The Broken Curse
(Submitted by Rutul Parikh on 17th March. Sincere apologies for the delay in posting!)
Thinking about the UEFA Champions League Pre-Quarters second leg match against Lyon, I was always apprehensive about the result and what it would mean for the fans, players and the manager. Manuel Pellegrini’s questionable tactics last season saw Real out of the Champions League against the same opponents.
Jose Mourinho, who is termed “The Special One” did no such monkey business and played the usual XI:
Sergio Ramos Pepe Carvalho Marcelo
C.Ronaldo Ozil Di Maria
A strong 4-2-3-1 which got us the required result.
Here’s how I rate the players for the game:
Iker Casillas – 6
Didn’t have much to do as Lyon struggled to attack. The Real Madrid captain did well when called up to perform his goalkeeping duties.
Sergio Ramos – 7
Played well against Cissokho throughout the game. Looked confident in the entire game. Fair play to the vice captain.
Pepe – 4.5
Pepe hasn’t looked like a world-class defender during his time at Real Madrid. Looked sketchy and could have cost us the game. Bad clearances and nervous defending. In my opinion he should leave at the end of the season.
Ricardo Carvalho – 8
What a signing he has been for RMCF! Remained unflappable despite Pepe’s disturbing play. Led the team’s defence and kept his cool the entire match.
Marcelo – 9
I always admired his attacking moves but the past two seasons he had been weak defensively. But this season under Jose Mourinho, he has improved his defending abilities and with all the flair and confidence could become a leading left back in the world some day. Capped his excellent performance with a goal.
Sami Khedira – 6.5
Can’t expect him to play like his counterpart Xabi Alonso as he’s still young and learning to play top flight football. Ran throughout the match and was first to get to the loose balls. All-round average player – did nothing extraordinary other than his usual style of play.
Xabi Alonso – 8
Was involved in most of Real’s attacks and looked solid in the midfield. Superb balls to launch several attacks. Overall well played by the Spaniard.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 7
Was not the same Ronaldo we’ve seen this season as he was returning from an injury. Despite the lay-off, he was involved in creating a goal and had a long range effort.Was latter substituted in order to rest for the weekend Madrileno Derby.
Mesut Ozil – 8.5
Real Madrid’s playmaker looked in form and in business – amazing dribbling, skills and flicks. A midfield maestro this lad, and deserves his place in the team ahead of Brazillian Kaka.
Angel Di Maria – 7
Sent Real Madrid through to the quarter finals by converting a Mesut Ozil flick-on.Although he has been a revelation on the left wing of Real Madrid, he wasn’t at his best yesterday – lost possession most of the time and tried to take on too many defenders at once.
Karim Benzema – 9.5
One could see the confidence running through him! Was a nightmare for the Lyon defenders – nicking balls and running defenders ragged. Certainly got one over his former club. Scored a goal to secure a Man of the Match performance for me!
Emmanuel Adebayor (on for C.Ronaldo)-N.A.
Esteban Granero (on for Di Maria) – N.A.
Lassana Diarra (on for Benzema) – N.A.
Reaching the Quarter Finals for the first time in 6 years has sent a ray of confidence through the players. Real Madrid look like the team to beat at the moment but they may face European powerhouses FC Barcelona, Manchester United or Inter Milan who also look very strong. With “The Special One” at the helm and one of Europe’s top marksmen in Cristiano Ronaldo, it may well be the season to raise up the 10th.