Sergio Ramos' late goal in Real Madrid's Champions League final victory over Atletico Madrid in 2014 may have altered the history of European football, according to Luka Modric.

Madrid trailed to Diego Godin's opener when Ramos forced extra time with a dramatic 93rd-minute header at Estadio da Luz.

Gareth Bale put Carlo Ancelotti's side in front and further goals followed from Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo to seal a 4-1 victory in Lisbon. 

It was Madrid's 10th European Cup - known as 'La Decima' - but their first in 12 years after a series of near misses.

The Spanish giants have since added three more Champions Leagues to their collection, but Modric is unsure whether it would have been possible if not for Ramos' famous goal.

"It's difficult to make such judgements. I don't know," he told Club del Deportista. "It may be the case that this goal changed the history of European football. Real Madrid had already won a lot of trophies, but they hadn't lifted the Champions League trophy for 12 years. 

"This goal changed something, the mentality changed. From that moment we started to be very strong in Europe and teams were afraid of us again. That shows how important mentality is in football. 

"People had spent 12 years talking about La Decima and it became a mental thing. [Jose] Mourinho went to three semi-finals and it was hard to overcome this mental barrier.

"When we reached the final and to win it with that goal, it still gives me goosebumps, we showed such strong character and never gave up."

Modric broke Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's Ballon d'Or stranglehold by winning football's most prestigious individual accolade in 2018.

It capped a memorable year that saw him win his third successive Champions League with Madrid and help Croatia to a first World Cup final, where they were beaten by France.

"That was a recognition of my entire career, but a very special year in particular," Modric said of winning the award. 

"I was lucky enough to win the Champions League again, which isn't easy, and I also reached the World Cup final with a country like Croatia, which for us is something that words just can't describe. 

"I don't like to talk about myself, but I think that, in the individual sense, I played a very good season and the footballing people have recognised that. It's no coincidence when so many people vote for you."

Luka Modric insists friend and team-mate Gareth Bale fits in well at Real Madrid and enjoys being at the club.

Rumours linking the Wales international with a move to the Chinese Super League have resurfaced as the January transfer window draws nearer.

He almost left for Jiangsu Suning during the close season, only for Madrid to reportedly cancel the deal at the last minute.

Zinedine Zidane tried to force him out amid suggestions Bale has failed to embrace Spanish culture but, speaking ahead of Wednesday's LaLiga game against Leganes, the head coach claimed his winger is still happy at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Star midfielder Modric, who swapped Tottenham for Madrid a year before Bale, holds the same view.

"Gareth and I are very similar. We are shy and sometimes we don't talk much," Modric told Club del Deportista.

"Gareth speaks and understands Spanish, and there is a good atmosphere and he gets along very well with his team-mates and is delighted to enjoy Madrid and the best club in the world.

"Of course, everyone enjoys their own way and you have to respect their way of being. He is exemplary with his behaviour. I get along very well with him."

Fresh speculation surrounding Bale's future arose following his meeting with agent Jonathan Barnett in London on Monday.

Zidane said the trip was "personal reasons" and that Madrid knew of his plans.

Approached for comment by a Spanish broadcaster, Barnett added that Bale is completely content at the club.

"Gareth Bale is delighted to play for Real Madrid," he told Deportes Cuatro.

Bale, 30, has not featured for Los Blancos since suffering an injury – initially suspected to be cramp – while playing for Wales against Modric's Croatia on October 13.

Juventus are not resting on their laurels.

Despite their domestic dominance, Juve are craving European glory as they eye a first Champions League crown since 1995.

So much so that they have three Premier League stars on their mind.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE WATCH SALAH, SON & ERIKSEN

Juventus scouts watched Mohamed Salah, Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen during Liverpool's Premier League clash with Tottenham, according to Tuttosport.

Seeking a ninth successive Scudetto, Serie A champions Juve are prepared to spend heavily in pursuit of Champions League glory.

With money no obstacle as they reap the benefits of Cristiano Ronaldo's presence, Liverpool star Salah and Tottenham duo Son and Eriksen are reportedly on Juve's list.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Sun claims Jose Mourinho wants to become the first manager to win major trophies with three English clubs as the former Manchester United boss is linked to Arsenal. Gunners head coach Unai Emery is under pressure at the Emirates Stadium amid growing fan frustration.

Manchester United are hopeful of completing a deal for Lyon striker Moussa Dembele in January, reports Soccerlink. With Dembele's future uncertain, Lyon are lining up Chelsea's Olivier Giroud.

