Danger: Xabi Alonso has to rest

Xabi Alonso has to stop before the risk of further injury and the worst consequences: a major break. The inflammation he suffers in the pelvis area is important and, at this point in the season, the only treatment is rest, which will require little training.

Xabi Alonso talking to Jose Mourinho during a Champions League match
Xabi Alonso and Jose Mourinho

Mourinho has a problem with the player because the pubis injury he suffers begins to be important. The Spanish Midfielder played with a sharp pain the game against Manchester United, especially when coming in contact with the ball and did it with the inside of the foot, a technical gesture which requires more effort from the muscles in the injured area.

If Xabi Alonso could start the match it was because from a few days ago his workouts are softer, due to a good work of physiotherapeutic discharge and possibly with the help of anti-inflammatory used to reduce the intense pain. After the match against Manchester United, Xabi Alonso suffered heavy pains. A kind of pain which does not allow everyday moves like bending over to tie the shoes. Even a simple sneeze becomes a pain.

Cristiano Ronaldo misses a strike partner

Neither cat nor dog, or anything else like it. The Real Madrid played the entire game against Manchester without a decent '9' in the field. Any resemblance between Benzema and Higuain with what was seen in the Bernabeu is purely coincidental. Without the help of a strike partner, Cristiano Ronaldo is guarded by the opposing team, so he cannot find spaces or opportunities, something that affects the Portuguese player and the whole team.

Higuain replaces Benzema in front of Mourinho
Higuain replaces Benzema last Wednesday

As in all big games the last two seasons Benzema started the clash but wandered across the lawn with the body present. His lack of intensity, his indolence in pressure the opponent and his desperate lack of character made ​​him an insignificant player in the white attack, a dead weight that appeared and disappeared as if by magic.

Benzema played 59 minutes, with the next shocking figures; a shot, a play in the rival area, a cross to the opposite area, two steals, six turnovers and an assist. Then came Higuain, who did not improve at all like his predecessor on the grass. It was the first Mourinho's change when the white team cried out for a more midfielder (Modric) to give some air to an exhausted Real Madrid.

'Pipita' Higuain demonstrated again that the European Champions League is not his thing. He moved more than Benzema, but not better. He made some interesting moves to the wings, but never generated danger or concern in the Manchester United defensive line. Higuain played 31 minutes, with these numbers; two shots (one on goal), a play in the rival area, three crosses in the opposite goal area, two losses and no recovery. Cristiano Ronaldo needs more. A little bit more.


1-1: Real Madrid's curse in Europe

The four times that Real Madrid got the result of 1-1 at home in the first leg of a European competition knockout round, never managed to go round. A fact not encouraging for the visit of next March to English soil to face an almost Premier champion, Manchester United.

Butragueño vs PSV goalkeeper 1987/88 season
1987/88 season: Real Madrid could not defeat PSV Eindhoven

The precedents are the next: Semifinals of the European Cup of the season 75-76 against Bayern Munchen. Drawn match in the first leg at the Bernabeu and in the second leg the German team won 2-1. Season 87-88, Real Madrid got the same result in the white stadium against PSV. In the second leg the result was 0-0. The Dutch entered the final of the European Cup and won it against Benfica. That year, Real Madrid eliminated Bayern Munich, Napoli and Porto, by that time, current champions of the competition.

One season later, after tying 1-1 on the first leg of the semifinals of the European Cup against Milan, the Italian team defeated Real Madrid 5-0, an historic result in the second leg. And finally, in the quarterfinals of the season 98-99, Dynamo Kiev was the team that knocked Real Madrid by 2-0 in the second leg. Andriy Shevchenko was the star of that Ukranian team.

Now Real Madrid will face its decisive week in few days. On February 26, Mourinho's team will play the second leg of the Spanish Cup semifinal against Barcelona. On March 2, at the Camp Nou, white team could give away the title of the Spanish League to Barcelona and on March 5 at Old Trafford, a decisive match in the European cometition. We'll see.

Real Madrid 1 - 1 Manchester United (Champions League, Last-16, 1st Leg)

Real Madrid kept trying until the end but will travel to Manchester following a 1-1 draw that does not reflect what was seen on the field at the Santiago Bernabeu. In fact, the Whites, who hit the post in the first half, had 28 shots, 14 of them on target. An incredible amount. The great performance by De Gea, who had one of the best matches of his career, was testament to that. Welbeck, with the English team’s first shot on goal, put the visitors in front in the 20th minute. The corner should not have been given as it was Kagawa who touched the ball last before it went out of play. Ten minutes later Cristiano Ronaldo levelled the match with his head in a moment that was reminiscent of the goal that won his team the last cup title against Barcelona. The Whites deserved more. It will all be decided at Old Trafford.

