Pepe: Real Madrid have to remain focused

Kepler Pepe - Real Madrid

Kepler Pepe – Real Madrid

Pepe has urged his Real Madrid team-mates to show the same focus they displayed in their 2-0 Primera Division win over Rayo Vallecano on Monday in the remainder of the season.

The Santiago Bernabeu side bagged the full three points courtesy of goals from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, and Pepe is determined to build on Monday’s victory and string together a series of wins.

“The most important thing is that we won the game. It was a difficult match, but we worked hard and showed that we’re a solid team that’s capable of winning things,” the Portugal international was quoted as saying by Marca.

“The season has really started for us now. We have a number of important games coming up and we have to show the same focus that we displayed against Rayo.

“Rayo made life difficult for us with their good players, and we have to keep up our good work in the next few weeks.”

Real Madrid resume Liga action at the weekend at home against Deportivo la Coruna.

Sergio Ramos: I don't know whether Mourinho punished me

Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid

Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid

Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has remained coy over his allegedly difficult relationship with head coach Jose Mourinho, and has insisted that he is still fully committed to the Santiago Bernabeu side.

The Spain international was somewhat surprisingly axed from the starting XI for last week’s Champions League win over Manchester City, but Ramos has refused to comment on Mourinho’s decision to drop him in favour of Raphael Varane.

“I don’t know whether the decision to bench me against Manchester City was a punishment. These things are coaching matters,” the defender was quoted as saying by AS.

“I’m talking about Real Madrid and what’s in my blood. I will not discuss things that happen within the club.

“I really want to keep helping the team and doing everything to play my part. Everyone likes to play and I’m happy to have come back to the team against Rayo.”

Madrid beat Rayo Vallecano 2-0 on Monday evening to climb to seventh spot in the table, eight points behind leaders Barcelona.

Casillas posts picture of himself & Ronaldo on Facebook amid fall-out claims

Iker Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo have seemingly patched up their differences after a photograph of the duo was posted on the goalkeeper’s Facebook account on Monday.

The picture was uploaded following the Blancos‘ 2-0 Liga victory at Rayo Vallecano, in which both the goalkeeper and winger starred, and bears the caption: “You’ll have to take this with humour”.

The champions have made a disappointing start to their title defence, coinciding with Ronaldo’s claims that he was unhappy at the Santiago Bernabeu in the aftermath of a league match against Granada.

An article in El Confidencial Digital also referred to a dressing-room incident between the pair, which had arisen from the inauguration of the Uefa award for Best Player in Europe.

Rumours had suggested that some of the Spanish players in the Madrid squad were happy and even laughed when Andres Iniesta pipped Ronaldo to the individual honour.

Their relationship was further called into question after Casillas appeared not to celebrate the forward’s last-gasp winner in Madrid’s 3-2 Champions League triumph over Manchester City.

Postponement was not easy for Real Madrid, admits Mourinho after Rayo win

Jose Mourinho has admitted that the decision to postpone Real Madrid’s trip to Rayo Vallecano in by a day was a burden for his players to contend with.

The match was originally scheduled for Sunday, but it could not be fulfilled after it emerged that vandals had sabotaged the wiring that connected the lighting system to the Vallecas, forcing Spanish authorities to move back the fixture.

However, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo were on hand to supply Madrid with a vital win on Monday following recent defeats to Getafe and Sevilla, and the coach expressed his disdain with the waiting game they had to endure.

“It was not an easy situation for us, but it was not easy for them too,” Mourinho said after the game. “You come with the mentallity to play, wait but are then forced to wait and wait for confirmation, and you don’t play.”

Mourinho then reflected on the eventual performance given by his team at Rayo, and while he admits they could have made more of a statement against their city rivals, he was enthused by the chemistry his “team” fashioned on the night.

“It was a tough game, but our team responded well,” he continued. “Could we have played better? Yes, but I can point my critics to our attitude and the way my team get the job done, and and today Real Madrid were a team.

