By Tim Stannard
1) Zidane says James should tough it out with Real Madrid team
If Coach Zizou is going to win a first league title for Real Madrid in five seasons, then the rookie French manager is going to have to do it the hard way. Days after Gareth Bale was ruled out for up to three months with ankle issues, Raphael Varane is now on the sidelines with a knee-knack and misses out Saturday’s home visit of Sporting. The Gijon variety this time.
“These things happen,” sighed Zidane with a metaphorical shrug of resignation, so true to his mysterious Gallic ways. The Real Madrid manager was speaking ahead of Saturday’s Bernabeu clash and was naturally asked about what the plague of injuries and locusts at the club means for James Rodriguez, a bench-warmer once again.
Or not a bench-warmer says Coach Zizou ignoring all reality. “It’s not true that he never plays,” claimed Zidane on the Colombian exile, also promising that “he’ll have minutes” with the advice that “he should stay at this great club.” A good point. After all, someone needs to hand out those water bottles.
Real Madrid against Sporting is live on beIN SPORTS on Saturday morning from 10:05AM ET / 7:05AM PT. But catch a full preview on the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT and all the goals from around the world on Friday.
2) More Man Utd breadcrumbs from Griezmann clan
Antoine Griezmann to Manchester United? Anyone, anyone, anyone?
Just days after the Atletico Madrid striker revealed that he had been asking Paul Pogba about the Old Trafford outfit, Thursday night saw the Frenchman’s brother posting a series of excited Tweets about the English club. And seeing as Tweets are as good as cold, hard facts these days, a summer move to Old Trafford looks one-hundred percent on the cards.
3) Zlatan backs record-breaking Rooney
King Zlatan has been quite the busy body this week in front of the media.
There were more musings from the kung-Fu king on Thursday night after Manchester United’s 4-0 Europa League win against Feyenoord. And they were sharp instructions for the world to climb off Wayne Rooney’s back after the striker opened the scoring against the Dutch opponents.
“They should show more respect for him,” suggested the super Swede on a footballer who is just two goals from becoming Manchester United’s all-time top goal-scorer.
4) Balotelli breaks down for table-topping Nice
One of the heart-tingling success stories in European football this season has been Nice holding firm at the top of the Ligue Un table.
That effort might be just that little bit harder with the boss of the French club, Lucien Favre, revealing that Mario Balotelli will miss the next three matches for the team after injuring himself in shooting practice. Balotelli has racked up six Ligue Un goals this season for a team that currently hold a three-point lead at the top of the table.
The French league action gets underway on Friday on beIN SPORTS CONNECT with Stade Rennais taking on a Toulouse side and looking for a win to move the outfit into the top four.
5) Maradona takes in some tennis
Tennis has one last belch of activity before a temporary lull of restful contentment. The Davis Cup is underway, the competition to find the best tennis country in the world. This year’s final sees Croatia taking on Argentina over the course of the next three days starting on Friday with two singles clashes. Heck, the weekend is so huge that even Diego Maradona is in Zagreb to catch the action.
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