Real outclass Sevilla

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (August 12th 2014)




Despite a typically cagey opening where chances were at a premium, it was Real Madridʼs World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo who grabbed the headlines with a brace that defeated the obdurate defensive display of the Andalusian club. Gareth Baleʼs homecoming was overcome by a fine display by Toni Kroos. Germanyʼs World Cup winner belied his recent move, looking as though he was born and bred in Madrid.

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Club legend el Buitre (the Vulture) was impressed. “Well, they did it very well today”, Emilio Butragueño told us. “In fact, both Kroos and James [Rodríguez Rubio], they play a great game. Iʼm sure in the following weeks theyʼre going to get better, because they need time to adapt themselves to their team-mates. Iʼm sure that theyʼre going to gel with their team-mates. Well, we are optimistic about the future”.


Ronaldoʼs first effort was a weak shot after 3 minutes that posed no threat to international colleague Beto (António Alberto Bastos Pimparel) – the hero of Sevillaʼs Europa Cup penalty shoot-out triumph in Turin last May. Baleʼs hopes for a penalty after clashing with Sevilla captain Federico Fazio were waved away by referee Mark Clattenburg after less than ten minutes. Ronaldo won a 13th minute free-kick after bamboozling Coke on the left wing. Ronaldo brushed aside his team-mates and took the free-kick himself. It deflected off Coke, brushing the roof of the net.


By his own exceptionally high standards the Colombian phenomenon James Rodríguez had a disappointing match, but provided glimpses of his undoubted ability – he has only had a week and a half as a Real player. Rodríguez almost provided the assist for the opening goal. His cross from the left wing was enticing, but the angle at the back post proved too tight for Bale.

It took almost 20 minutes for Sevilla to pose any kind of threat to Iker Casillasʼ goal. Casillas has been below his usual high standards last season, but proved on top of his game when required tonight. A swift break found Vitolo on the left of the area. Vitoloʼs shot was pushed round his near post for a corner by Casillas. It was the closest to a goal up to that point, but against the run of play.

Five minutes later Ronaldo ought to have opened the scoring. A sumptuous 40 yard pass by Fábio Coentrão spread play to Karim Benzema on the right wing. Benzema squared it to Ronaldo who turned and shot. Beto saved well to deny the World Player of the Year.


Resistance Cracks

Three minutes later Bale crossed from the left wing to the back post. Ronaldo stole in to sweep past Beto to give Madrid the lead. Rodríguezʼ free-kick was met by Pepe, but his header was easily dealt with by Beto. Rodríguez, eager to impress made a complete hash of his defensive clearance, but Daniel Carriçoʼs shot was deflected over. There was still time for Vitolo and Daniel Carvajal to be shown the yellow card before Clattenburg ended the first half.

Sevillaʼs task soon became harder as Ronaldo gave Portugalʼs first choice goalkeeper Beto no chance when found on the left of the area by Bennzema less than 5 minutes into the second half. Ronaldo acknowledged Benzemaʼs crucial role in providing the assist in his celebration of the goal.


Despite requiring goals Sevilla continued to absorb the pressure and were indebted to Beto for keeping them in the match with a fine save to deny Benzema after Coentrão and Ronaldo had combined to create the chance for the French international to test him. The rebound was squared by Coentrão, but eluded everyone. Beto was required again midway through the half after Rodríguez controlled Baleʼs pass on the edge of the area. His half-volley was well saved by Beto.



Benzema and Luka Modrić wasted excellent opportunities to extend Realʼs lead, blasting well over when well placed. With less than ten minutes remaining Grzegorz Krychowiak kept Sevilla in with a chance denying Ronaldo in full flight with a superbly timed tackle to thwart the danger. It set up a frenetic end to the match as Unai Emeryʼs team finally tested Realʼs defence and keeper.

With two minutes of normal time remaining the ball broke to Krychowiak, just inside the area. His powerful shot was parried by Casillas at the expense of a corner. Less than a minute later substitute Diogo Figueirasʼ shot was deflected for a corner as Sevilla piled on the pressure resulting in Carlos Baccaʼs injury time shot from the edge of the penalty area being blocked by Sergio Ramos. A rapid counter-attack released Bale for the final effort of the match, which Beto saved.


