Llorente vs Adebayor: Duel in the heights

Fernando Llorente (1.95 meters) is the tallest forward in the Spanish League, ahead of Lekic (1.93), Kanoute (1.92), Rafa Jorda (1.91) and his rival today, Adebayor (1, 91). Fernando Llorente, top scorer with the head of the League, with 8 goals, through a streak without precedent in his career; he has three straight games without scoring with the head. During the 2010-11, Llorente has reached to score three goals in a row with his head, in two different streaks and still has eight days ahead to try to overthrow the mythical mark of Alfonso (Real Madrid and Betis player), who scored twelve headed goals in the 1996-97 season. With only one more, Llorente will achieve something that nobody does in the Spanish League for ten years: to score nine goals with the head in a season. Raul did it in the season 2000-01.

Llorente is the tallest player of the Spanish League
Fernando Llorente

On Tuesday, Adebayor got something that had only achieved two players in the history of Real Madrid; scoring two headed goals in a Champions League match. Ivan Zamorano did it against Ferencvaros, October 18, 1995, and Panucci against Sturm Graz, May 5, 1998. Were his first two goals since leaving dreadlocks.
In his last three seasons in the Premier League, Adebayor averaged 28% of headed goals (7 of the 25), but his last nine goals in the English Championship before coming to Real Madrid in January, were scored with the right leg.

Adebayor scored against Blackburn with his right leg
Emmanuel Adebayor

Real Madrid is the tallest team in the League (1.83 meters), ahead of Racing (1.82),Osasuna (1.82), Athletic (1.82) and Levante (1.82). The samllest team in Spanish League, Barcelona (1.78). But Athletic Bilbao is the team has scored most headed goals (16) this season, ahead of Almeria (10) and Real Sociedad (10). However, the "Lions" have only scored one of their last 16 goals with the head after the spectacular start of the season which invites to think about the Betis' stratospheric record. The green-white team scored 25 goals with the head in season 1996-97.

Preview: Athletic Bilbao vs Real Madrid

The first away match of the month is in the always very difficult San Mames stadium, where Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao will battle for three important points. The Whites can earn their tenth road win in league play as well as reduce the lead held by Barcelona one week before the Classic at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Jose Mourinho is already thinking of the four Classics against Barcelona. His obsession is how to play the Catalans and one of the options he likes, it is to play with three forwards, the system that gave him a pass to the Champions League final last year with Inter. Today in San Mames, he could test the three strikers with Higuain, Cristiano and Adebayor.

Mourinho will test the system with three strikers
Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo and Adebayor

Mourinho won the game against Guardiola a year ago in the Champions League semifinal tie and did it with three forwards: Eto'o, Pandev and Diego Milito. Now he can do it with Real Madrid. Portuguese could put back Özil's position to join him with Xabi Alonso and Diarra or Khedira, leaving three players to attack with freedom.

In Bilbao, it seems to play Lass, by German midfielder flu, while Di Maria will stay on the bench because he is apperceived for penalty. Moreover, Argentine player ended the match against Sporting tired and can rest after his efforts against Tottenham. Without Benzema, Mou will bring up all his artillery, with Cristiano and Higuain in the wings and Manolito Adebayor as '9'.

The Portuguese coach has felt comfortable with a 4-3-3 system that gave him the triplet last season at Inter. To join Özil with Xabi Alonso and a one defensive midfielder may be a solution to have more possesion of the ball, using the vertical velocity of Cristiano and Higuain (Benzema could come by the Argentine when he recovers) and a '9' to help in pressure; Adebayor. Is this the Mou's plan for the Classics?

Currently fifth in the table, Athletic Bilbao needs a victory to continue believing team can make it into next season's Europa League or even the Champions League. Going in its favor is the fact the match is at a sold-out San Mames, where Bilbao has won ten matches and lost five this year. Joaquin Caparros (Bilbao coach) called up 19 players, including Susaeta and Aitor Ocio, both of whom sat out last weekend against Almeria. Meanwhile, Amorebieta, Igor Martinez and Jon Aurtenetxe are injured and unavailable.