- Staying at Old Trafford and United's name has again been thrown into the mix for Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali. The 19-year-old Italy international is fast becoming one of the most sought-after players in Europe, attracting interest from Juventus, Manchester City and Inter. Now, The Suns says United are weigning up a £40million move for Tonali after sending scouts to watch him once more.

- Calciomercato claims Napoli are considering a January move for Benfica full-back Alejandro Grimaldo. The 24-year-old Spaniard has been linked to Arsenal, Tottenham and Barcelona.

Newcastle United are close to agreeing a deal to sign Strasbourg's Ibrahima Sissoko. The 21-year-old French midfielder is poised to make the switch when the transfer window opens in January.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde said he has "run out of words" to describe Lionel Messi after the captain inspired a 5-1 rout of Real Valladolid.

Messi produced a masterclass with a brace and two assists as defending champions Barca moved top of the LaLiga table on Tuesday.

Barca captain Messi set up Arturo Vidal with an exquisite pass before scoring a stunning free-kick – the 50th of his career for club and Argentina – prior to half-time at Camp Nou.

Messi netted his second of the match after the interval and the five-time Ballon d'Or winner teed up team-mate Luis Suarez as Barca climbed above Granada and Atletico Madrid atop the summit.

"What else can be said about him? I've run out of words," Valverde told reporters. "We always know that he will appear, whatever the match.

"His talent isn't comparable to anything; the reality is that every time he touches the ball, something special happens. I just don't know what to say."

Valverde added: "He is getting closer to his best form [after injury], when Leo gets it something bad will happen to the rival.

"He has that talent that nobody has, he escapes anyone and it is not only that he can make an individual play but he does things that nobody sees.

"It happens to me sometimes, he does things that are not seen even from the crowd, every day is better."

Although Clement Lenglet's second-minute opener was fortuitously cancelled out by Valladolid's Kiko Olivas 13 minutes later, Messi was able to inspire Barca against the visitors.

Barca are two points clear of Granada and Atletico Madrid – the latter of whom have played an extra match due to the postponement of El Clasico last weekend – after 10 games.

"We value very much what we do," Valverde added. "We have in memory what we have done but we want to look forward and win this league.

"It is not easy to take the games forward, Valladolid tied against Atletico and Real Madrid and it is not easy to beat them."

Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal said superstar captain Lionel Messi is "from another planet" after producing a masterclass performance against Real Valladolid.

Messi was at his trademark best with a brace and two assists as LaLiga champions Barca routed Valladolid 5-1 at Camp Nou on Tuesday.

Argentina international Messi set up Vidal with an exquisite pass before scoring a stunning free-kick – the 50th of his career for club and country – prior to half-time.

Messi netted his second of the match after the break and teed up Luis Suarez as Barca moved top of the table.

"It makes a difference with Leo giving all his quality. When he's like this, the team feels it," Vidal told Movistar Plus.

"We see him every day, but he surprises us every day. Leo is from another planet. 

"We are happy, we won and the team felt good. I have no words to talk about Leo. You have to take advantage of it and make the most of him."

Although Clement Lenglet's second-minute opener was fortuitously cancelled out by Valladolid's Kiko Olivas 13 minutes later, Messi was able to inspire Barca against the visitors.

Barca are two points clear of Granada and Atletico Madrid – the latter of whom have played an extra match due to the postponement of El Clasico last weekend – after 10 games.

"These victories help you, but you have to keep improving," Vidal, who has been linked to Serie A outfit Inter, added. "The game against Slavia [Prague in the Champions League] is not what we know how to do. Hopefully it won't happen to us from now on."

Alvaro Morata insists he is not focusing on his own goalscoring exploits after Atletico Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Deportivo Alaves, stating he would just play tennis if individual exploits were important to him.

Atletico produced another underwhelming performance at Mendizorroza on Tuesday but looked to have escaped with all three points when Morata struck 20 minutes from time.

Lucas Perez then scored in style late on with a curling effort, denying Atletico the chance to go top of LaLiga for a few hours.

Morata's effort made it three goals in as many outings for the striker, though his personal form is not his top priority.

"If I worried about myself I would play tennis. I'm as disappointed as everyone else is in the locker room," the Spain international told reporters.

"We had chances and we did not take advantage of them. For us, two points escaped us, but we also have to see the rest of the teams and what they will do on a trip as difficult as this one."

Morata missed a good opportunity to make it 2-0 shortly before Perez's equaliser and coach Diego Simeone believes it would have been game over had Fernando Pacheco not made the save.

"The goalkeeper made a great stop, the ball was not going wide of the goal," Simeone added.

