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Gareth Bale has not been on the winning side in his five matches against Cristiano Ronaldo

Gareth Bale has played down the significance of his duel with Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of Wales’ Euro 2016 semi-final against Portugal.

Their relationship has been the subject of intense media scrutiny, with both insisting there is no rift.

They meet in Lyon on Wednesday, Wales’ first semi-final at a major tournament.

“It’s not about two players, it is about two nations in a semi-final, 11 men against 11 men,” said Wales’ Bale.

“Everybody knows that really.”

Bale became the world’s most expensive footballer when he joined Real from Tottenham for £85m in 2013, surpassing the £80m the Spanish club paid Manchester United for Ronaldo in 2009.

The two players have formed a potent attacking three with French striker Karim Benzema, helping Real to win two Champions League titles in the last three seasons.

Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo joined Real Madrid for a combined transfer fee that exceeds £165m

However, the relationship between Bale and Ronaldo has not always been harmonious.

The Portugal captain was pictured gesticulating angrily when Bale did not pass to him during a game in 2015, prompting speculation of discord between the pair.

Both have dismissed such talk, while former Real manager Carlo Ancelotti said in a recent BBC Wales documentary about Bale that the two players are “really close”.

“Of course we get on very well at Madrid, we enjoy playing with each other,” said Bale.

“He’s a fantastic player, everybody knows what he can do. But we have always spoken about what we do, what we do ourselves as a team. We don’t worry about the opposition.”

‘We all believed from the start’

Wednesday’s match in Lyon will be Ronaldo’s third European Championship semi-final, and he was part of the Portugal side which lost the 2004 final to Greece.

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As Wales prepare for the semi-final of Euro 2016 against Portugal, Gareth Bale says the team is the star, not him.

Bale’s three goals have helped Wales reach the last four of a major tournament for the first time, and he has reiterated his belief that Chris Coleman’s men could be crowned champions.

“We all believed from the start. As we have said many times, we didn’t come here to make up the numbers,” he added.

“We came here to do a job, we came to do the business. Ultimately we want to win the tournament.

“We know we’re a step closer again but, the thing we keep saying time and time again, we can’t think past the semi-final now.

“We have to concentrate everything on the semi. If we can get the job done, then we can look forward to the final.”

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Ferguson says Giggs must pick his next club wisely

Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson says it was time for Ryan Giggs to leave the club and that he has the “steel” to succeed in management.

Giggs, 42, ended a 29-year stay at United after new boss Jose Mourinho decided not to retain him on his staff.

Ferguson says long-time rival Mourinho was right to go with “his own man” – long-time assistant Rui Faria.

The 74-year-old told BBC Sport: “It is time Ryan stood on his own feet, got out there and accepted the challenge.”

Ferguson thinks his former charge, who was assistant to former United manager Louis van Gaal, has the qualities to make it on his own.

“I talk about his poker face,” said the Old Trafford legend, who stepped down as manager in 2013. “He has a bit of steel about him.

“It is such a highly intense results industry, you need people who go into it to have a bit of steel about them, a bit of character and personality.”

Former Chelsea boss Mourinho, who succeeded Van Gaal, has worked with Faria in his six previous managerial jobs.

“You have got to have, in your assistant, someone you have trusted all your life,” said Ferguson.

“When I came to United, I brought Archie Knox because he was a valuable person for me. I trusted him 100%. Jose Mourinho has had his assistant for years and, quite rightly, has stuck by his own man.

“If Jose hadn’t had an assistant, I know he would have taken Ryan.”

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Ryan Giggs: Welsh winger’s illustrious career at Man Utd

Giggs left United after failing to reach an agreement with the club over an alternative role.

He has passed all of his coaching badges, had a four-game spell as caretaker boss when David Moyes was sacked at the end of the 2013-14 season and had already been linked with other clubs before his exit was confirmed.

Ferguson feels the Welshman has the attributes to deal with the demands faced by the modern manager.

He wants Giggs to “be himself” and make sure he picks the right club to join.

“I think he is ready to manage and he has a lot of quality,” said Ferguson. “He doesn’t want to spoil that quality by going to a club where it is sacking a manager every two minutes.”

Ferguson nurtured Giggs from before he joined United, spending so much time at his house persuading the then 13-year-old to leave Manchester City that the winger’s mother Lynne started offering to make his tea.

From giving the Cardiff-born player his debut at 17, to his own retirement in 2013, they shared 13 Premier League title successes, two Champions League wins, four FA Cup triumphs and four League Cup successes.

Ferguson was confident Giggs would be a great player the moment he saw him play.

“You knew right away… the way he ran over the ground,” said Ferguson, who was responsible for all but 22 of Giggs’ club-record 963 appearances.

“I referred to it like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind. His feet never seemed to touch the ground.”

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Jul 042016
 

Manchester City have signed 19-year-old Ukraine midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko from FC Ufa.

The teenager played for Ukraine at Euro 2016, featuring in all three group games before his country’s elimination.

Ukraine failed to score a goal in Group C as they lost to Germany, Northern Ireland and Poland.

Zinchenko becomes City’s fourth signing under new boss Pep Guardiola, following the captures of Ilkay Gundogan, Aaron Mooy and Nolito.

Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

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Highlights, goals and fun from the fourth quarter final of the European Championship.

Catch up with all the goals, match highlights and fun moments as France thrash Iceland in the last quarter-final of the 2016 Uefa European Championship in France.

Watch more Euro 2016 videos here.

Available to UK users only.

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