Found March 02, 2013 on Fox Soccer:
Portugal_national_soccer_939e
Real Madrid's 2-1 Primera Division defeat of Barcelona on Saturday confirmed that Jose Mourinho's team is now dominant over their Catalan rivals, and that Cristiano Ronaldo has gained the upper hand in his personal rivalry with Lionel Messi. Ronaldo only had to play half an hour at a sunny Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, but that was enough to inspire Madrid to a second crushing victory over Barcelona in a week, following Tuesday's 3-1 Copa del Rey win. Messi played the full 90, and scored in the first half, but by the end had faded completely from the game, just as he had earlier in the week. The Portuguese's performance typified his side's drive and confidence ahead of its Champions League last 16 game at Manchester United on Tuesday; the Argentine's disappearing act showed Barca are in deep, deep trouble ahead of its European challenge against Milan . On the other hand, Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka told reporters afterwards that his side were leaving the game very, very content. "Everyone was saying this week could end our season," Karanka said. "We are very happy with how the games have gone." Another Madrid win had looked in doubt only two hours earlier when, thinking of Old Trafford, Mourinho had started just four of his first-choice XI, with Ronaldo among those rested for the game. Barca stand-in coach Jordi Roura played his strongest available side, but its weaknesses - especially in defence - were exposed just six minutes in as Karim Benzema was left free in front of goal to tap in youngster Alvaro Morata's clever cross to open the scoring. The visitors did not immediately panic, but did not show much urgency either. Barca was level when Messi emerged from his slumber to run onto Dani Alves slide-rule pass, cut inside his marker Sergio Ramos, and slip the ball to the net from 10 yards. Messi had matched Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano's all-time Clasico record of 18 goals, but that was enough to rouse Barcelona, who continued to pass the ball around nicely, but lacked the zip or precision to cause damage. Mourinho's players stuck to his plan, holding their positions and letting Barca have the ball in non-dangerous areas, with Pepe impressively filling Xabi Alonso's midfield boots. Into the second half, with Messi still very quiet, both sides seemed happy with 1-1. The crowd wanted more though and chants of Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldo rang around the stadium. When Barca did threaten, 19-year-old defender Raphael Varane again showed his huge potential by striding back to thwart David Villa. It was on the hour when the game went up a gear: CR7 replaced Benzema, and Madrid's motor started to turn over. Three times he came close to scoring, but one shot flew across goal, another was saved by Catalan keeper Victor Valdes and a third hit the side-netting. But Karanka denied Ronaldo had been motivated by being left out by Mourinho. "All the players know the boss and his way of thinking and acting," he said. "He treats them all the same." Madrid were rampant. Morata almost won the game when he ran away from marker Dani Alves but Valdes saved. Then, Ramos did win it, outjumping Pique to head in a Luka Modric corner. It was more awful defending from Barca, who have now conceded in 13 straight games, their worst run since 1962. They were little better further forward either, lacking in energy and ideas. At one point, Messi stood still, hands on hips on the right wing, while his teammates tried and failed to work the ball towards him. Asked if the superstar's current problems were mental or physical, Roura answered shortly: "Messi has no problems." Barca claimed an injury-time penalty for a Ramos challenge on Adriano inside the area, but referee Miguel Angel Perez Lasa said no. The Catalan frustrations boiled over, and at the final whistle Valdes - captain for the day - was red carded for taking his protests too far. "If you see the pictures it is very clear what happened," said a flailing Roura. "We were in the game right until the end, and could have got a point. We are still alive." Only just, Jordi. Your team - and especially Messi - need to wake up soon, or they could blow a record 12 point La Liga advantage. Ronaldo's late shot hit the woodwork, and 3-1 would have been a fairer result, given Madrid's second half dominance. Karanka finished his press conference stressing his side had no time to celebrate now, with just 72 hours to go till Old Trafford. "We cannot think we have done something extraordinary, or we will slip up in Manchester," he said. "We are not opening the champagne yet. We still have work to do."
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Fergie plays down CR7 rumors

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has received no signs of encouragement to suggest he could get Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford. Ronaldo returns to Old Trafford on Tuesday as Real Madrid take on United in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash. The Portuguese star's future has been the subject of speculation for the last few weeks as talks over...

Ronaldo returns to United, Giggs hits 1,000 games

As if there wasn't enough at stake when two of Europe's biggest teams go at it for a spot in the Champions League quarterfinals, there are a couple of extra reasons for fans to get emotional at Old Trafford on Tuesday. While one of Manchester United's former heroes returns, the club's longest-serving player is expected to hit another milestone. And then there'...

