Preview: Sevilla vs Real Madrid (League)

Sevilla and Real Madrid shields
Sevilla vs Real Madrid

What otherwise would have been a football match announced with great fanfare, now being presented as a meeting confused between the noise of the Classic, the sanctions from UEFA and the April Fair of Seville. General distraction is also explained becuase today two deeply disappointed teams will face: the one has lost Champions title options and the other for not being able to qualify for that tournament (Sevilla is fifth, eight points behind Villarreal).

However, despite the nostalgia, the game is important. If Rea Madrid can not win today (10:00 pm), tomorrow would be enough to Barcelona a win against Espanyol (7:00 pm) to be crowned League champions. If Sevilla does not win, will not undertake its qualification for the next European League, for which Espanyol is also fighting (four points behind Sevilla). All this without mentioning the rivalry between both teams, much hotter when have to play in the Pizjuán Stadium.

Sevilla ailments are known. In the last game Rakitic was injured (fracture of fifth metatarsal of a foot) as Cáceres (crack in a rib). Navas is also unable to play. Kanoute and Perotti are trailing different physical discomfort, although they may be in the starting lineup. The Argentine will be checked today with a definitive test, with Romaric waiting for events.

With regard to the Champions League match, Real Madrid recovers Sergio Ramos and Pepe, but loses Carvalho (send-off against Zaragoza) and Di Maria (accumulation of yellow cards). Mourinho will combine starters and alternates. If Pepe returns to the midfield, Garay will be central defender with Ramos. It seems like Lass will play in the midfield and on the attack zone, the question focuses on the playmaker place, where Kaka and Özil are disputing the position. Higuain and Benzema are not questioned, nor Cristiano.

No team has left the Sanchez Pizjuan with three points in tow over the last seven weeks of La Liga. Only Barcelona and Malaga managed draws, while Levante, Hercules, Sporting, Zaragoza and Villarreal have all returned home defeated. But, the closest antecedents are favorable to Madrid. Sevilla has lost all three games it has played this season against the whites without scoring a single goal. The League match also had controversial. Despite the win (1-0, Di María), Mourinho showed a list of the thirteen mistakes made ​​by the referee (Clos Gómez). That day the coach demanded more support from the club in his crusade. He succeeded.

UEFA punished Mourinho with five-game suspension

The Control and Disciplinary Committee of UEFA punished Mourinho yesterday with 50,000 euros and five-game suspension. The fifth is subject to an observation period of three years and will only be fulfilled if he comes to be punished.

UEFA believes that Real Madrid coach violated the principles of conduct reflected in Article 5 of the regulations in the first Champions League match against Barcelona and the subsequent press conference. Mourinho already completed one in the second leg of the semifinals at the Camp Nou and as the fifth is conditional, the punishment is reduced to three matches. That means he can not manage in the Champions League until November.

Jose Mourinho

UEFA also punished Pinto, goalkeeper of Barcelona, with three games, which means he can not be in the final of the Champions League against Manchester United at Wembley. Guardiola will be forced to take a substitute of Barcelona B, for this crucial match.

The other sanctioned was Pepe, who received a penalty of one-game suspension. This is an unusual punishment, since the regulation defines the punishment for the "violent game" (as was defined by the referee, Stark, Pepe's action on Alves for which he was send-off) is three-game suspension. It seems a Solomonic decision of the Control and Disciplinary Committee of UEFA. With the punishment of one match, wants to make amends to Pepe without appearing that is re-refereeing the match.

Real Madrid, which has also received a fine of 20,000 euros "for misconduct of its fans", has announced it will appeal the sanction to its coach in the Appeals Committee, which meets on May 16. Real Madrid thinks that the decision continues to suffer from the same defects that contained the initial disciplinary proceedings that made impossible the right to defend its coach, because the specific statements for which that file is opened and for which Mourinho has been sanctioned, were ignored. The press officer of Mourinho, Eladio Parames, also talked about the penalty: "Jose Mourinho does not speak, but he feels bad. He feels like any person who was assaulted in the home, and above, ends prisoner".


Real Madrid 2011-2012 pre-season will start in the U.S.A.

Jose Mourinho is already planning Real Madrid 2011-2012 pre-season. And one of his first decisions is that the team will spend two weeks "confined" in Los Angeles in the same place where he has already prepared this season, the Beverly Hills hotel and facilities at UCLA.

Real Madrid 2011-2012 pre-season will start in the United States

Last summer team was 11 days, but this year Mourinho wants to leave Madrid more time and working with the peace of the most famous residential area in the world. The trip dates are not set yet, but everything suggests that between 11 and 24 July, team will travel to North America. The previous week, 4 to 10, will be to the medical check and first training contact.