Cristiano Ronaldo against Manchester United
Real Madrid will play for passage in Manchester

A great match in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Real Madrid and Manchester United played each other in the stand out tie of the Champions League round of 16 and the match did not disappoint anyone. It was a delight to watch because of the style of play, levels of performance and entertainment value. Neither team went out on to the field to leave anything to chance. Even less the home team, who after five minutes of play had already had three shots and found the post with the last one. Khedira in the 2nd minute and Di Maria in the 4th were the players that had the first two scoring chances while Coentrao had the most noteworthy. A Cristiano Ronaldo cross that Ferdinand cleared before the Whites’ left back hit the ball with his right foot. De Gea’s finger-tip save and the post prevented the first goal of the match but not the home crowds’ roars of support, which reached boiling point and gave even further encouragement to their team.


Real Madrid vs Manchester United: Offensive power

Few matches in the world can have a greater offensive talent than the Real Madrid vs Manchester United of this Wednesday. The White trident, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, will try to minimize the damage can cause the 'Red Devils' offense, in which the sensational Van Persie shines.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuain, Benzama, Van Persie, Rooney, Chicharito
Real Madrid vs Manchester United: Offensive men

The Dutchman has achieved, in just half a year, a seat on the altars of the Old Trafford fans. He has scored 23 goals in 31 games and leads the offensive flow of a team that, after his arrival, has relocated Wayne Rooney behind the striker position. From the second line, the England international adds 13 goals, one ahead of Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez. The Mexican is the United player that best uses his minutes: 12 goals in 20 games.

The three ofensive men of ManU have scored 48 goals. A remarkable figure, but still far from the offensive production of Real Madrid: 58. Cristiano's fault, of course: 36 goals in 35 games, the sixth-leading scorer in the history of Real Madrid in just three and a half seasons.

The formidable scoring contribution of the Portuguese player minimizes the irregularity of his offensive fellows. Benzema adds the same goals than Rooney (13), but has played eight more games (32). And Gonzalo Higuain has scored 1 less goal than Chicharito: 9 in 19 games.

Last season, the Real Madrid forwards got a stratospheric mark: 118 goals. Cristiano Ronaldo scored 60, Benzema 32 and 'Pipa' Higuain 22. The production of the current Manchester United attack was not bad: 83 goals. Van Persie scored 37 goals (still playing for Arsenal), Rooney 34 and the Javier Hernandez's son 12. Although it is considered certain that each team will start with only two of their three forwards in their starting team, it seems that the lack of scoring is not going to be a problem at the Bernabeu tonight.


Mourinho vs Ferguson: 6-3

Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson will cross again four years after their last meeting. It took place in the Champions League 08-09, and fortune smiled on the Scottish coach, who beat with his Manchester United the new Inter Milan of the Portuguese manager. But, on the balance of individual duels, the current Real Madrid coach commands clearly.

Moruinho and Ferguson Face to Face
Mourinho and Ferguson

Mourinho and Ferguson have faced as coaches a total of 14 times. Six wins for the citizen of Setubal, three for the Glasgow's Sir and five draws. A rivalry that began in 2004 and, although they now have good relationship, sharing good wines, there were moments of real tension.

Mourinho was soon a stone in the shoe for the 'boss' of Old Trafford. In 2004, his Porto eliminated Man.United in the last-16 round of the Champions League; 2-1 for the Portuguese at Do Dragao Stadium what looked like a affordable comeback for the English. It could be, thanks to a goal from Paul Scholes, but Costinha, in added time, taking advantage of a mistake from Tim Howard gave the pass to the Lusitanian. Cristiano, who had come down the stretch to try to close the game, had to leave injured within minutes. "That day we were convinced we could win the Champions League," Mourinho recalled some years later. So it was, his first title came three months against AS Monaco in the final at Genselkirchen.

