Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid laboured to an uninspiring goalless draw in El Derbi on Saturday, the city rivals failing to live up to the Wanda Metropolitano stage as each of LaLiga's big hitters continue to stumble over the early season obstacles in the race for the title.

Light on incident but filled with frustrated faces on both sides, the 165th league meeting between Madrid and Atletico was not one that will live long in the memory.

It was, however, indicative of the starts both capital clubs, and indeed defending champions Barcelona, have endured to this point.

While Madrid lead the way and Atletico and Barca are each well positioned to mount a title challenge, by their lofty standards they have each struggled to find top form and all appear gripped by a malaise that will take some time to be lifted.

Seven games into the new season, the comparative records of Madrid, Atletico and Barcelona suggest this is a title race nobody wants to take control of.

Real Madrid: 1st (W4, D3, L0)

Unbeaten but unconvincing, Zinedine Zidane remains a man under pressure at the Santiago Bernabeu and a point away to their neighbours is unlikely to change that.

Held to draws by Real Valladolid and Villarreal, having to come from behind twice in the latter game, Madrid can consider themselves fortunate to have not suffered defeat in the league. Their listless display in a 3-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League produced significant cause for concern that has yet to be assuaged.


Atletico Madrid: 3rd (W4, D2, L1)

Though they lost Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona in the transfer window, the frustration for Atletico boss Diego Simeone will be that this is the second successive season in which they have failed to take advantage of underwhelming starts from the Blaugrana and Madrid. Their performance at the Metropolitano was a far cry from the 7-3 hammering they dished out to Los Blancos in the International Champions Cup, with this display another case of Atletico not producing when it counts.

Simeone's men beat Madrid 4-2 in the UEFA Super Cup last season only to fall flat in the league, and they have now not beaten their arch rivals in seven LaLiga derbies. The hope will be that Atletico's form will improve as star signing Joao Felix grows more comfortable in Spanish football.


Barcelona: 4th (W4, D1, L2)

With Lionel Messi blighted by fitness problems, Barca have looked a long way from their best, and the result has been increased scrutiny on coach Ernesto Valverde. The warning signs were there from the off as Barca were beaten 1-0 by Athletic Bilbao on the first day of the season and they have continued to look vulnerable since.

Osasuna held them to a 2-2 draw while surprise package Granada claimed a shock 2-0 win over the champions last week. Saturday's 2-0 defeat of Getafe marked the first time they have kept a clean sheet in the league this season, with the emergence of teenager Ansu Fati the primary bright spot from a start that was been well below par.

Real Madrid regained top spot in LaLiga with a goalless draw against bitter rivals Atletico Madrid in Saturday's El Derbi.

Karim Benzema nearly snatched the victory for Madrid with his headed effort 15 minutes from time at Wanda Metropolitano, forcing a great save out of Jan Oblak.

Joao Felix and Saul Niguez went closest for Atletico, who registered just one attempt on target as their winless run in competitive meetings with Madrid stretched to a seventh match.

Both teams ultimately lacked quality in the final third, but it is Madrid - who have now gone three matches without conceding in the league - who will be happier after climbing above surprise package Granada at the summit.

Atletico put seven goals past Madrid in July's pre-season clash in New Jersey and looked the more likely side to make a breakthrough in the first half of this latest showdown.

Joao Felix twice went close for the hosts, dragging a shot wide of the target with the angle against him and blasting narrowly wide from 25 yards.

Madrid had some promising moments of their own before the interval, though, with Toni Kroos testing Jan Oblak twice in the space of three minutes late in the half.

Diego Someone introduced Angel Correa at half-time and the substitute headed over from a promising position four minutes after coming on.

Madrid forward Gareth Bale skied a shot soon after and Luka Modric, brought off the bench in an attempt to inspire Madrid, pulled one wide.

The game temporarily sparked into life in the final quarter as Benzema's header was palmed to safety by Oblak, three minutes after Saul glanced agonisingly wide.


What does it mean? Madrid out in front

Barcelona made it back-to-back league wins with a 2-0 win over Getafe earlier on Saturday, offering hope they have turned a corner following their slow start.

It is Real who are out in front at the top of LaLiga, though - this draw moving them one point clear of Atleti and surprise package Granada, while Barca are a further point behind.

