La Liga: Mourinho eyes Manchester United clash and Madrid exit
As Real Madrid languish in third place in the Spanish league, the Champions League remains the Portuguese coach’s only chance of leaving Spain on a high after a torrid few months.
By Halima Ali
In 2004, with a manic run down the Old Trafford touchline to celebrate knocking Manchester United out of the UEFA Champions League, José Mourinho announced himself to the world. It was to be the start of a new era for him and “The Special One” was born a few months later when Porto clinched the title and Chelsea came calling.
Tomorrow, Mourinho faces Manchester United again, first at the Santiago Bernabéu and then at The Theatre of Dreams in the return leg of the last-16 tie and it could mark a new era in his career, the beginning of the end at Real Madrid.
Ahead of the game, Los Merengues hosted Sevilla on Saturday night looking to put memories of their paltry performance at Granada last week behind them. While they have been unable to win a game in the south of Spain all season – also losing to Real Betis, Málaga and the Sevillistas in Andalusia – this time they were at the Bernabéu where they have not lost a home game since January 2012.
It did not take long for the hosts to get off the mark. In the 18th minute, Ronaldo raced on to a long ball to drill across the six-yard box, and Fernando Navarro’s attempt to clear it instead played the ball right into Karim Benzema’s path from just a yard out.
Ronaldo was just getting warmed up and he once again put in an inspirational performance. Deciding to take matters into his own hands, he struck a stunning second goal from just outside the box before the half-hour mark and notched two more goals before being taken off to a standing ovation.
The hat-trick was the 20th of his three-and-a-half years in Madrid and perhaps a warning to his former club who come to visit on Wednesday. Certainly Sir Alex Ferguson is in no doubt, stating: “Figo, Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Raúl. I don’t think any of them were as good as him”.
But this season, even Ronaldo has not been enough to salvage Madrid’s hopes of retaining la liga. They currently sit in third place, a huge 16 points behind the league leaders Barcelona. Worse still, their city neighbours, Atlético Madrid are in second place.
The shocking run of form is why Mourinho will not remain at the club much longer.
Last year, with his side racking up a record 100 points en-route to winning the league for the first time in four years, the Portuguese manager was happy to extend his contract to 2014 insisting he would stay.
This season, however, has seen everything fall apart with a run of poor form and in-fighting as The Special One has decided to rub just about everyone at the club up the wrong way. There have been countless stories of rows and disagreements, some even confirmed by the players themselves.
No Madrid manager has ever been so far behind in the league and retained his job. Indeed any other coach would have been sacked if he had even thought about dropping club captain Iker Casillas. But Mourinho has kept his job, in great part for the clash against Manchester United, it seems.
There is still hope in the Spanish capital that Mourinho can bring La Décima, the 10th Champions League trophy that the fans so desperately want. Ironically, if he succeeded in doing so, all would be forgiven, but either way the game against the Red Devils will be the beginning of the end.
If Madrid win and go on to lift the trophy, Mourinho will leave with another piece of silverware to his name, if they lose, he will be gone anyway.
Real Betis 0 – 0 Real Valladolid
Rayo Vallecano 2 – 1 Atlético Madrid
Athletic Bilbao 0 – 4 RCD Espanyol
Real Zaragoza 1 – 2 Real Sociedad
FC Barcelona 6 – 1 Getafe CF
Real Madrid 4 – 1 Sevilla FC
Deportivo La Coruña 0 – 3 Granada CF
Levante UD 1 – 2 Málaga CF
Celta de Vigo 0 – 1 Valencia CF
RCD Mallorca 1 – 1 Osasuna
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Published: Feb 12 2013
Category: Featured, Spain News, Sports
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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Tags: Mourinho, real madrid vs manchester utd, spain, Spain football, spain news, spain soccer, spanish football, Spanish soccer