Every day is a test. Every game is a new battle. Maybe it’s us – bloggers, fans and the media. Jose Mourinho gets so much written and said about him, the perception of what his Real Madrid time is a bit skewed. Maybe he’s just there to do something long-term with Real Madrid. Maybe it’s not about the Barcelona chase, it’s about doing his own thing with Real and waiting for it to pay off. On the other hand, this is Mourinho, probably the only manager in the world who’s persona has managed to be bigger than the club, at least from a media stand point. And we’re talking about Real Madrid, the most successful club in European soccer.
Tonight is another test , maybe his biggest. The loss to Gijon has made it nearly impossible for Real to win the La Liga title. Even if they beat Barcelona in the next league Clasico, they need to drop another 5 points. I just don’t see it happening. But lets talk Champions League. Real took care of Lyon in the previous stage and finally, after quite a few years, made it into the quarter finals. Now they’re facing Tottenham who beat AC Milan but are very disappointing in recent weeks – three straight 0-0 draws. Problems up front? Redknapp seems to have given up on the gung ho style and adapt into a more pragmatical approach, one that will get them far in the Champions League. Maybe even steal a goal tonight.
The pressure is on for both teams, as Tottenham seem to be slipping in their race for a Champions League spot in England. Despite all the compliments, they still aren’t as good to join the United-Chelsea-Arsenal club. Manchester City? Right now, they look better. I digress. Harry Redknapp has lost all of his five meeting with Mourinho. Does it matter? No. Just a fun trivia fact. Real need an early goal. They need to blitz, like they did against Lyon. Tottenham have a stronger defense than in previous year, but they’re still vulnerable. I would never trust Gomes as well in a big game. The man has a big mistake in him waiting to happen.
Van der Vaart will be facing his former team but I don’t know how much he’ll get to do. He won’t be getting too many touches. If Tottenham will be able to disrupt Xabi Alonso and Real Madrid’s midfield this match, they might have a chance. Karim Benzema, Mourinho’s ace in the Lyon clashes, won’t be playing. Not the only bad news for Mourinho and Real Madrid. Cristiano and Marcelo will be playing, but they aren’t fully fit. Getting a quick goal and more will be crucial. The long term sacrifice with a failure to win the home game will be too much to take for Real.
Another interesting match up will the Uber Hyped Gareth Bale against Sergio Ramos. People are still talking about Bale tearing Maicon to shreds. It’s been a while and Bale hasn’t been dazzling lately. I wonder if he’ll be able to do a good enough defensive job so he can free himself up for wing confrontations with Ramos. Tottenham’s speed on the wings, if they’ll be able to get the counter attack going, might be a surprising decisive factor.
Bottom line – Real Madrid are a better side, but the mood isn’t exactly chipper since Saturday. Injuries, a tad of deflation and the ever growing pressure as one title seems to be slipping further away might be disastrous if Mourinho can’t get his guys to blitz from the first moment.