"Alvaro was fine and the goalkeeper kept Alaves in the game because the match was over with the second goal."

Simeone also pointed to Atletico's poor first-half display as a major contributor to failing to claim the win.

"In the first half Alaves were better, they were more intense, more aggressive, pressing well and controlling the second ball," he said.

"Overall, Alaves played a great game in the first half, we did it in the second half. We played well, we had situations, we pressed higher, we played between the lines.

"If we keep playing as in the second half and clearly understand what we did in the first half, we will have done well.

"It's clear that if a team doesn't start well in the first half, it's always the responsibility of the coach, because they were not excited and pumped to do well."

With Barca's 5-1 win over Real Valladolid, Atletico Madrid sit third in LaLiga. Real Sociedad, Real Madrid, Sevilla and Villarreal could all move above them across Wednesday and Thursday.

Lionel Messi reached a notable personal milestone under Ernesto Valverde at Barcelona as he scored twice and provided two assists in a 5-1 thumping of Real Valladolid.

After teeing up Arturo Vidal to put Barca 2-1 up at Camp Nou, Messi curled a wonderful free-kick beyond Jordi Masip to score his 100th goal in all competitions since Valverde was placed in charge at the club.

As well as bringing up his century since the start of the 2017-18 season, it was also the 50th time Messi had netted directly from a free-kick in his career for both club and country, with six of his set-piece goals scored for Argentina.

The 32-year-old was not finished there, though, as he lashed home his second from inside the penalty area before compounding Valladolid's misery when he set up Luis Suarez for the home side's fifth and final goal.

Suarez has now scored against every club he has faced in LaLiga, while Messi could have completed an impressive hat-trick late on, only to drill narrowly wide from close range.

Still, the emphatic result sees Barca move to the top of the table, two points clear of surprise package Granada and Atletico Madrid, the latter held to a 1-1 draw away at Deportivo Alaves.

Lionel Messi was Barcelona's inspiration with two goals and a pair of assists as the Blaugrana demolished Real Valladolid 5-1 at Camp Nou to go top of LaLiga.

The postponement of El Clasico – which was initially scheduled for October 26 – due to Catalan political tension allowed promoted Granada to become the unlikely leaders, but Barca restored normal service with a crushing victory, led by Messi.

Although Clement Lenglet's serendipitous opener was cancelled out by an even more fortuitous Kiko Olivas equaliser, Messi was able to drag Barca into a commanding lead, setting up Arturo Vidal and then netting a stunning free-kick.

Ernesto Valverde's men eased off initially in the second half, but Messi remained in the zone, slamming home Barca's fourth before then setting up Luis Suarez to round off a brilliant individual display from the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Barca led with just two minutes played when Lenglet's strike deflected on to the crossbar and in, a kind ricochet sending the ball right to him.

Valladolid levelled soon after, as Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a mess of Michel's wicked free-kick delivery and the ball went in off the oblivious Kiko.

Messi, however, was in an ominous mood.

The Argentina star delivered a delightful lofted pass into the box for Vidal to nudge past Jordi Masip, before then finding the top-right corner with a 30-yard free-kick in the 34th minute.

Messi was a central figure again early in the second half, darting forward and feeding Ansu Fati into the box, but he delayed his shot enough to allow for a defender to deflect it on to Masip's leg.

Shortly after Suarez had a goal disallowed for offside, Messi opened up a three-goal lead – controlling Ivan Rakitic's pass on the thigh before swivelling and blasting in.

Suarez then finished Valladolid off, tucking away after being released by Messi's incisive pass.

 

What does it mean?

Victory rarely looked in doubt on Tuesday, even when Valladolid equalised. Sealing all three points allowed Barca to take full advantage of Atletico Madrid slipping up at Deportivo Alaves earlier in the day.

They now have 22 points, two more than Diego Simeone's men and Granada, the surprise package of LaLiga this term.

Messi unplayable

Valladolid were not shy about getting physical with Barca, but there was little they could do to knock Messi off his stride. The forward provided four key passes, set up two goals and got a pair for himself – you cannot ask for much more than that.

Fati fails to shine

Starting alongside Messi for the first time, there will have been plenty of excitement from fans before kick-off, but Fati struggled in his duel with Pedro Porro and wasted a fine chance when teed up by Messi in the second half.

What's next?

Barca travel to Valencia for a contest with Levante on Saturday, while Valladolid host Real Mallorca the following day.

Lucas Perez's stunning late goal denied Atletico Madrid as Deportivo Alaves clinched a 1-1 draw at Mendizorroza on Tuesday, preventing Diego Simeone's side from going top of LaLiga.

