Preview: Atletico vs Real Madrid

Atletico and Real Madrid will face in a crucial match for both teams
Atletico vs Real Madrid

The first difference is clear and Mourinho had an impact on it: while Atletico was thinking in the derby for a week, if not more (a month, a year, a life) Real Madrid began to do yesterday afternoon, once assimilated the Champions League draw. And these are the psychological considerations. The physical left Atletico ahead and his rival with tired legs. This equates the match. There is no favourite. However, the history and quality are still playing for Real Madrid.

We must also remember to avoid excuses for present and future, that the templates have 22 members and Real Madrid's players are excellent. In case of injury or stress, Mourinho can play with players of such class (a couple of world champions included) as Adebayor, Lass, Granero, Canales, Arbeloa, Albiol or Garay. Their participation will depend on the training scheduled for noon today. It will be time to decide about the physical state of Cristiano who still has discomfort in the left hamstring. "Manolito" Adebayor will be his relieve, which would bring us back to double nine and better ball movement. And it does not rule out other changes, such as Lass by Khedira. Even Arbeloa by Marcelo or Sergio Ramos.

While in Atletico almost everything is quiet. The coach has all the template in good conditions and called all yesterday. The team has five games without a loss (two wins and three draws) and improved versions of Tiago and Forlan have joined recently to the best Kun Aguero.

Quique Sanchez Flores could even keep the same start-line after 57 days. If Dominguez plays by the uncertain Perea (only change to the side that drew in Almería), Atletico will get the same eleven which beat Villarreal (3-1) and end with a global run (and evil) of 73 league days without repeating team.

The uncertainty about Cristiano gets the derby in the hands of two lighted players: Kun Aguero and Karim Benzema. The Argentine (three goals in the last two games) was not so inspired from the start of the tournament, when was injured by Gurpegui in Bilbao what interrupted his magnificent performance (second day). In Almeria, seven days ago, Aguero gave the impression of being able to dominate everything and today also added the curiosity of potential interest of Real Madrid to sign him in summer.

Karim's case can be explained with goals, seven in the last four games. Processing, as revealed Mourinho inspired by Zidane and himself, has made him in a lethal striker. And that condition is multiplied if he plays in front of a shaky defense as Atletico's, a thousand times retouched by Quique.

Atletico are eighth on the table with 39 points and their goal is to qualify for next year's Europa League. The last time Atletico defeated Real Madrid at the Calderon was on 12 June 1999. Eighteen derbies have taken place since (nine at the Bernabeu, nine at the Calderon), and the Whites haven't lost a single one.


Champions League Draw

The quarterfinal and semifinal matches of the Champions League have been drawn today. Real Madrid will face Tottenham Hotspur in quarters. The Spanish team will play the first leg at home and the second outside. If team qualifies, will face Barcelona in the semi-finals, first at the Bernabeu and then at the Camp Nou.

Tottenham took a big fist on the table when knocked Milan. English team has all kinds of offensive variants, from the air game that offer Crouch and Pavlyuchenko to the fastest speed of Defoe. Behind them all with high quality plays Van der Vaart. The Dutchman is, with Modric, the most talented player of this team. But undoubtedly the most interesting value of Tottenham is the lefty Gareth Bale. Acting as left defense or midfielder, Welsh is a real dagger due to his physical power as he demonstrated in the double battle of the group stage against Inter. However, some problems are hurting his back in recent games. In fact, he started on the bench the second leg match against Milan and the role of spurs will depend on his recovery.

The other quarterfinal pairings are Inter-Schalke 04 and Chelsea-Manchester. The winners of both duels were measured in the other semifinal, first in Italy or Germany and then England.

European Cup Table season 2010-2011
Champions League Table 2010-2011

Real Madrid Girlfriends: Irina Shayk (7)

Irina Shaykhlislamova was born in Yemanzhelinsk, Russia (January 6, 1986). Her late father Valeri was of Tatar origin and her mother is Russian. Shayk says that she got her unusual looks from her father, and she has said that people often think she is South American. “My father was dark skinned, because he was Tatar. Sometimes Tatars can look Brazilian,” she says. “I get my light eyes from my mother”.

Shayk’s mother was a pianist who was the music teacher in a kindergarten, and her father was a coal miner. She has one sibling, an older sister named Tatiana. Shayk started playing piano at age six. At age nine she enrolled in a music school and studied there for seven years, both playing the piano and singing in the choir, as her mother wanted her to study music. Her father died of complications of pneumonia when she was 14, leaving her family with little money and forcing her mother to work two jobs to provide for the family.

