all set for Galatasaray!
The Champions League returns tonight against Galatasaray (2o:45h) with a spot in the semifinals at stake! Madrid goes into the second leg game with a three goal advantage. Let’s go Madrid!
What have they done to MFC ABMM??????? He probably didn’t fall on his own, since Cris’ legs are not even on display…
On Sunday, following a
chatting training session, 21 players, the coaching staff and other assorted staff, including Agustín Herrerín, who had brought the team good luck in Manchester, traveled to Istanbul. Mou was also accompanied by his son, the luckiest kid in the world. The only ones left behind in Madrid were Kaká and Ricardo Carvalho (injured), Xabi and Sergio (suspended for the game) and Nacho (playing with Castilla, joined the team on Monday). The fact that all four goalkeepers traveled with the team raised some eyebrows, but I don’t find that particularly strange.
Gonzalo never shuts up! As El Chori, the recipient of Pipa’s nattering here, said before, “he talks a lot, very talkative.”
Cristiano and Mesut received the most cheers from the fans in Istanbul, which was no surprise because Cris is Cris, and Mesut has roots in Turkey, where his grandparents were born. By the way, this will be the first time that Mesut plays in Turkey, although he has faced the Turkey national team before with Germany.
The training session on Monday at the stadium of Beşiktaş (Guti’s former team, as well as VDB’s destination after he was fired from Madrid) brought some bad news, as it appeared that Pepe wasn’t doing too well and while his teammates trained, he ran a couple of laps. The luckiest kid in the world and Agustín were at the training session as well.
During his press conference, Mou confirmed Pepe’s injury, explaining that he had a muscular problem (though not a serious one) against Levante and is doubtful for this game, with a decision to be made on game day. He added that if Pepe is unable to play, he will be replaced by Albiol, who will most likely pair up with Varane (he seems to be following in the footsteps of Karim with the self portraits, but luckily so far we have had no cheesy poses). He also pointed out that Essien (who is one card away from suspension), Nacho and Arbeloa can also play as centerbacks. As for the four goalkeepers, Mou said that it was because he didn’t want Jesús to train alone at Valdebebas, and everyone who was fit to play for the game traveled with the team. Mou also said that “Casillas is training very well. Not well, but very well,” although he did send him a warning when he said “it’s impossible for a player with a lot of confidence to train poorly, but if you feel tranquil and untouchable, it could be different.”
Bad luck in Turkey: Madrid has never won in Turkey. It has played two official games there (1-1 against Beşiktaş on Nov. 27, 1958, and 2-3 against Galatasaray on April 3, 2001). There are only two other countries where Madrid has played more times without ever winning: Greece (six ties and three losses) and Serbia/Yugoslavia (one tie and four losses).
Visits to Turkey: Spanish teams have visited Turkey 39 times in European competitions, leaving with a record of 18-5-16.
Comebacks: from the time that away goals were weighted, 415 elimination rounds in Europe have had a 3-0 in the first leg game, and only in 23 times (six percent) was there a comeback.
Never losing with a 3-0 advantage: Madrid has had an advantage of three or more goals 21 times in elimination rounds in Europe, and has never been eliminated. Out of the 98 Spanish teams who had an advantage of three or more goals in Europe, only two were eliminated: Espanyol against Leverkusen (1987-88) and Zaragoza against Wisla (2000-01).
Scoring streak: Madrid has a streak of 22 games in the Champions where they have scored. This is the third best record of all time. Madrid’s record is two games behind that of Bayern (24, between 1998 and 2000) and seven behind that of Barça (29, between 2009 and 2012).
Cristiano: Cris has scored 48 goals in Europe (47 in the Champions, one in the qualifying phase). With one more, he will equal Di Stéfano as the 12th highest goalscorer in the history of continental tournaments. Raúl currently leads the ranking with 76 goals, and the highest active player is Messi with 60. If the best player in the world (my words) scores today, it will be his fifth consecutive Champions League game where he has scored.
Tying Puskas: Cristiano also needs one goal to tie Shevchenko as the fifth highest goalscorer in the history of the Champions League. With a hat trick, he’ll tie Henry’s 50 and move up to fourth place, and at the same time he’ll equal Puskas’ 35 goals in the European Cup while playing for Madrid. He’ll then only have Raúl (66) and Di Stéfano (49) ahead of him. His goal in the first leg game moved him past Gento.
Scoring 10 goals: Cristiano scored 10 goals in last season’s Champions League and could again reach that figure if he scores tonight. If that’s the case, he’ll be the third player in the history of the European Cup to score 10 or more goals in two consecutive seasons, after Van Nistelrooy (2001-02, 2002-03) and Messi (2010-11, 2011-12). The goal record in one season is 14, and is jointly held by Altafini (1962-63), RvN (2002-03) and Messi (2011-12).
Iker, on the bench: from the time of his debut, Iker has started 22 Champions League game on the bench (17 in the group phase, five in the knockout phase). He only played in one of those games (La Novena). The last time the captain was on the bench for a quarterfinals game was on April 10, 2002 against Bayern.
Both teams: three players have worn the shirts of both Madrid and Galatasaray in the CL: Baljic, Altintop and Sneijder. Between the three of them, they played 19 games in the CL for Madrid.
Semifinalists: if Madrid, Málaga and Barcelona all qualify for the semifinals, it will be the second time with three Spanish semifinalists in the CL. It happened in the 1999-00 season (La Octava) with Madrid, Barça and Valencia.