Category Archives: Club news

Higuain: Let's hope this is the year Madrid make it to the final

The Argentina international has set his sights on the showpiece at Wembley this term after the Blancos stumbled at the final hurdle in the last two seasons

Gonzalo Higuain is hopeful Real Madrid can make it to the final of the Champions League this term following their 5-3 aggregate win over Galatasaray in the quarter-finals.

The Spanish giants were beaten 3-2 in Istanbul on Tuesday after recording a 3-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg, thus booking their ticket for the semi-finals for the third season in succession.

“After so many years of not getting this far, we’re in the semi-finals for the third year running. Let’s hope this year’s the one where we get to the final,” Higuain was quoted as saying on the official Uefa website.

“We went 1-0 up and had a chance for a second goal that we couldn’t take and then in the second half another chance, and then they got back into it with their goals.

“The important thing is we’re in the semi-finals for the third year running, though, and let’s see who we get next.”

Real Madrid last made it to the Champions League final in 2001-02 when they beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1.

I thought Galatasaray were going to qualify, says Terim

The former AC Milan coach says he was immensely proud of the way in which his players, and the club’s fans, rattled one of the most feared sides in world football

Galatasaray boss Faith Terim has admitted that he believed his side were going to overturn a four-goal deficit during the second leg of their absorbing Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid.

Having being beaten 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu last week, the Turkish champions were dealt what looked like a knockout blow when Cristiano Ronaldo netted an away goal for los Blancos in Istanbul.

However, Galatasaray staged a sensational second-half fightback, striking three times through Emmanuel Eboue, Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba, and thought they had levelled matters on aggregate when the latter netted again, only to be ruled offside.

“When it went 3-1,” Terim told NTV Spor, “yes, I started to think of going through to the semi-finals. It had not been the case up until that moment.

“But especially just after Drogba’s disallowed goal, that was the the moment when we really believed it.”

Unfortunately for the hosts, there was to be no coming back from that disappointment, and Ronaldo netted again in injury time to put the outcome beyond all doubt.

But Terim still had nothing but praise for his players and their supporters.

“Incredible supporters and an incredible atmosphere – it makes me happy that we played with such passion and gave them such pleasure,” the former AC Milan boss enthused.

“We must say thanks to [Jose] Mourinho and Real Madrid. He came to our dressing room to congratulate our players.

“I must also congragulate my players as they’ve beaten one of the most powerful teams in the world.

“From the very beginning my aim was to create a Galatasaray that would honour their supporters. I see this happening today. I’m happy to have kept my promise.”

Madrid now progress to the last four where they are joined by Borussia Dortmund, who overcame Malaga 3-2 on aggregate.

Galatasaray didn't have 11 men, they had 50,000, says Mourinho

The Portuguese coach highlighted the affect of the vibrant Turk Telecom Arena faithful as los Blancos progressed to the semi-final of the Champions League despite losing 3-2

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has complimented the Galatasaray crowd in the Champions League quarter-final second leg clash between the Spanish and Turkish champions on Tuesday evening.

Los Blancos were entering the match with a three-goal lead from the first leg and even struck early in the second when Cristiano Ronaldo popped up with a strike after just seven minutes.

But a raucous crowd in the Turk Telecom Arena propelled the home side to a 3-1 lead in the second half thanks to a brace from Wesley Sneijder, and an effort from Didier Drogba, and the Portuguese coach has conceded that the home crowd played a part in proceedings.

“[Galatasaray] did not play with 11 men today,” he said. “They played with 50,000 men. In this kind of match we had everything to lose but nothing to gain.”

Despite the home side being on the ascendancy and Madrid looking susceptible to conceding more in the second half, Mourinho denied that he was worried as the match wore on, simply adding: “I had no time to be nervous.”

The former Chelsea and Inter coach then highlighted the importance of looking to the next round in the competition, and insisted that whatever team they face will undoubtedly be a quality opposition.

“Now we have a semi to play, against a great team,” he continued ”We do not know which one yet, but they will be great. It will be hard but now is the time to enjoy ourselves and not to be nervous or afraid.”

Barcelona face Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday evening in the next round of quarter-final fixtures in the Champions League, with Carlo Ancelotti’s men taking a 2-2 draw to Camp Nou for the second leg.

And Mourinho did not mince his words when he was quizzed by journalists on who he thought would win the encounter between the Blaugrana and the French league leaders.

Without giving a prediction on the result, the Portuguese said:“Barcelona or PSG tomorrow? I have some friends in Paris, I don’t have any in Barcelona.”

Juventus take on Bayern Munich on Wednesday evening for the other coveted semi-final place in the Champions League.

Ronaldo: Madrid were own worst enemy

The Portugal attacker, who netted twice, believes that los Blancos must learn some vital lessons from their error-strewn display against the Turkish champions

Cristiano Ronaldo was a relieved man after Real Madrid stumbled into the semi-finals of the Champions League with a 5-3 aggregate win over Galatasaray, and admitted that his side had made life unnecessarily difficult for themselves in Istanbul.

