The latest version of the long running battle between Real Madrid and our La Liga rivals from Catalan will be foremost in the minds of Madrid fans after the news reported by Sky Sports about the injury to Gareth Bale. But the El Clasico match against Barcelona in 10 days is not the only big match coming up, making the Welshman’s absence the worst possible timing.
What a difference a week makes eh? Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid were absolutely flying along this time last week, having just put Espanyol to the sword to equal the La Liga record of straight wins set by fierce rivals Barcelona and continue the 100 percent start to the new domestic league campaign.
The fact that Barca had suffered that shock defeat at home to newly promoted Alaves and seen Lionel Messi ruled out with injury, while Atletico Madrid have yet to find their best form, made the future look very bright for Los Blancos. But things do not look so rosy today.
Real Madrid did get this season’s Champions League campaign off to a winning start against the Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon this week, but it was a far from convincing performance that left all the pre-match talk about Los Blancos looking like a good bet to become the first club top retain the European Cup in the4 UCL era look a bit shaky.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the inspiration for the late turnaround and you can never give up hope when CR7 is on the pitch, but he has not been scoring free kicks too often of late and on another day and with another referee he would not even have had the chance after what looked like minimal contact from the Sporting player.
Real Madrid know all about Robert Lewandowski. The Polish international striker has been a real thorn in the side of Madrid this season. He scored against Real in the group stages of the Champions League and led Borussia Dortmund to top the group ahead of Madrid. The real damage came in the semi-final, when his four goals in the first leg effectively ended the tie.
One of the main reasons Jose Mourinho was brought to Real Madrid was to win the Champions League. Having already won it with Porto and Inter Milan, Mourinho was seen as having a fantastic pedigree in the competition and so would have a great chance or winning a record 10th European cup for the club. It is now more than 10 years since Vicente Del Bosque led the Galacticos to success in 2002.
Real Madrid have played Borussia Dortmund three times already this season and have yet to win a game. That will count for nothing tonight, however, as long as the Madrid players run out onto the pitch at the Bernabeu ready to give everything for the improbable comeback.
It would not be the first time that a Real Madrid side pulled off a miracle like this. Previous statistics do offer some hope to Jose Mourinho and his players, as Madrid have won 17 of their 23 home games against German teams. Three of those wins would have been enough to see us into the final. 4-0 against Munchengladbach in 1985, 5-1 against Cologne in 1986 and 3-0 against Bayer Leverkusen in 1998.
Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid need all the help they can get ahead of tomorrow’s massive game at the Bernabeu tomorrow. Trailing Borussia Dortmund 4-1 from the first leg, the club has been sweating over the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese star scored the only goal for Madrid in the first leg, but also picked up a thigh problem and had to miss the game against Real Betis on Saturday.
The good news for Madrid is that Ronaldo went through a normal training session with his team mates today and there was no sign of any problems. The Spanish champions have a mountain to climb against last year’s German champions, but the away goal gives hope.
If Real Madrid looked stunned at the final whistle last night, Jose Mourinho seemed to be equally bewildered in his post match press conference. The Portuguese coach was at a loss to explain how his team were so soundly beaten by Borussia Dortmund, although he has definitely not given up on overturning the result at the Bernabeu next week.
“For me it is difficult to analyze it with you, as I have to do it with the players,” Mourinho told the waiting media. “It seems more polite to say that the best team won.
Real Madrid play the first leg or the Champions League semi-final at the Signal Iduna Park in Germany. Their opponents, Borussia Dortmund have one of the biggest football stadiums in the football world and it is usually awash with colour and noise from over 80,000 home fans. That home advantage could play a big part against the Spanish champions tonight, but it may not be quite the same following the announcement about Mario Gotze this week.
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.