After high school, Shayk studied marketing but was bored by it and entered a local beauty school with her elder sister. While there, she was noticed by a person from a local modeling agency who was struck by her unusual beauty. She was urged to participate in the "Miss Chelyabinsk 2004" beauty contest, and she won. The modeling scout Guia Jikidze noticed her and recommended that she become a model.

Irina Shayk

Shayk started her career relatively late for a model, at the age of 19, when she began modeling in Paris. In 2007 she replaced Ana Beatriz Barros as the face of Intimissimi and in the same year debuted in the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Since that time, she has appeared in every annual edition, attending photoshoots in such places as St Petersburg, Naples, Grenada and Chile.

After being the image of Intimissimi for three years (six seasons), Shayk was made the official ambassador for the brand in 2010. Her other modeling contracts include Beach Bunny (2009), and Guess spring/summer 2009. Her magazine covers include Annabelle, Bolero, Woman, Jalouse, and Paris Capital.

She signed with modeling agency IMG on May 2009, and since then has not stopped working. Recently, Shayk was the cover model for the 2011 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. This is the fifth time she has been featured in the magazine, but the first time she has been on the cover.

At the end of the year 2010 she was pictured nude in the GQ Spain December issue; however, she claimed that she had not stripped for the photoshoot, and that the magazine had digitally altered the images to remove her lingerie.

Irina and Cristiano enjoy Madrid city
Irina Shayk and Cristiano Ronaldo
Irina Shayk seems to have done what no woman before could reach, that CR7 establishes his head. And the white player, who seems to have found stability with this Russian model, has opened the doors to his girlfriend of his luxurious mansion in the exclusive area of Madrid 'La Finca'.

Far from the image of selfish player, the Portuguese has decided to share his wonderful home with who is his girlfriend for ten months: 'She spent many days here and there and that creates instability", said a friend of the top. The couple, who remains in the forefront of the media since their relationship became known, is a tandem model envied by many and wide open to speculation. Among the rumors of marriage and the regulars appearances of the couple, the gossip is assured.


Champions League (Last-16, 2nd Leg): Marcelo reactions

No matter that he leaves gaps for his side or does not defend. All offsets. His significance in attack reminds Roberto Carlos. He is not expected and creates many holes in opposing defenses. With the ball makes almost everything right, when dribbling, when he assists to a teammate. He opened the scoring with a remarkable goal that had everything. He linked with Xabi and Cristiano, sat a Lyon player in the area and Lloris could not get his shot. Gave the scare about the break but was able to finish the game.

Marcelo scored the first Real Madri goal against Lyon
Marcelo scored the first goal

"We are very happy with the victory. It's been a very important triumph for team and fans alike following tough seasons. We had a debt with Madrid fans and, thank God, we reached the next round. We are calmer now."

"We played like the coach asked us to and we played hard from the start. We're not thinking about which opponent we may face in the quarterfinals. We will try to win and thrill our supporters regardless of whom we face."

"I wish to express my support for Abidal and his family. Rivalry steps aside when things like this happen. What matters is that he recovers as soon as possible."

Champions League (Last-16, 2nd Leg): Mourinho reactions

Jose Mourinho was very satisfied with his team's performance against Olympique Lyon. "We're in the quarterfinals because we were better. Lyon are a great opponent, which adds merit to our victory. We played very well in attack and defence in both legs. I'm happy and I'm also quite relaxed because I think it's normal for us to be in the quarterfinals."

Mourinho talks to Benzema during the match agaisnt Lyon
Mourinho and Benzema

"Football is like life. You must live now because you never know if you'll live tomorrow. If we'd been eliminated tonight we wouldn't have reached the quarterfinals, so we had to take risks. Cristiano is mentally strong and he told me he was ready to play. Our fitness trainers said he could play. Our next game is around the corner, so he may not be able to play. Maybe he'll miss the start of it."

"We've achieved small challenges. If you win these stages, work hard and believe, titles eventually come your way. We do collective work that will make titles eventually come our way. We are on the right path and titles will come either this season or the next. My teams usually do better in their second season. Real Madrid will win titles eventually."

"I don't have any preferences regarding our next opponent, but I would like to avoid facing Inter Milan or Chelsea because it is emotionally difficult to face your own people. If it must be, then it must be. We are professionals, but I wouldn't like that."

"Regarding Abidal, these things go beyond rivalry. We all stand together for problems of this sort. I doesn't matter who he plays for, who he is or if you like him or not. We all want him to be well and to play again. Real Madrid simply expressed what everybody thinks."


