Champions League is back! Our boys never fail to bring drama, whether it’s on the pitch, in the press room, or doing their off-the-field things (though it’s been rather quiet in Benzema world).
We all know that Cristiano created some drama in the press conference when he walked off. An act that has divided pretty much everyone. As usual it’s a fight between the people that think he’s petty and arrogant and the people (like Lozil and I) who think that he had every right to walk off.
I might start calling him Kylo Ron because of his perceived (and sometimes very real) tantrums. I have this vision of Cris in the Kylo Ren costume just destroying things with his lightsaber. The handle of which would be bedazzled and engraved with CR7, I’m sure.
I continued to hear the same narratives leading up:
- Cristiano hasn’t scored an away goal since November.
- We haven’t beat an Italian team in the knock-out rounds since something like 1987.
- We don’t really have a stellar away record.
To that I say: “Bollocks! We always come through when it’s needed!”
Roma: Wojciech Szczesny; Alessandro Florenzi, Kostas Manolas, Antonio Rudiger, Lucas Digne; William Vainqueur, Miralem Pjanic, Radja Nainggolan; Mohamed Salah, Stephan El Shaarawy, Diego Perotti
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Isco; James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo
We got Marcelo back much sooner than expected. It felt a bit like a weight lifted. He provides so much. He’s fabulous and fun to watch. I don’t care what FABOD says, he is sunshine and happiness.
Roma had Totti and De Rossi on the bench. Both were carrying injuries. And they decided to keep Eden Dzeko on the bench as well, meaning they had no real definitive forward. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous, however!
It was nervy at the beginning. Roma were definitely putting us off our game a little bit. They were committing players forward and pushing the counter attack. With that said, we were managing some good possession. However, we all know how I feel about possession stats…
We had a free kick in the 8th minute, which was taken by Cris. Unfortunately it was wide.
In the 12th minute, Toni took a free kick but it was cleared with a header from Digne. It sent Roma on a counter attack that Marcelo was able to stop.
El Sharaawy had a chance for Roma in the 17th minute but his shot was high.
By the 25th minute or so, Vainqueur had gone in late on Cris at least 3 times and there was never a card. He was lucky to be on the pitch, I thought.
In the 34th minute Marcelo tried for a fabulous volley but it went wide.
In the 45th minute, El Sharaawy had broken free but we have our Baby Varane. He stretched his legs like a gazelle and caught speedy Stephan to keep the scores at 0 before the end of the half.
The first half ended Roma 0 – 0 Real Madrid
No changes for either team and it was our boys in their pajamas (thanks pinpanPamm for that one. It’s so true) that got it started.
I had commented to a friend that this game was at least exciting. Or it would have been if I was a neutral. I am not, however, a neutral and it was killing me!
In the 51st Vainqueur got his foot higher than I could ever dream of getting mine, and ended slicing open James’ ear. There was, go figure, no call.
To be fair, both sides were getting away with some pretty crazy tackles. But SERIOUSLY!
El Sharaawy had another chance to put Roma ahead in the 56th minute but Navas was out to stop him.
In the 57th minute, Cris said “shut up” in the best way that he knows how. He scored a fabulous goal! He made a great run to collect Marcelo’s pass, then cut inside with one of his signature moves, and fired it far post. It took a bit of a deflection but it was a great goal anyway.
And Marcus Slaughter was as impressed as always. He’s still a Madridista and I love it.
Then all of a sudden it was raining Real Madrid. Whatever motivation it was that we needed, we found it and just kept pressing. Roma were still trying to get forward but most of the play was ours.
In the 62nd minute, Varane picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Perotti.
In the 64th minute, Roma decided they needed a true forward and brought Eden Dzeko in for El Sharaawy. And we got Kovacic in place of Isco.
In the 73rd minute my heart was in my throat as Vainqueur fired a shot from outside the box. It was wide, but only just. I don’t think Navas would have saved that one.
In the 74th, at the other end, Cris got his head on a James cross but it was barely wide.
In the 78th minute, De Rossi replaced Vainqueur for Roma.
In the 81st minute, I have to be honest. Roma probably should have had a penalty. With that said, there were one or two challenges that I thought should have been penalties for us as well.
In the 82nd minute, Zizou decided to give poor, beat-up James a rest. We got Jese in his place.
In the 86th minute, Sergio picked up a yellow card for pulling Salah down.
Salah is a talented player. He needs some work, he’s a bit raw, but he’ll be special someday. My friend Zito had what was probably my favorite tweet about him yesterday.
Shortly after the yellow card, Jese made sure we remembered what he was capable of.
He took the ball into the box himself and fired a lovely shot low and past the keeper. As I said before, it was “nasty.”
In the 87th minute, Roma brought on another goal scoring option in Totti. He replaced Florenzi.
In the 89th minute, Zizou gave Kylo Ron (yeah, gonna use it more) a bit of a rest and brought in Casemiro for some playing time.
After 3 added minutes, we secured an away win!
Roma 0 – 2 Real Madrid
Zidane: “We are happy with the 0-2 however the knockout phase is still open”
by Alberto Navarro (Roma)“We are a team and everyone is important to win something together”, he added.
The Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane, was very satisfied with his side’s win in Rome: “Nothing is definitely over in football. We are happy with the result because it is not easy to win here 0-2. We have to play the return leg. Tonight we will sleep happily, from tomorrow on we have to think about the league game this Sunday against Málaga and we will see what happens in the return leg, but the knockout phase is still open”.
