Surprise, surprise - Madridista press blame the ref as Lyon fight back

"If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em" is the response from the Madridista press the day after a night before which featured Real Madrid’s latest failure to beat those dastardly Frenchies, Lyon, at the seventh attempt.

Last week, the Barcelona press wailed and whined about the referee robbing Pep’s Dream Boys of victory against Arsenal in London, despite being outplayed for the second 45 minutes and fluffing several golden chances to win the Emirates encounter.

Marca and AS pulled the same ‘look away! nothing to see here!’ trick on Wednesday, with both papers glossing over the fact that José Mourinho’s men played the first half of their Champions League clash in the same style as every other Madrid side has done at the same stage in the competition over the previous six years - appallingly.

If the Madrid manager needed anymore hints that Sergio Ramos is nothing short of a liability in big matches due to his tendency to recklessly fly into needless tackles at any given opportunity, then The Special One was given yet another with a pretty little bow on top placed firmly into his lap in Lyon, with Ramos picking up a booking after just 10 minutes, meaning it was open season down his flank for the rest of the evening.

Ramos was just as dotty and doolally after the match, with the defender lamenting the fact his team had failed to pick up all three points in the tie due to Lyon’s late equaliser through Bafétimbi Gomis. There is now a joke on the Spanish bit of the internet that ponders whether the befuddled Andalusian is still waiting for the second-leg of Spain’s World Cup Final clash against Holland to be played. That would certainly explain why Ramos hasn’t been all there for the past seven months.

Madrid had taken the lead in the Stade de Gerland when Karim Benzema scored just 46 seconds after coming on as a second half substitute. It was a strike that caused Florentino Pérez to break stuffy presidential protocol and leap from his seat in celebration - an act labelled tacky by Marca when Racing owner, Ahsan Ali Syed, reacted similarly after a recent victory for his side. But hell, double standards are part of the fun of this particular ship of fools.

The Madrid president had signed Benzema in the summer of 2009 by going to his family home in Lyon, a personal show of faith which “explains the rare excesses of Florentino who did not react the same way either to Zidane’s goal in Glasgow or the best ones scored by Madrid over the past decade,” writes AS editor, Alfredo Relaño.

As well as oozing over Karim Benzema’s goal, both papers are equally as vocal in their condemnation of the referee, who they feel robbed Madrid of a handsome victory in France. Their main gripe was over a handball in the penalty area by Yoann Gourcuff after the French midfielder was whacked on the arm by a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick. Iker Casillas moaned after the match that there were “four referees and not one of them called it.”

On a more positive note, AS avoided the temptation to alter an image of said incident to make it look even worse for Lyon but Mad Tomás Roncero did claim that the (non) decision from the referee, Wolfgang Stark, was “an insult to the competition", before sobbing that "with another refereeing trio it would have been 1-2, 1-3."

The answer to the question of whether Real Madrid will go through to the next round is largely a positive one, with Marca’s front page roaring that “the quarters are in sight.”

“Madrid see the bottle as half full, despite the referee and a strong rival. The Whites are closer than ever to the next round,” blurbs Wednesday’s editorial.

Although the odds are certainly tipped in Real Madrid’s favour thanks to the away goal from the back-at-home Benzema, it is set to be another nervous night at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in three weeks time, with supporters waiting to see if José Mourinho can rid the club of its quarter-final curse for real, rather than just on paper.