Real Madrid face the biggest game of the season so far tomorrow, and it seems as if Jose Mourinho will have fewer players to choose from than he would like. Luka Modric, who was the star of the show as Madrid came from behind to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford, is a real doubt. To add to the problems, the Brazilian left back Marcelo looks like missing both legs.
Real Madrid came up against a Manchester United team that was well organised and stuck to the game plan well, but it could have all been different. If Madrid had got their noses in front, then United would have had to throw off the shackles a bit and be more adventurous, allowing Madrid more space and freedom to play the kind of football we are so good at.
Jose Mourinho did not have the best end to 2012, finishing the year third in the Primera Liga table and trailing main rivals Barcelona by 16 points. Not only that but the Spanish media was full of stories about arguments in the dressing room and Mourinho had been involved in a bust up with prominent journalist. Having finished second in the champions league group, we got a nasty knockout draw against Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho has admitted that Real Madrid will need a miracle if they are to retain the Spanish Primera Liga title this season. The champions have already dropped more points than they did in the whole of the last campaign, while Barcelona have enjoyed a record breaking start to their season.
Real Madrid should have won yesterday, there is no question of that. They should probably have had at least one penalty, but they had plenty of chances to wrap the game up anyway. The failure to do so meant that we dropped deeper and deeper as the game came to it’s conclusion, and Espanyol managed to force the ball into the net with just a minute left on the clock.
Jose Mourinho has another left back dilemma on his hands as he takes his Real Madrid side to play Valladolid tomorrow. With his preferred left back, the Brazilian Marcelo still on the sidelines after an operation, Mourinho was glad to have got Fabio Coentrao back into the team, but the Portuguese defender is now also injured, leaving the Special One a headache as he cannot afford to drop any points in La Liga.
If Real Madrid can avoid defeat against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium tonight, the English champions will have crashed out at the group stages for the second year running and Jose Mourinho will be on the verge of progressing to the next round. That is the easy bit, the complicated part comes in the other game and the possible permutations in the Group of Death.
Jose Mourinho already has one of his former players from Chelsea in the Real Madrid squad, and could soon add the left back Ashley Cole, according to reports. Mourinho has a good relationship with the players who enjoyed great success with during his time in London.
Michael Essien was brought into the squad in the summer, despite not having played alot for Chelsea, but Mourinho knows the Ghanaian and trusts his talents. This was proved on Saturday when he picked Essien at left back against Celta de Vigo. Essien is not a left back, and Mourinho had called Nacho into the squad from the reserves but gave the starting place to the former Chelsea man. This means that Essien is also likely to start against Dortmund on Wednesday.
Real Madrid have defensive problems today, after losing Marcelo, Coentrao and Arbeloa from the defence. The international break has not been kind to Jose Mourinho and the Special One will be hoping that his team can cause enough problems going forward to negate the defensive problems.
Christiano Ronaldo has some extra incentives to get on the scoresheet and he is a player who often responds to such things favourably. At the minute there are three players tied at the top of the goal scoring charts in La Liga, with Ronaldo, Messi and Falcao all having scored eight league goals so far.
Jose Mourinho will not want any more international games for some time, after losing three defenders during this break. Both of the central strikers for Real Madrid also picked up knocks but they are not as serious.
Having already lost Marcelo for three months and Coentrao for a month, Mourinho was having to think about shifting around his remaining defenders to accommodate. Last night we lost our right back Arbeloa to a muscle problem and he could be out for three weeks.
Jose Mourinho has a serious problem to deal with after both of his left backs for Real Madrid picked up injuries during their international games. Three other players have picked up knocks but it is the left side of defence that is going to be a problem for up to three months.
Marcelo played for Brazil in their friendly against Iraq and was training for the game against Japan yesterday when he broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. Doctors predict that he will miss around three months with his recovery. That will take us up to the January transfer window but there is no chance of replacing him before then.