In a match that had its biggest event happen before the opening whistle, Cristiano Ronaldo sailed through his first captaincy match for Real Madrid by putting the Mourinho-Casillas mess behind him.
There’s some sort of attempt to make Jose Mourinho’s battle against Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos something of a big Portugal vs Spain thing in the Real Madrid dressing room. While it’s natural to think that Pepe, Coentrao and Cristiano Ronaldo are close to Jose Mourinho, it’d be going a bit too far to make it a them against the world thing.
Ronaldo lives in a different way. It’s him and the rest. He plays like that on the football field most of the time. Doesn’t let things get to him, most of the time. It wasn’t a great match from Real Madrid, but a resilient one. It could have been a disaster. It started out like one. Adan getting the first team call up once again, knowing it has nothing to do with his ability but only with his role as a pawn in the Jose Mourinho grand scheme.
The cost? Adan got sent off, and Iker Casillas got sent in. He did concede three goals, but it was more proof of how Jose Mourinho won’t be able to get rid of him that easily. Cristiano Ronaldo did right by both camps – he offered Casillas the captain armband only to be refused and later went to hug an infuriated Mourinho in the dugout after scoring one of his two goals.
A makeshift defense looked exactly as you’d expect. For some reason, Jose Mourinho decided to erase Ricardo Carvalho from his lists earlier this season. Five months later, and he needed the cagey Portuguese centre back to be the leader in a unit consisting of Raphael Varane, Michael Essien and Arvalo Arbeloa. It didn’t work out that well, but a win is the important thing. Only 16 points from Barcelona!!
It looked like the most effected player was Xabi Alonso, who had to play too defensively and too retreated from where and how he usually likes to position himself on the pitch, when Real Madrid aren’t playing with a man less. His ability to influence the match and get everyone involved with his passing was limited, hardly felt. It’s just one of those days, but who knows, maybe there’s some truth to the whole Spain – Portugal thing.
The ones who thrived were Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. Benzema isn’t having the great season like last year, but Real Sociedad felt so comfortable at the Santiago Bernabeu that they forgot Real Madrid are probably the fastest counter attacking team in Europe. Cristiano Ronaldo couldn’t be caught leading those breaks, not to mention his superb free kick. You don’t often see teams press Real at the Santiago Bernabeu, but how often do you see Iker Casillas coming off the bench for Jose Maria Callejon and refusing the captain armband?
Jose Mourinho has to play Iker Casillas in Real Madrid’s next match. He doesn’t really have a choice. Knowing he has someone like Cristiano Ronaldo, oblivious to all the distractions around him and the team, is quite reassuring, unless the theory of Mourinho trying to get himself fired is true.