Ferguson plays down Ronaldo rumor

Each day we'll bring you the very latest tabloid rumors as the biggest clubs around splash the cash to bolster their rosters. True or not, they're always entertaining... The Middle-East group plotting a £1.5billion bid for Arsenal want talks with majority stakeholder Stan Kroenke. Roberto Mancini says he was right to criticize his players in public - and he would do it...

Bale Flattered By Messi, Ronaldo Comparisons

Gareth Bale has expressed his delight at being compared to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, stressed that he doesn’t model his game on anybody else, and praised Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Real Madrid to train at Etihad

Real Madrid will train ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash Manchester United at rivals Manchester City's Etihad Stadium. It is part of tournament regulations that competing teams must make part of their pre-match session open to the media. Almost always, that takes place at either the ground where the game is being played, or on home soil prior to departure, as has...

Albert Morgan interview: Man Utd kitman talks about the club’s legendary No. 7s

Albert Morgan interview: Man Utd kitman talks about the club’s legendary No. 7s - originally posted on Soccerlens.comWhen the late Norman Davies left Manchester United in 1996, he left a significant dent in the club’s back-room staff. Most of the fans United has now probably don’t even recognise the name of the iconic former Kit Manager who served the club for over 20 years...

Davids: Argyle wanted it more

Assistant coach Aitor Karanka was delighted with the performances of Real Madrid's fringe players after their 2-1 win over Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu. First-team coach Jose Mourinho made seven changes from the side that beat the Catalans 3-1 on Tuesday at the Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. But Madrid overcame an almost full-strength Barcelona side thanks to goals from...

Sturrock curses missed chances

Assistant coach Aitor Karanka was delighted with the performances of Real Madrid's fringe players after their 2-1 win over Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu. First-team coach Jose Mourinho made seven changes from the side that beat the Catalans 3-1 on Tuesday at the Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. But Madrid overcame an almost full-strength Barcelona side thanks to goals from...

Boothroyd bemoans opener

Assistant coach Aitor Karanka was delighted with the performances of Real Madrid's fringe players after their 2-1 win over Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu. First-team coach Jose Mourinho made seven changes from the side that beat the Catalans 3-1 on Tuesday at the Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. But Madrid overcame an almost full-strength Barcelona side thanks to goals from...

Real Madrid downs Barcelona again

Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-1 in the Spanish league on Saturday for its second victory over its fierce rivals in five days before its critical Champions League trip to Manchester United. Barcelona's Lionel Messi extended his Spanish league scoring record to 16 straight games in the 18th minute to cancel out Karim Benzema's sixth-minute opener, while Cristiano Ronaldo rested...

Jones misses United training

Phil Jones missed the open section of Manchester United training at Carrington on Monday morning ahead of Tuesday night's Champions League meeting with Real Madrid. Jones has been a fitness doubt after injuring his ankle in the FA Cup win over Reading a fortnight ago, although manager Sir Alex Ferguson has vowed to give the England man every chance of making the last-16 second...

Evra Hoping Love Is Tough For Ronaldo

Patrice Evra has said that he hopes the emotion surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford will negatively affect the Real Madrid star’s performance.

Real Madrid’a Kaka looking to impress in tonight’s El Clasico

Real Madrid’a Kaka looking to impress in tonight’s El Clasico - originally posted on Soccerlens.comThe strength of the Real Madrid squad may perhaps be underlined by the almost certain inclusion of once the ‘best footballer on earth’, the Brazilian midfield maestro Kaka in Real’s starting line-up for Saturday’s El Clasico at the Bernabeu. Kaka looking to impress in Saturday’s...

Primera Liga review

Real Madrid had one eye on their Champions League tie with Manchester United but still had enough to take El Clasico honours against Barcelona. A 2-1 victory may not be enough to get Jose Mourinho's side back in the title race - they are 13 points behind - but it was a notable scalp for the capital club, who started without the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira...

What Real Madrid could take from El Clasico for Man Utd

What Real Madrid could take from El Clasico for Man Utd - originally posted on Soccerlens.comReal Madrid players, manager and support staff must be sporting an ear-to-ear grin after completing the demolition job of Barcelona in a comprehensive manner, that too, twice in successive weeks. Morata celebrates after providing an excellent assist for Benzema’s goal What Saturday’s...
Soccer News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.