While the score line may give the impression of a comfortable win for Real Madrid, the game against newly promoted Rayo Vallecano was anything but routine, with Mourinho under intense pressure from the fickle Spanish media and Madridistas. With rumours of discontent in the camp and Real dropping 5 points thus far this season, nothing short of a win was required.
Madrid were not helped by the fact both of their first choice centre backs were out, with the injuries at the Bernabeau becoming worse by the day. Mourinho chose to keep the youngster Varane at the back and bring in Raul Albiol, with Ramos at right back and Arebeloa on the bench. Whilst this selection paid off, one that did not was that of playing Lassana Diarra in the centre of midfield, with the French man giving the ball away straight from kick off and subsequently allowing Rayo to score the first goal of the game, intensifying both the nerves and pressure on Los Blancos.
Ever the ruthless manager and able to admit his selection mistakes, Mourinho subsequently sent Ozil to warm up, and soon replaced Lass with the German. Diarra must wonder when he will next get to see the light of day given the look on Mourinho’s face as he walked down the tunnel. Immediately Real looked more fluid and in control of the game, with Kaka increasingly making inroads in the opposition box. It was the very same player who had a hand in all three of the Real goals, creating the first goal and winning the penalty that was subsequently converted by Ronaldo, who during the game scored his tenth hat-trick of his Real Madrid career.
It was at this point when Real were 3 – 1 to the good that Di Maria received his second yellow of the game, for a hand ball that looked more ball to hand than anything else, leaving Madrid with 10 men for the third game this season. Mourinho does have a somewhat shocking record as a manager at Real for discipline, with 17 red cards in his less than two season managerial spell, yet how many of these were actually red cards is debatable.
The fact that shortly after the sending off the Rayo skipper committed a carbon copy of the offence that sent Di Maria down the tunnel and then referee with a clear view did nothing will only encourage the conspiracy theorists. It may well be the word on the lips of both Mourinho and Los Blancos fans tonight, and had Real gone on to concede a third goal, or dropped points, you can only imagine the press conference Mourinho would have held following the game.
As things worked out, the substitutions made by Mourinho immediately after the red card of Sami Khedira on for Kaka and Benzema replacing goal scorer Gonzalo Higuain worked like a charm. Khedira was able to provide a more defensive edge than the brilliant Kaka, not to mention fresh legs that were much needed when playing with one man less than the opposition yet again. Benzema continued his remarkable season so far by scoring yet again, and ironically Real looked better with 10 men than 11. The most remarkable event of the game has to be the self-control displayed by Mourinho during both the ‘hand ball’ incidents, both times embracing the Rayo coach and having a joke about the incidents.
September 26, 2011 at 9:54 pm
Does this mean the Special One will start the mantra, No-one Loves Us But We Dont Care? Barca are still too good to not win the title.
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