Malaga 3 - 2 Real Madrid (Spanish League, Day 17)

Real Madrid had no luck in front of goal and slipped up against Malaga in a frenetic match. All the games’ goals came in the second half. Isco, soon after the second half’s kick off, put the home side ahead and Sergio Sanchez, with an own goal, levelled the scoreboard. When the visiting side’s winning goal appeared to be coming, the home side went ahead again. They did so twice, and with Santa Cruz scoring on both occasions. Benzema, in the eighty-third minute, reduced the deficit, but it was not enough. The Whites tried until the end and deserved more at La Rosaleda.

Santa Cruz celebrates a goal against Real Madrid
Malaga defeated Real Madrid. Santa Cruz was the hero.

Real Madrid ended the year with a match of the ‘Champions’. Two of the sixteen teams that will play in the second round of the Champions League in 2013 faced off at the La Rosaleda. The match did not disappoint. The start was promising for the visiting side, who came close to going ahead from a free kick taken by Cristiano Ronaldo. Only the reflexes of Caballero prevented the goal. It was the only shot on goal in the first twenty minutes of the match, but we were not witnessing a boring match. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

The match was played at a frenetic pace and provided chances for both teams. In one of the chances, Real Madrid put the home side’s goal under pressure. A counter attack started by Xabi Alonso, which was continued by Di Maria and the Argentine’s pass was met by Cristiano Ronaldo, who was prevented from scoring in the twenty-fifth minute by the post. A minute later, the players exchanged roles. The Portuguese crossed with his left foot and the Argentine international controlled the ball and tried to chip his fellow countryman, but the attempt was cleared off the line by Monreal. In two minutes, despite not having scored, the Whites had demonstrated their tremendous attacking ability. From this moment on, the match changed.

Real Madrid took complete control of the clash. Malaga fell back and tried to relieve themselves of the pressure from the Whites, who wanted to reach half time with an advantage on the score board. Cristiano Ronaldo attempted to score in the thirty-sixth minute, once again from a pass by Di Maria, but his volley went weakly to the hands of Caballero. Another shot by the Portuguese from 25 metres in the forty-third minute, which went over the bar, and a header by Pepe from a corner kick in added time were the last two chances of the first half. All would be decided in the second half, which promised to be a spectacle after what had been witnessed up until that point.

The second half could not have got off to a worse start. Only four minutes had been played when Malaga scored. Joaquin received the ball at the far post and passed the ball to Isco, who beat Adán with an accurate shot from the penalty arc, which was the home side’s second shot on goal. Everything was going against them, but this was not a new experience for the Whites, who had demonstrated their ability to react and overturn the scoreboard in the last two matches in the championship.

Mourinho was once again courageous and brought on Callejon for Arbeloa in the fifty-eighth minute. More attacking power in search of the victory. The second substitution came six minutes later. Kaka came on, replacing Di Maria. The Portuguese coach’s intentions were on show in just under two minutes. A messy move in the area, which ended at the feet of Benzema. The Frenchman shot on the turn and Sergio Sanchez changed the flight of the ball and beat his goalkeeper in the sixty-sixth minute. 1-1 and all to play for with 25 minutes of the match left.

Real Madrid expanded their play and when the visiting sides’ winning goal appeared to be close, Malaga once again went ahead. They did so twice, both goals scored by Santa Cruz, who had replaced Saviola beforehand. The first goal arrived after making the most of a backheel in the goalmouth by Joaquin in the seventy-sixth minute. He surprised Adán for his team’s last goal with an accurate shot with his left foot. The Whites, despite not having any luck in front of goal, did not give up and reduced the deficit in the eighty-third minute. Özil stole the ball and Benzema beat Caballero. 3-2 and eight minutes of the clash remained. It was not enough. The Whites tried until the end and deserved more at La Rosaleda.


Stradium: La Rosaleda
Attendance: 30,000
Goals: 1-0, M.49: Isco. 1-1, M. 66: Sergio Sanchez (o.g.). 2-1, M. 72: Santa Cruz. 3-1, M. 76: Santa Cruz. 3-2, M. 82: Benzema.


Cristiano Ronaldo envies the treatment that Leo Messi has

The renewal of Leo Messi for Barcelona until 2018 has put again the focus on the situation that Cristiano Ronaldo lives at Real Madrid. The future of the Portuguese player in the white team does not look as good as that of the Argenitine star at Barça because Real Madrid continues with the firm idea of ​​talking about his future when the season ends.

Cristiano Ronaldo upset after a mistake
Cristiano Ronaldo upset with his contract situation

The Cristiano Ronaldo's situation has not changed anything in recent days. Real Madrid intends to provide an improved and extended contract in the coming months, although white team has not said anything to that effect, but the disappointment of Cristiano does not decrease. The Portuguese still upset that do not receive the star treatment that, for example, Leo Messi has got.

Cristiano Ronaldo misses that after 170 goals in 169 games, Real Madrid has never offered him a renewal of contract or improvement. After three and a half years in Madrid, he still remains with the same conditions as when he arrived. And Cristiano Ronaldo believes he has done more than enough merit to be the highest paid player in the template, a condition that still shares with Kaka.

Cristiano Ronaldo: "If I score against Manchester United, I will not celebrate it"

"If I score against Manchester United, I will not celebrate it." Cristiano was thus categorical after knowing that the draw for the Champions had provided a duel between Real Madrid and his former team. The Portuguese star received with joy the news of his return to Old Trafford where is an idol. Not surprisingly there the English fans continue chanting his name and prepare a tremendous reception.

Cristiano Ronaldo playing for Real Madrid and Manchester United
Cristiano Ronaldo

A few months ago, CR7 confessed that he missed his time in England. There, he was happy: "I keep talking to Ferguson. I really miss him, like Manchester United. I felt very well there, it was like a family. I spent six great years and still have relationship with my former teammates. Thanks to Manchester United I am enjoying football at Real Madrid. Without them we would not have become the player I am today." In fact, yesterday, the central defender of Manchestre United, Rio Ferdinand, hailed him via Twitter: "See you soon, brother."

Perhaps the best moment of Cristiano Ronaldo came when he played for Manchester United in the 2007-08 season. He won the Premier League, the Champions League and win the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball. Precisely that season he did not celebrate the two goals he scored for United against Sporting Lisbon, his first professional team. In Portugal after scoring the winning goal for Manchester, Cristiano apologized the fans on the stands.


Luka Modric: "The team is united and this will last"

Luka Modric, one of the most recognized midfielders internationally, has already spent a few months playing for Real Madrid and his personal experience can not be richer, professionally: "Playing here is very great, you feel something great and I am enjoying every moment. It is a club of great dimension, one of the best, if not the best. Everything that this club encompasses is significant and there is a great atmosphere," has said the Croatian.

Modric with the Real Madrid jersey on an Interview with Bwin
Luka Modric

The former Tottenham player, who tries to follow the footsteps of Zvonimir Boban, "my idol when I started playing football," is a professional and has no problem for the dates of the next matchdays: "We are professionals and I am used to it . In England we played at Christmas and New Year day, even just two days after Christmas. No problem, when you are a football player, you never have problems to play games anytime," said Luka.

Although Real Madrid is not going through the best time of the season, "the coaching staff and the players have always stayed together and we will continue that way until the end." Ant talked about an important detail to consider before the next league match: "The Malaga is a great team but we always face the matches in order to win, and now is no different. It will be difficult, but everything depends on us. Surely if we play like we know, we will win," commented Modric.

So Real Madrid midfielder will bet on his team for the match at La Rosaleda stadium: "If we play as we know, sure we can get three points there. It will be a very interesting game to see it from the outside, but everything depends on us, and I am convinced that we will succeed," he said confidently.

Real Madrid to face Manchester United (Champions League)

Real Madrid will play Manchester United in the Champions League round of 16. The Whites will play the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on 13th February, while the second leg will be away on 5th March. On 15th March the quarter-final draw will be held and on 12th April 2013 the draw for the semi-finals will be made. The final will be played on Saturday 25th May at Wembley, where it took place in 2011, as part of the 150th anniversary of the English Football Association.

Last 16 Round Draw. Champions League 2012-2013
Last 16 Round Draw. Champions League 2012-2013

Although they have had to come from behind nine times during this season's Premier League, the English team, who have not drawn any matches in the domestic league, are the leaders with a six point advantage over Manchester City. Van Persie and Kagawa were this summer’s reinforcements to a team that has great attacking potential. Rooney, Valencia, Young, Nani, Anderson, Wellbeck, Giggs and the effective Chicharito Hernández are some of the weapons at Ferguson’s disposal. In the Champions League, despite being defeated in their last two matches, they finished first in their group ahead of Galatasaray, Cluj and Braga.