What is clear is that the template will enjoy five-week break since the end of the season, depending on how many friendly matches Real Madrid plays before the holidays. Lack to resolve how many holidays will have the Spanish international players, who has matches with the national team, "The Red", until 7 June.

Madrid already has confirmed four friendlies in the summer. On July 20, will face Chivas of Guadalajara in San Diego. White club is looking for two other rivals for this tour. On July 27, team will play against Hertha Berlin on German field, so the whites will return to Spain before heading to China, where has two commitments: on August 3 against Guangzhou Evergrande in the Tianhe Stadium and August 6 in Tianjin, against Teda in the Water Drop Olympic Stadium. Before the start of the Spanish League (August 20-21), will play against Barcelona in the Super Cup tournament (August 14 and 17).

Update: Real Madrid 2011-2012 pre-season schedule

Schalke 04 will be the rival in the "Bernabeu Trophy" 2011

According to sources close to Real Madrid, Schalke 04, team where plays the former Real Madrid player, Raúl González Blanco, will be the rival for the 2011 "Santiago Bernabeu Trophy", what could mean the return of the "Seven" to his house until last year.

Although Real Madrid has to set the exact date, because of the matches of the Spanish Super Cup in which will be seen the Classic between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid as winners in the League and Cup, it seems that the meeting will be held in August, after the first day of the League 2011-12.

Real Madrid and Schalke 04 could have seen the faces this year at Wembley, opportunity that has disappeared after the elimination of both teams in the semifinals of the Champions League against Barcelona and Manchester United.

Raul wearing Schalke 04 jersey
Raul Gonzalez

Raul Gonzalez made ​​his debut in the first team of Real Madrid in 1994, in which he continued until June 2010 when he announced at press conference his departure to the German Schalke 04 looking for new challenges at the end of his career.

He is a record man in Spanish football and Real Madrid. He remains as top scorer among active players and third leading scorer in the history of the Spanish League, following Zarra and Hugo Sanchez. He is also the top scorer in the history of UEFA club competitions with 73 goals, beating Filippo Inzaghi and Gerd Müller.

He also holds the record for games played in the history of Real Madrid and is the highest goal scorer (323) of the club, ahead of Alfredo Di Stefano. In white he won 6 Leagues, 4 Spanish Super Cups, 3 European Cups, 1 European Super Cup and 2 Intercontinental, which makes him the fourth most successful player in club history following Gento, Sanchis and Chendo.

UEFA will impose an exemplary punishment to Mourinho

Today, the Control and Disciplinary Committee of UEFA may punish Mourinho with a historical monetary fine and a four Champions League games suspension, which would mean that he could not sit on the bench for Real Madrid in Europe's top competition until next November.

Mourinho is accused of violating the Article 5 of the Disciplinary Regulation, on the Principles of Conduct, which stipulates that "member associations, as players, managers and members of a club, should act according to the principles of loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship". All of them, according to UEFA sources, were not respected by the coach of Real Madrid during the first match of the Champions League semifinal against Barcelona and in the press conference after the meeting.

 Mourinho and Stark in a Champions League match
Jose Mourinho and Wolfgang Stark

Members of the Disciplinary Committee have already exchanged documents and opinions, have formed an idea and today will shape their conclusions at the meeting in Nyon (Switzerland). Probably, Mourinho will be punished with one match suspension, by the send-off he suffered in the Bernabéu Stadium (already completed in the second game), another for violating the "parole" when caused the second yellow card for Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso against Ajax this season, another for his remarks about referees, UEFA and Villar, and one more for a repeat offender. It is even possible that this battery of suspensions will join two other matches of sanction by the gestures he made after the match at Camp Nou in reference to arbitration by De Bleeckere.

In UEFA do not forget that Mourinho had already been banned for two matches in March 2005 for his accusations against the referee Frisk and misconduct in a game against Barcelona, also in the Champions League. This time, Mourinho said he saw the coach of Barcelona, Rijkaard, entering the referee's dressing room at halftime, and therefore decided not to attend the press conference and disallow his players to speak after the game. Frisk and Rijkaard denied the alleged encounter. Swedish referee retired after that episode after reporting death threats from Chelsea fans.

