Real Madrid overtook Atletico Madrid for the first time this season with a 2-1 win over Celta Vigo (see highlights below). It was far from straightforward, but the man of the moment Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up once again and scored twice to secure the victory. The stand in keeper Diego Lopez also had a fantastic game between the sticks to prevent Celta causing an upset. Unfortunately the win did not close the gap on Barcelona at the top, but Ronaldo is closing the gap on Lionel Messi in the scoring charts.
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.
The bookmakers have Barcelona as the favourites to beat Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey semi-final. Over two legs, the Catalan club are 2/5 on to go through to the final, and even to win at the Bernabeu tonight they are 6/5 to win, whereas Real Madrid are 2/1, even though they are the home side.
The French striker Karim Benzema disagrees with this, believing that in Clasico matches, anything can happen. He insists that the team are united, ready and have the talent to upset the odds and beat the Catalans at the Bernabeu tonight. The stadium will be full of raucous Madrid fans and the players know that this is one of the most important games of the season.
Real Madrid were well represented at the award gala for the FIFA Ballon D’Or yesterday. Jose Mourinho was nominated for best coach, along with Vicente Del Bosque of the Spain national team, and Pep Guardiola of Barcelona. Christiano Ronaldo was up for the main award of best player along with Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta of Barcelona, but Mourinho and Ronaldo were overlooked, as Messi won again and Del Bosque got the coach’s award.
It is not a massive surprise to anyone who the final three players on the shortlist for the FIFA Ballon D’Or are. Real Madrid’s Potuguese number seven, Christiano Ronaldo, will be up against the same two players who made the shortlist for the Uefa European player of the year this summer, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta of Barcelona.
Iniesta won the Uefa award, but his performances for Spain were heavily influential as the Spanish national team had successfully defended the European championships. The smart money for the award to be given out in January is on Ronaldo and Messi. Although Messi has scored more goals so far in the year, Ronaldo is not far behind him and his goals drove Madrid to a record points total as they regained the Spanish Primera Liga title from Barcelona.
Jose Mourinho will admit that Real Madrid have not been at their sparkling best so far this season, and that is why they are not favourites to win either the Spanish Primera Liga or the Uefa Champions league, but they have started to show the form that allowed them to wrest the Spanish title back from Barcelona and only just miss out on the Champions league final.
Earlier in the season, after Christiano Ronaldo had refused to celebrate his two goals for Real Madrid against Getafe in La Liga, the story came out that Ronaldo was unhappy. He stated that the club were well aware of his feelings and there was a lot of media speculation about what the problems between club and player were.
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.
The English Premier league clubs Chelsea and Manchester City will be ecstatic after hearing Jose Mourinho say that Real Madrid are not going to attempt to secure the transfer of the Colombian striker Radamel Falcao from their rivals Athletico Madrid.
Mourinho was giving an interview to A Bola in Portugal when he was asked about the prolific front man, who is level on league goals with Ronaldo and Messi.
“Falcao is a forbidden subject. He is a star and the fundamental player of our great rivals, just as Aguero was before. There is an unofficial sort of non-aggression pact between Madrid and Atletico.”
Christiano Ronaldo and Pepe both picked up injuries in the frenetic Clasico against Barcelona on Sunday. Ronaldo landed awkwardly and spent the rest of the game struggling with an injury to his shoulder.
Pepe was involved in a few full-blooded challenges and his left thigh has been bothering him.
Medical staff from Real Madrid passed both players as okay to join up with the Portugal national team who play against Russia in Moscow on Friday and Northern Ireland next week. Both players have been training very lightly separately from the rest of the squad and were looking doubtful but are now looking better and could start.