  • Mourinho should distribute rests and minutes, and it is likely that the core of the defense in San Mames will be Albiol and Pepe (suspended for London) And it is possible that Marcelo, who played 'injured' against 'Spurs' will stay on the bench.
  • In Bilbao, players dream of repeating the last year feat when they won with a solitary goal from Fernando Llorente. In Madrid, they need a victory to stay alive in the league.
  • Iker Muniain. Bilbao small forward suffers physical problems from Monday's game against Almeria and will be uncertain until the last moment at Caparros' starting lineup.


Gillette knows that Kaka's beard has a price

Kaka, a player who claims to wear a normal and good boy image, fleeing the eccentricities, was presented Tuesday at the Bernabeu with a beard, not usual for him. Shocking. The explanation is that the contract he has with Gillette has expired and is in negotiations to renew it. The brand of shaving products (Kaka has been image along with other global sports icons like Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Thierry Henry) remains confident in the style of Brazilian soccer.

Kaka played with beard the last Real Madrid match
Kaka's beard

Kaka has not grown a beard to press for renewal of this contract, but it is certain that his image is having a global impact. Is a reference. To see him having a shave again, along with other stars, can produce large revenues to this trademark. Kaka's beard is still highly valued and Gillette will put a new price for that shave. How long we will see him with that beard? For now, he presented his intentions in the game against Tottenham.

In his case there are more factors. Not only advertising but also the fact that he took more than a month without playing a match and in some ways, he wants to start again. Change the look is very typical of the Brazilian players when they want to end a poor run and claim that the fans see them with different eyes. Ronaldo did it in the World Cup in Korea and Japan in 2002. He shaved his head and left a lock on the top of the forehead. He wanted to talk more about his look and less abou the state of his knee. Had a positive effect, with covers dedicated to this style and children copying the hairstyle. Ronaldo, who many people took for finish, won the World Cup and ended up being the top scorer.

Kaka is in the process of proving to the critics that he has football in his legs for a longtime. The beard is a superstition that matches the new contract he is negotiating with Gillette.

Four Real Madrid vs Barcelona in 18 days?

All indications are that Barcelona and Real Madrid will face four times in the next month.The match of the second round of the League and the final of the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey) are insured. And the two of the semifinal of the Champions League because both blue-reds and whites have left the quarterfinals more than on track.

Possible schedule with four Real Madrid vs Barcelona in 18 days
Four Classics in 18 days

The 5-1 (Barcelona vs Shakhtar Donetsk) in the Nou Camp makes the quarterfinal second leg, next Tuesday April 12 in Ukraine, a formality. Although in the Barcelona dressing room there is a message of caution. "There are 90 minutes and we must be careful. If they score a goal soon, we will suffer". Pique said after the win against Shakhtar.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, will play on Wednesday April 13 at White Hart Lane field with the clear advantage of 4-0 earned in the Bernabeu. However, Mourinho's players do not feell in the semifinals: "It's a great result, but we can not underestimate Tottenham", said Cristiano Ronaldo after the first leg.

Therefore, unless a surprise comeback of Shakhtar or Tottenham next week, Barcelona and Real Madrid will be in semifinals of the Champions League and, because the draw threw up their quarterfinal heats were crossed, there will be a "Classic" in Europe. Therefore, a Spanish team in the final at Wembley.

The semifinals would be the icing to a marathon of classics which will begin on Saturday April 16 at 10 pm hours with the Real Madrid-Barcelona in the second round of the League.This match at the Bernabeu is a "decaffeinated" Classic because Barcelona has the title in its pocket but it cuold be a revenge for the 5-0 in the first round at the Camp Nou. A Madrid-Barcelona is always a Madrid-Barcelona.

However, if one of these classics is marked on the calendar, it is the match they will play four days later. Then, they will fight for a title in 90 minutes. This is the final of the Spanish Cup on Wednesday April 20 at 9:30 pm at the Mestalla Stadium.

And if this were not enough, the hard work of both in the Champions and a capricious draw, allow that may have two Classics more. The semifinal round of the continental competition would be on Wednesday April 27 at 8:45 pm hours at the Santiago Bernabeu, and the second leg on May 3 at the Nou Camp. At stake, the Champions League final against Schalke 04, Inter Milan, Chelsea or Manchester United.