Therefore, the Control and Disciplinary Committee of UEFA believes that Mourinho is a repeat offender in his criticism of referees. Its president, Thomas Partl, has also instructed the press officers of the UEFA in the Champions League matches against Barcelona, a full report on the statements of the coaches and players from both teams after two games. They also have the sanctions applied in past time to the coaches for serious criticism about the fairness of the referees. One of the last, a three games suspension applied by FIFA, for former France coach Domenech, for saying in "Le Parisien" that he had seen "a bought referee" in a match Italy-France (Under-21).

In view of this possible sanction that UEFA will impose Mourinho, the coach will defend in the courts. According to Spanish media, Real Madrid coach will revert to the International Tribunal of Arbitration for Sport (TAS) and whether the decision of this organization was not favorable, he would revert to the ordinary courts of Switzerland. Finally, if the punishment is less than four matches suspension, the Portuguese coach would accept it.


Mourinho plans Real Madrid 2011-2012

For several weeks, Real Madrid has begun planning its future. Nothing depended on what happened in the four Classics because very early, Mourinho identified the shortcomings of the template. Club waited until this time to "give the necessary touches" to improve the team because nobody in the club believes in the winter market unless it was an emergency. Transfers are negotiated better in May. The staff that takes decisions and negotiates contracts is a very small group of people that has become the engine of the club. Is only composed of the president Florentino Perez, Jose Angel Sanchez, Zinedine Zidane and Portuguese coach, with the help of a scout to give reports of interesting players.

Zidane and Florentino at a meeting
Zinedine Zidane and Florentino Perez

Since a few weeks ago, Madrid has virtually finished the signing of two players. The first incorporation is Jose Callejon. He will cost five million. The second player for which the club is negotiating with the only need to close some business, is Nuri Sahin, creative midfielder of Borussia Dortmund and voted best player in the Bundesliga for its peers. Sahin hung this information on his Facebook page: "This weekend, I talk to the leaders of the Borussia and will take a decision".

The "bet" for Sahin, definitively ruled out Cesc Fabregas, the player who has been repeatedly offered the chance to lead Real Madrid midfield. Got the offensive midfielder, the coaching staff wants to make three signings: a central defender, another side midfielder and a left back.

Remains to be seen the future of Adebayor. Manchester City striker could stay by 16 million euros, which would rise to 21 million by targets. Mourinho thinks Adebayor is a bargain but at times has doubted that player accepts his role as second or third striker of the team. Mourinho had also identified Didier Drogba as a potential target, but the high fee and relative costs in signing the 33 year old from Chelsea has proven of a deterrant. Furthermore, the club wants more Spanish players in the template, so Morata is a strong candidate to get on the first team.

Separate chapter is that of the outputs, which the club will also be busy. If Kaka gets an offer that meets the expectations, would be welcome. But also, should go Dudek (contract ends this year), Gago (not convinced by his many injuries), Canales (the talented young Spaniard will transfer to take experience) and Pedro Leon (not adapted).

Jose Callejon: Signed by five million euros

Jose Callejón, whose signing will be confirmed by the two clubs at the end of the season, has been a choice of Mourinho, who liked his attitude and actions in the two matches against Espanyol. The striker has "exploded" playing in the sides, a false position from where sometimes he becomes second forward or plays between the enemy lines. His speed and defensive sacrifice are his best weapons. The negotiation was swift: they came warned by a statement of Florentino Pérez in February when he announced the return of a former youth squad. Everything indicated that the "return" would be Dani Parejo, to fill the creative midfield position, but the possible incorporation of Nuri Sahin seems to close the doors to Getafe player.

Callejón, who started 33 times with six goals and ten assists, was signed by Paco Herrera for a million euros from the Castilla and will return to the white club, which had no preferential option, for five million. He will sign for four years and will earn two million per year. The player could have already passed medical checks in the capital of Spain.

The Espanyol player, whose buyout clause is eight million, ends his contract next season and negotiations for renewal were stranded. Real Madrid wants more Spanish players in the staff and although it is rumored that the player could be part of an operation during the summer, Mourinho wants that the player will improve the competitiveness of a young squad with great future.

Callejón playing for Espanyol
Jose Callejón


The Classics will take a break... until August

The four Classics lived in the past 20 days have brought an urgent need to see a Real Madrid-Barcelona almost every week. The remaining months until both contestants face again, appear as an endless journey through the desert for the fans. However, this delay will be not so long.

When in July the Assembly of the League decide the schedule for the next season, also make ​​official the date of the meetings for the Spanish Super Cup. The first trophy of the new season will have as opponents, the giants of Spanish football: Real Madrid as champion of the "Copa del Rey", and Barcelona, as more than possible League champion and Spanish Cup tournament runner-up.

