Real Madrid take shaky first step towards home final

September 16, 2009

Having spent 250 million euros on reinforcements and with the final due to be staged at their own Bernabeu stadium, winning the Champions League is seen almost as an obligation for Real Madrid this season, at least by much of the Spanish media.

Kicking off their campaign, perhaps appropriately, in one of Europe’s most expensive cities, Real showed flashes of what may be to come, both in terms of attacking inspiration and defensive vulnerability, as they beat Swiss champions FC Zurich 5-2.

Cristiano Ronaldo was his old self, firing in two free kicks at decisive stages of the game, performing a few trademark shimmies and stepovers and remonstrating with the referee every time he was tackled by an opponent.

There were tantalising glimpses of the potential offered by his parternship with Raul and former World Player of the Year Kaka, although Real often gave the impression that they are still finding their feet with so many newcomers.

The unsung Gonzalo Higuain was just as influential as the Portuguese, setting up the second goal for Raul and scoring a superb third himself as he burst past a defender and then scored with a low shot into the far corner. It remains a mystery as to why Higuain has not been given a look-in by Argentina coach Diego Maradona.

Their defensive problems, however, show no sign of letting up. Having led 3-0 at halftime, Real had to sweat through the last 20 minutes after the unrated hosts scored twice in two minutes to bring it back to 3-2. Iker Casillas upended Alexander Alphonse to give away a penalty, they Silvio Aegerter was allowed to head in another at the near post.

Two late goals, including Ronaldo’s second free kick, gave the visitors a somewhat flattering win.

To put it into perspective, Grasshoppers, who may be forced to drop into the Swiss third division next season because of chronic financial problems, managed to put three past Zurich last Saturday and had a further goal controversially disallowed, although they conceded four in the progress.

One thing which money cannot buy is passionate support. The large contingent on Real fans sat silently through Tuesday’s match, stirring only with a few cries of Madrid after their team scored and a half-hearted version of Viva Espana late in the first half. Zurich’s South Curve never stopped singing, even when their team were 3-0 down.

Brian Homewood, Zurich

PHOTO: Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring during their Champions League soccer match against FC Zurich (FCZ) at the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich September 15, 2009. REUTERS/Miro Kuzmanovic

7 comments

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Their problems seemed to conincide with the departure of Xabi Alonso. He may be the key to their hopes this season.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

It’s quite clear that Real is in a real contention for the title. Clubs like United and Chelsea played uninspiring games to win by lean margins. I guess Madrid outclassed the rest of Tuesday’s teams with their dazzling performance.This is a clear warning to all that they are in to WIN the Champs Cup this time. No doubt!!!

Posted by For Real | Report as abusive

[...] Source add it: Tags: Alexander Alphonse, alphonse, Argentina, bernabeu stadium, Brian Homewood, cristiano ronaldo, diego maradona, Europe, far corner, free kick, free kicks, glimpses, Gonzalo, grasshoppers, kaka, last saturday, Letzigrund Stadium, MADRID, newcomers, raul, real madrid, reinforcements, ronaldo, Silvio, South Curve, spanish media, Viva Espana, ZURICH [...]

Xabi Alonso is the key player for them, if they are missing him I think it will result into the big problems for the team, now its up the Xabi Alonso recovery, if recovered soon will help the team management.

As a Scouser, living in Zurich but raised on European nights on the Kop I felt that the South Curve had a lot to be proud of on Tuesday night. Sure they could do with some more lyric-based songs (F.C.Z. sung to various tunes isn’t going to threaten YNWA or Poor Scouser Tommy anytime soon) but they never stopped singing and waving their flags. As you say, the Madrid support was silent – I was about 10 seats away and I never heard Viva Espana.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

Real madrid is my real club.i can change my mind from it.

You call a 5-2 smashing shakey? Did you even watch the game? The first Zurich goal was a clear dive! The Zurich player stuck out his leg to hit Casillas when he saw the ball was too far from him. It was a bullshit call, and another reason why video replay NEEDS to be implemented. The only “shakey” moments Madrid had came from two dead ball opportunities, the first was off target, the other, Zurichs second goal, was well buried in the net. Madrids free kick and corner kick defense is shit, I don’t know why they can’t figure this out. The two goals were the by-product of a blatant dive (please watch the replays before accusing Casillas of a misplay!) That resulted in a bull shit penalty. Considering those factors, you can hardly call 5-2 shakey.you know who looked more shakey… Every English team playing. Three 1-0 finishes and a 3-2. Why don’t you comment on those unconvincing performances. Your skewed English view of the world is laughable, the sad thing is that many people here don’t watch these games, so they take what they read here as factual events of the truth, buts its simply arrogant English vomit! And when I watched the game I heard several chants of “Madrid!”, and “asi, asi, asi golea Madrid” amongst others. True that Madrid fans could have been louder, but how loud were Man U fans when at Besiktas? Its tough to drown out a crowed when your out numbered 10-1. And if you want to comment on shakey games from Madrid based teams, why not mention Atletico’s 0-0 draw against minnows!I’m having a hard time figuring out weather this article was written by someone that doesn’t watch/understand football, or a jealous Three Lions fan. Either way, its irresponsible journalism of the lowest kind, published with a sensationalistic title to draw attention. I congratulate the author, you are now ready to go work for a trash tabloid!

Posted by The Soccer Snob | Report as abusive

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great player C.Ronaldo great team Madrid , it will be the final

Posted by penjerseys | Report as abusive