Real Madrid will not sell Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is not for sale. Rotund phrase and firm from the senior management team of Real Madrid. The Portuguese star is not in danger despite the economic power that has the Paris Saint-Germain. Florentino Perez and his staff are not worried after the words of Sheikh Saud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee and owner's right arm PSG (in Canal + France TV): "Cristiano Ronaldo and Mourinho are targets of Paris Saint-Germain. In sport you have to be motivated and seek the best for your club. Doing the right investments at the right time. Our goal is to win the Champions League. We expect to become the best club in Europe and even the world", he said yesterday.

Mourinho talks to Cristiano during a Real Madrid match
Cristiano and Mourinho; Paris-Saint Germain targets

In the white team are convinced that Cristiano will play many years in the Bernabeu Stadium. Although the PSG talks about Mourinho and Cristiano as main objectives, the future of coach and striker is not attached. Each one will follow his path and not dependent on the other, despite sharing the same agent, Jorge Mendes. Their careers are negotiated separately. Cristiano signed for Real Madrid because he wanted to play in the best club in the world and with Cristiano in the team, Mourinho arrived a year later.

If any club, Paris Saint-Germain or other team based on petrodollars, aims to sign the player, will have to pay 1,000 million euros as is listed in his contract clause. Never less. Real Madrid and Florentino Perez will not negotiate a discount with anyone.

Cristiano's contract expires on June 30, 2015. When he signed for Real Madrid, in 2009, became the highest-paid player with 10 million euros per season. But now the salary is not the highest, not even in the Top 5. Real Madrid has already announced that will work to fix that problem. The two sides will sit down to negotiate a better contract and a renewal of three years (Cristiano Ronaldo is now 27 years old), plus the two that remain before next summer. The next contract would go to 2018. Cristiano wants to stay and the club will make an effort to turn up the money to what they consider fair. If the contract extension has not been made before is because the management team expected for the Kaka's transfer last summer. The money earned with the selling of the Brazilian would have gone to improve Cristiano's salary. As that did not work, they have had to delay the contract's improvement a few months.

In addition, Real Madrid knows that the payout will be 25% higher because will not have the tax advantages ( Beckham Law called in Spain) that benefited both sides when the first contract was signed (in 2004 Spain adopted a rule that allowed foreigners employed in the country taxed as non-residents, at a fixed rate of 24%, for six years. It was perfect for football players. In 2010 it was modified but was not applied retroactively). Today, Cristiano's salary is taxed at 24.75%, he joined Real Madrid before January 1, 2010. With his new contract, will pay 52%. For a salary of 14 million euros per season, Real Madrid will have to pay him 28 million. The club have already made ​​calculations and Cristiano will have a salary according to his worth.

Is this the new Real Madrid 2013-2014 home jersey?

The new Real Madrid 2013-2014 home shirt has already been leaked on Internet. Highlight the presence of new sponsor Fly Emirates team as detrimental to Bwin and the orange color on the neck and sleeves.

New Real Madrid shirt for 2013-2014 season with Fly Emirates as sponsor
New Real Madrid shirt for 2013-2014 season

The new Real Madrid 'skin' would have some changes, the most significant is the addition of orange lines on the neck, sides and sleeves, unlike the current, which are blue.

Another significant change is the sponsor, Bwin will dissapear of the white shirt. Fly Emirates is going to be the new sponsorship. The airline will pay 22 million euros per year what will set Real Madrid as the third team with highest income levied by this way, behind Manchester United and Barcelona.

Update: 05/24/2013


Benzema: "I want to be part of the team that wins the Tenth"

Karim Benzema, Real Madrid striker, has given an interview to the magazine 'France Football' on the occasion of the award for best French player of the year 2012 which was granted him a few days ago. Zinedine Zidane presented the award to the Real Madrid forward.

Benzema with the best French player 2012 trophy
Zinedine Zidane and Karim Benzema

“I am very happy to receive this prize for the second year running. It is good for me and it is an honour that Zidane presented it because for me he is the best French payer in history. It is a dream that it was him who presented me with the award", Benzema said in the pages of the French publication, who beat Ribery and Lloris in the vote.

Benzema also revealed: "I'm in Madrid to win it all. Also the Champions League. Everyone here wants the 'Tenth' and I want to join any team that could get it" he said.

On the rumors of the signing of a striker by Real Madrid (Falcao), Benzema commented: "I know nothing of this. I feel very well at Real Madrid and is the place where I want to be. It's the biggest club in the world and our common history is not over," said the striker about his future.

About the Golden Ball, Benzema said that "We are all supporting Cristiano" adding that "with six players among the 23 nominees, Real Madrid has won the game for clubs with more representation."

Benzema also acknowledged that he dreams about winning the trophy in the future. "All the players think of this trophy. Being among the 23 candidates is like being on the list of the 23 best players in the world. That part is very satisfying. But I still have to work to be among the three finalists and perhaps someday win. My goal is to get closer each year."

The Real Madrid player also spoke about his compatriot Abidal and asserted that "he was always there for me". We talk regularly, it is like a little clan of Lyon, there is something strong between us. Arriving in Lyon at 17, Eric took me under his wing directly. From that time we have a good relationship."

Florentino Perez: "Real Madrid should not give up"

"Real Madrid has a commandment: not to give up". Florentino Perez wanted to put an end to discouragement after another disapointment, the draw against Espanyol. The president of white team put the record straight after the statements of Mourinho who said that winning the Spanish league is almost impossible.

Florentino Perez and Jose Mourinho

The authority coup of Florentino Perez comes because the last stumble of the team triggered all alarms in Madrid. Not for the Spanish League, where the red alert was fired from the second matchday, but for the two titles that white team still has to fight for: Champions League and Spanish Cup. Within the club are deeply concerned that team can go into freefall and endanger the rest of the season.

Therefore, the priority is to put the ship in good way. Florentino Perez wants to ensure the commitment of the staff. He wants the players and the entire team fight for the Spanish league title until they have a chance to win it, that they do not lower the arms although that winning the Spanish championship is almost impossible.

Florentino Perez has already been doing his part to restore normalcy and wants the same commitment from the players and the coaching staff. On Saturday president backed the coach after the defeat in Vigo and harangued his players yesterday after the new setback, against Espanyol. Gestures aimed at restoring the confidence of the 'troops', because president wants to avoid the slightest temptation of neglecting the league, given that it is almost impossible to hunt down Barcelona. Florentino understands that restore stability in the League competition will help the team to face the Spanish Cup and especially the Champions League.

In the Tenth (European Cup) are put all hopes of a season that has gone awry early. Europe is the 'savior', but without neglecting League obligations, except when necessary to successfully tackle the commitments in the other competitions.

Nobody doubts that in the locker room there is, more than ever, a plot to storm the Champions. In existence since the beginning of the season and now, with more reason. However, neglecting other obligations may be counterproductive. There is fear in the white club and Florentino warned the players with his message.

The president recalled that one of the values ​​of Real Madrid is not to give up no matter how difficult the circumstances. More than a message was an order to avoid greater evils. Florentino has experience in such delicate situations and knows that if the bleeding is not stopped in time, the wound can worsen.

Mourinho also knows it: "If we improve in the League will help us improve for Champions and Spanish Cup." The coach knows that the championship is the main way to recover good feelings. A good thermometer. The concept is to make a fresh start. Even the Christmas break is seen as a positive to start from scratch and forget some difficult months.


Real Madrid has already lost one point more than in the entire 2011-2012 season

Espanyol drew at the Santiago Bernabeu and left Real Madrid further away from the head of the League. The defending champion is already thirteen points behind Barcelona, which continues its historic march: 16 games, 15 wins and a draw in the Nou Camp in the Classic. A brutal pace, 46 points of 48, impossible to be followed by Atletico Madrid (37 points after the defeat at Camp Nou) and Real Madrid. The white team is on 33 points and has already lost ​​15 in just 16 matches of the competition. An excessive 'bleeding' for a team that signed historic numbers for the reconquest of the league 2011/12.

Mourinho upset after the match against Espanyol
Jose Mourinho: Worst league start in Real Madrid

Last season Real Madrid scored 100 points scoring 121 goals for with only 32 against. 100 points out of 114 possible, huge numbers based on 32 wins, 4 draws and just 2 defeats. Now Real Madrid has lost 15 points out of 48; 10 wins, 3 draws and 3 defeats.

