I have no problem with Gareth Bale, says Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane insists all is fine with his star Welsh forward Gareth Bale. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2018
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I have no problem with Gareth Bale, says Zinedine Zidane

  • Bale was then not included in the squad for Sunday´s 2-1 win over Malaga
  • Zidane says the plan was to always rest the Welshman

MADRID: Zinedine Zidane insists he has no problem with Gareth Bale despite substituting him at half-time during Real Madrid´s Champions League clash against Juventus last week.
Sources have told AFP that Bale was surprised and angry at Zidane´s decision to take him off at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Real trailing 2-0 in a match they went on to lose 3-1. The defending champions progressed 4-3 on aggregate.
Bale was then not included in the squad for Sunday´s 2-1 win over Malaga in La Liga but Real insisted the plan had always been to rest players for the match.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Raphael Varane were also spared the trip to La Rosaleda.
Real host Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday and Bale will be hoping for another chance to state his case ahead of the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich next week.
Against Juve, Karim Benzema made way for Bale by dropping to the bench but Zidane says neither player feels sidelined by recent selections.
"No I don´t think so, this is football," Zidane said on Tuesday. "I don't see either of them looking sad, they are training well.
"I spoke to the pair of them the other day, they would both like to score more goals but everyone is working well.
"It is always going to happen in a side like ours. There are players in good form and playing well but I have to be ready always to evaluate who is the best players for the team at any given time."
Zidane has prefered Benzema as a partner for Ronaldo up front this season but the Frenchman has managed only one goal in his last nine games.
"We are not worried, we know the quality he has," Zidane said. "He has to score goals of course, he knows that - he knows he can do other things but he has to score goals.
"He does suffer a little bit when he misses chances but the solution is easy. He has to keep working.
"It is just a little blip he is in at the moment — we had that as a team earlier in the season but we kept working. If he keeps working, I´m sure in a short time he will be scoring again."
Real are chasing an unprecedented third consecutive Champions League crown and Bayern's hopes of stopping them have been dented by an injury to key midfielder, Arturo Vidal.
Vidal is set to undergo surgery on a knee problem and looks certain to miss the first leg.
"Vidal is an important player but nothing will change," Zidane said. "Bayern have a very big squad, with lots of good players, and they will replace him for sure."


Felipe Massa ready for Formula E challenge around the streets of Riyadh

Updated 25 September 2018
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Felipe Massa ready for Formula E challenge around the streets of Riyadh

  • Not only will the December date mark the Kingdom’s entry into Formula E, but it will also mark Massa’s debut
  • Massa called the Formula E vehicles “the car of the next generation”

Noor Nugali Riyadh: Felipe Massa cannot wait to get behind the wheel of a Formula E car and jumpstart his new career when the spectacle of speed storms into Riyadh for the season opener on Dec. 15.
The Saudi Arabia capital was named as the newest stopping point for the sport in May, with it being the first race of a 13-race season, which sees the electric-powered cars tackle street circuits across the globe.
Not only will the December date mark the Kingdom’s entry into Formula E, but it will also mark Massa’s debut, having left the Formula One paddock for the growing sport. And the 37-year-old told Arab News he is excited about the prospect of tackling the streets of Ad Diriyah, the oldest part of the capital, in one of the electrically powered speed machines.
“I am ready for the race. It’s a fantastic feeling driving around the city, the town, it’s historical. It will be a big event,” Massa said at press conference to announce Saudi Arabian Airlines’ new long-term partnership as official airline partner of the all-electric series.
“I’m really happy to be a part of this new challenge for my career. In a new place and country, it’s motivating.”
Having won 11 Grands Prix during an illustrious career in F1, during which time he raced for Ferrari, some might think Massa would not be daunted by the move to Formula E. The Brazilian, however, is taking nothing for granted.
“It’s a big challenge for me to change categories, to Formula E,” he said, having got a chance to put some early practice in as he took a Gen2 car around the streets of the capital.
“Learning everything is a challenge. It’s different cars, different tracks and a different way of driving. I need to learn and grow to understand but I like new challenges.”
Massa called the Formula E vehicles “the car of the next generation” and it is hoped that the Ad Diriyah race helps the changing face of Saudi Arabia by inspiring more women to get behind the wheel in the Kingdom — something not lost on Massa.
“I heard that women are driving (in Saudi Arabia) now and that’s fantastic — hopefully in the future there will female racers,” he said.
“We are racing in a country (whose main export is oil), and we are racing with electric cars. I think it shows that this country wants to change its mentality and its thinking of the future. It’s really positive and I’m so happy to be a part of this.”
Thanks to the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, the Middle East has long been associated with motorsport, and it is well known that the region is awash with petrolheads. The Riyadh Formula E race, however, will be international motorsport’s first move into Saudi Arabia.
But rather than look to bring F1 to the country his Abdul Aziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice-chair of the General Sports Authority, revealed that Formula E was the only format they wanted to see in the capital.
“This is a truly game-changing moment for Saudi Arabia and one that we can share with the world,” he said. “It is very fitting that the such a futuristic and sustainable sport as Formula E is pointing to the future direction of our country.
“Saudi Arabia is home to literally millions of passionate young fans of motorsport, many of whom simply cannot believe that Felipe Massa took the Gen2 car around the streets of the capital today and that they now have a ‘home race’ on the Formula E calendar. So already the excitement is building, especially since we’re adding live music concerts to the weekend line-up.”
The track Massa and Co. will be tackling this December was revealed at the press conference. At 1.76 miles long, the first road circuit in the Middle East features 21 corners, a number of which are long flowing ones taken at high speed. It is hoped that the race will get both Saudi Arabia’s entry to the sport and the season itself off to a spectacular start, and in doing so inspire a new generation of speed demons.
Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal Al-Saud, president of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, said: “Something we haven’t announced yet, is that there will be a support race for Formula E.
“It’s the Jaguar I-Pace trophy, it will race around the world with the Formula E circuit.
“Saudi Arabia will participate in that championship as a national team with two Saudi Arabian drivers and we will announce the names soon.”