Thomas sets the tempo

Making his 100th appearance for Atletico in LaLiga, Thomas Partey won all four of his duels in the first half and completed 95 per cent of his 40 passes, with an impressive 28 of those in the opposition half.

The Ghana midfielder continued to threaten in the second half, too, ending the match with 97 touches of the ball - only Kroos, with 98, managed more

Benzema kept relatively quiet

Benzema entered the match in fine form, having netted five goals in six league outings leading into the clash.

He was kept quiet by Atletico's defenders for 75 minutes, however, managing just 36 touches of the ball and only one shot on target.

What's next?

Atletico travel to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League in midweek and Madrid host Club Brugge. Upon their return to LaLiga action, Atleti have a trip to Real Valladolid next Sunday and Zidane's men take on Granada a week today.

Atletico Madrid winger Joao Felix says he is relishing the chance to play in one of the biggest matches in world football against Real Madrid.

Joao Felix, 19, played in a pre-season friendly between the sides in New Jersey – which Atletico won 7-3.

However, Saturday's LaLiga clash at the Wanda Metropolitano will be the Portugal international's competitive Madrid derby debut.

"I am very excited to play this game, which is one of the most important in football," he told LaLiga.

"I have already played during the pre-season, but it wasn't official. Now, it will be. I want to enjoy the game to the fullest.

"The fans will be very important for us, as they have been in other games. And they will help you more than ever."

Another player making his debut in the fixture will be England defender Kieran Trippier, and he cannot wait to sample the "electric" Madrid derby atmosphere.

"I'm feeling very excited. It is going to be extra special against Real Madrid," said the 29-year-old.

"It's another derby I'm looking forward to playing in. I've played in some big derbies before in my career in England but I'm expecting this one to be electric.

"In the games I've played in so far this season at our stadium the fans have been incredible so against Real Madrid they are going to be even more vocal. So I'm expecting a lively atmosphere."

Atletico centre-back Jose Gimenez, 24, revealed the build up to the fixture is intense, and emphasised a clear message of victory at all costs.

"The previous week is different and you know this is not another match. You don't come to play, but to win. It doesn't matter the way," he added

"The only important thing is to win. That's been our mentality this week. We know there is not another game. It is one of the games of the season."

Luka Modric has been included in Real Madrid's squad for the derby against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

The Croatia midfielder, who has been struggling with a muscular complaint, has not featured since the 2-2 draw with Villarreal on September 1.

Marcelo is not yet fit enough to take his place in the squad, however, meaning Nacho is likely to line up at left-back, while Isco is still out injured.

There is also no place in the squad for Rodrygo Goes, who scored on his senior debut in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Osasuna.

The 18-year-old will play for the club's Castilla side on Saturday against Rayo Majadahonda, rather than being involved with the first team at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Christian Eriksen appears set to leave Tottenham and Manchester United could make it happen in January.

The Denmark international was linked with a move away from Spurs during the close season amid reported interest from Real Madrid, but ended up staying in North London.

However, with his contract expiring at season's end, United are said to be weighing up a deal.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UNITED CONSIDER ERIKSEN MOVE IN JANUARY

Manchester United are considering a January move for Spurs midfielder Eriksen, according to Goal.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are struggling this season and could look to strengthen to begin 2020.

Madrid are also reportedly still interested in Eriksen, but may want to wait until the end of the season to bring in the Dane.

 

ROUND-UP

- Pictured with Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar on Thursday, Arthur may have upset his club Barcelona. The LaLiga champions are unhappy with the midfielder after the night out, according to Marca.

- Staying at Camp Nou and Neymar seems to remain eager for a return to Barcelona. Cadena SER reports the forward would have dropped his lawsuit against the club if they promised to re-sign him next year. Neymar is in court against Barca fighting to be paid a bonus he believes he is owed from his contract signed in 2016.

- Jose Mourinho knows what he wants his next move to be. Having turned down numerous clubs since leaving Old Trafford, Mourinho wants a return to Real Madrid, according to Goal.

- Everton are apparently looking to sign Mario Gotze. The Borussia Dortmund attacker is out of contract at the end of the season and Augsburger Allgemeine says the Premier League club want to sign Gotze on a free transfer.

Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata is set to miss Saturday's derby with his former club Real Madrid after an appeal against a suspension was unsuccessful.

Morata was sent off in Atletico's LaLiga clash with Real Mallorca on Wednesday after being shown two yellow cards in quick succession following an appearance as a substitute.

The Spain international had come off the bench in the 69th minute, and he collected a booking just eight minutes later after a row with referee Alejandro Hernandez.

He was then swiftly involved in a flashpoint with Mallorca's Salva Sevilla which saw the pair square up to each other and exchange angry words before Morata, 26, received a second booking.

Atletico had written to the Spanish FA asking for clemency on Morata's suspension, but the governing body's disciplinary committee decided the one-match ban would not be overturned and fined the club 350 euros.

Diego Simeone's side also had an appeal for a yellow card picked up in the same match by defender Stefan Savic turned down.

"The arguments made by Atletico Madrid are rejected and the reprimands imposed on the said players are confirmed," said a statement from the Spanish FA.

Atletico still have the option to appeal against the decisions made by the committee and should they do so would receive an answer on Saturday morning.

Morata, who is on loan from Chelsea, has scored one goal in four LaLiga appearances for Atletico this season.

He had two spells with Real Madrid, representing the club from 2010 to 2014 and from 2016 to 2017.

Diego Simeone is certain Saturday's Derbi with Real Madrid is in the balance despite Atletico Madrid crushing their bitter rivals 7-3 in pre-season.

The teams met two months ago in New Jersey and Atletico inflicted a humiliating defeat on Zinedine Zidane's men.

Diego Costa scored four goals and Joao Felix caught the eye, with Atletico surging 6-0 up by the 51st minute.

Madrid then endured an initially indifferent start to the season, though three successive wins have elevated them to LaLiga's summit, with Atletico a point adrift.

Simeone was asked in Friday's pre-match news conference whether July's remarkable win combined with Atletico being at home made Los Colchoneros favourites, but the coach is wary of a Madrid side who have shown significant signs of improvement in recent weeks.

"In this type of game, things are usually tight," Simeone told reporters. "They are defined by small details, which balance the matches on one side or the other.

"In the last games they have improved against Sevilla and Osasuna, where they had many changes and continued with the level shown in Seville.

"They have a great squad, a great coach, and we want to take the game where it suits us best.

"They've really good players and they're very dangerous when given space. [Gareth] Bale is improving, [Karim] Benzema is in great form and [Eden] Hazard has incredible attributes.

"They've a strong spine as well. Very little has changed in the players who have been key for years and maintained their place in the team.

"That centre of Casemiro, Sergio Ramos and Benzema, they're important players."

Zinedine Zidane responded in prickly fashion when Real Madrid's pre-season 7-3 thrashing at the hands of Atletico Madrid was brought up on the eve of Saturday's LaLiga Derbi at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Madrid were put to the sword in New Jersey in a match where Zidane felt his side "lacked everything, especially intensity".

The result has not proved entirely instructive over the opening weeks of the season.

Los Blancos have not always convinced but are undefeated in LaLiga and top of the table after six matches.

Diego Simeone's Atletico are only a point behind in third but needed a 2-0 win at Mallorca in midweek to snap a run of three winless games in all competitions.

Speaking at a pre-match news conference, Zidane was asked whether Madrid's ordeal at the MetLife Stadium would have any influence upon the weekend, he replied: "It's nothing to do with the game really, no. We just have a game tomorrow and we're going to try and win"

He then interrupted a follow-up question by saying, "no, I'm going to say the same thing", before claiming not to have watched the match back to analyse Madrid's mistakes.

Despite their solid start in LaLiga, a 3-0 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League suggested Zidane's close-season worries about intensity could still undermine Madrid against elite opposition.

Nevertheless, he insisted he would head across Spain's capital without concerns.

"No, no, I'm not worried about anything," he said.

"We just want to put in a good performance, that's it. We know how tough the game is going to be.

"We're going to have to do a lot of things during the game. It's not just about intensity."

Teenage forward Rodrygo Goes will play for Madrid's second-string Castilla side at the weekend despite scoring on his LaLiga debut against Osasuna, although Zidane could welcome back midfielders Luka Modric and Isco following muscular injuries.