In the absence of official confirmation of the date, the only thing clear is that the games will take place midway through the month of August, before the start of the next League. Three months of tense calm before the two new classics in which Real Madrid will have the chance for revenge.

RFeal Madrid vs Barcelona: Spanish Super Cup 1997
Real Madrid: Spanish Super Cup Champion 1997

A tournament that Barcelona has won nine times and is the team that has more Super Cups of Spain in its showcases. Only one less has the Real Madrid which has raised the trophy eight times (white team has disputed for this title eleven times). Although Barcelona's superiority as far as history is concerned, the Real Madrid has a data to believe. Whites have lifted the four Super Cups they have played against the Catalans. The last precedent in 1997.

Have spent hours since De Bleeckere, infamous memory for Real Madrid, whistled the end of the fourth Classic, but the next match is already served. In August, more.

Champions League (Semifinals, 2nd Leg): Cristiano


"It was Mission impossible 4". So Cristiano Ronaldo described the second leg of the Champions League for Real Madrid. The Portuguese said his team has gone to Barcelona because it is "A gentleman club", but said that "Had been better not to come". "Next season would be better than give the cup to Barcelona directly", he charged.

Cristiano upset during the match
Cristiano Ronaldo 

"The team is sad, but we knew it was an uphill battle. The name of the match is Mission Impossible 4. Once again it was the referee that didn't allow us to dictate the outcome. We knew we could beat Barça, but the referee didn't let us. Higuain's goal was good. Pique pushed me and I landed on Mascherano. He didn't used to fall to the ground in England, but he's picked up the bad habit of doing it here like everyone else".

"The referee in the first match took away our chances of playing the final. Whoever knows anything about football knows that Barcelona get preferential treatment. We knew something would happen. We knew that if we scored a goal that everything would be done to keep us from going through. This isn't good for football. We should just stay home and allow Barcelona to play alone if things don't change".

"Barcelona have a lot of power off the pitch. We would have drawn 0-0 without the Alves incident and tonight's draw would have seen us through. There are no differences between the teams as was seen thoughout the four matches. We won the Copa del Rey by playing fairly. I don't feel that Barcelona were better than us, but rather that they have a lot of help from the referees".

Cristiano Ronaldo was asked if he kept his idea, launched after the 0-2 at the Bernabeu, that he does not like Mourinho's style of play. The Portuguese called a "tempest in a teapot" these demonstrations. "I feel more comfortable playing in a place than in another. That message is not what I meant. I'm used to the arbitration and the press, we must learn to live with it", he said.

Champions League (Semifinals, 2nd Leg)


It is very likely that in any possible worlds Barcelona had eliminated Real Madrid. Basically, it plays better football and that way is still shorter. However, we were left not knowing how Barcelona would have faced the disadvantage of a Madrid's goal in minute 48. Annulling that goal, the referee also annulled the possible exploits of Real Madrid. At the same time, this "mistake" charged of reasons those who report referees' aids to Barcelona. Since last night will have a final example, as clear and decisive as the Pepe's send-off.

From this point of view, the worst happened to football. In an indisputable play and without shadows, the Belgian De Bleeckere bent by the most twisted interpretation: Cristiano's fault on Mascherano due to an inadvertent slip, caused also by Piqué's fault on Cristiano. No matter if the referee blew before Higuain scored, because forward and goalkeeper were applied to the fullest and their duel ended in a goal. Never mind that the best chances, until then, had belonged to Barcelona, with dominance and play. From that moment, was drawn a different match and a much more interesting argument for the epic and for the show, was left. From that moment, the match, and by extension the tie, admits an analysis that moves away from football; the more moderate call it distress, and the boldest conspiracy. We will never know what would have happened if Mourinho had not been slain after the Pepe's send-off and we will never have news of the match played at the Camp Nou with Real Madrid ahead.

Which showed the fourth Classic was that teams can play against Barcelona bravely, without any further punishment than being a coward. The final draw dignified the performance of Real Madrid which yesterday played attacking (as far as possible), and in foreign field, survived to a cross-kickback that would have broken the waist of a giant. It's a shame that the excuses (reasonable) surround football again. Neither football deserve it, nor the sweat of Madrid. Nor it is fair for the players, who yesterday made ​​a great effort and it is a pity that the final Guardiola had prepared, the happy return of Abidal, was the icing on a bitter cake.

Just talking about football, Mourinho decided to use Kaka and Higuain in the starting lineup, looking for more chances on goal and frequent passing. The Whites pressurised from the start, running to cover all open spaces and chasing all Barcelona players around. This disconcerted the locals in the opening minutes; Real Madrid's efforts on Camp Nou's incredibly fast pitch were extraordinary, as evidenced by Lass and Xabi Alonso's work in defence.

