Preview: BBC fired up to maintain Real Madrid’s lead in La Liga
The BBC was on fire in midweek. Gareth Bale scored a goal and gave two assists in Wales’ 3-1 win over Iceland. Karim Benzema was on target in France’s morale-boosting 2-0 victory over the Netherlands. Elsewhere, Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo netted a brace in a 5-1 rout of Samuel Eto’o’s Cameroon. CR7 broke free of retired footballer Pauleta to become his nation’s all-time topscorer with 49 goals.
It’s all looking good for Real Madrid’s stellar forward line. In La Liga, Bale (10) tops Los Blancos’ assists chart whereas Benzema (15) and Ronaldo (23) have more goals between them than Barcelona’s top two highest goalscorers in the league, Sanchez (16) and Messi (15).
Preview: Nobody is invincible
Everyone at Real Madrid is fired up for Sunday’s exciting match up between Atleti and Los Blancos at the Vicente Calderon. This includes quiet manager Carlo Ancelotti who told the press:
“The Copa final was a final; the game in La Liga went well for us, and not so well for them. They arrived better at the semifinals and we must congratulate them. This Liga game will be different; both teams have a lot on the line.
“There are many games left, but it is true they could go six points ahead. We have always said it: we are going to go from game to game. We will go into the game as if it was a final, as we always do. They are very good in defence and in attack they have great individuals. But nobody is invincible.”
Preview: Big ‘La Decima’ test in Germany for Los Blancos
Tickets for the Last 8 of the UEFA Champions League are at stake and Real Madrid are hoping to grab them but so do Schalke. Jens Keller affirmed in the build up to the showdown:
“We can't play without showing bravery. We have to find a balance between defence and attack.
“There is no doubt that Real Madrid has an incredible team, but we're not that bad. It all depends on how the team plays as a whole.”
Preview: Tricky warm-up for Real before Schalke meeting in Europe
“Today Realmadrid.com embarks on a passionate adventure and you are invited to take part,” the club stated on its newly-designed website on Thursday. On the pitch, meanwhile, the Spanish giants have been doing remarkably well in 2014 but they are yet to win their first major trophy since lifting the 2012 Spanish Supercup at Barcelona’s expense.
It has been a quiet week for Real Madrid in terms of fixtures while La Liga rivals Barcelona and Atletico engaged in Champions League Last 16 action away from home. Could Los Blancos benefit from their week-long rest and guarantee themselves a massive result this Saturday?
Preview: Day 2 without red-carded Ronaldo
Real Madrid’s 4-2 win over Villarreal last weekend assured Madridistas. The squad will now play their second consecutive league game without Ronaldo who is suspended. Once again, the spotlight has fallen on Jese Rodriguez and Gareth Bale.
The former has already been tipped as a future Ballon d’Or winner. He has earned the trust of Carlo Ancelotti, making 14 league appearances already with four goals and four assists.
“[Ancelotti] has helped me position myself better from a tactical perspective. He is a winner who always wants the team to improve, and that is very important,” Jese told Champions Magazine.
Preview: An uphill task for Spanish Cup champions Atletico
Almost there. Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane are about to experience their first ever Copa del Rey final as managers at Real Madrid. However, as much as upsets happen in football, the Spanish giants remain cautious ahead of Tuesday night’s encounter on the turf of their city rivals.
Atletico Madrid surprisingly conceded three goals without reply at the Santiago Bernabeu last week. This 3-0 first leg defeat requires Diego Simeone to be very smart this time round. What is worse for the Copa del Rey defending champions is that they will be without Diego Costa. The Brazilian-born striker picked up a booking and must now serve suspension.
Preview: The first of three games without Ronaldo
Carlo Ancelotti has enough talent at his disposal and may not struggle in the absence of red-carded Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese’s role is expected to be taken by flamboyant starlet Jese and returning winger Gareth Bale.
