Sunday, December 23, 2007

Superb win at the Nou Camp

Brazilian striker Julio Baptista scored in the 36th minute to give Real Madrid a 1-0 win over Barcelona 1-0 in La Liga's classic derby.

The tall player met dutch frontman Ruud van Nistelrooy's flicked-on pass with a right-footed shot that spun across goal and into the top right of net past Victor Valdes.

In fact, Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas thwarted several Barcelona scoring chances - including a hard shot by substitute Bojan Krkic in the 84th - but the Catalan club appeared lifeless without Argentine star Lionel Messi, who was nursing a thigh injury.

"It wasn't Barcelona's night," coach Frank Rijkaard said. "We have to digest this loss and look to move forward."

With only its third win at the Camp Nou stadium in 24 years, Madrid moved seven points clear of second-placed Barça atop the table with 41 points as the league begins its two-week winter break.

"The fact that Barcelona didn't score at home says it all," Madrid manager Bernd Schuster admitted. "The seven points are an important advantage, but it's still too early to talk about titles."

Despite Ronaldinho Gaucho's return to the starting lineup, Barcelona failed to generate a constant fluid style and was held scoreless at the Camp Nou for the first time in over two years.

"It went well because my team worked hard and we took advantage of a good moment, but I wouldn't say it was an easy victory," Schuster expressed.

Neither squad put a shot on net until the 12th: Pepe redirecting Dutch international Wesley Sneijder's free kick with Valdes crouching to cradle the header.

Petty fouls hindered the the match until Barcelona found its rhythm in the 30th.

Keeper Iker Casillas raced off his line to poke a ball away from an onrushing Samuel Eto'o, then recovered to knock away Andres Iniesta's effort on the rebound.

Talented Xavi Hernandez had Barcelona's first shot on net in the 33rd, Casillas catching the long range strike.

We must notice that the Spain goalkeeper dropped to stop a hard, cross-goal shot from Ronaldinho two minutes before Baptista struck after a quick exchange with Van Nistelrooy.

"Baptista's goal did a lot of damage and changed the rhythm of the game," Rijkaard stated after the match.

The controversial Robinho tested Valdes before both teams went into the lockers with tempers charged from 25 fouls called.

We can say that Barcelona pressed to start the second half, while Madrid appeared content to counterattack, Sergio Ramos forcing Valdes into a save in the 56th and Van Nistelrooy shooting wide from the left five minutes later.

Coach Rijkaard left France international Thierry Henry on the bench and inserted Krkic for Xavi in the 82nd minute and Mexican youngster Giovanni Dos Santos for Portugal midfielder Deco in the 56th.

"I hoped we could change the result until the last moment and we fought to, but it was hard to create occasions," Rijkaard admitted. In fact, his team dropped its first home match in 12 dates this campaign. "They were very well organized at the back, with a lot of players behind the ball and a lot of danger on the counterattack."

We must consider that it was Madrid's fourth straight win and first at the Camp Nou since 2003.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Jose Antonio Reyes wants to stay at Madrid

The Spanish midfielder spent last season on loan at Real Madrid with the view to a permanent transfer, yet a swap deal with Julio Baptista has been scrapped after the Brazilian flopped at the English team.

It has been reported that French star Thierry Henry’s exit from the Emirates Stadium may present Reyes with a second opportunity in England, yet his agent has confirmed a move to the Bernabeu is more likely.

"Indeed, Reyes doesn't want to return to London," Jesus Rodriguez de Moya expressed.

"Well, if the logical steps are taken, Reyes will be a Madrid player next year. Arsenal are not asking for £13.6million. However, they are asking for a reasonable fee in accordance with what they paid to Sevilla. They continue the negotiation.

Bernd Schuster promises a spectacular Real Madrid

Bernd Schuster already has a clear idea of what he wants from his new footballers and was quick to dismiss reports that he wanted to sell Raúl Gonzalez.

Teh last coach (Fabio Capello) was sacked despite winning the league after some turgid displays and Schuster is determined that Real Madrid will now be more pleasing on the eye.

"I'm going to start to work based on how I used to play," he said. "I know people will expect a lot from me now that I'm at Real Madrid, but I'm not extremely worried about it.

"It's just that I am more concerned with how well the team plays. I want my teams to play the way I understand football. Those who have seen me play will know the style my clubs will play in.

"I am really sure Real Madrid will now play well. We'll see how far we go, but we have to aspire to do extremely well with a squad as good as this one.

"It is very important for me to give the players more independence on the pitch, especially in attack. I want there to be a lot of movement because I want players to be in different areas of the field at times.

"Yes, we are going to bring some new players and I am sure of being able to change the style in which the team plays. I am sure we will earn good results if we play well. I think next year's team is going to defend further forward than last season, so that attacking footballers, such as Robinho, Guti and Raúl, don't have to run back too much in order to defend."