Neither side had chances to score in the first half-hour, but things got crazy in the last 15 minutes of the first half when Barcelona came close to tallying strikes four times through Messi (twice), Villa and Pedro, forcing Casillas to showcase all his quality to save the day. Despite being besieged by Guardiola's men, Real Madrid kept looking to score and came close when Cristiano Ronaldo crossed the ball smack in the centre of the box following a fast counterattack, but Valdes reached it just before Di Maria.

Then, the controversy play, three minutes into the second half: Cristiano Ronaldo was tackled by Pique and made Mascherano trip just as Higuain controlled the ball and scored a strike. Referee De Bleeckere disallowed it, deciding Ronaldo had fouled the Barcelona defender. This crucial decision was followed only six minutes later by Barcelona's goal, which was netted by Pedro following an assist from Iniesta.

Adebayor then came on for Higuain and, on the 60-minute mark, Ozil replaced Kaka. Madrid had to try it all to score. Di Maria reached the goal moments later, hitting the post. The ball landed back on his feet and served it to Marcelo, who managed to defeat Valdes. The Camp Nou was silenced and the game was on. The Madridistas had 26 minutes in which to try the turnaround and they constantly persisted in their search for more goals. Meanwhile, Barcelona's intention was to keep possession for as long as possible in order to lower the pace to Madrid's game, and Guardiola replaced striker Villa with Keita to add muscle to his midfield.

The clock was ticking and Real Madrid still needed two goals. Barcelona decided to wait for them in their half of the pitch, looking for the occasional counterattack with which to seal the match. The dream to reach the final slowly started to fade, but in the end Real Madrid were true to their 109-year history and fought to the very end.


Stadium: Camp Nou
Attendance: 97,000
Goals: 1-0, m.54: Pedro. 1-1, m.64: Marcelo,


Interview: Steve McManaman

Steve McManaman in the ESPN office
What is your life?
I work for ESPN in the United States and even do programs for Mexico, speaking Spanish. I live well, near Manchester airport with my wife and two daughters.

But you spend time in Spain...
I have a house in Mallorca. I love Spain. I spend long seasons. The four years of Madrid were the best of my life. Last year I was at the Bernabeu with veterans playing against Milan and was wonderful to see the grandstands full and reconnect with my teammates.

What you like is to be a commentator?
It is a way to not forget my footballer stage, commenting on every game and always watching football. I got the opportunity and, as I love football, I did not waste it.

Dou you want to be coach?
No, no. In England it is very difficult to achieve. It is a difficult job for the family. I prefer the TV at the moment.

Are you following Real Madrid?
I watch the team every week. I like it this year. I think things are better. Its problem is Barcelona, despite having won the Spanish Cup with merit.

Can Real Madrid comeback?
Yes, yes, but Barcelona is doing very well and when they play as they know it is very difficult to beat. When the Champions League started the logic favorite was Barcelona ,but I saw Madrid second in the pools. Now they have faced and only one may be in the final. But what is clear is that Madrid will fight.

You won in the Nou Camp 0-2 in the semifinal of the Champions in 2002, and you scored a goal.
What memories! It was an unforgettable night. First, we played in Barcelona and Zidane scored a goal and then me. It was a goal as important as I managed in the final of Paris 2000. Then we tied at home and played the final in Glasgow. Everyone knows what happened: the Ninth.

Would you have liked to play on this team?
I stay with mine with which won two European Cups with Sanchis and Hierro. My team was also wonderful, is my team. But I really like Özil, the environment and the stadium, the white shirts. I love everything that is Real Madrid. Xabi is also a phenomenon. The captain, Casillas, I also like. When I played he was a bambino. In what the captain of Spain has become, is incredible.

And Mourinho?
I really like, but I have not the luck to meet him. I have followed his career with Porto, Chelsea, Inter and now in Madrid. His records are amazing and has won everything. He came to Madrid and he wins the "Copa del Rey". Real Madrid has made ​​a good choice withhim, sure.

And do you like his so defensive plans at the Bernabeu?
People in Madrid want to win trophies. You can not play like Barcelona because they have their individualities. You have to ask yourself what you want. Nice play every week and not win anything or play different and get trophies. In Madrid they want titles.

