Santiago Solari keeping Real Madrid feet on the ground for Al-Ain Club World final

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Real Madrid's Gareth Bale scores their third goal to complete his hat-trick against Kashima Antlers. (Reuters)
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Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates scoring a goal against Kashima Antlers. (Reuters)
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Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale (L) celebrates his goal with teammates during the semi final football match of the FIFA Club World Cup. (AFP)
Updated 20 December 2018

Santiago Solari keeping Real Madrid feet on the ground for Al-Ain Club World final

ABU DHABI: Having seen his team cruise past Kashima Antlers on Wednesday to reach the Club World Cup final, Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari is determined to keep his players’ feet firmly on the ground ahead of tomorrow’s final with the UAE club Al-Ain.
Gareth Bales’ 11-minute hat-trick was enough to see off Kashima Antlers of Japan in Abu Dhabi, with Los Blancos making much easier work of the Asian champions than in their encounter with the Japanese team in 2016’s final.
“All the players were focussed and we will need to do it again (in the final),” the Argentine said after the match.
“We don’t have a lot of time, less than our rivals do in fact. We will have to look at the basic aspects of (Al-Ain’s) game and pick up our energy levels.
“In the Club World Cup, you cannot dwell on surprises. We went into this game with our heads screwed on we will need do it all over again.
“It is difficult to qualify for this tournament, we are taking it seriously,” he added.
“I am not worried about Al-Ain, but I expect good competition from them.
“They were able to beat the club from New Zealand and River Plate, and now they are in the final. We will have to be as competitive as today to win the trophy.
“At this level there are no bad or regular teams, all the teams are good and excellent.”
Welshman Bale scored his first goal against Kashima just before the half-time break, and he added two more quickly after the interval to put the game beyond the Japanese.
And Solari was gushing about his midfielder’s performance on the night.
“He blew everything out of the water — the lights, the nets, the stands.
“He had a spellbinding match, and showed who he is and what he is capable of. We are thrilled for him and now he needs to rest up and do it all again in the next match.
“Gareth gave his best, but has already given joy to Real Madrid fans. He has done it with his goals, which is what wins you football matches.
“Goals dominate football and Gareth knows how to score them. We hope he can continue to do it in every game, it is hard for him to score three goals each game, but he always gives his all.”
Solari also reserved praise for Brazilian defender Marcelo after the game, who he said did a “superb job” bombing forward on the left-hand side.
“It’s bound to have been an irregular season with all the injuries. He needs a bit of continuity to play his way back into form.
“I don’t think this is the best we’ve seen from Marcelo, he played very well, but I hope he’s even better in the final. He’s a wonderful player and he has to keep pushing himself, both going forward and in defense, and I’ll make sure he does.
There is one injury worry for Madrid in tomorrow’s game — Marco Asensio, who came on to replace Bale but 15 minutes after doing so, was back on the sidelines once more after picking up an injury.
Asensio picked up another strain to the same area that he hurt against Rayo Vallecano and quickly asked to be replaced in order to avoid causing further damage
“These things happen. There was nothing wrong with him, he came on and played until he couldn’t go on. We’ll look at what he’s got and hope it’s nothing serious. He’s an important player and it’s a shame he had to come off,” Solari said.


Coronavirus forces fan ban at Italian football games

Updated 25 February 2020

Coronavirus forces fan ban at Italian football games

  • The Europa League game between Inter Milan and Ludogorets on Thursday will be affected
  • Italy reported its fifth death from the virus on Monday and it has the most confirmed cases in Europe

ROME: Upcoming matches in Italian Serie A and the Europa League will be played behind closed doors to combat the spread of coronavirus, the Italian sports minister announced on Monday evening.
“Following the demands of the sports world and knowing that the ban on sporting events open to the public remains in force in six regions of northern Italy, we have agreed to the holding of matches behind closed doors,” said Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora after a meeting of the Council of Ministers.
The Europa League game between Inter Milan and Ludogorets on Thursday will be affected, but the minister did not specify which Serie A matches at the weekend would be included in the ban.
There are six games in the regions he mentioned, including the clash on Sunday evening between leader Juventus and third-place Inter.
Italy reported its fifth death from the virus on Monday and it has the most confirmed cases in Europe.
Napoli’s Champions League match against Barcelona on Tuesday is not at risk.
The alternative to banning fans is to postpone games and Gabriele Gravina, the president of the Italian Football League made clear earlier in the day that he was opposed to thats.
“We have made an official request to Health Minister Roberto Speranza to have this game played behind closed doors,” Gravina told the press. “We expect a quick response, but we have been told that the outcome will be positive.”