Meanwhile, Di Maria and Modric are set to keep their spots in the starting XI after impressing the Santiago Bernabeu crowd during Real Madrid’s remarkable 3-0 win against Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey in midweek.
Preview: Revenge mission – Ronaldo's Real to fail or succeed?
Cristiano Ronaldo’s name is making a lot of rounds in the media today – not only because he is celebrating his 29th birthday, but because the verdict following his dissmissal against Athletic Bilbao on Matchday 22 of La Liga has fallen. CR7 has been slapped with a three-match ban but it only applies in the league.
Coincidentally, Ronaldo’s penultimate sending off happened at the Santiago Bernabeu against Atletico Madrid; that was in the Copa del Rey final, last season. This Wednesday, the visitors and their traveling fans might do all they can to provoke Ronaldo in their favour. While the Ballon d’Or winner’s temper is set to be tested once more, his desire to make up for his moment of madness at San Mames could work out in Real Madrid’s favour.
Ahead of the decision by the Spanish FA, FC Barcelona's Gerard Pique gave his take on the situation, saying:
"Even on TV it looked dubious. I know Cristiano; he raised his hand, but it wasn't a big deal, it wasn't violent conduct."
Real Madrid sporting director Miguel Pardeza added more, during an interview with Canal Plus. He declared:
"It seemed simply unfair to me, if anyone deserved a red card, it was the one who started it off. Cristiano should have stayed on the pitch.
"It seems to me that Gurpegi is the first to put his hands on Cristiano's chest, and then tries to trick the referee as he exaggerates. We must have another look at the incident, calmly, and our legal department will decide whether to appeal or not."
Preview: Huge test for perfect Real Madrid
Perfection. This is what Real Madrid exhibited in January. Eight games, eight wins, eight clean sheets, and 17 goals scored. Carlo Ancelotti stuck with his policy of playing Diego Lopez in La Liga and Iker Casillas in the Copa del Rey and both goalkeepers kept their lines safe.
In attack, Jese and Karim Benzema made their presence count whenever luck didn’t favour club topscorer Cristiano Ronaldo. Angel Di Maria spent most of his minutes playing as a number 10 while Modric continued to produce energetic performances in midfield. To sum it up, Ancelotti and Zidane successfully led the Spanish giants to a successful start in 2014 after saying goodbye to a cupless and stressful period in 2013.
"To win the Champions League, you need a budget of at least €300 million", Bayern Munich legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn stated to German publication Kicker when asked his opinion on what it takes for a side to lift European continental football's highest trophy.
He then went on to add that it was thanks to their lavish spending that saw Chelsea lift the trophy in 2012, the first in the club's history but conceded that "it doesn't make them any different than Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Bayern Munich".
Still, no one can dispute that since Chelsea's July 2003 takeover by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich that the Blues have not enjoyed an upswing in success, notably winning the league title three times (their first since the the 1954-1955 campaign).
Preview: A perfect end to January for Ronaldo and Real?
In the 2013/14 Copa del Rey, only one team is yet to concede a goal. This team is Real Madrid. If the Spanish giants maintain this record on Tuesday, they will make it into the semi-finals.
Ten times this season, Cristiano Ronaldo has netted Real Madrid’s opening goal in a game. The La Liga topscorer possesses amazing goalscoring stats but luck hasn’t favoured him much in the Copa del Rey where he remains with a single strike against Osasuna, a shot crashing against the post and a failed overhead kick attempt at the Cornella-El Prat.
Preview: A chance for Ancelotti’s men to reach La Liga's summit
Granada have not scored away from home in 2014 and Saturday’s clash will only be their second as visitors. After going down 3-0 at Almeria, they seem to have little hopes of record a decent result at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Granada are a mid-table team with 24 points. While they are eight points safe from the relegation zone, they could fancy their chances of playing in Europe come next season. At the very least, Lucas Alcaraz will want his players to showcase character against Real Madrid.
