Tag: Real Madrid

The Champions League: Manchester City vs Real Madrid, Live!

Good evening everybody, and welcome to our coverage of this evening’s UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg between Manchester City and Real Madrid. New money versus old money. Middle-Eastern oil barons versus a club so much of the establishment that they have the Spanish word for “Royal” in their name. If you want an idea of the extent to which this is a clash of the arrivistes and the old guard, consider this somewhat extraordinary comparison – this is Manchester City’s first appearance at this stage of the Champions League or European Cup whereas, by contrast, Real Madrid have...

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Exit Benitez, Enter Zidane

Shortly after five o’clock this afternoon, the journalist Guillem Balagué appeared on the television in Spain and stated with absolute confidence that Rafael Benítez, the coach of Real Madrid for the last seven months, had already been sacked but the club could not announce it at that time because there was a children’s party taking place in the area in which they wanted to reveal the news. Sometimes, these stories more or less write their own punchlines. In England, the reflex reaction to this news might well be, “Is failing to beat Gary Neville really that bad?” Snark aside, it...

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A “Classico” Worthy Of The Name

It was a strange Sunday more than a “Super” one. Tottenham showed heart. Stoke City looked like Barcelona. And Barcelona themselves defended like Aston Villa. In that context, Barca’s thrill/laugh-a-minute 4-3 victory at Real Madrid was almost to be expected. The Bernabeu clasico had everything Premier League fans apparently desire. Goals, pace, schoolboy errors, dodgy refereeing, dodgy diving and a punch-up. Looking back, even from this short distance, there wasn’t as much sublime football in the game as it felt like there had been at the time, especially in a breathlessly-exciting first half. But that has never mattered to...

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Why Are Some People Getting So Angry About The Ballon D’Or?

In the parallel universe which professional football inhabits, some of the normal rules of life simply do not apply. There is such a thing as a free lunch if you’re name is Sepp Blatter, time can stand still if you’re Sir Alex Ferguson, and for just about everybody, winning is everything. Of course, in terms of league championships and cups, there’s something to that argument. Football has been professionalised for one hundred and thirty years now, and if you’re paying somebody to do a job for you, then it is understandable that some sort of return on your investment becomes important. From a supporter’s point of view, whilst shrugging your shoulders at a defeat rather than running to your favoured social media outlet to issue death threats to the chairman, the manager and a man whose name rhymes with that of the referee is an admirable personality trait, there are only so many times that watching your team get easily beaten in front of rapidly diminishing attendances can be a little, well, wearing. So winning is important, and we mostly accept that. There are times, however, when that lust for gold plated trinkets and – perhaps more importantly, in this day and age – the plum sponsorship deals that come with them becomes a little undignified. The Ballon D’Or is one of football’s less important trophies. It is, dare...

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Match Of The Midweek: Real Madrid 4-0 Tottenham Hotspur

For Spurs supporters, matches like this evening’s – Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabau – are, perhaps, what have been missing for all these years. Yet Spurs have cause for trepidation this evening. Their recent form has been that of a squad running out of steam, and Chelsea have been allowed to build up a five point cushion in fourth place over them in the Premier League. Even Spurs’ poor luck with injuries cannot entirely explain their successive Premier League draws against each of the bottom three in the table. Had they won each of these matches, they would still be in the top four but, as things stand, Champions League participation for next season is just starting – just starting – to slip from view on the horizon in terms of the Premier League. Tonight is not the ideal time for a trip to Madrid. That Real Madrid, meanwhile, could be in the shadow of anything or anybody seems like an odd state of affairs, but the Barcelona love-in of the last couple of years or so has left them in a position of unfamiliar obscurity. Yet, here they are. A team that still contains Ronaldo, Casillas, Adebayor, Xabi Alonso and Ozil and is able to leave Kaka on the bench. They’re coached by Jose Mourinho, whose record in the Champions League doesn’t require any further comment....

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