Wednesday, February 17, 2010

La Décima: Real Madrid in the Champion's League

Year after year, Real Madrid fans all over the world are excited at the prospects of their team in the Champion's League, and the possibility of the club obtaining its tenth (that's right they currently hold 9) European Cup title. Sure, the first six cups were won in the early stages of the cup, with the likes of current Honorary Chairman, Don Alfredo Di Stéfano and Hungarian Ferenc Puskas as starting players.

However, they have, relatively recently, won 3 titles in five years, 1998, 2000 and 2002. After 2003, where the team reached the semi final and were eliminated by Juventus, Real have never passed the quarter-final stage of the competition. The team has participated every single year and have consistently been outplayed over 2 legs of the knock-out stages of the tournament by the likes of AS Roma or more recently, ridiculed by Torres and Gerrard's Liverpool.

This year, the club's participation does not look any more promising. In the first knock-out stage of the tournament, Real has been matched with Olympique Lyon, initially a relatively decent opponent considering Milan are playing Manchester United, and Inter are playing FC Barcelona. However, as demonstrated year after year, the first leg has comprimised the hopes of the club. The tie favoured Real again, as the first leg was played away, and the return leg, in two weeks time, will be played at home, in the Bernabeu. Even so, Real played a horrible match last night, and showed no signs of quality, creation or finishing. They were completely outclassed by a strongly improving O. Lyon who's talented Cameroonian midfielder, Makoun scored a splendid goal, giving the French side the overall advantage at 1-0.

The additional advantage of such a score in this tournament can be summarised very simply. If O. Lyon manage to score one goal in Bernabeu on the return leg, the double standard for away goals, means that Real Madrid would have to score three goals to go through. This, as football fans worldwide know, is extremely difficult, even for the new era of "Galácticos"...

Will there be a pleasant surprise for Real Madrid supporters this year? After all, Ronaldo's participated in the last two finals of the tournament, will he manage to lead the team to make this three? In Spain they say, "No hay dos, sin tres"... There isn't a two without number three... Doubts? Way too many Manuel.

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