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Messi, Turan click at Barcelona; returnees, Bale star for Real Madrid

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno explains why he believes Lionel Messi will improve on last season.

Many of the fans who drooled over yet another man-of-the-match performance from Lionel Messi in Barcelona's 6-2 win versus Real Betis at the Camp Nou on Saturday are called socios -- socis in Catalan.

It's the way in which the Spanish describe paid-up members of an organization. Those who might join a health club, for example, or invest in a business or, in this case, pay to own a tiny -- but meaningful -- "share" of FC Barcelona.

Socio isn't a word we use in English, but we know the family: society,...

 By Ed Alvarez

Zinedine Zidane's teamwork emphasis reaping rewards for Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane says he's delighted with Real Madrid's start to the La Liga season, after they defeated Real Sociedad 3-0 in their league opener.

Eight months after Zinedine Zidane took over Real Madrid's first team, "todos juntos" ("all together") has undoubtedly become his motto for the side. In most of his public appearances, Zidane has put the emphasis on an extremely simple concept: if they all work together in defending then, given the level of attacking skill in the squad, victories will come.

While the theory sounds astute, its implementation poses more problems. Every time Zidane starts Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo...

 By Rob Train

Gareth Bale on track for career year under guidance of Zinedine Zidane

The ESPN FC crew discuss Gareth Bale's impact for Real's opening game, and if he will pass Ronaldo as the main cog of the team.

"Gareth [Bale] has already said this is an important year for him, and it is showing," said Zinedine Zidane after the Welshman had scored a brace to help Real Madrid to a 3-0 victory over Real Sociedad at the Anoeta on Sunday.

Injuries permitting, 2016-17 could be the season in which Bale emerges from the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo and becomes the leader on the pitch that the club envisaged when breaking the world transfer record to sign him from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013. Bale's performance...

Real Madrid, Barcelona start well; Chelsea grab another win; Brazil's gold

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti discusses James Rodriguez's role with Real Madrid and the possibility of him being moved.

Ahead of Real Madrid's game at Real Sociedad, there were plenty of reasons to imagine that Zinedine Zidane might have been grumpy by Sunday night. His side were making the tricky trip to Anoeta without five projected starters: Keylor Navas, Pepe, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and some guy named Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona had dazzled the night before in beating Real Betis 6-2 and Zidane, who delivered the club's 11th European Cup, was going into a new season with, basically, no new faces from the...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Trending: Gareth Bale nets brace as Real Madrid start La Liga with win

ESPN FC's Janusz Michallik recaps Real Madrid's victory over Real Sociedad in absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Here are the latest stories for Monday.

REAL MADRIDZinedine Zidane hailed Real Madrid's two-goal hero Gareth Bale after their 3-0 win away to Real Sociedad as the Frenchman admitted this could be "an important year'' for the Welshman.

LA LIGAAtletico Madrid dropped two points in extraordinary fashion after conceding a stoppage-time equaliser to Alaves in a 1-1 draw having only gone in front two minutes earlier.

BARCELONANeymar will miss Barcelona's game with Athletic Bilbao...

 By Rob Train

Toni Kroos stands out for Real Madrid in dominant outing vs. La Real

The ESPN FC crew discuss Gareth Bale's impact for Real's opening game, and if he will pass Ronaldo as the main cog of the team.
ESPN FC's Janusz Michallik recaps Real Madrid's victory over Real Sociedad in absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Real Madrid secured a 3-0 victory over Real Sociedad in Anoeta with the side missing several first-team regulars. Gareth Bale struck twice for the visitors, either side of a splendid Marco Asensio effort, to give Zinedine Zidane a winning start to his first full season in charge against a resolute but uninspired La Real.

Positives

Gareth Bale stepped into the breach left by the absence of his strike partners Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, while Mateo Kovacic had an eye-catching game and Toni...