In further analysis of that last season, we discover that in week 16, the Real Madrid had only lost 8 points: 1 loss against Levante (week 4), a draw in Santander in the day 5 and, precisely in the week 16, the defeat (1-3) in the Classic against Barcelona at the Bernabeu. Now the Real Madrid has lost almost double points, 15; 4 at home (on the opening day draw against Valencia and yesterday against Espanyol) and 11 away (a draw at the Camp Nou and three defeats in Getafe, Sevilla and against Betis). Real Madrid had already lost 10 points in the first seven days and since leaving the Camp Nou tried to right the ship with no luck. Whites won five straight matches but failed against Betis (day 13) and yesterday in Madrid against Espanyol.

In addition, the Real Madrid adds 39 goals for and 14 against. The first of these figures can not stand comparison with the 121 goals of last season. The Real Madrid is much less effective and team is paying its mistakes dearly.

In season 2010/11, the first of Mourinho as white manager, the numbers in the league were not as good as in the next, in fact Barcelona was the champion, and the white team lost a total of 22 points in 5 draws and 4 defeats. However, in the first 16 days of that season Real Madrid did not win in only three games; goalless draws in the fields of Mallorca (day 1) and Levante (day 5) and strong defeat 5-0 at the Camp Nou in the Classic match played in week 13. After, Real Madrid failed in Almería (1-1, day 19), against Osasuna (1-0 in week 21) and against Deportivo (0-0, day 25) before finally lost the League at the Bernabeu Stadium; losses against Sporting (0-1, day 30) and Zaragoza (2-3, day 34) and between these two matches the draw in the Classic against Barcelona (1-1, day 32). Now in the third year of Mourinho, Real Madrid (currently unknown) has got its worst league start since the arrival of the Portuguese coach.

Real Madrid 2 - 2 Espanyol (Spanish League, Day 16)

Two shots against the woodwork, one from Modric in the first half and another from Di Maria in the second half, and a great performance from Kiko Casilla (Espanyol goalkeeper) thwarted the Real Madrid win in the final home match of the year. Sergio Garcia put Espanyol ahead with the visitors’ first shot on goal, but Ronaldo, moments before the break, and Coentrao, who scored his first goal for the Whites, turned the scoreboard around. Albin, in the 88th minute, squared up a match that Real Madrid deserved to win both for the way that they played and the chances that they created.

Cristiano sad after draw against Espanyol
Cristiano was not enough to beat the Espanyol.

Real Madrid played their last match of 2012 in the Santiago Bernabtu Stadium. They came to the match having completed a one year unbeaten run in the league in front of their home crowd and with the intention of getting a third straight victory in the championship in the month of December. Coentrao, recovered from his illness, returned to the starting eleven, whilst Benzema was left out following the knock that he received last Wednesday in Balaidos. Cristiano Ronaldo played as the highest player and the Portuguese player was the first to shoot on goal. His shot from the edge of the area on three minutes went wide.

It was the first warning. The second was to come a minute later. Cristiano Ronaldo passed to Modric, who controlled the ball with his chest and shot on the volley. Within just five minutes the Whites had already had two chances. The match was dominated by the home side. Real Madrid dictated the match and patiently built up plays against a team that defended very compact close to their area hoping to get through the tricky moments and to try and create chances on the break. The Whites remained focused on putting themselves ahead on the scoreboard and were close to doing so three minutes before the half hour mark. Modric shot from the edge of the box but, having beaten Kiko Casilla, his shot hit the post.

Real Madrid kept applying pressure and when it looked likely that they goal would soon arrive Espanyol went ahead with their first shot on goal. Verdu with the assist and Sergio Garcia, who beat the Whites’ centre back pairing for pace, beat Casillas in the 31st minute. A comeback was needed for the second consecutive league match, but Real Madrid already showed against Valladolid that they are not afraid of the situation. Nine minutes later they came close to levelling the contest with a play that began with a masterful assist from Özil which Cristiano Ronaldo latched on to, but he could not beat the goalkeeper in a one-on-one. Everything was pointing towards Real Madrid going in at halftime behind on the scoreboard, but the ambition of Cristiano Ronaldo is the best weapon to overcome any obstacle. A threaded cross from Khedira and the Portuguese appeared at the back post and finished with the instep of his right foot. Phenomenal resourcefulness to level the match in first half stoppage time at what was a psychologically great time to score.

Mourinho, aware of the overwhelming dominance of possession that his team had, tried to stretch the play and chose to bring on Di Maria for Modric. The Argentine’s entrance was a successful for the Portuguese and his vertical play was key to his team being able to get in front on the scoreboard. They only took three minutes to do so. Cristiano Ronaldo controlled the ball just inside the area and saw Coentrão pushing forward and played the ball to his compatriot, who controlled with the left and surprised Casilla with a right-footed shot. 2-1 and the Portuguese’s first Real Madrid goal.

The home team were not satisfied and they increased their speed in attacking situations. In the first ten minutes of the second half had they had not only scored but had also created two other good chances to beat the visitors’ goalkeeper. Arbeloa had the first after cut back from Callejon, which held up a lot. The Whites’ right back’s shot had was met by an excellent reaction save from Casilla in the 50th. Four minutes later the academy player showed some more of his best. A great Di Maria shot from the edge of the box was met by a spectacular full stretch save by the Espanyol goalkeeper, who tipped the ball against the crossbar.

The Catalan side looked to be beaten and they weren’t pushing their lines forward to try to turn the situation around and they could only retreat to try to relieve the pressure. The chances followed and Özil, with a shot across the goal in the 72nd minute, could not find the target. Morata, who had replaced Callejon a minute earlier, was on target with his first touch of the ball. An assist from Özil leading to the Whites’ academy players’ header which was blocked by Héctor Moreno on the goal line. The crowd were enjoying a good second half and if the Whites hadn’t scored more goals it was due to the great efforts of Casilla. Luck was cruel for Real Madrid and with just two minutes remaining of the match Albín equalised following a series of ricochets. An unfair draw for the Whites and more than Espanyol deserved.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 65,000
Goals: 0-1, m.30: Sergio Garcia. 1-1, m.45: Cristiano Ronaldo. 2-1, m.48: Coentrao. 2-2, m.88: Albin.


Celta Vigo 2 - 1 Real Madrid (Spanish Cup, Last 16 1st Leg)

Real Madrid and Celta Vigo will play for a spot in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) on 9th January at the Santiago Bernabeu. The tie will be decided in the Whites’ fortress following the match at Balaidos, which the home team won 2-1 thanks to goals from Bermejo and Bustos, and to which Cristiano Ronaldo replied in the 86th minute. In a match without a clearly dominant team, all of the goals came in the second half, following a first 45 minutes in which Celta did not have a shot on goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo fighting against a Celta player
Cristiano Ronaldo fought against the entire Celta team

Real Madrid went on to the field at Balaidos with Adan, Varane, Carvalho, Essien, Modric and Di Maria as the changes to the starting line-up. The Argentine was the player who had the first chance in the 1st minute with a long range shot following a nice piece of team play on the edge of the area. Celta tried to play the ball out of defence and Real Madrid pressed forward to try to win the ball. Essien had the second chance to try to surprise Sergio from distance after he himself stole the ball. Both teams looked to dominate the match but did not manage to impose themselves on their opponents.

Cristiano Ronaldo was amongst the most involved of Mourinho’s team in the first half. A good move from the Portuguese on the right in the 15th minute and a subsequent cross to the centre of the area was narrowly missed by Modric. Celta, on the counter attack, had their first opportunity with an Aspas cross from the left which Park put wide of the far post. On the half hour mark the Real Madrid coach had to bring on Callejon for Benzema (32') because of an injury to the Frenchman, and shortly after coming on the academy player shot against the post but it would not have counted as it was given as offside.

The home team pushed their lines forward in the closing stages of the first half and the connection between Aspas and Park produced chances for Celta. In the 38th minute Aspas found the Korean in the area but he failed to control the ball and in 40th minute a cross from Galician from the right was put wide by Park at the far post. Celta had three consecutive corners immediately before the end of the half.