Champions League (Last-16, 2nd Leg)


Tomorrow will be the draw for the quarterfinals and Real Madrid will be there. Finally, after six editions without reaching that level. Will be others, including Barcelona, but today Real Madrid back to close to its site. Madrid always returns, fans know it. The curse of the last-16 and the curse of Olympique Lyon left behind after a night that began with an unbridled attack and no prize, went through a phase of disconcerting good game by French team, was clarified by Marcelo's goal and finished with a second part wich was a party at Bernabéu Stadium.

Benzema performanced an incredible match against Lyon
Benzema celebrates his goal

Marcelo, impressive before and after the goal. Benzema, awesome, who is definitely different with all the lights on. Comes, pushes, removes, combines, smiles, gets angry ...Alive. Dusting this striker is something that Florentino has to thank Mourinho, who has done the miracle. Now lack that Cristiano is recovered, so Real Madrid will have even more formidable attack, as Di Maria and Özil continue to find cracks for which strain the balls or to sneak themselves. And in defense, the team just given a chance.

Although there is a negative comment to make: Pepe. He was the bad note of the night. He saw a yellow card very soon, necessary and inevitable foul. No objection. But after that he contested to an orange and two reds, for those lacks of control, avenging offenses or trying to intimidate. He finished the match by miracle.He will not always be so lucky. And a beautiful detail: the gesture to Abidal, hampered by UEFA to preserve their rites but could not prevent. Football creates rivals, but not enemies.

As mentioned, Mourinho's men took the pitch like a thunderstorm and had many chances on goal, forcing Lloris to become his side's best man. Cristiano Ronaldo tried to score several times, but it was Marcelo who eventually netted the opener with a sublime dribble against Lovren and a powerful shot that defeated Lloris with ease (37').

Lyon took risks after half-time by looking to score repeatedly. Puel made Gomis come on in order to deepen the team's attack. This proved fatal, as Real Madrid are lethal whenever they find room to attack. On the 66-minute mark, Marcelo served the ball to Ozil, who had to fight for it with a Lyon man. Benzema then managed to control the ball, overtook Cris and nutmegged Lloris with an incredibly confident shot. The Bernabeu crowd roared loder than every and gave a standing ovation for their new idol.

Mourinho replaced CR7 with Adebayor in order to give the Portuguese some rest before the derby with Atletico. Di Maria then scored the third and final strike of the night following an incredible mistake by the French defence (75'): the Argentine stole the ball with ease and comfortably defeated the keeper.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 78,000
Goals: 1-0, m.37: Marcelo. 2-0, m.66: Benzema. 3-0, m.75: Di María


Mourinho: "The past does not play the match"

Jose Mourinho addressed the media the day prior to the UCL Last 16 second leg against Olympique Lyon. "The past does not play the game. My Champions League baggage is not in my favour, and neither is Real Madrid's bad run in recent years against them. Champions League games are unique and each has its own history. The tie is open. We may have a slight advantage because we currently have the lead, but it's minimal. Tomorrow's match will be the decider, not the team's history in the championship."

Mourinho in press conference

"Real Madrid have nine European Cup titles and don't need any more to be the champs of all European champions, but they still want to win more. Mourinho is one of three coaches who have won the title with two different teams, but he wants a third. You can't disregard history."

"I have a clear idea of what I want for the game and I've drawn out a game plan. If Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't play in the end, we will lose a phenomenal player, but we have a proper team, and it is as a team that we've reached this far. We will play to finish at least 0-0 because it's enough to reach the next round. We expect Casillas to make a lot of saves. That's the analysis Aulas made, but I think he spoke as a coach rather than as a president. He may be right..."

"This is the first time Lyon play at the Bernabeu without an aggregate advantage. They've never lagged behind against us, so the game will be different this time around. We qualify with the current aggregate, which forces them to play in a different fashion. We will be defensive and wait for them to play their game."

"Lisandro is a great, dangerous and important player, but Lyon are more than just Lisandro. They are a very good and well organised team with a very good coach. We know how they play. We're ready for them.This is very exciting. The crowd must also play. I've been told the Bernabeu crowd plays with its team when the moment of truth arrives. Tomorrow is the moment of truth. Tomorrow, we will either be in the quarterfinals or out of the Champions League. It will be much better, and much more important, for us to feel their support."

