Loading...
Loading Live Scoring...
*All times CAT (GMT+2)

Football | Spain

Raphael Varane © Action Images

Varane showered with praise



For an inexperienced central defender lining up against Lionel Messi in his first "Clasico", things could hardly have gone better for Real Madrid's Raphael Varane in Wednesday's 1-1 King's Cup semifinal draw against Barcelona.

The 19-year-old Frenchman produced a near-impeccable performance to thrill the home fans at the Bernabeu, making several vital interceptions and crowning a mature display with a fine headed equaliser seven minutes from time.

The goal boosted Real's chances for the second leg at the Nou Camp at the end of next month and earned Varane, signed from Lens on the recommendation of his idol Zinedine Zidane in 2011, effusive praise from teammates and club officials.

"He played a sensational game and finished it off with a headed goal that keeps us alive in the tie," former Real striker and now club director Emilio Butragueno told Spanish television.

"He is 19 years old and to come out and play against Barcelona and not make any mistakes is very significant."

Real coach Jose Mourinho included Varane, a France Under-21 international, in his starting lineup to cover for the injured Pepe and the suspended Sergio Ramos, leaving Spain centre back Raul Albiol on the bench.

He showed he has a cool head under pressure, can read the game well and used his blistering pace to good effect to thwart the likes of Messi, Pedro and Andres Iniesta.

Apart from his goal, two moments stood out.

The first when he brilliantly cleared a Xavi shot off the line in the 21st minute with goalkeeper Diego Lopez stranded and the second 11 minutes after halftime, when he threw himself full length and nipped the ball away from Cesc Fabregas as the Barca midfielder bore down on goal.

"I am very happy with my performance," Varane, whose father is from the island of Martinique, told reporters.

"It was an incredible experience for me and to score a goal is a dream," he added.

"I still don't believe it. It was my best game since I joined Real Madrid.

"The coach congratulated me, the whole dressing room, the president, everyone was very pleased."

Varane could become a fixture in the Real backline sooner rather than later and France coach Didier Deschamps has also taken note, calling the teenager up to the senior squad for only the second time on Thursday.

Varane was included for a friendly against Uruguay in August but did not play.

Shop

Rafa: My Story
Revelatory memoir from the greatest sportsman in the world today.
R202.00


Comments

More expert analysis and opinion from Sport24
The opinions expressed by Sport24 experts and bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent those of SuperSport

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Other Live Streaming

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Sports Talk



Neil Tovey
Brockie - A striking example
Jeremy Brockie has only been in South Africa since January but has made a big impression.

Dr Errol Sweeney
Ref in red card 'blunder'
In my last blog for supersport.com I stated that video technology is, more than ever, required to...

Sunday Oliseh
EPL goes to war with non-Euro foreigners
What will the Barclays Premier League be without foreigners today? Uninteresting to say the least...

Carol Radull
LVG has arrived
I said it a few weeks ago, that once Man United found their footing, it would be impossible to stop...

Segun Odegbami
Football is full of failed coaches
I admit that I am looking for trouble writing today about coaches. I do not really like discussing...

John Dykes
Ups and downs for Mersey managers
My thoughts have increasingly turned to Merseyside of late as Social Media has been abuzz with talk...