Özil came on for Di Maria after the break, but the match continued in the same vein that the first half had finished with Vigo set up with their lines very high up the field and they won two corners in the opening two minutes. Ronaldo kept trying to create chances for his team, with long balls into the box but could not find anyone to put them away. A ball won in midfield by the home team in the 56th minute produced the match’s first goal. Krohn-Dehli crossed from the left which went through the middle of the area before Mario Bermejo put a low shot past Adan at the far post.

Mourinho reacted by bringing on Kaka for Essien in the 65th minute. With the three changes already made, Varane received a knock and ended up playing at centre forward. Özil played between the lines and that is how the Whites went looking for the reply. Modric could have scored following an Alonso ball into the box, but Sergio made a good stop down low. Celta were looking to hit Real Madrid on the break and following an Augusto long range shot in the 72nd which was stopped by Adan the same player went on to score the second goal in the 78th minute. Celta put pressure on a Whites throw-in in their own half and the ball fell to Bustos, who made it 2-0 with a shot from outside of the box which the Real Madrid goalkeeper could not have done anything about.

Ronaldo, Real Madrid’s best player, kept trying to create chances. In the 81st minute he shot from outside the box but it was saved by the ‘keeper and a minute later one of his crosses from the right went straight into Sergio’s hands. The third chance went passed him in the 86th minute following a great looping pass from Xabi Alonso into space which he finished with quality with his left foot. Alonso looked for Cristiano again in the 88th minute but he was given offside when he didn’t look to be and in the 91st minute Modric tried his luck from outside the area but Sergio pushed the ball wide for a corner.


Stadium: Balaidos
Attendance: 30,000
Goals: 1-0. m.55: Bermejo; 2-0. m.78: Bustos; 2-1. m.86: Cristiano Ronaldo.


Valladolid 2 - 3 Real Madrid (Spanish League, Day 15)

Real Madrid showed courage in Valladolid and got their fourth consecutive win after turning around the scoreboard against a highly motivated team that had put themselves in front on the scoreboard twice in front of a home crowd euphoric with their team’s season so far. Manucho put the home team ahead twice from set pieces, while Benzema, in the first instance, and Özil, with a masterpiece on the stroke of halftime, levelled the match. The visitors’ dominance was overwhelming in the second half and the Whites, who ended up taking off to defenders to bring on Di María and Modric, took the win through an Özil free-kick. The German had a spectacular match and led his team with two goals worthy of framing.

Özil scored a great and important victory goal

The match could not have started worse for Real Madrid. Within seven minutes the scoreboard was against the Whites and they had to make an extra effort to make the comeback in a stadium where Valladolid have only lost once in the eight official matches that they have played there. Valladolid’s goal came in their first jaunt into Casillas’ area. Alvaro Rubio’s corner lead to a series of ricochets in the area before Manucho put the ball into the net from close range.

They needed to make a comeback and the Whites got to work to bring things level on the scoreboard. It only took five minutes to do. Callejon, who along with Nacho were the changes to starting line-up, was very attentive and stole the ball from Balenziaga. He drew in the goalkeeper Dani Hernández and played a square ball to Benzema, who only had to push the ball home. The match was level once again, but it felt like it was going to be short-lived and after the two subsequent Real Madrid chances that fell to Khedira in the 17th minute and Ronaldo, from a free-kick, in the 19th minute they came close to going ahead themselves.

In spite of that, it was Valladolid who again went ahead in a move that was very similar to the first goal of the match. Valladolid’s second corner and Manucho’s second shot that had ended up in the net, this time from a header in the 22nd minute. It was more than the home team deserved for what they had shown in the match so far, who had found refuge in their set pieces, and it made it even more difficult for Real Madrid to get their fourth straight victory against a highly motivated team that had twice gone ahead on the scoreboard and were playing in front of a home crowd that were euphoric with their team’s season so far and understood the significance of what their team were achieving.

Except for an Ebert free-kick, which troubled Casillas, Valladolid did not get back into the visitors’ area during the first half. Real Madrid, however, continued to play well and tried to go in to the dressing room with the match at least all square. The Whites created up to four dangerous scoring chances before Özil scored the second just before the break. The move that produced it was a masterpiece. The German received the ball on the edge of the area, went passed two opponents by combining with Benzema, who laid off back to him with a back heel, before he placed the ball between the legs of Dani Hernández. 2-2 and all to be played for in the remaining 45 minutes.

The evidence that Real Madrid were going to fight for the win until exhaustion was irrefutable and increased further after the break. A brave Mourinho brought on Di Maria and took off Nacho. The Whites dominated and when they didn’t have the ball and they were biting at the heels of Valladolid and didn’t give them a moment to breathe which resulted in the home team not being able to string together more than three passes. Perhaps that is why the scoring chances all came in the home team’s area. Ramos, from a header in the 50th minute, Benzema, from the edge of the box in the 52nd minute, and Ronaldo, also from outside of the area in 55th minute, were the creators.

If anything was on show from Real Madrid it was bravery. Mourinho personified that as much as anyone and removed another defender, specifically Arbeloa, to put on another midfielder: Modric. The match had become end-to-end and Real Madrid kept going for the win. Di María, in the 63rd minute, had a one-on-one with Dani Hernandez, but the goalkeeper came out on top. Ramos did beat him two minutes later, but Pérez Montero incorrectly ruled out the visitors' goal for offside.

The comeback was completed in the 72nd minute in the same manner that both of the home team’s goals had come: from dead balls. It came from a free-kick on the edge of the area that Ronaldo feinted to shoot and Özil hit the ball in such a subtle and precise way, hitting the crossbar that it meant that the outstretched Valladolid goalkeeper could do get now where near. The German had a match worth framing and led his team to their fourth straight win and third in the month of December in which the Whites have won every match that they have played.


Stadium: Jose Zorrilla
Attendance: 25,000
Goals: 1-0: Min. 6, Manucho. 1-1: Min. 11, Benzema. 2-1: Min. 21, Manucho. 2-2: Min. 44, Özil. 2-3: Min. 71. Özil.


Real Madrid 4 - 1 Ajax (Champions League, Day 6)

The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium remains the undefeated fortress that it has been during the past two Champions League campaigns. Although Real Madrid were already qualified for the round of 16, their badge brings with it an inherent competitiveness to every match, in every competition. They performed perfectly and were led by Modric, who played what was possibly his best match since arriving in the Spanish capital. In less than half an hour the Whites had already decided the match with two goals. The first came from Ronaldo in the 13th minute and the second from Callejon in the 28th minute and they had also crashed the ball against the post through Coentrao. In the three passages of play the Croatian played a key role. At the beginning of the second half today’s captain, Kaka, joined the show and scored the match’s most spectacular goal and Real Madrid’s 950th in European competition. Boerrigter reduced the arrears for the Dutch side, which despite the defeat achieved their aim of qualifying for the Europa League, and Callejón capped off the scoring in the 88th minute. The Whites now wait to find out their opponents in the round of 16. In two weeks they will find out.

Kaka playing against Ajax
Kaka played and scored again for Real Madrid

Real Madrid, having already qualified for the round of 16, finished the group stage by playing against Ajax for the sixth time in the last three seasons. The history of the previous five matches foretold of the Whites’ victory and their on-field efforts met with those expectations. With academy player Nacho, who made his Champions League debut, in the starting line-up, the Whites blew the opposition away in the opening stages and only thirteen minutes in they had already had a Benzema goal disallowed in the 7th minute, hit the post through Coentrao in the 10th and also gone ahead on the scoreboard. Cristiano Ronaldo was the scorer, although Modric may deserve some of the credit for the steal that he made before giving the ball to Benzema. The Frenchman, after bringing the high ball under control, set up the Portuguese.

The match could not have been going better for the home team, who were close to scoring the second from a solo Benzema run, but a Coentrao suffered from a pulled muscle and Mourinho was forced to make the first change of the match in the 21st minute. Pepe replaced his compatriot. The Whites continued with their positive momentum and before the half hour mark they managed to widen the gap on the scoreboard. Modric saw Callejon lose his marker and put him through with a pass from inside his own half. The academy player did not waste the Croatian’s gift, and, after bringing the ball down and setting himself, he hit the ball into the far corner beyond Vermeer in the 28th minute. 2-0. Real Madrid, guided by Modric, were putting on a show for their fans to enjoy and they also managed to completely cancel out Ajax’s efforts and they finished the first half without having had a shot on goal.

The second half began with a gift to the Real Madrid fans. With just four minutes played today’s captain, Kaka, received the ball on the edge of the box and pulled a left-footed shot out of the hat and Vermeer could only watch as the Brazilian’s shot threaded its way through the crowd and nestled in the back of his net. The goal had added significance because it was the Whites’ 950th goal in European competition.