What about Cristiano?
He is fantastic and is up to Messi. He scores amazing goals. The Spanish league is lucky because has Messi, Cristiano, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta... I think Cristiano is much better now than when he was in Manchester. It is a different country and a different team, but he always scores goals.

id you know that in Spain, Cristiano and Mourinho are hated?
I do not understand. In England everybody respects them. People do not love them but they are not hated. This is normal, they generated a lot of jealousy because they were very dangerous opponents.

Nuri Sahin: Real Madrid's possible signing

Nuri Sahin (Lüdenscheid, Germany, 1988) will become, with high probability, in Real Madrid's first signing for next season. The white club has reached an agreement with the player of Borussia and clubs just need to sit down and negotiate to determine the conditions of a transfer that will take place by the desire of the player.

Nuri Sahin playing for Borussia Dortmund
Nuri Sahin would be the first signing of Real Madrid 

Sahin, born in Germany but with Turkish origin, is a lefty, plays in the midfield and is seen in the Santiago Bernabeu as the ideal complement to Xabi Alonso. Throughout his career he has played in the playmaker and left midfielder positions, but it was in central midfielder where he has finished "exploding". The footballer, international with the national team of Turkey, has marveled at the Sports Directorate of Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho, who has given approval for his incorporation.

The player out of contract in June 2012, has an offer on the table to renew for Borussia Dortmund, but the call of Real Madrid has served to clarify his future. Is clear that he wants to wear white jersey and so he has told his manager, Reza Facelli, who incidentally is the same as Mesut Özil.

Sahin has said "no" to Arsenal, Chelsea and Bayern and hopes to reach an agreement as soon as possible to dissociate the German club. His case is identical to Özil, who also had one year contract and threatened to go free a year later if Werder Bremen did not facilitate his transfer. With Sahin is the same. If the Borussia does not open the door this summer for a reasonable price, he will wait a year to go free. Both he and his representative have taken control of the situation.

Nuri has a termination clause of 6 million euros that only affects teams of the Bundesliga, but Real Madrid hopes to push with this economic data. Although Borussia has priced him at 20 million for the teams outside Germany, Real Madrid hopes to get him out by half :"Better transfer him to us by 10 that a German club for 6", is said from the offices of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Update: Nuri Sahin, new Real Madrid player


Preview: Barcelona vs Real Madrid (UCL Semifinal)

Real Madrid needs to win to be on next May 28 in the Champions League final (Wembley) and needs to overcome the 0-2 that Barcelona inflicted on white team at the Bernabeu Stadium. Hence, Mourinho will align an offensive starting lineup with Özil, Di Maria, Cristiano and Benzema. The coach will remove the punishment to Portuguese striker and Cristiano will be joined on top by Karim Benzema, the other new. The Portuguese coach will not resort to the three defense midfielders led by Pepe, who is suspended, the system that he has been used in the last three Classics. Lass, who takes the place of injured Khedira, and Xabi Alonso, will handle the game.

Mourinho will change the starting lineup against Barcelona
Mourinho will change the starting lineup against Barcelona

Paradoxically, Real Madrid lost 5-0 at Camp Nou on November 29 with the same attack formed ​​by Özil, Di Maria, Cristiano and Benzema. But on the positive side is another fact: The team has achieved the two biggest wins in this season: 7-0, against Malaga in the League, and 8-0 against Levante in the last-16 first leg of the Spanish Cup. Both matches were played at the Bernabeu. In total, Mourinho has lined up this attack line in 11 games. The balance is 9 wins and two defeats (Barcelona and Osasuna), 34 goals for and 12 against.

Another aspect of Mourinho's tactical approach is that tomorrow will play an unheard starting lineup in this season. The absences of two indisputable starters as Ramos and Pepe (both by suspension) are the main reason and cause that the defense consists of Arbeloa, Albiol, Carvalho (who returns after suspension) and Marcelo. These four players have played together only in the sixth match of the group stage of the Champions League, against Auxerre. That game was won by Madrid 4-0 with three goals of Benzema, who was the star of the match. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the other.

Mourinho did not hesitate in ensuring after the Wednesday defeat that Real Madrid was eliminated. However, yesterday he harangued his players before training with a different speech. Mourinho wanted to raise the spirits of the troops by pointing out that the comeback is not an utopia. The pass to the Wembley final is difficult but not impossible.
Moreover, Cristiano returns to the starting lineup after his punishment, after seeing from a VIP box as Real Madrid lost on Saturday against Zaragoza. An unprecedented decision by José Mourinho, because he only missed out the second leg of the last-16 round of the Spanish Cup (Levante vs Real Madrid) due to a little cold. But after his remarks criticizing the tactical planning on Wednesday's Classic, Mourinho decided to punish him. Tomorrow will be starter.

