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Resting Ronaldo – Why Zidane is right to bench Real Madrid star



The Portuguese returns on Sunday after he was left out of the Copa del Rey clash at Sevilla on Thursday, but he is playing less than ever in 2016-17

He used to play in every single game. Cristiano Ronaldo has been virtually ever-present during his time at Real Madrid, sitting out only an occasional match here or there. These days, however, he is featuring in fewer fixtures.

Madrid have played a total of 29 matches in 2016-17 and Ronaldo has been involved in 20 of those, missing nine and also substituted in another four. In total, he has been on the pitch for 1,773 minutes, lower than any other season except his debut campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu when he was sidelined for an extended spell through injury.

And injury is partly behind his reduced role this time around. The Portuguese missed the start of the season after suffering a serious knee problem in the final of Euro 2016 and he was forced to sit out Madrid’s first three matches this term.

When he returned, he was eased back by coach Zinedine Zidane, playing 66 minutes against Osasuna before missing the away game at Espanyol altogether. He was then substituted by Zidane after 72 minutes in Las Palmas, clearly infuriated to be leaving the pitch early on that occasion.

As in previous seasons, he was left out for the first round of the Copa del Rey, sitting out the games against Cultural Leonesa. He was then absent again for the home fixture against Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga in December in order to rest ahead of the Club World Cup, and did not take part in the home and away games versus Sevilla in the cup earlier in January.

The 31-year-old has ended two of the last three seasons with fitness problems and Zidane is keen to avoid something similar this time around as Madrid seek silverware in La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League at the end of the current campaign.

« We have spoken, Ronaldo and I, about rotation, » Zidane said recently. « I think the press have to realise that this is a very intelligent player. My idea is that he’s in good shape throughout the season.

« Playing 20 games maybe in 70 days is a lot. Every now and then he needs to rest and he agrees with me so there’s no problem there. Of course he’s a footballer and he wants to play week in, week out, every game. But we talked it through. »

It makes sense. Ronaldo has been affected by knee problems in recent seasons, struggled at the business end of the campaign in both 2013-14 and 2015-16, and he will also turn 32 in just over three weeks.

The Portuguese has already changed his game over the past couple of seasons to become more of a penalty-box player than a winger, conserving his energy more efficiently as he gets older and aware of the physical limitations with which he has to cope.

Nevertheless, there are few players in world football who take care of themselves like he does and the Portuguese reiterated in December that he would like to continue playing for 10 more years.

If that really is the plan, then he will be conscious that he cannot play every single game. Zidane knows that too and given the spectacular strength in depth of the current Madrid squad, the Frenchman is able to rest the three-time Ballon d’Or winner and still send out excellent teams.

Not only that, but the idea is to be able to call on a fitter and fresher Cristiano – all the way until the end of the season. And at the moment, with Ronaldo resting and Madrid unbeaten in 40 matches, it’s working out just fine.


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Jordan Ayew tops English Premier League sprint chart after 16 matches



Ghana forward Jordan Ayew has been rated as the player with most sprints in the English Premier League after 16 round of games.

The Swansea City attacker has always been faced with criticisms for his lack of work ethos when playing for the Ghana’s senior national team.

But the former Olympique Marseille man appears to have had the best statistics in arguably the world’s best championship in terms of a player that has made the most sprints in the league after 16 matches

The 25-year-old heads the list of the 10 players ahead of speedsters including Hector Bellerin of Arsenal, Delle Alli of Tottenham and Richarlison of Watford.

According to the, with their high intensity and counter-attacking football, Manchester City have wracked up the most sprints so far this season with a whopping 6198.

However, relegation-threatened West Ham have managed a measly 4942.

Surprisingly, Manchester United only have the 15th highest amount of sprints with 5210.

Even though Manchester City have wracked up the most sprints as a team, no individual star of Pep Guardiola’s side makes the top 10.

So which Premier League ace has sprinted the most times?

1. Jordan Ayew (Swansea) – 796 sprints

2. Delle Alli (Tottenham) – 742 sprints

3. Jay Rodriguez (Burnley) – 715 sprints

4. Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)- 695 sprints

5. Tom Cleverley (Watford) – 695 sprints

6. Tom Ince (Huddersfield) – 683 sprints

7. Abdoulaye Doucore (Watford) – 682 sprints

8. Richarlison (Watford) – 677 sprints

9. Erik Pieters (Stoke) – 669 sprints

10. Pascal Gross (Brighton) – 662 sprints

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Pots announced for Final Draw



With Peru completing the line-up of 32 teams for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, we now know the seeding pots for the Final Draw on 1 December.

It was confirmed in September, by the Organising Committee for FIFA Competitions, that all teams will be allocated to (eight-team) pots 1 to 4 based on sporting principles. The October 2017 edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be used to allocate all qualified teams to the four pots according to their ranking in descending order, after hosts Russia who take the top seeding spot.

With those factors in mind, here are the final pots for the Final Draw:

POT 1 Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France
POT 2 Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia
POT 3 Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran
POT 4 Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia

It is worth remembering that the principle of drawing the teams into the groups will remain unchanged. This means that no teams from the same confederation, with the exception of UEFA, which could have up to two teams in the same group, will be drawn into the same group.

The Final Draw will take place on Friday 1 December at Moscow’s State Kremlin Palace.

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« We do not want him at Real Madrid anymore »



Real Madrid are in a bad situation in the league, the club of Casa Blanca is currently third in Liga behind Valencia and Barça, the Catalans have taken a big lead, and this could definitely make them lose the championship in the winter. And a Madrid club player is highlighted in these poor results.

101 million euros for his transfer, 23 injuries since, 73 matches missed or 55% of the matches of his team. Statistics that would drive any coach and / or leaders crazy. You have it ?

These are the figures of Gareth Bale since his arrival at Real Madrid in the summer of 2013 from Tottenham. Whoever has played only nine games in the year 2017/2018 seems to have seriously undermined the patience of its leaders. Just back from a calf injury, he was summoned by the Welsh side to face France in a friendly last Friday, but made the choice to stay in Madrid to prepare for the derby against Atletico Madrid. But, the blow, the Welsh injured during training last Thursday and will be absent about a month.

What continue to fuel the rumors of transfers but especially what cause irritation of the board leader. The latter, tired of not being able to align their triplet « BBC », have made a decision that should be irrevocable, according to the Madrid newspaper AS: It must leave this summer. And the Spanish media also explains that the president of the Madrilenian club, Florentino Perez, added:

« We do not want him at Real Madrid anymore »
Yet strongly criticized last season, Bale had managed to avoid a departure last summer, claiming to want to win at Real Madrid. This year, his start to the season does not plead in his favor and he seems to have exhausted all his jokers in the Spanish capital. The departure of the Welsh international therefore seems to have been recorded.

The rumor of a return to the Premier League, Manchester United in particular, has been reactivated but the number of contenders could quickly evolve in view of the quality of the player. Be careful though, the Welsh is signed until 2022, and Florentino Perez is determined not to sell his player.

Unless a return to its best level, it is difficult to see how the Welsh international could reverse the situation. Zinedine Zidane even found his replacement for 100 million euros.

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