Mourinho will make changes against Athletic Bilbao

On Tuesday, the Madrid left virtually assured the passage to the semifinals of the Champions League thanks to the 4-0 against Tottenham achieved at the Bernabeu Stadium. However, Mourinho will face the second leg of the tie, in order to achieve another good result. Thus in San Mames he is going to make some changes. Those most likely to rest are Cristiano and Marcelo. Both forced for play against Tottenham and could travel to Bilbao, but would start the game on the bench. Arbeloa and Granero would be taken up their positions. Another who also has many possibilities for get out of starting line is Carvalho. Instead would play Albiol. Pepe will play because he will be sidelined in London due to suspension.

Mourinho manages a training in Valedebebas Sports City
Real Madrid training

On the other hand, Mourinho will receive good news today, the return of Benzema. The French striker was injured on March 29, with France in a game against Croatia and therefore missed the last two games of Real Madrid (Sporting Gijón and Tottenham). Karim suffered a puncture in the thigh of the left leg and had to be replaced. However, already has overcome these physical problems and now back to work with the group.

With the recovery of Benzema, Mourinho will have three forwards at his disposal: Higuain, Benzema and Adebayor. However, everything indicates that the Frenchman will start on the bench at San Mames (Bilbao). The great match played by Adebayor against Tottenham, with a double included, seems to serve him to stay in the starting lineup. However, Mourinho will not reveal the mystery until Saturday.

"Manolito" Adebayor wants to stay at Real Madrid

Togolese player has won the affection of the fans, but Real Madrid would have to pay 17 million for keep him in the team. He is the cheapest option against Llorente or Agüero.

Adebayor came to Madrid in late January with a trial period of four months. The Togolese have until May 28, if Real Madrid plays the final of the Champions League, to convince Jose Mourinho that he is the ideal striker to strengthen the Real Madrid attack. Against Tottenham, added two points in the particular test that approach hin a little closer to becoming a white player next season.

Adebayor leaves the field with the fans acclaiming him
Manolito Adebayor

Real Madrid holds a purchase option at the end of his assignment by 17 million euros.This figure is the great advantage of Adebayor over other options that white club management is considering; Sergio Agüero and Fernando Llorente. Athletic striker would leave San Mames only for 36 million euros, more than twice, as long as the Basque club does not require the transfer tax. The Atletico's Argentine would rise to 45 million.

The Togolese good start at Real Madrid was cut short when he cut his dreadlocks. On March 7, a day after his last goal in the League, he changed his look. And without dreadlocks the goals dried up. The issue was cause for concern for Adebayor, who felt, in every game without score a goal, that his continuance in the Bernabeu walked away. So the anger with which he held his two goals against Tottenham and the wink that made to the Real Madrid fans for claim himself.

Since his debut in Pamplona on January 30, Adebayor adds five goals; two in League, one in Spanish Cup and two in the Champions League, in 14 games, half of them as starter.

Real Madrid will exercise its purchase option during the first week of July, but Adebayor has only two months of competition for show Mourinho that he is the striker for white team. Otherwise, 'Manolito' will be Emmanuel and will return to England, Manchester City.


Champions League (Quarterfinals, 1st Leg): Mourinho


"I know English teams and their mindset. I know what it is like. Anything can happen in England, White Hart Lane is a difficult stadium to play in. Although it's a hard score to turn around they will put up a gight. We must respect this opponent. They are very talented. We must play a serious match and continue being a team that this year still has not lost a match in the Champions League".

"The fact that I said that 0-0 wouldn't be a bad outcome didn't mean that that was the score we wanted to play for. We proved it from the start by pressuring up front and playing fast. We started off really well. We played well in the second half. We pressured in attack and we didn't let them advance. We put a lot of speed on the ball and played with ambition. We deserved this outcome".

A difficult match on the bench for Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

"I thought it was important to have three forwards and today you saw why. With Benzema injured, today we had one striker playing and another on the bench. I am very happy with all three because they are all different and they can all contribute a lot".

"The matter regarding yellow cards is interesting because we have a lot of players who can be suspended. The normal thing would have been to see one get booked and forced to miss the match in London. But Mourinho, Real Madrid, Casillas and Xabi Alonso are the only ones in the world to be fined for that reason. That is why we didn't force any bookings and that is why we are heading into the second leg with a lot of players sitting on bookings. There is no question that Pepe's booking was not intentional. We are fine with the way we acted and I can proudly say that I am the only coach to be suspended for having done so".

