Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro has called upon Los Blancos’ fans to be at their most passionate during the Champions League Final at San Siro, on Saturday.
The Brazilian hailed the Madridistas’ contribution to the Santiago Bernabeu victories over Wolfsburg and Manchester City that booked their place in Milan during an interview for bwin’s Extra Time segment.
Having nailed down his place in the Real squad this season after an impressive loan campaign at Porto in 2014/15, the 24-year-old is utterly committed to pulling off the club’s second victory in three seasons.
Sean Garnier’s freestylers are lauded across Europe, but are their skills silky enough to upstage Real Madrid’s trickiest talents?
Blancos trio Mateo Kovacic, Lucas Vazquez and Jese Rodriguez were out to prevent that happening when Garnier’s group paid a visit to Ciudad Real.
The freestylers faced the pros in a series of duels: the first a simple one-on-one, skill-showcasing battle, a foray into the a game that amalgamates elements of both football and tennis, called ‘football-tennis’ followed, before the two teams’ free kick-taking mettle was tested.
Want to know who came out on top? Check out the video above.
This contest came amid Real’s preparations for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Roma.
Los Blancos are all but assured a place in the quarter finals after claiming a 2-0 first-leg win in the Italian capital and are considered one of the likeliest trophy-lifters come the end of the season.
The 26-year-old’s suggestion that Real have yet to hit top gear is an ominous one for their opponents, after what has been a very positive start to the season.
Los Merengues have won ten of their 15 games so far, losing just once and keeping a rock-solid ten clean sheets that speak volumes for their defensive stringency under manager Rafa Benitez.
It’s 17/5 that Real can shut out the Blaugrana for the first time since the 2011 Copa del Rey final on Saturday and 17/4 they can do so as part of a win to nil.
Bale’s injury troubles have meant that he hasn’t played any part in eight of Real’s last 11 fixtures, but the world’s most expensive player tells bwin he is “ready for the battle” after returning to action in the 3-2 defeat to Sevilla earlier this month.
The Welshman famously scored the match winner against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey Final and revealed to bwin the goal was among the best he has ever scored.
Bale told bwin he is well aware that his pace and power scare defenders and there could have been no greater demonstration than that strike, which came after an incredibly defiant run from inside his own half.
He is 2/1 to score at any time against Barca, 19/4 to do so as part of a victory for his side and 8/1 to net the game’s final goal.
Yohan Cabaye, Rudy Gestede, Andre Ayew and Georginio Wijnaldum all enjoyed scoring debuts on the opening day of the Premier League season.
Yet, despite their net bulging exploits, not one was destructive enough to enter into the pantheon of the most destructive opening day inaugural outings in divisional history.
Those prestigious positions will remain on lockdown for another campaign after none of the aforementioned goal getters managed to net more than once.
Scoring at least twice was a pre-requisite for making our list of 12 luminaries, rated according to the goal-per-minute ratios of their opening day debuts.
That means that Manchester City ace Sergio Aguero remains top of the pops thanks to his first league outing for the Citizens in 2011/12.
Introduced for the last half an hour, the Argentine, 2/1 favourite to be the leading top-flight marksman this term, struck twice in an ominous foreshadowing of what was to come for the division’s defences.
Not all of those who join him on our rundown have gone on to enjoy such fruitful careers with the clubs they had just joined, but the brilliance of their debuts will remain undimmed.
Premier League big guns know there’s money to be spun in the farthest flung corners of the planet and, with each passing summer, their determination to visit each of them seems to grow.
But does the extent to which they are willing to travel in pursuit of greenbacks have any impact on their performances once the competitive action gets underway?
The last three seasons suggest it doesn’t matter how many passport stamps your club collects, so long as the wins flow on the field.
Chelsea’s 2014/15 title-winning preparation was a trip around Europe to rival that of the keenest inter-railer fresh out of university – a staggering six countries in 19 days.
No fellow ‘big-six’ rival had clocked up fewer miles than their 4,367 across the two pre-seasons preceding this but, more importantly, no one recorded as many points (working on the premise such things were awarded for positive results in non-competitive clashes) as their 22 either.
The greenhouse gas emissions from the west Londoners’ private plane can’t compare to the T-Rex-sized carbon footprint Liverpool left following their globetrotting excursion to get in shape for 2013/14 though.
Brendan Rodgers’ rampant Reds set the tone for the season ahead on their 21,992 mile journey, scoring a bucketful of goals and plundering the equivalent of 21 points on a spectacular sojourn that saw terra firma graced in Indonesia, Thailand and Australia among other destinations.
Much of the following campaign was spent mounting an unexpected and only narrowly averted title-assault.
Xabi Alonso and Dante recently took time out of their hectic schedule to call out free-kick obsessives Freekickerz for a dead ball duel at Bayern Munchen HQ.
Wannabes Konzi and Marco traded wide-by-a-whisker efforts with the professionals in the opening stages, with the amateur upstarts even having the audacity to take the lead in the challenge through a delicious effort from the latter.
That was Alonso’s cue to summon forth exactly the kind of ball-striking ability he used to punish Porto with a superb free-kick at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League quarter-final second leg.
His strike against the Portuguese Champions means he has now scored four of his eight free-kicks at goal in an FC Bayern shirt.
The Spaniard pegged back Freekickerz’s lead with a powerful effort that flew in off the underside of the crossbar.
It was left to central defender Dante, however, to restore the natural order of things with the winning strike for the Bundesliga champions.
After watching his teammate and the Freekickerz boys try again and again to best the goalkeeper to his right the Brazilian tried a change of tack.
The result was a rocket-powered left-foot humdinger into the top corner on the opposite side of the goal, prompting smiles for Bayern and both defeat and kudos for the gallant young Youtubers.
Real Madrid are gearing up to land their third win in a week when they face Atletico Madrid – bwin caught up with Gareth Bale to get the inside track.
Los Blancos are 6/4 favourites to gain revenge for their Copa del Rey exit at the hands of Diego Simeone’s men in their latest meeting.
Atleti, meanwhile, are 19/10 outsiders for victory in front of the Vicente Calderon partisans and a second consecutive draw between the two sides is a 12/5 bet.
Having played in numerous north London derbies during his time at Tottenham, Bale is vastly experienced in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a high-profile bragging-rights battle.
Despite being in just his second season at Santiago Bernabeu the Welshman has already racked up an enormous nine meetings with Real’s Madrid rivals.
He only played Arsenal once more during six campaigns as a Lilywhite.
Bale will be keen to add to the one goal he has struck against Los Colchoneros in last season’s Champions League final and can be backed at 7/4 to do so, while it’s 4/1 he bags in a Real win.
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The Welshman also found time to praise the recent form of Karim Benzema who has recently surpassed Fernando Hierro in the club’s all-time scoring list.
Benzema is 6/4 to net his 18th of the season in the derby.
Conversation eventually turned to the prospects of Bale’s first Primera Division title for Los Blancos, but he wouldn’t be drawn on the subject, instead insisting that the side won’t be looking beyond the next game in their quest for the championship.
Real are currently 9/25 favourites to win the league, with Barcelona second in the betting at 5/2 and Atletico Madrid third at a distant 20/1.