Ronaldo to sue over party allegations

Judging by their performance at the Bernabeu last weekend, Real Madrid’s players might as well have gone out on the town the night before! Soundly beaten by Barcelona 2-0 in their own back yard, and now looking well out of the race to win back the La Liga Crown, it looks like the season may be over for Madrid, with their end of season shindig the only thing to look forward to!

Claims this week though suggested that Cristiano Ronaldo had preempted the club’s plight, throwing all-night parties before and after “El Gran Clasico” at his Madrid home, a story angrily dismissed by the former World Player of the Year.

Whether or not the Madrid players did or didn’t get boozy in the early hours either side of the clash, I couldn’t help but laugh at the wording of Ronaldo’s “official” statement on the subject.

Although fluent in English, comments such as “not one iota of truth in it” and “intolerably depreciating to my dignity”, made me feel that the Portugeezer may have had a little assistance in piecing together his comeback.

Here is Ronaldo’s plead of innocence, in his own words!

“It has come to my attention that in the programme ‘Salva-Me’ on Spanish television channel Telecinco, there were references made to alleged parties held at my house, one on Friday, the eve of the game against Barcelona, which reportedly lasted until five in the morning, and one on Saturday night itself, interspersed with several comments which were intolerably depreciating to my dignity and my professionalism.

“I categorically refute such accusations, which are completely false and delusional: there is really not even one iota of truth in them.

“With a game the next day, it is more than obvious that I spent Friday night resting and, on Saturday night, my spirit was anything but festive.

“Considering the gravity of the charges, I have instructed my lawyers to, without any reflection, use all legal means to restore the truth of the matter and ensure that those responsible are punished to the fullest extent legally provided.”

Mourinho not good enough for Real: Schuster

Bernd Schuster has sensationally written off Jose Mourinho’s chances of succeeding as manager of Real Madrid, before the “Special One” has even taken on the job.

The former Real coach, who quit the club in December 2008 has slammed Mourinho, indicating that he doesn’t believe that the Portuguese coach is good enough to take over the reigns at the Bernabeu.

Mourinho is being widely tipped to take over at Madrid in the summer, after stating that he has fallen out of love with Italian football. Schuster also claimed that current coach Manuel Pellegrini had not done enough in his time in charge of Real.

“Mourinho doesn’t have the profile or the philosophy of Real Madrid and Pellegrini has not changed the team’s style of play either.” said the German.

Barca steam past Real/Weekend La Liga Round-Up

Barcelona returned the top of the Primera Division, with a brilliant 2-0 victory away to bitter rivals Real Madrid, in the eagerly awaited “El Gran Clasico” clash on matchday 31.

Pep Guardiola’s side are now three points clear of Real, thanks to goals either side of half time from Lionel Messi and Pedro. They now also have the upper hand on Real in terms of the two sides’ head-to-head record, which is practically worth another point if the teams end the season locked at the top.

It looks unlikely that that will be the case though, as Barcelona are in unstoppable form of late, and if recent performances are anything to go by, there is not a single side on the planet that can stop them, let alone in La Liga.

It was a disappointing show from Real, especially considering the run of form that they carried into the game, and it will be interesting to see the fall-out, should they not go on now to win the league title. I, as many do, expect Manuel Pelligrini to be shown the door as manager at the end of the season, and believe that the Real board will now chase Jose Mourinho as their next coach. It will be interesting to see how things develop at the Bernabeu during the summer months.

Aside from the top two, the battle for fourth place continues to intensify. There were wins for 4th, 5th and 6th place, as Sevilla, Mallorca and Athletic Bilbao all secured three points in tough fixtures.

Sevilla came from behind to win 2-1 away to Malaga thanks to second half strikes from Cala and Lolo, whilst Mallorca produced an impressive performance to overcome third placed Valencia 3-2 at ONO Estadi.

Athletic Bilbao were emphatic in their victory over Almeria at San Mames, beating their mid-table opposition 4-1 and also missing a penalty in the process. Javier Martinez struck twice, with Igor Gabilondo and Fernando Llorente grabbing the others, as Bilbao bounced back from their drubbing at the Nou Camp a week earlier, to keep up the heat on their nearest rivals.

There was yet more misery for the bottom three, as Tenerife and Valladolid played out a 0-0 draw that will do neither of them any favours, and Xerez’s recent revival ended with a 1-0 defeat at home to Getafe, thanks to a strike from Rafa Lopez.

Atletico Madrid looked to be suffering from a European hangover, following their victory over Valencia in the Europa League, as they were soundly beaten away to Espanyol 3-0.

