Dashed dreams of La Decima: Real Madrid's 11 years of hurt in Europe
2005/06 (Round of 16 vs Arsenal)
Score: Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal; Arsenal 0-0 Real Madrid (Arsenal win 1-0 on aggregate)
La Liga position: 2nd
Any other business? It was Ronaldo’s final season as a regular in the side. He top scored with 15 goals, but would be sold to AC Milan the following year.
This one didn’t feel as if it should present too much trouble for Real, even if their erratic domestic and European performances hadn’t seen Luxemburgo last beyond December. Arsenal were floundering in the Premier League and were weakened, too, with the likes of Mathieu Flamini and Philippe Senderos deployed in a fragile-looking defence and huge responsibility being place on the shoulders of a young Cesc Fabregas. At the Bernabeu, it was the Catalan who presented Thierry Henry with an innocuous pass just inside the Real half, before looking on as his colleague brushed aside all comers to score a scintillating only goal of the first leg. Arsenal could even have scored more; on a side note, Real’s night was compounded by the sadly familiar vision of an early injury to Jonathan Woodgate.
No matter: there was still every reason to be confident of scoring at Highbury, where Arsenal had recently shipped three to West Ham. But while Real had chances, Ronaldo coming close early on, it wasn’t exactly the Alamo – and the Gunners passed up on several good opportunities of their own. A moment just as decisive as Henry’s first-leg goal arrived in the 59th minute, when Raul saw his shot tipped onto the post by Jens Lehmann before somehow allowing the goalkeeper to save his rebound, too. Real didn’t come that close again, and Juan Ramon Lopez Caro would become the latest manager to know that he wouldn’t be long in the hotseat.