Rodrygo Goes will not feature for Real Madrid in El Derbi against Atletico Madrid in LaLiga on Saturday as Zinedine Zidane manages his workload.

The teenage Brazilian forward impressed on his senior debut on Wednesday, scoring Madrid's second goal just 93 seconds after coming on as a substitute in a 2-0 win over Osasuna that put them top.

But Rodrygo will play for the club's second-string Castilla side on Saturday versus Rayo Majadahonda instead of turning out amid the white-hot atmosphere of the Wanda Metropolitano.

"We know what we're doing with Rodrygo and today he trained with Castilla, tomorrow he's going to play with Castilla," head coach Zidane told a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"He's a first-team player and I'm very happy with what happened the other day.

"But we and he knows we're going to go bit by bit with him. We had already taken the decision [over him playing for Castilla this weekend] and for the next game we will see.

"Tomorrow he will play with Castilla and he is very happy."

It means plenty of the onus will fall upon another recent recruit, Eden Hazard.

The Belgium attacker has suffered an injury-interrupted start to life at the Santiago Bernabeu and is yet to play a full 90 minutes after recovering from a hamstring problem.

Hazard was as an unused substitute against Osasuna, but Zidane has no doubts about his capacity to make an impact on the big occasion.

"Listen, we know the quality of player we have and we know that he's going to deliver," he said.

"He did it the other day in Seville. I'm sure everyone expects a lot from him, he knows that.

"We're supporting him, he's with us. Game by game I'm sure he's going to be the player that we want him to be here in this Real Madrid team."

Zidane refused to disclose who would start in goal after Alphonse Areola came in for Thibaut Courtois last time out, while Luka Modric and Isco returning to training following muscular complaints boosts his creative options.

Atletico Madrid host LaLiga leaders and city rivals Real Madrid this weekend with Joao Felix still feeling his way in to life as their club-record signing.

Brought in as a direct replacement for Antoine Griezmann following the France forward's controversial switch to Barcelona, Joao Felix has shown flashes of the brilliance that persuaded Atleti to pay his €126million release clause to buy him from Benfica.

The teenager exploded onto the scene with 15 Primeira Liga goals last season, while he hit a superb hat-trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-finals.

The expectations on his shoulders at Atletico are a different story, however, with Joao Felix having two goals and an assist to show for his six LaLiga appearances at his new club.

With Zinedine Zidane's unpredictable Madrid visiting the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday and Atleti having not won a home LaLiga derby since 2015, Joao Felix will face the biggest test of his club career to date.


PARTNERSHIP WITH COSTA NEEDS WORK

On paper, Diego Costa looks like an ideal partner for Joao Felix, with his street smarts and aggressive nature aspects the teenager is undoubtedly lacking.

Costa's experience should be invaluable too, with the Brazil-born Spain international having fired Atletico to their most recent title in 2013-14 when he scored a career-best 27 league goals.

But the 30-year-old's form has been a concern for some time, dating back to his return from Premier League side Chelsea, and his opener in Tuesday's 2-0 victory at Real Mallorca was only the second competitive goal he has managed in 2019.

Data from Opta shows Joao Felix has only passed to Costa seven times during their 279 minutes on the pitch together in LaLiga this season, with the ball going in the other direction on just six occasions. Linking up effectively has been a challenge with Joao Felix typically drifting out to the right, where he combines with Koke.

Although Joao Felix also netted in the Mallorca win to send Atleti into the derby on a high note after they drew a blank in back-to-back league games, this must be an area of concern for Diego Simeone, who is without Alvaro Morata through suspension this weekend.

Costa and Joao Felix will surely develop their understanding in time and the duo were extremely effective when Atletico destroyed Madrid 7-3 during the International Champions Cup in pre-season, a game in which Costa scored four goals and was twice assisted by the Portuguese.

Only once have they combined for a goal in LaLiga this term, Costa setting up Joao Felix to spark Atleti's 3-2 comeback win at home to Eibar on September 1, and this needs to improve.


FITNESS ANOTHER POTENTIAL ISSUE

Adapting to a new league physically, as well as making the step up in class, was always going to be a challenge for Joao Felix.