Deportivo were held 1-1 at home to Racing Santander, whilst Osasuna beat Zaragoza 2-0 and Villarreal edged past Sporting Gijon 1-0.

Player for Player: “El Clasico’s” Key Battles

Xabi Alonso vs Xavi

 On his return from suspension, Xabi Alonso will almost certainly be the man in the Madrid midfield set with the task of suffocating Xavi’s influence in pulling the strings in the Barca side. Alonso has been in brilliant form since his switch from Liverpool last summer, and will have to shut down his Spanish teammate’s passing avenues to the front men, and in particular Lionel Messi, if Real are to stand any chance of winning the game.

 Marcelo vs Lionel Messi

 The Brazilian Marcelo is the unfortunate full back in Spain assigned with Mission Impossible this weekend, up against the man for whom currently no superlative can do justice. Lionel Messi is top scorer in both La Liga and the Champion’s League this season, and in the unlikely event that Marcelo can stop the world player of the year from adding to his tally, he will need the rest of Madrid’ rearguard to be at top of their games to keep out the Catalan club’s wealth of attacking talent

 Gonzalo Higuain vs Gerard Pique

 Just behind Messi in the scoring charts, is his Argentine counterpart Gonzalo Higuain. Higuain has been one of Real Madrid’s most consistent performers this season, their Mr.Dependable, with a goal a game ratio in La Liga, and three assists. Pique’s defensive performances have been equally impressive, and he will fancy his chances of keeping Higuain quiet once more, just as he did when the two sides met back in November.

Great “El Gran Clasico” encounters

Six of the best “El Gran Clasico” encounters

 Barca run riot on route to clean sweep

 Real Madrid 2-6 Barcelona, Primera Division, May 2009, Santiago Bernabeu

 Pep Guardiola’s side destroyed their bitter rivals to move seven points clear at the top of La Liga, ending a run of 18 games without defeat for Real Madrid, since they had succumbed to Barca earlier in the season at the Nou Camp. Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry stole the show with two goals apiece, as Barcelona went on to win every trophy in sight.

 Cruyff the catalyst for five star champions

 Real Madrid 0-5 Barcelona, Primera Division, February 1974, Santiago Bernabeu

 35 years previous, and another glittering performance from Barcelona in the capital. The legendary Johan Cruyff was among the scorers that night, during another title-winning season for the Catalan club, to which their hosts had no reply.

Zam the man, as Real avenge mauling

 Real Madrid 5-0 Barcelona, Primera Divsion, January 1995, Santiago Bernabeu

 With Barcelona’s dominance in La Liga under Johan Cruyff at its peak, an emphatic victory, inspired by the brilliant Chilean Ivan Zamorano, signalled the beginning of the end for this great Barca side. After winning four consecutive titles, Cruyff’s ended the season in fourth, whilst Real went on to win their first Spanish crown since 1990.

 Raul magic earns Madrid European spoils

 Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona, Uefa Champion’s League Semi-final, 2nd leg, May 2002, Santiago Bernabeu

 After winning 2-0 in the Nou Camp in the first leg, Real Madrid had all but secured their place in Glasgow, thanks to goals from Zinedine Zidane and Steve McManaman.

42 years on from the night the great Alfredo Di Stefano lit up Hampden Park, they secured their passage back to the famous ground. Although Barclelona dominated the game, a moment of magic from Raul was enough to see them through.

 The birth of “El Gran Clasico”

 Real Madrid 11-1 Barcelona, Cup of Spain semi-final, second leg, 1943, Chamartin Stadium

 The game from which the term “El Gran Clasico” was first used to describe this great game. Having lost the first leg 3-0 away from home, and been subjected to verbal abuse and hostilities by the Barcelona support, Real’s players went out on to the pitch on a revenge mission. After storming into an 8-0 lead at half time, Real went on to achieve their greatest ever win over their great rivals.

 The pig’s head

 Barcelona 0-0 Real Madrid, Primera Division, November 2002, Nou Camp

 After his world record £37million move from Barcelona to Real in the summer of 2000, Luis Figo felt the full force of the hatred between the two sides on his first return to the Nou Camp. Disgusted at his switch of allegiance, the Catalan crowd let their fury be known, reigning a constant tirade of abuse and missiles down on the Portuguese midfielder throughout the 90 minutes, including the now infamous, pig’s head.

“El Gran Clasico” Preview

Real Madrid face Barcelona at the Bernabeu on Saturday in one of the most eagerly awaited ‘El Gran Clasico’ contests in recent years.

