Ramos: Real Madrid wounded by Granada defeat

Sergio Ramos has revealed that Real Madrid have been left “wounded” by their 1-0 loss to Granada.

Having drawn with Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, Blancos seemed jaded as they went down to an own goal from Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday, with their hosts failing to register a single shot on target in the match.

The loss means that the Catalans can go 18 points clear of Madrid if they beat Valencia on Sunday evening, and Atletico Madrid can extend their lead over their neighbours to seven points should they beat Betis.

Ramos took to Twitter to say how everyone associated with the club was hurt by the loss, but added that the players would keep fighting for success.

“All Madridistas are feeling wounded today, above all the players,” wrote the defender.

“But we are not going to give up on any competition, we will keep on going, for our badge and for our fans. Hala Madrid!”


Groin problem rules Xabi Alonso out of Spain friendly

Xabi Alonso has been ruled out of Spain’s friendly with Uruguay after suffering a groin injury.

The midfielder needed medical assistance in the aftermath of Real Madrid’s 1-0 defeat to Granada on Sunday, with Blancos’ informing Vicente Del Bosque that the player will not be fit for international duty.

This was later confirmed by the player himself, before the RFEF released a statement on their official website explaining his withdrawal from the squad.

“After the meeting, the medical services of Real Madrid made contact with the medical services of the RFEF to indicate the status of the player, who had strong pains in the pubic area.

“This morning, the player himself has maintained telephone contact with the medical services of the RFEF, and they indicated their physical state and its evolution since last night.”

Del Bosque has confirmed that Atletico Madrid midfielder Mario Suarez will be the man to replace Alonso.

Real Madrid had no luck against Granada, says Butragueno

Emilio Butragueno has claimed that Real Madrid were unlucky to fall to a 1-0 defeat against Granada and lamented the team’s inability to find a way past the hosts’ defence.

A Cristiano Ronaldo own-goal midway through the first half consigned the Spanish champions to their fifth Liga defeat of the season, but the legendary striker feels they suffered from the Andalusians’ negative approach.

“Granada defended very well and we struggled,” the club director told their official website.

“We were not inspired. True, we had few chances, fewer than usual, but we did not have any luck. Their defensive structure blocked us, but you always have the hope that the individual quality appears.

“Karim Benzema had a chance to score. We tried to show up, but we could not today.”

Ronaldo has reportedly been playing through an ankle injury, but the 49-year-old is certain that the Portuguese put in his usual standard of performance.

“He played with the same intensity as always and wanted to win,” he added.

Barcelona could move 18 points clear of los Blancos with victory over Valencia on Sunday.

Mancini: I will wave a Manchester United flag against Real Madrid

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini will support Manchester United “with a red-and-white-flag” against Real Madrid if it means the Premier League leaders have to navigate a congested fixture list.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side face Jose Mourinho’s defending Liga champions in the last 16 of the Champions League, and a win would keep them on course for another historic treble – albeit with more games to overcome.

With Premier League champions City out of Europe and now focused on the FA Cup and hauling back the Red Devils, Mancini is hoping the extra pressure on United will allow his team to mount another comeback like last season.

“[Beating Real] would be another two games for them. I will go there and support them with a red-and-white flag,” he told reporters.

“But playing Real is tough – they are one of the best in the world,” he added. “Them and Barca. They have incredible players, fantastic history. It will be very hard for United to beat them because they are a really top club.”

While City need to beat Liverpool with their game in hand over United on Sunday to go seven points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, Mancini recalls last year’s title race as inspiration for this run-in, with the Citizens hauling back an eight-point deficit to win the league on goal difference with the last kick of the season.

“If we could do it last year when we were eight points behind with six games to go, it’s not impossible that we can recover this with 14 games left.

“We could recover five or six points and still lose at the end but we’ll do everything to win this championship. United have good experience but anything can happen right up until the last game.

“And we have a good memory of what happened last year. When you are seven points behind, it’s difficult to recover but we’re a good team and playing well. We’ve also started to work better with the defenders.”

Mancini feels City are lacking goals this season, a problem which may be exacerbated by the sale of Mario Balotelli to Milan in the January transfer window.

“I don’t know why they are not scoring as many. We’re also missing Mario’s goals. Last season, he scored 13 in the league and this season, he only got one.

“It’s clear that we’re missing seven, eight, nine goals and if we had got these, we probably would have four or five points more.

“We are disappointed because we lost two points against QPR but there are some games when you can attack for 100 minutes and you don’t score.”

The curse of Andalucia: Real Madrid go missing again as Barcelona effort takes its toll

By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

Four times Real Madrid have visited Andalucia in La Liga this term – and on each occasion they have left Spain’s southernmost province with nothing. Indeed, if the capital club can draw comfort from one thing after Saturday’s lacklustre loss in Granada, it is that they do not now have to return to the region in 2012-13.

Madrid fell behind as Cristiano Ronaldo glanced the ball into his own net from a corner midway through the first half. The Portuguese changes his hairstyle for virtually every game, but the slicked-back look did him no favours on Saturday as the ball deceived Diego Lopez on its way in from the tightest of angles. Unfortunate it may have been, but it was nevertheless yet another set-piece strike conceded by Madrid this term. Bad habits can be difficult to shake.
Jose Mourinho’s men trailed by the same scoreline at half-time in the corresponding fixture last season, but scored twice in the second period to claim all three points.

This time, however, that rarely looked likely. Lacking the creative threat provided by the suspended Mesut Ozil and looking tired both mentally and physically following the extreme exertion expended in Wednesday’s Clasico against Barcelona, the champions were unable to find a way back into the game.

The week strangely sums up the capital club’s campaign in 2012-13 – brilliant versus Barca and then awful at times against the lesser sides. Madrid have paid the price for inconsistency this term and La Liga is now well out of reach – on Sunday, the Catalans can open the gap to 18 points between themselves and their fierce rivals.

Mourinho’s men had given their all on Wednesday and, unusually in the Clasico, finished the game still strongly despite the vast effort required against the Catalan club. It was a monumental endeavour, but one which ultimately took its toll on Saturday after just three days’ rest, up against a side with a new coach, Lucas Alcaraz, and who are fighting for their lives in the Primera Division.

Without Ozil and the motivation needed in a competition which is already beyond their reach, Madrid also struggled to create chances against the static side in front of them.

Despite the difficulty of such fixtures, Mourinho’s men appear much more comfortable against attacking sides like Barcelona, who will come out of their shell, thus leaving spaces to be exploited on the break. But when faced with teams who sit back and soak up the pressure, this Madrid side still struggle to play through rivals like Granada and often rely on individual brilliance.

There was little of that in evidence on Saturday, with Ronaldo unable to provide much of a threat, Luka Modric showing some signs of breaking through yet still struggling and Angel Di Maria disappointing once more. So too, was Jose Callejon after he came off the bench, barely improving on his dreadful display in Wednesday’s Clasico, while Karim Benzema was guilty of squandering a wonderful chance to level with six minutes left.

Madrid, claimed Marca in their headline, “failed to show up” – and it was an accurate assessment of a poor performance. But the important thing now will be for Mourinho’s men to ensure they do “show up” in their Copa del Rey semi-final second leg against Barcelona later this month – and also in the two-legged tie versus Manchester United in the Champions League.

The bad news is that they can forget all about La Liga in 2012-13. The good news? They can forget all about Andalucia as well – at least until next season.

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