His slight figure is in sharp contrast to the imposingly barrel-chested strike partner Costa, who can bounce defenders out of his way.

Although he produced a brilliant solo run from inside his own half to win a penalty against Getafe on his LaLiga debut, occasionally Joao Felix has been pushed off the ball too easily.

Perhaps this has led to frustrations for the teenager as he has committed seven fouls in his six LaLiga appearances to date, while he has been brought down on eight occasions.

The rough and tumble nature of some matches has also posed a problem. Joao Felix was taken off in the first half of a friendly against Numancia after taking a bang to his hip and some opposition players have seemingly targeted him.

Although Simeone has selected the Portugal international in all six of his LaLiga line-ups this term, while he also started against Juventus in the Champions League, he has been substituted five times.

Confidence is not an issue for Joao Felix, but he has fired more shots off target (six) than on target (five) in the top flight for Atleti, while he has lost possession at an average of 9.83 times per match. Indeed, he has completed 84 passes and 25 have gone astray, a far from impressive ratio, with just two chances created.

Time is on Joao Felix's side, however. At the same stage of the 2018-19 season, Griezmann's last for the Rojiblancos after winning the World Cup with France, he had only scored twice in LaLiga. Joao Felix has matched that tally already.

February 2018, Gareth Bale tore up Real Madrid's left flank and played an inch-perfect cross into the centre for Karim Benzema to further embarrass Real Sociedad and surely wrap up a 6-2 mauling at the Santiago Bernabeu.

But Benzema remarkably sliced his first-time effort over the crossbar from about seven yards when it appeared impossible to miss – Madrid's fans held up their infamous reputation and rained a torrent of jeers down on the much-maligned Frenchman.

It had become par for the course with Benzema, who was relentlessly whistled by his own supporters through the 2017-18 campaign. But this time Cristiano Ronaldo took a stand, wagging his finger disapprovingly at those responsible before seeming to sarcastically applaud the fans behind 'Gol Sur'.

Benzema's relationship with Los Blancos fans had already been strained for a long time, with criticism morphing into boos, jeers and whistles in 2013, while the striker spoke publicly of his confusion around the situation in 2017.

"The hardest part is when the criticism comes from your own fans. They are normally there to boost you," he said to Canal Plus, revealing his bafflement.

Benz on the brink

The flak reached its zenith during the 2017-18 season.

Benzema scored just five times in 32 LaLiga matches, converting 7.94 per cent of his chances and averaging a goal every 431.2 minutes. Though there was the caveat of a solid haul of 10 assists, it was an extremely challenging year for the forward.

Benzema could hardly suggest it was a momentary blip either, as 11 goals from 29 matches the previous season was similarly underwhelming.

Such form looked set to cost Benzema dear, as he appeared destined to leave in 2018. That horror miss against La Real was followed by strong transfer rumours a couple of weeks later, with the Chinese Super League or a return to France apparently beckoning.

What goal problem?

Coach Zinedine Zidane never passed up the chance to defend Benzema during those dark days, and one has to assume the striker would have left several years ago were the former 'Galactico' not fighting his corner.

Quite simply, Zidane 'gets' Benzema.

"I don't agree with the criticism. What interests me is not just his goals. I like what Karim does for the team, he's one of the best in this regard, and in the team game - I value that a lot. I'm going to defend Benzema to death," Zidane said ahead of the 2017 Club World Cup final.

After all, during those two onerous campaigns, Benzema recorded 18 assists across all competitions – add that figure to his 31 goals, then he had 49 goal involvements in 95 matches.

"You had a rocket [Bale] and a goalscorer [Ronaldo], and then there was me, the piece that made it all work," Benzema explained to RMC earlier this month, seemingly a too-nuanced point for Madrid's band of rowdy revilers.

"Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent"

The coach and player relationship is by no means one-way here, either. Benzema's regard for Zidane is well-known and surely a major contributor for the coach's success and the striker's renaissance.

"I have already said it before, but Zidane is like a godfather to me," Benzema commented three years ago.

While's Benzema's resurgence began during the final two months of Santiago Solari's ill-fated reign, there's little doubt Zidane's faith and understanding of the forward ensured he remained influential even after the former Ballon d'Or winner briefly called it quits last year.