Boerrigter, with a volley, reduced the gap in the 60th minute and Callejon put the icing on the cake for the home team in the 88th minute after heading home a precise cross from Morata. Both teams achieved their aims. Ajax qualified for this season's Europa League (the final will be played at the Amsterdam Arena) and Real Madrid finished the group stage with a win and are unbeaten in their stadium for a ninth consecutive match. The Whites now wait to find out who they will face in the round of 16. They will find out in two weeks.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 58,000
Goals: 1-0, m.13: Cristiano Ronaldo. 2-0, m.28: Callejon. 3-0, m.49: Kaka. 3-1, m.60: Boerrigter. 4-1, m.88: Callejon.


Real Madrid 2 - 0 Atletico Madrid (Spanish League, Day 14)

The history of the derby shows that they cannot be predicted, but the script for recent derbies against Atletico de Madrid since 1999, above all at the Santiago Bernabeu, tends to repeat the same ending and joy for the Whites’ supporters. It was not a beautiful game, but an important morale booster for the home side, who aim to win every match they play in the last month of the year. Cristiano Ronaldo, who played magnificently, opened the scoring with a straight shot from 35 metres that will possibly be the goal of the weekend because of its importance and beauty, while Özil, after a great assist by Ronaldo, scored the second and match-winning goal. Real Madrid remain unbeaten at home this season and have gone a year unbeaten at the Bernabeu. Matches like today’s lead us to think that this spectacular run still has plenty of legs.

Cristiano celebrates a goal against Atletico Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first goal of the match

Real Madrid started December with the first derby of the season at home. The Whites started with a desire to demonstrate why they are unbeaten at home this season and the fans that had packed into the stadium wanted to play a determining role in the push for victory. Pressing very high up and preventing the opponent’s defence from playing the ball out easily, each fifty-fifty ball was a battle of life and death. The Bernabeu applauded the effort of their players. Perhaps it was because of this that the fans were in rapture after the first dangerous move of the match for the home side. An amazing goal by Cristiano Ronaldo from 35 metres was his way of thanking the fans for their constant support. The Portuguese, who celebrated as he knows best his recent candidacy in the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or, placed the ball with care and struck the free kick so accurately that the stretch of the tall Courtois (1.95 m) could not prevent the ball from finding the back of the net in the fifteenth minute.

The match was set up to the Whites’ liking, with an advantage on the scoreboard and the home fans supporting the cause. Despite having the option of the counterattack, possibly the best in the world, they did not want to lose control of the ball and their determination to continue dominating a game unlike many others was clear in each action. There were few chances before reaching the end of the first half. One for Atletico that was cleared by Casillas, showing off his reflexes after a shot from Falcao in the thirteenth minute and another for Cristiano Ronaldo, the home side’s second chance alongside the goal, when the Portuguese player put pressure on Courtois by shooting from practically the halfway line in the thirty-sixth minute.

The second half was as hard-fought at the first. Fouls were committed constantly in the midfield and minutes without a stoppage in the game were few and far between. Despite this Real Madrid was the only team that put pressure on the rival penalty area in the first quarter of an hour. A move by Özil and Benzema ended in a cross-shot by the French player that was cleared by Courtois in the forty-eighth minute. Another run by the German player ended in a left-footed shot by Cristiano Ronaldo that went wide in the fifty-fourth minute and a shot from a free kick forced the Belgian goalkeeper to be at full stretch to prevent a goal in the sixtieth minute.

These chances took place during the build up to the second goal of the night, a goal that brought calm to the Bernabeu’s stands. The move was started by Benzema, who backheeled to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese once again found the French player, but Godín read his intentions and intercepted the ball. This was no obstacle for Cristiano Ronaldo, however, who regained the ball and set up Özil, who corrected his poor first touch with the volley that put the ball in the back of the net in the sixty-fifth minute. 2-0 and Cristiano Ronaldo was the decisive factor: a goal and an assist capped a performance worthy of being framed.

The Portuguese’s performance, which was the best part of the match, was not over yet. With fifteen minutes of the match to go, another shot from the Portuguese crashed into the crossbar from a free kick after a magisterial individual move from Benzema that forced Miranda to bring down the Frenchman on the edge of the area. Four minutes later Ronaldo found the post again after a magnificent assist from Özil, who wanted to return the favour of the second goal to the Portuguese. There was not time for much else, except from the appearance of the reserve team player Jose Rodriguez, who made his league debut. Real Madrid, who are yet to be defeated at home this season, are unbeaten in La Liga at the Bernabeu for a year. Matches like today lead us to think that this spectacular run still has plenty of legs.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Goals: 1-0 min.15 Cristiano Ronaldo; 2-0 min.66 Özil.


Real Madrid 3 - 0 Alcoyano (Spanish Cup, Last 32)

Real Madrid made their home debut in the current edition of the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey) with a goalfest. A goal from Di Maria and a brace from Callejon, all in the second half, were enough to defeat Alcoyano and send Real Madrid through to the round of sixteen. The Whites, who began the match with academy players making up more than half the line up (six), have scored in their last 13 matches in the tournament and remain unbeaten on home ground this season in the dozen matches they've played with eight wins and two draws. In addition to the great score and qualification, Jose Rodriguez played a great match and Cheryshev made his first-team debut in an official match, being the first Russian to do so. Furthermore, the game marked Mourinho's 400th official win as a manager. Real Madrid's rival in the next stage will be the winner of the clash between Almeria and Celta.

Callejon and Di Maria celebrate their goals against Alcoyano
Callejon and Di Maria were the most valuable players of the match

Real Madrid made its debut in the only official competition in which it had yet to embark at home following the Spanish Super Cup, la Liga and the Champions League. It did so with a new starting line-up in which academy players filled more than half the positions. Notable among the young players trained in 'The Factory' were Cheryshev, who made his first team debut in an official match, becoming the first Russian to do so.

Mourinho had already made clear in the press room that it was not a matter of relying on the 1-4 first-leg score but winning and offering a great game for those that came to the Bernabeu. Real Madrid went out ready to put their coach's philosophy into practice, in spite of their difficult start to the match. Albiol, who was acting as captain, had to leave the field after a tackle from David Torres in the first minutes of the match. Coentrão went on in his place. It was the Portuguese who initiated the play that lead to their first chance at goal. Modric's on target volley from the front of the area was saved by a beautiful stretch from keeper Adrian Murcia in the 8th minute.

It was a twenty minute wait until the Whites' next opportunity at goal, despite their dominating the match. Academy player Nacho made a run and delivered a cross right to Cheryshev's feet. The player from the Russian national side overcame a visiting defender but was then stopped by the Alcoyano keeper. Callejón was unable to take advantage of the following rebound. He was also involved in the last incursion of the first half. The Whites' midfielder took a great free kick and Adrian Murcia replied in spectacular fashion. He left the ball loose but was back in place to clear Varane's subsequent shot for a corner. The visiting keeper was becoming the star of the match.

The Whites turned up the intensity in the second half, bearing down on their rivals with greater energy. As a result Alcoyano now struggled to make headway with the ball and the match became increasingly vertical. Morata almost opened the scoring from the front of the area after a great collective effort but his shot in the 60th went high. Di Maria's arrival a minute later, and Benzema's in the 70th lent the team even more bite.

From then on the Whites became a force to be reckoned with and the first goal now came quickly. Callejón made a run and delivered the ball to Benzema. The French player spotted Di María and assisted the Argentinian who then scored against an inspired Adrian Murcia in the 71st. Javi Selva complained to the referee and was given a second yellow card, leaving the visiting side a player short. The second goal almost came in the 87th but while the stands were already celebrating, Benzema's shot went high. They came even closer to the second goal a minute later when Di María hit the cross bar after a one-on-one with the keeper. When the second goal did arrive it was soon followed by a third. Both were scored by Callejon. The academy player took advantage of an assist from Özil to score his first in the 89th and another from Di Maria to seal the match in extra time. The Whiteshave scored in their last thirteen matches in the tournament and remain unbeaten on their home turf this season in the dozen matches they've played with eight wins and two draws. This Thursday they'll know who their next rival is, either Almeria or Celta.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 35,000
Goals:1-0, m.72: Di Maria. 2-0, m.89: Callejon. 3-0, m.92: Callejon.