In addition, and recalling the arbitration aspect of the game, the players of Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul Albiol, Angel Di Maria and Emmanuel Adebayor, are close to suspension and if they were booked on Tuesday, they would not play the final of the Champions League. Interestingly, the Barcelona does not have any player in this situation.

In Barcelona is not expected any tactical revolution. The team will be the same that played in the first leg, with the inclusion of Iniesta, recovered from his injury. So the center of the field will consist of Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta. A team with two-goal lead, at home and playing from memory. Difficult mission for Real Madrid, which will have to fight that ... and maybe against the referee.

Real Madrid: Ten precedents to dream about the comeback

Real Madrid has in its history ten previous matches in which has won by two goals or more against Barcelona in its own stadium. In the Camp Nou (seven times between 1958 and 2002) and Les Corts (three times between 1930 and 1942). There are ten games with which the Real Madrid can dream about the comeback of Mourinho's team. Of these ten wins, four were by 0-2, a result that would allow Real Madrid to go into overtime. With the score of the other six wins, white team would qualify for the Champions League final at Wembley.

Zidane scored against Barcelona at Camp Nou
UEFA Champions League 2002. Zidane's goal against FC Barcelona

April 23, 2002 it is the closest precedent, also in the Champions League semifinals. In this case, first leg was played at Camp Nou, where Madrid won 0-2 with goals by Zidane and McManaman. The previous precedent was 31 years ago. Team was coached by Boskov and won with goals from García Hernández and Santillana. A great defense with the work of Garcia Remon, San Jose, Pirri, Camacho, Benito, and Del Bosque allowed whites stay unbeaten.

The biggest away win was on January 27, 1963 (1-5) in a Spanish League match, with goals from Di Stefano, Gento and Puskas (hat-trick). Although three years before Real Madrid managed to get five goals in Barcelona (3-5), with goals from Del Sol, DiStefano (2) and Gento (2).

Real Madrid have managed to score 31 goals in Barcelona in ten games to get an advantage equal to or greater than two goals. The top scorer in this series of triumphs of the white team in Barcelona is Puskas, with six goals, followed by Gento (5), DiStefano (3), Del Sol, Alday and Rubio (2), and Garcia Hernandez, Rial, Marsal, Lazcanoand Lopez (1). Especially in the 60's, the Real Madrid showed its superiority in the Camp Nou winning three consecutive years between 1960 and 1963 (3-5, 0-2 and 1-5).


Frank De Bleeckere will referee Barcelona vs Real Madrid

The Belgian referee, Frank De Bleeckere, will be responsible for directing the second leg of the semifinal round of the Champions League next Tuesday, the match at Nou Camp between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in which the white team will look for an epic comeback after the adverse result of the first leg (0-2).

The Belgian is one of the referees that Real Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho, mentioned at the end of the first leg on his list of referees that, in his view, have benefited Barcelona in recent seasons of the Champions League. UEFA has made ​​the nominations from this season in the hands of Pierluigi Collina. Mourinho will not be very happy by choosing one of his main repudiated.

In particular, De Bleeckere officiated last year's second leg of the semifinal between Barcelona and Inter Milan, coached by Mourinho at that time. The referee send-off Thiago Motta in the first half, but the Italian team withstood the pressure of its opponent and could be classified for the final, despite the defeat that Italian team suffered (1-0).

The match looks very rough for Belgian referee after what happened in the first leg, when the Pepe's send-off bristled Real Madrid and especially its coach, who was also send-off and could be punished by UEFA with several games after his strong criticism at press conference.

De Bleeckere (45) will retire next season. Some people interpreted his nomination as a reward. Others, like a punishment from UEFA to Mourinho for his allegations. He refereed Real Madrid for five times (one win). Barça six (won four). This public relations for company of stairs (he speaks four languages​​) is the third generation in a family of referees and international since 1998. A referee who has already committed several mistakes against Madrid, very significant in Liverpool.

Frank De Bleeckere

League (Day 34): Casillas reactions


Casillas talking with the media after Zaragoza game
Casillas talking with the media

How does it feel to lose in this way?
It is an unexpected defeat that makes virtually say goodbye to what was a possible miracle in the League. We never gave up. We always believed we could win. Something unfortunate happened whenever we came close to drawing the match: there was a possible penalty on Kaka, Benzema hit the crossbar... They killed us with their third goal, but we kept trying. It just didn't happen for us.

Has affected the defeat against Barcelona?
It's possible that everything that's happened in the last few days was on our minds, but that's no excuse. Zaragoza gave a good performance and capitalised on our mistakes.

