than playing in a more retreated position as he does.
“In my opinion, I don’t think he’s a ‘5’. He can control the ball, he can play the physical game in the centre of the field. He can play from box-to-box. I think he is more an ‘8’,” said Casemiro.
“I can’t play there but he has the quality to play in the middle… I think his best position is ‘8’, to attack, to move around the pitch and tactically he is very good. So, I think’s he more of an ‘8’ than a ‘6’ of ‘5’ like me.”
Mbappé and Van de Beek talk
Ajax midfielder Donny Van de Beek had been heavily linked with Real Madrid last summer as a ‘Plan B’ to Paul Pogba. However talk of the young midfielder – who launched himself into the spotlight amid an impressive showing with the Dutch club in the Champions League last season – joining Los Blancos has died down in recent months.
And Ajax coach, Erik Ten Hag, is now hopeful that Van de Beek will remain in Amsterdam, at least for the foreseeable future. “I do not think so [that he will leave]," Ten Hag told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday. “He has had a great evolution and has attracted international attention. There are players who are in the spotlight and then things change.”
Meanwhile, former Galáctico Luis Figo has spoken of the possibility of Madrid singing another well-known target, Kylian Mbappé, who he said "would be a great signing" for his old club. Though he believes it will not be an easy operation.
"Mbappé is a young player, one of the best in the world, one of the most expensive too. He is in a team that has no financial problems, I do not know if it will be possible to sign him,” said Figo. "But he would be a great signing for Real Madrid."
David Silva a doubt for City for Madrid clash
Manchester City have been handed a big blow ahead of their trip to the Spanish capital, as David Silva has emerged as a doubt for the clash with Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Silva limped off in the final moments of City’s game against West Ham at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday after he was on the end of a crunching tackle from Angelo Ogbonna.
David Silva races to recover from injury in time for Real Madrid clash pic.twitter.com/N5RQJfguN8— Futball News (@FutballNews_) February 20, 2020
On this day: February 20, 2005
Zinedine Zidane was among the Real Madrid players training on Sunday February 20, 2005, two days ahead of the clash with Zizou’s old club, Juventus, at the Bernabéu in the last 16 Champions League tie. Los Blancos won that first leg 1-0 thanks to a goal by Iván Helguera, but were beaten 2-0 in the second leg in Turin as Juve went through 2-1 winners on aggregate.
“Former Juve star Zinedine Zidane was showing his class with some typically outrageous flicks and tricks but all the quality attacking play was still coming from the home side,” read the BBC report of the Turin fixture, where the Old Lady found an extremely late extra time goal through Marcelo Zalayeta to avoid a penalty a shoot-out.
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