Betis 1 - 0 Real Madrid (Spanish League, Day 13)

Real Madrid were unable to record their sixth consecutive victory after falling to defeat in Seville against Betis (1-0). Mourinho’s team clearly dominated the game and had several chances to score. This time the attack, one of the strengths of Mourinho’s team, did not translate into points, mainly because the home side’s goalkeeper, Adrian, played exceptionally well, clearing all the Whites’ chances. Betis defended, basing their game plan on counter-attacks and it paid off. Beñat scored the game’s goal in an isolated moved, after gathering the ball in the penalty arc and beating Casillas with a tight shot in the seventeenth minute. The referee failed to give a penalty for handball during the game’s closing minutes. Real Madrid, who had had three days’ rest after an important clash in the Champions League, sought the equaliser until the end of the clash.

Cristiano Ronaldo misses a chance to score against Betis
No goal for Real Madrid against Betis

After securing a position in the second round of the Champions League, Real Madrid travelled to the Benito Villamarin stadium with just one change from the clash on Wednesday; Özil for Modric. From the beginning of the match the Whites sought a goal and played a quick game, with a high tempo and direct play. A cross-shot from the right by Özil and a long shot by Cristiano Ronaldo that went over the goal of Adrian in the first five minutes of the match warned of the Whites’ intentions.

The Portuguese was particularly active on the left wing, and had two clear chances in the first fifteen minutes. The first, a fierce strike cleared by the Betis goalkeeper for a corner and the second, following up after Khedira’s shot. Mourinho’s players were clearly on top, while Betis sat deep and waited for the counter-attack.

An isolated move from the home side, who up until then had not shown up in attack, provided the clash’s only goal in the seventeenth minute. Beñat gathered a clearance by Di María in the penalty arc, went past Khedira and beat Casillas with a tight shot at the post. The Whites’ captain was unable to keep it out. Betis were sure of their plan: prevent Mourinho’s players from playing in the midfield and look for speedy counter-attacks. In the twenty-second minute Ruben Castro entered the area and struck the ball fiercely, but Casillas cleared the danger confidently.

With the scoreboard against them, Real Madrid continued to seek the home side’s goal with intent. Faced by a congested midfield, they sought to create danger down the wings, and the left wing in particular with Cristiano Ronaldo. The thirty-first minute saw one of the first half’s most clear chances. Di Maria was the protagonist after a one-two with Özil, but his shot deflected off the Betis defence and went over. The Whites dominated and sought the goal through all possible means, including free kicks. In the thirty-seventh minute Alonso took a free kick from the wing and Benzema’s finish ended up in the back of the net, but the goal was ruled out due to being offside.

Real Madrid still had 45 minutes to stage a fight back. Mourinho therefore made substitutions and brought on Modric and Kaka in place of Khedira and Özil. Both attempted to lend a spark to the Whites’ attack, and to a certain extent succeeded in doing so in the first moments of the second half. The Whites were on top and even Coentrão was a danger on the left-hand side. The only thing that was missing was the goal. One of the many moves by the Whites’ attack ended in a goal by Benzema, who collected an assist from Modric from a legal position, although the referee had blown for offside.

The attacks took place increasingly often and were becoming more and more dangerous for Adrian. The Betis goalkeeper became the home side’s hero by preventing two clear Madrid opportunities. First, he cleared a shot from the right by Cristiano, who made the most of a great pass behind the Andalusian defence in the sixtieth minute. Two minutes later, Kaka did not hesitate and shot for goal, but Adrian cleared. Real Madrid looked for the equaliser and Callejon joined the cause, replacing Di Maria with 27 minutes of the match remaining.

The pace of the clash slowed as the minutes ticked by. The reason; the excessive interruptions in the match due to fouls and the increasing fatigue of both teams. Despite Real Madrid being in control, Betis created chances on the counter-attack. Salva Sevilla cut in inside the area and was close to scoring the team’s second in the seventieth minute and two minutes later Ruben Castro shot wide after quick play by Jorge Molina. Meanwhile, the Whites attempted to score from free kicks. Ramos and Pepe came close to equalising from crosses by Xabi Alonso. In the eighty-second minute, Adrian cleared a fierce strike by Cristiano Ronaldo from a direct free kick.

The chances were becoming increasingly clear and Benzema had the opportunity to score the equaliser five minutes from the end. The French forward shot in the goalmouth after a header by Pepe, but once again Adrian prevented the goal. The Whites finished the match with long balls in search of a goal but this time around it was not to be. In the last move of the clash, the referee failed to award a penalty for a handball by Nosa after a cross by Kaka. Real Madrid now move on to thinking about the second leg of the last-sixteen clash in the Spanish Cup against Alcoyano, which will be their third match in as many competitions in less than a week.


Stadium: Benito Villamarin
Attendance: 35,000
Goals: 1-0 min.7 Beñat.


Mourinho: "Champions League is the Special One"

Jose Mourinho gave an interview to the British TV 'Sky Sports' and said that "the Champions League is the Special One". Real Madrid coach went through his entire career in the competition and stated that "the Champions League title won with Inter Milan was the best moment of my career". It was the first of the Italian team in 40 years and Mourinho admitted that "it was a special moment for the president Moratti and for a group of players who, by age, only had that opportunity to win the Champions League. We really enjoyed it", said Mourinho.

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

"The day after the elimination in the Champions League against Bayern Munich was a bad day managing Real Madrid but you can not mourn for a week. But when you stop to think about it, a semifinal defeat in a penalty shoot-out hurts", said Mourinho in the interview. Jose Mourinho also spoke of the current situation being experienced by Real Madrid in the Champions League after sorting. "Real Madrid wants the Tenth European Cup and I look for my third with a different team. That would be special to me. Calmly we will succeed" he said.

Real Madrid has gone on to the last-16 round as runner-up of the group. Maybe a problem because white team will have to face against a winner of other group and will play the second leg away from the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. This situation does not worry Jose Mourinho.

First, because Mourinho has won two Champions League after classifying his teams as runners-up. In the 2003-04 season, Porto was behind Real Madrid in Group F. Portuguese team only lost one match (against Real Madrid, 1-3), drew two and won three. In the last-16 round, won the first leg against Manchester United 2-1, and managed a draw 1-1 in England. Olympique Lyon was their next opponent. Porto beat French team 2-0 at the Portuguese city and tie again (2-2) in France. In the semifinals, also played first at home against Deportivo La Coruña (0-0) and won the match played in Spain (0-1). In the final, Monaco was no match for the Mourinho's team, so Porto achieved the second European Cup of its history.

With Inter Milan, six years later, Mourinho repeated the way: from the second place in Group F, behind Barcelona (with only two wins, three draws and one defeat) to lift the trophy at the Bernabeu stadium. Like Porto, Inter faced the three knock-out rounds with field disadvantage. In the first, knocked Chelsea (2-1 in Milan, 0-1 in London). In the quarter-finals defeated CSKA Moscow (1-0 in the first leg, and 0-1 in the Russian field). And, in the semifinals against Barcelona, 3-1 at San Siro and 1-0 in the Camp Nou. Finally, 2-0 against Bayern Munchen in the final match, played in Madrid.

It was his last game with Inter before signing for Real Madrid. With Whites he has reached the semifinals in his first two seasons, winning the group stage in both. In this season, Mourinho's team will play the first knock-out round against an opponent to be determined, and that in the worst case could be Bayern Munchen (the tormentor last season) or Manchester United. Shakhtar and Juventus would be hard teams, but less complicated. The other options are Porto or PSG (group A) and Schalke or Arsenal (group B). Potential rivals, although they seem far from the level of the major candidates to lift the trophy in the final at Wembley, on 25 May 2013.

Manchester City 1 - 1 Real Madrid (Champions League, Day 5)

Real Madrid drew against Manchester City in their first official visit to the English team and sealed their qualification to the Champions League round of 16. The Whites, who had an outstanding first half in which they shot 12 times, went in at halftime with an advantage following Benzema’s goal, but the Citizens equalised the match in the second half after Agüero converted an unjust penalty that involved the expulsion of Arbeloa. The Whites endured almost 20 minutes a man down (the referee added five minutes) at the Etihad Stadium, where the home team made it 20 matches unbeaten in European competition, and sealed their place in the next round in Mourinho’s 100th Champions League match.

Khedira and Benzema celebrate the goal against Manchester City
Karim Benzema scored the Real Madrid goal

The champions of the two biggest leagues in the world faced one another with two very different objectives. Real Madrid were looking to qualify for the round of 16 and trying to do so as group leaders, while City were playing for sheer survival in the continental showpiece. A defeat at the Etihad Stadium would have meant that they were virtually out of the tournament. Aware of their opponents’ greater needs and the support given to the English team off of the pitch, Real Madrid started with the premise of keeping possession of the ball and wearing the Citizens down.