Preview: Real Madrid vs Lyon

After six years falling in the last-16 round is impossible not to feel a slight uneasiness. It is true that Real Madrid, in each of these disastrous antecedents, was forced to recover from a defeat. And now is different. By the tie of the first leg, the general feeling and also by the overwhelming statistics. Real have won the 21 games at the Bernabeu this season, fourteen times without conceding a goal. And Mourinho adds 150 games without losing at home. Too many merits to imagine a catastrophe.

Real Madrid hopes to celebrate a win over Lyon
Real Madrid hopes to celebrate a victory against Lyon

In addition, Cristiano will play the game; 40 goals in 44 games season (with Madrid and the national team) Yesterday, he trained with the group and will play today although with some discomfort. Caution is a word that is not in his vocabulary and Mourinho will not discuss the pulses. Fans will follow very closely the developments of his left hamstring.

More changes in the rest of the lineup. Marcelo retains his position (in France played Arbeloa) and Khedira will put steel in midfield. Above, Benzema will be the only reference. A real reference (three doubles in a row) and symbolic (dreaded and beloved son of Olympique).

Lyon will attack that mountain. French team does it with the confidence of those players who emerged victorious a year ago, so fear is not among their ailments. Gourcuff will play, who in recent days seemed to recover from a shot and really only lost a nail. But this is not the name of concern. Lisandro is the man; one of those forwards that mix playfulness and talent (four goals in the last two games). Delgado also, another dose of Argentinian blood.They will be the edge of a team without Gomis, the scorer of the French goal at Gerland.

However, the mood of the visitor is its greatest danger: 7 matches unbeaten, a wins and 1 draw in its last 5 games, 16 goals for and 2 against. And a tip: while in Real Madrid only three players repeat from the last-16 second leg of the last year (Casillas, Ramos and Cristiano) in Lyon will return to play seven: Loris, Reveillere, Cris, Cissokho, Toulalan, Delgado and Lisandro. The base of the team that reached the semifinals in 2010.

The event is high rank. If Real Madrid goes to the quarter-finals, will be freed of a great weight. Otherwise look so gloomy that is not covered. Real Madrid has to win.

The new Real Madrid third kit jersey (2011-2012)

Adidas continues to work on the development of the three official jerseys of Real Madrid for next season. The big news is that the third kit of equipment will be copper colored. Both the jersey and pants. A radical change that will turn heads in all the Real Madrid fans.

Players, especially those who wear Adidas, have given the go ahead for this great new (this year the third kit is blue). In the club's history, Madrid has never played for copper, yes in red. It was in three matches in European competitions. Against Cardiff, Dynamo Kiev and PSV Eindhoven.

The third kit is only used by the team in European competitions. In national competitions (League and Spanish Cup) team usually uses the away kit (second kit) for the matches away from the Bernabeu Stadium.

Update: 08/11/2011

Real Madrid third kit jersey (2011-2012)


Bernabeu Stadium also plays against Lyon

Real Madrid will have an advantage against Olympique Lyon and not just the 1-1 of the first-leg that the white team caught at Gerland. Real Madrid play at the Bernabeu Stadium whose support the Mourinho's players need. On Wednesday must leave smoke from the stands although they do not need a comeback. The fans have to sweat like players in the field. It's time to reclaim the magical European nights at the Bernabeu to end the jinx of the last-16 and once and for all, to be among the top eight clubs in Europe after too many years of failure and damage to the shield.

Real Madrid fans will support the team in another Europen magic night
Real Madrid Fans

In the club know that they need the most boisterous version of its fans. The game started at the press conference after the match against Hercules. Mourinho spoke of Real Madrid's people: "With people at the Bernabeu would be easier. The fans must decide whether to play or watch the game. We will be much stronger if we play with twelve".Jorge Valdano, in the VIP area of the stadium, agreed with the Portuguese: "We are very confident in our team and the power of our stadium. Together we will be able to move forward".

Iker Casillas, captain, knows what the Bernabeu Stadium feels in these night. The guardian of the gates of heaven warns: "The best moment I remember from the Champions League was a Real Madrid-Bayern in which we had to overcome a 2-1. The crowd went wild to support the team". Casillas, better than anyone, knows the support of the fans in life or death nights, on nights of the European Cup: "We know the Champions atmosphere is different, we need the public who lives these parties differently. People have to help us and, together, we will be in the quarter-finals".

