Madrid look to Bernabeu crowd to help prevent continuation of Last 16 curse

There’s a whiff of something stinky in the air in Madrid - and this time it’s not the illegally high levels of air pollution in the atmosphere. Well, it is but there is something more. It’s the dank whiff caused of millions of fluttery tummies, with Real Madrid just hours away from kicking-off against Lyon in the last-16 Champions League - the exact stage at which the club has suffered from ‘performance issues’ over the last six seasons.

In theory, it should be a doddle for the Legions of Mordor in the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid have won 21 from 21 games in their own stadium this season and have an away goal from the 1-1 draw in France three weeks ago. What’s more, Cristiano Ronaldo remains a doubt until the last minute meaning that the home side may be able to defeat their cheese-eating surrender monkey opponents through team-work and passing rather than hacking frustrated, aimless shots at the Lyon goal from 65 yards.

This nervousness is perhaps why Real Madrid have launched a “You Have to Play Too!” campaign to get the notoriously noisy fans doing something more than mumble and moan for 90 minutes, although LLL would suggest the alternative title of “Our Imminent Failure in the Champions League Last Sixteen Stages for the Seventh Year Running is Your Failure Too!”

“After six years failing in the last sixteen, it’s impossible not to be a bit worried,” began Wednesday’s match preview in AS.

Marca’s editorial is just as nervy writing that “the Champions is a religion for Madridismo and has its liturgy which will begin with a full Bernabeu.”

The paper is very much following the Madrid party line by imploring/begging what could be rain-soaked supporters that “today more than ever the Bernabeu has to be behind the Mou Team.”

This has been the theme of José Mourinho’s last two press conferences with the Madrid manager pointing out that the home crowd was a quiet one and that he still hadn’t “seen the Bernabeu playing.” The good news for the 80,000 at the game is that should they ever participate in a Madrid match then Marca will probably give them a goal in their Pichichi table, just for the hell of it.

Away from the topic of Wednesday’s game, the doping kerfuffle from the previous two days has died down, with lawyers from Barcelona and Valencia studying transcripts and thumbing through law books to see if any crime has been committed by a Cadena COPE radio journalist who had claimed someone high up within Real Madrid had told him that the club would be appealing to the Spanish FA for tighter doping controls in the game.

But this supposed scoop, which broke on Sunday night, nonetheless means LLL must for once doth its cap to Marca as the affair coincided with the end of an in depth four part study by the paper reporting that anti-doping controls in la Liga were in a shocking state - a report that handily prepared the ground for this week’s polemic.  

“It’s a combat...that has the intensity and toughness of a luxury holiday in the Bahamas,” wrote Antonio García Ferreras in Monday’s edition, the former Director of Communications in the first presidential era of Florentino Pérez.

The blog agrees wholeheartedly with a letter from José Luis Carrasco from Albacete published in Friday’s edition congratulating Marca for their study that “reinforces the confidence and credibility in journalism and in this publication, in these times where it is hard to find media that is not manipulated and offers objective information.”

With Marca being ahead of the game as far as the week's hot topic is concerned, you can be sure Real Madrid fans will hope the paper’s confidence in their team's chances of progression against Lyon on Wednesday evening is just as well-placed.

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