Preview: Real Madrid favourites to clinch first-leg advantage
Los Blancos will be confident of triumphing following their 1-0 win at the Cornella El-Prat on Matchday 19 of La Liga. Pepe’s solid header in the second half of the game denied the Catalonia-based club’s impressive defensive setup.
One player who will want to redeem himself is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese attacker had a night to forget in his last game against Espanyol.
Fresh from being made a ‘Grand Officer of the Order of Prince Henry’ in Lisbon by Portugal’s government on Monday, the Ballon d’Or titleholder will be keen to increase his goal tally in the Copa del Rey. As of now, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is the topscorer with 4 goals. Ronaldo only has one.
Preview: A chance to join Barca and Atletico on 50 points
Can Los Blancos temporarily close the three-point gap that currently places them third behind joint-leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the Spanish La Liga? Real Betis are fighting a tough relegation battle. The visitors will want to take advantage of the Sevilla-based club’s worries.
Real Madrid have 47 points with seven wins in 10 away games. So far, they have conceded 13 goals away from home already. In 2014, however, the Spanish giants have been remarkably good defensively with five consecutive clean sheets (one in a friendly against PSG, two in La Liga and two in the Copa del Rey). Meanwhile, Real Betis are firmly rooted at the bottom of the league table with 11 points.
Preview: Golden goals for golden boy Cristiano?
Real Madrid’s camp is buzzing with euphoria following Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or triumph on Monday. Los Blancos will want to keep the fire burning by reaching the Copa del Rey quarter-finals at Osasuna’s expense.
They carry an advantage – not only because of their size on paper but because of their first leg victory at the Santiago Bernabeu. Jese Rodriguez and Karim Benzema’s goals were enough to separate the two teams at the end of the day as Iker Casillas kept a clean sheet.
However, Carlo Ancelotti prefers to be cautious.
Preview: La Liga – a three-horse race?
Reaching its half-way point, La Liga has only started getting interesting. Saturday’s goalless draw between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon appeared to be the best possible news for Real Madrid.
However, Los Blancos (44 points) will remain third no matter what happens at the Cornella-El Prat on Sunday. Victory is a must though, if they want to maintain the pressure on the Blaugrana and the Rojiblancos who both have 50 points. Reducing the gap to three points would transform La Liga in a three-horse race at the delight of Madridistas as well as neutrals.
Preview: Spectacle guaranteed at the Bernabeu with Bale & Ronaldo?
Game on! The much hyped duel between CR7 and La Pulga has been reignited. It’s Cristiano Ronaldo 2-2 Lionel Messi in 2014. “What you can do, I can do better” seems to be the rule of the game between these two superstar footballers since years now.
The Portuguese winger commenced the year in style with two late goals against Celta Vigo which he dedicated to the late Eusebio. Lionel Messi, meanwhile, marked his long-awaited return to action with a magnificent brace against Getafe on Wednesday night.
Preview: An exhibition of goals or flaws by Real?
Los Blancos decided to start the year with a friendly match against PSG. They edged it 1-0 with young star Jese netting the only goal of the game. The Spaniard has been tipped to flourish at Real Madrid. However, competition for places in attack is high and he may not be picked in Carlo Ancelotti’s starting XI on Monday.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who did not play the full game against Les Parisiens in midweek, will be fired up to kick off the year with a bang. The Portuguese national team captain has a great record against Celta de Vigo, with seven goals in four appearances in all competitions. A hat-trick at the Santiago Bernabeu would see him hit the 30-goal tally in only 22 matches this season.
Preview: Another Ibra-Ronaldo showdown on the cards
Last time the two men were on the same pitch the match ended in a five goal thriller and both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo scored all of their side’s goals as Portugal beat Sweden 3-2 in the second leg of the WCQ play-off to secure a place in the last 32.
This time when the two men face one another, the match will be played in the context of a friendly match but there is no denying that it promises to be a spectacle given the number of world class players which are present on either side.