"The referee had to do what he had to. Peter [Crouch] should have controlled himself better having already been booked. The match could have been completely different. His team closed in defense and was unable to answer after he left the match. Not the way I like football and true football matches. I hope no one criticizes Tottenham for not having taken a shot on goal. Ten against eleven at this level is impossible because all you can do is defend".

"All players are at risk of injury if they play, and even more so if they enter a match with problems. We will see how Cristiano responds tomorrow after playing 90 minutes, but I think he didn't have any problems while playing and he finished without any problems".

"Kaka's return is very good for the Champions League. He has a lot of experience. So is Higuain's because he can score. Benzema is almost ready to return. We have to try to win every match that we have left"

Champions League (Quarterfinals, 1st Leg)


Real Madrid responded to the skid with Sporting, as years ago, in the European Cup when demolishing rivals in Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Despite the European amnesia of the past seven years, became the Madrid that frightened opponents. A triumphant return that left Tottenham fired, which received a devastating shock. The Spanish team, again rapt in the tournament on which it built its epic, beat an opponent which first blew himself up and then melted. The final scoreboard liberates Real Madrid for the second leg and Mourinho will manage his staff without anguish in this stressful April. Against English team, Mou, oblivious to the doctors, risked with Cristiano, Di Maria and Marcelo. The three were main characters and all, apparently, left the Bernabeu without new medical reports. Another success for Madrid.

Both teams helped to the hectic opening period. Positive, Madrid, in negative, Tottenham, for which everything was a disaster. Except Lennon's injury in the warm, the other follies were all attributable to the English side. Redknapp, the coach, became entangled with the Lennon's out and mended the starting lineup, badly. Bale, who flies like a Jamaican on the left, was enclosed in the right, inhospitable territory for him as left-handed. By the way, Modric, the learned of the Spurs, was sentenced to the usual Bale's place. Tottenham went dark. Or, what is, at the foot of its defenses, which were made an orchard with the ball. To make matters worse, in the first corner favorable to Madrid, the defenders became like mummies in front of a two bodies striker as Adebayor, whose header cheated Gomes and Modric, who could not clear the ball under the crossbar.

Crouch's seconda yellow card against Real Madrid
Marcelo and Crouch

Tottenham's response to the Togolese goal was even more dire. There are English players too naive. They do not learn that there is another football off the island. Tackle is licensed only in British territory, as permission to drive on the left. The referees, out of the bounded Premiership, are not condescending, what Crouch should know, footballer of international experience with Liverpool and England. The boy is not encyclopedic, so in a quarter of an hour made more than enough merits to be sent off after mowing Ramos and Marcelo. The sly smile of the Brazilian betrayed Crouch's innocence.

The game was easy for Madrid from the beginning. Its staging was great. Team played "on fire", something that many times has distinguished itself in the European Cup, with the mystique that Chamartín distills. Tottenham was a doll against the local drive. Madrid was placed on the perimeter of the English penalty area, where the English team shrank what could in the trench. Khedira and Alonso won every punt and very close to Gomes, allowing to close with a shot every play. Often with Cristiano who shot everything and everything. No one had more strength than Marcelo, a plane along the left side and Adebayor was unreachable for Gallas, his former teammate at Arsenal.

Adebayor made an incredible performance agaisnt Tottenham
Emmanuel Adebayor

However, shortly after the blur of Crouch, the Madrid was switched off suddenly. White team felt that could rule the match without work hard. For a moment, Bale denied it and put Real Madrid on alert. The left midfielder changed at his natural place and Ramos was surprised in several plays, which angered Mourinho. With Bale in his post, Tottenham made ​​with ten players what had never played with eleven and caused the Pepe's yellow who can not play in White Hart Line. Real wanted toclose each attack by the central corridor, which multiplied the jam and Cristiano was a reason. At times obsessive, individualistic. From left as a starting point, he insisted on forcing the plays to the limit and invade the territory of Özil, who was displaced.

Mourinho corrected the team at halftime and stretched the English defense with Di Maria and Cristiano on the lines. Tottenham unbuttoned, Özil took the compass and Alonso had a better overview. Real Madrid grew up in the game in proportion to the result. Again after another corner, Adebayor headed, this time even more alone. The Spanish team was a gale, with the English unable to stand at the barricade. Di Maria scored goal of the night.The Argentine is not Bale but with his left foot from the right side slammed the ball into the square. The deployment of Madrid deserved a great goal. Cristiano added the fourth with a soft shot and the Gomes' help. A prize to the efforts of Cristiano Ronaldo, called up despite his muscle problems. He does not like to miss one. In London, he will not need to run any risk. Madrid has both feet in the semifinals.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabéu.
Attendance: 79,500
Goals: 1-0, m. 5: Adebayor. 2-0, m. 57: Adebayor. 3-0, m. 72: Di María. 4-0, m. 87: Cristiano Ronaldo.