 With the sides locked at the La Liga summit on the same number of points, Real lead their rivals by just one goal, meaning that this game will go a long way in determining whether the league title will be re-acquainting itself with Catalonia or wrestled back to the capital by the Madrid giants.

 Substitute Zlatan Ibrahimovich’s second half strike separated the two sides back in November, as Barcelona ran out 1-0 winners at the Nou Camp, with the Swedish forward scoring just moments after coming off the bench.

 That meeting holds great significance, as if the two sides end the campaign on the same points total, then the destination of the Primera Division crown will be decided by their head-to-head record, as opposed to their prolificacy in front of goal.

 Heading into their biggest match of the season, Real Madrid have won 12 successive league games and are not only hoping to gain a foothold in the title race, but also intent on avenging last season’s embarrassing 6-2 defeat at the hands of their much loathed rivals.

 Amazingly, neither side has lost at home so far in this campaign. Real hold a 100 per cent record at the Bernabeu, and Villarreal are the only side to have stopped Barca taking maximum points at the Nou Camp, after gaining a 1-1 draw there in January.

 It is a huge task that awaits Pep Guardiola’s side on Saturday night, and one that will be made all the more difficult, should Ibrahimovich not recover in time from the calf injury that he picked up during the warm-up just before last weekend’s 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao.  

 However, Guardiola will take confidence from the fact that his side ended a similar Madrid patch of form last term, when the current league leaders went unbeaten for 18 games between the two “El Clasico” games, only for that to run end miserably in the same fixture.

 Last season will not have made comfortable viewing for those within the Bernabeu walls, as Barca achieved a clean sweep of trophies at home and on the continent, culminating in their World Club championship victory back in December.

 That dominance triggered a summer spending spree, which saw the arrival of the next generation of Galacticos, led by the marquee signing of Cristiano Ronaldo for £80 million from Manchester United

 Real Madrid are hopeful that their other bank busting signing, Kaka, will return for the clash, after having spent the last month on the sidelines with a troublesome thigh injury.

 The Brazilian has been working round the clock with the club’s physio team this week in a bid to prove his fitness, and hopes to play some part in the game, even if it means a place on Manuel Pelligrini’s bench.

 Barcelona coach Guardiola will again be able to call upon the services of Andres Iniesta, after he returned from injury as a substitute in the 4-1 demolition of Arsenal.

Xerez run of form continues in hunt for survival / Weekend La Liga Round-Up

Xerez picked up a valuable point in their relegation battle in La Liga, with a 2-2 draw away to Sporting Gijon. It has been a spirited attempt at a revival from the Primera Division’s bottom side in recent weeks, having won two and drawn two of their last four, in what is unquestionably their best run of form this season.

It remains highly unlikely that Xerez have what it takes to overhaul the eight point gap which stands between them and 17th placed Racing Santander, but it is still impressive form given the ground they have made on Valladolid and Tenerife, who also make up the bottom three.

The bottom three are heavy favourites to go down given the six point gap between Racing in 17th and Tenerife in 18th, and all of the strugglers, other than Xerez, endured miserable weekends. Luis Fabiano was back among the goals as Sevilla finally found their form with a 3-0 victory at home to Tenerife, whilst Villarreal won 2-0 away to Valladolid thanks to goals from Angel Lopez and Nilmar.

Real Madrid and Barcelona were both ruthless ahead of next weekend’s eagerly anticipated El Clasico at the Bernabeu. Real stay top thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty and another goal from Gonzalo Higuain in a 2-0 victory away to Racing Santander.  Barca took apart Athletic Bilbao at the Nou Camp 4-1, with two goals from Bojan and one each from Messi and Jeffren. In doing so they also gained ground on their rivals in the goal difference stakes, with the sides now separated at the top by just a single goal.

Valencia continue to look great value for third place after they saw off Osasuna 3-0 at the Mestalla, to move eight points clear of fourth. Another brace from David Villa helped them on their way and the club must be geared for some offers for the in-demand Spain forward this summer, as he took his domestic tally to 20 for the season.

A last gasp equaliser from Pierre Webo kept Mallorca level on points with fourth placed Sevilla, as they were held 1-1 by Almeria. 

Atletico Madrid dealt Deportivo’s European hopes a huge blow with a 3-0 victory over Miguel Angel Lotina’s men at Vincente Calderon, with goals from Juanito, Diego Forlan and Tiago.

Elsewhere, relegation threatened Zaragoza overcame Malaga 2-0 and Getafe and Espanyol played out a 1-1 draw.