“I guess if we would have played with this attitude at Getafe and Sevilla, we would have won those two games.”

Meanwhile, Gonzalo Higuain insisted that all is to play for, despite the capital giants’ early eight-point deficit to league leaders Barcelona.

“It was an important game,” the Argentina striker acknowledged. “We came here on the back of a large gap behind Barcelona and had the intention of getting the three points. It was very difficult.
 
“Must we treat all of our remaining games as finals? We’re at the fifth matchday, there is still much to play for. The distance is important but plenty more matches ahead. 33 games is an eternity and we’re going to fight until the end.
 
“At times, we seemed akin to the Real Madrid of last season, but we did not take advantage of all the chances we created. The penalty was good for us, along with the red card.

“I think the team were good overall. We still have room for improvement but we started well in the Champions League, that’s a fact.”

Match Report: Rayo Vallecano 0-2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid got their Liga campaign back on track with a 2-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano, thanks to goals from Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo at Vallecas.

They may have had to wait nearly 24 hours to get going after the cables to the floodlights at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas in what Vallecano president Martin Presa labelled an act of “sabotage”, but Los Blancos wasted no time when the game finally kicked off this evening, taking the lead just 13 minutes in.

Marcelo’s classy backheel in midfield beat the first line of an anarchic press from the hosts and set Madrid off a sweeping move that ended with Angel Di Maria sending in a low cross for Benzema to tap into an empty net at the back post.

Michael Essien and Luka Modric got the nod ahead of German midfield duo Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil, and Modric almost grabbed his first goal for the club when he found himself unmarked 12 yards from goal shortly before the half-hour mark, but sent his shot straight at the keeper.

Jose Mourinho’s side came into the game on the back of a three-match losing streak away from home in all competitions, having already lost as many games as they did in the whole of last season, and had to survive a scare half an hour in when Iker Casillas did well to stop Andrija Delibasic’s header before Mikel Labaka’s follow up was cleared off the line by the chest of Xabi Alonso.

Rayo had lost their last eight matches against with Madrid, their last victory against Los Blancos arriving fifteen years ago, and rallied after going close to an equaliser. As promised by coach Paco Jémez, the hosts’ approach was admirable, but they always looked in danger of being caught on the break.

And so it was Madrid who went closest before half time, Benzema finding space in the position Ronaldo has vacated before seeing his curled effort batted away by Ruben in the Vallecano goal.

Vallecano should have been level five minutes after the break, when Alvaro Arbeloa’s back-pass was sent straight to Delibasic inside the area, but the big Montenegro international miscontrolled with only Casillas to beat.

Benzema double Madrid’s lead on the hour, only to have his goal ruled out when, after seemingly having stopped for an incorrect offside decision, Di Maria was awarded a useless free-kick on the halfway line. Madrid’s inability to control possession in midfield was highlighted by Xabi Alonso picking up a booking for a rugby tackle on Lass Bangoura after they once lost the ball in midfield.

Modric faded out of the game in the second half and was replaced by Ozil with 25 minutes remaining, shortly after Jose Carlos shot narrowly over from outside the area.

Madrid won the corresponding fixture last season by a single goal, Cristiano Ronaldo´s wonderful back-heel settling a tight contest. The Portuguese international was making his 47th consecutive La Liga appearance and Ronaldo doubled his side’s lead from the spot with 20 minutes remaining after his attempted cross hit the arm of a sprawling Jordi Amat.

He should have put the game to bed a few minute later, but somehow managed to hit the post with the goal gaping from six yards after substitute Gonzalo Higuain had squared. But ultimately it proved nothing more than a slight embarrassment for Ronaldo during what was an often nervy display from Mourinho’s men. A miserable night for Casado was complete when he was dismissed in stoppage time, picking up second booking after a needless foul on Ozil.

There will be plenty to work on for Mourinho this week, not least his side’s propensity to needlessly give the ball away. After the points they’ve already dropped this season, however, that won’t matter tonight.