“We are always going to have difficult away games and today was one of them. We played a lot better than in the other away games, but it will also be more difficult than at the Bernabéu. Today was an important game because it is a knockout game and we managed to keep a clean sheet and score goals”.
“We talked and I am happy with his goal because everyone always expects him to score and in the end, look at what happened. I am happy for him and for the team. It is necessary to congratulate everyone for the work. The first half was difficult and we improved a lot in the second half. We are a team, a group and everyone is important to win something together”.
“For me, the most important thing is the group, although today, like on many occasions, Cristiano Ronaldo made the difference. When I see all of the players supporting in the dressing room and they know that they are not going to play, that is crucial. When we win, we all win and that is important. We have to keep going because we are at the start of all of this”.
“I did not see what happened with those controversial moves that you are talking about. The only thing I know is that we had a difficult game against a good team. The first half was very difficult for us and we improved a lot in the second half”.
Group huddle for the goal celebration
“It is a sign to say that we have to do this again. We are still a long way from 28 May. We have to think about the return leg, which will be difficult, but I am happy to see my players celebrating like that, all together. That is joyful to see and we want to do it again”.
“I am still thinking the same thing. We are seven points behind and it will be difficult, but we are giving it everything and we are all happy. We are going to rest well and think about the Málaga game. On Sunday we will try to do everything to get what we need to get”.
Ramos: “We’ve taken a big step towards getting through the tie”
by Alberto Navarro (Roma)“Roma are dangerous and we did well to keep a clean sheet”, explained Varane.
Sergio Ramos expressed his satisfaction at Real Madrid’s display in Rome: “You’ve got to look at the great job that we did as a team. Right from the go we went out to get a good result, we tried to dictate proceedings and dominate possession. We managed to do that, and in front of goal we were pretty potent. We’ve taken a big step towards getting through the tie”.
“At the end of the game we were dominating in their half, and on occasions, when we lost possesion, they broke quickly and dangerously. At half time Zidane spoke about keeping the ball and making sure of our passes so as to reach their box without panicking”.
Strikes from Ronaldo and Jesé
“It was a great time to take the lead. Jesé’s goal is also a good sign: all of the players who come off the bench are keen to go out and show what they can do. This is a very important stage of a competition that we enjoy a lot”.
The celebrations with Zidane
“Everyone is entitled to make of that what they will. We’ve got to carry on in this vein and celebrating as a team is the best way to go about achieving success. The key is to be united, and to be able to resilient when we have to dig in to get a result”.
“Right from the very first day that Zidane came in, everyone has been happy with him. Regardless of what he did as a player, he is an excellent coach and we’re all happy”.
Navas: “We kept our concentration so as not to make any mistakes”
“The team got better as the game wore on, we got the goals and that’s given us an important victory, which helps us on our way.During the tricky spells, we made sure that we kept our concentration so as not to make any mistakes”.
The opposition’s game plan
“They sat back in the hope that we would leave gaps in behind for them to break on the counter. They’ve got some very quick players, and we were aware of that. We tried not to give up possession cheaply so as not to give them chances. Whenever they did break away, we got back well and got ourselves organised defensively. We put in a good, high-intensity performance”.
Far from over
“We’re relaxed and really driven. We’ve got to continue on in this vein. As a group we’ve got to be united, and out on the pitch we’re proving that we are. We’ll prepare for the next game against them with the same application and calm approach to try to win the game. We cannot go thinking that the tie is over because there are still another 90 minutes to play. Roma are a great team and they can make things tough for us”.
“Having the best player in the world on your team is always important. Today he helped us by getting the opener, which gave us a lot of confidence”.
Varane: “The team put in a great display”
“I wanted to put in a solid display. Alongside Ramos it was a very good performance to keep a team like Roma at bay. Roma are dangerous and we did well to keep a clean sheet”.
“It was a display of a side that’s very close and is really driven. We’ll enjoy the win and from tomorrow we’ll then start thinking about the Málaga game”.
“I really wanted to score in this competition and I am very happy”, he stated.
Jesé made it 0-2 against Roma, finishing a great run from his own half with a shot across goal. It was the former academy player’s first goal in the Champions League and he did not hide his joy: “I really wanted to score in the Champions League. It is my first goal in this competition and I am very happy. I am dedicating it to myself and those who are with me each day. It was a tough goal for me to get. I have worked a lot and it is difficult to play for this side, as everyone is a good player. I am very happy”.
“We knew that the game would be difficult. Roma are strong at home and you could see how they defended well. They are a difficult side because they are very united, they pressure well up front and then defend well. We knew that it would be a difficult game but the team did really well”.
“Roma are used to defending with their entire team and it is harder to play against them. It was a game about overcoming and one to take confidence from. The team looked really good and I am happy with the win”.
Relationship with Zidane
“I am happy that the manager gives me confidence. Since arriving he has given us all confidence. He is fully behind everyone and that is very important. We know each other from two years ago and back then he really helped me. Now I am delighted to have him as a manager. You learn from him as a person and as a manager”.
Post-Match Social Media:
Bale supported his one true love even though he’s unable to play.
Sergio posted the same photo and one more of the celebration with Zizou.
Marcelo also shared a group celebration photo.
Keylor’s selfie with Cris and Marcelo brings me joy.
And Jese’s photo from the flight home was fabulous.
Our next match is away to Malaga on Sunday!
¡Hala Madrid y Nada Mas!