Those tactics worked like a charm in the first half for Jose Mourinho, who today became centenarian in the competition. Di María, who along with Khedira was one of the changes to the Portuguese’s starting line-up from the last match, passed from the right in the 10th minute to Benzema who put the ball into the net with his first touch. 0-1. Real Madrid made tournament history by becoming the only team to have scored in 15 consecutive away matches and the Frenchman was up to his old tricks again after his display against Athletic.

From that moment onwards City disappeared from the match and the Whites kept increasing their superiority. In fact, the visitors had three chances to extend their lead in just four minutes. Khedira, very active throughout the match, had the first two following accurate Ronaldo crosses from the left, but both of the German’s shots went wide: the first with his right foot in the 13th minute and the second with his head minutes later. Nevertheless, the clearest fell at the boots of the Portuguese in a move almost identical to the one that ended in a goal at the Signal Iduna Park against Borussia Dortmund. A great pass in behind the centre backs by Xabi Alonso (in Germany it was Özil who made the pass) and the Portuguese found himself alone in front of Hart in the 16th minute. His subsequent chip only failed to produce a goal thanks to the good fortune of Nastasic, who cleared the ball off of the line. The attacking display was forceful and Real Madrid who created almost all of the dangerous moves of the first half, went into the break having had 12 shots (including seven on goal) against only three from their opponents (one on target).

The script of the match changed completely in the second half. Manchester City their lines pushed forward and the match became more end-to-end. The home team, which on 60 minutes had three forwards on the pitch (Agüero, Dzeko and Tévez), went for broke and left gaps at the back that Real Madrid tried to take advantage of on the counterattack. Khedira, following another Ronaldo cross was again close to scoring with his head, but Hart caught the ball in the 57th minute. The warning from the visitors livened up the home team. A Maicon cross-shot found Agüero alone in front of goal at the far post. A miraculous Casillas blocked the shot in the 64th minute and prevented the scores from being brought level.

He could not do the same again nine minutes later. Gianluca Rocchi gave a penalty for a nonexistent Arbeloa shirt-tug against Agüero and also showed a second yellow to Whites’ academy player. The Argentine converted from the sport and Mourinho immediately replaced Benzema, who left the field in some discomfort, with Varane. From then until the end, Real Madrid suffered for 20 minutes with ten men (the referee added five minutes), but earned a valuable draw at the Etihad Stadium which means that they qualify for the round of 16.


Stadium: Etihad Stadium
Attendance: 47,826
Goals: 0-1 min. 10 Benzema; 1-1 min. 74 Agüero (pen).


Real Madrid 5 - 1 Athletic Bilbao (Spanish League, Day 12)

Real Madrid are in cruise control in the league. The Whites thrashed Athletic, last season’s cup and Europa League runners-up, entertained the Bernabéu and secured their fifth straight win in the championship four days before the important Champions League match against City. The match was an attacking exhibition from the home team, who scored five goals, smashed the ball against the woodwork and saw two of the Basque side’s defenders make goal line stops preventing the advantage being even greater. An Aurtenetxe own goal and goals from Ramos and Benzema had settled the match in just over half an hour. Ibai, just before half-time, reduced the arrears, but Özil and Khedira in the second half closed out the match. The Frenchman deserved a special mention on his return to the pitch: he made the first goal, scored the third, and got the assist for the fourth and provoked a constant feeling of fear in the opposing defence. The ovation that his fans gave when he was replaced by Morata spoke for itself.

Benzema with Pepe celebrate a goal
Karim Benzema celebrating his goal against Athletic Bilbao

Real Madrid returned to the Santiago Bernabeu eleven days after their previous home match. It has been impregnable so far this season, and was once again with Benzema and Modric as the changes in Mourinho’s eleven following last weekend’s important victory in the City of Valencia Stadium. It was a combination of these two players that put Real Madrid ahead in the 12th minute. A precision pass from the Croatian from inside his own half which the Frenchman took out of the air on the edge of the area and Aurtenetxe, whilst attempting to clear the ball, chipped the ball over Iraizoz, who is half way out of his goal. It was the first chance of the match for the Whites. Ronaldo, on two consecutive occasions (4th and 5th minutes), and Callejón in the 7th minute had chances before the goal.

The goal spurred the home team on greatly who had played the first fifteen minutes well enough to deserve a bigger advantage on the scoreboard. Another chance for Ronaldo came in the 13th minute and an even clearer one for Callejon, who bamboozled the centre-back Ekiza on the goal-line and went around the visitors’ keeper but couldn’t score. Athletic tried to improve their game by concentrating on ball control, but their goal was still under constant threat. The next chance didn’t come from any of the attacking players, instead it was Ramos, who joined the attack from a corner taken by Özil and forced Iraizoz into making a miraculous one-handed save in the 23rd minute. It was the prelude to the second goal of the night, which came seven minutes later. The play was similar to the earlier one. Özil took the free-kick and Ramos full length diving header gave him his first Real Madrid goal of the season.

The match looked to be decided and soon took the home team increased the lead in what was a work of art. In the 32nd minute, Xabi Alonso, smarter than anyone, took quick free-kick on the edge of the area, Callejón controlled the ball and gave it to Benzema. The Frenchman received the ball with his back to goal and with Ekiza on top of him, he set up the ball and with the outside of his foot and from out wide he turned and beat Iraizoz with a beautiful left-footed curler. The Frenchman could not have be more precise on his return to the field: he caused the first goal and scored the third in just over half an hour of play (later getting the assist to the fourth scored by Özil), combined well with his teammates and caused a constant feeling of fear in the opposing defence. The match seemed settled and came even closer to being so following cross from Ronaldo that Callejón his against the post, but Athletic did not want to give up so soon and Ibai, in the first shot on goal from the visitors reduced the deficit in the 42nd minute. 3-1. The advantage at the break was significant, but not unassailable.

The first chances of the second half, despite Bielsa opting to bring on Llorente and play with two strikers, were for the home team. The tireless Ronaldo, who played despite the injury that he suffered from the elbow he received against Levante, shot again from the edge of the area, but Iraizoz caught the ball. The Whites did not miss in the next dangerous play which came in the 58th minute. Benzema controlled the ball with his heel outside the area, and saw the arrival of Özil out of the corner of his eye and puts the ball on a plate for German who only had to put it to the net. 4-1 and Real Madrid were enjoying playing in their stadium. Benzema display was lethal and the Frenchman almost got another deserved goal but Aurtenetxe made a goal line clearance. The Frenchman’s control with the outside of his foot and chip over the visiting keeper in the 58th minute deserved a better outcome.

Khedira, who had replaced his compatriot Özil in 60th minute, did manage to get another. The German received the ball from Arbeloa, who controlled the flanks dangerously throughout the match, and with his first shot on goal in the 72nd beat Iraizoz at the far post. 5-1 and, as Ramos did in the first half, the German international opened his goal-scoring account this season. Two minutes later Mourinho took off Benzema for Morata and the ovation that the Bernabéu gave them both was thunderous. It was deserved for a team that secured its fifth straight win in the league just four days before the important Champions League match against Manchester City.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 76,000
Goals: 1-0, m.12: Aurtenetxe (o.g.). 2-0, m.30: Ramos. 3-0, m.32: Benzema. 3-1, m.42: Ibai Gomez. 4-1, m.56: Özil. 5-1, m.67: Khedira.


Levante 1 - 2 Real Madrid (Spanish League, Day 11)

Real Madrid played their seventh game in just over three weeks (one game every three days) in Valencia. The Whites were able to overcome four important injuries, a pitch that made passing the ball extremely difficult due to the heavy rainfall that the city experienced throughout the day and a stadium where no team has been able to beat the home side (they have won 8 times and drawn once). Ronaldo, who was taken off after the first half possibly due to the wound he suffered to his eyebrow caused by David Navarro at the beginning of the encounter, put the visitors ahead in the twenty-first minute and Angel, halfway through the second half, brought the teams level. The Whites, who missed a penalty and hit the crossbar twice, settled the match in the eighty-fourth minute, once again from a free kick. Morata, who had substituted Özil one minute earlier, headed Xabi Alonso’s free kick with his first touch of the ball on his debut in the first team and sealed the fourth consecutive victory in the championship before the international break.