Tottenham vs Real Madrid (1985): Amancio's scar

Like now, with the League almost lost, Real Madrid went to White Hart Lane on March 6, 1985, to contest the quarter-finals of the former UEFA Cup. The scoreboard: 0-1. Tottenham ahead of him, defending champion of the tournament. The same opponent with which will face today.

Real Madrid made the historic comeback against Anderlecht few days ago, but on "Buitre's gang" weighed the label "soft generation" that never came off. Amancio was the coach of Madrid and at White Hart Lane starred in a story that still remembers Ochotorena, goalkeeper of the team that began to emerg: "Before taking the field, Amancio showed us the scars of the severe innjury he suffered as player. He had done in a game we played with Castilla (Real Madrid B) in "Los Cármenes" Stadium (Granada), the same stadium where he was injured".

"Amancio could boast of a great curriculum as a player... and scars", recalls Angel, Madrid midfielder in those mid-eighties. Amancio, who claims not to remember the story, tried by his gesture that his younger players do not wrinkle in a complicated stadium that would test the competitiveness of the new generation trying to break through. His words after the game pointed to the epic: "When you talk on the field, when you struggle and fight, you have to win". The team played well. They spoke and help each other. In the previous, Amancio had been very critical of his players: "I want they think in football half than me". The phrase was a flurry to some of his players that attend the university, especially those of the "Quinta del Buitre".

Butragueño fight against Tottenham defenders in 1985 UEFA Cup tie
Tottenham vs Real Madrid (1985)

When that confrontation was played, English football was in full continental hegemony, winning all and it was anticipated like a sharp match. Nobody wanted to cross with those teams that had a feverish pace, that mixed direct and contact soccer with the ability of the three or four more technical players. "Hoddle was its star. He was left handed and very technical. At that time were not frowned upon the individual markings and Amancio ordered me to pursue him. They made ​​a very direct football and vigorous. There was no cover to the forwards. There was to players who caused the goals assistances, like Hoddle who had a great left foot", says Angel.

In the days before the first leg, Valdano, who played without shin guards, had told his friend Ardiles, Tottenham player, that this time he would play with protections. "Finally, Ardiles did not play either game, but somehow he was one of the first players that began to change over to English football". Ardiles was very light and his presence in a very physical football raised doubts at first. "Although not involved, flew to Madrid for the second leg and said that he was able to win a ball in the air against Santillana. He touched his head and explained that football lives there".

In 1985, the Spurs had won some fame as innovator. It was the first European football institution listed in stock exchange and tried to distance themselves from the traditional kick and rush with the recruitment Ardiles and Villa. Real Madrid was also surprised by a detail when team left the stadium. "Suddenly we saw a beautiful white Rolls Royce. We were told that it was Rod Stewart's car. He had a private box because he was a big fan of Tottenham.in Spain the boxes appeared late" concludes Angel .

Mourinho: "A draw is not bad result"

"A draw at home in the first game is not bad result. A 1-1 is not bad. I do not say we are gonig to play for a draw. The Tottenham is what is required. Real Madrid has nine Champions titles". Mourinho wants to take pressure off the team and know how. With the problems that the Portuguese coach sees in the first game, he does not rule out going to White Hart Lane to gamble the tie.

"The Champions League is the most important competition. We do not have to look outside other motivations. It's a match too important to think about other things", said Mourinho. Portuguese spun in the press conference and saw Higuain at his side. Coach did not hesitate to ask player: "How many times do you have played quarterfinals?". "Never", said the Argentine. "He is thinking about the game, not at Sporting. See that a top player as Higuain has never played a quarterfinals", concluded Mourinho.

