The Week In Real Madrid: Ronaldo's brace keeps Blancos breathing, as Arbeloa treated to hero's farewell
The week in five words
That nearly went fairly pear-shaped.
What went well
On the plus side, Real Madrid almost had an extra week to prepare for the Champions League final. After cosily being 3-1 up and coasting towards a comfy win against Valencia in the Bernabéu, the final minutes turned out to be a rather fraught affair – one more goal from the opposition would have handed the title to Barcelona, after Atlético laid down their title tools against Levante.
Instead, the title race is thundering down to the final day with one team fewer to worry about. Madrid still have to rely on Barcelona to drop points at Granada as well as picking up three points against Deportivo themselves, but not having Atlético’s final result to deal with is one heck of a Brucie bonus.
That unexpected drama sealed what was a successful but ultimately fairly mellow week for Madrid after the completion of another excruciatingly bad semi-final clash against Manchester City, a team that looked thoroughly miffed by having to play a couple of midweek games when there was end-of-season parties to organise.
Considering the doom and gloom of even a month ago, the fact that Madrid have a chance of completing a league and Champions league double – still a “so you’re telling me there’s a chance?” Dumb And Dumber opportunity, to be fair – the Madridista massif will happily take those odds.
The continuing inability to get the BBC back in full working order will be a frustration to Zinedine Zidane. Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo were both back in the starting lineup against Valencia, but this time it was Gareth Bale’s turn to tap out with a knee strain.
And it is very much a beggars-can’t-be-choosers scenario, but Madrid fans might have preferred Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. Atlético Madrid have had the upper hand between the teams of late and will almost certainly be looking for revenge for That Night in Lisbon, despite players and manager denying it until the whistle blows.
Quote of the week
“I had to decide between staying and being the rag doll that people liked to prick like a voodoo doll, or leave and breath again.” – Iker Casillas looks back fondly on his final days at Madrid before moving on to pastures new at Porto, where it sounds like he's having just as much fun with fans and press.
The need-to-know facts
- Madrid have now lost just 1 of their last 14 La Liga outings against Valencia, with the 3-2 win ending a streak of four games without a win against los Che.
- The win over Valencia was Madrid's 5th victory in a row at home in the league.
Video of the week
Some love for Madrid’s man of the hour, Alvaro Arbeloa. Yep, just keep on reading.
Winner of the week
The forgotten man of forgotten men at Madrid had his moment in the sunshine for once, with Arbeloa getting the bumps at the end of the game after his final match in the Santiago Bernabéu for Madrid. The full-back also enjoyed the unusual sight of seeing supporters wearing shirts with his name on their backs, too.
Rather unnecessary jokes aside, Arbeloa hasn't just been an important ‘trolling’ influence at Madrid thanks to his entertaining Twitter spats with Gerard Piqué. Back in the day he was a key player for José Mourinho, who once claimed that the Spaniard was his favourite footballer in the squad due to the consistent performances he gave on both flanks.
That, and being a handy attack dog in the infamous Pep wars. “A good player and an exceptional man,” wrote Mourinho in an open letter on Arbeloa’s departure.
Loser of the week
Piqué – one fewer entertaining sparring partner on social media, with Arbeloa set to leave Spain for either Italy or England.
But the centre-back paid a fairly fond farewell to a former international team-mate: “I wish him the best. Sometimes his tone was a bit strong and he should not have done it. He a great career with some big titles, especially the World Cup. I wish him the best.”