Cristiano Ronaldo with the wound he suffered in his eyebrow
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal with the wound he suffered in his eyebrow 

Jose Mourinho made up for the injuries to Higuaín and Benzema by playing Ronaldo as a centre forward, although at times he switched positions with Callejon and Di María. The formula supplied the desired result in a match that started with another incident and not just because of the pitch, which made playing football complicated. Ronaldo, who had the first chance of the match with a shot from an angle that Munua stopped in the second minute, was struck by the elbow of David Navarro when jumping for the ball and began to bleed from the injury. Ronaldo was attended to by the doctors on the sidelines for five minutes before returning to the field.

The Portuguese did not let the home side off the hook with the next chance that fell to him. A free kick taken by Xabi Alonso was cleared by David Navarro, who got ahead of Pepe, but only into the six-yard area. Ronaldo, well-positioned, controlled it with his thigh and fired it past Munua without letting the ball tough the ground in the twenty-first minute. 0-1 and the Portuguese, who is now the seventh best goal scorer in the club’s history in the championship (124 goals), scored a goal in one of the few stadiums where he had not scored in La Liga.

The match lacked chances, the pitch preventing them on many occasions, and the best alternative was free kicks, but the intensity of the match was severe. The fight for each free ball was immense and the two teams gave their all in search of their teams respective interests. Ramos’s attempt in the forty-second minute after a cross from Callejon was the last chance of note in the first half. Real Madrid headed to the changing rooms with the slightest of advantages, but an extremely important advantage given the difficult playing conditions.

The second half began with a change and a scare. Ronaldo, probably due to the spectacular blow he received to his left eyelid, was replaced by Albiol and, in the first minute of the second half Levante were the first team to create a chance. A powerful strike by Juanlu from 20 metres brought a spectacular stretching save from Casillas. The Whites did not take long to respond and did so three times in one minute. A long ball to Di María was played on to Callejon, whose shot was cleared by Munua for a corner in the fifty-sixth minute. The Argentine took the resulting corner and attempted to surprise the home side’s goalkeeper with a shot from the corner, but once again the Uruguayan cleared. Another corner and another chance. Özil took the corner on this occasion and Pepe, on his own in the six-yard area, headed it and hit the crossbar having beaten the home side’s goalkeeper.

This was Real Madrid’s best period of play and only the posts prevented the visitors from scoring. Munua failed to clear another corner kick, which was taken by Di Maria, and the ball was loose among a sea of legs. Ramos backheeled intelligently, but the ball ricocheted off Diop and hit the crossbar once again in the sixtieth minute. It was the second time the crossbar had prevented the Whites from scoring in barely four minutes. Di Maria also had an opportunity in the sixty-first minute, but failed to hit the target after beating the goalkeeper with a chip.

This all took place in the build to the equaliser, which was undeserved due to what was taking place on the pitch. A long ball found Martins, who passed the ball to Angel, who beat Casillas with a chipped shot in the one-on-one in the sixty-second minute. Mourinho didn’t take long to react, removing Arbeloa from the match and bringing on Kaka; more attacking force in an attempt to push for victory. The Brazilian’s first touch provided Callejon with an opportunity to score, but the reserve team player was brought down from behind and Muñiz Fernandez pointed to the penalty spot. Xabi Alonso took the penalty, which was saved by Munua in the seventy-second minute.

Alvaro Morata scored the goal of the victory

From that moment until the end of the match the visitors continued to create chances and the deserved goal arrived eventually. Morata, who had replaced Özil in the eighty-third minute, settled the encounter with his first touch of the ball. The goal came, once again, from a free kick. Xabi Alonso took the free kick and the reserve team player headed the ball on his debut in the first team and sealed the victory before the international break.


Stadium: Ciudad de Valencia
Attendance: 25,354
Goals: 0-1 min.25 Cristiano Ronaldo; 1-1 min. 63 Angel; 1-2 min. 85 Morata.


Real Madrid 2 - 2 B. Dortmund (Champions League, Day 4)

Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund played an exciting match in the Bernabeu. The Whites were losing until the 89th minute, but managed to equalise in a match that they deserved to win from what they showed in the second half. Reus put the visitors ahead in the 28th minute and, as happened in Dortmund, Real Madrid needed little time to level up the match. Pepe, five minutes later, scored his first goal for Real Madrid in the Champions League. On half-time, luck was against the team and Arbeloa, whilst attempting to clear the ball, scored the away team’s second goal. The second half was one-sided in favour of the home team their effort got what it deserved with a great Özil goal from a direct free-kick. The Whites, who had a goal from Callejon wrongfully disallowed, are just one point off of the lead and are ahead of their next two opponents Ajax and Manchester City who are on three on five points respectively. All to play for in the 'group of death'.

Casillas on the field after receiving the second goal of Borussia Dortmund
Real Madrid could not defeat Dortmund for the second time

League champions and top scorer this season's Champions League against the Bundesliga winners and one of the few remaining unbeaten teams in the competition. A great night of football was on offer in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium and the match did not disappoint anyone. With Varane and Xabi Alonso as the only changes from the previous match, Real Madrid made their intentions clear from the beginning. In fact, Higuaín had the first chance of the match following a long pass from Ramos but he missed by inches in a one-on-one with Weidenfeller. The Germans did not flinch at this initial warning and they continued to play their own game with the ball at their feet.

The match was balanced, exciting and very back and forth. It was played at a frantic pace and the chances came one after another. Schmelzer, following a great assist from Reus, found himself in front of Casillas, but the Whites’ ‘keeper successfully stopped the shot in the 9th minute. The home team had an opportunity 13 minutes later. Higuain’s lay off for Ronaldo who he arriving in the area, but the Portuguese’s shot went over the bar.

Everything indicated that there were goals on there way. That is what happened, although it was the Germans who struck first in the 28th minute. A long pass which was flicked on with a head from Lewandowski and Reus controlled the ball with his chest and finished with a sharply taken volley. 0-1 and everything going against the home team. It was the moment to react and the Whites did so, as they did in the previous match played in Dortmund. In Signal Iduna Park the reply came two minutes later, today it took four more to level the match. Varane won the ball on the edge of the opposition’s penalty area and played the ball to Özil, who crossed from the right wing. Pepe, who had gone up for the corner in the preceding passage of the play, finished with a header. 1-1 and the Portuguese’s first goal in the Champions League for Real Madrid. The defender kissed the club’s crest in celebration and lifted the Santiago Bernabeu crowd who increased the decibels hoping for the winning goal.

Real Madrid pressed and tried to put the Borussia on the ropes, but when it seemed as though the break would arrive with the scores level, the Germans’ second goal came. It was very similar to the away team’s first goal. Hummels again cleared the ball long and Lewandowski flicked it on. The ball fell at the feet of Grosskreutz, who played a perfect first touch pass for the arriving Götze. The Whites had some bad luck as Arbeloa, whilst attempting to clear the ball, put it passed Casillas in the 45th minute.

Real Madrid made two changes at the break. Mourinho brought on Essien and Callejón for Modric and Higuaín, who had been clutching the back of the leg repeatedly during the first half. The Whites’ academy player needed just two minutes to score, but the goal was wrongfully ruled-out for offside. The Whites were completely blowing Borussia away. Real Madrid had two more chances inside the first quarter of an hour, both falling to the newly introduced Callejón, but he shot wide with the first in the 49th and straight at Weidenfeller with the other in the 60th minute.

The Whites’ coach, bravely went for broke and brought off Arbeloa for Kaka in the 76th minute. Three minutes later the Brazilian took the ball into the box and handed laid it off to Di Maria, who tried a pass with the outside of his foot and Ronaldo, in front of goal, saw his shot stopped by an inspired by Weidenfeller. The home side’s dominance was overwhelming and the Whites continued to great chances. Bad luck prevented them getting the equalising goal. That is the only way to explain how they did not score in the 85th minute. Callejon shot from inside the area and with the goalkeeper beaten Schmelzer appeared on the goal line and cleared the ball. The Whites did not give up and their efforts got their deserved reward in the 89th minute with a great goal for Özil from a direct free-kick. Another epic win was on, but it was not possible. Real Madrid, who are only one point off of the lead, are three points ahead of Ajax and five in front of Manchester City, who are their next two opponents.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 76,000
Goals: 0-1, m.28: Reus; 1-1, m.35: Pepe; 1-2, m.45: Arbeloa (o.g.); 2-2, m.88: Özil.
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