With Chelsea, Mourinho extended his unbeaten run against Ferguson during four more matches. In his first game in England (2004), 1-0 for the Blues, who returned to smile after a knockout round in the League Cup (0-0 in London, 1-2 in Manchester). They came back to Premier and new triumph of Chelsea (1-3), for winning the title and bring it to the Stamford Bridge showcases half a century later.

In the next season came the first victory of the 'Red Devils', 1-0 in Premier. But Chelsea hit back in the second round (3-0), a match which, again, left Mourinho very close to a second consecutive league title.

A year later (2006-07), Manchester United rose significantly its performance. It was the first major Cristiano's campaign at Old Trafford. Both Premier games were finished with two draws, although the title moved back to the hands of Manchester. Chelsea took revenge in the final of the FA Cup (1-0, Drogba). In their last duel in England, the ManU won the Community Shield on penalties after a goalless draw in regulation and extra time.

The last confrontation between Sir Alex and Mourinho came in 2009, again in the last-16 round of the Champions League. Man United, reigning champions, managed a goalless draw at the San Siro Stadium and defeated the Italians 2-0 at Old Trafford with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Vidic. United, which defended the title of European champion achieved in 2008 against Avram Grant's Chelsea, could not revalidate crown, which was for Barcelona in the final in Rome. It was the last game of Cristiano, the other star of this triangle, as 'Red devil'. On Wednesday, four years later, the trio reconvenes at the Bernabeu.


Real Madrid vs Manchester United: Tickets sold out

Nights of European Champions League at the Bernabeu Stadium are special and next Wednesday in the match against Manchester United, fans attending the game will relive the magic (8.45 pm). With two days for clash, there are not tickets available to see United and Real Madrid fight for passing round. Ferguson's men against Mourinho's men. Although the prices are a deterrent, 70 euros the cheapest and 235 the most expensive, Real Madrid fans will not fail the team. Late yesterday, only became available a VIP ticket of 690 euros. But, this Wednesday will go on sale at the stadium box office all those tickets that some Real Madrid members will not take, releasing them before the match.

Bernabeu Stadium full during a European Champions League match
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium will be full on Wednesday

The Bernabeu stadium will be full for the second time this season. The first was against Atletico on December 1. The resale business online is already starting to work for the visit of the English club. They sell tickets for 550 euros and it would not be surprising as the match approaches, these prices go up and even multiply. Last season the only important team that visited the Bernabeu in the Champions League was Bayern Munchen (Real Madrid played the first knockout round against CSKA and quarterfinals against Cypriot APOEL) and white stadium also hung the sign 'No tickets'. Against the Bavarians, this was a semifinal round, prices were set by the club from 60 to 325 euros. The resale also increased them on internet and the cost of tickets reached the thousand euros.

Ramos: "Man United is not only Rooney and Van Persie"

Picture the scene. A hush around the stadium as you walk, alone. Halfway line to penalty spot. It is the semi-final of the European Championship, the opportunity to achieve something no other team has achieved, but the country does not live in hope so much as expectation. It is level in the shootout, you are taking the fourth. Miss and you are practically out, a failure. You know that because you have been here before, two months ago almost to the day: a European semi-final, the fourth penalty, the long walk.

Sergio Ramos sad in the Bernabeu Stadium after missing a penalty
Sergio Ramos after missing a penalty kick against Bayer Munchen

That time, you sent the ball flying over the bar and into a million jokes. Even the Bayern Munich goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, joined in. Your miss put Real Madrid out. The European Cup final, gone. It is a decade since they have been there, 10 years waiting for the 10th title, and you have barely stopped thinking about it. Now here you are again. From Madrid in April, Bayern versus Real, to Donetsk in June, Spain versus Portugal. The pressure is asphyxiating. You run up and …

Sergio Ramos's grin grows wider as each layer is peeled away, reaching that moment. And you go and dink it?! You do a Panenka. Ramos has a tattoo, in English and borrowed from Nelson Mandela, that declares him the owner of an "unconquerable soul, master of my own destiny". He says he also had a thorn there, removed when his penalty famously floated gently into the net; catharsis is not the half of it.

He is laughing now. "That moment marks you forever, after the Champions League experience and everything people said. In those moments when the pressure and responsibility is overwhelming, I've always stood up. When I planted my left foot, the ball lifted and my right foot went under the ball. It wasn't that I was nervous or bottled it and it hurt that people said that. When I got home that night, I said to my dad and brother Rene: the next penalty, Panenka. You'll see. They'll soon shut up."

