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Saturday, Mar 28th

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Bayern Munich defensive midfielder Xabi Alonso on Thursday announced that he will retire from professional football at the end of the current season. The 35-year-old confirmed the news, which had been rumoured for the last two months, on social media.

"It wasn't an easy decision to make, but I believe it's the right time," Alonso, a former Liverpool player, was quoted as saying.

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Sergio Ramos led Real Madrid to a 3-1 victory over Napoli in the second legĀ for a 6-2 win on aggregate to book a seventh consecutive trip to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the holders.

Having already hoisted the trophy a record 11 times, Los Blancos are trying to become the first team to win Europe's elite club competition two years in a row.

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Defending champions Real Madrid will be favourites to go through when they defend a 3-1 Champions League pre-quarterfinal first leg lead in the away match against Italian football club Napoli here on Tuesday.

Zinedine Zidane-coached Real arrives in Italy on the back of a morale boosting 4-1 La Liga win away to Eibar on Saturday in which the coach was able to rest key footballers.

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Real Madrid came close to suffering one of the most humbling defeats of the Zinedine Zidane era, but Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals to help the La Liga powerhouse salvage a 3-3 draw against Las Palmas.

Los Blancos appeared to be headed for an easy victory at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday when they got a goal in just the eighth minute from Isco. But Las Palmas answered two minutes later with a powerful right-footed strike by midfielder Tana and kept the hosts off the scoreboard for the rest of the first half.

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Real Madrid had to dig deep to come up with its 3-2 road win over Villarreal, battling back from a two-goal disadvantage during the second period.

After a first period and early in the second, when Villarreal was clearly dominant, racking up two goals and holding Madrid scoreless, Zinedine Zidane's boys upped the intensity in the last half hour of play before 21,400 spectators at the Ceramica Stadium to find the twine three times, enabling them to remain at the top of Spain's La Liga.

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Real Madrid on Friday announced that defender Rafael Varane is suffering from a hamstring injury.

The French defender was injured on Wednesday in the postponed La Liga match against Valencia at the Mestalla, where Los Blancos lost 1-2, reports Efe.

After undergoing a MRI on Friday to assess his condition, Varane was diagnosed with "a grade 2 muscle strain in his left hamstring", Real Madrid said.

The defender will be off the field for between three to four weeks to recover and miss the second leg of Champions League's last 16 against Napoli on March 7, as well as La Liga games against Villarreal, Las Palmas and Real Betis.

 

Riding on a couple of early strikes in the first 10 minutes, Spanish football giants Valencia eked out a 2-1 victory over mighty Real Madrid, who missed a chance to consolidate their hold on first place in La Liga.

The early lead for the hosts conditioned the course of Wednesday's match, with Valencia practically ceding possession to Los Blancos and relying on compact defending to preserve the advantage. Simone Zaza scored for Valencia in the fifth minute and Orellana connected just four minutes later in front of 45,000 fans at the Mestalla.

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