Saturday night, Camp Nou, 8 `o`clock, don`t miss it. This game could be an all-time classic.
Barcelona looked unbeatable after despatching AC Milan but are now showing chinks in their armour. Remember that they had slipped to ten points behind Madrid in la liga before Real had a bad run. Any team can hit an obstacle and Jose`s old team, chelsea, may have done him a huge favour in halting Barcelona`s run of form.
Ronaldo and Messi are fighting for the golden boot and records in both europe and spain. At any other time they would have won the golden boot easily but it seems that they are constantly outdoing each other.
Messi scores five in a champion`s league match, then Christiano scores a hat-trick with two of the goals being contenders for goal of the season. Messi`s overall tally is bigger because he has played in extra tournaments.
Real Madrid should remember, also, that they triumphed over Barcelona a year ago to win the cup.
Real Madrid enjoyed a very relaxed fifteen minutes of gentle training in the rain. All the staff seemed calm and focused ahead of tonights away leg in the semi-finals of the champion`s league.
Tonight the Allianz arena in Munich sees the start of acrucial, perhaps season defining eight days for Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid. The return leg is next wednesday and in-between is the small matter of a trip to the Nou camp. Next thursday could see Madrid having booked a return trip to Munich for the final and with an almost unbeatable lead in la liga.
Mourinho, who says he is only talking to the press on Uefa`s orders, has praised Bayern but played down the unfavourable statistics. “History is not playing,” he says but insists that “we must not go to Munich without scoring.”
A full squad is available to Mourinho but they will need to be resolute in defense, so expect Marcelo to replace Coentrao. Alonso and Khedira can assist both attack and defense and either Kaka or Ozil can supply the attack. I would expect Ronaldo and Di Maria to cut in from the wings while Benzema or Higuain will play as a lone striker. This formation can easily become more offensive or defensive as required.
Bayern have their own triple point of attack with Robben and Ribery on either side of Mario Gomez. Gomez has scored more champion`s league goals than anyone bar Messi so he will be a real threat. A score draw tonight would be a great result.
Christiano Ronaldo has now scored forty league goals after a thunderous double against Athletico Madrid. Madrid`s portugese number seven unleashed an unstoppable free kick to open the scoring. Athletico`s keeper, Coutois, looked bemused as Ronaldo`s shot changed direction in the air and sailed past him into the net.
Real Madrid`s nerves were jangling again when Falcao powered in a header to equalise soon after. Cometh the hour, cometh the man and it was Ronaldo again who sent Real back on the road to victory with a solo effort from way outside the penalty area. It was a similiar strike to the first, curling one way then the other and also dipping furiously to confound the keeper again.
Real then took control, their attacking paying off as Athletico tired. A clear penalty was calmly dispatched by Ronaldo for his hat-trick. Callejon came on as a late substitute and duly smashed home the fourth goal. The Bernabeu and all the staff were ecstatic with a clear touch of releif thrown in.
Next up for Madrid is bottom side, Sporting Gijon, who will need a miracle to upset a rejuvenated Real. Even a loss at the Nou camp will leave Madrid at the top of La Liga and still looking at a league and European cup double. Everyone at the club will be feeling a little better today.
Jose Mourinho and the Real Madrid team must be feeling the pressure going into tonights game at Atletico Madrid as they are just one point ahead of rivals Barcelona. They must keep their heads and concentrate on the task ahead. We know they have the quality, strength and firepower to win against any team. They have been awesome at times this season and just need to get over the current blip.
Mourinho refused to release his team sheet after this morning`s training session but the absence of Lass, Carvalho, Sahin and Altintop from the team hotel surely means that they will not play. Di Maria is almost certain to start after his manager heaped praise on him today. “He gives us things that other players do not . He has the character that makes you think that anything is possible.”
Athletico have a problem with top scorer Falcao and striker Adrian suffering from flu. Manager Diego Simeone has included both in his team although neither trained yesterday with the rest of the squad.
A Real Madrid victory will see Iker Casillas join Raul on nine victories for Real at the Vicente Calderon stadium, a record he will be desperate to emulate.
Tomorrow`s trip to the Vicente Calderon stadium to face Athletico Madrid is a must win game for Mourinho`s whites. If Barcelona beat Getafe tonight, they will be a single point behind the leaders. Real are boosted, however, by the return to fitness of Di Maria, Lass and Carvalho.
Recent form suggests no problem for Real, as they have not lost a derby in over ten years. Mourinho can pick any team he wishes, with his only concern being the accumulation of yellow cards. Ronaldo, Alonso and Coentrao are one yellow away from suspension, with Di Maria, Kaka, Higuain and Khedira two yellows away from suspension.
Real are at home to Sporting Gijon next before they visit the Nou camp, which could decide la liga. It might be better if Ronaldo and Alonso picked up yellows tomorrow and missed the game against Sporting who are languishing at the foot of the table.
Tomorrow`s game is not being taken lightly though. Athletico have their top scorer Falcao back and they are chasing a champion`s league place for next season. Captain Iker Casillas has stated that “every year they are more eager to beat us” and has acknowledged manager Diego Simeone`s positive effect as ” a new and fresh air….they use the ball very well.”