There is little argument that Cristiano Ronaldo is an absolutely vital player for Real Madrid. It is not just his amazing scoring record of over a goal a game since he signed from Manchester United in 2009, although his 201 goals in just 199 games have come in very handy. He creates chances and goals out of practically nothing and striker fear into the heart of opposing teams, so his declaration that he is happy to remain at the Bernabeu is great news.
There has been a lot of talk about Cristiano Ronaldo and his future at Real Madrid, pretty much since the start of last season, when the club were struggling and the players did not seem to be getting on with the manager Jose Mourinho. There was talk of dressing room rows and splits between the players, but that all seems to have died down now Mourinho has left.
There have been a lot of fans and followers of Real Madrid scratching their heads this season, wondering why on Earth did Jose Mourinho chase the Croatian midfielder for so long, eventually paying Tottenham around €40 million for him last summer. His 40 minute masterclass against Manchester United on Tuesday has answered those questions, although Modric must start producing the goods more regularly for the fans to accept him.
As soon as United were reduced to 10 men, Mourinho brought on the 27-year old and it worked perfectly. The little maestro orchestrated the game for Madrid and exploited the extra space perfectly. His equalising goal was simply stunning and he helped to create Ronaldo’s winner, so it was a fantastic night for him.
It was not just the fact that Real Madrid beat Barcelona at their own ground, but the comprehensive manner in which the victory was achieved that will have sent a stark warning to Manchester United. The situations are very similar. Both are two legged affairs, with the first leg at the Bernabeau ending all square at 1-1. If Real Madrid can get somewhere near the level of performance they produced at the Camp Nou last night, then United are going to struggle to live with them.
It seemed as if the Brazilian midfielder Kaka was on his way out of Real Madrid in the summer, and then again in the January transfer window, but the deals never quite materialised. After a great performance in Madrid’s 2-o victory over Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, however, his career at the Bernabeu may have a new lease of life. He worked tirelessly and showed great skill, especially after Sergio Ramos was sent off.
Real Madrid have not had the best of seasons so far, and Jose Mourinho knows that only a miracle will help to retain the title of Spanish champions. All the focus now is on the Champions league, though, and the visit of Manchester United to the Bernabeu tomorrow. Madrid have not lost a home game in any competition this season, and Alex Ferguson will be well aware that his best chance of overcoming Mourinho will be at Old Trafford.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be looking to inflict some damage on his former team when Real Madrid take on Manchester United on Wednesday. His former team mate who was the club captain while the Madrid striker was there, Gary Neville, has sent a warning to the United players. Ronaldo will seek out the weakest link in the United team and torment them all through the game at the Bernabeu.
“Ronaldo is a bully. He bullies the weakest defender. He does it all the time. He did it to Manchester City against Maicon. He will play on the left wing. If he can’t get on the ball he will play centre forward, right wing, midfield.”
Cristiano Ronaldo is in sparkling form for Real Madrid, and he warmed up for the crucial Champions league game against his former club Manchester United with a superb hat-trick against Sevilla on Saturday. That was the Portuguese international’s third hat-trick of 2013 and he has now scored 13 goals since the start of the calendar year. Unlucky for some, that’s what they say, and it is Manchester United and his former mentor who Ronaldo is intending to make the unlucky ones.
Jose Mourinho and his Real Madrid players are not expecting any miracles in La Liga. With 15 league games left, Barcelona are 16 points ahead and so Madrid have given up on retaining the title. All of their effort will now be concentrated on the Champions league and the Copa Del Rey.
With the visit of Manchester United to the Bernabeu on Wednesday firmly in mind, Mourinho has not included Xabi Alonso, Varane, Marcelo and Di Maria in the squad. These players are not really injured but have small niggles that Mourinho does not want to risk aggravating.
Jose Mourinho got some great news this week, when it was revealed that his keeper, the Spanish international Iker Casillas, has had the plaster removed from his hand and is looking good to be back a lot sooner than was predicted. The 30-year old keeper broke his finger in a cup game against Valencia two weeks ago and was operated on the next day. Medical experts predicted it would be three months before he could train properly or play again.