Friday, October 20, 2006

Teams are getting ready for the "Clásico"

Real Madrid is getting ready to face one of the most important derbies in the football world: the match against FC Barcelona. And the players in both side know it wont be easy to get the victory.

We must remember that in the last clash between the two rivals, Ronaldinho was applauded off the field by the Bernabeu crowd, scoring two spectacular goals and delivering a performance to savour.

So, we must consider that it was the first time since a young Diego Maradona ran rings around the Real Madrid back line in 1983 that the Madrid crowd had given a standing ovation to any Barcelona player, such is the deep-running rivalry between the two powerful teams.

But this year, the Ronaldinho's form has been strangely inconsistent. Just when it looked like he was back to his best, starring in Barcelona's 3-1 home victory over a high-quality Sevilla side, he vanished again in the azulgrana's 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League in midweek.

"I haven't changed one bit," he replied. "People are looking for something, but all this talk doesn't annoy me, because I'll continue being the same person".

The injury to Samuel Eto'o has deprived Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard of his first choice striker for five months, and Real Madrid captain Raul has identified this as a "crucial" loss ahead of Sunday's clash.

"He's a great striker and it's a shame that he has injured himself. His goals and his movement have been very important," Raul admitted.

In fact, Real Madrid were hit on Friday afternoon by the news that striker Ronaldo will miss the game through suspension, after the Spanish FA refused to overturn the red card he received in last weekend's 1-0 loss to Getafe.

However, midfielders David Beckham and Guti should both be available after recovering from knee injuries, along with wingers Robinho and Reyes. The latter two will compete for a space on the left wing, while Ruud van Nistelrooy will be the frontman.

In the other hand, Barcelona captain Carles Puyol should recover from muscle pains in time to take his place alongside Rafael Marquez in the centre of defence, while Frank Rijkaard must decide whether to recall midfielder Andres Iniesta after leaving him out in favour of Xavi during the week.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mijatovic thinks that Real Madrid is favorite against Barcelona

Real Madrid sports chief and former player Pedja Mijatovic says that Barcelona "not as strong" as previous seasons ahead of Sunday's big showdown.

"In these matches there are no favorites," said Mijatovic. "I have played in derbies when the team which had the better sport situation ended up losing. It is a really special game and form doesn't count for anything.

"In fact, our mental state, the desire and the good result in the Champions League are reason enough for us to say 'we can beat them'.

"They surely are not as strong as the last two years. However, this is something normal. To maintain that rate for three or four years is impossible.

"In addition, they have won important titles and that always relaxes you just a little bit, even if the player says it doesn't. I'm sure that we arrive at this derby with more advantages than they.

"We arrive with more hunger. The defeat last year hurt us a lot. I believe that right now we are in better form than them" he said.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The taste of victory in the Champions League

Despite some bad results this season, Real Madrid players believe their 4-1 away Champions League victory against Steaua Bucharest proves they are still a force in Europe.

In fact, the nine-time European champions produced an irresistible display on Tuesday against the Romanians and remain on course for qualification for the next stage.

“We showed that when we want to we can play as a team,” Roberto Carlos admitted. “We showed personality and enthusiasm and were able to pressure our opponents. Those were things that were missing before.”

The Italian coach Fabio Capello said that the win had served to erase the painful memories of the 1-0 Getafe defeat on Saturday.

“This time we saw a squad with quality and spirit out there and that is what counts,” said Capello. “Well, now I’m happy.

“I expressed we had to forget the performance against Getafe because we can’t play like that ever again. Instead we saw a Real Madrid that played with pace and skill. I was pleased with the football we played because it isn’t easy to come here and get the triumph by such a margin.”

Defender Sergio Ramos scored for Real from a 10th minute corner and Raul made it 2-0 in the 34th minute from a rebound after the Steaua goalkeeper deflected a strike from Ruud van Nistelrooy.

It's imortant to notice that a really fast counter-attack put Robinho in an ideal position to score from a tight angle 11 minutes into the second half.

That's why Valentin Badea pulled one back for the home side with a close range effort 25 minutes from time; however Van Nistelrooy slammed the door with a superb lob 14 minutes from the end.

“I think it was a complete change from the Getafe game,” said Real keeper Iker Casillas. “After such a terrible display we moved on and played a great encounter just three days later. We won and took a great stride forward in the Champions League.”. These words prove that the players are in the right way.