"We all know that people here love Raúl, Real Madrid has always been his club and he has given his all for it." he said about the captain. "I would like him to retire here."

Rather than feel added pressure due to Fabio Capello's success last term, Schuster believes that Madrid's success means that he can focus on creating an entertaining at the Santiago Bernabéu.

"The League title was really important because it would have been unbelievable for Real Madrid not to have won anything in four straight years," he said.

"Things were done good because they had the drive to win, even if it meant not playing flashy football. I think there's less pressure now and I feel happy for that. Thanks to this title I can focus more on pleasing the supporters."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cannavaro might leave Madrid to go to Napoli

Fabio Cannavaro met with the Serie B's chief, Pierpaolo Marino, in Rimini recently and made it clear he is willing to end his career with the Azzurri.

In fact, he might be bored after a troubled campaign at Real Madrid, and the 33-year-old defender could be set to leave the team with coach Fabio Capello at the end of the season and has already started laying the groundwork for his next destination.

"Yes, I have talked to Marino, Napoli's chief operating officer, and he knows how I feel now," Cannavaro admitted.

We must consider that this is not the first time that the former Parma and Juventus star has claimed that he would like to represent his hometown squad again, but this was the clearest statement of intent yet.

But Marino has reportedly not met with the Napoli board to brief them in full on his coversation with the Italian crack.

It's good to remember that FAbio Cannavaro rose through the ranks at Napoli and played for the club for three seasons until in 1995 he joined Parma during the club's golden period. After seven seasons with the Gialloblu, Inter Milan snapped him up and he was on the move once again in 2004 when Juventus came calling.

And when Juventus were relegated at the end of last season, Cannavaro was tempted by trying his hand in la Primera and joined Capello at Real Madrid. Now they could leave together.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Real Madrid reach the top of the table as they beat Mallorca

This are good news for Real Madrid fans. Capello's team joined Sevilla and Barcelona at the top of Spain's La Liga after a superbly struck free kick from Jose Antonio Reyes allowed them to sneak a barely deserved 1-0 triumph at struggling Real Mallorca on Sunday.

All three squads are locked on 38 points at the head of the table, but with a game in hand FC Barcelona can pull clear at the halfway mark in the Spanish season and claim the symbolic title of winter champions if they win away at Real Betis on Wednesday.

In fact, Real Madrid, with Ronaldo, Antonio Cassano and David Beckham still on Fabio Capello's blacklist, played little in the way of fluent football and failed to make much headway in attack until a brilliant free kick from Reyes 12 minutes from time.

The old white club, who are third in La Liga, travelled to face Real Mallorca on Sunday with just one win from their last five encounters in all competitions.

Mallorca, who started the match in 15th place with 20 points from 18 games, began positively with a shoot on sight policy with Maxi Lopez driving his effort straight at Iker Casillas in the 8th minute.

What's more, Madrid, who went out of the Copa del Rey in midweek, created their first chance in the 19th minute when Mallorca goalkeeper Miguel Moya saved a shot from Gonzalo Higuain with his legs.

And from the resulting corner defender Sergio Ramos rose high and his looping header bounced back into play off the bar.

Mallorca's player Jonas Gutierrez forced Casillas into a save in the 43rd minute when he drifted in from the left and fired in a shot form a narrow angle.

Real Madrid Italian boss Fabio Capello, who has hardly been out of the headlines recently after omitting David Beckham, Ronaldo and Antonio Cassano, was left exasperated after Mahamadou Diarra somehow headed wide from close in.

We must notice that the game had been lacking in quality and the crowd had to wait until the 79th minute for the only piece of class exhibited on the night.

Spanish midfielder Jose Antonio Reyes, who is on loan from English club Arsenal, curled in a stunning free kick from 22.4 metres in what proved to be the match winner.

Finally, it's good to see that Real Madrid's 12th victory of the season saw them move level with Barcelona and Sevilla at the top of the table with 38 points, but they remained third on goal difference.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

David Beckham to leave Real Madrid

Talented midfielder David Beckham will not be offered a new contract with Real Madrid and will leave the Spanish team, media reported on Wednesday.

"I can say that Beckham will leave us. We will not renew his contract," the club's sporting director and former Madrid striker Predrag Mijatovic was quoted as saying.

However, not all the information says the same thing about the British player. There are some version that still give a hope in the relationship between Becks and Madrid.

Indeed, Gaspar Rosety told a news agency: "Predrag Mijatovic has not spoken to Sky Italia and has made no such comments about Beckham's contract."

We must consider that Real Madrid have been offering the 31-year-old midfielder a two-year extension to his current deal, which ends in June, but said they wanted David Beckham to make a quick decision on his future so they can plan for next season.

It's important to mention that Beckham has been free to talk to other clubs with teams in England, Italy and the United States interested in signing the English footballer.