Xabi Alonso who supports the cuff in the dressing room but does not carry in the field, was also clear: "We will play the most important match of the season and we would like the Bernabeu presses because it is very important". Granero, all his life in the Real Madrid, enjoyed these games in the stands and now he will play on the field: "We hope that the Stadium will be filled, hot and all the fans will come to animate. The stadium has to be one player". Even Adebayor, the last to arrive said: "The Bernabeu has to be the twelfth player. Everyone, as a team, will earn the qualification".

The club's official website has launched an awareness campaign to Real Madrid fans. The players, Iker Casillas, Xabi, Benzema and Cristiano, proclaim: "You do not have to see this game, you have to play". Real Madrid will play against Lyon and team can play with one more. The stadium will be transformed in the territory in which it forged its legend. Against the French, Real Madrid will have divine help.

Cristiano: Will make the final test today

Cristiano will be in cotton until the start of the match. The Portuguese finished yesterday training with a good feeling, but today he will make a final test (intense race and kicking ball exercises). Then, the doctors, the player and Mourinho will take the decision. A dozen days after working in double sessions, Cristiano is recovered from the muscle tear in the left hamstring, but has not met the deadlines set for return to work and to ensure that there will be no relapse. That's the risk.

However, Cristiano has decided. He wants to play and help the team pass to the quarter-finals seven years later. And he has told it Mourinho. With his return, the coach would play with the 4-2-3-1 system, with Benzema as striker and Adebayor on the bench. If the Portuguese falls, bet on the double nine.

Cristiano training at Valdebebas
Cristiano Ronaldo


Real Madrid doubts Spanish anti-doping systems

As several Spanish media announced last night, Real Madrid could talk in the coming hours to the Spanish Football Federation to address two fundamental issues. The first would be to protest for the low level of refereeing. The whites believe that referees are notoriously damaging to the Real Madrid team in the league and benefit to Barcelona.

The second would be on anti-doping controls. Real Madrid considers that just exist and there is very low quality, without any guarantee. The whites are wary becuase some doctors, whose names are at stake in this issue, are getting to the Spanish football.

Xavi Hernández

Real Madrid does not understand that doctors with "dubious reputation" are working for Barcelona and Valencia. Also last week, a second division team announced the signing of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes (accused by organized doping in Spanish cycling).

The information comes after Florentino Perez came out publicly to defend his coach Jose Mourinho, in this case for his complaints about the schedule. In those words, Florentino said that is a target for Real Madrid "to denounce what is unjust, illegal and arbitrary".

Claude Puel prepares a plan to stop Karim Benzema

After the win against Sochaux (0-2), Olympique Lyon began working how to brake Real Madrid and the goalscorer Benzema. Claude Puel prepares an anti-Karim system for which he believes require the presence of Cris, the starter center defense of Lyon.

Claude Puel works hard with the Lyon players before the Real Madrid match
Claude Puel  (Lyon training)

The Brazilian trained normally yesterday and it seems that his tendinitis is forgotten. However, Puel was elusive: "We'll see his progress, but we should have the whole group". The truth is that for the Lyon coach, Cris alignment is important to stop Benzema who is "on fire". He shared for five years dressing room with the Real Madrid striker and knows his movements perfectly.

The other good news for Lyon was Gourcuff; dragging pain in the thumb nail of his right foot also trained at a high pace. In addition, Cissokho ran several minutes with a trainer. For now, nobody in the French club dares to ensure their participation on Wednesday, but the fact of running three days after suffering a left hamstring contracture is positive.

If Cissokho arrives on time, the Lyon defense would be the starter: Réveillère (right), Cris and Lovren (center) and Cissokho (left). With these parts the coach thinks about change the usual 4-3-3 system to a 4-2-3-1, with two defensive midfielders in field: Kallstrom and Toulalan. Thus, it would strengthen the preferred area of Benzema in order to sever his connections with the second line of Real Madrid. Toulalan said at a press conference the virtues of this compact system: "With the 4-2-3-1 we have more balance. And this is due to the intelligence of Källström. He is a player who knows when to stay back or when to go".

Asked how Toulalan viewed the new Madrid, the French praised Mourinho's work: "Last year, the center defenses were alone. Now we see that everyone does more to defend". He also revealed the plans for the Bernabeu: "We know that they will attack from the start. We must be strong and take back the spaces that they can leave".

Mourinho: 150 consecutive games unbeaten

José Mourinho is breaking all records this season as a local technician. With the teams he has led in recent years, he strung a total of 150 consecutive games unbeaten, which equates to nine years without defeat at home as a coach in the domestic championship. The last night against Hercules was his 150th game unbeaten at home in league games, of which 125 have ended in victory and 25 in a draw.

