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The Good, The Bad & The Omen

Welbeck scores - Real Madrid v Manchester UnitedAlmost 24hrs on and I still can’t help feeling we missed a golden chance to put one foot in the next round of the Champions League before Ronaldo & Co even set foot on English soil.

The good news is….We Scored. Yes 1-1 is a good result but unlike many I’ve spoke to today I wouldn’t have taken 1-1 before kickoff, no way. I tipped up 2-2, I’d have taken that. The bad news is….Mr Mourihno’s bullish comment about how his team are capable of scoring more than one at Old Trafford was accurate, and if they do that we’re immediately in need of a win…..advantage Madrid.

Win 2 tickets to see the 2nd leg at Old Trafford.

We’re in form, our strength this season is scoring goals. What did we need to do last night? Score, the more the better. Did we really attempt to play to our strengths last night? I don’t think we did to be honest.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we should be beating Madrid at The Bernabéu 3 or 4 nil, but we do have the firepower to score that many and 3-3 is better than 1-1.

Yes we had chances last night and on another night we could’ve come away with the win. RvP won’t miss another chance like that all season, it was just one of those nights for him, but I believe the chances we had throughout the match were gifted to us rather than us masterfully creating ourselves. We were content with deflecting Madrids possession away from our goal and putting faith in young De Gea to protect his goal when our nervous defence was breached.

Nervous sums the night up for me.

We played a fairly unorthodox five-man midfield so, when we were in possession, why did we allow the centre halfs to split and see so much of the ball at their feet? It’s not the first time we’ve done this. We were lucky it didn’t cost us but time after time either Evans or Ferdinand found themselves with the ball but without an option. Under those circumstances both resorted to a lofted 50-50 ball towards the advanced fullback or forward, most resulting in a loss of possession and an energy sapping need to reshape.

Surely, with the five-man midfield, it’s their job to obtain the ball from the centre half, turn and play in triangles with everyone BUT the centre halfs who then become a deep option IF there’s nothing else on, an ‘out’ ball to start again. Many many times last night Madrid had United’s centre halfves pinned 3v2. Any interception or howler would definitely have spelt danger, fortunately for us we escaped each time…..somehow.

Carrick’s had a great season but he didn’t do enough to control the game last night, he almost hung Ferdinand and Evans out to dry.

Can I mention De Gea misjudging that cross? No!? Ok then, I’ll just thank him openly for a great display. Great to see him snaffle a well hit shot and drop to the floor with it firmly clutched rather than push it out or away. Good signs. I did wonder why he kicked that far post effort away though? It looked to me like he could’ve caught that. On another night that easily goes wrong and he’s getting punished again.

RefOne thing is for sure, we need a stronger ref for the return leg. Last night the official favoured Madrid no doubt. How Ramos gets away with his antics I have no idea. How Varane didn’t see red for that tackle on Evra I have no idea. Why he was so keen to show RvP a yellow so early in the game I have no idea. You can bet Madrid will be trying every dirty trick in the book to get past us and it could get ugly.

So what about the omen? Well, reading Marca.com this evening, it seems Madrid have never advanced from a tie after a stalemate at The Bernabéu.

On all four occasions when Real Madrid drew the first leg of a European tie 1-1, it went on to be knocked out.

The curse began in the semi-final match against Bayern Munich in the 75-76 season. The first leg finished 1-1 at the Bernabéu, with the Germans running out 2-1 winners in the return match.

The second and third occasions also came in the semi-finals. In 87-88, the second leg against PSV ended 0-0, meaning the Dutch giant went through to the final on away goals, while the following season, a stalemate in Madrid was followed by Milan handing ‘Los Blancos’ a famous 5-0 thrashing.

Finally, in the 98-99 campaign, Dynamo Kiev sent Real Madrid packing at the quarter-final stage after a 2-0 victory in the second leg.

A decisive week is looming for Real Madrid. The ‘Copa del Rey’ second leg against Barcelona is coming up on 26th February, followed by a league ‘Clásico’ at the Camp Nou on 2nd March and the all-important Champions League return leg at Old Trafford on 5th March. Unfortunately for ‘Los Blancos’ fans, the omens are less than promising.

Do you believe in Omens? I don’t necessarily, but there’s been something brewing this season and it’s getting stronger and stronger by the week. Everyone on here keeps telling us how we’ll get utterly embarrassed if we ever met one of the big boys because our midfield just wouldn’t be up to it. Well…..we’ve took on one of the big boys now and we’re still in there fighting….where’s all the boo boys now? Are you waiting until we’re out to shout ‘I told you so’?

I don’t think there’s anyone confident of predicting what will happen on March 5th. All I know is it’s going to be one hell of a night and a real trip back in time with an atmosphere like few before it. I remember Barcelona 84 and Madrid in 03, March 5th has the potential to rival those atmospheres and thankfully I’ll be there to witness it. You could be there too by entering our ticket competition.

All outcomes are possible……what’s your opinion?

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