Saturday, August 24

Betis Coach Hoping Messi Catches a Cold

Real Betis coach Rubi has joked he hopes Barcelona star Lionel Messi comes down with a cold ahead of his expected return from injury in La Liga on Sunday.

Messi missed the Catalans' season opener last weekend through a calf complaint, with Athletic Bilbao claiming a late 1-0 win in his absence.

Much to Rubi's dismay, the Argentine attacker has returned to full training and will likely play some part against Betis.

While he accepts Messi could well start the contest, Rubi has his fingers crossed a flu might just strike him down and give his side one less thing to worry about.

“I think Messi is going to play from the start. It’s what I think,” Rubi said.

“I’d prefer Messi to have a cold, not an injury, but a cold so he cannot play.

"We have to go with a point of courage but knowing that any player they put out will be good."


Zidane Bale Must Show He's Great Again

Wales forward Gareth Bale will stay at Real Madrid this season but must now prove he is a "great player", says boss Zinedine Zidane.

Bale was expected to leave in the summer with Zidane saying it would be a "good thing for everyone", before Real blocked a move to China.

The 30-year-old was then a surprise starter in Real's opening La Liga win against Celta Vigo last Saturday.

"What has changed is that the player is going to stay," said Zidane.

The Frenchman is without new signing Eden Hazard after the Belgium forward sustained a thigh injury in training last week, while winger Marco Asensio is a long-term absentee.

Zidane said he was impressed with Bale's overall performance in the 3-1 win over Celta Vigo and commented that his "level defensively was very high".

"The important thing is the player wants to stay," he added. "It's true that a lot was said about him, by me as well, but he is going to stay.

"He is a great player, he has shown that before and he has to show it again. He has to be the player we know that he is."