Zone Blitz: Are Barcelona doing the right thing by trying to re-sign Neymar?

By George Davis, Mariah Ramharack&Lance Whittaker July 18, 2019

It's said you should never go back to your ex but Barcelona and Neymar could be a re-marriage made in heaven.

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  • Zidane hopeful injured Hazard does not need surgery Zidane hopeful injured Hazard does not need surgery

    Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane remains hopeful Eden Hazard will not have to undergo surgery on his fractured ankle.

    Hazard was forced off late on against Paris Saint-Germain towards the end of November after receiving a bang to his ankle.

    Early concerns appeared to be put to rest when Madrid's medical team claimed the Belgian had only suffered bruising, but after needing crutches for longer than expected, he was sent for a second scan.

    It was then that a small fracture was identified, essentially confirming he will not feature in El Clasico on December 18.

    While there is no suggestion Hazard will be able to recover in time to face Barcelona, Zidane is at least hoping he will not require an operation.

    "I don't believe so [that Hazard will need surgery]," Zidane told reporters on Tuesday.

    "But I don't know exactly either. Yes, I can tell you that the injury he has is now controlled and I hope it [the time out] is less than expected.

    "There was talk of a week or two, but now the important thing for him is to be patient, because it is not a good time, but I hope he will return quickly with us."

    Madrid face Club Brugge in Belgium on Wednesday already knowing they will finish second in Champions League Group A.

    As such, Zidane has taken the opportunity to rest some key players, with Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos not in the travelling party, but Casemiro is with the team, suggesting the coach does not feel anyone else can do the Brazilian's job.

    "We know what Case [Casemiro] does, we've talked about this many times," Zidane said. "He's a player that plays many minutes.

    "A coach always has to choose a call and think about the specific game. Then we will see the others.

    "There are many players who have a lot of time [and travelled], like [Raphael] Varane, and you also have to consider the minutes they have with their selections."

  • Catalan independence activists plan protest for Barcelona-Real Madrid Clasico day Catalan independence activists plan protest for Barcelona-Real Madrid Clasico day

    Barcelona and Real Madrid face a new threat of disruption at the season's first Clasico after pro-Catalan independence activists targeted the Camp Nou for protests.

    The Tsunami Democratic protest group, which is run by anonymous leaders and mobilises followers by means including social media, has called on its supporters to head to four meeting points close to Barcelona's stadium at 4pm local time on December 18.

    That is four hours before kick-off in the biggest match of the LaLiga season so far, which was moved from October 26 to its December date following civil unrest in Catalonia.

    Tsunami Democratic says more than 18,000 supporters have already committed to joining its protest, including many who have tickets to the Clasico and members - known as 'socios' - of home club Barcelona.

    The jailing of nine Catalan separatist leaders sparked major protests in Barcelona during early autumn, and the Tsunami Democratic group was behind a move to bring the city's El Prat airport to a standstill by flooding it with protesters.

    Now the same group, knowing it will be unable to protest inside Camp Nou, is intending to make itself impossible to avoid on the day of the match, which could mean political protests take place inside the stadium as millions watch across the world.

    Tsunami Democratic said: "In an exceptional situation, it is necessary to act exceptionally."

    In a statement posted on Twitter, the group said: "At this time, an important part of the Catalan population suffers from exclusion for ideological reasons.

    "It cannot exercise fundamental rights without repression, nor can it exercise his right to self-determination. In addition, dozens of people are or have been arrested simply for exercising and promoting these rights.

    "After verifying the impossibility of agreeing with FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF the opportunity to make visible, in the stands and on the pitch, in an effective form, the call for dialogue that Spain ignores, Tsunami Democratic commits to doing so.

    "For this, Tsunami Democratic convenes a massive concentration on December 18 at 4pm outside Camp Nou. So far, more than 18,000 people have signed up to the call.

    "Many of these people, with tickets or membership [of FC Barcelona], have already received the relevant slogans and have organised to develop the actions planned for a day that will be followed by 650 million people around the world."

  • Ramos: Let's have two Ballon d'Or awards - one for Messi and Ronaldo and one for everyone else Ramos: Let's have two Ballon d'Or awards - one for Messi and Ronaldo and one for everyone else

    Sergio Ramos has joked there should be one Ballon d'Or award for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - and an alternative trophy for the rest of the world's footballers to fight over.

    Real Madrid captain Ramos has a stack of individual accolades alongside the host of trophies he has won in his Santiago Bernabeu career.

    But like so many great players of the last 12 years, he has been put in the shade by Messi and Ronaldo when it comes to the biggest awards.

    From 2008, when Ronaldo first landed the Ballon d'Or, through to Messi scooping the honour earlier this month, the pair have had a near total duopoly, interrupted only in 2018 by Luka Modric's success.

    Ronaldo has taken the prize five times and Messi six, prompting Ramos to jest that the pair should be left alone to slug it out for one trophy, while giving everyone else a chance of taking another.

    "They could make a Ballon d'Or only for Cristiano and Messi depending on results...and another for the rest," Ramos told Mexican broadcaster TUDN. "In the end it would be better for football."

    Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk split Barcelona star Messi and Juventus forward Ronaldo this year, taking second place in the vote conducted by France Football magazine.

    But the star goal-getters have been the dominant figures in the world game for over a decade, establishing a rivalry for who will be remembered as the greatest of their generation.

    Ramos played alongside Ronaldo for many years at Madrid, before the Portuguese moved to Italy in July 2018.

    At the age of 33, and as he approaches 15 years as a Madrid player, the captain of Spain is targeting next year's Olympic Games football tournament and sees himself playing on for several seasons yet.

    "I will play until the excitement goes, but my excitement is very great," Ramos said, according to Marca. "I will make the most of everything football has to offer for as long as I feel good. I look after myself well and I hope to continue for many years."

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