Atletico looked to have secured a trademark 1-0 win in unspectacular circumstances when Alvaro Morata scored 20 minutes from time, but Perez levelled in style, making it five league outings in a row with a goal for the West Ham flop.

During a dismal first half, Atletico looked utterly devoid of intent, while Alaves often appeared clueless in possession, only looking even moderately threatening from distance or with hopeful long balls into the box.

Proceedings livened up a little after the break and substitute Morata had seemingly put his team on course for a victory that would have put Atletico top for at least a few hours, but Perez stuck with seven minutes to go to salvage a commendable point for the hosts.

Former Real Madrid forward Predrag Mijatovic has urged the Spanish giants to move Gareth Bale on if the player wants to go, even if it means missing out on a transfer fee.

The Wales star moved to Spain from Tottenham in 2013 for a reported fee of €91million and has been a key player in the club's success ever since.

But Bale's future was the subject of much discussion during the previous transfer window, with the 30-year-old said to be keen on a move elsewhere.

The attacker's reported wage packet of £350,000 per week made it tough for clubs to do a deal, though, and Bale remained in Madrid, where he has made just seven starts in all competitions this season.

Zinedine Zidane’s squad sit sixth in La Liga having made an underwhelming start to the campaign, including picking up just one win from their opening three Champions League fixtures.

"Madrid wanted to sell him over the summer but they couldn't find a solution," Mijatovic said while appearing on the show El Larguero on Cadena SER.

"A decision needs to be made ... he has three years left on his contract and that complicates things.

"In terms of numbers, I think Bale has already been profitable. If a player of this salary is not motivated, it is better to leave for free and take the salary off.

"It may be worth it to transfer him, even if it is not the money you might think you would get for him. If it is better to let it go free than to keep it? Without any doubt, I believe."

While Mijatovic did say that Bale "loves living here [Spain]", he added that the public perception of the player is not great.

"He seems quite a particular person, which might mean he comes across as being a bit strange," he said.

"But to have someone like that at the club, who they say isn't integrated and has other, more important worries than his own team and his club ... [the perception is] the first thing he thinks about is Wales, then golf and after that, Real Madrid.

"I haven't spoken to him - but that's how he comes across."

Mijatovic scored 44 goals in 117 appearances for Madrid. He netted the only goal of the 1998 UEFA Champions League final, securing victory over Juventus in Amsterdam.

Under-pressure Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has tipped former team-mate Raul to coach the Spanish giants one day.

Zidane took his Madrid side to Istanbul for a Champions League clash with Galatasaray last week following a run of just four victories in 10 outings in all competitions.

A 1-0 LaLiga loss at Real Mallorca had heaped the pressure on Zidane, with Jose Mourinho linked with a high-profile return to the Spanish capital, but they got back to winning ways by beating Gala 1-0 on Tuesday.

Speaking on the 25th anniversary of Raul's debut for the 13-time European champions, Zidane tipped the 42-year-old - who currently coaches Madrid's Castilla side - to follow in his footsteps and earn promotion to the top job in the future.

"I played alongside him and he was an important player for this great club," Zidane said.

"I'm sure he'll coach Real Madrid one day."

Raul is a Madrid legend, the striker scoring 323 goals in 741 appearances for the club.

He won six LaLiga titles with Madrid and three Champions League trophies.

Raul earned 102 caps for Spain in a lengthy career that also took in stints with Schalke, Al Sadd and New York Cosmos.

He was announced as Castilla coach in June and has steered them to three wins from 10 matches in Segunda B - Group 1.

Zinedine Zidane has insisted Gareth Bale is happy at Real Madrid and had the club's permission to visit London on Monday.

Wales international Bale travelled to the English capital two days out from his club's LaLiga game against Leganes, which he will miss through injury.

The former Tottenham winger reportedly used the trip to meet with his agent, Jonathan Barnett, as rumours surrounding his future started to re-circulate.

Bale almost left Madrid for China in the close season amid suggestions of a strained relationship with Zidane, but the Frenchman claimed the pair are on good terms.

"It's good to be asked this because a lot of things have been said," Zidane told a news conference on Tuesday.

"I have to say we have a good relationship. He's here with us, he trains well and works well when he's available. He's not available at the moment because he's got an injury, that's all.

"The problem is, there is a lot of talk about lots of different things. The important thing is that he's ready when he's 100 per cent.

"He's a good player, you know what kind of player he is. At the moment he's not available. You're all trying to create something that isn't there in our relationship.

