end of the year round-up
With the Liga seemingly slipping out of our hands (although I remain optimistic that San Iker will pull out some kind of miracle), all our hopes are now placed on that most desirous of prizes, La Décima. If you think back to the 1999-2000 season, Madrid was also behind the leaders by a huge margin, specifically trailing Depor by 16 points (just like we are now). Though Madrid ended up finishing fifth in the Liga that season, it did win La Octava. Will history repeat itself this year with a dismal showing in the Liga and the much anticipated for La Décima?
The next step towards La Orejona is none other than Manchester United, a rival who had previously brought out the best of Real Madrid and of course, Cristiano’s old team. The two legs will be played on Feb. 13 and March 5. The first game is at home and the second at Old Trafford.
(I have to admit, there was a part of me, a very small part, that wanted Madrid to draw Bayern Munich.)
Madrid and Manchester United have played four times during the elimination rounds of the Champions League. The first time was in the 1956-57 season, during the semifinals. Madrid advanced to the final (which they won, resulting in our second European Cup title) after winning 3-1 at the Bernabéu and tying 2-2 in Manchester. The second time was in the 1967-68 season, also in the semifinals, although this time, Manchester was the one that went on to the final.
Now I wasn’t alive during those games, but I remember the next two match-ups very clearly. In 2000, Madrid and Manchester United were paired up in the quarterfinals. The first game, at the Bernabéu, ended 0-0, which meant that the second game was decisive. Madrid won 3-2 thanks to a sublime taconazo from one of my favorite players, Fernando Redondo, to set up Raúl. I remember that the day after I took a taxi to the train station. I noticed that the driver had a little Madrid pennant hanging from the rearview mirror and so of course my friend and I began talking with him about the game and how great Redondo is. That was the year of La Octava. Three years after that, the two teams were once again matched up in the quarterfinals. Madrid won the first leg 3-1 and lost the second leg 4-3 but advanced on aggregate. Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the second leg game and got an ovation from Old Trafford.
Memories! Nostalgia! And seeing Steve McManaman helping with this year’s draw brought back even more memories!
Here’s Zizou and Ronaldo prior to the recent Match Against Poverty, played in Brazil this year.
Míchel Salgado tweeted these photos. I miss him, Zizou, Fernando Hierro, Santi Solari and Roberto Carlos so much! For those who are recent fans, Roberto and Míchel were one of our great bromances. In fact, Roberto is the godfather of Miguel Ángel, Míchel’s son. I miss seeing the two of them charging up and down the flanks!
And this will make longtime fans feel old. Aitor and Ibai, the sons of Guti and Aitor Karanka, respectively, recently played against each other! They’re adorable!
Other bits and pieces. Going back to current players, here is Karim celebrating his birthday with is brother and his dog. Is that furniture I see in the background? Our little Karim is growing up so fast!
A couple more pictures shared via social networks, of which José Callejón is now a part.
And for those who still haven’t found the perfect holiday gift, how about the Real Madrid fragrance? It’s being advertised as “the essence of your team made into a fragrance” and “pure essence of champions.” They should totally get Xabi Alonso to advertise it if they want it to sell well…