This fact is noted today in the website of Real Madrid becuase the white team is benefiting directly, so under the command of Portuguese, Real Madrid is doing his best season at home, at this stage of the campaign.

The figures speak for themselves: Mourinho has achieved victory in the 21 official meetings he has directed at the Santiago Bernabeu, a record that he had never achieved at this stage of the competition in his ten years in the elite of the football (Portugal, England, Italy).

In all these years of victories in his field, Mourinho won the the full of wins in home league matches on one occasion; It was with Porto in 2003/04, something that he hopes to repeat this season with Real Madrid. The team has 14 consecutive wins in "Chamartín" this year in League competition.

Jose Mourinho


League (Day 28): Mourinho reactions


Jose Mourinho earned his 14th straight win in La Liga against Hercules and was very satisfied with the team's performance. "I'm happy with my team. Games preceding and following Champions League encounters are always difficult to play. We had to win tonight, and we did so in a relaxed manner. We moved the ball well in the second half."

Jose Mourinho thinks that Benzema is better every day
Jose Mourinho

"Benzema is better than ever. He is doing things he's never done before. We used to joke around with him, saying that he entered his box in defensive corners and controlled the ball in the near post. Benzema is happy and we are happy with him. It's good to have Karim in these games in which our top scorers, Ronaldo and Higuain, are out because he has lately scored four goals and allowed us to take six important points. I like it to be difficult for me to choose a player when they're all playing at such a high level."

"Our midfielders played very well and responded positively. Granero and Lass did well in the first half, and Xabi and Khedira performed at a high level in the second part. That bodes well for us before Wednesday's game."

"Lyon are a very good team with experience and tradition in the Champions League. We will have to be in optimum form for the clash. Every game you fail to win is a harsh blow, but you obviously can't win all the time and you must be eliminated from the Champions League at some point. I think we will play a difficult game against a difficult opponent. The key to me will be playing with a twelfth player. It would be much easier. If the Bernabeu responds we will have won much in advance and we will also be stronger."

"I haven't been able to read the President's speech because I never read or watch anything on a match day in order to stay focused. I've been told it was an important speech for the Club's future. A great club needs a great coach, but great coaches are only great if they are backed by a great club. It is very important to me to have the support of the President. I've always said I need the support of my players and of the Club. Real Madrid is the greatest club in the world and we will be much stronger if we all stand together."

"You build things with results. People are happy with results when they're good or when they at least think they will be good. This is what gets people excited and that's why it is important that we win something this year and also look like we may win something. This will allow us to keep people excited."

Spanish League: Day 28


Benzema was decisive, yet again, in a Real Madrid victory. The French striker scored the two goals that gave the Whites a 2-0 victory over Hercules. Karim is showing critics that he is a magnificent player of innate quality that has allowed him to become one of the best strikers in Europe. Benzema is worthy of playing for Real Madrid despite criticism that said he had run his course on the team. These people must now keep silent.

Adebayor fight for a ball agaisnt Hercules goalkeeper
Emmanuel Adebayor

Real Madrid stepped onto the pitch with Wednesday's UCL match against Lyon in mind: Mourinho benched Xabi Alonso and Pepe, allowing Granero and Arbeloa to make the starting lineup. Hercules created good ball movement, but Real Madrid dominated the match, patiently waiting for a chance to score. Ozil received the ball right outside the box and passed it to Arbeloa, who entered the area and served a perfect assist to Benzema, who in turn defeated keeper Calatayud with ease (23').

Esteban Vigo's men didn't suffer from the strike and tried to net an equaliser several times to no avail. Their best chance was thwarted by an inspired Casillas, who cleared the ball in an individual effort by Kiko Femenia.

The second half had a similar start to the first. Hercules had good touch on ball again, but rarely approached Real Madrid's box. The Whites tried to score another strike to seal the match, and Benzema eventually did on the 55-minute mark: the French striker controlled the ball just outside the box, entered the area and fired a dry and strong shot that surprised the keeper. The game was sentenced then and there and Mourinho decided to make Alonso and Khedira come on for Di Maria and Granero. Canales also came on for Ozil (who received a standing ovation) when there were 12 minutes left in the game. Adebayor and Benzema had more chances on goal that were thwarted by an inspired goalie in the final minutes of the game.

Real Madrid are now four points behind the leaders and must start preparing for Wednesday's match against Lyon in the second leg of the UCL Last 16 at the Bernabeu.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 71,000
Goals: 1-0, m. 25: Benzema. 2-0, m. 56: Benzema
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