"He had permission yesterday to go [to London]. It was a personal issue and he went. There's nothing else to say. He went also because he's not available to play.

"I don't think he ever talks about leaving. When he's available he trains and plays. He's played a number of games."

Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham have been mentioned as possible destinations for Bale, along with Shanghai Shenhua.

Their Chinese Super League rivals, Jiangsu Suning, were believed to be in pole position before the transfer fell through in July.

"That was the situation at the time and at the end of the day he stayed. That was better for everyone," Zidane said.

"It doesn't help what's said about him and the club. He's an important player in this squad. It's important for us that he plays and does well.

"The same thing [transfer speculation] will happen in January. If he says he's going to stay, there will be more talk about the summer window. He's happy here."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has announced he is "coming back" to Spain in what could be a hint over his next career move.

The 38-year-old's contract with LA Galaxy expires in December and he has previously talked up a possible return to Europe.

A move to Italy seemed most likely, with a host of Serie A clubs - including Napoli - believed to have showed an interest.

However, the former Barcelona striker posted a short clip on Instagram on Tuesday that may point to a future move to a LaLiga club.

"Hola Espana, guess what? I am coming back," he said.

Ibrahimovic, also touted as a target for South American teams Boca Juniors and Flamengo, spent one season in the Spanish top flight with Barcelona in 2009-2010.

The former Sweden international was on Monday named in the MLS Best XI for 2019 after scoring 30 goals and assisting seven more in 29 regular-season matches.

Despite his prolific form in front of goal, LA Galaxy were eliminated from the MLS play-offs by Los Angeles FC last week.

As well as Barcelona, Ibrahimovic's former clubs include Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter, AC Milan, Ajax and Juventus.

The Gareth Bale transfer saga continues to roll on as he remains frozen out at Spanish giants Real Madrid with seemingly no way back.

The 30-year-old was linked with a move to China in the summer but the move did not materialise and Bale has since continued to find himself out of favour with Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

All is not lost for Bale though with three Premier League clubs battling for the Welshman's signature in January, as he builds towards a possible Euro 2020 campaign with Wales next June.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE TRIO KEEN TO SIGN BALE IN JANUARY

Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have all been linked with a January swoop for Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, according to AS.

The three Premier League giants are seeking solutions to solve inconsistent starts to their respective seasons and believe the Welshman could provide a timely boost leading into 2020.

Bale is seen as the perfect fit for a return to Premier League football, having maintained his good reputation from time spent with Southampton and Spurs, but it remains to be seen whether Madrid's asking price or the player's wage demands will be met. 

Marca believe Bale could revisit a potential move to China, however, with the player's agent believed to be in talks with Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter Milan are hopeful of signing Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen on a free transfer this summer, according to The Guardian.

- Sky Italia say Inter are also considering a move for out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic, which would see the Serbian reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Staying in Serie A and Corriere dello Sport claim Roma have rejected the opportunity to sign former Sunderland flop Jack Rodwell on a free transfer.

- Corriere dello Sport also believe Napoli have pulled the plug on a potential move for Salzburg star Erling Braut Haaland as they expect the 19-year-old to join Manchester United in January.

- Manchester City will replace Leroy Sane with Real Sociedad playmaker Mikel Oyarzabal should the Germany winger get his move to Bayern Munich, according to Sky Sports.

- Turkish news outlet Takvim claim Besiktas are keen to cancel their two-year loan agreement with Liverpool for goalkeeper Loris Karius.

Barcelona are responsible for the postponement of the Clasico against Real Madrid, according to the Catalan club's former president Joan Laporta.

The clash between the two LaLiga rivals was scheduled to be held on Saturday but the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) decided to reschedule the fixture due to civil unrest in Catalonia.

Both clubs agreed to push the game back to December 18 and the RFEF accepted the proposal, but LaLiga responded by stating it was considering legal action over the decision.

Laporta, who was the president of Barca between 2003 and 2014, believes the match should have been played as initially planned.

"Yes, [I would've played] the game on Saturday because if Real Madrid wanted to play then I don't see the problem," he said.

"The powers that be wanted to magnify what was happening for political reasons. [Barcelona] were mistaken because they criminalised a movement and put politics ahead of a football match that always has political connotations. It's always been like this.

"They've played a game with the powers that rule football to make people from Barcelona and everyone look bad. LaLiga made a strong move for it not to be played.

"LaLiga had political interests to magnify a certain situation and exaggerate what happened. It's the worst way of getting past what is happening. Barcelona are guilty in this situation."

With neither Barca nor Madrid in action, Granada went top of LaLiga with a 1-0 win over Real Betis.

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