Neymar, Messi, Bale and Ronaldo Watch: Limited Minutes and No Goals

Nick DorringtonSpecial to Bleacher ReportMay 11, 2014

Neymar, Messi, Bale and Ronaldo Watch: Limited Minutes and No Goals

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    Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

    It has been a week of few minutes and even fewer goals for Neymar, Lionel Messi, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Messi was the only one of the four to complete 90 minutes of football, with Bale and Neymar absent through injury, while Ronaldo played just eight minutes. Neither Messi nor Ronaldo got on the scoresheet in their time on the pitch.

    There have, however, been a few off-pitch incidents involving the quartet over the past seven days, which we review, along with their limited on-pitch action, in this week’s “Neymar, Messi, Bale and Ronaldo Watch.”

Neymar

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    Neymar continues to be sidelined with a metatarsal injury, as per The Guardian, but he has had an eventful week away from the pitch.

    On Tuesday, Cristiano Ronaldo told Brazilian sports channel SporTV (h/t Sambafoot) that Neymar “has the potential to be one of the best players in the world or even the very best player in the world.”

    On Wednesday, Brazil national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari officially selected Neymar in his 23-man squad for this summer’s World Cup, as reported by The Guardian.

    Neymar’s adopted brother, Jo Amancio, caught the Barcelona player's reaction on camera, while FIFA.com reported his social media comments:

    This is the realisation of a dream I have had since I was a child. I don’t doubt this is one of the happiest days of my life. I’ve always been chasing my dreams and this was always one of my main ones–not just to represent my family but ALL BRAZIL. I am emotional, anxious, nervous, just waiting for the day to arrive.

     

Lionel Messi

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Barcelona missed an excellent opportunity to gain the upper hand going into La Liga’s final weekend by drawing 0-0 away at Elche on Sunday, with Lionel Messi some way off his optimum level.

    Of the seven shots Messi mustered, four were blocked, one was off target and two were saved, as per Squawka. Both saves were of good quality, but Messi should really have done better on the second occasion, with just the goalkeeper to beat.

    Earlier in the week, Messi had considered it necessary to address some of the rumours that have circulated during his negotiations with Barcelona over a new contract. “Many things have come out during this year,” he said at a commercial event on Thursday, as reported by ESPN. “Crazy stuff has come out, almost all of it lies. I am fine.”

    Sunday’s draw leaves Barcelona three points behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who they play at home on the final matchday. On the back of a subpar performance, the stage seems set for Messi to prove his critics wrong with a match and league-title-winning display next weekend.

Gareth Bale

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Gareth Bale was omitted from the Madrid squad for Wednesday’s draw with Real Valladolid after picking up a knock in the build up to the match, as per ESPN.

    He returned to the substitutes bench for Sunday’s trip to Celta Vigo, but did not enter the field of play as Madrid fell to a 2-0 defeat.

    During an inactive week on the pitch, he was spotted alongside Iker Casillas at the Madrid Open Tennis tournament. The pair were in attendance to watch Rafael Nadal defeat Tomas Berdych in straight sets.

    Bale will likely receive a run out of some sort in Madrid’s final match of the league season, at home to Espanyol next Sunday, in order to build up some match sharpness prior to the club’s Champions League final against Atletico Madrid on the 24th May.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Cristiano Ronaldo started Real Madrid’s match away to Real Valladolid on Wednesday, but limped off eight minutes in after suffering a recurrence of the hamstring injury that had troubled him during Tuesday’s training session, as per Goal.com.

    He cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines as Madrid conceded a late equaliser to draw 1-1.

    With the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid coming up later this month, Carlo Ancelotti decided it was best to leave Ronaldo out of the team for Sunday’s loss away to Celta Vigo. “He’s a key player for us but I always say it’s better not to take any risks,” he explained in his pre-match press conference, as per AS.

    Ronaldo spoke of his excitement regarding the final at a Samsung promotional event on Friday, as reported by AS:

    It’s a moment which the club has been waiting for for a long time. It’s going to be a great final, an exciting match between two great teams. Finals are always 50:50. We just hope that it’s a fantastic night and we win. We hope that May 24th will be a magical night for Real Madrid.