Only Sergio Ramos (1,200 minutes) played with greater regularity than Benzema (1,092 minutes) under Julen Lopetegui, while he featured for 2,424 minutes for Solari, 233 more than anyone else. Whether he'd have remained if Ronaldo stayed is another matter, however.

Karim of the crop

There's no greater indication of Benzema's resurgence than the fact only Lionel Messi has scored more LaLiga goals than him in 2019 – the Barcelona star is on 21, the Lyon academy product has 20.

The most recent of those was particularly well timed, as Benzema got the winner in Sunday's 1-0 win at Sevilla – who were unbeaten and had designs on going top of LaLiga – with a smart header after a clever bit of movement.

Previous results had put Zidane under pressure – with the ever-present spectre of Jose Mourinho lurking, waiting for an invitation to return – but Benzema was there to spare his friend.

As such, Benzema heads into Saturday's derby against Atletico Madrid with five goals – his total for 2017-18 – in as many LaLiga outings this term.

In the post-Ronaldo era, Benzema has stepped up to become Madrid's talisman. The only jeers he attracts now are those from fearful fans of Los Blancos' opposition.

First reports of interest from Real Madrid. Now Manchester United…

Mauricio Pochettino's future is dominating headlines amid Tottenham's struggles this season.

A switch to Old Trafford could be on the cards for Pochettino.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED READY TO SPLASH CASH FOR POCH

According to The Sun, Manchester United are willing to make a move for Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Tottenham have struggled since reaching the Champions League final last season, and Pochettino is reportedly unhappy in London.

Speculation has linked to Pochettino to LaLiga giants Real Madrid and United, who are prepared to meet his £32million buyout clause, having reportedly considered the Argentinian before appointing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United star Paul Pogba will make another attempt to leave Old Trafford in January, claims The Sun. Pogba was tipped to depart United during the previous transfer window, however, a proposed move to either Real Madrid or Juventus did not materialise.

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo already has an idea for who could replace head coach Thomas Tuchel. After a shock loss to Reims in Ligue 1, Calciomercato says Leonardo only wants former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri if Tuchel leaves the French champions.

- Tuttosport says Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic is waiting for Manchester United in January after turning down a move to Qatar. It comes as the Daily Mail reports United have sent scouts to watch Lyon's Moussa Dembele.

Barcelona are continuing to heavily monitor Napoli star and Spanish midfielder Fabian Ruiz, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- Premier League champions Manchester City and Southampton are scouting Hearts left-back Aaron Hickey, reports the Daily Record.

Santiago Solari is keen on taking a job in the Premier League, having been sacked by Real Madrid earlier this year.

Solari's short spell in charge of the LaLiga giants came to an end in March 2019, with Zinedine Zidane returning to the Santiago Bernabeu.

The former midfielder initially thrived as Julen Lopetegui's temporary replacement but was dismissed soon after Madrid's three-year reign as European champions was brought to an end in stunning style by Ajax.

Solari has not been employed as a coach since leaving Madrid but the 42-year-old is ready to return to the dugout, with the Premier League holding a particular appeal.

"I would like to coach in Europe, in a serious project in one of the big leagues," he told BBC Sport.

"I saw the Premier League last year and how it grew so much. It was a fantastic campaign for the English teams. There are so many different cultures as well - you have Spanish coaches, German coaches, English coaches, coaches from all over the world who have made it grow.

"The type of football I like is when the team is the protagonist, offensive football, high tempo and aggressive but in order to achieve that you have to defend high, have fast transitions, and of course talent is a big part of that.

"The statistics in the Premier League are amazing and confirm things are changing. Fifteen years ago there were just three games where one team averaged 70 per cent of possession.

"Three years ago that went up to 30 games. Two years ago it was 60 games and last year there were 67 games in which one team had 70 per cent of possession."

Madrid sacked Solari with the club having little chance of deposing Barcelona as LaLiga champions, but they have stumbled since Zidane's return.

Wednesday's 2-0 home win over Osasuna sent Madrid top of the table despite questions being asked of Zidane, whose side head to city rivals Atletico Madrid next.