Mourinho at press conference before the Tottenham match
Jose Mourinho

"In the League we are second and in Champions I do not know what will happen. We can win or fall in this tie against Tottenham. When we play very well, we win. When we play well, almost always win. When we play bad, we never win. Others, when they play less well, always win. There remains the Spanish Cup final and I want to be on the bench so I will not say much more" said the Portuguese coach in reference to the arbitration of last weekend when Barcelona was clearly benefited.

Mourinho wants to put aside the League. Forget the defeat against Sporting. The Champions League is a different climate: "It is time to think about the Champions League because we play this competition. It is a match that many others want to play but not everyone can. A match that Madrid did not play for some years old neither sees the Bernabeu" said de Setúbal coach.

Tottenham knows Real Madrid perfectly, but especially a player: Rafael Van der Vaart. The Dutch came to train with Mourinho but finally left the Spanish team for England: "I always want that players enjoy and he's doing now. What I can see is that he is a happy boy and a good player. He could also be a good player for us but took ​​his decision and we have Özil who is also good", Mourinho ended.

The Portuguese also had a message to Gareth Bale. The name sounds harder every time: "I was one of the first people who said he would be an excellent player. I said it when he was not yet known in European football. He is a great player but still young. Tottenham sells well and is not easy. It would be a lot of money and we already have Cristiano and Marcelo for those positions but it would be a good buy".

Preview: Real Madrid vs Tottenham

On 17 August, while Real Madrid negotiated the signing of Özil, Tottenham played in Bern its first qualifying match for the Champions League. Its rival, the Young Boys. Its future, dark: 3-0 at the break. Two goals by England team eased the situation. In the second leg, 4-0 in London and noted the particular feature of the team: half naive, half heroic.

At San Siro in the group stage against Inter, it happened again: 4-0 at the break. And the final 4-3 with hat-trick of Bale with his two last goals beyond 90 minutes. The English League has not been an exception. During its visit to Arsenal, Tottenham lost 2-0 after the first half, ended up winning 2-3, its first win in 17 years in the field of eternal rival.

What to think about this team? The thought is that there will not be amount of goals that will address the second part in peace. So no one would celebrate a scoreboard until the lights are turned off because Tottenham flourishes in the second parts. Thus Milan was defeated: Crouch's goal on 80 minutes.

For Real Madrid, there’s no greater motivation than qualifying for their first Champions League semifinal berth in eight years. The team knows it as do the fans: "We yearn for a Bernabeu that drives us to victory; don’t miss it", commented Arbeloa, who is more than familiar with the atmosphere that awaits. With tickets practically sold out and so much on the line, Madridistas are sure to turn out in full force in support of their team.

Real Madrid will need the support of the fans against Tottenham
Real Madrid

Regarding today's game, the first battle is fought in sick. Bale and Gallas will pass a final test today and there is no doubt that they will approve. Like Cristiano and Marcelo, enrolled by decree. None is in good condition but it is expected all will play the game, like there's no second leg neither world beyond tomorrow.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo and Kaka all worked overtime to be fit by Tuesday. Their speedy recoveries speak words of their desire to get in on the action. Only Gago, Benzema and Pedro Leon remain unavailable due to injury, while Albiol and Canales were left off the squad list based on a coaching decision.

Spurs have lost on all five previous occasions against Mourinho, but against Milan they proved they are more than capable of winning on the road. Despite not winning as visitors in the group stage, they did score a total of eight goals and along with Real Madrid Spurs currently lead the Champions League with 19 goals scored to date. With players likes Modric, Van der Vaart, Lennon, Bale, Defoe, Pavlyuchenko and Crouch, the Whites will have their hands full come Tuesday. 

Tottenham at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
Lennon, Bale and Van der Vaart

Combining Spurs’ offensive fire power with the added value of scoring as visitors, keeping a clean sheet will be crucial to Real Madrid’s chances. Mourinho’s men are well versed at not conceding goals in Champions League play and they hope to maintain their form against Tottenham. The players yearn for a "Bernabeu that drives them to victory" and the fans can almost smell the semifinals in the distance. Stick the two together under the same roof and they can make it happen.


1. Now or never: Madrid will come out with everything except Benzema. Adebayor will be the '9'. Cristiano and Marcelo will play, prepared to risk for the "Tenth".

2. Playing with the brake: Cristiano, Pepe, Carvalho, Di Maria and Ramos are warned and if they receive a yellow card, will lost the second leg. Have to play with caution.