Have you gone to the field distracted?
No. Until my mistake there was no problems. We were playing more conservatively and had no clear chances. In the second part, we searched for the draw but there was another unfortunate with the penalty action.

What happened in your mistake of the first Zaragoza goal?
It was bad luck. I'm somewhat angry because the team didn't earn a better result due to a mistake I made, but we're all human and we all make mistakes.

How do you approach the game at the Camp Nou?
We will intend to win in Barcelona; we know we have the disadvantage, but everything is possible in football.

Spanish League: Day 34


Spring in Madrid is generally unpleasant. Yesterday there was storm. Between the rain and disappointment, the public turned away from the Bernabeu Stadium. Empty seats reflected the feeling that the season runs without producing the expected results. The malaise spread to the stands and the field, where the team emerged with a touch of melancholy after the captains, Casillas and Ramos, presented the Spanish Cup trophy with a poker face. There were no smiles. Only two thoughtful guys, anticipation of the visit to the Nou Camp next Tuesday, the day all may end with a bang if Madrid does not back the 0-2 in the semifinal round of the Champions League.

Real Madrid went out to play, overloaded with dark ideas, a League in which there is not much to say. This less level of stress exposed white team against Zaragoza, which came to defend its stay in first division with the effort of a team that is playing its salary. As often happens in these cases, won the most needy. If Madrid loses on Saturday at the Sanchez Pizjuan (10:00 pm) the championship could be arithmetically for Barcelona, which host Espanyol on Sunday (7:00 pm).

Madrid found from the beginning a problem that has presented throughout the season. Team had the ball but did not know how to play with it. Until Sergio Ramos scored with a header past the hour mark, the team never once shot into the net. By then, the shame of being overcome. Zaragoza had moved the scoreboard twice, defending with energy and deployed with speed and simplicity. Recovered the ball, Gabi and Jorge Lopez changed the direction of the play, and Uche with Lafita attacked the spaces. More vulnerable than usual due to his midfield, Carvalho suffered a torture to protect the prairie.

Casillas upset on the field
Casillas: Upset after Zaragoza's first goal

Zaragoza was presented with the lesson learned. In Spain, the basic antidote against the Madrid Plan is written in the book of all the coaches of first division: Levante, Osasuna, Deportivo and Sporting, among others. Zaragoza did the same. Ceded the field and barricaded itself in the vicinity of its area. They planted a five-defense. Was protected in the middle with Ponzio and closed the sides with two men to prevent Higuain and Kaka found space outside, as they did at the Mestalla last week. Forced to take the initiative, Real Madrid was not comfortable. White team works like a clock whenis attacked, but when give the ball has not acquired the mechanisms to develop an effective static attack.

At the apex of every play Pepe was acting as the only midfielder. His presence at this position did not help clarify the picture. Pepe's inability to organize the team, directed to defensive mismatches. The man is going through two grueling weeks. He was never a pass player and the day has not a full tank, suffers because he can not dispense efforts. In addition Granero and Canales, very intermittent, did not help either.

Thus, on the 40-minute mark, Jorge López led the move for the first goal with a long pass that bounced on the edge of the area. The central defenders were misplaced and Casillas came out to kick but the ball should bounce wrong. The rain has these things. Uche took advantage of the decline and passed to Lafita who scored quietly.

The second half was decidedly different. Real Madrid pressurised much more in attack, stealing the ball in Zaragoza's half of the pitch. But the visitors managed to score again from a fast counterattack that ended in a penalty awarded to Lafita and converted by Gabi (53'). Mourinho brought Marcelo and Ozil on, the latter serving a corner kick on the 61-minute mark finished off perfectly by Ramos. With half an hour left on the clock, the Bernabeu started to roar in support of its team.

Real Madrid besieged its opponent when Uche connected with Lafita, who was alone with Casillas before scoring the 1-3. Benzema, remarkable game, responded after a pass of Higuain. It was 2-3. Madrid's reaction was superb but lacked something that had throughout the season: a great defense. Carvalho brought down Uche and was send-off. A penalty on Kaka, that the referee did not whistle, and a shot to the crosshead of Benzema, unstoppable in the final minutes, tested the nerves of Zaragoza which ended the game in its area. Physically exhausted, but settled in first division.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 67,000
Goals: 0-1, m.41: Lafita. 0-2, m.54: Gabi (penalty) 1-2, m.63: Sergio Ramos. 1-3, m.78: Lafita. 2-3, m.85: Benzema.
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