Asked if he felt he was treated harshly, Solari replied: "That is a private matter. That's football.

"It was an honour to serve Real Madrid."

Real Madrid could complete a deal for Christian Eriksen in the new year, while Barcelona have big plans of their own.

Eriksen was heavily linked with a move away from Tottenham in the close season, only for no switch to materialise as he entered the final year of his contract.

But that could change at the start of 2020, while Barca are also looking to the Premier League for a big signing.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID WANT ERIKSEN SIGNED IN JANUARY

Real Madrid are hoping Eriksen will sign a pre-contract in January, according to the Mirror.

The LaLiga giants want the Denmark international signed before joining for free when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The report says Madrid are also targeting Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino with Zinedine Zidane under some pressure at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports Tottenham are worried Eriksen will reject attempts to sell him in January.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Ernesto Valverde under pressure, Barcelona great Xavi – the Al Sadd boss – sees Manchester City star Raheem Sterling as a perfect signing if he takes over as coach, according to the Daily Mail. Real Madrid are also reportedly interested in the England attacker.

- If Pochettino leaves Tottenham, it appears there are several managers interested in moving to Spurs. The Sun reports former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is waiting in the wings if Pochettino leaves, while the Daily Mail says former Spurs forward Jurgen Klinsmann also wants the job.

- Amid uncertainty over his future at Camp Nou, Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has ruled out moving to Qatar, according to Fox Sports. The Croatia international has previously been linked to Paris Saint-Germain.

- Barcelona are pressing for Spain not to take 16-year-old forward Ansu Fati to the upcoming Under-17 World Cup, according to AS. Fati has been a revelation for Barca this season, scoring two goals in six games.

- Linked with a move to MLS side Chicago Fire, Andres Guardado is set to stay at Real Betis. The Mexico international will sign a two-year contract with the LaLiga outfit, according to Estadio Deportivo, with his current deal ending at season's end.

- Claudio Ranieri is set for a return to coaching. The 67-year-old, who left Roma at the end of last season, could take over at struggling Ligue 1 club Saint-Etienne, according to Calciomercato.

Rodrygo Goes dismissed comparisons to Ronaldo after marking his Real Madrid debut with a goal against Osasuna on Wednesday.

Rodrygo, 18, became Madrid's quickest debut goalscorer in LaLiga since Brazil great Ronaldo, coming off the bench to seal a 2-0 victory.

The teenager needed just 93 seconds to score, while Ronaldo took 62 for his strike against Deportivo Alaves in 2002.

But Rodrygo had no interest in being compared to Ronaldo, who is regarded as one of the greatest strikers of all-time.

"I don't want any comparisons with Ronaldo being made because he's one of the game's all-time best and one of my country's best," he told reporters.

"As for the goal… I controlled it well and knew that from there on in things would work out. I have to always show that I'm capable of playing here."

Rodrygo's goal sealed Madrid's win after a 20-yard stunner from Vinicius Junior had put them ahead at the Santiago Bernabeu.

After a goal on debut, Rodrygo said it was a dream come true, while also praising coach Zinedine Zidane.

"The gaffer knows what he's doing and he's been talking to me every day to tell me to keep working hard," the former Santos forward said.

"I'm at Real Madrid and I don't care whether I play for Castilla, under Raul, or for the first team. Madrid are always going to have great players, so all of this prestige is to be expected.

"I'm so happy. Zidane transmits a real calmness and a lot of trust and I think that's why things went so well.

"I'm speechless, I've been dreaming of this moment since I joined Real Madrid and running out at the Bernabeu with the fans chanting my name… I'm so happy."

Meanwhile, Vinicius was also delighted to get on the scoresheet, netting for Madrid for the first time since February.

"The players know that I was trying hard and there's nothing better than getting back amongst the goals before a derby," he said, via the club's website. "It's an honour to speak with Roberto Carlos and I'm happy because he congratulated me. I'm very happy to score again at the Bernabeu.

"I'm excited because since my injury it's been difficult, I was finding it hard playing again and I wasn't doing well in games. I wasn't as happy as last season and it's a massive weight off my shoulders. I'm very happy when I'm scoring goals."

A point clear atop the LaLiga table, Madrid face Atletico in the derby on Saturday.

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