Jose Mourinho took Khedira with him to the press conference ahead of tonight`s quarter-final in Nicosia, Cyprus. Both showed great respect to the Cypriot side for ot`s history and the acheivements of recent years. This was after five days of silence from the Real Madrid camp following the events at Villareal. They did walk out without answering the last question, which was about the ” law of silence.”
Real will have to manage without Alonso, Lass and Di Maria tonight. Mourinho is expected to select four from the five most attacking players available.( Ronaldo,Benzema,Higuain,Kaka,Ozil ) Varane is likely to start in defense after his superb performance on saturday. To keep a good balance to the team is important so Coentrao, Khedira and Granero could well occupy midfield and ready to retreat to assist the defense when necessary.
All three strikers scored on saturday so it will be unlucky for one to be droppedbut Mourinho has shown slight preference to Benzema over Higuain, when both have been available. Real Madrid have no0t looked their best when playing defensively and Mourinho would love to have a semi-final place almost booked before the second leg at the Bernabeu.
Christiano returns to the stadium where he was taunted with shouts of “Messi, Messi,” while playing for Portugal in September.
Di Maria was probably fit enough to be in the squad but Mourinho has decided to wait until their next game against Osasuna.
After the avalanche of cards against Villareal, the team must be reorganised for tonights visit of Real Sociedad to the Bernabeu. A week ago this match was not seen as important, but after dropping four points and losing key players it is vital for Madrid to stop the rot and get all three points.
Pepe was banned for two matches for his post match comments in the tunnel. Faria, the trainer, also got a two match ban, while Mourinho and Ozil were banned for one game each. Somehow Sergio Ramos escaped a ban due to an error in the referee`s report. Lass also misses a match as he picked up his 5th yellow card.
The back four should be unchanged tonight but Varane will replace Pepe and Coentrao will play alongside Kaka in place of Ozil. Granero will come in for Lass and the formation of the team is likely to be more traditional than the diamond used in midweek.
Jose Mourinho will not be on the bench, Alonso looks physically drained and Casillas has made a couple of uncharacteristic slips recently so there is real pressure on the team. Having said that, Sociedad have their own problems with team selection and the forwards of Madrid are always capable of scoring. A decent performance should definitely bring hom the points.
Ronaldo is looking to score his 100th league goal for Madrid and, Should he do it tonight, in only 92 games it will be the quickest in their history. Puskas is the current fastest with 100 in 105 games.
What a disaster for all concerned with Real Madrid at El Madrigal stadium last night. Rui Faria, the trainer, was sent from the bench for dissent after 49 minutes. Ramos was expelled for a second yellow as was Jose Mourinho. Ozil was then expelled for disrespect, with Pepe being shown a red card for his outburst in the tunnel after the game.
Ther first half was unspectacular, Lass being the most effective player at the deepest point of a midfield diamond. This formation had to be changed after Lass received a yellow card. Marcos Senna had a good first half for Villareal, intelligent, strong in defense and good use of the ball.
Ronalso put Madrid into the lead in the 61st minute after a sublime through ball from Ozil. Madrid failed to push on and were, perhaps, content to keep what they had.
All hell broke loose in the last ten minutes. Ramos picked up a second yellow after 82 minutes, which led to the second yellow for Mourinho for dissent and Ozil was given a straight red for sarcstically clapping the referee.
Marco Senna then scored directly from the free kick, to which Casillas was a little slow to react to. Villareal were also denied a penalty after Arbeloa tugged Nilmar`s shirt in the area. If the rferee had seen it there may have been another red card.
The real Madrid players were fuming at the final whistle. Christiano was heard to say “they robbed us, they robbed us, just robbed us,” and Pepe is reported to have told Paradas Romero to ” go and mug someone you son of a bitch,” for which he was also expelled.
Neither coaching staff or players chose to comment publically because they could not trust their tempers.
Since Barcelona closed the gap at the top of la liga to eight points, the media have started talking about pressure and the possibility of Barcelona catching Madrid.
Lass, who played his first game for Madrid since February 5th on sunday was glad to be back in the team but disappointed with the result, if not his own contribution. He rallied Madrid supporters today stating that, “there is no fire at home,” meaning it was not that serious.
Jose Mourinho was calm at training, showing no anger or reproach to his players. He is insisting on confidence and focus. “There is hunger and mental strength. Enough not to worry.” He also put the onus on his rivals, saying ” Barca will have a problem being eight points adrift with only eleven games to play. It is they who should be nervous.”
There are a few worrying precedents. In the last sixteen league championships, Real Madrid have dropped at least eight points from this stage on thirteen occassions. They dropped exactly eight points from eleven games last season under Mourinho. But, this season they are a stronger and better team. Also, on many of the past seasons when they dropped alot of points they still won the league and were coasting to the end.
Even if Real were to drop eight points, Barcelona would still have to win every game between now and the end of the season. They also face a tougher draw in the champion`s league.
The next step for Mourinho`s men…beat Villareal tomorrow.
Real Madrid’s sports betting odds are directly tied with the fortunes of Cristiano Ronaldo, and while the speedy forward has been relatively injury free throughout his career, he is a worry for “Los Merengues” as they prepare for Wednesday’s massive Champions League clash with Lyon at the Bernabeu.
Ronaldo has 37 goals in 39 appearances for Madrid this season, but he’s been out with the past two matches because of a muscular injury suffered in a 7-0 thrashing of Malaga on March 3rd. Madrid hasn’t needed him, as they’ve won 3-1 at Racing Santander and a 2-0 victory over Hercules, but they’ll face a tougher task against the French giants on Wednesday. The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw at the Stade de Gerland, but it could have gone differently if a Ronaldo free kick hadn’t crashed off the crossbar. Manager Jose Mourinho believes that Ronaldo will be ready to go on Wednesday, and when he is in the side, Madrid is a different team. He’s one of the few players in the world who can win a game by himself, and games like these are the reason why Madrid paid Manchester United over $130 million for the Portuguese superstar, and with the extra time to rest after his injury, Ronaldo should be in the lineup for Madrid.
Lyon president Jean Michel Aulas thinks that Madrid, who have an away goal, will sit back and defend their slight lead, but Madrid is a different side at home, and they’ll be motivated by last year’s loss to Lyon at this stage of the Champions League. Look for Ronaldo to come out strong and see plenty of the ball in the early stages as Madrid look to set Lyon on the back foot, and they should go through to the next round.