Mourinho already has team to face Manchester United

It does just one round after the defeat against Sevilla in the Pizjuan Stadium, Mourinho claimed that he had no team. Now, he finally seems to have recovered it. Physically and psychologically. Because Mourinho has no doubt that against Manchester United, as happened against Barcelona, will be the Real Madrid, not the team that is 16 points behind in the Spanish competition.

For the first time since October, Mourinho has jumped to Valdebebas lawn and has met with 24 players in the morning training. Something almost paranormal in recent times has happened today at 11:00 am. Two days for the match against Manchester, the Portuguese manager has all his players available. Only Iker Casillas, now successfully replaced by Diego Lopez, lives in the infirmary of the white team.

Scheme with the Real Madrid starting lineup
Real Madrid starting lineup to face Manchester United

So, Mourinho can finally handle all possible alternatives to make the team that will face Red Devils, and the wide range of players he has at his disposal is letting him bet on his eleventh gala. The same team that won the last League at the Nou Camp (Barcelona) last season.

This means that at 8.40 pm on Wednesday, the players who will parade through the tunnel of locker room to jump to the lawn will be: Diego Lopez, Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrao, Xabi Alonso, Khedira, Di Maria, Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema . Mourinho's most used team with the only absence of Marcelo, still out of shape for the big battles.


Cristiano Ronaldo's killer instinct: 14 goals in 2013

We run out of adjectives to describe the killer instinct of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese is not content with being the Real Madrid leader and one of the best players in the world. So far 2013, is exceeding all his personal records. With the three goals against Sevilla, he has scored 13 so far this year with white team. A lot. He made a brace against Real Sociedad on January 6, scored a hat-trick against Celta in the Spanish Cup competition, scored two in Valencia in the first half of a league match, another three against Getafe at the Bernabeu and, finally, the three last night. Of these only one was scored with a penalty kick (Getafe). In addition, he also scored another with his national team against Ecuador. In Granada managed one more. But that does not count because he did not want to. It was his first own goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates a goal with Real Madrid jersey
Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo was grieved by what happened in Granada, where he scored for the first time in his career own goal, and displayed his potential against Sevilla. His first goal was a truly great goal with his left foot from outside the area, a howitzer against which Beto could do nothing. In the second part he scored again with his left foot after a misunderstanding in the Sevilla defense. The Portuguese strike has taken a liking to score with his left with which he has achieved 7 of his last 13 goals. The third came after completing a counterattack, an authentic stampede that Cristiano Ronaldo ended scoring his third goal after a great assist from Higuain.

Real Madrid 4 - 1 Sevilla (Spanish League, Day 23)

Real Madrid did not give Sevilla a chance and midway through the first half the match had already been decided. The Whites sealed the win thanks to a great performance from Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a hat-trick, drew level with Gento as the club’s all-time sixth highest scorer and came off of the field to an ovation in the 63rd minute. Benzema opened the scoring in the 17th minute and the Portuguese, widened the gap seven minutes later, following a wonderful step-over and with an unstoppable left-footed shot. In the second half, and inside just 13 minutes, the Portuguese put the match to bed with two more goals. For the last, he started the counter-attack, driving forward with the ball for 50 metres and then putting the ball into the back of the net from a pass from Higuain, who was later sent off for a second yellow card. Pepe’s first appearance of 2013 was another of the match’s positive pieces of news. A rout and a morale booster four days prior to the Champions League match against Manchester United.

Cristiano Ronaldo happy with his hat-trick against Sevilla in the Bernabeu Stadium
Cristiano Ronaldo led the team against Sevilla

Real Madrid and Sevilla, two of the four cup semi-finalists, faced one another at the Bernabeu four days before the match against Manchester United. The Whites, who before the start of the match had strung together 32 matches unbeaten in their own stadium, came into the contest ready to add another win and extend their streak, the best in Europe. Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2nd minute free-kick and the sense of superiority on the pitch was testament to that ambition. Kaka was the next to have an opportunity to open the scoring but his powerful effort towards the bottom corner in the tenth minute was forced wide by Beto’s fists. The Brazilian was also instrumental in the next dangerous attack. His precision ball to Ronaldo from a counter-attack meant that the Andalusian team’s goalkeeper once again had to intervene against his international teammate in the 14th minute. In the first quarter of an hour, the Whites had already had three chances and Sevilla had not had a single shot on goal.

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