Real Madrid enter pivotal week in treble hunt

Posted by Rob Train

Rex Features/AP ImagesCarlo Ancelotti will hope his rested Real Madrid side are ready for Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

This time exactly two years ago, two things happened to shape Real Madrid's season: On April 21, Jose Mourinho's side traveled to Camp Nou and carved out a 2-1 victory to essentially seal the Liga title.

That team would go on to amass 100 points and 121 goals scored, smashing the previous record held by John Toshack's Real Madrid. Barcelona also scored more than the Welsh manager's 1989-90 team, but would fall short of the league by three wins.

Real had already been eliminated from the domestic cup by the eternal foe but entered the second leg of its Champions League tie in good shape; Bayern Munich came to the Bernabeu with a slim 2-1 lead courtesy of Mario Gomez's last-gasp strike in Germany -- a continuance of Real's "curse" on German soil. Continue Reading...

Isco becomes a viable midfield option

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

Angel Martinez/Getty ImagesIsco impressed in a deeper midfield role vs. Barcelona on Wednesday.

Beyond talk of the wonder goal, the celebrations, the talk of Barcelona’s decline and Lionel Messi’s less-than-impressive performance, there was something largely missing from the post-match analysis of Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey victory over Barca on Wednesday night.

The Spanish media was awash with pictures of Gareth Bale screaming with joy after netting Los Blancos’ winner and Iker Casillas lifting the first major trophy of the season and Carlo Ancelotti being thrown into the air in celebration by his players after winning his first trophy with the club (at the first time of asking). Continue Reading...

Bale crowned 'Prince of Wales' with stunning Copa winner

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

Cesar Manso/AFP/Getty ImagesReal Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates his Copa del Rey winner with Karim Benzema.

Few will be convinced that a footballer is worth almost 100 million pounds, but Gareth Bale went some way to proving just why Real Madrid shelled out a huge transfer fee for his services with a decisive goal that saw Los Blancos lift the Copa del Rey in a tense final against old foes Barcelona at the Mestalla on Wednesday night.

- Report: Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

The Welshman's stats have been impressive in his first season at the Santiago Bernabeu, but he has yet to convince all Madridistas that he's the real deal -- a real star to match Cristiano Ronaldo. Continue Reading...

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...