Bale obligated to rise to occasion in Ronaldo's absence

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

Real Madrid could be without their lead actor for Wednesday's star-studded Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, but in Gareth Bale, Los Blancos have a supporting actor who will relish taking temporary top-dog status if Cristiano Ronaldo's knee injury rules him out of the trip to the Mestalla.

- Marcotti: Real react well on eve of Copa final
- Report: Ancelotti: Clasico key to rest of season

The Portuguese forward has missed Los Blancos' last three matches but was expected to return for what will be Madrid's first chance at major silverware this season. Continue Reading...

Real Madrid roll Almeria, ready for Barca

Posted by Rob Train

PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty ImagesGareth Bale got in on the scoring act as Real Madrid dumped Almeria and right back in La Liga title race.

The outcome of Real Madrid’s fixture against Almeria was rarely in doubt; only the margin of victory was in question.
Although Real was severely depleted -- Sergio Ramos joined the list of absentees at the 11th hour -- the visiting side’s lack of ambition was destined to play into the hands of Carlo Ancelotti’s title-chasers from the outset. Real’s eventual 4-0 win was the closest to three free points any team will pick up this season.

Almeria coach Francisco Rodriguez approached this match with necessary pragmatism. Continue Reading...

Madrid out to serve their finest dish to Munich

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

Real MadridGettyImagesReal Madrid will be out to avenge their semifinal defeat to Bayern in the UCL two years ago.

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and for Real Madrid, the chance to oust title holders Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the Champions League could well be the tastiest dish Los Blancos have served for some time.

The draw took place Friday morning and pitted Madrid against the competition’s reigning champions, this season’s runaway Bundesliga winners and most people’s favourites to lift the trophy a year on in Lisbon. Madrid will face a Bayern club that dramatically thwarted Madrid's chances of winning La Decima in 2012 when Bayern progressed to a final date against Chelsea in their own backyard thanks to a penalty shootout success at the Bernabeu. Continue Reading...

More questions than answers after Madrid's slender progression

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty ImagesCarlo Ancelotti's decision to keep Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench almost cost Real Madrid dearly on Tuesday.

It was supposed to be so easy. Three goals to the good, no away goals conceded, against a side blighted by injuries and not exactly setting the Bundesliga alight. For many, Real Madrid were shoo-ins for a place in the semifinals of the Champions League, but Los Blancos almost caused their own horrendous downfall in Dortmund on Tuesday night.

It was supposed to be so easy, but it wasn't -- far from it.

A brace of first-half goals from Marco Reus had Jurgen Klopp's men agonisingly close to levelling the quarterfinal tie after Madrid had eased to a 3-0 win at the Bernabeu last week. Continue Reading...

Dortmund have mountain to climb even if Ronaldo unfit

Posted by Rob Train

Helios de la Rubia/Getty ImagesCristiano Ronaldo's status for Tuesday night's Champions League fixture is in doubt.

There are two main definitions of "miracle" in the Oxford English Dictionary: one that is "not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency," and another that covers "a remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences."

Ahead of Borussia Dortmund's Champions League second-leg match against Real Madrid on Tuesday, the general consensus is at least one of those will be required. Facing a 3-0 deficit from the opening game last week, Juergen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund side are not so much the underdog as the dog immediately below that: quite how their maths was come by was not revealed, but Eurosport's Eurogoals programme puts Real's likelihood of progressing to the quarterfinals of this year's competition at 93 percent. Continue Reading...

Ramos leads Real to Anoeta victory

Posted by Rob Train

AP Photo/Alvaro BarrientosReal Madrid center backs Sergio Ramos and Pepe teamed up for Los Blancos' third in Saturday's 4-0 win at Real Sociedad.

Billed as Real Madrid's toughest fixture in the La Liga title run-in, Saturday's encounter at Real Sociedad's Anoeta stadium eventually turned into a stroll for Carlo Ancelotti's side. A combative first half was not without its share of controversy, however the visitors ran out 4-0 victors in a game that maintained the status quo at the top of the table.

