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.
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