3. Tottenham: One of the best weapons of the 'spurs' are in the sides where Lennon and Bale will not let rivals breathe at high speed. More than ever, Real Madrid must protect the back.


Mourinho will play with Cristiano and Marcelo

Mourinho received good news yesterday; Cristiano and Marcelo are willing to force to play tomorrow against Tottenham. Neither have the medical discharge, but want to help the team and will risk a relapse. Who is practically ruled out is Benzema. French striker would also like to contribute with his "grain of sand", but his muscular contraction could result in breakage and that means three weeks off.

After Saturday's defeat, Mourinho hinted at the possibility of using the injured players in the game against the English team: "If Cristiano plays is because we are risking. The doctor says he will be prepared to play against Bilbao. Marcelo is out for two weeks and Benzema could play against Bilbao and in London. Maybe I will step over the medical department and then they will kill me...". Well, yesterday, Cristiano and Marcelo reported in Valdebebas they want to help the team against Tottenham and assume the consequences.

Cristiano and Marcelo will play against Tottenham
Cristiano and Marcelo

Mourinho has no choice. He has to risk because the League is lost and in April, are at stake the two major competitions for the white team: Champions League and Spanish Cup. Against Tottenham he must put the best eleven possible. Cristiano and Marcelo are essential to get options for the second leg in London. Portuguese for what he represents for the team... and the rival. Brazilian showed his verticality against Lyon, making the goal that opened the road to success.

Starter team will not have only news from Cristiano and Marcelo, but also with Xabi and Pepe. Spanish player did not play on Saturday because suspension and center defense because he was reserved for tomorrow. Both, will return against Tottenham. Another that will also start is Di Maria.The side midfielder requested the change against Sporting due to a huge blow in his left leg, but he is recovered. Higuain is not able to play as starter. The Argentine came back after four months out, but it is still early to play 90 minutes. Therefore, Adebayor will be in the starting lineup

Madrid and Tottenham: Top Scorers of Champions League

A glad team that also can run with Lennon and Bale on the wings. This is a good definition for Tottenham, able to take the ball and wait for the counter-attack. Something similar to what happens in Real Madrid (at least whit Xabi Alonso on the pitch). The two teams uses the same base system: a 4-2-3-1. The two sets are, in fact, the top scorers of the eight that are in the quarterfinals of the Champions League (19 goals scored). Guardiola's Barcelona has not achieved that record (18).

Real Madrid and Tottenham are the top scorers of the Champions League 2010-2011
Real Madrid vs Tottenham

Presumably this will be the most attractive football playoff with no clear favorite. The UEFA official statistics also indicated that the two teams have almost the same possession per game: 56% for Madrid, 55% for Tottenham. Two sets of similar game, with Van der Vaart and Özil in the role of playmaker and explosive midfielders in the sides. But there is one thing that differentiates them. The quality of Mourinho's team makes it to reach the rival goal more clearly. Real Madrid has shot on target 67 times in eight games and Tottenham only 40. While turning over these statistics, could say that Tottenham is more effective: 2.1 shots needed to score a goal for the 3.5 of Madrid.

For its security defense, Madrid has received only three goals (only exceeded by Man. United with two conceded). In other way, Tottenham is the second worst in reliability defense (11 conceded, only better than Inter, with 14). And a stat calls attention: Madrid has committed 102 fouls by 110 of the English team. Then, it is difficult to explain that Mourinho's team has seen 20 yellow cards by only 9 the Tottenham.


League (Day 30): Higuain reactions


You came back after an injury, but have gone with a loss ...

It's a shame we lost today because we had a great chance to grow stronger in the fight for the League, but I believe that there is life while there is hope. This club has made comebacks in many leagues. It's hard, but we have to keep winning. We're still alive; you can never leave Real Madrid for dead.

How do you have felt?
I am very happy on a personal level. People believed I would miss the entire season, but I managed to show them statistics don't rule everything in life. It wasn't really a challenge or a competition I had with anyone, but I did want to feel the pride of coming back ahead of schedule. I managed to and I felt very comfortable on the pitch tonight.

The key to my recovery was fighting hard and not to bring myself down. I fought for what I most love, which is to play football. Wearing this shirt at this stadium again is the most beautiful thing there is. I am grateful to all the coaching staff, to the fans, to my team-mates, to my family and to myself. I'm very happy to feel like a footballer again, even if this wasn't the comeback I dreamt of.

