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Former Brazil Under-20 coach Ney Franco believes Real Madrid's Casemiro has established himself as one of the world's best defensive midfielders.

Despite what has been labelled a miserable season for the Wales worldwide, mainly due to yet another injury-ridden year minimising his opportunities for the defending Spanish and European champions, the attacker has still managed to grab 13 goals and four assists from 16 starts.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Raphael Varane were also spared the trip to La Rosaleda.

The former Madrid midfielder could yet lead his side to Champions League glory for the third season in a row, although the La Liga title they won last term looks certain to go to rivals Barcelona this year.

Against Juve, Karim Benzema made way for Bale by dropping to the bench but Zidane says neither player feels sidelined by recent selections.

'I was afraid that Salah might fail at Liverpool, but I think he is ready to jump to the next level.

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"It hurts them to see that we've reached eight [Champions League] semi-finals in a row and creates jealousy on their part".

"There are very good players at this club, and I must always value that too".

"It is just a little blip he is in at the moment - we had that as a team earlier in the season but we kept working".

"Many people are happy with our bad results", he said after Los Blancos' 2-1 win at Malaga on Sunday. "If he keeps working, I'm sure in a short time he will be scoring again".

The 28-year-old is tipped to face the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu exit door this summer, with Zinedine Zidane seemingly losing faith in the Welshman and willing to offer him up to fellow European giants if he can gain something in return.

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