The past few months have carried on like an eulogy for Jose Mourinho and this Real Madrid side. There have been rumor after rumor of Mourinho returning to England, which he has seemed to constantly flirt with like some street corner hooker, which to be fair is not too far off … he’s seen better days. We’ve also witnessed story after story about Ronaldo being unhappy. One minute CR7 is heading back to Manchester, and the next he’s off to PSG. Rumors of a clear out have been circulating with names like Di Maria, Benzema, etc. moving on to clear out space. We’ve even already started on the Bale rumors to come in and give the club what it obvious needs … yet another attacking player.
Many pundits have been making a huge deal out of this stretch of games, playing Barcelona three times and Manchester United twice within roughly a month. With Barca having a seemingly insurmountable lead in La Liga, its down to the Copa del Rey and the Champions League for Madrid to get a trophy out of this season. In the league, Madrid have simply been awful. Its over, and the players are playing like it is. After their 1-1 draw at home to both Barcelona in the Copa del Rey, and to Manchester United in the Champions League, its put Madrid’s season at a tipping point. Two high profile exits at this point would spell disaster and, the worst part for Mourinho, a terrible legacy. Yes, winning the league last year and knocking Barca “off their perch” is an accomplishment, but nothing to have Madrid fans chanting his name for years to come. No, the only thing for that is to win that coveted 10th Champions League. If nothing else, Mourinho has to win something this season. If this is to be his last season in Madrid, he can’t leave empty handed. Make sure to utilize this great information for football betting.
While much of the build up to today’s match consisted of talking heads speculating that the match today, and Saturday’s league match, would be tame classicos by comparison. However, someone forgot that Mourinho was on the sideline, the man with a determination far above a mere mortals. This Madrid side came to Camp Nou to win, and win they did … in style. In the 13th minute Ronaldo sprung behind Barcelona’s backline drawing a clear penalty in the box when Pique lost his mind for a moment and slid in for the tackle. Ronaldo calmly converted from the spot to give Madrid a 1-0 lead on the night and a 2-1 lead on aggregate. The rest of the first half played out much the same way it started. It was a very open match, but Madrid were clearly the better side. I don’t know if Barca were still recovering from their loss to AC Milan in the Champions League, or if its simply a mid season slump, but they looked completely out of sorts tonight. Making bad passes, losing out on 50/50s, and always being a step slower around the park. The one exception I thought was Alves. He stood his ground all match and dispossessed Ronaldo with ease on multiple occasions.
Starting off the 2nd half it looked like Barca were going to get back in the match peppering the Madrid goal and drawing some fine saves from Diego Lopez, who has proved to be the under-rated signing of the season in my opinion. That momentum was quickly squashed in the 57th minutes when a sucker punch of a counter attack sprung Di Maria, who completely embarrassed Puyol while getting a shot on target that rebounded out to Ronaldo to slot home, 2-0 Madrid. From this point on you just wondered how bad this beating was going to get. In the 68th minute, Madrid added another to make it 3-0 via a corner with Varane heading in. In what is increasing looking like a world class defender, Varane continues to give Pepe a few sleepless nights knowing he has this guy to contend with. Finally in the 89th minute, Jordi Alba got a consolation goal off a lovely volley to make it 3-1, where the game would end up with Real Madrid advancing 4-2 on aggregate.
Man of the Match: Di Maria
This may not be the conventional choice, but his pace and movement on the counter attacks proved to be the undoing of Barca. The game looked delicately positioned at 1-0 and Barca assaulting the Madrid goal, but Di Maria sealed the match with his work on the 2nd goal. He constantly created space for his teammates and pulled Barca defenders out of position. For me, he was the difference, Barca had no answer.
This is the Madrid side we all expected to see this year. You can tell they realize the gravity of whats in front of them. Regardless of their awful league form, if they can win the Copa del Rey, and bring home the coveted 10th Champions League title, this will not only be a successful season … but a historic one. Can you think of any other people that would be more important to than Ronaldo and Mourinho? Sets up for a lovely Champions League match at Old Trafford. If they come out like this, United will struggle to keep up.
This looked like a team who is tired. Slow reading of the game led to many errant passes and being caught out on counter attacks. Messi was completely invisible and one could be forgiven for even wondering if he was on the pitch. They have nothing to worry about in the league, but now they face the task of overcoming a 2-0 deficit to AC Milan in the Champions League. If they play like this against Milan, they will find themselves watching the next round from the comfort of their living rooms.