Gonzalo Higuian

You look more strong ...
The truth is that I felt good. I tried to play quietly at first to not drown, but it was inevitable and I choked, because the urge to score a goal and help the team was great. Sporting's goal killed me and all my colleagues.

You had a very good chance to score but Juan Pablo saved the goal ...
I would have reached for the sky had I scored from the first chance I got. I wanted to make sure I shot right, but the ball went the wrong way. These things happen in football. I'm happy with my return because a spinal operation is not something to take lightly. To play again and feel like a player once more is the most beautiful thing that can happen to you.

There is still the Champions League ...
We will have two very tough months ahead and hope that everything goes well.

Spanish League: Day 30


If the conquest of the matches is a process, this Real Madrid lives a season focused on shortening the proceedings. Against Sporting maneuvers economy reached the peak. The fewer passes, the better. The less time is given the ball in midfield, the better. The longer the game is channeled on the sides, the better. If possible, always straight. Always in the same direction. Far from ensuring a big level of forcefulness, this simplification dragged Real Madrid to the failure. Bernabeu Stadium saw it and took a few minutes to express its mood. Whistles, rumors, silences. Is what inspires the team plan. Sporting, a team that is playing to stay in the category, with no resources to develop other ways, replied shutting in the box. Red and white team threw once into the net. It was goal.

Cases returned a ball-wall to De las Cuevas, who distanced himself in the middle of the area and fooled Casillas with the body while adjusting the shot at the near post. There was 10 minutes left to react. Too little for a team without a rudder, out of square by changes Mourinho introduced from minute 55.

Real Madrid 0 - Sporting Gijon 1

Mourinho never lost a home game since February 23, 2002 with Porto. More than nine years ago. This argument prompted the imagination of the strategists who planned his move to Madrid a year ago. They said: "A guy who takes so many games without losing at home, something must have!". Something, as opposed to nothing, represents anything. None of the qualities that players stand on Mourinho is closely related to the organization of the team around the possession of the ball. The coach has established principles, but lack the sophistication needed on days like yesterday. Against a rival that defends and hopes, Real Madrid has struggled. With or without Cristiano. The weightless opponents were almost always which have caused insurmountable difficulties in the League. Team that fought desperately as Sporting, Levante, Osasuna, Deportivo and Almeria.

Against Sporting, the plan was to protect Casillas with a line of four defenders highly unlikely to join the attack and two midfielders of great athletic ability, specializes in placing and retrieving. In the attack, Lass had order to initiate the moves looking for Özil ,Di Maria or Adebayor, in that order. In case of do not find a way out, go back to the defenses to proceed to throw a ball to Adebayor, who endured while Khedira went like a train on the hunt for rebounds and hanging balls. This Real Madrid never showed special care for the initiation of the game. Mourinho assumed that with a good defense and strikers, the matches would have resolved in the areas. He relied on the expertise of the players in solving problems in front of rival goal. He clung to an inspiration, a stroke of fortune.

To avoid risky transitions, Mourinho moved to Di Maria and Özil to the sides with one target: to receive, move and pass the ball to Adebayor. Granero was placed between the lines, too far from Lass to participate at the start and too far from the side midfielders. Granero and his colleagues were more than willing to comply with instructions, butthey lacked the initiative to find solutions that were not in the coach's manual. Above all, they lacked Xabi Alonso.

Real Madrid came more genius after the break. Granero began to offer more to Özil and Di Maria,who left the sides. From that meeting, the team began to impose and have more occasions. In one of these, Di María forced Juan Pablo to stretch. For 10 minutes, the game of Madrid reached a point of consistency. Mourinho cut it off when removed Granero. Determined to preserve every brick of his wall, Mourinho kept Khedira and Lass, retired Arbeloa, played with Pepe and proceeded to form a three centrals defense. He must believe that Casillas's goal would be safe. The skinny De las Cuevas undertook to prove otherwise.

Doomed to a nervous breakdown during the quarter of an hour remaining, Madrid only improved acceleration and wear. At full thrust, Higuain and Adebayor were close to tie the game. But Juan Pablo stole them the glory with two stops that silenced Chamartín Stadium.


Stadium: Santiago Bernabeu
Attendance: 77,000
Goals: 0-1, m.78: De las Cuevas
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