- Report: Real Sociedad 0-4 Real Madrid

Fixture fiddling is something of an obsession in Spain, up there with ham fraud and EU-imposed limits on the longevity of olive oil dispensers. Continue Reading...

Madrid gamble on Ronaldo absence

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

The analysis of Carlo Ancelotti's team selections and tactics in his first season with Real Madrid has been plentiful, but the Italian's joint decision to leave Cristiano Ronaldo out of what is arguably his side's toughest La Liga fixture until the end of the season is set to be his biggest call yet.

- Report: Ronaldo rested for Sociedad match

The Portuguese forward will sit out Los Blancos' trip to San Sebastian to face Real Sociedad on Saturday night, with Madrid needing maximum points to keep pace with leader Atletico and second-place Barcelona in the title race. Continue Reading...

Real take giant step toward semifinals

Posted by Rob Train

Cristiano Ronaldo came off injured during Real Madrid's win over DortmundAllsportThe only way back for Dortmund is if Cristiano Ronaldo can't play in the second leg.

Real Madrid partially avenged their Champions League dismantling in the Westfalenstadion at the semifinal stage last season by demolishing Borussia Dortmund in the opening leg of the quarterfinal between the Bundesliga's second power and Spain's European heavyweight. It scarcely needs to be mentioned that Real are seeking to add a 10th European triumph to the record nine they already possess, but Carlo Ancelotti's side has a foot and a half in the semifinals courtesy of a 3-0 win in the Bernabeu. Continue Reading...

Is Cristiano Ronaldo selfish?

Posted by Rob Train

ESPN Stats & Info

Ahead of Real Madrid's Champions League clash with familiar foe Borussia Dortmund, a lot of attention has landed on the boos directed at Cristiano Ronaldo during Los Blancos' 5-0 La Liga victory over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday. A section of the Bernabeu support jeered the Portugal captain late in the game when he decided to go it alone rather than square for unmarked teammate Alvaro Morata, prompting the re-emergence of the age-old debate surrounding the Real Madrid goal machine: Is Ronaldo a selfish player? Continue Reading...

Ronaldo whistles not overly concerning for Madrid

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

Cristiano Ronaldo was subjected to jeers from the crowd during Real Madrid's victory.GettyImagesCristiano Ronaldo was subjected to jeers from the crowd during Real Madrid's victory.

The Santiago Bernabeu can be one of, if not the, most thrilling places for a footballer to strut his stuff. But history shows that it can also be one of the most unforgiving -- even if you’re wearing the all-white of Real Madrid.

When things are good, they’re very good. When they’re bad, they’re very bad. You can feel on top of the world one minute and just want the carpet-like pitch to swallow you up the next. Madridistas are a hard bunch to please; they want the best and they demand the best. Continue Reading...

Goals, and jeers, rain on the Bernabeu in Rayo victory

Posted by Rob Train

Dani Pozo/AFP/Getty ImagesGareth Bale answered some early jeers with two quick second-half goals.

Real Madrid's players will have been well aware when they stepped onto the pitch at the Bernabeu that victory over Rayo Vallecano was non-negotiable. Barcelona -- albeit only just -- and Atletico had both won their Saturday evening matches and had, temporarily, moved to five and six points ahead in the Liga standing. Two losses on the bounce since Real briefly took over at the top of the table had knocked confidence a little and Rayo -- on the up themselves in recent weeks -- were in no mood to play ball for the benefit of the home side. Continue Reading...

Ancelotti's midfield dilemma for Rayo visit

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

Cristiano Ronaldo woe Sevilla vs Real Madrid 20140326GettyImagesIt was another unhappy evening for Cristiano Ronaldo and co as Real Madrid lost to Sevilla.

On Saturday night, Real Madrid host a team that may be battling bravely against relegation this season, but one that can control possession as well as many in Europe, in Rayo Vallecano. That means manager Carlo Ancelotti’s midfield selection is a crucial one as Los Blancos look to halt a two-match losing streak that has sent them from title favourites to title outsiders.

Rayo, from the working-class Vallecas area of the Spanish capital, became the first team in 317 competitive matches to out tiki-taka masters Barcelona, with 56 percent of possession earlier this season. Continue Reading...