No Expense Spared

At £364m this was the most expensive football team ever assembled. At that price there was no excuse for failure and they didnʼt. The Copa del Rey and Championsʼ League winners face a tough test this year. Success is demanded, especially after such an outlay on talent, but after the historic La Décima has their hunger been sated.


Butragueño is having none of it. “Every season we start the same”, he told us. “We have to fight for every title to try to do our best and we know itʼs going to be difficult, because there are great, great teams in Europe and in Spain and we know that we have to play very well to perform at a very high level if we want to achieve our goals, so we have just started the and then itʼs step by step”.


The legendary striker want more from his beloved team – much more. “Well, weʼre really happy”, Butragueño says. “Weʼre delighted with the performance of the team. I think we well deserved the victory tonight and taking into consideration that some players started practice one week ago, we did well and now we have to prepare the proper way for the Spanish Supercup, which we are going to play next week”.



By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 16th 2014)

Game Over

World Player of the Year or not, there was little that Cristiano Ronaldo could do but watch in horror as Germany took control as Pepe was sent off for stupidly reacting to Thomas Müller’s play-acting. The Serbian referee Milorad Mažić let play continue, but Pepe remonstrated with Müller touching heads. Müller leapt to his feet, but Mažić brandished the red card – a not unfamiliar sight for Pepe, who trudged off with his team already two goals down after 37 minutes.

It got worse as Müller got his second and Germany’s third in injury time as Bruno Alves’ attempt to clear fell kindly for Müller. Portuguese goal-keeper Rui Patrício could have done better, but Germany were worth their three goal lead at half time. Müller completed his hat-trick late in the second half. In a very bad week for Iberian football Portugal followed the 1-5 drubbing of Spain with a 0-4 thrashing by Germany.

Valencia defender João Pereira held Mario Götze back. Mažić rightly booked Pereira and gave a penalty which Müller dispatched after 12 minutes to Patrício’s right. Twenty minutes later Mats Hummels added a second – a powerful header from Toni Kroos’ corner, despite the greater defensive presence. The corner was earned after a great run by Arsenal’s Mesut Özil who cut it back to Götze. Pereira blocked Götze’s shot.


Germany should have been two up with just over ten minutes played. Only Sami Khedira will know how he missed an open goal when Patrício tried to play it out of his area from the left of his area. The Real Madrid midfielder shot wide of an empty net after 8 minutes, leaving Patrício a very relieved man.

Khedira’s club team-mate and world footballer of the year Cristiano Ronaldo had two chances previously. The first he blasted well over and the second was saved easily by Manuel Neuer from a tight angle after Phillip Lahm had been dispossessed by Miguel Veloso. Nani’s 24th minute shot from just outside the area cleared the bar and hit the stanchion.

Fabio Coentrao had a chance that ought to have been pulled back for off-side, but won a corner and Eder had two headers, but Neuer remained untested. Five minutes into the second half Özil was through on goal, but Patrício saved it and Müller headed it over.

The End

Portugal’s fate was sealed by misfortune. Nani got in the way pinching possession from a better placed Fabio Coentrao. The chance was wasted and ten minutes later a leg strain caused Coentrao to be replaced – his tournament possibly over as he was stretchered off. Götze had an opportunity to make it four after André Schürrle’s cross, but Pereira blocked his shot.

There was one major cause for concern for German manager Joachim Löw. Hummels limped off after landing awkwardly when challenging Eder.

With 15 minutes remaining Nani – virtually a spectator for Manchester United from January – saw his shot parried by Neuer. Eder went down under Benedikt Höwedes’ challenge, but Mažić wasn’t interested in awarding a penalty despite Ronaldo’s protests. Shortly afterwards Müller completed his hat-trick after another mishap by Patrício. He pushed Schürrle’s shot straight into Müller’s path for a tap-in to complete his hat-trick on his 50th appearance for his country.

Within five minutes Müller was taken off to receive a standing ovation from the German fans. In injury time Ronaldo struck a 30 yard free-kick, but too close to Neuer. There wasn’t even a consolation for the World Player of the Year.