Gareth Bale: Good lad for Real Madrid

Gareth Bale's footballing talent is beyond doubt. He consistently shines in the Premier League and he is starting to outgrow Tottenham. His imposing physique and long stride, as well as his extraordinary eye for goal make him a transfer target for Real Madrid, who will try to sign him in the summer transfer window.

Gareth Bale celebrating a goal for Tottenham
Gareth Bale

However, when deciding to sign a player, Real Madrid is concerned with more than just a player's qualities on the pitch. A player's behaviour off the pitch is also studied before large sums of money are paid for him.

Gareth Bale scores an A+ in both areas. The reports that the club has about Bale's private life describe him as a normal lad, who has never been known for his off-pitch scandals and who has no unsporting vices that might endanger the feasibility of signing the Welshman.

Those reports are true. The Tottenham player has always stood out for his athletic prowess and passion and he is far removed from the parties and nightlife that are so loved by the English tabloid newspapers and to which so many players who were destined for glory finally succumbed to. Bale's priorities are the game and his family.


Jose Mourinho: "At the moment I'm only thinking about my job as Real Madrid coach"

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho talked about his present and future with Sky Sports. When talking about his recent trip to London he recognised that it has contributed to "speculation" about his future but he added, "at the moment I only think about my job in Madrid", because he is a "professional".

Jose Mourinho attending SKY at a hotel in London
Jose Mourinho

"There is a lot of talk every time I come to London but I think people have to understand that I can still be in London very often because we have a house here and we love it here. I have big emotional connections with Chelsea, and one day I think naturally I have to be back to English football", explained the Portuguese manager.

"I am totally focused on the ambitions of Real Madrid until the end of the season. At the moment, I am completely independent of talks and speculation, and people who know me, know me well enough that I think about my job at Real Madrid. We're in the Champions League quarter-finals and we have a final [in the Spanish Cup] against Atletico Madrid."


Real Madrid: Most valuable bench of the Spanish League

Real Madrid's bench is the most valuable in 'La Liga' (Spanish League) in more senses than one. No other team in the division makes more use of its benchwarmers, who have enjoyed 2495 minutes of action in total, an average of 89 a match. Second in the 'subs table' is Betis, with 2340 minutes (83 a game).

Khedira, Özil and Pepe at the Real Madrid bench
Khedira, Özil and Pepe at the bench

Sitting in the dugout next to Jose Mourinho must be a restless experience, because the Portuguese has rung the changes far more frequently this campaign. In his first two years in charge, the subs' average run-out totalled 70 minutes a match, far from the highest in the league. This figure has increased by 20 minutes a game, a sizeable difference that tells its own story.

Indeed, the Real Madrid manager has pulled players from the firing line before the restart in 13 of his side's 28 fixtures. In total, he has made 17 substitutions at half-time, a figure unmatched by any other club.

On most of these occasions, a slow start has required Mourinho to fish for a reaction. This was the case in the club's last league match, at home against Mallorca. With Real Madrid trailing 2-1 at the interval, the Portuguese drafted Benzema and Özil in for Morata and Arbeloa. The comeback did not take long to materialise, with 'Whites' taking just 13 minutes to open up a 4-2 lead. A similar scenario unfolded away at Deportivo. Khedira, Ronaldo and Özil were introduced in one fell swoop and a 1-0 deficit duly became a 2-1 victory.


Didier Deschamps: "Varane is unique"

All the talk in the French national side was about Raphael Varane after his excellent debut against Georgia that did nothing but confirm all the expectations that were placed on his shoulders. However, it is likely he will not be used against Spain on Tuesday as Deschamps has been loyal to the pairing of Koscielny-Sakho for four games now, despite neither player being a regular in their club sides.

Varane playing for France
Raphael Varane

Didier Deschamps analysed the player: "France has had a lot of good centre-halves Tresor, Boli, Blanc, Thuram, Desailly... but Raphael is different, I can't remember anyone like him because he is only 19 years of age. He is an exceptional case, a natural that dominates his position and makes the difficult things look easy. Because of all that he is in the Real Madrid side and now the national team. Defensively he is very clever".

The former French World and European Champion confessed to this reporter on Friday that he has been surprised by Varane's form. "What we are talking about is a player who has replaced Pepe at Real Madrid, who although he has his moments is a great centre-half. His form against Manchester United and Barcelona was amazing. I could not have expected him to reach this level at only 19, he is unique".
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