Crucial classico

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.

Crunch time for Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich

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.

Real Madrid keep calm about la liga

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 suffer 5 red cards and 2 dropped points

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.

How will Real Madrid approach Real Sociedad

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.