Los Blancos had arrived in the Turkish capital with a three-goal advantage from the first leg, but even though their Portuguese talisman gave them an early lead, they were left hanging on at the end after conceding second-half goals to Emmanuel Eboue, Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba.

Ronaldo eventually sealed Madrid’s place in the final four with an injury-time strike, but the forward was the first to admit that the visitors had performed poorly.

“We’re happy to get through after this difficult game,” he told Uefa.com.

“This match will serve as an example for us in the future. In football you can’t just give chances away.

“They made things hard but, in reality, we were the ones who made things tricky for ourselves.

“We must make sure that we are switched on for the full 90 minutes in future.”

Ronaldo’s double improved his record in this season’s Champions League to 11 goals in 10 games, and he added that he feels that he is currently playing at the peak of his powers.

“I feel good,” he said. “I did my job tonight. I am motivated just as my team-mates are. Let’s see who we get in the draw.”

Madrid will be joined in the last four by group rivals Borussia Dortmund, who recorded a dramatic 3-2 aggregate success over Malaga.

Mourinho equals Sir Alex Ferguson's record of seven semi-finals in the Champions League

The Portuguese coach had reached the last four on six previous occasions and has now drawn level with the Manchester United boss after Real Madrid got past Galatasaray on Tuesday

ANALYSIS
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

Jose Mourinho has drawn level with Sir Alex Ferguson on seven semi-final appearances in the Champions League after his Real Madrid side got past Galatasaray in the last eight on Tuesday.

Mourinho led Madrid to the last four of Europe’s premier club competition in each of his first two seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, and his team made it three in a row with a x-x aggregate win which included a 3-0 victory at home last week and a x-x in Istanbul on Tuesday.

MOST SEMI-FINAL APPEARANCES IN THE EUROPEAN CUP/CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
CoachSir Alex Ferguson
(Manchester United)

Jose Mourinho (Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Madrid)

Marcello Lippi
(Juventus)

Miguel Munoz
(Real Madrid)

Louis van Gaal
(Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern)

Carlo Ancelotti
(AC Milan)

Vicente del Bosque
(Real Madrid)

Pep Guardiola
(Barcelona)

Helenio Herrera
(Inter)

Ottmar Hitzfeld
(Dortmund, Bayern)

Giovanni Trapattoni
(Juventus, Bayern)

No. of SFs

7 ’97, ’99, ’02, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’11

7- ’04, ’05, ’07, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13

5 – 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003

5 – 1960, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1973

5 – 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2010

4 – 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007

4 – 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

4 – 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

4 – 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967

4 – 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001

4 – 1978, 1983, 1985, 1995

Madrid are still aiming for their 10th trophy – La Decima – in the history of the European Cup and the Champions League, while Mourinho has admitted he hopes to become the first coach to win the coveted crown with three different clubs.

The Portuguese made his Champions League debut in 2001-02, when he took over midway through the season at Porto, but won the competition in his first full tilt at the title, in 2003-04 (having claimed the Uefa Cup in 2002-03).

That turned out to be his only Champions League semi-final appearance at Porto as he moved on to Chelsea that summer. And he took the Blues to the cusp of European glory, losing out at the semi-final stage in both 2005 and 2007. On each occasion it was Liverpool who got the better of his side, with the Reds benefiting from Luis Garcia’s ‘phantom’ goal on the way to the trophy in 2005 and then advancing on a penalty shootout two years later.

Mourinho left Chelsea shortly into the following season and did not return until the next campaign, when he agreed to coach Inter. His first season in Milan ended with a Serie A title, but disappointment in Europe as the Nerazzurri exited to Manchester United in the last 16. However, the Portuguese led the Italians to treble glory in 2009-10, as they claimed the Scudetto, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League – Inter’s first success in Europe’s premier club competition since 1965.

That was Mourinho’s second Champions League victory and his fourth semi-final in the competition. With three more since added in consecutive seasons at Madrid, he has now equalled Ferguson with seven last-four appearances.

All of Ferguson’s semi-final showings have come in his remarkable 26-year tenure at Manchester United. The 71-year-old Scot has led the English side to two Champions League wins, as well as two further final appearances (both lost to Barcelona). Defeats in his other three semi-finals (in 1996-97, 2001-02 and 2006-07) also all came against the competition’s eventual winners – Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and AC Milan, respectively.

Mourinho, meanwhile, lost his last two semi-finals against Barcelona (in 2010-11) and Bayern Munich (last season).

The Portuguese has also now made it four semi-finals in a row – a feat achieved by only Helenio Herrera, Marcello Lippi, Vicente del Bosque and Pep Guardiola in the past, while his latest las-four appearance sees him at the top of a distinguished list of coaches, alongside Ferguson, and given he is over 20 years younger than the Manchester United boss, Mourinho is probably just getting started.

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