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Real Madrid have had a productive February overall…even if it wasn’t 100 per cent perfect.

A big win in Europe and three wins out of four in La Liga mean Los Blancos are still top of the table and looking strong to retain the UEFA Champions League trophy. Performances haven’t always been of the highest order, though, indicating that there’s still work to be done.

Here, we look at the entire month and name the team’s top performers, taking into account anyone who played, the quality of opposition and how much each player affected Real’s own performances and results.

The matches included are:

3-1 win vs. Osasuna

3-1 win vs. Napoli

2-0 win vs. Espanyol

2-1 defeat vs. Valencia

3-2 win vs. Villarreal

5. Gareth Bale

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Fotopress/Getty Images

Gareth Bale has only been fit for the past three games and hasn’t yet completed 90 minutes, but his impact on the team has been clear to see already.

While his technical levels won’t be at their highest after several months out injured, Bale’s pace and power have been immediately apparent in how he helps to get Madrid higher upfield, allows the team to counter-attack and, perhaps most importantly, gets shots away in dangerous areas.

A goal off the bench just a few minutes into his return highlighted not only Bale’s importance, but that his self-confidence was unaffected by his layoff and that he recognised how much of an influence he could still be to a team that was top of the table without him.

Against Villarreal, he was one of the players who helped most in getting the match turned around. His powerful header for Los Blancos’ first goal was impressive for the finish and his movement—a direct run to the far post and the desire to beat his man to the ball when Madrid’s players could easily have been letting their heads drop.

While he won’t have been happy to be sidelined, it’s clear that the time out of the XI could benefit Bale immensely in the second half of the season, particularly having had a big summer with Wales in 2016 and nothing ahead to worry about when this season ends.

He can be let off the leash, play at full capacity and then rest up afterwards, which makes him a terrifying proposition for defences in the last third of the campaign.

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(CBS) And so it begins — the end of Jay Cutler and the emergence of something new.

The Bears are preparing to part ways with Cutler, their quarterback of eight-years who is now on the trade block. Next comes the defining moment of Ryan Pace’s tenure as general manager. He must get this move right.

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The College Football Playoff Committee chose Alabama (#1 seed), Ohio State (#2 seed), Michigan (#3 seed) and Clemson (#4 seed) as the four teams projected in the playoff.

CFB Committee chair Kirby Hocutt shared on Tuesday night the committee’s reasoning why Clemson was ranked above Louisville.

“Louisville has been viewed as a very talented team,” Hocutt said. “There is a small separation between teams two through six. When you look at #4 Clemson and #5 Louisville, Clemson has three wins against CFP top 25 teams compared to one for Louisville at this time and the committee still places a high value on the head to head Clemson has over Louisville at this time as well.”

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